Next episode will be Ranga’s scrapbook.
Overview (Spoilers Below!)
When Rimuru devours Ifrit, Ifrit imagines that he’ll be isolated for the rest of time. Instead, he ends up standing in front of Veldora, who menacingly challenges Ifrit to—a game of shogi?! Veldora has been desperate for a game partner, so he offers to teach Ifrit the rules and give him a handicap.
Over the next several months, Veldora and Ifrit play game after game, Ifrit steadily improving at both shogi and banter. Veldora tells Ifrit how he met Rimuru, and Ifrit explains some of Shizu’s backstory. Together they watch as Shizu dies; they provide running commentary as Rimuru gains a human form, meets Yuuki, and save Shizu’s students. Eventually, Ifrit beats Veldora in a game of shogi with no handicap. A sore loser, Veldora tries to cheat, but Ifrit isn’t having it. Veldora deflects his loss by laughing and singing.
Let me explain the experience of watching this episode.
We open on some recap. We see Rimuru defeating Ifrit and him getting sucked into Rimuru’s roomy stomach, and then Veldora appears. We get a little bit of new animation as Veldora reveals the CGI-animated shogi board, and then…
For the rest of the episode, there’s no new animation at all. There’s just clips from previous episodes playing in the background as Veldora and Ifrit discuss first the rules of shogi in great detail and then eventually their backstories. It’s an incredibly boring viewing experience, and I’m honestly unsure why this episode got made in the first place. If the show’s budget only allowed for 24 episodes’ worth of animation, why not simply end the series after episode 24? Or why not throw in a few minutes of Veldora stuff at the end of episode 23? We certainly don’t need a whole episode of shogi rules and recap, especially because episode 23 is mostly recapping anyway. Why bother with “episode 24.5” when even its episode number admits that “Veldora’s Journal” is half-assed?
The concept is kind of amusing—Ifrit’s terror at having to fight Veldora dissipating when he realizes the lonely Veldora just wants to play a board game—but this one funny idea can’t really carry the whole episode. At first, the clips that play while Veldora details his past are somewhat random—they don’t necessarily align with the bits of the story he’s telling, nor do they show what’s going on outside Rimuru’s body while Veldora and Ifrit are talking. We’re just seeing Rimuru test out their slime powers from way back in episode one (before Veldora was even introduced), which just serves as a reminder of how inventive and weird the first few episodes of this show were (and how much wasted protentional “Veldora’s Journal” has in comparison).
It’s pretty uninteresting just listening to the rules of shogi, and the recap is wholly unnecessary. I want to know what Veldora has been doing this whole show. I want to know his inner thoughts, his desires. Is he worried that Rimuru won’t be able to free him from his curse? Is he frustrated that it’s taking so long? Is he bored? Does he miss Rimuru? What are his thoughts on Rimuru’s journey? I was excited for all of that going into this episode, and I was sorely disappointed when none of it manifested.
There’s some occasional funny dialogue here, such as when Veldora self-identifies as a tsundere and Ifrit agrees that his tsundere nature is cute. We get a little outsider’s insight into Rimuru’s personality when Veldora points out how they can’t resist aiding anyone who needs help (“Great Rimuru’s heart seems to be as big as his stomach.”) And the sequence where Ifrit claims that he’s “always burning red-hot with passion” and Veldora touches him to find out if it’s true—and then refuses to let go of Ifrit’s warm hand—is kind of shippy and charming. Veldora recommends that Ifrit read more manga, and they cheer on Shizu’s students. Plus, when I saw the person spying on Rimuru outside Ingrassia for a second time, I realized that it’s not Diablo at all—it’s (probably?) a woman, and possibly the student of Shizu’s who surpassed her and ran away? I only consider this because Veldora and Ifrit discuss her earlier in the episode, and it was cool to have this realization while watching. But again, it would have been just as cool for this to be revealed next season instead, when we learn for sure who this mysterious stranger is and what she wants.
Other beats work far less well, like when Veldora tries to take on the nickname “Veldorayalikethat” (what???), when he complains, “Girls sure are scary” (wow, so original), and the drawn-out joke of his bad sportsmanship that I’ve seen in tons of other shows. Perhaps the worst offender is that the random flash of Veldora’s face in episode 23, when Rimuru is saying goodbye to their students, is shown here again, but we still don’t know what it means or why it happened. It wasn’t timed with a significant moment in Veldora’s journal, which would have been such a cool tie-in. Instead, we’re just left wondering forever I guess.
When Veldora is caught cheating at shogi, he tells Ifrit in his booming voice, “If you’re bound by rules and standards, you can never be a true risk taker!” I guess this episode breaks some rules by eschewing traditional episode format, but in this case, the risk, unfortunately, doesn’t pay off.