Fall 2018. That’s when it started. It’s when That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime season 1 aired for the first time. Slime is one of the isekai titles that I look forward to -as if there wasn’t enough plurality already- just because the protagonist is a freaking overpowered middle-aged dude who reincarnated as a slime and ‘cross-dresses’ into a little Japanese girl’s human form. But no matter how basic or stupid it may seem, I find it pretty enjoyable.
What bugs me is what happened with its opening themes. Well, the OPs themselves scream that it’s isekai trash. If I happened to listen to the openings before watching the anime, I’d be avoiding it like vampires avoid garlic. Both opening themes of season 1 are bad. They don’t really become catchy, no matter how many times you end up listening to them, especially OP1. No matter how many times I force it down my throat, I only end up remembering the lyrics “To the east, to the west, to the high Stand up to the period” (what?) and completely forget the melody. And that’s something unusual for me as I tend to remember the music I listen to, especially after listening to something a couple of times. Yet this one escapes my memory completely. And that’s a shame because I think of That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime as something better than it actually is.
Let me make something clear. I’m not a die-hard fan or anything, I just think that no matter how preposterous Slime’s setting is, it has room to grow and I’d like to see its story develop. You wouldn’t be wrong to assume that the quality of the anime is proportionate to the quality of its opening theme, right? *Spoiler alert: you would be wrong in this case, as Slime is a good anime with bad openings.* Imagine that you were asked to produce the opening theme. What would your approach be? If it were me, I’d end up following the same approach as the people who produced the openings did. Why? Because I’d scratch off the idea of doing something creative and ‘outside the box’. Why? Because -let’s be frank- the setting isn’t ‘outside the box’ and the target audience wouldn’t have been targeted if the producers went along with something out of the ordinary. Think of your fellow Japanese otaku culture enthusiast who likes the isekai genre dearly. They’re hanging out at home, the TV is turned on, and they happen to listen to a generic isekai OP theme. Now, think of your fellow gaijin [foreigner] otaku culture enthusiast who browses YouTube and runs into a generic isekai OP theme. That sh*t would attract both of them in a split-second. So, generic isekai OPs were the way to go for Slime-kun.
Now that we’ve come to this conclusion, let’s think of the people who wrote the lyrics, composed, arranged and produced OP1. And let’s also think of the artist whose name is written next to the song’s title. Again, the general rule of thumb is this: make something slightly new yet extremely recognizable while not messing with the musical character of the artist. The artist has a persona. They have to follow a certain path. So there’s no doodling with that.
“Nameless story” by Terashima Takuma
Season 1 OP1 is so absurd, it made me laugh. Not because I was making fun of it or anything, it just made me wonder. How did the singer feel when rehearsing and recording this? Didn’t the music feel awkward? Here, I’m talking about the melody of the verse. To me, it doesn’t make sense; it’s illogical. I mean the chorus is obviously lacking, but it’s head and shoulders above the verse. At least the chorus is somewhat memorable. I’m really trying to step into Terashima Takuma’s shoes here. What did he think? Well, the song is targeted at a specific kind of hardcore otaku, but it’s simply nonsense. The melodic line is off. There’s no story behind the melody and there is no diegesis (that’s fancy speak for story-telling or musical narrative). It’s nothing more than some dumbed down isekai anisong. And the worst part? Three people composed it. Not one, not two, it took three composers to come up with an unmemorable melody. Isn’t that a shame…
“Meguru Mono” by Terashima Takuma
On the other hand, OP2 had a massive upgrade. The same lighthearted generic isekai approach has been implemented but this time around, it’s catchier and it tells a story. Telling a story is arguably the most important element when creating music. You want to give the audience the freedom to visualize, to fantasize, to imagine. You want to give them the liberty to construct a story or at least make them understand the story you’re basing the music on (that’s if the music is a form of accompaniment to moving images or text) and allow them to develop their own views and emotions. Again, “Meguru Mono” is not a masterpiece or anything; au contraire, it’s nothing more than a commercial song. What came through OP2 though, was the theatrical quality of anime we all like. From the very start, OP2 was a better opening than OP1 could have ever been, even though it mainly focused on moving forward and unraveling the story. All second opening themes -well, at least most of them- are like that, they project the sense of moving forward and most of the time, they’re not as dynamic as OP1s. What do you plea, Slime?
“Storyteller” by TRUE (Karasawa Miho)
Similarly, season 2 OP follows the same concept as season 1, OP2. We have classic isekai anisong tropes. We also have heavy action indications, a few hints of shounen, slice of life, lightheartedness, fluffiness, accompanied by some comedic elements. Let me explain a bit. First things first. What the actual f is fluffiness? Well, I’m a foodie and I was thinking of whipped cream. So, I had in mind something pleasantly light, bright with a lot of positivity and I came up with ‘fluffy’. As for the comedic elements, what I was trying to say is that it made me smile. Not comedic as in you point and laugh at it; more like a warm and light emotion that makes you smile.
So, what was responsible for this evolution? Was it the fans? Was it that they took it seriously after the first part of the first season? Or *enter conspiracy theory here* was it an outrageous marketing strategy? → “Let’s make OP1 so bad that they’ll notice the anime” (?!) Not sure. But after putting two and two together, the most plausible scenario is that they probably didn’t care enough when producing the first season.
To wrap up my thoughts on this, it seems as if the tie-ups improved over time. What we need to keep in mind, though, is that the music has this basic, simplistic, unimaginative and cliché approach. And frankly, this means that no matter how much we like Slime-dude, no matter how much the opening themes get upgraded, the end result will probably remain what it already is: a product made to cater to a slightly weeby kind of otaku, including myself. The thing is though that despite me liking the anime, I wouldn’t deliberately go and listen to any of the Slime’s OPs.