By Owen Glancy
“That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime” or “Tensura” for short is one of the most celebrated anime of the last five years. With this rise in popularity, it’s only natural that an animated film adaptation of these popular characters would follow.
“Tensura: Scarlet Bond” released in Japan on Nov. 25, 2022, and in the United States on Jan. 18. Many fans, including myself, were ecstatic to see our favorite characters on the big screen. I frantically drove to the theater during a snowstorm, almost getting into an accident, just to see this film.
I have never been so disappointed.
The animation was the first glaring negative. Outside of a couple action scenes, the animation was worse than that of the parent TV anime. Although keeping the storybook look intact while animating action scenes is admittedly difficult, the release of “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” shows it can be done, giving this film’s lacking visuals no excuses.
The film’s plot primarily focuses around Rimuru Tempest and his nation’s efforts to assist the kingdom of Raja. This new nation is visually interesting, but that's about it.
Of the new characters introduced in this film, Hiiro is the only one that is even remotely interesting. His relationship with fan favorite character Benimaru, while simple, is still entertaining to watch.
Unfortunately, the other new characters are extremely one-note and uninteresting. Towa's character is especially disappointing. Her role as Raja's ruler gave her plenty of opportunities to show the audience a new point of view in this world's politics, but she ended up sharing the same basic views as the protagonist, completely eliminating any chance of an interesting character.
Towa's disappointment even extends to other characters, as her relationship with Hiiro is extremely basic and boring. This relationship effectively halves the screentime in which he's entertaining.
The villains, while entertaining at first, have such bland designs that it makes it hard for the audience to remember which generic crony is who.
The biggest problem with the film is actually in the protagonists. While they're all great characters, with two seasons of development to back them up, they are simply too strong.
Rimuru is a ludicrously powerful demon lord, with a massive supply of nearly as powerful servants at his command. The trickster villain this film presents is not nearly strong enough to pose any realistic threat to the protagonists.
Hiiro is the only character in the film that could pose even a modicum of a threat, but he quickly joins Rimuru's side at the beginning of the film. While he is brainwashed and made to fight the protagonists at the end of the movie, he still isn't the central villain, which severely hurts his potentially menacing nature.
Ultima is another character introduced in this film. However, unlike the rest of the new characters, she is canon to the show’s plot. Fans speculated that she would have been introduced in a potential season 3 or 4, but she appears early in this movie. Her appearance not only ruins the plot of the show, but this film as well, adding another villain into a story that didn't need it.
The ending of the film is a huge slap in the face. Hiiro is on his deathbed, with Towa kneeling over him. The entire goal of the film was to save Towa's life and assist in the rebuilding of Raja Kingdom. Towa sacrifices herself to save Hiiro's life in a somewhat heartfelt scene. However, Ultima changes her mind at the very end and brings Towa back to life, allowing both characters to live.
This is such a slap in the face. If Hiiro had died, it could have allowed Towa to grow as a person and move on from her reliance on him. If Towa had died, it would have freed Hiiro from his self-imposed servitude, allowing him to live with his friend Benimaru again.
But no, both characters live, essentially returning this relationship back to the status quo. It makes all of the development between these two entirely pointless.
"Tensura: Scarlet Bond" is a film with great central protagonists and good music that is bogged down by bad new characters, a boring and tensionless plot, mediocre animation, and an ending that makes the bulk of the movie pointless. This film is a slap in the face for "Tensura" fans everywhere.
D: A bland, boring disappointment