This year sees the end of the Heisei era, as Japan’s current Emperor Heisei (birth name: Akihito) abdicates this April and leaves the imperial throne to his son, Naruhito. In light of this, almost every company under the sun has been scrambling to find a way to see out the end of an era with a bang. Publisher Kodansha have finally revealed their hand with an unlikely collaboration between the rising isekai star That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime (Tensura) and the long-running salaryman drama Kachou Kousaku Shima.
While I’m sure that Tensura needs no introduction, many of you may be drawing a blank when it comes to Kachou Kousaku Shima. This long-running series, created by Hirokane Kenshi, follows the life of the titular salaryman Kousaku Shima as he progresses through the corporate world.
The series is partially based on Hirokane’s own experiences working at Panasonic, and has been praised for its realistic portrayal of Japanese corporate culture. Furthermore, it has been running for almost 30 years now – beginning with Shima as a kachou (section chief) and with the current series seeing Shima act as the kaichou (chairman).
These two series, which couldn’t be more different in tone and content, are set to collide in a new collaboration. An initial one-shot is set to come out in the next issue of the bi-weekly magazine Evening on March 12, which will see the protagonist of Tensura, Rimuru Tempest, in an alternate timeline where he wasn’t reincarnated as a slime, but instead as Kousaku Shima in his section chief years. A second one-shot will follow two issues later.
While this collaboration may seem a little random, I think it has legs. Rimuru’s tendency to overreact to situations in Tensura might work very well with the type of melodrama that Shima faces in his corporate world, adding a layer of satire to a series that otherwise takes itself quite seriously. Besides, Tensura isn’t the type of series to shy away from weird collaborations.
Furthermore, if Kodansha are truly looking for a good way to see out the Heisei era for their seinen-orientated series, then perhaps these series are the best candidates. While their subject matter couldn’t be more different, perhaps that was the beauty of the Heisei era – rapid sociological and economic change, alongside ever changing and evolving consumer tastes.