I don’t want to overthink I’ve Been Killing Slimes For 300 Years And Maxed Out My Level, the new anime adaptation of the light novel series about a woman who literally worked herself to death and is then reborn to a slower, more lazy life. As stardf29 mentioned in his first impression of the series, one shouldn’t “expect much in the way of drama or excitement.” And yet, I find something profound and challenging in a theme emphasized in the first two episodes of the series, something that speaks against the lifestyles of so many of those I’ve been surrounded by my whole life, from family to friends to church members, and sometimes myself as well: Working too hard is a bad thing.
The show takes a very simple approach with this idea. Azusa Aizawa labored in her corporate job for endless hours, devoting her life to work, until one day she passed out and died while in the office. Given the chance at rebirth in a different world, she asks to made ageless and rquests the opposite kind of life she lives on earth, one that’s slow and easy. And so Aizawa is reborn as a witch and for the next 300 years, spends her time killing the lowest enemy life form (slimes), walking to the village to speak with people and exchange gems for money, occasionally making medicines, growing crops, and making meals.
This slower pace is exactly what she needs. Her new life serves as a cure for the old.
I feel a deep empathy for Asuza. I may not work as hard as she did, or even to the extent of the typical worker in corporate Japan, famed for its excesses in poor labor treatment, but a similar mentality, at least, is present in my mind: Keep working, keep working, keep working. Maybe it’s the same for you, this even though we all realize that working too much and too hard results in high stress, poor health, and, perhaps and unfortunately, illness that contributes to, if not directly linked to, our eventual demise, like with Aizawa.
And yet, we do it. The pressure of culture and allure of financial gain is too overpowering. So, too, the attraction of seeing oneself in a position of authority, letting work and its results be our passion, and conveying our family beliefs through work ethic. It’s almost as if for many of us, overwork runs in our blood, and it becomes more natural to just do rather than to first stop and think about one’s approach, which is unfortunate since it’s vital to consider this question: Is working this hard this really what I should be doing?
You would think Christians would have a better handle on all this, with our teachings about the purpose of life, but we don’t. “Hard work,” as good as it can be, becomes part and parcel of our religion rather than something to be looked at through a biblical lens. We don’t consider if and why we should be working hard. Labor often contributes to a neglect of what our lives here are all about.
At the end of the day, we need consider if we’ve expended our thought, energy, and heart on Christ as much as we should, and if not, has work contributed to this problem? Has ministry taken a backseat, becoming more of a “when I can” type activity or an ideal scenario as opposed to the reality of work, eat, rest, repeat?
Right now in my own life, I’m in a period of overwork. It won’t last forever—I don’t think—but if it does go on for too long, I’ll need to make a change because I can already see the impact in my life: I’m less kind to people (both those I’m supposed to be ministering to and my own family), my health isn’t as good, and my heart and focus is more on the next thing to do rather than on worship. I know that I’m in danger of making work the focus, rather than the means, of forgetting that it is for ministry and is ministry, and that I should conduct it in a way, also, that leaves me energy to pour into this very blog and its other platforms, as well as into people that God more physically brings into my life.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. – Romans 12:2
If I labor for any other reason than for Christ, I’m buying into the ways of this world. I’m placing my own priorities and wishes ahead of God’s. And while it can result in some good, sometimes much good, that’s not what God desires from me—He wants my heart, and when I’m more intentional and enamored, purposely giving it to him, I’m often surprised to find myself more effective for his kingdom purposes.
In the anime, Aizawa, who after hundreds of years has mastered the art of working just enough, becomes disagreeable when adventurers, a dragon, and her “children” seek her out and challenge her after discovering that she’s a level 99 adventurer. But despite seeming to be put off by the new challenges in her life, what episodes one and two infer is that although Aizawa will become busier with these changes in her life, it’s not busyness in the same pattern as with her previous life. She’s starting to become occupied with the work of taking care of others, while still ensuring that she gets the rest she needs. After recovering from the evil inflicted on her by a work-to-death culture, Aizawa is ready to labor in a better way, one that has real meaning and which preserves life, expands it, and gives it, rather than taking it away.
Aizawa lost her chance to live that way in her first life. It was over before she knew it. I have a chance now to change before my life is totally wasted away, and without the need for a redo and hundreds of years of rest and healing. Rest can come now and so, too, can the goodness of using my energy and time for something more than simply work. Starting now, I can be more like the new Aizawa—healing, teaching, and loving.
And that sounds to me like the best kind of work there is.
I’ve Been Killing Slimes For 300 Years And Maxed Out My Level can be streamed through Crunchyroll.