For a series about taking it easy for centuries at a time, I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level goes to some pretty deep places, though with such humor and nonchalance that they can easily be missed. It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it-because-you’re-laughing kind of thing. But this week’s episode—about visiting the demon realm, of all things—has such pearls of wisdom tucked away amid the gags that I can’t resist highlighting them. Who knows? They may just help you and me through a tough spot one day.
The episode opens with Beelzebub joyously congratulating Azusa, Witch of the Highlands, on being awarded the Demon Medal of Honor for her many good deeds in recent days, and particularly for the events of episode four, when she brokered a peace deal between warring dragon clans. Azusa and her found family are now invited (ahem, required) to travel to the demon realm to receive the award from the Demon King personally (who of course turns out to be a cute, petite girl because this is slice-of-life after all). After initial fears are assuaged, the household sets about the necessary preparations excitedly. Only there’s one problem: new family member Rosalie doesn’t have the appropriate clothes for a royal ball. This wouldn’t be an issue for any normal girl, but Rosalie is a ghost and her clothing is intangible. How ever can she exchange her dress for a gown?
Consultation with a researcher of all things spectral confirms that Rosalie’s clothing is part of her and cannot be removed, nor can she put on new clothing overtop it, considering that she has no substance. Rosalie is stuck wearing the remnants of her dead former life—clothing that she has so internalized that she cannot even imagine herself out of them. (Starting to sound familiar?)
Rosalie accepts this hopeless news. “What’s impossible is impossible,” she concedes with faux brightness. “I’m just fine sticking with this outfit.”
Azusa, as the insightful onee-san that she is, sees through this false cheeriness and calls Rosalie out on it. “You think everything’s fine if you can just endure it, don’t you?” she asks. “But just enduring isn’t always a good thing.” This gentle reprimand reminded me of a life-changing preach I once heard, when the speaker explained that as long as we are willing to cope—be it with a problematic situation or our own broken condition in a given area—nothing will change. He used the example of workaholism—something Azusa took on in the first episode—and how our willingness to cope with inhuman working hours and perpetual exhaustion actually prevents us from pursuing the changes we need to be free of such an unhealthy lifestyle. But it applies to all kinds of issues of pain, fear, and temptation in our lives. Basically, our willingness to cope drowns out the urgency to hope for a better future, for a fuller life abounding with peace, for healing and restoration. And we need that urgency sometimes to move us to transformative action, and power us off the “cliff of familiar discomfort” in a leap of faith. Coping or “just enduring” can sometimes be the very stumbling block keeping us from breakthrough in our lives.
It gets better. Azusa reminds Rosalie of her dream to wear a gown and enjoy the celebration together with them. “We shouldn’t give up,” she continues, “Let’s find a way!” Which is sweet and all, but pretty predictable. So now it’s Rosalie’s turn to call Azusa out: “Sister, if you’re making this some kind of ‘those who believe shall be saved’ thing…” She leaves us hanging, but the meaning is clear: don’t tell me to “just believe.” Azusa replies with a hilarious quip about not liking being treated “like an occultist by a ghost,” which nearly laughs off this crucial moment. But after a pause (and a shift back to the non-jokey art style), Azusa responds to the deeper, unvoiced problem that the ghost girl is raising. “Just believe,” she tells Rosalie, “in me!”
“Believe” and “Just Believe” have become popular catchphrases in Western culture, and not just in Christian circles. You can get hats, sweatshirts, necklaces and notebooks with these words emblazoned on them in beautiful script. This kind of merchandise can be a valuable reminder, helping us to renew our faith each day. But as a response to someone who is in a difficult situation, this slogan is not always terribly helpful. Believe what? That it will be ok? That things will work out? That I will be strong enough? It’s true that “All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purposes,” as Paul wrote to the Romans (8:28), and I have done my fair share of leaning on this verse, I can tell you! It is a lifesaver. But sometimes remembering this scripture isn’t enough. Sometimes it doesn’t bring peace or clarity or that most precious and elusive of gifts—sleep in the middle of the night. I think this is what Rosalie is getting at as she trails off in her comment: belief in and of itself is not enough.
And Azusa gets it. She knows that what matters is what exactly it is we believe in. Or in Rosalie’s case—and in the case of our faith as Christians—who it is we believe in.
You see, as she gazes into those sparkly eyes, Rosalie remembers who Azusa is.
One long look into Azusa’s eyes, and Rosalie begins to mirror their sparkle. She is ready to take a leap of faith.
Azusa, after all, is the famed Witch of the Highlands, celebrated by every realm and race, drawing every nation to her home and into her heart. She is seemingly omnipotent, or at least has not yet plumbed the depths of her powers. Nor has she met a challenge that she cannot best, and winsomely so, to the point of adopting as family all those who were initially her enemies.
And so remembering who it is she is to believe in, Rosalie begins to live differently. She prepares for the ball that she had given up on attending, practicing her dancing and curtsies. She also partners with Azusa by studying the gown—the beautiful new garment—that Azusa is determined to provide for her, committing it and her new self—the ghost who is able to wear such a beautiful raiment—to her heart. She is ready to put on this new robe, this new life—a garment she cannot acquire for herself, but which her provider will gift her. And reader, she gets her dress.
Jesus tells us the same thing: “Believe in me.”
When we don’t have the faith to believe in “all things working out,” that’s not a sign that we need to cope with what we’re faced with and just endure. Instead, it’s a sign that we need to reorient where it is we’re looking, until we’re faced with the eyes of the one we believe in. When we gaze into those eyes, a-sparkle with fiery passion like Azusa’s—and they are! Just check out Revelation 1:14 and 19:12—we can remember who exactly he is: the king, celebrated around the entire globe and across all time by both people and creation alike (even the demon realm will one day bow); unrivaled in his power and able to overcome all adversity; and above all, dedicated to his family. Like Azusa with Rosalie, he ensures that we are well dressed, in garments of praise and robes of righteousness, decked out like a bride or groom on their wedding day, and ready to dance at the ball.
When we remember who it is exactly that we believe in, we too like Rosalie, will find the fiery passion to stop just enduring in life, and start acting on our hope for the shared joy of celebration with our own found family and a Father who’s even more caring and able than Azusa nee-san.
I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level can be streamed on Crunchyroll.