Weary and overworked, middle-aged office worker Ryoma Takebayashi dies in his sleep of a brain haemorrhage, only to find himself face to face with three gods. Acknowledging the hardships he faced in his previous life, the gods offer Ryoma the opportunity to be reincarnated in another world where he can be happy. Familiar with the isekai trope, Ryoma agrees, and is reincarnated as a young boy with magical abilities in an alternate fantasy earth. Wanting to take a break from being around other people, Ryoma spends his days studying and taming the local slime creatures that live in the woods and perfecting his magic skills. However, his recluse lifestyle is interrupted after Ryoma helps a group of travellers he finds in the woods and he is invited to join them on their journey.
By the Grace of the Gods is another entry to the ever-growing isekai anime category, the 12-episode series utilising a number of familiar tropes endemic to the genre. Ryoma is an adult reincarnated into the body of a child following his death, finds himself in a fantasy world that inexplicably functions like and MMORPG with ability scores and all, and he excels at the “mechanics” of the world he finds himself in (in this case, magic and taming). Also, there are slimes – lots and lots of slimes. In fact, Ryoma raises and lives with over 1,000 slimes, all of whom are at his beck and call.
The series is a very ‘cute’ isekai – if I had to give By the Grace of the Gods a sub-genre label, it would be a moe slice-of-life. It is not a series particularly interested in the intricacies of world building or its magic system or analysing the fact that people have defined MMORPG skill levels, it just follows the uncomplicated adventures of Ryoma as he goes about his day being a skilful and kind little guy. After Ryoma helps the Jamil family and their entourage travelling through his woods, he is invited to go with them and travels to a nearby town to begin re-entering society. From there, the series focuses on Ryoma’s day-to-day activities, like learning more magic (which he is very good at, and you will know this because every character Ryoma meets would rather die than miss the opportunity to comment on how talented he is), growing a friendship with Eliaria the daughter of the Jamil family, and undertaking various bulletin board job requests ranging from cleaning to dungeon crawling.
By the Grace of the Gods kind of meanders along harmlessly through its narrative, there is never really a sense of tension or stakes as Ryoma has been well-established as being equipped to handle basically any situation thrown his way. Whether it’s a rockslide blocking his path or vicious goblins attacking, Ryoma is easily able to address the problem with his magical prowess or by utilising his slimes which can basically solve any issue by cleaning or consuming it. While Ryoma’s wide-eyed perfection can be charming the first few episodes and the use of the slimes and their various evolutions can be interesting, By the Grace of the Gods relies on these gimmicks so regularly that they become more and more mundane as the series progresses, and at their worst, feel like recurring jokes.
Aside from the pure, fluffy escapism of Ryoma excelling at everything he does because he’s just a special little guy, By the Grace of the Gods does have a couple of interesting concepts going on. Throughout the series there are moments that relate to the theme of overwork and exploitation of workers. Ryoma considers this quite frequently due to the events that led up to his death, and later when he decides he wants to be self-sufficient and open up a business and has to hire employees. This gives the series a much needed focus in my opinion, and kind of an interesting thematic hook throughout its episodes. It also contextualises the mundanity of the series somewhat, with Ryoma’s studying and raising of the slimes treated like a retirement activity – something relaxing he can do now that he’s not living the life of a salaryman. Based on this, the vibes of the show are well exemplified in the series’ opening lyrics – “I’m alive now that I’ve reached this gentle world”. So the series is kind of comforting in that way I suppose, if still a little mundane even by slice-of-life standards due to the lack of stakes.
By the Grace of the Gods is a very gentle, unchallenging isekai about a person who had a rough life being given a second chance to start over again. It was a little too vanilla for my tastes, but I can respect the uncomplicated fantasy it presents. Perhaps best used as a palette cleanser between anime series, if you’re looking for something uncomplicated and sweet By the Grace of the Gods will do the trick.
©Roy, HOBBY JAPAN/ By the Grace of the Gods Project
A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review.