By the Grace of the Gods – 1st Episode Review
Synopsis: Only 39 years into a life full of bad luck, Ryoma Takebayashi passes away in his sleep! Taking pity on him, three divine beings show compassion by reincarnating him as a young boy to a magical, new world. Now he spends his time researching and caring for slimes. But after healing an injured traveler, Ryoma decides to set out with his new friends on a journey to use his power to help others. (Official Funimation Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Here we have yet another extremely run of the mill Isekai. By the Grace of the Gods features the typical overworked adult male who’s extremely excited to reincarnate in another world away from the depression and burdens of his previous life on Earth. Not only is the whole set up as generic and common as can be but it is in parts both nonsensical and illogical. For example, the Gods of this new world are sending Ryoma to their world because their own world is running out of magic so they need the untapped magical energy from our Earth. But they never explain how or why they cannot send the magic alone and why it has to be accompanied by someone reincarnating. Furthermore, why do they need magic at all? If the world is running out of it why transport him to this other world just for him to use it all up again practicing it? There’s a lot of holes to the explanation offered. Also, there is absolutely no reasoning given as to why Ryoma is being ‘reincarnated’ into the premade body of an 8 year old. Why an 8 year old? Why not younger or perhaps even better, someone older? In fact, given that he is going to be sent to live all on his own, you’d assume it would be beneficial for him to have the body of an older teen just for pure abilities sake. Not to mention, even though Ryoma is sent to be a magic user, his ‘stats’ are all brute based, which is the most puzzling element of them all. But you get no answers and only the barest of exposition.
Tom: Even outside of the Isekai shenanigans there’s a real lack of logic to so many of the elements presented. Often times it’s to make a joke work, or to help set the easy-going nature of Ryoma’s new life. Examples include Ryoma having died from a sneeze, forcing him into a convoluted series of events that would kill no even moderately healthy adult. Or there’s Ryoma explanation of how feeding Slimes causes them to build up different traits. Like if you feed poisonous plants to a slime it becomes a poison slime. That makes sense. But when you feed dirt to a slime it becomes a cleaning slime. What? That’s the opposite of what should happen based on the other examples. Basically, everything is the way it is all to craft the typical easy-going slice of life Isekai tone, whether the explanations or foundational elements make a lick of sense, making By the Grace of the Gods feel incredibly lazy.
Linny: On a minor note (literally), towards the end of this episode as well as the opening and ending credit scenes, we see that Ryoma is going to have a female companion who seems around the age of his currently 11 year old body. The sequences seems to heavily hint at some sort of attraction forming between them. Given that the show also makes it plenty clear that Ryoma is well aware of his previous life and has the mental capacity and memories of his previous, obviously mature 39 year old adult mind and body, having him pair up with a preteen girl raises some uncomfortable if not downright controversial questions. Which brings me to my next point that By the Grace of the Gods might have been better off without its Isekai premise at all. Had it been just a straight up story about a young kid who ends up having to fend for himself alone in the wilderness after his guardians pass, it would have been very sweet to then watch him make friends, grow up and find love. There is a chance that we might get examples of Ryuma putting his previous life memories or skills to good use in this new life further on in the show. But as it stands for the moment, that life and this life have absolutely zilch to do with each other, making his reincarnation pointless. It just seems like a weak attempt to piggyback off the popularity of Isekai based content.
Tom: I’m no big fan of slice of life, or Isekai, and by pairing the two you get a genre I really struggle to see value in. That said, I think even something like The 8th Son, or I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years has more value. Those at least have a bit more internal logic, even if the Isekai half of the story never amounts to much at all. By the Grace of Gods feels tailored to the die-hards, and lacks quality writing that might have allowed it a wider appeal.
Linny: For anyone seeking a well thought out plot and genre redefining elements, By the Grace of the Gods is likely to be an easy pass. It’s a lukewarm show at best and is done no favours by how mundanely it all plays out. Even moments and dialogue that are clearly meant to be self aware nods or jokes such as the acknowledgment of the deluge of isekai in anime and manga, or Ryoma’s frustration at how he died play out so restrained and matter of fact. For all my complaints though, I will give the show that it has competent art. While not mind-blowing, it’s rarely a pain to watch in this first episode. If you can’t get enough of isekai stories, it does the bare minimum to tick off the most popular tropes, plus coupled with its satisfactory animation, it should be able to keep you entertained.