Some of you reading this might already be familiar with the title By the Grace of the Gods, which is a light novel series licensed by J-Novel Club with an anime currently airing (available on Funimation). Today I’m here to take a look at the manga published by Square Enix books to find out if it’s a fun way of experiencing this story.
Our story follows Ryoma Takebayashi, who was an office worker in Japan until he died and was reincarnated as an 8-year-old boy in a new world. Being fed up of interacting with people after his days working in an office, Ryoma decides to live in the forest in which he has woken up and spends his days taming slimes and living peacefully.
Three years pass as Ryoma continues his quiet way of life until he comes across the Duke of Jamil (called Reinhart), who is passing through the forest with his guards when they are attacked by monsters and injured. Ryoma offers them medicine and a chance to rest at his home, where Reinhart becomes fascinated by how Ryoma has been living on his own in the forest for so long.
After resting overnight, Jamil and his group return to town, but promise to visit again soon to thank Ryoma appropriately for his help. Two weeks later they make good on this promise, bringing gifts for our protagonist and also introducing him to Reinhart’s wife and daughter, Elise and Eliaria. After seeing the happy family together and spending time around humans again, perhaps Ryoma can be convinced to finally go into the nearby city…
It has to be said that By the Grace of the Gods is an incredibly slow slice of life where not a great deal happens from volume to volume (I’ve read the light novels so I know where this all goes). But having said that, I don’t think that’s a bad thing in this case.
Although Ryoma does get some special treatment from the gods who send him on his way after his death, he’s not the incredibly overpowered main character we’re used to in a story like this. Ryoma can use any of the several magic types in the world, but being able to use them all means he can’t master any. On the other hand, he does have a lot of physical strength (even felling a tree with one kick!), but he was well-built in his past life so this is somewhat excusable.
This first volume, in particular, doesn’t focus on Ryoma doing much of anything that makes use of his powers, though. Instead, we get to meet the army of slimes he has tamed and continues to research. He’s done enough experiments with them where he has several different breeds that can handle different tasks, such as ‘Cleaner’ slimes for cleaning and ‘Sticky’ slimes that let out a sticky substance to help capture prey. If you’re fond of monster-taming stories then the relationship between Ryoma and these creatures will surely appeal to you.
This manga adaptation is handled by mangaka Ranran and this seems to be their first published work so far (both here and in Japan). The artwork is fitting for the type of series By the Grace of the Gods is and captures both the cast and the slimes well, but I couldn’t help but feel it was lacking in the backgrounds department with quite a few panels feeling empty. This does start to improve toward the end of Volume 1, so perhaps it’s something that the mangaka is still getting a handle on.
One thing I do appreciate about the manga compared to the light novel is that it cuts out a great deal of Ryoma’s inner monologues, which I always felt were a bit long-winded and unnecessary. What we’re left with in terms of the manga is easier to digest, and not being overloaded with information helps draw you into the story. If anything, I think the story is more suited to this medium than a light novel or the currently airing anime.
By the Grace of the Gods Volume 1 has been brought to the West thanks to Square Enix Manga and has been translated by Sheldon Drzka. The translation reads well with no issues to speak of. This release includes a colour page at the beginning and a short story written by the original author Roy, which I always like in terms of extras. The series is on-going in Japan at five volumes and Square Enix have Volume 2 scheduled for an English release in March 2021.
Overall, By the Grace of the Gods Volume 1 proves a fairly sweet but slow series. If you’re fond of slice-of-life tales featuring monster-taming stories, then you’ll no doubt enjoy what this manga offers, but otherwise, it may prove somewhat underwhelming. However, if nothing else, it’s fairly different to the isekai norm so that’s certainly a point in its favour.
A free preview of Volume 1 can be found on Square Enix’s website here.