The latest entry in Square Enix’s flourishing manga imprint is By the Grace of the Gods, an adaptation of a popular light novel series which is currently enjoying an anime adaptation. Upon his sudden death, middle-aged otaku businessman Ryoma Takebayashi finds himself in a curious situation. Three gods request his cooperation in their divine plot, which requires him to reincarnate in another world as a young boy! Equipped with magic, young Ryoma undertakes a carefree existence in the forest, leisurely learning more about his new abilities and surroundings. And when he encounters slimes like those in video games from his former life, Ryoma uses his newfound magical powers to get creative with his research! Will the gods get more than they bargained for in Ryoma?!
The isekai (accidental travel to another world) genre has seen a surge in popularity in recent times with series such as That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime and The Rising of The Shield Hero becoming big hits. By the Grace of the Gods is the latest in this trend, although it takes a markedly more light-hearted approach than those aforementioned series and skews to a younger audience. This isn’t a series rooted in revenge or zaniness. For one thing, the protagonist – Ryoma – spends a good portion of this first volume revelling in getting a second chance at childhood and approaches his new-found position through the eyes of a child rather than those of a jaded adult. Whilst it doesn’t go into straight-up comedy (like in That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime), it adds some levity to the genre which has tended to be populated by brooding heroes in recent series.
Further setting him apart from recent isekai protagonists, Ryoma isn’t an all-powerful warrior effortlessly cutting down fodder – at least not in the tradional sense. Influenced by experiences in his previous life, he instead looks upon the slimes that would normally fall into the fodder category with compassion and empathy, which leads to the slimes playing a major part in his adventure and provides some of the best parts of this opening volume as he uses his new abilities to adapt the slimes into different uses and situations.
Ranran does a great job bringing Roy’s light novel to manga and adapting Ririnra’s character designs whilst also exceling at contrasting the banality of Ryoma’s previous life with his new one. In addition, heavily focusing on slimes might hinder certain artists given how limited they are in appearance, but Ranran rises to the challenge with gusto.
This is fun manga adventure that is perfect for new manga readers of all ages. Additionally, it is a great entry in the isekai genre that offers something different from the norm.
By the Grace of the Gods (Manga) 1 is out now from Square Enix Manga
(9781646090808, p/b, £9.99)
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