By the Grace of the Gods, Vol. 2

By Roy and Ririnra. Released in Japan as “Kami-tachi ni Hirowareta Otoko” by HJ Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Mana Z.

It’s probably not a coincidence that while the genre of ‘Slow Life’ novels is very popular in Japan, we haven’t really seen that many straight examples of it here in the West. There have been a few that come close, but they tend to have a lot of things happening, or else they’re standard isekai only lackadaisical. By the Grace of the Gods really comes closest to the pure type (Ryoma does do some adventuring and goblin slaying, so it’s not 100% “no I will not be a isekai protagonist I am going to farm!” like the best of them), as Ryoma, over the course of the book, realizes that rather than hanging out with the rich family who “rescued” him and getting closer to their daughter who clearly has a crush on him, and rather than going on guild quests and monster hunting, he’s going o be… opening a laundry. Of course, given his slimes, this is not as big a jump as you might expect. The result is that the book is… pretty good but dull.

We don’t get the laundry till the end of the book, so for the most part this book involves Ryoma finding odd things to do with his ever increasing pile of slimes. He’s learning new magic, so that he can store them better and also teleport. He’s clearing abandoned mines of minor monster hordes, along with the occasional worse than expected monster horde. And he is getting involved in fights between a bunch of bully adventurers and the kids they’re taking advantage of… which not only leads Ryoma to kick their ass and make sure they’re punished, but also makes him realize that this sort of thing is exactly NOT what he wants to do. And that he’s not happy with this side of himself. So a laundry, given how hard it is to get monster guts off of clothing in this world, sounds fantastic.

This last part is the most interesting part of the book. Ryoma gets really pissed off when he sees the bullying adventurers, enough that it gets a color page. Given Ryoma’s default mood has been ‘stoic’, this merely involves escalating to ‘glower’, but it’s a start. That said, I really liked his attempts at self-analysis after the event – they make sense to him, but also feel a bit wrong to the reader and to everyone else around him. He decides to be “more independent” by breaking off with the duke’s family, convinced that being with them would “spoil” him. Honestly, I agree more with everyone that he tells this to: I think he needs more exposure to others, not less. He’s easily pegged as someone who will never ask for help. Even the Gods, when he prays to them and goes for a visit (remember the title), inform him that he’s not just a 40-old guy in an 11-year-old body – his emotional state is matching up with his age in THIS world. It’s a great conceit that’s the best part of the book.

That said, the REST of the book is a lot of monster hunts, slimes, and everyone praising Ryoma for being awesome… in other words, standard light novel. That said, I’m very interested to see where this goes nest.

By the Grace of the Gods, Vol. 1

By Roy and Ririnra. Released in Japan as “Kami-tachi ni Hirowareta Otoko” by HJ Novels. Released in North America by J-Novel Club. Translated by Mana Z.

We’re starting to get the second generation of isekai writers here, those who did not start their webnovel after watching El Hazard and playing a lot of RPG games, but rather those who started their webnovel after reading a giant pile of isekai webnovels. By the Grace of the Gods and its author, Roy is definitely a book written by an isekai reader, and the lead character is also a fan of the novels, so dying and meeting gods does not surprise him. In fact, little surprises him. He is reincarnated in another world, a fantasy world, as a young eight-year-old boy. Of course, he also brings along a large amount of magic power. And a large number of ridiculous skills. And this is in addition to his old life in Japan, where, despite being a salaryman, he was a martial arts expert who worked out daily and also has swordsmanship drilled into him by his father. If anything in those last few sentences irritates you, I advise you to stay away. If, on the other hand, it’s fine, you should enjoy this book, as Ryoma ends up in his fantasy world and immediately… hides away from civilization for three years.

Ryoma is the anti-Tanya. The gods love him… in fact, he has blessings from FOUR gods, and makes sure to pray to them. His three years spent living in a cave away from people have allowed him to research slimes, which takes up most of his time, though he still finds time to kill bandits and learn more powerful magic. Fortunately, there’s a timeskip towards the start of the book, and an eleven-year-old Ryoma meets a duke and his party who are in need of some medical aid, which Ryoma is able to provide (he can make medicine too). The duke is nice, and has a family who are also nice, including a girl Ryoma’s own age who is bright and shiny and innocent and the opposite of the soft-spoken, stoic Ryoma. Invited to leave his cave and go with them, Ryoma finally interacts with a fantasy city… which is good, as his trained slimes are desperately needed to stave off an epidemic.

As you may have gathered, this book is ridiculous, but one thing I haven’t mentioned yet is that it is also a “slow life” book. Things happen at a leisurely pace, there are no action sequences, and there’s no romance as Ryoma and Eliaria are eleven years old (despite Ryoma’s old memories). It just wants to hang around Ryoma and watch him be cool, but he’s cool in a very nerdy scientist sort of way. He has his specialized slimes, and they get to show their stuff. They can clean the hardest grime. They can kill off bandits when ingested. And, in the thrilling climax to the book, they can eat sewage from a filthy cesspit… which also shows there is a potential deadly bacteria there as well. The best part of the book is the relationship Ryoma develops with his found family, who treat him like an orphan with a tragic backstory and love him to death.

Again, this is second generation isekai. It assumes that you’re okay with OP heroes, and that excitement and adventure are about 4th on your list after friendly chats about slimes (which are the first three slots). For those readers, this is a solid choice. I enjoyed it.