Thu. May 23rd, 2024

Review: By the Grace of the Gods, season two

This is what’s called an Iyashikei genre show. Let’s go to the Google definition for a good look at this fabulous word because it sums it up beautifully: ‘Iyashikei (癒し系) is Japanese for “healing”, a term used for anime and manga created with the specific purpose of having a healing or soothing effect on the audience. Works of this kind often involve alternative realities with little to no conflict, emphasizing nature and the little delights in life.’ Isn’t that yummy? Doesn’t it make you just want to watch something like that? I like this genre of shows because they are so damned anti-Hollywood. They don’t require an antagonist to stuff things up for everyone, and there’s very little outside conflict in them. The main conflict is usually internal, as it is for the main character in Grace, a young boy called Ryoma.

Following the classic Isekai trope, Ryoma starts as a middle aged salaryman working a thankless job who dies in his sleep and is ‘reborn’ on a new world as a young boy. Thanks to the ‘Gods’ of the show’s title, he is also given great magic abilities and he uses these to tame pliant creatures known as ‘slimes’. Various characters, who are all wonderfully kind and helpful, befriend him and he eventually makes a good life by establishing a popular laundry service, using his talented slimes to clean people’s clothes. Sounds boring, I know, but if you’re attuned to the iyashikei experience, it’s very beautiful and restful. Ryoma is a warm-hearted and winning lad, who impresses everyone with his secret 21st Century knowledge (one of the few internal conflicts he faces – keeping his real identity from them). One of the joys of the show is seeing a character like Ryoma, whose previous life had been so miserable, get a second chance to live a life he truly deserved and where he can fulfil his potential. The female characters he meets are all super-cute (there’s even a catgirl, yay!), and the soundtrack is wonderful. I really enjoyed the first season, but I have to say, so far, season two is proving somewhat repetitive and lacking in story inspiration. We’ll see how it goes…

I watched a couple of episodes of By the Grace of the Gods, but was too tired to concentrate, so went to bed early. I have a vague memory that the episodes (4 and 5 of season 2) continued in the unsatisfying vein of the previous ones. I guess Iyashikeis can walk a fine line between being delightful and being boring, and these episodes crossed over for me…

One of Ryoma’s fighting friends

Watched some more episodes of that anime, By the Grace of the Gods season two. I’m still enjoying its gentle approach to story-telling where all conflicts are resolved and seemingly everyone becomes friends. Very Japanese. But the show does manage to manufacture some conflict. We’ve had a rampaging razorback pig, which Ryoma quickly dispatches and his friends subsequently cut up and cook and eat. No animal sentimentality there! And in the most recent episode I watched there were some ‘bad’ trees that Ryoma and friends were tasked with fighting, cutting down and collecting for building materials. You could tell they were bad trees from their frowny faces and their branches that made threatening movements. There was even a boss tree controlling the others which was revealed, once it was ‘killed’, to be hoarding some magic crystals – the key to its magical strength. I don’t think I’ve seen a good tree fight since, well, Lord of the Rings and Treebeard and the Ents

I finished that anime series, By the Grace of the Gods season two. It was a pleasant little Iyashikei, ending with main character Ryoma taking part in a village festival and feeling accepted by the townsfolk, not unlike the cultural festivals that often close out high school animes. It was a little strange that it ended there, as Ryoma had made some enigmatic comments throughout the show that he was planning on going back to the forest where he began, and it was a prospect that filled him with some trepidation. Maybe they’ll give us that storyline if season three gets made. So too Ryoma’s relationship with the Gods who appear in the show from time to time. There were some new ones this season, and Ryoma’s interactions with them were some of the more interesting parts of the show. But they were underused, their intentions vague, so maybe we’ll also have to wait for season three to find out more about them. I guess after all that sweetness and goodness I feel properly ‘healed’. But now it’s time to get fucked up again!