In Japanese, the title is: Kami-tachi ni Hirowareta Otoko. In English, it roughly translates to: By the Grace of the Gods. Though Google also shows one that says, The Man Picked Up By the Gods, we’ll go with that first one. Mostly, though, I think of it more under the name of Kamitachi.
Whatever name one calls it, by, though – much like Shakespeare’s rose that smells as sweet by any other name – Kamitachi is an happy-feeling anime.
It’s surprising how interesting it is, really. I mean, most of the stories that grip us tend to be driven by goals and obstacles, by heroic quests and nefarious villains, by epic conflict with high, personal stakes, that sort of thing. Kamitachi has pretty much none of that… no, wait, I amend that, it had none of that whatsoever. And yet I happily binged the entire first season all at once. It made me smile, with this warm, happy feeling in my heart.
The story centers on Ryoma, a young man in a fantasy world who is actually the reincarnation of a man from Japan. It used the isekai trope, and used the man’s knowledge of it to speed up the expository setup. He died more or less in his sleep, instead of by the stereotypical traffic accident, and he met with three gods from a neighboring world. They have an arrangement with the divine power of Earth, we shall say, where they can recruit deceased humans to come and be reborn into their world. With their rebirth, they open a flow of magic from Earth, where such is abundant and hardly ever used, to theirs, where it gets used a lot and dwindles every so often. So, the man wasn’t summoned or reincarnated in order to fight some monstrous demonic evil or anything like that, but he’s still providing a great service, and so he is highly blessed for it.
Now a young boy, Ryoma spends the first part of his new life alone in the forests, away from people, because he has a literal lifetime of unpleasant experiences with people. To be blunt, almost no one ever gave a crap about him, so he’s not so motivated to go be with more people who don’t care about him. He’s content to live quietly in the middle of nowhere, and it gives him time to do something he enjoys, namely, focus on his first project in this new world: taming and using slimes. There seems to be a trend towards giving slimes a bit of the spotlight, I notice, but this one focused on their more practical aspects. Indeed, practicality came into play in this anime to a degree which is a bit uncommon in most others.
By the time Ryoma has a fateful encounter with a nobleman (one who actually is worth calling noble) and his men, he’s spent three years living alone with his slimes, which now number in the low thousands. The skills he develops in his slimes and in himself (he is very creative, industrious, and determined) make him uniquely suited to lending these good people a hand, and they are most grateful. They soon return and persuade him to accompany them, to learn and do more with his talents, and thus begins his endeavors in the world at large. He learns more magic, more skills, tames and studies more creatures, and he uses his abilities as a tamer, an alchemist, and with other forms of magic to make his way, at first alongside this noble family, and then, gradually, independent of them. He takes on several tasks, all of which pay him quite well, including adventuring, trade, starting his own business, and keeping an eye on things in general, all while learning more and more.
In short, Kamitachi is about how Ryoma goes from being alone to being part of a community who loves him. He isn’t used to this, and tears up a couple of times when he realizes that these people truly, genuinely care about him, unlike most of the people he met on Earth. He is tremendously useful to them, of course, but he is also of great worth to them for who he is and how decent and selfless he is. He improves the world around him, including treating his employees most excellently, as well as making the world a cleaner, safer, and kinder place. Truly, his is a beloved soul truly worth being highly blessed by the gods.
Opposite Ryoma is a similarly-aged female lead, Elia. She is the young daughter of the noble he aided, and they become close friends in short order. Only friends, though, since they’re only eleven, nearing twelve, years old. (ADD moment: I love how clean and wholesome this show is) They learn together, teach other, and grow alongside each other. There is a clear possibility of things progressing in a more romantic direction as they grow older, but that can happen all in good time. For now, they are simply very dear to each other.
Now, there are some aspects of the story thus far which I would call missed opportunities. Though I enjoyed the show far more than I ever thought I would enjoy a story that was so lacking in tension, I can’t help but think that they could have safely sprinkled some in here and there.
For instance, there was a moment where Ryoma was tackling a task that was, in all honesty, quite hazardous to his health, yet he walked away untouched. It would have done no harm to the narrative if, say, the people outside, guarding the perimeter while he worked, to protect others from the unhygienic environment he and his slimes were cleaning up, were suddenly surrounded by his agitated slimes swarming outside, and then a sudden, frightening realization that something had happened to him, that the slimes were begging for help. They rush in, finding Ryoma collapsed in the ground, and swiftly get him safely to some local medical care. The nobles he’s been staying with are informed by a breathless messenger. And when Ryoma wakes, healed, he finds himself surrounded by people who are worried for him and glad he’s all right.
In one go, something like this would establish Ryoma’s developing mutual affection with the people around him, his importance to them, and how brave and useful he really was for doing what he did, and it humanizes the slimes in other peoples’ eyes, since they can clearly care and fear for their human, and they’re intelligent enough to go and get help. Oh, and it would have solidified the egregious nature of the local lord’s crimes, since his greed and apathy directly endangered one so young, so brave, so smart and capable, so innocent, and now so very beloved.
That said, that’s just how I would have done it, if I had made this story (which I didn’t). Even so, this is a very enjoyable, heart-warming story.
And if I may gush for one moment, one aspect I enjoyed very much was the discussion of taming and summoning creatures in this fantasy world. I’ll use another post to go into why that appealed so much to me, but for now, I just enjoyed how they actually thought it out beyond just, “I summon this monster!” and “I choose you, Pikachu!” For one thing, it makes a distinction between “taming” and “summoning,” where taming involved a voluntary, two-way contract, whilst summoning is forced on another creature, making them practically slaves to their keeper. For another, it touches on the nature of such a bond, that people can have differing affinities for differing creatures, which affect how many they can tame, and how strong each one is.
And for yet another, it addresses that most practical question which is almost never addressed by any story with summoning magic: where are they summoned from and what are they doing when they’re not summoned? Well, one man who tamed several dragons leaves them in the mountains they dwell in, where they act as a buffer between humans and the monsters beyond those mountains. Another summons wolf creatures, which are usually guarding a mountain that is filled with medicinal herbs. And as for Ryoma and his slimes? Well, they handle everyday hygienic tasks that are a royal pain to do in a fantasy world.
For that matter, I can’t recall another anime, or any other story, really, which focuses so much on the practical uses of magic in everyday life. Most of the time, magic is used for combat, defense, healing, hiding, that sort of thing. But here, magic is used, by those who are proficient with it, to clean clothes, clear blocked roads, repair damaged buildings, construct entirely new buildings, and so forth. It is honestly quite refreshing and thought-provoking to behold.
Oh, and the gods inform Ryoma that taming itself was begun by someone like him, a previous reincarnated soul from Earth. She was a sweet soul who advanced taming magic by leaps and bounds, and along the way she fell in love, got married, and now Elia is among her descendants. Such reincarnated individuals seem to have a lasting influence on the world, including another one who had been the usual OP magic type, and so ruthless that the gods were seriously worried they had made a mistake in bringing him to their world. Fortunately he was so timid with people that he never became a conqueror. Though, his sheer level of power is also present in Elia, who is his descendant as well. It turns out to be a small world after all!
Small… and full of love between good, honest people. (with fantastic character design for even fairly minor characters, alongside fantastic scenery, lovely music, the works, this is a very well-crafted anime.)
And on that note, I am just going to say:
Kamitachi, or By the Grace of the Gods, is a feel-good breath of fresh air. It has virtually no tension or conflict, but I still loved every minute of it. It is, quite simple, an enchanting, endearing story about humans in a peaceful time and place.
Rating: 9 stars out of 10.
Grade: solid A.
P.S. Oh! I almost mention the lovely music, fantastic scenery, and beautiful design work for even fairly minor characters! Seriously, this was made by people who very well know their craft! 🙂