Quick Guide to Princess Connect, Global Version

Since the soft launch of the Princess Connect Re:Dive global version of the game in December, I have been playing it. Yes, I am double-dutying this with Pricone JP, between all my other games, like I still do the Theater Days events, and log in to the other two galge IM@S series for the free gacha. Plus other login-bonus kind of thing (D4DJ is actually worth talking about?) for a couple other games. And I’m still 30 or so hours in Cyberpunk 2077, thanks to Stadia.

Now that you know what I did during the New Years break, maybe there isn’t a lot more to say? In a very half-ass bid to possibly help new players with the imminent official launch of Princess Connect Re:Dive global version, which is the English-translated version of the game, I want to just give some really high level and some orthogonal point of views, as someone who’s been playing this game in Japanese from the start, and who actually played (semi-seriously?) in the original Princess Connect game.

My old posts are like time capsules now:

  • Right when the game launched: some background on the in-game anime scenes, which are not animated by all the same folks who did the TV show (also because Cyberagent started their own studio).
  • One year review. – main thing is that Gamewith link. It is the top stop for JP Pricone content…outside of Twitter and Youtube, that is. Read my 1-year review for some big ideas.
  • First impression of the TV anime as a player. Not much to say about the anime, enjoy it for what it is. Buy the Blurays for powerful JP codes?

Helpful? Links

Background & Where we are

If you go to the Wikipedia entry to Princess Connect Re:Dive, and hit Japanese, you will actually get the Wikipedia entry to Princess Connect! That is an accurate reflection of what people speaking English natively knows about Princess Connect!, LOL. It was a web-based game from Cygames as they teamed up with a set of companies trying to push this co-op style RPG out. It died after about 2 years, full server shutdown and everything. (The ~200 I spent in that game went poof. RIP Pricone Ding.)

Most of the commu were voiced even back in the first game, and you can watch it all on youtube here. This is the dark history. Along with the game there were some media-tie ins as well, like the character songs. This all being otaku/seiyuu focused content meant also a lot of supplementary behind the scene stuff, which is all gone now.

Princess Connect! Re:Dive came about roughly 2 years after shutdown of the original Princess Connect! game. Re:Dive and the original share a continuity. The cast and overlapping characters are retained in Re:Dive, as with the character designs. Twinkle Wish was the main unit from the original game, although they still play a major role in Re:Dive. The Gourmet Guild trio are new to Re:Dive and they are the spokespeople for the game.

Princess Connect! Re:Dive launched in Japan on 2018-02-15 for Android and iOS. It features 2D animation, full-voice commu, and sparsely in the game are 2-D anime-style…anime, which highlights and pull all the visual design vibes together. This is the RPG where you literally are playing an anime. About a year and half later, a PC version of the game launched via DMM’s platform.

Re:Dive did okay in Japan at first and slowly found traction. The Korean and TW/HK ports which launched about a year after Japan also found traction over time, both are doing well now. The ports follow typical app-game based progression with a set lag from the mainline JP release. This is typical because the localization goes through a different publisher for each region. It seems that Cygames merely blesses the port and translation, and don’t actually work on the TL in house.

Recently in the last 12 months the game has launched also in Thailand and Mainland China. It did really well in China, by the way, and it even has CN-specific characters (based on Hashimoto Kanna).

Everyone knows by now there is a TV anime series that aired in mid-2020. Crunchyroll streams it for the EN audience in certain countries, and they are also the publisher of the EN/global version of the Re:Dive game.

There are a series of character songs (released on maxi singles), a couple soundtracks and best collections, and the TV anime music available. Pricone music is quite good, highly recommended. For a game that pulls legit gacha game numbers, it does not have a lot of merch. Probably because the margins are not as good as Cygames’s other properties…?

What is Princess Connect! Re:Dive?

It’s a game in which you play the role of Yuuki, as Princess Knight who wakes up without his memories. You see pieces of it from your interaction with other characters as the story unveils itself over time. Players recruit characters who makes up teams of 5 to battle enemies. Characters can be fed gear, experience, and affection, each increasing various stats the character has. Characters can also rank up once each gear for a rank is obtained, and furthermore characters can gain stars (from one to six, so far) to become more powerful and unlock more story and abilities.

For battling things, Re:Dive features plain old PVE content as well as PVP content, where you battle other player’s pre-set defense teams. There are guilds, which are called clans, where players can socialize and tackle monthly clan battles as a team. There are other solo content such as dungeons, grotto, tower of Luna, and other farming stuff.

A tremendous amount of content can be found in the commu in the game, which are unlocked as you meet various conditions. In addition, on the Japanese server, events are regularly released–these are limited-time content and maps where you can fight stuff and unlock event characters, event story, and other goodies. Typically there is one new event once every one to two months, and in progression old events get reruns down the road.

New content also gets released through month/bimonthly main story unlocks as level cap gets released once a month. New character equipment and ranks are added, plus other character bonuses (6-star uncaps, unique equipments, etc). Of course, new gacha banners unfurl several times a month, with new characters almost every month.

The main story is also broken up into major arcs, and JP is only on the second arc still. These full-voiced commu are released in episodes, and further broken into chapters, which are tied to different main world maps the player needs to clear.

Character and guild-based (in Priconne, a guild is group of characters, not clans) commu are released based on your affection level with each character.

Overall take

Princess Connect! Re:Dive, or PriconneR, is the most anime game. As an anime otaku who watches a lot of that, and played some anime games over the years (decades, more precisely) this is taking the inspiration of mid 00s sensation Sakura Taisen and bundling it into the most safe otaku tropes. Nobody is going to ask if this is an idol game, it is if you want it to be, but it really is just something more mainstream, and generic, and yet niche/kink/hardcord all at once. I don’t particularly take to the content, personally, but the characters are fun I do like almost all of them. Most of them are amusing and cute, even if cliche. It ties into the rest of the game, which is build like this funky aged RPG vibe because you are playing an anime…game. In that sense it’s an otaku anime with at least some mainstream-facing edges…and more.

The actual day-to-day grind is going to depend on what you are looking to get out of Priconne. I like it because if you are catching onto the content releases, level cap increases, new events, and all that, it’s a kind grind where 20-30 minutes a day is spent doing daily missions, and if you want, there are more things you can do to play around. The meta is pretty rich and it does rotate, both PVE and PVP. There are a lot of youtubers talking about this game now, because I think the meta is interesting, it isn’t too esoteric (there are spreadsheets but you don’t need them). It’s the kind of thing where people would like to make tier lists but nobody really needs it.

[The kind of player-based info I had to look up over the years, mainly, are CB boss battle compositions. Short of that, it’s the one big design bone in my mouth that needs to be addressed: how some characters become less useful/powerful in certain fights if you rank up too much/add too many stars. This is a problem that has been partly addressed, both with changing star-level feature in JP and gear tuning, but it still is quite problematic. Really a big-time design pitfall.]

A big reason why you don’t really need too much help, and a big reason why I like Priconne, is that the user experience is great. For essentially a game where you are just navigating menus half of the time, it has great QOL. Skip ticket is one thing, but just a lot of little touches make this game not a pain in the rear to press all those navigation buttons or confirm buttons or back buttons. I mean, they know this is a thing they have to get right to be successful. But to me this is a textbook example of good game UX.

Part of that good UX is the in-game help, and graphic design so the mechanics is as intuitive as possible. Sure, it doesn’t tell you what a point in “physical crit rate” does or what power level means and how it’s calculated, but you get what it generally means.

There are other QOL stuff along those lines, such as the plentiful rate-up that happens throughout every month, basically giving you bonus drops from normal/hard mode/grotto/dungeon and what have you. In fact the game really cannot be played fairly without taking into account those rate-ups. This is something to watch for if you read a review of Priconne Global release based purely on the soft launch, since a lot of those things are not available in the game until after the official launch, and it makes a big QOL difference.

Lastly, in standard Cygames paradigm, it doesn’t matter if you whale or if you don’t–both can enjoy the game. Both can even enjoy the game equally, except if you are a 1-percenter in CB. That is not a easy challenge for a PVP-centric experience. The standard gacha that is available always do not have suptix, because all the characters are not limited. In JP all of them are actually farm-able except for the latest few. There’s a reason this gacha exists and it is good to roll it as you are starting out. The only real tricky thing is when a limited character drops that later turns out to be critical in some event or CB, if you can save up enough (or whale enough) to spark for it. In early game, the whale/non-whale difference is not significant if you know how the game works.

Lastly, some tips.

The two things that drive this game are events and characters (or character obtaining, raising, unlocking commu, etc). Ultimately these experiences are capped at your player level cap so…raising your player level is the number one priority until you hit level cap. Really no buts here. To do that, buy stamina using your free gems. You can do this 40 times a day, but it gets progressively more expensive the more times you do so. Typically I stop after 3 to 6 times assuming the premium currency is not an issue. This is really how you catch up.

Practically speaking, you will also quickly run into the other caps: mana and exp, but both are things you get more of the higher level you are, so ergo, hit that level cap as a priority, within reason. (IMO, those caps are more anti-whale game balances.)

The UX is extremely helpful. Please, read the UI carefully for helpful monster descriptions (like they outright tells you what they’re weak against sometimes), different settings to make your life easier, and other hints. But moreover, use the “what other players used to beat this map” feature to clear hard stages and learn which characters to buy memory pieces for first.

On that note, it’s worth noting that the EN version has an older UX that JP has moved on from, but it also comes with some retrofitting which fixes some old issues JP Had.

Early in the game, gacha is actually progression. Don’t start to hoard gems until you got a working toolkit of cast of characters. Each character is a tool in your toolbox, some are better than others, perhaps, but the meta for PVP and PVE will evolve and change over time, characters get better or worse relatively over time, and you will encounter types of enemy over the course of the content release to find the need for some characters you never had a use before. What’s always true is that you need 3 teams to play Princess Arena so you need at least this many good characters in PVP to do well. What’s always true is that you need at least 2 teams to clear Tower of Luna, probably 3+ for EX mode and all, so you need that many for PVE to do well.

Enjoy the game at your own pace. This isn’t the kind of game that gives hardcore players more rewards than F2P casuals. As long as your pace of leveling is faster than the rate of level cap increases, you will eventually catch up to whales. Meanwhile you would have spent a fraction of what they spend. Smart money would be buying the daily jewel/dungeon pack, for $8/30 days. If you want to splurge more, the grotto pack on top. Pricone rewards players who play the long game. It might mean you want to rush the Arena bracket after a reset or just take it easy, but if you do it smart you will be rewarded. And this is why I like Priconne so much–you really can take it as it comes and enjoy it however you like it. There are many ways to best enjoy the game.

It’s been 5.5 years since I started investing in Princess Connect and honestly it felt like 10. A lot happened during that time and I don’t even know where I really stand on this series today. It is charming, fun, and good entertainment at least, so I don’t regret it. I am glad the game is easy to go down and a good match for those people who are already playing a lot of similar mobile/f2p games, because this won’t take up much time at all while still be really engaging, and inexpensive (usually). I really don’t know what’s on the market that fits this bill. Maybe players who came from more grindy games will find this too light-weight, but I think that’s not the appeal of this game anyway. Priconne is certainly not flawless, far from it, but this is a great execution of a rich concept that is worth paying attention to.

Anisong 2020 Remote Special

One giant postscript that I should’ve added last post is the stuff that happened in 2020 after the world went into shutdown mode in the early days of the pandemic. Well, regarding anime music at least, there were a lot of online collabs in 2020 that are worth remembering and calling out as a result of musicians and similar types who lost gigs from the shutdown and had to make do with online and remote stuff, some free, because what else are we going to do other than Animal Crossing?

This better serves as its own post to remember what happened anyway, so a list. Also, I am not going to remember all the ones worth highlighting so any help in the comments is a great add.

The Seatbelt online project was pretty rocking, and the online Tanabata stream was really frigging good. I can’t understate how good that was. Like, that is once-a-decade level good. In addition to the big show (which has other YK stuff), there were a bunch of Youtube releases of re-recorded songs from the show. I even bought this vinyl, lol.

YOASOBI struck gold late 2019/2020 and Yori ni Kakeru was the third or second-most covered song in anisong-world, in 2020. I don’t know:

The First Take did fill a void in 2020 when we were void of the usual variety shows and live performance footage, so check out their channel. Even if they started in 2019, 2020 was a good year for what they do.

Watanabe Keiko’s vocaloid covers are pretty solid! I think the Crypton-sponsored Vocaloid social game launching brought a lot of that stuff back in the fore.

Then there are things like Yamamura Hibiku’s covers, which is in line with what indie artists do, pandemic or not. Maybe the song choice?

If you watched Kurocon, it was quite the covid event and we brought marble to our first show! They had been doing a lot on Youtube during the year. Micco from marble has her own covers during the lockdown here. Acoustic sets from some of their hits are on their official channel.

Continue reading

Anisong 2020

Why write a list when I can just point you to one that overlaps with mine a lot? Apologies but no Spotify playlist here orz.

You can ignore the ordering–it is not important. I will just append some of the ones I enjoyed that were omitted:

  • 700,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 no Sora de – Lights (Lapis Re:Light)
  • Literature – Ueda Reina (Wandering Witch OP)
  • Holy Passion Roses – Horie Yui, Matsuzaki Rei (Princess Connect! Re:Dive)
  • Daddy! Daddy! Do! feat. Airi Suzuki – Suzuki Masayuki (Kagyua-sama S2)
  • Goodbye Seven Seas – Jun Maeda x Yanagi Nagi (Kamisama ni Natta Hi)
  • Geki! Teikoku Kagekidan Shinshou – Sakura Ayane & Shin Teikoku Kagekidan (Shin Sakura Taisen OP)
  • Koori no Torikago – Amamiya Sora (Kimi to Boku no Saigo no Senjou, Aruiwa Sekai ga Hajimaru Seisen ED)

Other mentionables:

  • Fascinate – Velvet Rose (IDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls) – Technically 2019 even though the CD came out in 2020. I just didn’t know about this song until 2020. Would have put it up in the previous section otherwise.
  • WOW WAR TONIGHT ~Toki ni wa Okose yo Movement~ – Mizuki Nana, RACHELL (D4DJ First Mix) – This cover is historic. Also I love the DJ WILDPARTY reference animation, it feels just like the real thing.
  • Kimi ni Aeta Hi – Itou Miku, Kito Akari (Adachi And Shimamura OP) – A proper seiyuu duet.
  • Parade d’amour – Opera Seria Kiramekiza (IDOLM@STER Million Live) – Managed to channel chills for me the same the way as Generations 04.
  • Hyakka wa Gekka ni Chirinuru wo – Hanasakuya (IDOLM@STER Million Live) – Appropriately time froze for me in that January weekend, and maybe for the rest of Million Live kingdom.
  • Kiseki no Kane (Taisho 29 ver.) – Shin Teikoku Kagekidan (Shin Sakura Taisen) – This song still has so much over me 10+ years later.

PS. Some more music.

  • Waver – Tadokoro Azusa – The title track of her self-produced album technically isn’t released until 2021/01/27 but it’s good!
  • Hana no Ame – Ueda Reina – I am tickled pink by this art project. Or her earlier album.
  • Wahl – Roselia – Nice album.
  • Sky Full of Magic – Lapis Re:Light – Generally a lot of fun, all the songs. Wish it included the Sky songs though.
  • Delicious Smile – Wataten 5 – Special image album from Wataten and it’s a great bright holiday spot in a dreary year.

PPS. I’m ready to put Database back on the list, but is NHK?

Year-in-Review: 2020

We’re almost at the end of a very wild year. Thankfully time stops for nobody, not even for a boss-level, once in a lifetime year that is 2020. It certainly didn’t stand still for me, else I would have published my 2018 and 2019 review posts!

For many people in the EN speaking world, everyday has been replaced by a new reality. Grappling with Anime blogging seems not only quaint but completely ineffective today as a way to communicate. That said, it’s never only, or mostly, about communication–I write because I want to put words to the things on my mind, how I feel, and really it’s just another way I talk to myself. Talking to yourself is normal, right? It sure seems normal in 2020. In our attention-based online economy today, maybe this isn’t a bad idea. It’s as if you are practicing the golden rule in the most non-platonic fashion, which is better than what I could say about a lot of things out there. In a way it’s like becoming a virtual streamer, where you journal about yourself publicly but also as a performance, just not that extreme.

The impact of coronavirus is clearly detailed in hindsight, even if we are still in the thick. Cons are cancelled. Concerts are cancelled. In-person entertainment all basically shut down. I can’t even go out to eat with friends or visit them at home (well), at least for a while. Online versions of these things became, over time, the substitute. Instead of flying to Japan, I can stay up and mess up my sleep schedule and watch these live streams. Also a lot more of them become easier to buy-in overseas, and can be time-shifted. It’s gotten to the point where I have more lives I want to buy than I actually watch. Is this what living in Japan and having access is like? There were online watashikai, online autograph sessions, and more online stuff on social media and just overall. It is WILD to Zoom seiyuu, let’s just say.

Having more online things for oversea fans is great but it doesn’t make up for the lack of in-person events. For starters, it isn’t just a substitute. I think after we get through the tumble of COVID, these online things are still nice to have. There’s more margin for the stay-at-home streaming solution than theater live viewing and such–we’re paying nearly the same to watch at home versus at a theater, right? Folks who went to watch in person can time-shift and double dip (as I would sometimes want). And then there’s explosion of virtual youtubers this year–HoloEN more like HolyEN.

From an anime-centric point of view, maybe it’s important to remember that as an industry, things didn’t change a lot. Some folks mitigated the impact by working from home. Projects were delayed. Some didn’t matter that much. As an example, I think the story behind Vladlove is worth looking into, which you can now watch the first episode on Youtube (RIP BlooDye).

Anyways, despite what one may say about the state of anime in 2020, there were a list of usual suspects, some better than others. The first vtuber anime series aired in 2020, appropriately. Numerous sequels and one-season tries dotted the slightly less busy landscape, marking the first calendar year in a while where there are fewer anime than the year before it, by a lot.

Personally watching anime isn’t a thing that got impacted from the pandemic. If I spent more time at home, there are the aforementioned large quantity of media from seiyuu and vtubers to consume, plus good ol’ regular TV, things on Youtube, plus old anime. There are still your general bags of free-to-play mobile games, and an occasional console or PC title (where do you play Genshin Impact?). I actually have a rotation going on for login bonuses and some light grind (D4DJ Groovy Mix is actually kind of fun?). If anything I watched less this year than prior, but I think I averaged out pretty close to even. If I crown one mobile game for 2020 it would be Princess Connect Re:Dive though. On that note…

Overall, my favorite shows in 2020 probably are all over the place. When you set the tone in 2020 with Eizouken or Dorohedoro, there aren’t much you can do to match, let alone overcome. On the comfort side, same can be said of things like Koisuru Asteroid or Oshibudo. There was even the new Sakura Taisen thing which, well, was a thing. Nami wo Kiitekure was comfort food (I literally made soup curry during quarantine and it was good).

I guess I’m just going through the seasons in order now? Maybe? These are just the top cuts from what I finished. Ascendance of a Bookworm season 2 was badly needed since that period of early summer was likely the hardest time for most folks. It made shows like Kakushigoto just that much more poignant. I also found myself leaning towards mainstream titles more this year, if you include things like the last of Shokugeki no Soma, Railgun T, and Major 2nd Second Season (I skipped first season…probably for the best), and stuff going on like Dai no Daibouken, Yashahime, Attack on Titan, and Jujutsu Kaisen.

Since I played Princess Connect JP, the anime was a big deal and quite fun, and more importantly it wasn’t too disappointing. Teibou was the surprise show for me that season despite being a tough starter. Sane procedurals like Kitsutsuki Tanteidokoro was good contrast to my usual palette of shows. I mean, I can’t expect Listener to wash away Tsugumomo S2…or Re:Zero season 2 for that matter.

I had some fun watching Tower of God and thought God of High School would be also fun, guess I was wrong. Rental Girlfriend provided enough, uh, juice for the Summer I guess. You sure need some juice to power through OreGuile S3, I guess. Or Maou Gakuin.

Beyond another Monster Girl anime (which is surprisingly OK) and Uzaki (which is surprisingly tame), there was Deca-Dence, which I’ve spoken about. I feel that has to be the biggest let down of sorts this year. Akudama Drive and the latest Jun Maeda anime (the cake didn’t rise again, as it were) aside, there were other interesting nuggets, like Golden Kamuy S3, but also surprising items like D4DJ and Assault Lily.

With the last 2 weeks of the year, I recently rewatched season one of Mariasama ga Miteru, which is soothing, and low-stakes, for something that could be called the Catholic school yuri bible-level masterpiece of an anime series. Hearing so much vintage Ueda Kana brings me back to a haughty and spirited performance as she played the underworld goddess in Babylonia. It’s the bridge in which 2020 felt started on the right foot. It was supposed to be FGO’s big year–and for the most part it has been, especially for EN. I was hyped about CG 7th Osaka. That bluray came and went, and I made clips of the concert for listening on the go.

The washout on concerts did a huge hit on IDOLM@STER and Love Live. Somehow D4DJ and Bandori are hanging in there, but the more conservative big company take meant that Shiny Colors really got screwed over with having to rely only on the game to launch Noctchill. We did finally get that no-audience concert stream, but it just isn’t the same. Million Live is on its 7th year, so maybe we can live just with Kanshasai (or, in another word, Chupa) and THANK YOU over Zoom? There isn’t even new cast lol.

D4DJ, on that note, did as well as you could have imagined. It did not really feel that it was hit by the pandemic much, but this was more of a case where we don’t know where they would have gone if they didn’t have a pandemic blocking packed raves from happening. The anime seems like a godsend for this series, which breaks some ground being streamed on Youtube. I mean, if late night anime is an advertisement for your media-mix franchise, may as well make it the most easily accessible thing, right?

As 2020 wore on, the impact on day to day life definitely diverged between countries that did well (many East Asian places) and countries that did badly (many western nations) on managing the pandemic, in terms of events. If there was ever a compelling reason for otaku to support science-based policy for their local governments, this was it. Fighting the pandemic and fully reopening the economy were never at odds with each other–only completing the former will make the latter possible.

This was the most clear to me when I watched Asakura Momo’s live tour this year–having won tickets to the coveted Fukuoka stop, then having it cancelled, then again having it reboot in Makuhari Messe Event Hall, with social distancing, then finally shown as an online stream. I’m glad at least I got to see it.

Well, at least I didn’t spend money doing pre-lottery and having that cancel on me like Shiny 2nd. Somehow that didn’t bother me as much?

To backtrack to an earlier train of thought: the move to online did enable some interesting new formats besides just youtubers youtubing–Cinderella Girls did a 24-hour stream which is probably the one and only of its kind. It was a festival of sorts, and there were a lot to take away from the festivities. I mean, it’s a lot of fun variety shows and weird in jokes, many of which didn’t really land to be honest. There are still interesting technology at play, such as that AR stuff that youtuber concerts use, but to some interesting effects. It’s the kind of thing you think about–did the pandemic make it happen? Yes. How about IM@S website reboot and the two assistant-producer youtubers?

The usual chika idol game fared poorly with COVID–many idol groups disbanded or members left in 2020. I think this just cannot be helped, since they are on the extreme end of how musicians make living through the live concert experience. That said, 2020 was when the world discovered things like, SoundOrion and Dialogue+, both projects really getting into the swing in 2019 and had to kept going in 2020, or else. Some of the other groups went pretty quiet this year. And then there’s A応P which is going to end… In a way, you’re kind of glad that some things ended before 2020, so they had proper farewells.

A similar story can be said of Lapis Re:Light, which hit its anime stride in mid year this year, but the live content is all on freeze, so instead we can watch it on Youtube. It’s not bad, but it just does not feel the same for something so new. You wonder what the producers and planners of that IP was thinking when they put together the full product.

It’s definitely a tale of many different stories when we look at the response to 2020 from various entities from Japan putting out this content. Let’s just say, thankfully, this also meant someone like myself can prop up an online event like Kurocon, and have it work out. I don’t know how much I can say about two events we did but it’s definitely something very educational. All of us are dealing with a new reality and trying to make it work, with varying success.

On that note, here’s a couple podcast episodes from Anisong Talk from Kurocon’s namesake, which sums up kind of how I feel in general regarding anime songs. Overall I think there have been pretty solid entries from both anisong groups and seiyuu artists in 2020. If I had to pick one to rep it would be Ueda Reina, and I hope to see her first live, which is postponed to early 2021…sometime? Maybe? Not looking that likely but gotta carry that hope.

And while people may talk bad smack to 2020, and I respect that, we need to also remember the good things that also happened this year. I think a lot of the good that happened in 2020 reflected our collective effort to make a bad year better. It is humanity’s lemonade after being given lemon. So as the clock tick towards new years, cheers! Bottoms up, with your cup of kool aid of peace and hope.

By the Grace of the Gods

This adaptation of the same-named isekai light novel is pretty low key and comfortably paced. The focus seems to be healing, or iyashikei, but more so for the protagonist than the audience. Is that still iyashikei? I do think it provides a gap that allows some more, uh, spicy interpretations. By the Grace of Gods, Kami-tachi ni Hirowareta Otoko, or Kamihiro for short, is kind of lukewarm but interesting, to me anyways.

The setting more or less follow the bricks outlined by various video game mechanisms. I get the most vibes from World of Warcraft, but it could be many others in the same genre. What’s also notable is that the 11 or 12yo protagonist periodically checks in with the Gods in the isekai, who watches over him a bit like an idealized set of parents (all three of them), who doesn’t pester their son who live far away all the time with phone calls–wait that might be just me. The gods live in their own realm, and don’t physically manifest in this isekai.

The joke goes, though, that the child has a middle-aged worked-to-death salaryman’s soul. Instead of learning how to code, the child just have a very stable sense of what a functional and sustainable business looks like. He ends up being a manager of a slime-dry-cleaners and a part-time adventurer, taking odd jobs farming mobs in an abandoned mine or cleaning the sewers using the same slimes.

If you liked how Tensura has world building, in the good old MonHon style, Kamihiro just boil it down to how slimes can do everything, given enough of them, and enough different varieties of them. Later on, these slimes (which are tamed, a bit like familiars) are trained to run the laundromat and automate the cleaning process, while player-character types would handle the transaction and upkeep of the shop.

There are a few big “moments” in this show that comes down to the main character making some big decisions. One of them is the decision to join up with some adults who happen to be neighborhood big shots, letting our protagonist settle in the town that they run. Another is the one when he end up opening up the slime laundry shop. Let’s take a look.

As someone who started out living on his own as a 10-year-old, physically, he didn’t know what was going on in this isekai besides the initial guidance he got from the gods. Rest of the way, he figured things out through trial and error (and as per isekai light novel troupe, guided by pop cultural knowledge from anime, game, and light novels). He was able to tame and control slimes, which, in this world, is low level stakes. Noblefolks train their kids on them. What is different is that Our protagonist takes slime taming seriously and was able to figure out a few rare varieties, including the cleaner slime that will become the thing that runs the dry cleaners.

Running into these grown men, and learning that they were nobles, were a big deal. As someone on the receiving end of power harassment in the other world, and as a proper Japanese adult, the protagonist knows what could go wrong if the powers that be were not benevolent. By associating him with this new society, he will be relying on the graces afforded by the locals extended to this outsider. As you know, Japan is this kind of a society, and this is how the show approaches the protagonist’s standing and association.

The other big decision, starting his small business, spent a lot of time doing the logistics as a small-brain kind of stakes, which is a fun thing since that’s the appeal of something like, say, Animal Crossings. It’s like doing the thing many of us want to do with most of the complicated hardship removed. And as it ought to be–viewers don’t really need to spend that much time doing paperwork with our prodigious slime-cleaner. Instead, we see that he thinks through how his employees will be treated, how they’ll live as live-in workers, including even their treatment and meals.

And that is well and good. In that sense, as someone who thought about this show as not only about a flock of party parrots, or someone who runs a small business, but as something regarding our protagonist’s earthbound history–basically dying to a “black company” working him to death–isn’t this more about labor rights? Yet, this series takes on the view in the polar opposite–we are here to do our bosses/lords bidding, and we live and die as a result of these decision makers and the systems they empower.

It explains why it’s called “By the Grade of the Gods” because that’s the way this kind of naive thinking works. It’s not about personal or labor rights, or rather, it is the fantasy in which you don’t need such rights. Rules and regulations are not really necessary when there are no cheaters and people who would exploit things for their own profits at the expense of others. You might still need laws as guiding stars for a society, but if people treat each other as they would treat themselves, maybe it’s a lot less complicated.

That said, clearly this “other world” is not even that world–we know that there are monsters that will steal, kill and pillage from civil society–such as the goblins that were exterminated in the mines. We know that there are bandits that our protagonist has slain during his solo adventures based on his own recollection. We know our protagonist is enterprising and thinks about the edge cases. He is curious. But maybe not so much on the social science side.

Given all this I’m hesitant to call By The Grace of God anything like “good” but it doesn’t seem “toxic” or even “bad.” It nurtures a fantasy that is way, way too specifically asian in my opinion, and the other execution problems I omitted in this post probably dooms this anime series any kind of intrinsic entertainment value worthy of recommendation. Nonetheless, it’s an interesting hypothesis, as with many of these isekai light novel stories. It just took this show a while to develop that core idea.