If you’re a fan of fluffy isekai anime where the overpowered protagonist uses their abilities to help people in need and just generally lives their best life in a fantasy world, then Fall 2020 has you covered with two great choices – Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear and By the Grace of the Gods. Today we’ll be exploring them in a bit more detail with a first impressions review of both anime. Let’s get started!
Cute, Relaxing, and Wholesome
Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear and By the Grace of the Gods start off with essentially the same basic premise – a kindhearted person is transported to a game-like fantasy world where they are far more powerful than everyone else, and then they use their newfound superiority to help everyone they meet (especially girls, because those smiles aren’t going to protect themselves). Our “Earth transferee” from Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear is Yuna, a fabulously wealthy and bored teen who gets sucked into the world of her favorite VRMMORPG, but is stuck wearing a bear costume that gives her cute bear-themed abilities. Ryoma from By the Grace of the Gods is a middle-aged salaryman who works himself to death, but the gods give him another chance by reincarnating him as a young boy in a peaceful fantasy world.
Yuna and Ryoma are both likable heroes who take their roles seriously and find creative uses for their powers. Yuna quickly befriends a young girl named Fina who complements her gratuitous monster-slaying with surprisingly efficient butchering, this being the kind of world where monsters don’t just instantly disappear into usable resources. Yuna admires her plucky attitude, so she builds them a bear-themed house in the countryside and even manages to help Fina’s sick mother recover from her illness!
Meanwhile, Ryoma spends the first three years of his new life as a forest hermit, developing a fascination with slimes so intense that he begins raising hundreds of them and even develops two new species all on his own. One day, he chances upon a group of adventurers connected to the local duke, and after letting them rest and recover at his house, piques the interest of the duke and his family. Soon, Ryoma sets off on a journey with them, learning fighting techniques from the adventurers and forming an adorable friendship with the duke’s daughter Eliaria. He uses his wit, determination, and menagerie of slimes to help solve problems wherever he goes.
Character Depth and Worldbuilding
Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear certainly knows how to create a warm and fuzzy iyashikei atmosphere, but Yuna just doesn’t have that complex of a personality and things come way too easily for her. She can demolish monsters that have been terrorizing entire villages with just a few clever tactics, find a perfect solution for a complex economic problem in mere hours, and her biggest display of emotion was when she blew up at a corrupt government official who wasn’t even corrupt in the first place.
The setting in Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear doesn’t have much originality either, other than establishing that merchant and crafting guilds exist in addition to the standard adventuring ones. There’s still time for Yuna to face more difficult struggles, visit more interesting places, or show more emotion than mild indignation at social inequality and mild happiness at helping people, but we wonder if that will ever actually happen.
Ryoma from By the Grace of the Gods is significantly more relatable than Yuna because his life on Earth was a bitter struggle to the very end. He couldn’t spend enough time with his loved ones or accomplish anything tangible with his inhumane work schedule for some faceless company, but now that he has this new opportunity, he’s grateful for every minute of it. In this world, he’s found a loving and appreciative family and can use the slimes he raised to make life better for the people around him. His fantasy world is also much more fleshed out than Yuna’s, with thought given to details like town infrastructure and contracts with monsters.
As of right now, we’re enjoying By the Grace of the Gods more than Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear because of its stronger character development and worldbuilding, but both anime are worth watching this season if you’re a fan of the genre. Let us know what you think of these shows in the comments below, and thanks so much for reading!