The Hero can’t fight the Demon Lord alone and the current hero Ruti is supported by all kinds of skilled fighters and magic-users. But the one support she doesn’t have any more is her older brother Gideon, now going by the name Red, who was pushed out of the party by one of the other, less savory members. Red suspected that his day would come, after all he doesn’t have a traditional “divine blessing” like the other party members do, like “Martial Artist” or “Sage;” his is the never before seen “Guide” blessing with only a single skill to accompany it: “level +30” instead of the entire skill trees other blessings have.
And so, ashamed at how little he contributed to the party with his lack of skills and low level, Red sets out for the frontier, hoping to live a quiet life in obscurity amongst adventurers who don’t know his face. If possible, he’d like to secure a sustainable occupation for himself, like opening an apothecary instead of spending his days gathering wild herbs for the Adventurers Guild. With the help of a series of coincidences, and with help from another adventurer from his past, it seems like his slow-life is slowly taking shape, for the time being at least.
The magic system in this world plays a pretty big role in the story, after all it’s Red’s insecurities over his levels that allow him to be pushed out of the party, yet it feels bizarrely under-developed, or at least like Zappon didn’t fully think it through. There are levels and skill trees to go along with the Divine Blessings but we never once see how characters actually interact with these stats. There’s no overlay display in their vision, no magic slate in a temple, no divine revelations, nothing; all we know is that the characters are aware of their own levels and are able to use skill points to level up specialties, both common ones and ones related to their specific blessings ,but we never see how any of this happens which made the entire set-up feel strange. There’s a throwaway line about how all blessings, even those non-combat related (like woodworker) can only be leveled up through hunting or fighting and it really felt like Zappon wanted to lean on RPG tropes but then didn’t really consider how to integrate them into the setting. At this point I’d prefer if this aspect was taken out altogether, but it’s so tightly connected to the story (Red’s “level +30” blessing and his sister’s “Hero” blessing are the triggers for the story after all) that that would be impossible and instead we are left with a half-baked setting instead.
Also, continuing to talk about these blessings which are so central to the plot of the story, Red says that even though his “level +30” blessing gave him an initial head-start on everyone else, the rest of the Hero’s party surpassed him with their specialized skills which felt like a real stretch. We read over and over that these special skills are what make people powerful and yet we see that Red is comically overpowered compared to all but the strongest adventurers with just his “common” skills. In fact, this makes me wonder if his blessing also applies to the levels of his skills, not just his overall level, but again if the characters somehow know their own levels then surely this would be apparent, right?
At first I thought this was the story of yet another over-powered-but-unaware protagonist but as the story went on I started to feel like Zappon was angling for another side of it, that Red isn’t faux-humble but really does have a case of imposter syndrome or similar. That would explain quite a few things, like how he completely discounts how proficient he is in so many skill-based areas, and that is the kind of revelation that wouldn’t be immediately apparent in a story as well. But at the same time, if “The Member of the Hero’s Party Plays an Important Role Yet Has Imposter Syndrome” is really what Zappon was going for, I just felt like it certainly could’ve been written better, like having Red start to realize it at some point. That idea, and the side-story moments which imply that Ruti’s Hero’s blessing has become a curse (her mere emotions have tangible, real-world consequences which cause her to completely shut down, leaving her as just an avatar of an idea and no longer a person), are the only interesting moments in this story and they feel like clumsy attempts at interesting ideas in a morass of dull.
The kind of “slow-life” story where a character sets up an apothecary shop is positively blasé by this point, although for once the main character isn’t an isekai’d hero (ironically, since he’s now in the sticks, Red is still able to serve up the classic “the hero brings technology to the masses” trope, like by suggesting upgrades to the public baths), but there are other examples of this sub-genre that I find much more interesting based on the setting and strength of main characters. You can’t even say “well, if you’re desperate for more stories in this vein, try this one” since there are already so many like it out there! There’s just nothing really special about this one to make it worth recommending, it or the upcoming anime adaptation as well I expect, unless you really need something inoffensive and a little under-baked to occupy your time.