Day 6 of the 12 Days of Anime is upon us, and today, as part of my commitment to resolve various thought threads i’ve been mulling over this year, i’d like to talk about something that I’ve seen EXTREMELY extensively lately. You can probably guess from the title, but i’m going to be talking about Isekai. Specifically, the constant hate that Isekai gets, and the reasons behind it all.
Isekai is an enormous genre within Anime, with at least one Isekai show almost guaranteed to be aired every single season. The popularity of this genre has created a conundrum, however, as many people in the anime community are beginning to revile Isekai. Comments like the ones seen below aren’t uncommon at all, and in fact i’ve seen much, much worse.
So why is it that Isekai has become almost universally reviled by the Anime community? I mean, it must still be popular in Japan, since so many Light Novels and Anime continue to release with this theme, right? Is Isekai truly such a bad genre that it deserves so much hate?
Well… my simple answer would be… no.
I think the reason Isekai has become almost a trigger word for people is mainly due to the sheer quantity of Isekai titles produced. As mentioned earlier, it’s almost guaranteed that at least one Isekai show is released every single season, but sometimes there are two, three, or even more. And this creates an interesting conundrum, because with such QUANTITY, there is undoubtedly a severe dichotomy when it comes to QUALITY.
What I mean is, with so many Isekai shows coming out every single year, a large majority of them are of, well… questionable quality, at best. Perhaps because the genre is so huge, studios like to pick up any adaptable work they can find and make an adaptation, mostly to cash in on some quick and easy revenue.
Unfortunately, this creates a problem in that the biggest exposure people have to Isekai, is shows like Isekai Smartphone, or Knight’s and Magic. And when they consistently get shows like this, season after season, not only is their impression of the genre as a whole surely going to decline, but as they start to recognize and memorize the various tropes consistent in most Isekai works, they start to get bored. “When you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all”, they start to think. And even when a new show comes out that tries to break the norms, most often people just laugh at it, thinking how ridiculous this new concept has become.
So… how did Isekai become such a popular genre in the first place? Why do so many authors write Isekai stories? I have to think that part of it is a product of our generation. After all, Isekai stories generally revolve around an average, nondescript character, usually an otaku or gamer, being transported to a fantasy world where they receive unbelievable powers, gather a harem of adorable girls, and generally live a good life. It’s a very easy type of story to self-insert with, which makes it appealing to a younger audience who want to indulge themselves in a power or popularity fantasy.
But does this fact make the genre as a whole bad? I would have to say, no. After all, there are quite a few Isekai shows that I actually enjoy. Though it might say something about the genre as a whole that one of the best Isekai shows out there is Konosuba, a show that actively satirizes the genre.
I must admit, however, that I myself have indeed been getting a bit tired of Isekai shows, especially since so many of them have sloppy animation, bad plot direction, or both. If you’re not going to put in the effort to make a show as good as you possibly can, why even bother making a show in the first place? The use of Isekai as cheap filler content by many studios is a big piece of the puzzle that’s feeding the growing distaste for the genre as a whole.
Overall, I don’t mind Isekai. I do wish there was more effort put into the various adaptations, however, and that more shows would work to break the norm. However, I also wish that some of the Isekai shows on the seasonal rosters could be taken up by, say, an original high-fantasy story, or something like that.
But that’s all just my personal thoughts. What do you guys have to say about this? Is Isekai the pit of all Anime? Is the genre itself awful, or is it the repetitiveness and consistent lack of quality that makes it distasteful? I’d love to get a discussion started about this, since it’s really quite the issue nowadays.