You may have heard the term “isekai” used to describe several modern anime series. But what does isekai mean? How is it different than, say, “shonen” or “shojo”? What’s so special about isekai, and why are many isekai anime series so successful?
Isekai is a category of fantasy or sci-fi anime series and movies that involve characters who are transported to another world—one that’s vastly different from the real world.
The actual mechanic of transportation can vary. It could be done through reincarnation, cosmic magic, or advanced technology. But despite how it’s done, all isekai animes revolve around the main character(s) surviving and fighting their way back home.
Here are some of the best isekai anime series to watch if you want a solid taste of what this awesome anime genre is about.
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11. Monster Rancher
Monster Rancher (or known in Japan as Monster Farm) is a classic example of an isekai anime series. It’s based on the video game franchise of the same name, and it features a cute little monster named Mochhi and the iconic one-eyed Suezo.
The story revolves around a boy who’s transported to the Monster Rancher’s game world via a game disk. His life in the game and their journey to find the Phoenix is not an easy feat because of monsters like Blue Mountain and Pixie standing in their way.
Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is an anime series that revolves around a female dragon Tohru, who was forced to retreat to the human realm after being heavily injured in her last battle.
Tohru is rescued by an office worker Kobayashi, which causes her to live as Kobayashi’s personal maid using her human form. Living under the same roof, Tohru learns how to become more human-like (e.g. watching TV) while serving her master Kobayashi.
Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid is an example of an isekai anime series where a character from another world is transported to the real world.
Saga of Tanya the Evil is an anime series adapted from a light novel series called Youju Senki written by Carlo Zen.
The protagonist is an elite salaryman of Japan who doesn’t believe in God or life after death. He’s punished by a mysterious being X—who claims to be a god—and ends up reborn as a little girl who’s assigned to the frontlines of a war.
Tanya’s fights and adventures throughout this unknown world make him/her a formidable opponent to anyone who crosses his/her path.
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Re:Creators is a one-season anime series produced and animated by TROYCA. In it, characters from various different manga, anime, and video games are summoned to the real world. These characters are called “Creations.”
The plot centers on the Creations—who retain their abilities from their respective media—as they fight to stop the antagonist Altair from destroying the real world. Altair uses whatever (and whoever) she can to gain dominance over the other Creations.
Re:Creators is a fun exploration of how one’s acceptance of a certain story is what gives life to it.
Re:Zero is an anime series adapted from the Japanese light novel series written by Nagatsuki Teppei and illustrated by Ootsuka Shinichirou.
It’s the story of an ordinary high school student, Natsuki Subaru, who’s summoned to another world by an unknown being for an unknown reason. He’s helpless and only able to survive by his ability to jump back to an unpredictable “save point” whenever he dies.
The Devil Is a Part-Timer! is an anime series based on the Japanese light novel series by Satoshi Wagahara.
The story follows a demon king who was in the middle of a conquest through Ente Isla, but was forced to retreat through a gate that brings him to modern-day Tokyo. He lacks power in the human world, and must learn to coexist with humans and live a normal life.
The Rising of the Shield Hero is one of the best and most highly recommended anime series in the isekai genre.
The protagonist, Naofumi Iwatani, is summoned to another world to become the Shield Hero and protect the land from calamities. Before that, he was just living his life as an otaku in the real world.
He isn’t the only one summoned—there are three others, and he learns that he’s the weakest of the four heroes. Trust, betrayal, and greed fill the story, which makes the series intriguing to the end.
Iruma is a young child who’s sold by his parents to a demon. That demon, named Sullivan, brings Iruma to another realm and adopts him as his grandson. There, Iruma lives in a mansion, makes friends who support him, and thrives.
Yet despite all of this, it’s not enough for him to live happily ever after. Demons who eat humans are there with him, and some of them know who he really is. While this series doesn’t have many fight scenes, there’s plenty of comedy and action to enjoy.
Overlord is an anime series about a guild master, Momonga, who ends up stuck inside a game after the servers shut down.
Unable to log out or contact the real world, he explores the realm and lives as the almighty Ainz Ooal Gown, taking his new name from the guild he once belonged to.
He rules the land and keeps peace and order by boasting his strength to enemies who dare to invade his lands and harm his people.
With his untimely death, an office man’s soul is transported to a fantasy world where monsters and other creatures coexist with a community of humans. But he’s reincarnated as a slime, the lowest form of monster in this new world.
Fortunately, he also acquired a set of powerful abilities that somehow make him the most formidable character in the series. For example, with his Predator ability, he absorbs the attributes and abilities of whatever he consumes, whether a monster or an item.
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime features action-packed scenes that are perfectly balanced with comedy and drama.
Sword Art Online takes place in a virtual reality world—one that can have real-life effects on the real world. The game Sword Art Online uses a VR headset that stimulates the user’s senses, allowing them to feel what happens in the game.
The protagonist Kirito ends up trapped in the game along with many others, and the only way out is to beat the boss. But if anyone in the game dies, they also die in the real world.