Will There Ever be a Great Isekai Anime Again?

Will There Ever be a Great Isekai Anime Again?

Titans of Isekai

I didn’t know what to write about today, so here we are. It’s time to answer the question, will there ever be a great isekai anime again? Spoiler: Probably not. But to understand why that is, we first need to take a look at the pinnacle of isekai and how far it’s fallen since then.

If you’ve read any of my isekai anime reviews, you may be familiar with the fact that I hold KonoSuba and Re:ZERO above all other isekai. The reasons for this are pretty simple. They both have great characters, are generally well-written, and bring something fresh to the genre.

With KonoSuba, we got a great parody of the isekai genre that ended up being my highest-rated comedy anime. In fact, I’d say that there’s not another that really comes close to it.

Kazuma and Aqua from the anime series KonoSuba
Kazuma and Aqua (KonoSuba)

Re:ZERO is a very different take on isekai than KonoSuba is. With Re:ZERO, we get a darker deconstruction of the genre, much like what Madoka Magica is known for doing with the magical girl genre. Of course, none of these series I’m mentioning were the first to do any of this, but they are the best at what they did.

There have been many comedy isekai both before and after KonoSuba. But, the way KonoSuba used its characters to create the comedy rather than the isekai setting is what really sets it apart. It doesn’t rely on its setting to work.

And the same thing can be said about Re:ZERO. There have been dark isekai before and after it. But Re:ZERO did it differently. The dark aspect was no longer that if you die in the isekai, you die in real life. This time it was much more psychological and less predictable.

The Downward Spiral

The problem with isekai that have come out after KonoSuba and Re:ZERO, which both premiered in 2016, is that they all try too hard to differentiate themselves. Nowadays, every isekai series needs a gimmick or it won’t even be considered by viewers (or anime licensors).

To see this in action, just look at the isekai anime that have come out in the past few years. The gimmick in In Another World With My Smartphone is that the protagonist has a magical smartphone. In Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear, the gimmick is that the protagonist wears a bear kigurumi and has bear-shaped abilities.

I could go through basically every isekai anime to come out over the past four years and you’d see a pattern. They all feature surface-level gimmicks that don’t really change the fact that they’re generic isekai series.

Linse, Else, and Yae from the anime series In Another World With My Smartphone
Linse, Else, and Yae (In Another World With My Smartphone)

Of course, that doesn’t mean that all isekai anime from the past four years are bad. Sure, some of them are extremely terrible, but there are also some I would consider fine or even good. However, there aren’t any that I would consider “great.” In fact, it looks like the only isekai I rated above a 6/10 since 2016 is How Not to Summon a Demon Lord.

Now, I understand that most people didn’t think How Not to Summon a Demon Lord was as good as I thought it was. But that kind of plays into my point here anyway. You’re probably not going to find many people, including myself, who say it was great. And yet, that’s my next highest-rated isekai.

I guess I should also point out that I don’t hate older anime or even older isekai specifically. There are many older isekai that I like, such as Now and Then, Here and There from 1999. But even with those older isekai that I like, I wouldn’t put any of them in the “great” category.

In too Deep

Just because there hasn’t been a great isekai anime in recent years doesn’t mean that there will never be one again though, right? Well, technically that’s true. However, if we look at the direction that the isekai anime “industry” has been going in, it seems unlikely.

The gimmicks these series need in order to receive anime adaptations are getting more and more niche. What that means is that they each appeal to fewer people and remain relevant for a shorter amount of time than their predecessors.

Basically, what we’re seeing with isekai anime right now is the same thing that happened to mecha anime. At one point, mecha was the dominant genre of the medium. However, it got to a point at which the mecha genre became over-saturated and they began to specialize in order to differentiate themselves from the competition.

And, what was the result of all that? Mecha as a whole is now viewed as a niche genre that appeals to the die-hard fans and only rarely shows up under the mainstream spotlight.

Hajime and Yue from the anime series Arifureta: From Commonplace to World's Strongest
Hajime and Yue (Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest)

Do I think that isekai anime are going to disappear? Obviously not. Isekai is just a sub-genre of fantasy, which is still one of the most popular genres in anime. However, I think we’ll see a shift back towards more traditional fantasy series and fewer isekai series as they become more niche.

In fact, this shift has already begun. Of the 20 seasonal anime I’m watching right now, only one is an isekai while four would be considered more traditional fantasy. Just two years ago, the opposite would have been the case.

Just over a year ago, in the summer of 2019, five of the 26 anime I watched that season, including Arifureta which is pictured above, were isekai. So as you can see, there’s already been a reduction of isekai

Conclusion

While I don’t think the isekai genre is going anywhere, I think it’s become too specialized for a truly great anime to arise from it again. The age of isekai dominance in anime is coming to an end as viewers lose interest in the niche series that have come to fill the genre.

But what do you think? Has there been a great isekai since KonoSuba and Re:ZERO? If so, what is it? And do you think there will be another great isekai in the future? Let me know in the comments.

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2 Replies to “Will There Ever be a Great Isekai Anime Again?”

  1. The isekai is very varied genre with good works of action, slice of life, comedy, romance, survival, it is that they only adapt novels as a target audience to the male, very different from the light novels from 10 years ago that just are harem battle.
    there are many good isekai’s that coming soon like kumo desu ga nanika, slime 300-nen and virgin road :3

    1. Hopefully, some of the upcoming isekai anime are good. But I don’t really have high expectations from them. I wasn’t planning on watching Kumo Desu Ga Nanika, but if you think that’s going to be good then I might check it out when it airs.

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