Isekai Anime

Isekai Anime


The isekai (another world) genre of anime is one of the most abundant due to a constant supply of source material in the form of light novels. This genre involves one or more characters being transported from one world to another with a different set of rules governing it.

There are five main types of isekai: video game, vanilla, suffering, spoof, and reverse. Besides these five main categories, one could argue for a sixth category which I’ll call isekai to isekai.

This sixth category involves characters from one world which is not our own, going to another world which is also not our own. Due to our world as we know it not being involved, I’ve chosen to leave this type off the list, but an example of it would be Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya 3rei!!

In general, isekai genre anime tend to send characters from our own world to another world which isn’t really so bad, but as you’ll see there are exceptions to that rule.

Video Game Isekai

Video game isekai are currently the most popular type in the genre. Sword Art Online was one of the first in the sub-genre to become extremely popular even though it’s not actually very good. This popularity can most likely be attributed to the basic plot of the sub-genre.

In video game isekai, as the name suggests, the characters are transported into a video game world, typically based off whatever video game they were playing. The concept of being put into a video game world is one which appeals to a wide-ranging audience which is why it’s so popular.

However, while this may seem like a good thing, keep in mind that the characters tend to be trapped inside these video game worlds for one reason or another. Luckily for the protagonist, this isn’t generally a real issue since they’re completely overpowered compared to anyone and anything else.

Each entry in this genre generally has a slightly different spin on it. In Sword Art Online we were introduced to the concept of, “if you die in the game, you die in real life.” Log Horizon, however, tackled the issue of dying in the game slightly differently by taking your memories as payment for respawning.

Still, there are others such as Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody and Overlord which have not yet explored the cost of dying in their respective worlds.

Speaking of Overlord, while in most isekai the protagonist is a hero who must save the new world they’ve been put into, in Overlord the protagonist is actually a villain who wishes to take over the world. This is just another way to put a spin on the genre.

Finally, because it works well as a transition to the next type of isekai, I’ll mention No Game No Life. This one isn’t exactly a “video game” isekai, but more of a “game” isekai and so doesn’t fully fit in this category. That said, it does involve video games so I didn’t want to put it in the Vanilla category.

Asuna Yuuki from the anime Sword Art Online
Asuna Yuuki (Sword Art Online)

Vanilla Isekai

Vanilla isekai is the type of isekai that’s considered the standard type. While video game isekai are more popular, vanilla isekai are the ones which are true isekai. There’s no virtual game world, simply another world which is typically fantasy (much like the video game ones).

An example of this type is my least favorite isekai, In Another World With My Smartphone. Basically this sub-genre is the same general idea as the video game one, but as I mentioned, doesn’t take place in a video game.

I don’t really think there’s much more to say about this one.

Suffering Isekai

Now we’re getting into what I consider to be the better types of isekai. The suffering isekai sub-genre involves, well, suffering. It’s the type of isekai that isn’t all fun and games.

Normally being transported to another world where there’s magic and mythical creatures would be cool and exciting, but this genre looks at the cruel reality of the other world. Re:ZERO is the best example of this type of isekai and can generally be viewed as the Madoka Magica of isekai.

As Madoka Magica did with the magical girl genre, Re:ZERO deconstructed the isekai genre and looked at how truly horrible it would be in one of these worlds.

Subaru Natsuki from the anime Re:ZERO
Subaru Natsuki (Re:ZERO)

Spoof Isekai

At the opposite end of the spectrum from suffering isekai are spoof isekai. While the suffering sub-genre tends to be more dark and serious, the spoof sub-genre pokes fun at many of the tropes of isekai as a whole.

KonoSuba is the anime I think of when talking about this genre. While typically the protagonist is overpowered in some way in isekai anime, Kazuma and his group in KonoSuba are the most useless adventurers you’ll ever meet.

While I’m sure this series in particular holds up even for those who haven’t really watched isekai before, I would assume the jokes are even better for those who are familiar with the tropes of the isekai genre.

Reverse Isekai

The final type of isekai is the reverse isekai. As you might infer from the name, this sub-genre involves characters from another world coming to our world.

While one of the main examples of this sub-genre I can think of is Re:Creators, I haven’t actually seen that anime so I’ll use Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid instead. In this series, dragons from another world come to our world and live with Miss Kobayashi and her friends.

Although this may not be as enjoyable as the suffering or spoof sub-genres, the reverse isekai is still different enough from the video game and vanilla types to be entertaining.


Currently there is only one isekai I’m watching this season, Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online. However, it doesn’t appear to have the whole, “if you die in the game, you die in real life” thing going on.

While I generally don’t find video game or vanilla isekai to be too entertaining, it does seem like I always end up watching them when they come out. What are your thoughts on the isekai genre?

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One Reply to “Isekai Anime”

  1. I am actually writing a suffering isekai light novel right now. It starts Mariko Kobayashi, a normal teenage girl who doesn’t like anime. However, her boyfriend Tetsuya is a huge otaku. One day, Mariko and Tetsuya are attending an isekai convention and the entire convention center is sent to another world called Kastara. In Kastara, they all get cool overpowered abilities. However, the attendees are separated in the process of isekai’ing, and Mariko is trying to return to Tetsuya. However, she finds out that giving a bunch of NEET otaku ultimate power results in: a lot of slave harems and rape because the local women can’t resist the isekais’ powers.

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