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Isekai (Japanese: 異世界, transl. "different world" or "otherworld") is a Japanese genre of light novels, manga, anime and video games that revolve around a person who is transported to and has to survive in another world, such as a fantasy world, virtual world, planet or parallel universe. This plot device allows the audience to learn about the new world at the same pace as the protagonist.
The concept of Isekai started in folk tales, such as Urashima Tarō. However, the first modern Isekai works were Haruka Takachiho's novel Warrior from Another World and Yoshiyuki Tomino's television series Aura Battler Dunbine .
The genre can be divided into two types "transition into another world" (異世界転移, isekai ten’i) and "reincarnation into another world" (異世界転生, isekai tensei). In "transition into another world" stories, the protagonist gets transported to another world (e.g. by traveling into it, or being summoned into it).
In many examples, the main character is an ordinary person who thrives in their new environment thanks to things normal in the real world being seen as extraordinary in the "other" world. This can be physical characteristics, such as hair or eye color, or normal, every day skills they learned in their previous life such as cooking, engineering, basic education, or medicine, which are far more advanced in the modern, real world than in the world they are sent to.In Sorcerous Stabber Orphen , an entire population of humans appeared in the magically created world was transported from Earth and got partially mixed with local dragonlike Heavenly Beings.
While the protagonist of a classic isekai work is usually a "chosen hero", there have been a large number of alternative takes on the concept. One trend is the protagonist inhabiting the body of an unimportant side character, or even a villain (as in My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! ). In these stories, the goal of a protagonist is typically to reform the character in order to avoid a bad fate or death, often being so successful that they become the new lead. There are even instances of protagonists becoming inhuman creatures, such as in That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime , where the protagonist starts as a slime with special abilities rather than a human, or even inanimate objects, like a magical onsen. ", follow beings from a fantasy universe who have been transported to or reincarnated on modern-day Earth, including the anime Laidbackers and Re:Creators .Others, known as "reverse isekai
An offshoot of the isekai genre is the "second chance" or "reincarnation" genre, where a protagonist who, upon dying, finds themselves transported, not to a different world and new body, but into their own younger self. With their new knowledge and older intellect, they are able to relive their life avoiding their previous pitfalls. Another offshoot of the genre include the "slow life" approach, where the protagonist was overworked in their previous life, so decides to take it easy in the next.Another offshoot is where the protagonist uses the new world to explore an interest, hobby, or goal they had in the previous world but where unable to achieve, such as studying or perhaps opening a business, like in Restaurant to Another World .
In many works, isekai overlaps with the harem genre, where the protagonist gains the affections of several potential love interests, who may or may not be human. One example of this is Isekai Meikyū de Harem o .
The concept of has origins in ancient Japanese literature, particularly the story of a fisherman Urashima Tarō, who saves a turtle and is brought to a wondrous undersea kingdom. After spending what he believed to be four to five days there, Urashima returns to his home village only to find himself 300 years in the future.The folk tale was adapted into one of the earliest anime films, Seitaro Kitayama's Urashima Tarō , in 1918. Other precursors to isekai include portal fantasy stories from English literature, notably the novels Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865), The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900), Peter Pan (1904) and The Chronicles of Narnia (1950).
The earliest modern Japanese isekai stories include Haruka Takachiho's novel Warrior from Another World (1976) and Yoshiyuki Tomino's anime Aura Battler Dunbine (1983).Other early anime and manga titles that could be classified as isekai include Mashin Hero Wataru (1988 debut), NG Knight Ramune & 40 (1990 debut), Fushigi Yûgi (1992 debut) and El-Hazard (1995 debut), in which the protagonists stayed similar to their original appearance upon entering a different world. Other 1990s titles identified as isekai include the novel and anime series The Twelve Kingdoms (1992 debut), the manga/anime/game franchise Magic Knight Rayearth (1993 debut), the visual novel adventure game YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love at the Bound of this World (1996), the manga and anime series InuYasha (1996 debut), and the anime series Now and Then, Here and There and Digimon Adventure (both 1999 debut). The anime film Spirited Away (2001) was one of the first worldwide known isekai anime films, although the term "isekai" was not commonly used at the time.
The role-playing adventure game Moon: Remix RPG Adventure (1997),and the Digimon Adventure (1999 debut) and .hack (2002 debut) franchises, were some of the first works to present the concept of isekai as a virtual world, with Sword Art Online (2002 web novel debut) following in their footsteps. Another isekai anime series from the 2000s is Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi (2002).
A popular isekai light novel and anime series in the 2000s was The Familiar of Zero (2004 debut), where the male lead Saito is from modern Japan and is summoned to a fantasy world by the female lead Louise.The Familiar of Zero popularized the isekai genre in web novel and light novel media, along with the website Shōsetsuka ni Narō ("Let's Become Novelists"), known as Narō for short. The Familiar of Zero fan fiction became popular on Narō during the late 2000s, eventually spawning a genre of isekai novels on the site, which became known as Narō novels. The Familiar of Zero fan fiction writers eventually began writing original isekai novels, such as Tappei Nagatsuki who went on to create Re:Zero (2012 debut). The 2012 anime adaptation of Sword Art Online popularized the isekai genre in anime, which led to more isekai web novels being published on Narō and a number of Narō novels being adapted into anime. It was around this time that the term "isekai" was coined.
Later titles such as Knight's & Magic (2010 debut) and The Saga of Tanya the Evil (2013 debut) involved their protagonists dying and being reincarnated in a different world.The most influential isekai novel in that regard was Mushoku Tensei (2012 debut), which began as a Narō novel and popularized the reincarnation sub-genre of isekai while establishing a number of common isekai tropes. Mushoku Tensei was the most popular Narō novel for a number of years, and thus served as a point of reference for numerous isekai writers that followed.
The genre eventually became so popular that in 2016, a Japanese short story contest organized by Bungaku Free Market and Shōsetsuka ni Narō banned any isekai entries.The publisher Kadokawa banned isekai stories as well in their own anime/manga-style novel contest in 2017. In May 2021, Kadokawa announced they would open an "Isekai Museum" in July of the same year.
Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation is a Japanese light novel series by Rifujin na Magonote about a jobless and hopeless man who reincarnates in a fantasy world while keeping his memories, determined to live his new life without regrets. Originally published on the internet web novel website Shōsetsuka ni Narō in November 2012, a year later, it was announced the series would receive a print release under Media Factory's MF Books imprint with illustrations done by a Pixiv user called Shirotaka.
Re:Zero − Starting Life in Another World is a Japanese light novel series written by Tappei Nagatsuki and illustrated by Shin'ichirō Ōtsuka. The story centres on Subaru Natsuki, a hikikomori who suddenly finds himself transported to another world on his way home from the convenience store. The series was initially serialized on the website Shōsetsuka ni Narō from 2012 onwards. Twenty-seven light novels, as well as four side story volumes and six short story collections have been published by Media Factory under their MF Bunko J imprint.
Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody is a Japanese light novel series written by Hiro Ainana. It began serialization online in 2013 on the user-generated novel publishing website Shōsetsuka ni Narō until it was acquired by Fujimi Shobo. The first volume of the Light Novel was published in March 2014. A manga adaptation by Ayamegumu ran in Age Premium until the magazine ceased publication, and was then transferred to Monthly Dragon Age. Both the light novels and the manga adaptation have been licensed for publication in North America by Yen Press. An anime television series adaptation by Silver Link and Connect aired from January 11 to March 29, 2018.
Restaurant to Another World is a Japanese light novel series written by Junpei Inuzuka, with illustrations by Katsumi Enami. Shufunotomo have released five volumes of the series since February 2015. An anime television series adaptation by Silver Link aired from July 4 to September 19, 2017. A second season by OLM will premiere in October 2, 2021.
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime also known as TenSura (転スラ) or Slime Isekai is a Japanese fantasy light novel series written by Fuse, and illustrated by Mitz Vah. The story is about a salaryman who is murdered and reincarnates in a sword and sorcery world as a slime with unique powers and gathers allies to build his own nation of monsters.
Isekai Cheat Magician is a Japanese light novel series written by Takeru Uchida and illustrated by Nardack. The series began as a web novel series on the Shōsetsuka ni Narō website in 2012. It was then acquired by Shufunotomo beginning in 2013; fourteen volumes have been published as of February 2021. A manga adaptation by Karin Suzuragi began serialization in Kadokawa Shoten's Monthly Shōnen Ace magazine in December 2016, with eleven tankōbon volumes released so far. An anime television series adaptation by Encourage Films aired from July to September 2019. In October 2019, Crunchyroll started showing the dubbed version.
[New Life+] Young Again in Another World is a Japanese light novel series written by MINE and illustrated by Kabocha. The series is licensed in English by J-Novel Club. A manga adaptation by Satoru Abou is currently being serialized, and an anime television series adaptation by Seven Arcs Pictures was scheduled to premiere in October 2018, before it was cancelled on June 6, 2018. Following the announcement of the anime adaptation, the series and its author began to face criticism for allegedly racist material in the novels and in Twitter posts that MINE had made between 2012 and 2015.
Drugstore in Another World: The Slow Life of a Cheat Pharmacist is a Japanese light novel series written by Kennoji. It was serialized online between 2016 and 2020 on the user-generated novel publishing website Shōsetsuka ni Narō. It was acquired by Linda Publishers, who have originally published two volumes with illustrations by Shōji Nigō between February and June 2017 under their Red Rising Books imprint, before going bankrupt. Hifumi Shobō later reacquired the series, who have published six volumes with illustrations by Matsuuni since April 2018 under their Brave Novel imprint. A manga adaptation with art by Eri Haruno has been serialized online via Takeshobo's Web Comic Gamma Plus website since December 2018 and has been collected in five tankōbon volumes. Both the light novel and manga are licensed in North America by Seven Seas Entertainment. An anime television series adaptation by EMT Squared premiered on July 2021.
Reborn to Master the Blade: From Hero-King to Extraordinary Squire is a Japanese fantasy light novel series written by Hayaken and illustrated by Nagu. It began serialization online in March 2019 on the user-generated novel publishing website Shōsetsuka ni Narō. It was later acquired by Hobby Japan, who have published five volumes since November 2019 under their HJ Bunko imprint. A manga adaptation with art by Moto Kuromura has been serialized online via Hobby Japan's Comic Fire website since December 2019 and has been collected in two tankōbon volumes. Both the light novel and second manga have been licensed in North America by J-Novel Club. A two-episode mini anime adaptation was released between November 7 and November 14, 2020, on Comic Fire's Twitter account.
Isekai Meikyū de Harem o is a Japanese light novel series written by Shachi Sogano and illustrated by Shikidouji. It was serialized online between 2011 and 2019 on the user-generated novel publishing website Shōsetsuka ni Narō. It was later acquired by Shufunotomo, who have published ten volumes since December 2012 under their Hero Bunko imprint. A manga adaptation with art by Issei Hyōju has been serialized in Kadokawa Shoten's shōnen manga magazine Monthly Shōnen Ace since April 2017. It has been collected in seven tankōbon volumes. An anime television series adaptation has been announced.
My Isekai Life, short for My Isekai Life: I Gained a Second Character Class and Became the Strongest Sage in the World!, is a Japanese light novel series written by Shinkoshoto and illustrated by Huuka Kazabana. It began serialization online in October 2017 on the user-generated novel publishing website Shōsetsuka ni Narō. It was later acquired by SB Creative, who has released nine volumes since May 2018 under their GA Novel label.
The World's Finest Assassin Gets Reincarnated in Another World as an Aristocrat is a Japanese light novel series written by Rui Tsukiyo and illustrated by Reia. It began serialization online in July 2018 on the user-generated novel publishing website Shōsetsuka ni Narō. It was later acquired by Kadokawa Shoten, who have published six volumes since February 2019 under their Kadokawa Sneaker Bunko imprint.
JK Haru is a Sex Worker in Another World is a Japanese novel by Kō Hiratori, first published in Japan as a web novel from October 2016 to August 2017 on the website Shōsetsuka ni Narō. It was later acquired by Hayakawa Publishing, who published it in December 2017 with cover art by shimano. The novel follows the high school student Haru Koyama, who is transported to another world after her death, where she begins work as a sex worker.
Skeleton Knight in Another World is a Japanese light novel series written by Ennki Hakari and illustrated by KeG. It began serialization online in October 2014 on the user-generated novel publishing website Shōsetsuka ni Narō. It was later acquired by Overlap, who have published nine volumes since June 2015 under their Overlap Novels imprint. A manga adaptation with art by Akira Sawano has been serialized online via Overlap's Comic Gardo website since February 2017 and has been collected in seven tankōbon volumes. Both the light novel and manga are licensed in North America by Seven Seas Entertainment. An anime television series adaptation by Studio Kai and Hornets has been announced.
Natsume Akatsuki is a Japanese light novel author and manga writer from Echizen, Fukui Prefecture, Japan. He is best known for writing the KonoSuba series.
Killing the People Reincarnated into the Other World: Cheat Slayer is a Japanese isekai manga written by Kakegurui author Homura Kawamoto and illustrated by Aki Yamaguchi. The action is set in a parallel fantasy world, and revolves around a boy who confronts characters who have been abusing supernatural powers ("cheats"), which they gained after dying and being reincarnated as his world's new inhabitants. The series debuted on June 9, 2021, in Fujimi Shobo's shōnen magazine Monthly Dragon Age. However, the series was cancelled after just one chapter when readers highlighted the similarities between the villains in Cheat Slayer and those in similar works.
Yakuza Reincarnation is a Japanese manga series written by Takeshi Natsuhara and Hiroki Miyashita and illustrated by Miyashita. It has been serialized in Shogakukan's seinen manga magazine Monthly Sunday Gene-X since July 2019, with its chapters collected into five tankōbon volumes as of May 2021.
Isekai Yakkyoku is a Japanese light novel series written by Liz Takayama and illustrated by keepout. It began serialization online in July 2015 on the user-generated novel publishing website Shōsetsuka ni Narō. It was later acquired by Media Factory, who have published seven volumes since January 2016 under their MF Books imprint. A manga adaptation with art by Sei Takano has been serialized online via Kadokawa Shoten's ComicWalker website since November 2016. It has been collected in six tankōbon volumes. An anime television series adaptation has been announced.