First, let me say this upfront: we love isekai anime. That being said, in 2023, we noticed that this subgenre is flooding the anime world, and we don't mean just a few shows per season. If you look up the seasonal anime listings on sites like MyAnimeList, in the last year alone, there have been more than a dozen isekai anime, and their numbers only seem to increase every season. In the current Spring 2023 anime season, there are around 10 isekai shows out there (although some aren't 100% isekai but are still pretty close), showing the alarming rate at which the genre is producing. We have decided to play devil's advocate here and examine why isekai anime is both a good thing and a bad thing for the anime medium.
Why A Lot of Isekai Is Good: More Unique Anime Stories
Many argue that isekai anime is pretty simple in terms of plot; the main character either dies or is reincarnated in a new world. But if you pay attention, the isekai genre has led to some unique stories. The upcoming anime Reborn as a Vending Machine, Now I Wander the Dungeon or the recent I Got a Cheat Skill in Another World and Became Unrivaled in The Real World, Too take the traditional themes of isekai and give them a fresh take. One is about a dude literally becoming a vending machine, and the other focuses on a man who gains a more handsome and able body when he visits another world via a hidden door in his grandfather's home. These are unique ideas that demonstrate that anime still has plenty of original stories to offer!
Why A Lot of Isekai is Bad: Plenty of Generic Stories Still Get Released
Unfortunately, like every genre, isekai falls victim to many series just copying one another and making slight changes to avoid complete plagiarism. Many isekai still follow the format of a character dying and ending up in another world, reborn with their memories, and now possessing extremely overpowered abilities that make them formidable beings. Moreover, the fact that many of these series have sequels being made only contributes to the overflooding of repetitive isekai anime that lack originality and are mediocre at best. This is the problem with any genre that becomes popular; creators see what makes money and what is popular and simply go with that for their next project, resulting in anime that can be matched up with one another, giving viewers a sense of déjà vu that many anime viewers hate.
Why A Lot of Isekai Is Good: Immersive Stories When We Need Them Most
In a few words, anime is a form of escapism rather than mere entertainment. Watching an immersive anime series allows viewers to forget about bills, work, and responsibilities as they witness Tanjiro from Demon Slayer defeat another baddie or encounter gigantic oppai in a series like Harem in the Labyrinth of Another World, which happens to be an isekai. The beauty of the isekai genre lies in the concept of an everyday man/woman just like us being given a second lease on life with abilities or talents that allow their new lives to be even more fulfilling and enriching than before. More isekai means more anime that is not only relatable but also immersive, creating a perfect recipe for those of us who really need a break from the world, even if only for 23 minutes.
Why A Lot of Isekai is Bad: Unseen Side Effects
It isn't uncommon for teens or even young adults to idolize an anime character like Saitama from One Punch Man or Mash from Mashle and try to become like them. We can dress up like them, train like them, and even imagine being like them, but ultimately, we can never fully become them. Isekai anime, with its focus on people in new life situations, can cause a strange and somewhat alarming side effect in some viewers, making them feel somewhat depressed and wonder if they will ever be whisked away to another world filled with hot anime babes and fantasy RPG-like experiences. While it may be extreme to think that every anime fan will succumb to negative thoughts, the immersive nature of isekai leads many to daydream about their lives being different, sometimes resulting in bouts of depression and false hopes. This is a minor problem, but we do worry that if isekai continues to become even more mainstream, it might cause people to dwell too much on the idea of going to a new world and hoping life will give them that chance...
Anime is amazing, and so is the isekai genre. We truly love some of the absurd stories and characters that emerge from these series, but we do wish that isekai anime were released a bit less frequently. Just like with too many snacks or bad foods, overconsumption can lead to bad consequences, and we believe that the isekai genre has the potential to become as bad as a stomach ache. Yes, it may be fun to binge-watch a million isekai shows, but eventually, it can feel nauseating when almost half of an anime season is filled with isekai-themed works, and that does raise some concerns…