Isekai has always been a gateway for us normal otaku to dream about what it would be like to enter another world and become a hero. Watching Kirito in Sword Art Online beat impossible odds or witnessing Diablo in How Not to Summon a Demon Lord go from MMO junkie to otherworld hero is a sight to behold. That’s the dream we all have right? Many of us want to live another life away from our current real-world problems and become the hero we always thought we were. Well, most of us desire to be reincarnated in another world but, equally, some of us dislike the heroes that are supposed to represent how we’d act. Why is it that we love and hate isekai protagonists so much? Time to find out using examples from various anime new and old!
Why We Love: Isekai Heroes/Heroines Are So Cool
Some of us otaku are blessed with cool hair, sexy bodies and extremely suave demeanors. Then there are some otaku who are socially awkward and dress with a bit too much anime merchandise plastered on their bodies. We all have our perfect look within us but many of us don’t tap into it and that is where iskeai protagonists come into play.
Naofumi from The Rising of the Shield Hero goes from a very basic hero to the tough and cool shield hero we see in the series. Likewise, Hajime Nagumo from Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest goes from nerdy mage to white-haired gun-totting hero. Even the female heroine Sinon from Sword Art Online II ditches the bookworm persona for a giant sniper rifle and pretty tight clothing.
Isekai heroes and heroines are what we wish we could look like and that’s why we try so hard to copy them in the real world. Trust us readers, go to a convention—when they reopen—and you’ll see a million Kirito cosplayers because to them, that’s the cool design they wish they could obtain.
Why We Hate: These Iskeai Protagonists are Quite Strange
Let’s be real, many isekai heroes are strange. Kirito doesn’t know he has a bevy of girls who love him, Seiya from Cautious Hero is extremely rude and very slow in action and those are just a few of the many protagonists who have odd personalities. We otaku can be quirky and extremely passionate about our love for the medium but many of us aren’t oblivious to a girl’s advances or quick to make fun of another for being a bit different. Isekai protagonists are bizarre and their personalities make them hard to relate to more often than not.
Why We Love: Unleash the OP
Many of us otaku aren’t able to take a billion hits and be okay like Maple in BOFURI nor can we absorb things around us to become stronger like our slime Rimuru in That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime. Our desires and fandom are strong but most of us are normal in every other attribute and that is why we fall for such amazing heroes/heroines in isekai series.
Being overpowered seems like the coolest thing we could wish for if we were transported into a game-like world of fantasy. Imagine if all isekai leads were literally just like us anime viewers. Not only would they enter their new world and immediately get decimated—like Subaru kind of does in Re:Zero—but they would have a short-lived second chance we all crave. Yes, we do sometimes hate when an OP hero wins too quickly—as it lacks entertainment value—but we also love the chills felt watching a giant fireball being launched at an enemy by someone who was once just like us.
Why We Hate: DO MORE
Okay, to be fair, isekai protagonists typically jump into saving their new worlds from some evil threat and find themselves now unable to enjoy their new lives. Yet, let’s also be fair…CAN’T YOU DO MORE GIVEN THIS NEW OPORTUNITY!? Admit it, readers, when you watch a male lead push off a fantasy girl making advances, your heart ignites in fire-filled anger. You probably say “I wouldn’t ignore that girl” or “If that was me I’d be at the next inn as soon as possible!” Folks, isekai protagonists often could do a lot more with their new found lives and typically do not which just makes us hate them.
The whole point of being in a new world is to live a new life and that is why isekai revels in such popularity. Our boring existences turn into exciting opportunities to change up who we were and become the heroes we always envisioned ourselves to be! This is why when a isekai main lead fails to deliver in some way, we jump at them from our computer chairs and yell wishing they were cooler!
What heroes/heroines do you love/hate from the isekai genre? Comment below with your picks so we can all discuss our love/hate for isekai! For even more anime themed articles keep stuck to our always cool—in our heads—hive here at Honey’s Anime!