With our recent series of Top 10 Female Leads lists, we think there can be no better list than the world of Isekai, or alternate world anime, to find the best ones. The reason why we feel this way is because a majority of the genre is dominated by them. As we have stated in previous articles as it pertains to Isekai anime, using female characters who travel to a different world as their own coming-of-age story goes back to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and the world of anime (and manga) has provided audiences numerous creative interpretations of it. While the genre has been booming this past decade, it has been around a lot longer than you think. Though a majority of who we’re about to list are from the recent wave, we’ll be sure to add in some originals as well. So, who do we feel are the top 10 female leads in Isekai Anime? Read to find out!
10. Tanya von Degurechaff from Youjo Senki (The Saga of Tanya the Evil)
- Episodes: 12
- Air Date: January 6, 2017 – March 31, 2017
For those familiar with Youjo Senki, we can agree that Tanya is certainly a strange way to start off this list considering that the character is a self-aware reincarnation of a Japanese salaryman. But in today’s society of “preferred pronouns” and all that, should that really even matter (or maybe that’s a different topic for a different article)? Upon this salaryman’s untimely death, he enters a 1910’s war torn Europe, and he finds himself in the body of a small framed girl who happens to be a junior ranking military officer that can use magic. While we are given small hints as to who Tanya was as a Japanese salary man, much of her sociopathic tendencies from her previous life are still in-tact and they fit the world she lives in. She’s a strong believer in Darwinism, and only sees her troops as resources and of course, she sees herself the same way, just the really valuable kind. While Tanya isn’t exactly initially comfortable with her situation, she still does her best to make the best of what she has. She has no tolerance for failure and when it’s her fault, she can’t even own up to it. Eventually, she learns to improvise, adapt, and overcome, which is why she’s a worthy addition to kicking off this list.
9. Milim Nava from Tensei shitara Slime Datta Ken (That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime)
- Episodes: 24
- Air Date: October 2, 2018 – March 19, 2018
From this anime, we have Milim, a female lead who is a native to the Isekai the male lead finds himself in. Don’t let her small frame and cute looks fool you, because she happens to be a Dragonoid, meaning she’s half-dragon and half-human. Not only that, she happens to be a Demon Lord who possesses just about every kind of super power you can think and a bag of chips. Despite being numerous centuries old, her temperament more or less reflects how her frame makes her look like a fourth grader. Thankfully, she’s not afraid to acknowledge her own flaws and does everything she can to keep herself under control. What further makes her situation more interesting is how she ascends to her position as a God by coincidence when she saved a village being under attacked. It was never her intention to save everyone, just that the attackers pissed her off and due to the results of her actions, she gained the land of a village with no hesitation. Everything happens for a reason, even when you never intended something to happen, sometimes you just got to go with it and reap in the rewards.
8. Albedo from Overlord
- Episodes: 13
- Air Date: July 7, 2015 – September 29, 2015
The world of Yggdrasil is the future’s hottest MMORPG. One of its highest ranking NPCs is Albedo, the Overseer of the Great Tomb of Nazarick, meaning she’s the boss of the main party. Due to her programming, she is in love with Ainz/Momonga, but still maintains her main function as a Guardian. Regardless, she knows how to be the boss when it counts and that is pretty much every moment she breathes. Albedo may have the looks and can demonstrate an intimidating personality when necessary, but she does have her other qualities that do make her down to Earth. In addition to being the equivalent to a goddess, she is surprisingly domesticated as she enjoys taking care of chores on her free time. When it comes to sorting out her bookshelves, one would have to wonder if Marie Kondo supervised her. Sometimes, certain characters (even if they’re a goddess) can have qualities that are rather humanly relatable.
7. Megumin from Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku Wo! (KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World!)
- Episodes: 10
- Air Date: January 14, 2016 – March 17, 2016
Megumin is a native to the world where Kazuma is sucked into. While she dresses up as a witch, she’s officially classified as an Arch Wizard who specializes in Explosion Magic. While she appropriately expresses some rather childish tendencies and isn’t good at controlling herself, she is still pretty smart, has a unique way of speaking, and genuinely cares about her nakama. She’s something of a pyromaniac since she wants to at least use her magic once a day as long as no one gets hurt. If anybody had the power to cause explosions, I’m sure we’d want to use it once a day ourselves. When it comes to her other reactive qualities, especially in regards to being referred to as a loli, she is naturally sensitive about it. Thanks to Megumin, viewers can learn that perhaps people from different worlds, regardless of what they can do, can still be sensitive about their appearance, but still have their hearts in the right place.
6. Aletta from Isekai Shokudou (Restaurant to Another World)
- Episodes: 12
- Air Date: July 4, 2017 – September 19, 2017
Compared to some other characters on this list, she’s not someone from Earth who gets transported to another world, she’s a demon from her respective kingdom who ended up in our world, or a place that represents an in-between with the Nekoya Restaurant. Unable to cope, she finds work as a waitress at that restaurant. Through Aletta, you can view of the adversities one goes through of coming from one world to another in a different perspective in comparison to the usual trend of Isekai anime of where a human goes to another world. Her story is pretty much the ultimate immigrant story. Aletta goes through some hardships and the only thing she can do is be a waitress. Through her story, you learn there’s no shame in it and that there’s value to such work, which in turn can help a person’s own self-value. As Aletta learns to encounter all kinds of people, it opens her eyes to all kinds of experiences and people, which enriches her life and how she copes with her struggles are very applicable in the real world, which is why she’s such a worthy entry.
5. Selesia Upitiria from Re:Creators
- Episodes: 22
- Air Date: April 8, 2017 – September 16, 2017
In relation to the Isekai genre, Re:Creators is something of a 180 that we thought could spice this list up. In addition to Aletta, our previous entry, you’re sort of getting what we can call a reverse Isekai anime in Re:Creators as characters from games, anime, manga, and light novels are brought into the real world. One notable female lead is Selesia, a character who comes from the anime world to the real world. As intentionally created, she is a natural fighter and isn’t afraid to back down, and she’s adaptable. Through her time with Souta, a teenage otaku, she learns about the real world in a way that compliments her personality as she has to navigate everyday places such as a convenience store with the right touch of comic effect. When she meets her original creator, things are a little intense between them and despite being a work of fiction, she comes to learn the value of the life she has and what she means to her fans. She’s the ultimate personification of the old cliché of whether or not art imitates life, or if life imitates art.
4. Rem from Re:Zero Kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu (Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-)
- Episodes: 25
- Air Date: April 4, 2016 – September 19, 2016
From Re:Zero, we have Remo, its breakout character. She may be more of a supporting character as opposed to a leading character, but her presence and popularity are strong to the point that she qualifies as a lead. Through Rem, a native of the world that Subaru is sucked into, we learn that demon maids also have feelings, especially as it relates to her twin sister. Thanks to Subaru saving her life, she discovers her own self-worth and becomes Subaru’s most trusted companion. A lot can be said about Rem and her loyalty to Subaru, but thanks to Subaru’s presence, she finds a sense of individuality that she was searching for and through Rem, we learn how natives of a certain world can also be affected by the presence of somebody (who was a nobody) from the “real world” can have on them.
3. Shiro from No Game No Life
- Episodes: 12
- Air Date: April 9, 2014 – June 25, 2014
Shiro serves as the other half of the online world’s best gamer, “Kuuhaku,” meaning “blank.” The other half of the duo is Sora, her teenage step-brother, who feels lost without her and vice-versa. To put her in a nutshell, she’s like Spock from Star Trek, who is more driven by logic and has difficult comprehending and expressing emotions, and doesn’t speak much. However, in a world of games in which her skills can be applied, she slowly starts to open up to those around her as she can adapt to their languages and customs. Complimenting her calmer personality, she does have a dry sense of humor as she demonstrates a superiority complex whenever she’s on a roll in a game. At the end of the day, even when she can still be something akin to a hero, much of who she was in the real world is still in-tact, especially when it comes to being near Shiro. Taking into account that she’s still 11, it’s only natural that she breaks down when the only family she has isn’t around while she’s stuck in a world she has yet to understand despite being better adjusted to it. Through Shiro, we learn that sometimes the more things change, the more things still stay the same and that’s ok because that world can make you a better person.
2. Miaka Yuuki from Fushigi Yuugi (The Mysterious Play)
- Episodes: 52
- Air Date: April 6, 1995 – March 28, 1996
If any character can be considered the original Isekai female lead for contemporary audiences, look no further than Miaka from Fushigi Yuugi. Miaka may not have the best brains, but what she lacks there, she makes it up with in heart. Out of all the characters listed here, she certainly fits the Japanese version of Alice or Dorthy from The Wizard of Oz. She’s just an average school girl who wants to enjoy life and suddenly she’s sucked into a world Chinese mythology. She accepts her role as the Suzaku no Miko just so she could wish for material things but comes to find that the journey is what matters as meets all kinds of people. Some want to be her friend, some fall in love with her, and some want to kill her.
Through these experiences, she genuinely finds the growth that she needs. Yes, it may seem cliché, but the series does a great job of presenting that development in a natural manner. Maybe there’s nothing wrong with running from reality if it sucks (as Shinji in the Eva dub once said), but sometimes, you have to confront it and through Miaka’s journey, even if you run away from reality, it doesn’t mean that a world of fantasy is any better if you have more problems to deal with. But once you come back, you might be better prepared to deal with your reality and come to appreciate what you already have in it, and that’s what Miaka best demonstrates.
1. Chihiro Ogino from Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (Spirited Away)
- Episodes: 1 (feature film)
- Air Date: July 20, 2001
Naturally, we have to give number 1 to Chihiro from Spirited Away, anime’s first ever Oscar winner. What makes Chihiro number 1 is because she’s the perfect representative of Japan’s “lost decade.” Through Chihiro, we see how adults during that time period, despite still doing relatively well in the post-bubble, can’t see how their actions, regardless of their intentions and how they’re willing to take responsibility themselves, can still affect future generations. Now that 18 years have passed since the premiere of Spirited Away, we see how Japanese workers in their twenties are clashing with the values of theirs elders who only see things in the point of view in the prime of their time. There have been numerous reports the past few years of how Japanese workers 25 and under are dying due to overwork, with numerous cases being unrelated to suicide, just that their health suddenly failed.
We admit that the comparison is very pessimistic and over dramatic, but the point we’re trying to make is how the younger generation, represented by Chihiro, can understand the values of the previous generation and what it achieved, but what it took to get there can have consequences by the time they’re older or while they’re still growing. This is demonstrated when she has taken everything from her despite the fact she did nothing wrong, and it was her parents that screwed up to begin with. Through Chihiro, a child, adult audiences can learn that at some point, the decisions we make can have unintended consequences to our children at some point, and it will unfortunately have to be on them to fix them.
Last, we’d like to make some honorable mentions. Yes, we could have mentioned Raphtalia from Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari, but we saved her for another list in case some of you were wondering. However, the honorable mentions we’d like to make are Hitomi Kanzaki from Escaflowne, and the leading trio from Magic Knight Rayearth, Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu. Some of the leading females take a more active role in the action, and some play a something akin to being a damsel in distress and both instances are ok. Yes, the damsel in distress has been done to death, but that doesn’t mean that the particular leading female has no value or contribution beyond that. Whether male or female, some people were meant to be fighters, some were meant to be lovers, and others are meant to be leaders with their charisma, principles, and powerful words and we feel with our selections, we can get a great mix of female Isekai leads who represent all these qualities.