Isekai is an exciting genre of anime that takes a character and places them in world that is foreign to them. Usually, it’s a fantasy land full of magic and danger. Often, this new world is their favorite MMO. Inside the game, they may find a harem of cute girls or they could encounter something more sinister. Other isekai anime can be as simple as a character enjoying food in another world. There are endless ways to explore the isekai trope.
Isekai is not a new concept, but it has exploded in popularity in recent years. Now, anime fans can look forward to two or three new isekai shows per season. While this surplus of isekai programs can be considered a positive thing, it can also make it difficult for shows within the genre to stand out. One way an isekai anime can distinguish itself is to have memorable characters. Today, we’re going to be examining some of the best characters from the genre. Our list is comprised of brave heroes, sadistic lolis, and adorable best girls. Ok, let’s get to it!
10. Shiroe from Log Horizon
- Episodes: 25
- Air Date: October 2013 - March 2014
Imagine you are playing your favorite massively multiplayer online game, and suddenly you’re inside the game. There’s no way out, and you must learn to adapt to your new world. That’s the situation Shiroe, an engineering student, finds himself in. Fortunately, Shiroe is a master at the game, so he may have a shot at survival.
Shiroe has landed the tenth spot on our list because he is a clever strategist. Shiroe always has a plan and he tries to act in everyone’s best interest. However, he’s ok with being seen as the bad guy when it’s necessary. This has earned him the title “the villain in the glasses”. Despite his nickname, Shiroe is kind and loyal to his friends. He’s even willing to take the novice players under his wing.
9. Oda Nobunaga from Drifters
- Episodes: 12
- Air Date: October 2016 - December 2016
Drifters is a historical action anime that takes figures from different time periods and transports them to a world of elves, dwarves, and magicians. In this new world, the heroes known as “Drifters” will be pitted against the “Ends”, a mysterious group that seeks to destroy them.
Of all the great historical figures in Drifters, Oda Nobunaga is the best because he is the most developed character. Nobunaga is the master planner of the group; he is clever when it comes to battle tactics, but he also has a softer side. In the past, he had a strained relationship with his son, and this has lead to him becoming an almost paternal figure to his comrade, Shimazu. His wild nature coupled with his cunning strategies have cemented Nobunaga as one of the best warriors in isekai anime.
8. Sadao Maou from Hataraku Maou-sama! (The Devil is a Part-Timer!)
- Episodes: 13
- Air Date: April 2013 - June 2013
After nearly being defeated by the hero Emilia Justina, the great Demon Lord Satan is forced to flee to the human world. On Earth, he takes the name Sadao Maou and attempts to live the life of an ordinary person. He soon realizes this is no easy task. With no magic and no money, he becomes an employee at MgRonald’s. Will he be able to make it as a part-timer, or will the hero finally defeat him?
Sadao Maou is a fun character because we get to see him go from absolute power to none at all. Usually, in isekai series it’s the other way around. This allows viewers to witness his transformation from evil ruler to a relatable guy that understands humans and cares for them. Even Emi the hero notices this change. At one point, Maou saves Emi and his coworker Chiho from Lucifer. The more we get to see him empathize with humans, the more likable he becomes. For a demon lord, Maou is really not that bad of a guy.
7. Altair, AKA “Military Uniform Princess” from Re:CREATORS
- Air Date:
In Re:CREATORS, a young aspiring writer finds himself pulled into an anime. When he returns, he finds that characters from all forms of media have arrived in his world. Now, the creators will meet their fictitious characters face to face. What will happen, now that the characters want to be in control? Re:CREATORS is an anime that explores this concept.
Unlike other characters in the show, Altair is aware that she is a work of fiction. Altair was a character in an online music video, and she loved her creator Setsuna dearly. When Setsuna committed suicide, Altair blamed the world and decided to destroy it. While Altair may be the antagonist of the series, her devotion to Setsuna is admirable.
6. Rory Mercury from Gate: Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri (GATE)
- Episodes: 12
- Air Date: July 2015 - September 2015
A gate opens in Tokyo, letting in monsters and fighters from another world. To understand their enemy, the Japanese Self-Defense Forces send a team across the gate into the other realm. Among this group is Youji Itami. Itami will help attempt to bring peace to both sides of the gate, even though he would rather be reading manga.
Itami meets many girls after passing through the gate and one of those girls is Rory Mercury. Rory may look like a harmless gothic lolita, but she is actually a demigoddess of war and death. Rory is well-known for her bloodlust, and even becomes physically aroused when she sees people dying in battle. Though she may be violent, she is also capable of great tenderness. This is evidenced by her desire to aid the defenseless, and by her love for Itami.
5. Megumin from Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! (KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World!)
- Episodes: 10
- Air Date: January 2016 - March 2016
In Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo!, a hikikomori named Kazuma dies and is given a choice between heaven and a life of adventure in another world. He chooses the latter, but he soon realizes that the new world falls short of his expectations. Kazuma and Aqua, a goddess, set out on a mission to defeat the Demon King. Along the way, they pick up two new team members; Megumin and Darkness. Unfortunately, their entire team is incompetent and their journey is full of pitfalls.
While it’s difficult to pick a favorite from this quirky cast, we have to go with Megumin. Megumin suffers from the dreaded chuunibyou syndrome, which causes her to give imaginative speeches and wear an unnecessary eyepatch. She has the ability to perform explosion magic, but it depletes all of her energy, leaving her useless for the rest of the day. Despite all of her ineptitude, Megumin remains a dedicated and caring member of the team. For this reason, we’ve assigned her the fifth spot on the list.
4. Shiro from No Game, No Life
- Episodes: 12
- Air Date: April 2014 - June 2014
No Game, No Life revolves around Sora and Shiro, two NEETs that are given the chance to live in a world known as Disboard. Disboard is a world full of magic and games. Unfortunately for them, humans are the lowest class in Disboard. The duo decide to attempt try rise their way up from the bottom and become the rulers of their new world. Their journey will be a difficult one, though. To win, they will need to put their brilliant minds to work, in the ultimate game of survival.
Shiro is a cute eleven-year-old recluse with a genius intellect. Shiro’s mind works like a computer, so she is able to strategize at a rapid pace. While she may be a master tactician, Shiro has difficulty with feelings and relationships. This leads to her developing a codependent relationship with her stepbrother and she will often become jealous when he shows interest in other girls. Though she may be clingy, Shiro is always willing to stick by her brother. Her love for her brother and her logical brain have earned her the fourth spot on our list.
3. Tanya Degurechaff from Youjo Senki (The Saga of Tanya the Evil)
- Episodes: 12
- Air Date: January 2017 - March 2017
Tanya Degurechaff was a ruthless Japanese businessman in her previous life. After provoking God, who is known as “Being X”, Tanya is sent to a new world as a little orphan girl. Her new world is one of war and magic. Tanya will have to use all of her determination to survive, because there will be no more second chances.
Tanya is given the honor of third on this list because she is willing to sacrifice anything and anyone to survive. While her main objective is to defy “Being X”, Tanya will occasionally act out of cruelty. She considers people who are weak to be expendable and she even orchestrated the deaths of two lower ranking soldiers. This sadistic streak is in sharp contrast to her innocent appearance. Altogether, her resolution and amoral attitude make Tanya Degurechaff a character to be both feared and adored.
2. Rem from Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu (Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World-)
- Episodes: 25
- Air Date: April 2016 - September 2016
Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu is the story of Subaru, a young NEET that finds himself in a magical world. Upon his arrival, he attempts to assist a beautiful girl. Sadly, this results in his murder. However, it’s not the end for Subaru, for he has the power of resurrection. His power allows him to help those around him, but it may cost him his sanity.
One of the characters that Subaru becomes close to on his journey is Rem. Rem is one half of a pair of twin maids. She suffers from low self esteem, but she is able to grow with Subaru’s help. She comes to feel a deep sense of love for him, even though he doesn’t reciprocate her feelings. Rem is sweet most of the time, but she will become violent under certain circumstances. Rem’s adorable nature and sense of self-sacrifice are what make her not only the best girl of the series, but also the best character.
1. Ainz Ooal Gown/Momonga from Overlord
- Episodes: 13
- Air Date: July 2015 - September 2015
Overlord follows Ainz Ooal Gown or Momonga, a guild master that becomes trapped in Yggdrasil, an immersive MMO. He soon comes to realize that he is now able to interact with his non-player characters, and that he has unparalleled powers. Now with the help of his minions, he must navigate this new world and his new form.
Ainz Ooal Gown is a unique character in the isekai genre. Most MMO isekai anime revolve around an average teen guy that must struggle to become the hero. Ainz, on the other hand, is supposed to be the villain. He’s also an undead skeleton king, rather than a skinny nerd. His character is interesting because he is so powerful that it is difficult for others to match him. Yet for all of his power, he is still just as clueless as the viewers, so Ainz spends much of his time planning ways to gain more information. In addition to trying to learn about his new world, he must also adapt to his new form. His human side has begun to fade, yet we are still able to see his humanity peeking through. For being such a breath of fresh air, Ainz Ooal Gown takes first place on our list of best isekai characters.
Thanks for reading! We hope you enjoyed reading about some of our favorite isekai characters. With everything from undead skeletons to adorable maids, we believe our list has a match for everyone. What are some of your favorite isekai characters? What kind of other world would you like to go to? Be sure to let us know in the comments below!