Think the overdone trend of isekai anime is on the way out? Then you clearly haven’t been paying attention to the currently airing season, as it not only features no less than 6 series that undebatably belong in the genre, but they’re all some of the most popular shows we have at the time of writing.
We’re already far enough into the season to have a good grasp on these series, so it's time to trap them all in another world: The world of short-form anime critique, where we shall pit them all against each other to find which one deserves to be crowned best isekai of fall 2019.
Watashi, Nouryoku wa Heikinchi de tte Itta yo ne! (Didn't I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?!)
This light novel adaptation courtesy of Himouto! Umau-Chan and Gabriel Dropout director Masahiko Oota and isekai veteran studio Project No. 9 is easily the most conventional isekai anime of the season, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. Its main character and her desire for a normal life despite her other-worldly surroundings give the plot a fresh direction while the combination of warm, saturated colors and a soft and pleasant art style make seeing that plot progress all the more enjoyable.
On the other hand, it has drawn the anger of light novel fans for making intrusive changes to its source material. The most egregious one is the addition of a pointless mascot character whose only role is to exposit information and try (read fail) to look cute enough to inspire fan art.
The idea to start midway through the story instead of the beginning is also baffling. It may have just been done to be able to get to the interesting parts of the story during the show's run, but if that was such a big problem, they should have just scheduled themselves for a 2 cour run instead of leaving a large portion of its story untold.
Shinchou Yuusha: Kono Yuusha ga Ore Tueee Kuse ni Shinchou Sugiru (Cautious Hero: The Hero Is Overpowered but Overly Cautious)
Did you think Konosuba was too funny? Too well animated? Too varied in its humor? Do you wish you could watch the same show but worse? Then this overly long-titled light novel adaptation is for you.
That might be a bit harsh, since this story of a hero who over prepares for even the most basic monster encounter like it’s the final boss despite his overpowered RPG stats isn’t exactly bad per se, but the constant comparisons it invites to Takaomi Kanasaki’s far better Studio Deen effort make it hard not to want to watch that instead. The joke of a fighter who only uses his maximum force even when fighting extremely weak enemies was already done better with Konosuba’s Megumin. Ditto for the incompetent goddess gags we’ve already seen from Aqua. And the fact that Konosuba had way more types of jokes even in its first episode alone means that Shinchou Yuusha will only really be worth your time if you're sick of rewatching Konosuba.
Hataage! Kemono Michi (Kemono Michi: Rise Up)
Speaking of Konosuba, this new series from DRAMAtical Murder director Kazuya Miura and first-time anime studio ENGI adapts the light novel series of the same name from Konosuba author Natsume Akatsuki. So is it just as good? Spoiler alert: no.
The plot involves animal-lover and pro-wrestler Genzo and the adventures he finds after being whisked to a fantasy world where a beautiful princess tasks him with ridding her kingdom of monsters… only for Genzo to hit the supple sovereign with a superpowered suplex. You see, Genzo views the fantastical monsters of this new world as being no-less deserving of proper treatment than the animals in our own and commits himself to establishing coexistence between man and beast instead of violence by doing what anybody who wants to change the world should do: opening a pet store.
Genzo is a very likable character, partially because of Katsuyuki Konishi’s stellar vocal performance, but mostly because it’s refreshing to see a character with his own unique goals in a genre oversaturated with milquetoast protagonists who follow whatever path is set for them without question (the fact that Genzo’s path leads to some great jokes doesn’t hurt either). Genzo’s only problem is that he’s in a show that can’t seem to match his appeal. As we said, this is the first anime created by newcomer studio ENGI and it shows. The lack of animation undersells what would otherwise be extremely memorable moments and what animation there is feels inaccurate in its pacing, which leads to certain visual gags being timed awkwardly. It's still perfectly able to be funny and endearing when the visual weaknesses don't get in the way of that though, and we have to give it massive props anyway for being one of the very rare pieces of fiction with an environmental moral that's subtle.
Honzuki no Gekokujou: Shisho ni Naru Tame ni wa Shudan wo Erandeiraramesan (Ascendance of a Bookworm)
Riding off Kemono Michi’s momentum, Honzuki also follows a protagonist who changes a fantasy world through a mundane career, but the twist here is that she’s stuck in the body of a 5-year-old.
Our main this time is… Maine, the daughter of a low-ranking soldier who is secretly Motosu Urano, a 19-year-old librarian from the real world who has been isekai'd to a world where books are only written by hand and are consequently very rare. Unperturbed by her out of body experience and lack of any power whatsoever in this unfamiliar setting, Motosu sets out to bring books to the people, raise the population's literacy and save the world with her librarian skills.
This show is easily the slowest paced series we’re covering here, but like a good book, the longer you stick with it, the better it gets. Its relaxed atmosphere and lack of fighting set it far apart from its contemporaries and while it’s not the best looking show this season, its endearing premise and unique flavor are absolutely worth viewing for those interested.
Choujin Koukousei-tachi wa Isekai demo Yoyuu de Ikinuku you desu! (High School Prodigies Have It Easy Even in Another World!)
This once again oversized title from Project No. 9 roughly translates into English as High School Prodigies Have It Easy Even in Another World! And by high school prodigies, it apparently means superhuman godly beings in the guise of teenagers because these protagonists have already achieved more than any real adult ever has or ever could even before being transported to a fantasy world. One of these kids is a swordplay prodigy, not because he won a massive fencing tournament, but because he fights in actual wars against people with guns and explosives using his sword. We’re just saying that so you know that this show might require just a bit of suspension of disbelief.
Once they do find themselves in a world of medieval fantasy, their goal is not to find a way home but to use their over-the-top talents to help the citizens of this unfamiliar land. The show's appeal is similar to that of Dr. Stone, seeing smart characters bring modern knowledge to a distinctly non-modern land, which takes the form of building nuclear power plants, establishing a modern economic system and applying their 21st-century knowledge to a big isekai war in this case.
Unlike Dr. Stone though, this show’s cast is pretty boring. Writing one obscenely talented character without seeming like a Mary Sue can be incredibly challenging, let alone 7, like Choyoyu tries to do, so the fact that its characters seem bland and overpowered comes as little surprise. Though there is fun to be had in seeing how they tailor their modern solutions to an ancient world, there’s little investment to be found beyond that.
Sword Art Online: Alicization - War of Underworld
In the interest of concision, we present to you Sword Art Online: Alicization season 2 summarized in haiku:
An absolute waste
Of our time
Do you think Project No. 9 has mastered the art of isekai? Do you think Greta Thunberg would get more done running a pet store than with public speaking? Do you plan on using books to save the world? What show do you think deserves to be called the best isekai anime of 2019? Be sure to let us know in the comments below and be sure to keep circulating the links to be transported to the fantasy world of Honey’s Anime.