Greetings! Railgunfan75 here. Issekai or other world anime have become a anime staple. Pretty much since Sword Art Online made it’s debut, there have been few seasons without an entry in this genre. While it is immensely popular, many fans feel that genre has grown stale. In fact there have been publishers who are refusing to accept stories in this genre because of how commonplace it has become. And it is hard to argue the fact that the genre is really flooding the scene. For the most part, many entries in the genre have proven to be generic and a bit cookie cutter. However, over the last 18 months, there has been a renaissance of sorts in the genre and three series have emerged which have not only shown us different ways to tell such stories but have done so in a way which has enthralled audiences and given new life to a tired genre. Those series are Konosuba, Re:Zero, and Re:Creators. So what makes these series special? I will discuss each in more detail.
Re:Zero took the anime world by storm last year and for good reason. This series is a very dark take on the genre, one which really explored the character flaws of it’s protagonist and in turn the idea of an otaku protagonist. Unlike the all powerful Kirito type characters from other series, Subaru is not all powerful- in fact any special gift he has only activates under a certain set of circumstances. The use of such a power also has consequences which is not commonplace element. . This is done in such a way which is anything but generic by focusing on the psychological and emotional impact of such powers and circumstances. Subaru’s journey goes well beyond saving the kingdom or saving the girl, it also extends to saving himself. His flaws and trials are the focus of the series and a critique of all those characters who can so easily save an unfamiliar world.
Re:Zero also has a world which is populated with characters that are not generic filler pieces like many series. Characters that are introduced for the most part are introduced for a purpose and these purposes are more than to just make the protagonist look good or for plot convenience. These characters have motivations and dreams which fit into the setting provided to us. We all root for characters such as the maid twins Rem & Ram or the target of Subaru’s desires Emilia. These characters feel like real people and also help us to see the points that the writers are trying to convey to us.
Re:Zero also manages to take a simple concept and make it into a great plot element. Pulling inspiration from games- the idea of “Save points” takes center stage here and it is done masterfully. How would such a common thing in games- being able to repeat events and learn from mistakes play out? It likely would not be as glorious as we think and the series reminds us of that repeatedly. Add all of these elements and you have a series which is both brutal and extremely entertaining to watch.
Konosuba takes a much more comedic approach to the genre than the previously mentioned series. The series is pure insanity from start to finish from the plot points, the world, and the characters. While the other shows featured here criticize in a dramatic fashion, Konosuba chooses to focus on the silliness of some of the aspects of the genre. It does this by taking common place elements and flipping them on their head. Creatures that would be stereo-typically weak in other series are among the strongest around. The “villains” are pretty much far from evil. The heroes while they may save the day are usually the ones which cause the problems in the first place.
Speaking of the heroes, the characters of Konosuba are the main draw to this series. They are a draw because they all far from perfect individuals. Kazuma is a complete jerk, Aqua is a bit of a whiny diva, Darkness just asks for the trouble that comes her way, and Megumin is well Megumin (and best girl). In many series these character types would just be hated and yet in Konosuba they are the reason you keep coming back. They are insanely goofy but yet still lovable at the same time. You root for them to succeed yet laugh at the glorious ways that they fail.
At the core of Konosuba is a goofy jab at the ridiculousness of fantasy worlds and the absurdity of the different character types that we find in these stories. It’s brilliance is in the fact that while it poking fun at those around it, the series also pokes fun at itself and is aware of the ridiculous nature of it’s own premise. And that alone makes Konosuba a very intelligent series for an intelligent audience and also a brilliant series to watch.
Re:Creators is the newest entry on this list and is still airing at the time of this post (so it is possible that it will derail but I don’t believe it will). The main caveat to this series is that instead of going to other worlds- the characters from other worlds come to ours. It would easy to make such a premise into an action/battle royal type deal and while the series does have these elements, that is only a fraction of what it has to offer.
One of the main cruxes of the plot is the idea- what if you could meet the god of your world? It is really an interesting question and the possibilities are addressed through the characters which have come to our world. This leads to battles, many of the series best dialogue scenes, and an interesting motivation for the antagonist.
Besides this, Re:Creators also puts jabs in towards different anime tropes and cliches as well. One character is an obvious knockoff of Madoka, another your typical gundam protagonist, and another your typical idealistic hero. It’s not just the character types that the series explores as the series includes a recap episode which is also clearly a critique of recap episodes (and the best recap episode I have ever seen). Like the other two series, Re:Creators is a intelligent series for anime fans.
That concludes this exploration into a “revival” of the Issekai genre. What do you think of these series? Please comment below. Also there are only 2 weeks left to participate in my latest poll (New Poll: Favorite Anime of 2017 So Far). The poll will close on July 20th, so please vote soon! Please remember to follow me on twitter (@Railgunfan75) for news and updates. So until next time, this is Railgunfan75 signing off! See you in another world!