Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed the unusually high number of reincarnated in another world, or Isekai anime’s out this season? I am of course talking about the 2023 winter season.
Isekai is a subgenre of anime that consists of a protagonist who for some reason ends up being transported to a fantasy world. This could either be due to the protagonist dying in his own world and reincarnation ( usually because of some deity taking pity on them and granting them special powers in a new world), or it could be due to the character being summoned to fulfill some great role. Usually, the world they are summoned to is a European-influenced fantasy world, such as middle earth, or a Game of Thrones-inspired world. However, since most Japanese people’s exposure to western fantasy is through video games such as final fantasy, there usually are some gaming aspects to the world in question. For instance, they can access charts and stats, view their power level on their profiles, access maps in a drop screen that floats before them, or they can gain unique skills and upgrades, and gain new spells as they progress through the story. They can fall into typical gaming classes or roles. Such as Mage, knight, wizard, or bard.
While this is not an unusual genre of anime, usually there are only one or two every few seasons, but this season there seems to be a good four or five around. Some are continuations from previous seasons such as “By the grace of Gods,” and “Bofuri: I don’t want to get hurt, so I’ll max my senses” but still there is an unusually large amount of new ones. We have “Campfire cooking in another World with my absurd skills”, “Chillin’ In my 30s after getting fired from the demon king’s Army”, “Handyman Saitou in another world” and “ the reincarnation of the strongest exorcist in another world. Most of these are Slice-of-life fantasy anime and have our protagonist trying to find a new job in this new world. and yes, they all have ridiculously long names. This is a subgenre that does have a wide and interesting range of scenarios. From a simple slice of life to full-blown action shows, and can cater to a wide range of ages.
While this is not my favorite subgenre, I still have found enjoyment in many, including, “ the rising of the shield hero” (2019), “ the time I got reincarnated as a slime” comes to mind as well. Those two were standouts. Often the problem I have with this subgenre is that frequently the protagonists tend to be way too overpowered and conflict can be resolved too easily. I like a show that has stakes. Since the premise of the show often hinges on video game glitches where characters are able to access ridiculous amounts of power ( a frequent problem in video games I am told) But this all leads to the characters being too powerful.
I have wondered what would be the cause of so many of these anime being out this season.
As I have said this season the fantasy anime have been leaning towards slice-of-life. The upshot of dying for these protagonists is that they are given a second chance in a new world. Frequently the choice of reincarnating them is due to some benevolent deity who rewards them for some good deed ( often the protagonist will die trying to save someone else’s life.) Because of this, the protagonist is rewarded with special skills.
The thing that ties all these shows to this season is the theme of restarting life and beginning anew. We have a protagonist that is unsatisfied with his life, the monotonous humdrum of everyday work leaves them unhappy and regretting the choices they made that brought them here.
This new chance to start over allows them to explore aspects of their life that they hadn’t before. They get to try out hobbies and things that they enjoy. Rather than just being a work drown going in every day to an unfulfilling job they get to try things they enjoy, Such as cooking, and farming. Threw this new chance they get a more fulfilling life.
I wonder if the large number of shows with these themes is all a result of the last few years of lockdown, and the extreme political situation all over the world, leaving people wanting a little escapism. The characters of these shows find a way to start over and gain some happiness. They can start over. Because of unique skills, granted to them by a god. I
I feel this is a feeling we as humans can often feel. Getting up and going to work day after day life can become stale.
I think we all deep down have that hope, that some God will take pity on us and give us another chance to live life to the fullest, to let us be who we truly want to be. So many of us feel unfulfilled with our situation these days. Things have ended up not as we expected. Especially now after Covid and so Many of us have been reevaluating our lives. Maybe we just want to be able to fantasize about being transported to a new world and being able to start over. I have often thought how wonderful that would be, but I feel that running away and hiding from our problems does not help. We need to face our problems head-on, But at the end of the day to destress, indulging in a little escapism never hurts. It helps us recharge, so we can face our problems the next day.