Isekai

Meaning

What does Isekai mean?

Isekai anime and manga have become increasingly popular in recent years, with many fans getting hooked onto the genre thanks to its unique blend of action-packed storylines and fantastic worlds. The idea of a protagonist being transported into a whole different reality is a concept that has captivated viewers since the dawn of time.

At its core, the “Isekai” is a subgenre of fantasy fiction which focuses on protagonists being transferred from their original world to an alternate universe or parallel reality. This can be done through reincarnation, time travel, dimensional displacement, or even through the use of magical powers. There are two types of stories within this genre: “isegai ten’i” in which the protagonist has transitioned into a new world, and “isegai tensei” which depicts the protagonist being reincarnated into the new world.

The appeal of “Isekai” lies in its ability to transport viewers to fantastical worlds and provide them with thrilling adventures they might never experience in real life. From battling monsters to exploring mysterious lands, “Isekai” allows viewers to explore limitless possibilities and embark on grand journeys like never before.

No matter what type of story it is, Isekai always has something exciting in store for its viewers and will continue to be a popular genre for many years to come.

Origin

What's the origin of Isekai?

The concept of “Isekai” is nothing new, in fact, it has been an integral part of Japanese culture and literature since ancient times. This genre, which literally translates to “another world”, usually involves characters being transported to a seemingly different universe and/or time period. It is often used as a device to explore themes such as morality and identity, while also providing escapism for the viewers.

One of the most popular folk tales of this theme is the tale of Urashima Taro, who after saving a magical turtle is transported to a magical, underwater world. However, after spending a few days in the sub nautical realm, he has to realize upon returning to his home, that over 300 years had passed. This story has been adapted multiple times and forms the basis for many anime and manga series today.

Apart from this story, other tales from Western Europe such as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Chronicles of Narnia all influenced the subgenre to some extent. In recent years, however, these stories have been adapted with modern themes such as video games like in Sword Art Online or virtual reality depicted in Log Horizon.

As one can easily tell from its immense popularity today, “Isekai” has come a long way since its origin as a folktale. With its vast potential in exploring morality and identity through exciting storylines set in imaginative worlds, it is no surprise that this genre continues to captivate people around the globe.

Spread & Usage

How did Isekai spread?

The “Isekai” theme had been part of the modern Japanese art forms such as manga and anime since the 1970’s. The earliest modern Japanese isekai stories include Chieko Hosokawa‘s manga Crest of the Royal Family from 1976 as well as Haruka Takachiho‘s novel Warrior from Another World, published in the same year.

During the 1980s and 90s, various anime and manga series also adopted the “Isekai” theme, including titles such as Aura Battler Dunbine, or Fushigi Yugi.

The most globally popular “Isekai” is the 2001 Hayao Miyazaki film, Spirited Away, in which the protagonist is transferred into the world of spirits.

In recent years, the “Isekai” genre has exploded in popularity, with anime series such as Re:Zero − Starting Life in Another World, Sword Art Online, and Overlord. The popularity of “Isekai” light novels has also led to the increased production of isekai manga and isekai anime.

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