I’m a fan of Isekais. I really am. I’ve talked about that at length before, and I just really think that Isekai has some of the most potential to be fascinating and unique out of every other genre, not to mention I just love fantasy settings.
Isekai has gotten quite a reputation over the years for being a tad bit bland and generic, and while that is true, there are certainly some standouts. Mushoku Tensei being the big one from last year, and they do happen quite often.
But if one thing rings true no matter how much I try and defend the genre, it’s that every single season will be drowned in Isekais, and only one or two of them will ever be that good.
Isekais, even at their most generic, usually aren’t bad. They’re just so unbelievably bland that if you’ve seen one of them, you’ve seen them all—comfort food. You know what to expect, and it will still taste alright. And this winter, in particular, I feel like that rings especially true. It rings like twice or something, at least.
I’ve watched three Isekais this season, and each of them are basically the exact same thing or at least the same quality in the fact that they’re all over the place and really don’t have anything interesting happen at all. They’re 12 episodes of nothing.
One of them you might recognize. I’ve actually been doing episode reviews for In the Land of Leadale, and while I can’t say I hate the series or anything, I can tell you it isn’t special at all.
If anything, the anime is squandered potential. The concept of a dead girl living her life in some far-off future of a shutdown game is pretty good. That’s a neat, fairly unique concept and could lead to a lot of cool stuff.
Where it starts to fall apart is that the series has a complete aversion to not only action but any semblance of a coherent plot, unless that plot is finding towers like Cayna’s in Assassin’s Creed or something. There was a chance to do something, but it didn’t happen.
It’s just a waste of something that could have been really good and ultimately got reduced to a generic fantasy slice of life, but not fully committing to that either. It’s a bit of a mess. Still, a decent mess that seems to somewhat try.
Now, an anime that doesn’t really have much going for it, even in theory or concept, is…what’s it even called? I forgot. Uh, She Professed Herself Pupil of the Wise Man. This anime has a decent name, I think, despite me forgetting it there, but the actual story and eventing else is really not great. Dare I say bad.
I’m once again not repulsed, Isekai rarely does that to me, but I don’t really enjoy it either. The concept is that a guy who plays the generically named Arch Earth Online falls asleep one night while customizing his old man and awakes in the game years later as a girl because he was messing with his appearance. That’s it. That’s the plot.
Do you want to know how important that trapped in the game subplot is? I forgot that was part of the story until I just read the synopsis. That’s how much. It’s so irrelevant! And that’s for a plot that already isn’t interesting. It’s just baby’s first SAO plotline, without anything that made SAO interesting. It’s not good.
It’s reduced to the same kind of random shenanigans that never really amount to anything, and it’s only sometimes entertaining and, most of the time, pretty boring. I really have nothing else to say about it. It’s not trash, but it’s incredibly uninteresting, to an almost insane extent.
Now, this one. Oh, boy, this one. The Strongest Sage with the Weakest Crest is somehow even more generic than Wise Man, but overall is better, I will say. So how is this more generic than a bargain bin version of the story that started the Isekai?
Well, Strongest Sage takes every common convention of Isekais, turns them on their head, but instead of in an interesting way like Konosuba, manages to water them all down immensely, reducing it to a puddle of nothingness.
It’s not even technically an Isekai. Matthias is from the world he’s reincarnated into. The only difference is that he reached his strength limit in his previous life and reincarnated far into the future as a way to try and get better crest RNG so he can get stronger.
Meaning, the world isn’t interesting for him since it’s similar, and he’s not suddenly strong. The plot is literally about a strong guy reincarnating in the exact same world to eventually become stronger. There’s nothing interesting going for it at all! It’s so bland in ways I never would have even imagined. I’m not sure who thinks this would have been interesting?
Still, it’s actually not bad. It has the most direction of any of these three series and does have somewhat ok action and fun…ish characters. It’s like the lukewarm bathwater of anime. It’s not great, but you’ll take it if you’ve got nothing else.
I like Isekais quite a bit, just as I love fantasy settings, but I do have to admit, the genre is home to probably the highest amount of “meh” anime in the medium. That and maybe Ecchi, but that can at least get some kind of emotions out of you when all I do is just forget about bland Isekais after I watch them.
Isekais arent’ going anywhere, and they’ve only gotten stronger in the last decade, but I honestly think that’s a good thing. Because when they’re good, they’re really good, and even the mediocre ones are kind of fun in their own weird bathwatery way.
Thank you very much for reading
Isekais come in all sorts of varieties, but for some reason, you only usually see the same type.
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Agree with you on strongest sage, nothing really special about it. I wouldn’t call it an isekai though, isekai means another world. Matty just reincarnated in to well, you said it perfectly, a generic dude in a generic world.