[Collab] Best of Isekai
Right, another collab. This time our guest is none of than Hayaku. Together, we'll be talking about the Isekai genre. Specifically the good and bad examples of them. I'll focus on the positives while Hayaku will look at the side of the things. Without further ado, let's begin.
Although the genre is in decline now and every season some generic Isekai anime come out, there are a lot of actually good shows that focus on various aspects of gaming or another world fantasy.
Making the World Darker
Despite what the characters of Isekai show go through they can still rely on a few things like their friends or party and that gorgeous world that the characters were transformed into. If I was in let's say in Kirito’s place, I'd be jumping up and down at how good this fantasy world is or any other Isekai world as a matter of fact.
However there is the darker side of Isekai that was shown in Now and Then, Here and There. Instead of a vividly coloured world where everything is at ease and trouble could not be seen in miles, you are literally thrown into an apocalyptic desert world in the middle of war. The main character isn't an otaku and is a child, transported into this setting without any knowledge of what the hell is going on there. What I like about this representation of fantasy worlds, is that the show manages to show more gruesome and cruel worlds in opposed to what we get in every other Isekai anime.
Make no mistake, the anime goes dark with themes of war, abuse and other unpleasant things that were brilliantly showcased in the anime. The characters, especially the main one went through hell and back to save Lala Ru and just to be different than other characters. He didn't kill or badly injured anyone and still saved his sense of humanity and childlike innocence at the end of his series. Shu was a character I liked the most out of the cast just because he was different from others and remained pretty much the same after coming back to Japan. What was memorable about Shu in particular was the scene with him and Sara. Since the girl wanted to end her life and her baby as well, without hesitation Shu jumped in and saved her multiple times. He even got his arms crushed with a rock trying to protect Sara’s baby. That's how dark the anime gets and that's the charm it has honestly. Well and despite by showing a literal extermination of a village it was still a great Isekai series, showing that fantasy worlds can be worse than our worlds by a landslide.
Nailing the Game Aspects
There are Isekai anime focused on games like SAO, Danmachi, Overlord and NGNL but neither of those really go into the mechanics of these games and just glosses over them without giving much explanation to the viewers.
Introducing, Log Horizon. Probably one of the best game focused anime and that's not the only reason it's among my favourite Isekai anime, however let's focus on the gaming aspect first. Unlike many other anime who glosses over gaming elements and focuses on either being edgy or fanservice. Log Horizon does not fall into this category and actually explains how the game works without forcing some pointless drama onto the viewer. Everything from classes to individual skills are explained in detail, so that we get a better understanding of what's happening during PvP or PvE fights in the anime. They even go through all the trouble to explain professions and some other things like how a transcriber can't become a cook, this happened as Shiroe tried cooking and failed. Besides detailed explanations, the animation on those abilities also looks slick and makes the viewer excited on any kind of battle. Then there are tactics, which is something that was missing from the majority of Isekai anime focused on games. In Log Horizon, Shiroe devised such plans that the only thing you could do is just stare in awe. Bottom line is that Log Horizon nailed the game aspects and actually made a decent anime about online rpg games, which is amazing in itself.
Putting the game aspects aside, the anime also has a nice story, interesting and funny characters and a protagonist who's not an edgy depressed teen, or a potential a chick magnet. I like the short story arcs that the anime presented and while it didn't have a main story with a big goal, those short stories made the anime more interesting as each of those focused on different things adding variety and character development to the cast. Speaking of characters I really liked Shiroe, he's different than many Isekai mc’s who look pretty bland and as I've mentioned before act either edgy or really shy. He was a great leader and a master strategist as he was able to pretty much run the fantasy world he was in by making small adjustments to simple things. Like making a burger business and gathering money. His abilities in game are nothing to scoff at. Other characters were also nice, I liked the slapstick between Akatsuki and Naotsugu. That always made me laugh.
However those two things have nothing against :
CURRY AND DATABASE
Making a Damn Good Parody
See it's not all doom and gloom with Isekai and we should have a laugh every now and then, just to feel better about ourselves even if the person that is directed is a complete scumbag. But hey, a laugh is a laugh.
I love myself a good parody anime, one that spoofs tropes or adds funny twists on serious matters. That's what Konosuba is about, 2 seasons and a couple of OVA’s to make you laugh hard. Konosuba excels at that straight from the get go as Kazuma’s backstory is nothing short of hilarious. First of all, let's address that the anime is a character driven comedy and most of the good moments comes from them. I must say, running gags can get tiring and boring quickly however that's not the case with Konosuba. Even the simplest jokes hit hard in the anime. Like the famous “Kazuma Kazuma” joke, in which Kazuma replies “Yes. I'm Kazuma”. It's simple but hella effective if you wanna make the audience laugh. That's not even mentioning the plethora of jokes this show has in every episode. However they would not be as funny without the quartet of idiots that lead them. I mean you know they're pretty horrible people but you can't hate them at all. Well since explaining comedy, makes the joke redundant I will not do that. I'll just say that Konosuba is a damn funny anime and for what it is, it is definitely worth a watch even if you don't enjoy Isekai genre in general.
Perfection in a Novel
Right last part is gonna be about Light Novels. All Isekai originate from there and despite their “performance” in anime format, one thing is clear. A lot of them will be generic and uninteresting. However there comes a time where those novels hit the jackpot and do everything right.
Rising of the Shield Hero is one of those novels. First of all, it introduces the protagonist right while retaining some relatable factors while presenting him. He's your average otaku guy who spends a lot of time reading manga and other things. Unlike other protagonists, he's not a shut in with no life. He has a job, hangs out with friends and lives like a normal person with an alright hobby of an otaku. This is like a major step up already. There's no clichéd death or computer transfer to another world, as dear Naofumi was summoned to that world by reading a book. Right that's where the novel gives the main character a really hard time. He gets accused of crimes, his money taken and having barely any equipment on he was thrown in the streets and this humiliation continued for 4 volumes until a really satisfying end.
I like how the novel introduced other characters, well the other 3 heroes kinda fit some tropes but their antics are hilarious. Ren is a cool guy that can lose him temper easily, he's still mostly decent but pretty useless in a real fight. Then comes Motoyasu and Itsuki, literal tools in the series. They believe someone else's fabricated lies than a fellow hero. It's always fun to see their butts kicked by monsters and bosses, just to remind them that they aren't special. Other characters like Raph, Filo and Rishia are really likeable and have their own defining character moments.
I enjoy reading the details on various attacks and Shields that Naofumi unlocks time after time. Everything is written is such detail that you get immersed into the novel, imagining how everything would look there. There's intricate talent or skill trees and there are some cool mechanics with sins and the Holy weapons. Not to mention brilliant writing and awesome fights that get progressively more brutal with each volume.
I've already talked about how great the novel is on multiple occasions but I'll say it once more. You should definitely read it, the novel will define and expectations you have and leave you wanting for more.
This was it for the collab, check out Hayaku's part on bad Isekai tropes. Until next time.