12 Days of Something VI: Isekai This, Isekai That

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You wouldn’t believe what happens in this magazine next

I’ve had an idea going around my head for a while. Let’s just say that by the title of this post that I’ve read something like 40 different manga this year that had Isekai in the title or were clearly that type of story.

For those who don’t know, the genre is basically about transporting a protagonist to a different world from the one they began with. It’s usually just a form of vicarious escapism for the viewer, reader, listener, player or whatever form of interaction the holder of the medium is having.

Since my view on things has been constrained to basically Twitter recently (okay not so recently), my take is that the most popular story of the genre this year was Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu. The anime aired this year and it’s about a NEET named Natsuki Subaru who is transported to another world filled with magic, cute girls and all sorts of things and people that want to kill him. The darkness of the series makes it much different from most in the genre as he has to experience death constantly to try to get what he wants.

On the other end of the spectrum is the light novel then accompanying manga Mushoku Tensei: Isekai Ittara Honki Dasu. In that story, a hopeless NEET dies in a traffic accident and finds himself reborn as Rudeus Greywolf, a young infant in a world filled with magic and uses the knowledge he retained to basically have a non-threatening series of adventures with friends he makes along the way. Or to make the worst of the story, a 34-year-old in a young boy’s body leering over the young girls he meets. Wish fulfillment people.

The point of using these two stories is really to illustrate that there is a large audience for these types of stories. Simply getting trapped in a game like .hack//Sign, Sword Art Online, or Log Horizon is simple compared to these stories. There isn’t a way back to the beginning, or if there is it isn’t pleasant. What is it about these stories that interests people?

These stories feel different from simple fantasy or action stores where an audience can escape for a brief instant before resuming their lives. In fact, it’s almost like there is a certain nihilism in enjoying them. “I want to live in that world,” or “I want to have the opportunity to start over like them,” and “If I could start over knowing everything I know now…” have to be common thoughts among the fans. Maybe there’s a simple desire to have more opportunities to do things in life. Rebirth means having another opportunity to make new friends, learn new skills that one never had the opportunity to learn, or even fall in love for the first time all over again.

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Sorry, Rem might be great, but she’s kind of a problem with the genre.

I think opportunity is the key to understanding all of this. The modern world can feel like there are too many lost opportunities happening on a daily basis. It can feel like there are too many choices so it’s easier just to shut down and choose to do none of them. I certainly know that feeling and it’s really about being afraid to fail. That’s the great weakness of this genre. The protagonist cannot fail in the end because they are given every opportunity to avoid doing so.

Before I leave this particular post, there is one more story that I think really gets to the heart of this genre. Gun-ota ga Mahou Sekai ni Tensei Shitara, Gendai Heiki de Guntai Harem o Tsukucchaimashita!? is if you couldn’t tell by the inclusion of the word in the title a harem story. Hotta Youta is killed going home one day and is reincarnated in a magic world, but he can’t use magic. Fortunately, he knows a ton about guns and that’s all the story is, guns and girls

12 Days of Something IV: A Ranking of Anime I Want to Watch But Would Probably Regret

horizon_header_gifThere are any number of shows that I really do want to watch, but for some reason I never get around to watching. These shows are invariably terrible, but there’s just something that draws me in, but not quite.

1. Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere
2. Golden Boy
3. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
4. Evangelion 2.0 (I actually have a copy that has been sitting unwatched on a bookshelf for almost 2 years)
5. Nozaki-kun
6. Baccano
7. Log Horizon
8. Yuruyuri Season 2
9. One Outs
10. Aria the Animation
11. Code Geass R2
12. Toradora
13. Getting Hit By a Car: The Animation


14. Kill La Kill
15. Space Dandy

12 Days of Something III: The Year in Bad Drops

This is generally how I look when I drop things

During the course of a normal year watching anime, I drop a lot of shows. It ends up being about 9 out of every 20 from my reckoning. That said, I make many, many mistakes in the eyes of my readers, followers on twitter, or people who even think of the name Emperor J. That includes those who have lived in mountain monasteries their entire lives and have no concept of blogging in their minds. So to further their confirmation bias of my taste, I present to you the list of my worst drops as rated by MAL and other comments throughout the year.

Continue reading 12 Days of Something III: The Year in Bad Drops

Log Horizon: A Quick Take

loghor01aShiroe wakes up to find himself in a version of an MMORPG called Elder Tale along with several thousand other Japanese players and unable to escape. He adapts to his world quickly and gathers two of his old companions Naotsugu, a tank character, and Akatsuki a girl playing as a male assassin which is quickly changed via a potion. Several guilds are after him for his services since he is well known for his exploits with a group that was non-affiliated with a guild. First, they have to figure out how combat works in this new world to potentially dangerous effect.

Continue reading Log Horizon: A Quick Take

A Look Ahead to the Fall and Why it Doesn’t Really Matter

There's the big image you come to expect from me at the end. I, of course lead with this under-appreciated character.
There’s the big image you come to expect from me at the end. I, of course lead with this under-appreciated character.

I will get this statement of fact out of the way quickly. There are 47 series airing in the fall. Only 2 of them are continuations of series that began in the summer. One of them is Kingdom which doesn’t really count. When you have that many shows I think it’s kind of pointless to write a lot on each and every series. I think I wrote about 3000 words on 20 organizations engaging in a competitive business against each other over the course of 9 months. That’s the most distant description I could write of describing sport I could think of by the way.

Not even having a popular voice actor can make minor characters popular.
Not even having a popular voice actor can make minor characters popular.

I’m still going to look ahead to the coming season for the reason that it presents an interesting case. There is a hell of a lot of noise when it comes to looking at what’s being released. Light novel adaptations, sequels, sports anime, game adaptations and combinations of those 4 are the dominant shows. I think one can’t go wrong with a known quantity with this much going on. I don’t blame anyone for that because inevitably there’s going to be a ton of crap. Hidden gems are extremely unlikely because everything is known beforehand in this blogosphere. When a series is announced, it seems like a perception takes effect based on just a few facts about it and its either terrible, great or forgotten entirely. I’m still going to watch most of these to get an impression of where they are coming from and I present these to you knowing that I’m just as biased as everyone else. I’ll try to keep it short since I don’t think you want to 5000 word walls of text.

Continue reading A Look Ahead to the Fall and Why it Doesn’t Really Matter