Everything is normal, until one day you’re transported to another world. Will you be a warrior who fights for the kingdom? Will you turn to the dark side and establish an evil regime? Will you … turn into a slime? Welcome to isekai anime.
Isekai became a household name in the 2010s, with shows like Sword Art Online, Overlord and No Game No Life captivating audiences around the world. We even saw an isekai anime crossover in ISEKAI QUARTET.
Presenting the fan-voted isekai series of the decade:
KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on this Wonderful World! (2016)
In a genre filled with action and drama, there’s only one surefire way to stand out from the crowd: Comedy. KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on this Wonderful World! delivers the fantasy adventure that fans crave from isekai, but packages it all in a ridiculous and hilarious bundle.
From its cast of ridiculous yet lovable characters to the way the story parodies the isekai genre overused tropes, KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on this Wonderful World! is ultimately a story about Kazuma desperately trying to just live a good life while destiny keeps pushing him and his party back into the Devil King’s sights.
While the concept of an isekai set in a video game is nothing new, Overlord does wonders with the premise. Set in the world of Yggdrasil, a DMMORPG, main character Momonga finds himself trapped as his avatar, unable to log out and return to the real world.
He assumed the persona of Ainz Ooal Gown, the namesake of his former guild, and sets out to solve the mystery of how he ended up in this world. It sure helps that he gains incredible abilities and unshackles himself from the ethics of the real world. Above all, Overlord is a power fantasy with a lot of heart.
Re:ZERO − Starting Life in Another World (2016)
Imagine getting summoned to another world, only to find out that every time you die, you go back to a certain point in time and start again. That’s Subaru’s reality in Re:ZERO – Starting Life in Another World.
But Subaru’s Return by Death ability is what makes this otherwise average-sounding isekai so good. The story shows not only what it would be like to have the opportunity to fix your mistakes, but also what the mental consequences are for experiencing traumatic event after traumatic event with no known way to stop the cycle. Re:ZERO – Starting Life in Another World is an intense series that challenges the genre’s norms.
It also happened to spark one of the most memorable Best Girl debates of all time between Rem and Emilia.
The Rising of the Shield Hero (2019)
The Rising of the Shield Hero does a lot with a fairly simple premise. Naofumi is transported to another world as one of its four guardian heroes, the Shield Hero. But he’s quickly accused of a terrible crime that he didn’t commit, and the entire kingdom turns on him. That’s where this story really begins.
For so many isekai anime, the power fantasy is at its center, but The Rising of the Shield Hero focuses on climbing back to the top with the help of some incredibly powerful friends, like Raphtalia and Filo. It’s no wonder the show has been greenlit for two more seasons as a highlight of the isekai genre!
Sword Art Online (2012)
Arguably one of the most impactful series to be released this decade, Sword Art Online was a force of nature. It’s often credited as the igniting spark for the current isekai trend.
Kirito’s initial nightmarish adventure trying to escape the virtual prison that was Sword Art Online attracted millions of viewers, drawing them in with the premise that was both an action fantasy and a terrifying near-future sci-fi. Since then, Kirito’s adventures into various other virtual worlds has only cemented the franchise as one of the genre’s staples this decade.
Not a Funimation subscriber yet? Sign up now so you won’t miss out on all things anime.
Love creating content about anime? Pitch us a feature for Funimation Editorial!
Looking to chat with like-minded fans? Head on over to the Funimation Forums.