Isekai has changed quite a bit since its early days—what was once a genre focused on female protagonists is now mostly dominated by male power fantasies.
This is a simplification, of course, but the point remains that the isekai genre caters mainly to a male audience these days. Fortunately, it’s not all like that; with this shift has also come some smartly subversive takes on the modern state of the genre with anime like Combatants Will Be Dispatched! that challenge the norm.
Following the mission exploits of Agent Six and his combat droid companion Alice, Combatants Will Be Dispatched! has us following an agent of an evil organization, Kisaragi Corporation, that seeks to conquer another world.
From the creator of KonoSuba, the series treats the male power fantasy of isekai as a game—a literal evil mission of two spies looking to scam and conquer—ultimately resulting in a smart and refreshing satirical subversion.
Another world (to conquer)
When people think of isekai, they might think of modern examples like Sword Art Online or Log Horizon, where a protagonist is “stuck in a game.” They might even think of infamously long anime titles like That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime or Cautious Hero: The Hero is Overpowered but Overly Cautious.
But what each of these have in common is that they’re all about powerful men with women crushing on them. But early isekai wasn’t like this—classics like Inuyasha, Spirited Away or EscaFlowne, where the new world was a place of self-discovery and development, not a power fantasy.
Over time, aspects of harem were introduced to the genre, and it’s exploded in popularity. Yet the good news is that even series that focus on this power (looking at you, Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-) seek to subvert the trope and go a layer deeper in design.
As for Combatants Will Be Dispatched!, it uses comedy to serve as a pseudo-commentary on other isekai.
Take Agent Six’s job, for example: he needs to conquer this new world by infiltrating its military and gaining favor. So rather than a summoned, legendary hero, this kingdom is delivered to scamming spies looking to twist things to evil.
But there isn’t a power crawl here, either. Six doesn’t get stronger in this world, he just uses high-tech gear, armor and weapons to quickly climb the ladder. And he pays for all of this with…wait for it…Evil Points!
And with Evil Points comes an in-universe explanation for fanservice moments that are usually at the core of other isekai, and a little “ding!” lets Six know that his action was just creepy enough to get him more currency.
But it shows that these moments are, by nature, creepy and not consensual. It contextualizes them, even though it still depicts them. Simply put, the satire of Combatants Will Be Dispatched! gamifies the isekai formula while still hitting the familiar beats of the genre.
But don’t get me wrong, Combatants Will Be Dispatched! is still very much an isekai full of the things you love about the genre. But rather than present its fanservice through power fantasy or as part of the hero’s journey, it frames them as evil and underhanded. They become funny in a new context.
Still, the series doesn’t weigh itself down too much either. It’s a comedy, and plays around a lot with lighter-toned satire by leaning into its ridiculousness. It’s not perfect, but it’s self-aware enough to have a lot of fun without feeling too similar to others in the space.
Combatants Will Be Dispatched! isn’t just a fun take on isekai, it’s an understanding of what modern isekai is. It might not feel like an older series (seek out The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent or BOFURI for this kind of feel) but its approach to commentary and humor makes it a must-watch that’s worth your time.