What is an isekai and what is not? This question is somehow a long-running debate among all fantasy fans. As isekai is a story genre from Japan with “Transform to Another World” as a premise. The community of internet -as usual- starting to evolve isekai to not only limited to Japanese products only but also start to classify western story to isekai. This, again -as usual- triggering an interesting discussion of what can be classified as isekai and what is not.
So let’s start with the definition. Isekai is literally translated as “different world”. In best practices, isekai story usually transformed the main character from one world (such as our current modern world, the world main character is already familiar with) to another world (can be medieval, or space world, parallel universe, even time travel to the past, time travel to the future, etc). The basic idea is the main character transformed to another world for a reason and has to survive there.
Japan as the parent of isekai terms has a long history for this genre.Titles like No Game No Life, Inuyasha, Overlord & Log Horizon are absolutely few of many isekai examples you can find. But how about if I mention the Harry Potter franchise? Is it considered as an isekai since it’s about a boy in a normal English world who has to transfer to a whole different world and has to survive there? Some might say it is definitely an isekai due to how we as an audience learn about the wizarding world at the same pace with Harry. But some say it is not. There’s another aspect that needs to be counted in the isekai genre is the main character is stuck in another world. While Harry and the gang can regularly come home.
I’m not trying to stamp out whether Harry Potter is an isekai or it is not a franchise. I’m trying to ignite a discussion of a culture product. What is usually in the isekai genre in Japanese culture is that the main character is a “chosen one” . Harry is also a chosen one. The story revolves around him being a chosen one. The idea of isekai is having two different concepts of the world that the main character has to deal with. The boy who lived is of course having that as well. But at the same time, the isekai genre usually involves the hareem aspect while harry is kinda having a story with 2 girls in the movie. The Isekai genre is also known for its accidental travel, while Harry I think was planned well before he was born
So it is isekai or it is not? I have my own opinion of course but i’d love to hear yours first. Comment in the comment section and lets geek out.
Speaking of isekai, I’m currently playing Memories Interactive since i’m in love with the isekai genre these days, Memories is an interactive otome genre visual novel platform, your choices will change the game. If you want to play it to you can download it here for iOS and here for Android
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