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Tracing Isekai

Isekai has been well known as a popular sub genre in anime. Where the main character is transferred to a different world than his own. It’s always been one of the most popular anime genres. Major titles like Inuyasha, Sword Art Online, even Digimon are few of many. Serving the audience with a struggle of facing the new world, a whole different world than their own.

I’ve been searching for isekai these days and found an interesting fact that: ISEKAI HAS BEEN AROUND SINCE 8TH CENTURY. Thanks to my random googling capability, now my whole perspective of isekai has changed. I thought isekai is kind of a modern anime or manga genre founded at least in the 80s. Together with anime like Ranma ½ , Sailor Moon and others. Turns out, the terms itself is yes, maybe came later. But the idea of isekai premises has been around for centuries.

It was the story of Urashima Taro. A tale of a fisherman who’s rewarded for rescuing a turtle and carrying it to the dragon palace under the sea. He’s entertained by the queen of the sea Otohime as a reward. He believes he spent only several days in the dragon palace. Turns out, he’s been away for 100 years. The concept of an isekai.

On the googling I found, Urashima Taro is kind of a folklore in Japan. It’s a children’s story that has been told and retold for a long time. Some sources said it can be found on literature resources from the 8th century such as Fudoki or ancient reports on provincial culture, geography, and oral tradition presented to the reigning monarchs of Japan, also known as local gazetteers. They contain agricultural, geographical, and historical records as well as mythology and folklore.

Urashima Taro also can be found at Nihon Shoki the oldest, and has proven to be an important tool for historians and archaeologists as it includes the most complete extant historical record of ancient Japan. Showing that isekai genre has been around since dawn of the history of Japan itself.

If you’re getting interested in the isekai genre, I’ve been playing this game Memories Interactive. There’s an isekai novel games as one of their stories. You can download the game here for iOS and here for Android


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