What annoys you about ‘Isekai’?


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    I ask this because I myself have a laundry list of things that annoys the hell out of me in the fantasy genre alone. In the Isekai genre, there are so many tropes that have yet to be born that could make a series special, but this post isn’t about that. It’s about what people find annoying of the genre.

    I’ll start with a few of my pet peeves;

    1. ‘Earth’ Element: I’ve drilled this online and in reality enough times that if my those words were turned into text, they would fill a book themselves, but I still get annoyed just thinking about how other realities have ‘Earth’ as an element.
      I mean sure, it’s more saying ‘dirt’ than ‘planet’, but why do we call the magic element ‘Earth’ when it’s soil of an alternate dimensional planet? Hell, we don’t call Martian Soil ‘Earth’. The Moon is basically the same composition as Earth Soil... We don’t call soil from the Moon ‘Earthen Soil’...
      Seriously, what is up with that?

    2. Evolution: I actually talked to a person on Discord about this topic over the course of an hour, and we figure that if a Werewolf (full time Werewolf that is. None of this Metamorphosis tract) ever had the chance to evolve on this planet, it would have to be during the same age as the proto-human through a mix of adaption, mutation and symbiotic relationships and would have to be descended from wolves that got smarter to survive sabertooth cats, moved to a mountainous region, had at least one of the species mutate opposable thumbs, breed those thumbs into the species and then interact with a proto-human in order to initiate a harmonious relationship.
      What about in alternate realities? How many of these stories are this indepth about the evolution of the races that exist in the worlds of the stories? If there is more than one than I would be amazed, and that is what’s disappointing...
      It’s like the authors are only putting animal folks because it’s a trope without giving it much thought about how they came to be in the first place. True, some of them go and say ‘animal folk are discriminated against and are often used as slaves in this world’, but how many series really go above and beyond that much thought of the Werefolk?

    3. Physics: This is the last one I’m going to cover for now because at time of typing it is 2:20 in the morning and I have to work tonight.
      Why does it seem like every story world that is in an Isekai story has the gravity of Earth? I brought this up in another post I made, but it would be more believable for me if Touya (of Smartphone fame) was brought to a world where gravity and density were considerably different to how they were in his varient of Earth.
      I mean I personally am alright with having a world where gravity is the same as our Earth down to the decimal point, but why does it seem that there aren’t any Isekai stories about a weakling young man who is super strong not because he was reincarnated by god or whatever but because every other being on the planet has evolved on a planet with half of Earth’s gravity? In fact, why is it that when the world has a measuring system, it always seems to be the same as the one on Earth bar the name? True there are some series that do have a different measuring system than we do on Earth, but how many Isekai stories can you remember before realizing none of the characters of that series actually came from another world? That’s what I thought.

    Basically, these are three of my big pet peeves. You all read through mine. What about yours?



  • @oathkeeper95

    Regarding the first point, Earth has been used to refer to the ground long before we referred to it as our little blue planet. https://www.etymonline.com/word/Earth

    The second and third points are mostly a convenience thing. World-building too much just makes a waste of space and more restrictions on what could be used later. Realist Hero has MC contemplate a bit about the evolution of the races, but it's not gone into depth because there's no way for him to know. I imagine a lot of other series are also from the perspective of the main characters that wouldn't have the information as to why x evolved into y. Your issue with fantasy races isn't an Isekai specific thing, but just an issue with fantasy which tends to require a suspension of disbelief.

    Focus on the actors upon the stage rather than how the stage was built.


  • Premium Member

    I'll take a slightly different approach to the question. What annoys me about isekai is the automatic, but generally negative reaction, as soon as a title is revealed as an isekai.

    I don't see isekai as a genre, but as literary technique to create the setting and drop the protagonist into it. Seems like it's rare that the antagonist comes from another world. It does give the protagonists a cookie cutter feel, but not much worse than the typical post-apocalyptic setting that mechas seem to favor.

    Even looking at the limited selection of isekai here on JNC, there is still a pretty good spectrum of settings. There's a bias towards fantasy settings, but I get a chicken or egg feeling about that.


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    @aruseus493 Know what? I didn’t think about the ‘isekai is usually linked to fantasy’ factor. I still hold my ground on my first point though... Either fantasy should consider that Moon Soil isn’t Earth Soil or we retcon the name of the planet... I submit Gaia. For the third point, I go into considerably more detail on that subject in the post I breifly mentioned in that section. For instance, the durability of the Phrase come from their ability to absorb magic, and in reality is rather fragile. What if they are from a planet or maybe a space in general where gravity doesn’t have much pull to it. That would explain their natural fragility yeah?


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    @paul-nebeling Well... there’s now a grand total of 1 currently self known non-fantasy isekai series, so who knows?
    I will admit that I hadn’t taken the ‘comes in pairs’ trope... Isekai is to Fantasy what Aliens are to Sci-fi what Mecha is to PA... Thanks for the reminder.


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    I have /got/ to agree with @Paul-Nebeling. The thing that annoys me /most/ about isekai is the fan haters. Not really here per se, as it is mentioned but usually relatively politely. But the number of people who virtue signal about how evolved their tastes are by shitting on isekai is really high and annoying.

    The funniest bit is when they talk about how bad isekai is, then talk about how they love X or Y, which has just as many 'bad' (put in quotes) tropes as isekai, but they're okay because...um... the hive mind of haters likes them? :)

    Yes, isekai often deals with OP protagonists, uses a few simple ways to get the fantastic into place, but so what?

    Kind of reminds me of the people who go on and on about how Shirou in Fate sucks and Rin is sooooo much better and has more depth.

    Better is subjective, but Rin ain't more deep than Shirou, both are pretty simple characters. But Rin has a short skirt and tights, so ... she's better!



  • I agree with @Paul-Nebeling, it's not really a genre but more of a setting. And complaining about it being a cookie cutter setting just because it's "another isekai" doesn't really hold up when most high fantasy, sci-fi and other genres tend to have similar looking settings among themselves. If anything, it's just a resource to explain the insertion of a different common sense into a certain world-view.


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    I can say on the revenge story line many character are purposely created to be as stupidly evil as possible to create a situation where MC is becoming the lesser of two evil.


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    @paul-nebeling said in What annoys you about ‘Isekai’?:

    I'll take a slightly different approach to the question. What annoys me about isekai is the automatic, but generally negative reaction, as soon as a title is revealed as an isekai.

    I don't see isekai as a genre, but as literary technique to create the setting and drop the protagonist into it. Seems like it's rare that the antagonist comes from another world. It does give the protagonists a cookie cutter feel, but not much worse than the typical post-apocalyptic setting that mechas seem to favor.

    While I agree that it can be seen as a literary trick rather than a genre, poor execution of this technique leads to a cheap set-up sadly. Specially in the cases where the MC relies heavily on the "being from another reality/world" to solve every single problem. Sometimes you want to see the story develop in a totally unexpected way, that factor is removed from the ones I consider "cheap" Isekai adaptions.

    Think it of this way, MC is presented with a problem in another world. With whatever resources he's given or he has at hand, try to guess what solution will be implemented or try to be implemented before reading further. When it's predictable is when it becomes boring to me.

    I don't consider myself as a Isekai hater, or "Isekai fan hater" really, specially by reading 7 novels with that kind of set-up. I just feel a bit sad that there's so much good stuff out there that it's not being given a proper chance, and that I'm pretty positive it would sell/be popular.

    One could argue that some of the titles I have in mind are out of the scope of J-Novel (For example some being Kadokawa stuff), but really I'm not blaming J-Novel as per se, I'm blaming western publishers in general.


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    The fact that we're getting mostly these and not realistic SciFi, Mecha, space opera, Rom-Com, dramatic romance, realistic character study (Welcome to the NHK), etc. These elements could work their way into Isekai, but many times don't, and if they do they really aren't a major focus.

    Most Isekai also have a Western spice to them, which can get dull. Even video game world Isekai, where game developers could create truly alien scenery, generally take place in Medieval or English countryside type settings, with knights in armor and swords for weapons. I'd like more variety there. An Isekai that takes place primarily on star cruisers in space? Yes please! An Isekai that takes place in the depths of hell or literally in heaven? I'll take it! An Isekai that takes place on a fantastical space with strange gravity effects and warped, twisting architecture + landscapes? Oh yes!

    A lot of the Isekai we've been getting have harems, and their setting's legal system gives an excuse for the MC to marry all the girls. That's boring to me. I like competitive romance. I like heartbreak.

    How many demon Kings / Lords have you met? How many cat women? I've met quite a few semi-recently. I don't inherently have a problem with these, but their stories start to mix together in my mind when the setup is similar.


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    @terrence said in What annoys you about ‘Isekai’?:

    How many demon Kings / Lords have you met? How many cat women? I've met quite a few semi-recently. I don't inherently have a problem with these, but their stories start to mix together in my mind when the setup is similar.

    This is a strong feeling I also have after reading quite a bit of them.

    You pick a new one and it's often like "Oh, so it's a bit like A-title with a mix of B-title and C-title"


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    @dtta Some folks have been telling me how ‘awesome’ Stranger Things is, and up until my mom made me watch the first three episodes I thought, ‘okay, so it’s about John Travolta fighting a monster and stuff huh?’ only to learn through that forced section that it isn’t like I thought at all... I wouldn’t confirm or deny whether it’s good or bad, but I have a better way to think of it now; Tropes of the 80s: A Netflix Original Series.


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    @tako said in What annoys you about ‘Isekai’?:

    @terrence said in What annoys you about ‘Isekai’?:

    How many demon Kings / Lords have you met? How many cat women? I've met quite a few semi-recently. I don't inherently have a problem with these, but their stories start to mix together in my mind when the setup is similar.

    This is a strong feeling I also have after reading quite a bit of them.

    You pick a new one and it's often like "Oh, so it's a bit like A-title with a mix of B-title and C-title"

    And that’s just the point though! There are so many tropes endemic to the Isekai series that it’s almost lost all impact, feeling like white noise a bit yeah?

    I feel like I personally should have opened this conversation to be ‘what annoys you about your favorite genre’ because outside of anime, cartoons, games and regular tv shows, my favorite genre is the isekai that we find in light novels and sometimes manga.

    I will say though that these tropes aren’t entirely deal breakers to me for a series. They are just things that tend to annoy me because they are EVERYWHERE in regards to actually not just isekai.

    I again though still stand by how we are reusing the same tropes but have yet to have a proper series where a character gets warped to a world where the planet and the word for soil are the same without either being directly ‘Earth’.


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    @dtta said in What annoys you about ‘Isekai’?:

    Kind of reminds me of the people who go on and on about how Shirou in Fate sucks and Rin is sooooo much better and has more depth.

    Better is subjective, but Rin ain't more deep than Shirou, both are pretty simple characters. But Rin has a short skirt and tights, so ... she's better!

    Have you read the visual novel? Shirou's inner thoughts are all over that, so I think there's a good argument for him being even more super in depth. Of course, his mindset is still not likable for most (self-sacrifice).

    Rin is my favorite Tsundere though, so no badmouthing her from me. In the VN she has a very long skirt actually, lol.


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    Personally, I’m alright with how repetitive some genres can be, but I feel the same about these repetitive motions that I do about my SCIENCE!

    In this world where we have been moving forwards on asking ‘Why this or that does this or that’, we are going to soon be running out of ways to further advances that involve those questions. The next logical step would be to start focusing on a more important question than ‘Why does this work this way?’

    ‘Why doesn’t it do this?’ While it seems like it should have a simple answer, I don’t see it that way. Most people look at this question and say it’s obvious. Take a Vacuum Cleaner for instance. The simplified purpose of the common vacuum is to suck up dust and trapping it in a box. It can’t boil an egg or do your taxes because it lacks the components.

    Why doesn’t it have the part to boil an egg or do my taxes then? Because those would be useless traits for a vacuum cleaner? Well what if you get hungry while vacuuming but you can't get to your kitchen because you moved your furniture in front of the door while you’re doing your cleaning? What if you have to desperately do your taxes but you also have people coming over for a party in a few minutes and don’t trust your computer after playing Doki Doki Literature Club so you want to keep an eye on them getting done while you’re cleaning huh?

    With how convenient the world is now, you’d think ‘why not’ would be an appropriate question yeah? The Vacuum Cleaner is just one example too. What about traveling between dimensions? Why can’t we do it like we see in fiction? Side question, if it was like how it is in fiction than most often than not you have to die in order to get to that other world. How would you know there isn’t a way?

    Why isn’t the sky purple? Why couldn’t there be catgirls in the real world? Why can’t we lewd Kanna when she’s actually older than Kobayashi?!?

    We are running out of plain ‘whys’, so why can’t we start looking at the ‘why nots’?


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    @oathkeeper95 To clarify, ‘why not’ is just what I see as the next step up in advancement. Questions are not worth much without someone to solve them, so of course like the ‘why’, ‘why not’ will need to eventually go further to ask ‘how’ in order to get new creations out there and into the world? Why isn’t there flying cars yet? How do you make a flying car? Figure out the components, than ask ‘how do you make these parts’ and then make them, put them together and BOOM! Flying car Model T!


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    Off topic a bit:

    On the subject of "why not", I think it's weird that college isn't romanticized the same way as highschool in Japan outside of a handful of series (Golden Time being the big one). I'd love to see college settings take off.

    Is college education more or less common in Japan than stateside?


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    @terrence Well if you think about it, Japan has testing for High school and College while most other nations have compulsory (I hope ai used that word right) education.
    Another series that I personally love that involves college students is Ah! My Goddess. Granted the college theme is mostly forgotten in the midst of the supernatural element.
    My hierarchy of characters in the show still goes Skuld, Belldandy, Urd, Keichi, Peyorth, Mara, than pretty much everyone else... that’s right, I’m not that keen on Hild and whatever her angle is...


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    I was going to respond to this topic, but as I kept reading I have no idea where the conversation went and now can't be bothered to figure it out O_o

    On "earth": Because using a different word and burdening the reader with remembering that "it's actually just 'earth' but we want to confuse you" isn't any better.

    On isekai hate: It's mainly the popularity effect. When things get so popular that they become overwhelmingly prevalent, it's natural for a subset of the fans to get overexposed and long for variety. Especially in the English LN scene, where we know what all the options are from Japan but only get a small offering of new titles per year, I can understand someone who just doesn't enjoy the isekai tropes preferring to see more straight fantasy or sci-fi or something else.


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    @myskaros said in What annoys you about ‘Isekai’?:

    I was going to respond to this topic, but as I kept reading I have no idea where the conversation went and now can't be bothered to figure it out O_o

    Welcome to threads I take part in, lol. Sorries.

    You know, I'm surprised there aren't more Isekai parody series with how popular it is, and how blatant some tropes are now. We got Konosuba, and I'm sure there's others that are borderline parody or have parody elements.