The isekai anime subgenre is bigger and more popular than ever, but it also gets its fair share of criticism. Isekai is often viewed as formulaic, predictable, and often lazily written, and some isekai series, unfortunately, are just like that. Fortunately, there are also remarkable standouts like Reincarnated as a Slime and Dr. Stone to show that isekai is not always cliché-ridden “trash.”
Interestingly, some decent isekai anime series actually do make use of those clichés, except these series make the most of their clichéd nature somehow. Even if these isekai titles are sometimes mediocre, any fan can appreciate how those shows made their clichés exciting and fun, and sometimes, the clichés actually feel fresh and original once again.
10/10 Konosuba Parodies Isekai Clichés In True Style
A satire or parody anime is an excellent way to make fun of a genre’s clichés or conventions while making use of them in unexpected, and sometimes extreme, ways. Sure enough, Konosuba is an isekai parody that has it all, from Truck-kun itself to a tracksuit-wearing self-insert lead to magical girls and monsters.
Except all this is turned on its head in a wild, wacky misadventure where isekai clichés are a reason to laugh rather than become annoyed. Konosuba has two fine seasons and a movie to its name, with a third season on the way.
9/10 That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime Simply Does Everything Well
It’s not easy to explain what exactly makes Reincarnated as a Slime such an outstanding fantasy isekai series, since it is riddled with familiar tropes, conventions and clichés from start to finish. It features an OP protagonist, unofficial harems of attractive girls, adventurers, monsters, and a council of demon lords, among other things.
Despite this formulaic concept, Reincaranted as a Slime is somehow more than the sum of its many cliché isekai parts. Perhaps the main selling point is that Rimuru Tempest, the hero, is a selfless and diplomatic nation-builder rather than a sleazeball or boring self-insert.
8/10 Trapped In A Dating Sim Shows The Hero Going Wild
Trapped in a Dating Sim is a recent isekai title that, while not a total standout, was also better entertainment than skeptical fans might have expected at first. The hero, Leon Bartfort, got himself reborn in a a sci-fi otome game of beautiful girls and giant robots, except he’s an underdog everyone looks down on.
There’s nothing totally new here, but Dating Sim is still solid fun. The series embraces Leon Bartfort’s underdog status in full, depicting this unrestrained troublemaker running around causing mayhem and getting in people’s faces because he has so little to lose anyway. This is a new kind of escapism.
7/10 Re:Zero Reinvented The Underdog Isekai Concept
In many isekai titles, the hero is either a blatant power fantasy or a total underdog who is out of their depth in this new world. Re:Zero takes the latter route, since the tracksuit-wearing Subaru Natsuki has very little going for him not even meta-knowledge. But he does have the ability to return to life.
Subaru is cursed so that if he dies, he revives at a checkpoint, and that’s a pretty neat way to make him OP and weak at the same time. Re:Zero also has two attractive love interests for Subaru, Rem and Emilia, and they are charming and enticing, not just obligatory elf girls who love him for no reason.
6/10 The Rising Of The Shield Hero Created A Platonic, Supportive Harem
Unfortunately, The Rising of the Shield Hero also embodies some negative isekai clichés or tropes, such as an edgelord protagonist knowingly supporting a local slave trade to buy a friend. It also has other issues in its narrative, but there are some good things to be found here as well, mostly concerning Naofumi’s harem.
Naofumi can be pretty dark, but he is also one of the best foster dads in isekai. His cliché harem is less about sexual fantasy fulfillment and more about Naofumi befriending, supporting, and protecting several girls who fight by his side against the Waves. Raphtalia and Filo are more like his adorable daughters than potential love interests.
5/10 Welcome To Demon School, Iruma-Kun! Has A New King Of Demon King
The cartoony isekai anime Welcome to Demon School, Iruma-Kun! is coming back for more this fall, and this anime sure knows how to make isekai clichés fun rather than dry. The underdog hero is Iruma Suzuki, a kind and helpful boy who is an expert at dodging trouble, mostly literally.
The Iruma-Kun! anime has not one, but several demon kings. The previous king Derkila has left his throne, and Iruma, of all people, might succeed him. Then there’s Lord Sullivan, a compassionate and doting demon king who is Iruma’s loving foster grandfather rather than his worst enemy.
4/10 My Next Life As A Villainess Reinvented Isekai Harems
My Next Life as a Villainess is an amusing shojo isekai anime starring the reformed villainess Katarina Claes, who found herself reborn as her favorite otome game’s bad girl. Her character is doomed if the story is ever completed, so this new Katarina must rewrite the entire plot of the Fortune Lover game.
Katarina immediately attracts a huge co-ed harem of friends who absolutely fawn over her, but this sleazy, self-indulgent cliché is actually totally wholesome in the Villainess anime. These are Katarina’s dear friends, after all, and Katarina is far too dense to recognize their passion for her anyway, hence the nickname Bakarina.
3/10 My Isekai Life Gets Clever With Slimes And OP Magic
For the most part, My Isekai Life is a generic and forgettable isekai anime title, but it did have a few tricks up its sleeve during its run in the Summer 2022 anime season. The hero Yuji was indeed OP as can be, but he was also clever and resourceful about it, making him more exciting than fans might expect.
More specifically, Yuji tends to combine his tamed slimes, his canine companion Proud Wolf and his formidable, sage-style magic, creating combat techniques that are more than the sum of their parts. Then Yuji thought he was the hero of a prophecy, only to realize that prophecy described his worst enemy instead.
2/10 I’ve Been Killing Slimes Has A Found Family Harem
I’ve Been Killing Slimes For 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level is a charming, innocent isekai title that has a lot of fun with the tried-and-true formula for isekai. The witch-like heroine Azuwa Aizawa is ludicrously OP, but she never fights for glory or to bully others. Instead, she is more like a protective foster mother.
Azusa is, above all else, a friendly person who can’t help but welcome many new people into her life, from smart slimes and ghosts to dragon girls, elves, and even demons like Beelzebub. That’s a wholesome-found family of a harem, and Azusa even befriends the goofy little demon king, too.
1/10 Black Summoner Experimented With The Reincarnation Rules
Black Summoner, like its Summer 2022 twin My Isekai Life, is mostly generic and forgettable, but it did make an effort to tinker with the isekai formula and explore at least a little new ground. It’s not enough for Kelvin the summoner hero to arrive in this new world; the Black Summoner actually lays down the rules for reincarnation.
This anime makes it clear that people can arrive here with two recognized methods: being deliberately summoned, or dying and getting reincarnated. In the latter case, the isekai guest can even modify their appearance and edit their skills beforehand. Then, Kelvin himself isekai’d someone to this world, a certain Rio Saeki. At last, things have come full circle, and the isekai protagonist actually became Truck-kun.
NEXT: 10 Best Isekai Anime Not Set In a Fantasy World