If there’s one anime genre that has blown up, it’s isekai.
Because when you really think about it, action, comedy, thriller, romance, these are all things you can get from Hollywood. But isekai seems to be the most present from our creative friends in Japan.[external_link_head]
If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it literally means “transported into a different world”, and is usually inspired by MMORPGs and fantasy worlds.
And for this list we’re going to count down our top isekai anime that are definitely worth watching.
- 1 40. Sword Art Online
- 2 39. Gate
- 3 38. Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest
- 4 37. My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!
- 5 36. In Another World With My Smartphone
- 6 35. Log Horizon
- 7 34. The Ambition of Oda Nobuna
- 8 33. The Devil is a Part-Timer!
- 9 32. How Not to Summon a Demon Lord
- 10 31. Cautious Hero: The Hero Is Overpowered but Overly Cautious
- 11 30. The Familiar of Zero
- 12 29. KonoSuba
- 13 28. Overlord
- 14 27. Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions
- 15 26. The Rising of the Shield Hero
- 16 25. No Game No Life
- 17 24. Restaurant to Another World
- 18 23. Drifters
- 19 22. That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime
- 20 21. Nobunaga Concerto
- 21 20. Ascendance of a Bookworm
- 22 19. Outbreak Company
- 23 18. Amatsuki
- 24 17. Didn’t I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?!
- 25 16. Re:Creators
- 26 15. I’m Standing on a Million Lives
- 27 14. Knight’s & Magic
- 28 13. Princess Connect! Re:Dive
- 29 12. Problem children are coming from another world, aren’t they?
- 30 11. Spirited Away
- 31 10. Kekkai Sensen
- 32 9. Now and Then, Here and There
- 33 8. The Vision of Escaflowne
- 34 7. The Boy and the Beast
- 35 6. InuYasha
- 36 5. Mysterious Play
- 37 4. The Saga of Tanya the Evil
- 38 3. Re: Zero
- 39 2. Do You Love Your Mom and Her Two-Hit Multi-Target Attacks?
- 40 1. Isekai Quartet
40. Sword Art Online
Sword Art Online feels like the pioneer in this genre, as it absolutely blew up after only a few episodes.
Its reputation has gone down as people like to point out how bland and uninspired the main protagonist(Kirito Christ) is.
But I think the show is still a lot of fun.
The animation is superb, the fights are pretty hyped, it had one of the best pilot episodes, and some of the plot lines are rather interesting.
Plus it has like a million spin-offs so you’re bound to find at least one that suits your taste. Gun Gale is my guilty pleasure to be honest.
Gate is one of those shows that just immediately hooked me just by the premise.
In Gate, a portal appears that connects the modern world with the fantasy world. All kind of ogres, dragons, and demons start entering modern day Japan, making you think that it’s going to go post-apocalyptic really quickly.
But then you remember that guns are very much a thing, and are really good at taking out anything that moves.
So the two sides clash. But since neither side can make a decisive victory a ceasefire must be made.
And that’s easier said than done.
38. Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest
As the title might suggest, this is a zero to hero story.
It all starts when our protagonist Hajime and his class are transported into a fantasy world with the mission of saving the world.
Everyone gets really strong combat powers except our boy Hajime, who ends up with a niche transmutation power. His class quickly screws him over and he’s left in a labyrinth to fight for himself.
He uses his wits to make that niche power of his even more powerful, and to eventually become the strongest in the world. The show falls under guilty pleasure as it might not have the best writing ever, but man is it entertaining.
37. My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!
This feels like metagaming-the anime.
Our protagonist, Katarina, is reborn inside of a video game she used to play. However, she’s born into the role of the villainess and she quickly regains her memory from her past life, meaning that she knows she’s evil and is going to die by the end of the campaign.
So she has to do her best to progress the story but avoid ever reaching a conclusion in order for her head to remain on her shoulders.
Again, the concept alone was enough to reel me in. And the cast of lovable characters only furthered my enjoyment.
36. In Another World With My Smartphone
This show is deceptively good.
The premise is exactly what the title promises: a guy gets struck by lightning on accident and God goes “I’m so sorry fam, any way I can make it up to you? How about a fantasy world plus anything you wish for?”
And the MC promptly asks to take his smartphone with him.
The show goes harem mode pretty quickly, but the protagonist is way more ballsy than most MCs in this position. And the way he goes about fighting is quite entertaining as well.
The entire show feels like a parody of isekai shows, which is something I can appreciate.
35. Log Horizon
As far as MMORPGs are concerned, I think no other isekai has captured its essence quite like Log Horizon.
This is because in Log Horizon there aren’t any overpowered protagonists who defeat foes with one strike and never get harmed. The world actually functions as an MMORPG would.
There are respawn points, raids, mob spawns, guilds, builds, classes, and fighting isn’t about raw power. But rather strategy, juggling agro, team comps, positioning etc.
Even if you haven’t sunk half a decade into World of Warcraft or a similar game, you’ll still be able to appreciate how realistic this show is in portraying that kind of a world.
34. The Ambition of Oda Nobuna
You don’t often hear the words “cute girls” and “historical battlefields” uttered in the same sentence.
But hey, that’s what anime is here for.
The Ambition of Oda Nobuna follows a guy named Yoshiharu who gets sent back in time. However, he quickly notices that this timeline of Japanese history has a few key differences, one of which being that all the warlords are cute girls now.
So he uses his knowledge of history, which he got from a video game of course, to predict battles and aid best girl Oda Nobuna in her conquest of conquering Japan.
33. The Devil is a Part-Timer!
The Devil is a Part-Timer can be seen as the reverse isekai.
This is because in isekai shows a person from the “normal” world gets transported into a video game or a fantasy world. However this time around, literal Satan, his right-hand man, and fabled heroes get transported into modern day Japan.
Their magic is basically non-existent. And they soon have to face their strongest foe yet: capitalism and the minimum wage.
The show is a comedy and delivers on that front continuously from episode to episode, so I highly recommend giving it a watch if you haven’t already.
32. How Not to Summon a Demon Lord
Since we’re already talking about demons and devils, we might as well throw this show into the mix.
The setup is as basic as you can get in isekai: dude is the very best in a game and is now transported into that game where fanservice and harems await.
However, the show itself feels oddly fresh.
Firstly, the end goal of the show is to literally disband a spell that one girl messed up that made them the Demon Lord’s slave.
Secondly, there’s a linear plot instead of the usual monster of the week format.
It’s not winning any literary prizes. But the show is honestly really fun, and the MC is interesting enough to never truly drop your interest.
31. Cautious Hero: The Hero Is Overpowered but Overly Cautious
Isekai titles really just get to the point, don’t they?
So yeah, the protagonist is extremely overpowered but is really cautious, how does that work as a plot hook? Extremely well actually.
The humor is very absurd, like the protagonist blowing up an entire village just because he wanted to make sure that he properly killed that level 1 slime, and very unpredictable.[external_link offset=1]
The secondary protagonist also has that Aqua vibe, and her voice actress is just top tier. Trust me, you will binge the show and leave with no regrets.
30. The Familiar of Zero
So, what twist does The Familiar of Zero bring to the isekai table?
The MC likes video games, check.
The MC is overpowered, check.
He’s basically a slave to the girl that summoned him. What? Yep, in this show the main duo consists of a girl who just can’t seem to excel in magic, and a boy that’s summoned from modern Japan as her familiar.
As you might have guessed, having an MC as your familiar is extremely beneficial if you want to grow stronger.
As far as comedies go, KonoSuba is one of my all-time favorites.
Plot wise it’s pretty standard, with a guy dying, meeting a goddess who offers to resurrect him in a different world, so he ends up trolling the system and taking her along with him, etc.
However, the characters are anything but standard.
The male lead has no moral code whatsoever and will absolutely drop kick a woman in the name of equality. The goddess is anything but godly. Their tank is a pervert, and their mage is a one-pump-chump with a taste for destruction.
The show is hilarious and has my sincere approval.
The main selling point of Overlord has to be its MMORPG word building, and the absolute power of the main character Ainz.
The catch is that only Ainz is transported into this world and the other NPCs simply gain life, meaning that he can metagame everything but also that he has no real stakes involved.
He does set out to conquer the world. But only as a means of gathering information and seeking out other players.
His position is the backbone of the show, as people constantly look to him as a God even though my dude is just an avid gamer, making him improvise everything on the spot.
27. Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions
Grimgar is basically the opposite of Overlord.
We have a wide main cast where everyone is equally important, none of them have their previous memories or can metagame, and none of them are overpowered. In fact, they all kind of suck at what they do.
However, that’s the beauty of the show. As we get to see a group of people grow up in an RPG world, struggling constantly but never giving up.
They were basically left for dead by the other players and now it’s do or die.
The show’s pacing might be a little slower than what you would expect from an isekai. But it only helps to further enthrall you into the world.
26. The Rising of the Shield Hero
In The Rising of the Shield Hero we see a man take an L from life, and then build himself up to power.
Our protagonist, Naofumi, is transported into a different world alongside three other people and each is given a weapon.
Naofumi gets the short end of the stick and gets stuck with the shield.
The stick gets even shorter when he’s quickly outcast by the entire kingdom.
So we watch as he forms a rag-tag team of companions, who may or may not be slaves, and tries to help out the people around him while simultaneously giving the king the middle finger. It truly is a sight to behold.
25. No Game No Life
No Game No Life is notorious in the community for giving us one of the best seasons ever, and then promptly disappearing from the face of the Earth.
The concept is pretty simple: two genius siblings get transported into a fantasy world where everything is settled through games.
This might sound boring, but keep in mind the siblings are literal geniuses. The world is fantastical and the other characters have played games for profit their entire life.
All of this leads to the most hyped, unexpected, 300 IQ living figure chess matches that you will ever see.
24. Restaurant to Another World
This show had no business being as good as it was.
Instead of the usual grind/fight for survival plotlines we’ve all grown accustomed to, this show is literally just about running a restaurant.
However, the twist is that the restaurant is like any other food establishment during the work days, but on Saturdays its doors open up to a fantasy world. And now you’re suddenly serving a dragon their favourite meat or brandy.
The show is pretty funny, the atmosphere is really relaxing, and I honestly have to give credit to whoever came up with the concept.
If you like history, Hellsing, fantasy, war, or any combination of the four, Drifters should be right up your alley.
Great warriors from all over Earth’s timeline are transported into a fantasy world and are given the title of Drifter. It’s their job to fight people called the Ends in an all-out war.
Among the cast are people like Toyohisa Shimazu, Nobunaga Oda (making his second appearance on this list) and Yoichi Suketaka Nasu.
If you got hyped after hearing any of those names, you know what to do.
22. That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime
To be honest, I can’t even explain what makes this show so good.
It’s about a dude who gets reincarnated as a slime. Surprise, right?
However, he soon becomes overpowered as he consumes a dragon and basically scales infinitely. He then just builds a village and does things village leaders have to do.
You know, goes to peace treaties, protects his citizens, seeks outside investment. It all sounds so typical, and yet the show just nails every point so well that you binge the show in a day and remember it fondly ever a year after.
21. Nobunaga Concerto
Is Nobunaga just the Stan Lee of the isekai genre?
So, a guy suddenly gets transported into feudal Japan and comes face to face with Nobunaga himself. The thing is, the two looks really similar and Nobunaga is getting really tired of the immense pressure he’s under.
So the two of them just switch places. A classic story we’ve heard many times over
From that point on, our protagonist just gets to live as Nobunaga and has to try his best not to let the country go to ruins and to survive the ordeal.
20. Ascendance of a Bookworm
If you don’t feel like getting into another world-domination/war plot setup, but still want that isekai sauce, then Ascendance of a Bookworm should suffice.
The premise is honestly kind of unique in a way, it’s just about a girl who loved to read so much that she got reincarnated and just continued to love reading.
However, she’s plopped into a fantasy world. So books aren’t all that regularly available, and she has to get really creative with how she’s going to get her fix.
The show is pretty slice of life-y, but the execution is on point. So you get way more invested than you’d think.
19. Outbreak Company
Is the otaku culture non-existent in your community? Have you tried spreading the holy word of Haruhi throughout the streets?
If you answered yes to these two questions, then you have a lot in common with the protagonist of this show, Shnishi.
The only twist, of course, being that this Otaku Missionary is sent to a fantasy world in order to do his holy deed.
It’s a harem, it’s a parody, and it’s a comedy.
For people who are just getting into the otaku culture, this show might seem extremely odd. But for us diehard fans it’s preaching to the choir.
Usually in isekai, the protagonist gets transported into a world they love. But not this time.
Our protagonist, Tokidoki, really hates learning history and bombs every history test ever.
So he gets sent to the museum where there’s a simulator that will allow him to experience what he’s learning.
Neat idea. But he swiftly gets trapped inside and is way more than a peaceful observer, meaning he can die.
Bonus danger points: there are demons running around everywhere.
He partners up with two samurai and prays that he’ll survive and learn at least something about history.
17. Didn’t I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?!
People always say “it’s another overpowered protagonist”, but never ask “how is the overpowered protagonist?”.
In this show the protagonist is literally struggling from success, living her entire life alone and isolated as people envied her skills.
So when an opportunity arises to be reborn into a different world she begs the heavens to make her completely average.
But the heavens are complete trolls and make her a daughter of a noble with supreme magic abilities.
So she tries to be lowkey with her powers in order to live the average life she had always wanted, but that turns out to be a handful.
You often hear how a certain writer “brought their art into life”. Well Re:Creators took that both personally and literally.
That’s right ladies and gentlemen, fictional characters start to spring up into the real world with their personalities and powers intact.
And at first it was all beloved good guys. But then a certain top-hat wearing lady starts offing characters in their own shows, and our protagonists need to find a way to stop her.
But they soon learn that the relationship between author and creation is a lot more complex than they originally thought.
15. I’m Standing on a Million Lives
This show tries to innovate the isekai formula in two major ways.
Firstly, randomness is a key feature as the Game Master who sends our protagonist to this world basically flips a coin to determine certain stats. This is how we get a party that consists of a warrior, mage, and farmer.
Secondly, the characters get to go in an out of the universe. Meaning there are essentially two plot lines.
Like a few shows on here it falls under “dumb fun” so don’t expect to find the meaning of life within the show. But don’t completely gloss over it either.
14. Knight’s & Magic
Have you noticed that there’s one anime troupe that has yet to appear on this list?
That’s right baby, don’t tell me you thought mechs weren’t going to find a way into this genre!
Aside from the mechs, this show is pretty standard.
Male protagonist forms a group with two girls, they all go to a magical high school to learn how to fight bad guys. They fight said bad guys. The end.
But man do the mechs look cool. Even the training ones give the show its unique futuristic feel.[external_link offset=2]
13. Princess Connect! Re:Dive
Usually when I see that something has been adapted from a mobile game, I expect trash. And yet here I am recommending Princess Connect.
The show is pretty simple: guy falls from the sky into a fantasy world with no memories and somehow manages to surround himself with girls, and they form a guild.
But honestly the guy is not important.
This show feels like a cute girls do cute things anime where the three female leads carry most of the interest and humor.
So we get an antisocial cat girl, a bubbly leader with a black hole for a stomach, and a walking monologue – just kidding Kokoro you know I love you.
12. Problem children are coming from another world, aren’t they?
When reading the title of this anime you might think things like “this is an isekai?” or “are these problem children going to set the world on fire?”
And the answer is yes and no.
The main trio consists of teens who already possess psychic abilities and are bored as hell in the real world. But then one day a bunny gives them an offer to go to a different world and relieve their boredom.
Of course they accept. How can you turn down a bunny?
Soon they find themselves fighting under a guild named “No Name”.
Considering that they were overpowered before they even got to this world, they have some attitude issues. I’m looking at you Izayoi.
11. Spirited Away
I want to put Spirited Away on here, as I feel like people never classify it as an isekai. Even though it most certainly is.
The entire plot is that a girl accidentally stumbles into the spirit world where she now has to find a way to survive as well as to help her family.
This doesn’t come in the form of brawls or learning secret magic, but rather understanding the spirits there and becoming acquainted with the world.
This movie is a true Ghibli classic (and ultimately an overall anime classic). And if by some miracle you have never watched it, change that fact as soon as possible.
10. Kekkai Sensen
Kekkai Sensen to me feels like a Gate sequel, because just like in Gate, a portal is opened that connects the human world to that of monsters, demi-humans, aliens, and what not.
However, the story begins 3 years after the portal had been opened. And we get to witness a city where humans and monsters have intertwined completely.
The aesthetic alone was a big selling point for me, as we get to see a normal dude drinking coffee next to a bug monster while a hyped-speed monkey bounces around the room.
9. Now and Then, Here and There
With this show you’ll quickly feel that it was from another era, 1999 to be more precise.
Not only because of the art style, but also with how isekai is tackled.
It starts off in a typical way: boy finds an interesting girl, girl is attacked, boy tries to save her and ends up in another world.
However, instead of then hunting some slimes or discovering his affinity to magic, the show throws him into a world that’s in the middle of war. And I mean real war, not a one man power flex spotlight.
So the protagonist has to learn to survive and to fight while also seeking out the girl he still hasn’t given up on.
8. The Vision of Escaflowne
Since we’re already in the 90s here, we might as well mention The Vision of Escaflowne as well.
It starts off with just a typical high school girl who suddenly sees a man and a dragon come out of the sky. She helps the man defeat the dragon with her Spidey senses, and somehow ends up teleporting back to his world.
And his world is a bit depressing to be honest.
There’s a war going on. The man is actually a prince so his head is quite valuable. And there are mechs flying around.
I just want to point out that this is one of the few shows where a girl gets isekai-d, I don’t know why that is but there you go.
7. The Boy and the Beast
In this master-class movie a boy named Ren is just fed up with the world. And rightfully so considering how it has treated him.
So he somehow manages to cross over into a world filled with beasts, or beast people, I guess. It’s there that he meets Kumatetsu, a glorious beast dude who is looking for a disciple so that he can prove his worth as a teacher.
He and Ren strike a deal, and then just train and grow together.
It might not sound like much. But the show is absolutely breathtaking, and I don’t want to give anything away so check it out and see what you think.
You know how in isekai the protagonist usually gets hit by a truck and then reborn, or their VR headset just steal their soul?
Well in InuYasha the heroine just gets dragged down a well by a demon.
The early 2000s were a more creative time.
She gets dragged down because a powerful wish-granting jewel is reborn inside of her body, but it gets accidentally smashed. So she enlists the help of a man-dog-demon(the predecessor of manbearpig in my opinion) to collect the shards and make sure it isn’t used in a world-ending way.
5. Mysterious Play
Just one look at this anime cover is enough to know this is a shoujo, and a good one too.
Since this show is also a bit older, like mid 90s older, once again there is no truck or headset. But rather a book.
Through this space-and-time-bending book, two girls find themselves in ancient China.
But not the normal ancient China. It’s isekai and not time travel, after all.
So the two girls become priests of two opposing factions and have to find their celestial warriors in order to summon Shenron, I mean the god Seiryuu, who will grant any wish of their choosing.
4. The Saga of Tanya the Evil
This anime is all about a man who stayed an atheist in the face of God.
After death, he’s confronted by an all-powerful being. And yet he refuses to acknowledge its existence, so this God reincarnates him as a little girl in a country at war.
But even then the newly-named Tanya refuses to accept any holy power, and just becomes a soldier.
The God throws magic into the mix. But Tanya just uses it to murder everyone and everything in her path.
For an all-knowing being, you would really think that it would have thought a bit more ahead.
3. Re: Zero
Re: Zero is one of the better known isekai. And for a good reason.
It’s dark as hell and incredibly addicting.
It doesn’t do anything too out of the ordinary plot-wise: a dude just gets transported into an MMORPG-esque world and tries to live his life.
The main difference is that here there’s a respawn system in place for our soon-to-be mentally tortured protagonist.
When he dies, he just gets yanked back to a certain safe-point. And boy does he die a lot.
It’s somewhat similar to what Log Horizon did, only here the mental trauma and gore are completely maxed out.
2. Do You Love Your Mom and Her Two-Hit Multi-Target Attacks?
I’m going to put this here for that one person who just really likes trash-isekai, as this is the absolute king of trash-isekai in my opinion.
In fact, a lot of people in the community have coined a new term for this particular show: milfsekai.
That’s right, it’s your normal isekai formula, only the main duo consists of a boy and his mommy who loves him very much.
If you turn your brain off and don’t think about the implications this show has, it’s actually pretty fun. So there you go.
1. Isekai Quartet
And to wash your soul from the sin of our runner-up pick, we have Isekai Quartet: a cartoony little show that is literally made for isekai fans.
The concept is rather genius.
Characters from popular isekai all get isekaid together, and not attend a school and just interact with each other.
We have Overlord, KonoSuba, Tanya the Terrible, Re: Zero, and a later entry from Shield Hero.
So if you’ve watched all these shows then Isekai Quartet makes for some really cute and really enjoyable content. [external_footer]