Nicky and Nick return to this season’s isekai mines and manage to excavate one (1) actually good anime.
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Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.
Nicky, it’s the start of the new year and the new season, which means we’ve got to pay our taxes. Both the boring regular taxes and the seasonal Isekai Tax that management makes us pay in blood every quarter.
Given that I haven’t had to do one of these in a hot minute, I’m overdue.
We are auditing you here at the Isekai Revenue Service. You’ve got NINE of these suckers to deal with this season.
With a couple of double-length premieres, no less. I might’ve dodged more than a few times, but I don’t want anyone saying I’d never pay the price when it meant being fair. Either way, I’m here and prepared to fight whatever this season throws at us.
With a few dry spells of isekai last year, I was hoping that the trend was cooling down, but I guess the menace was simply dormant, as nine series is quite the eruption. However, quite a few series today are evolving beyond the standard isekai template; there are several aimed towards a female demographic and a few that deviate heavily, but are these changes enough to make any of them good?
Mostly no! Though yes, having the creative vision not just to copy-paste the template of Reincarnated With A Magic Penis In The Land of Catgirl Slave Wives
is certainly a boon. Generally speaking, the less identical your series is to the glut of the subgenre, the more likely people are to actually remember you exist.
I just watched this, and I already want to forget it. Anything exciting about this show went out the window when the protagonist woke up from his nap. Some parts of this could be done interestingly, but it’s shoved aside in favor of the most flavorless power fantasy. A whole class gets teleported to another world, but instead of building an ensemble cast, every character besides the heroine is just there to be a dick. Even the main character is kind of a dick but not even in a fun way.
Also, I need to point out, in case those screenshots weren’t clear, that the majority of this premiere takes place inside a Greyhound bus. That has to be one of the worst, least cinematic places to start your fantasy story, short of opening inside a locked porta-potty.
This guy wakes up on the bus with two of his classmates dead in front of him after the rest of the class ditched him and has no other impulse than to bring out his game console. Yet, nothing about the tone indicates that this should be played for horror, and it’s not played up enough to be “darkly funny,” much less interesting.
Folks familiar with the novels claim this is a failure of the adaptation and that the source material says this dude is played much more as a chaotic eldritch being who happens to be shaped like a light novel potato-man. I can’t say whether or not that’s true. Still, here, he most certainly comes off like the same kind of stone-faced sociopath as every other character because, like every other isekai where the whole class gets brought along, this thing tries to speed-run Lord of the Flies
to little effect.
Though, unlike the literary classic, the goal of My Instant Death
doesn’t seem to be a social commentary on the nature of humanity, but mere juvenile cynicism. It’s also not averse to similar juvenile tactics, as the only thing breaking the main character’s apathy to the whole situation is the light brush of his female classmate’s chest while she clings to him for her life.
It’s almost impressive. Anime has been making boob jokes for decades. There are quite literally millions of them out there you could crib from. Yet this show can’t even do that right, because it feels like nobody making this wanted to in the first place.
We’re starting with this one because it’s a pretty good example of what we mean when we think mainstream isekai stories are just the same beats melted down to their barest forms. Even the designs would be indistinguishable if the main character cared to brush his hair and not let those blue stems stick out of his head. Yet, being so lifeless and bland made this one this season’s outlier.
It’s by far the most… traditional? Conventional? Lazy? Whatever the word is, it’s the worst of them. However, that doesn’t mean the ones that are a few degrees more inventive are all that thrilling. Fluffy Paradise
mostly avoids last place on the fact that none of its characters have tried to become murderers, rapists, and necrophiliacs all at once.
at least has the appeal of being Gosh Darn Cute. After succumbing to the overwork bug, god reincarnates the young office worker with the power capable of granting her heart’s utmost desire to pet cute and fluffy animals as much as she wants!
I wonder how many of these shows that start with a character dying from overwork are trend-riding versus a desperate cry for help. The more of these we get where the other world is a stand-in for a fantastical afterlife, the more depressing the entire concept becomes. And no, adding big cats to cuddle doesn’t make it any less unsettling.
How isekai approaches death, or the act of displacement caused by one world to the other, is certainly something to consider. While some series treat it as an excuse to have meta-commentary on fantasy tropes, Neema’s cushy upper-crust upbringing contrasts that of a typical office drone, and her deal with god to assess humanity’s character doesn’t immediately come into play when it’s otherwise pretty escapist.
Which isn’t necessarily a good thing. Just because Neema’s Isekai Valhalla reward is to become a Disney princess instead of the strongest guy in an RPG doesn’t mean her life or story is more compelling. The idea that she’s supposed to be judging the human race in this world to determine if a god should wipe them off the existential plane or not is by far the most interesting element. So, of course, it’s ignored for 99% of the first episode.
There are a lot of things about Fluffy Paradise
that shouldn’t work, like Neema immediately being super special and having power over animals in a world where sacred animals exist. Still, I also can’t resist wanting to pet a cute critter when I see one on screen.
I may also be a massive hypocrite since I find shameless power fantasies for girls to be more novel, or at least harmless, that I’m willing to forgive a few things that I probably wouldn’t for some of their masculine counterparts.
They at least take on slightly different forms than their older brothers. Neema doesn’t buy any slaves or have to