How Anime Fans Know They’ve Just Become An Isekai Protagonist

With so many isekai stories out there you would assume people disappeared from Japan on an almost daily basis.

If light novels and anime are to be believed – and of course they are such an incredibly factual source of information about how the world works – there’s a genuine danger that one day you might get sent to another world and find yourself as the protagonist of an isekai story. This risk is increased if you fit any of the categories below:

  • Reader of fantasy fiction.
  • Player of RPG’s.
  • Player of otome games.
  • Otaku shut-in.
  • Male who has never had sex.
  • Victim of bullying.
  • Someone who has failed to achieve their dreams.
  • Someone who works ridiculous hours in a hostile corporate environment.
  • A genius at one particular thing.
  • Are a ridiculously bland human.
Klein - Sword Art Online: Aincrad Artc
Sorry Klein.

The risk definitely increases if you happen to meet more than one of those criteria. Honestly, if you meet at least three of those (you are probably a normal human being) you really need to be on the lookout for the methods through which you might be sent to another world.

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Naturally there is the stock standard truck encounter. This one has been used so many times it has now become the go-to for comedy versions of the trope. Even Zombie-Land Saga, which didn’t actually become an isekai, used a close encounter with truck-kun as the means of knocking off our optimistic protagonist and having her reawaken as a zombie. Winter 2021 has brought us Jobless Reincarnation with yet another truck related isekai incident. Honestly, if you are at risk of being isekai’d you may as well just stay away from traffic. It isn’t going to end well.

Because let’s be real: even if these characters are in fact reincarnating in another world they have to go through the messy process of dying first. Whether it is a truck or some other equally tragic or comedic demise, their death scenes don’t exactly look great to live through. Then they wake up in the other world and have the messy process of growing up and learning about the world they are in, or realise they aren’t even human anymore.

I’ll admit, Rimuru didn’t get hit by a truck. He was stabbed. But he still died and then got to find out he was a translucent blue slimeball in a dark-cave (That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime). Like, harsh.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime: Slime gives the dragon a name.
I hear you Rimuru.

Moving away from that, we have the less painful version of logging into a game that through reasons that will never make actual sense you can’t log out of. Maybe some evil psycho designed the game that way (Sword Art Online) or maybe someone shut-down the server and for whatever reason that didn’t just throw you out of the system. Either way, you are now in video-game land and you really better hope you don’t get the buggy version of Aincrad that appeared in the SAO Abridged series.

SAO Abridged - Bugs happen.
Ouch.

There’s also summoning. So you don’t become a different person, usually, but you either go through some sort of glowing portal or are somehow yanked out of your reality and end up somewhere else. In some cases the summoner has grand plans for you but the usual trope these days is that you won’t be the one they were after anyway and you’ll end up cut loose to make your own way in the world. Of course Cautious Hero and The Familiar of Zero (why have I not yet review this) are both cases where the summoned her did in fact end up being led around by the summoner though in both cases I don’t think either of them really minded by the end.

Then we have the utterly random transportation methods. One of my personal favourites came from Kyou Kara Maou where they flushed the character down the toilet. Though that series does a few things differently with the character bouncing back and forth between the two worlds for the duration of the series using water as a portal between the two and with time running at different speeds. All things considered, of all the options, this one would be my preferred iskeai option because you kind of end up with the best of both worlds (provided you don’t drown through transportation or get killed in fantasy land).

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So we’ve covered transportation to the other world, but how do we know we haven’t just hit our head or we’re having a bad dream?

Well, whatever the set-up starts as, sooner or later you are going to get an opportunity to do something you had never done before or fulfil some kind of dream. Whether your goal was the simple life of a farmer, or whether you wanted to protect someone, or even if you just wanted to see new places and try new foods, your new life will somehow provide this for you. In the rare cases where it doesn’t, you’ll be given an opportunity to become a hero who saves the world from some ridiculously over-the-top force. At first you will seem like an unlikely hero but rest assured you will have exactly the power or skill required to succeed in either the second last or final episode of your story.

Yes, because you are Diablo.

And whether you start out as an unpopular character or not, you can be pretty optimistic that sooner or later someone will recognise your innate talents and follow you around for the rest of forever. Then another character will. And so on until you’ve acquired quite the crew of followers who all completely adore you and think you are the best thing since whatever their equivalent of sliced bread is. Seriously, you’ll have a best friend, a frenemy, a love interest (possibly multiple), the mentor figure, and all other kinds of hanger-ons who are just amazed and inspired by your ‘original’ ideas and thoughts. The downside of course being that someone is going to end up insanely jealous of your good fortune and will set themselves up a rival character who may or may-not end up being a serious threat (to themselves).

There are a couple to watch out for though.

The world you are sent to will almost definitely look like a more sanitary version of medieval Europe. While some exceptions exist, it is almost positive that you will either end up learning to use a sword, a bow and arrow, or magic (or maybe all 3). If you are worried you are at risk of being isekai’d you might want to start practicing now as characters who are good at kendo or similar seem to fare reasonably well on arrival. Not sure how you would prepare learning magic in this world. Maybe just practice posing?

Kenja no Mago - Shin
Yeah, like that.

Also, just be aware that you are unlikely to find soy sauce or miso in this fantasy land. But don’t worry, apparently anyone who can manage to obtain ingredients of any sort can eventually create an equivalent flavour.

Basically, if you watch isekai stories, you know what to watch out for to know if you have been isekai’d. You will also know what to do and what to avoid.

So how about it – how would you know you were in an isekai? And if you were, what would your first steps be?

Images in this article from:

  • Sword Art Online. Dir. A Iwakami. A-1 Pictures. 2012
  • How Not To Summon a Demon Lord. Dir. Y Murano. Ajia-Do. 2018
  • Kenja no Mago. Dir. M Tamura. Silver Link. 2019
  • That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime. Dir. Y Kikuchi. 8bit. 2019.
  • Sword Art Online Abridged – Unknown


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5 thoughts on “How Anime Fans Know They’ve Just Become An Isekai Protagonist

  1. As someone who considers himself a gamer (early 20s so still have that time) I would for sure choose getting trapped SAO style as long as I got decent skills and not an incredibly painful one like in Re Zero coz I’m still not sure if Iike that power especially considering what needs to happen for it to activate. What would be sick would be like a quick save power

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