The Isekai Madness of Fall 2019

With the start of a new season it has become a tradition that there will be a vast amount of new isekai anime to follow. From what My Anime List reports, there is around 6 of them this season, including SAO Alicization. There is so many every season that it has become recognized as its own genre. While we rant about the never ending wave of isekai after isekai every single season, you can’t deny that we have had some excellent ones that have come out recently. Namely, Shield Hero and everyone’s favorite overpowered slime. One of which was so popular that it didn’t just get renewed for one more season to air next year but rather two more seasons and join the ranks of the Isekai Quartet.

That said, we have our diamonds within the rough but, most of them can be rather bland and forgettable or just downright trash. That’s why I am here to give a quick breakdown of four of the new isekai and what to expect from each one of them if you decide to watch them for yourself.

First up, we have Cautious Hero: The Hero Is Overpowered but Overly Cautious, yeah, that’s a light novel adaptation. So far I would rank this isekai as the best of the four. The pacing and comedy are in tangent with the humor never growing old in the first two episodes.

Cautious Hero poster

Goddess Listarte, the savior of the super hard-mode world Gairbrunde, summons a hero to her aid. The hero, Seiya Ryuuguuin, holds the cheat-rank status, but he is ridiculously cautious. For instance, he would buy three sets of armor: one to wear, a spare, and a spare for the spare. Beyond keeping an absurd amount of item stock, he remains in his room for muscle training till he reaches the max level and fights slimes at full power just to stay on the safe side.

MyAnimeList summary

As the MAL summary states, that is where the entire comedy stems from in this series. At first glance you would think this would grow stale after the first episode but so far it has created a vast amount of comedic potential for the story to exploit as the story progresses. For instance, the main hero is incredibly cautious to the point where he does intense muscle training in the first episode for roughly two weeks to be level 15 and with max leveled stats before agreeing with Listarte to go to the world. Despite being able to one-shot a slime he still goes to the extreme of using several finishers on an otherwise deceased enemy just to be extra sure that it is dead. The comedy here is between his interactions with other characters and mostly Listarte who is beyond dumbfounded at his cautiousness.

While there can be some recycled elements in here like Listarte being a blonde Aqua to a degree, it also proves vital to the story that her character is that way. The main appeal of this show is to set a similar comedic tone as Konosuba. The show’s strength is that it knows it is ridiculous and doesn’t take itself seriously. The humor is top-notch with its subversion of tropes like power levels and using them for comedic purposes. Seiya is ridiculously cautious to where he doesn’t even trust Listarte who would never turn on him just because he is wary of her being brainwashed and revealing his stats to the enemy. He even intentionally hides his own abilities from her just to be safe. That might sound like a brick wall type character personality but the execution and transition of these elements into comedy is what sets the series apart from its other competitors this season.

It is quite enjoyable to see Listarte dying internally at Seiya’s precautions and methods. But this world isn’t called an Super Hard World for nothing, even the main villains are super cautious themselves to the point where they seek to kill any hero that first arrives to the world. A level 66 boss had the intention to instantly annihilate a level 1 hero just as soon as their journey would begin. It is this thought process that the villains have that makes the series even more enjoyable, for Seiya to basically say to Listarte, “I told you so.”

If you are a fan of quick and witty humor like Konosuba then I would highly recommend giving this series a shot. Cautious Hero can be watched on Funimation every Wednesday.

Next up on the recommendation list is Kemono Michi: Rise Up, a manga adaptation written by Natsume Akatsuki, the same author of Konosuba. The series follows a Professional Wrestler and animal lover named Shibata Genzo who is suddenly summoned to another world in the middle of a match. He is tasked with saving the kingdom by slaying monsters but as an animal lover and enthusiast, this doesn’t sit well with him and he suplexes the princess and then runs off. He then meets a demi-human girl named Shigure and joins a guild where he later plans to set up a “monster” pet shop and live a peaceful life in this new world.

Kemono Michi poster

Majority of the humor comes from the protagonist’s love for all animals and while there are some moments that come off slightly creepy with how he tames the monsters, his methods originate from his love for them rather than some creepy fetish. It is the origin for his interactions that turns the scenes into comedy rather than being purely creepy. A minor part in the world building that elaborates on his behavior being seen as odd is that his adorable puppy companion that is summoned alongside him is seen as an oddity in the new world. Therefore we can assume that all the demi-humans are seen more as humans rather than domesticated animals. But, the protagonist does not interpret it this way and therefore tries to pet them like he would a pet.

While this is a series written by the same person that brought us Konosuba it is a much different source of humor but still wholesome with its laid back plot and slow world building. While not having the same humor as his previous work it still captures that same essence found in Konosuba. The main takeaway from the two isekais mentioned so far is that the comedic ones are definitely the most unique and offer a breath of fresh air that seems to be lacking with the constant bombardment of serious shows.

Kemono Michi

Kemono Michi is another isekai I would strongly recommended for those seeking a more wholesome and meme worthy comedy. Kemono Michi can be streamed on Funimation every Wednesday.

Now, the two great isekais aside, time to delve into the more mediocre territory. Sadly, not every isekai this season could be a comedy or even have great writing. CHOYOYU!: High School Prodigies Have It Easy Even in Another World! Is yet another light novel adaptation, obviously with its long-winded title. I want to state right away that this isn’t a completely terrible series despite how bad the summary on MAL is, if anything it is mediocre and significantly better than the last isekai that I will get into later on.

High School Prodigies poster

Seven high school students that got caught in an airplane accident wake up, in a middle age like fantasy different world where magic and beast-man (juujin) exist. But they do not panic at their current situation!? They build a nuclear plant in a world without electricity, they control the economy of a large city in a short work’s trip, and finally for their benefactor’s sake who are suffering from the misgoverment, they declare war on the evil nobles. So… none of them is a normal high school student, each of them are super human high school students that stand at the top of politics, economics, science and medicine! This is a story of a dream team that possess earth’s greatest wisdom and technology, that without any self-restraining bring a revolution to a different world with over-technology

MAL Summary of High School Prodigy isekai

Pack your bags, just like a Western movie trailer we’ve already experienced the entire story in just the summary. Joking aside, it may sound terrible but it is at least enjoyable.

The biggest flaws with the series is its execution and defining traits of each of the prodigies as well as the size of its main cast. Each of the “High Schoolers” has a defining prodigal ability and while some of them are more grounded in a sense of realism, others are just so out there that the series cannot be taken seriously despite the story not being comedic.

Tsukasa Mikogami, the main protagonist of the seven is known as the world’s best politician for his charismatic personality and his genuine intentions to protect and serve the people. Unlike most politicians, he’s not a corrupt scumbag basically. Which is an okay defining characteristic, it sets him up to be the leader but then you remember that he is just in high school. How is that even possible? Yes, I get I am looking for realism in my anime but I have my reasons. If a series wants to be serious with no comedic undertone then it needs to have some element of realism present.

The other six prodigies have the defining characteristics of being the best doctor, the strongest warrior, world’s leading businessman, world’s best inventor, best journalist for her espionage skills, and the best magician. Each character serves a specific purpose to the overall story. The warrior wields a katana and identifies as a samurai despite the series taking place in the 21st century. The journalist is referred to as a ninja, same issue here as with the warrior, and the magician looks like they belong in middle school. Again, this isn’t to be nit picky but rather to point out that the series has elements commonly found in shows that carry some undertone of comedy. If they came from one fantasy world to another then these attributes would make sense but they are supposed to come from modern day Japan which makes these characters come across as odd.

Their abilities also create the problem with the overall story having any sort of conflict. Each character has a defining talent that can basically solve whatever problem comes their way. There is no sense of repercussions for their actions or the feeling that anything is at stake. They can simply solve every problem within an instant. The businessman created his own business with the help of the journalist prodigy within the entirety of one episode and it became the leading merchant company in the country.

Supporting characters: Winona (left), Riruru (right)

The other glaring issue with the series is what I’d like to call the “Trinity Seven Syndrome” the name being derived from the harem anime of the same name where there are a total of seven main girls all introduced within the span of two or so episodes. All seven of the prodigies are introduced right away and because of this we are left with no room for character development before jumping right into the plot. The only character development we see is that all seven of them are good friends. That’s it, there’s no depth to their relationships nor is there much of a relationship fleshed out in the first two episodes with them and the characters of the fantasy world. High School Prodigies suffers from introducing too many characters before even building and developing each character individually.

High School Prodigies may have its apparent flaws and I wouldn’t give it my certified approval as a great isekai but if you ever find yourself bored and want to watch something for simple entertainment, then this would be a good show for that occasion.

CHOYOYU!: High School Prodigies Have It Easy Even in Another World! can be streamed on Crunchyroll with new episodes airing every Thursday.

Lastly, the final isekai of this season is called Didn’t I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?! Another Light Novel adaptation with a long and a ridiculous name that never fails to make me laugh.

Average Abilities poster.
Credit: Anime News Network

When the eldest daughter of the Ascham household, Adele, turned ten, she remembered everything from her past life when she was hit with a strong headache. She was Kurihara Misato in her previous life, who died when she was 18 trying to help a little girl, consequently followed by an encounter with God. During their meeting, she pleaded to lead an average life with average skills. After all, her somewhat capable self has been burdened with all the expectations brought up to her. However, things don’t just go quite as planned as she has to be careful not upping to the S-ranks accidentally if she wishes to maintain her desired average life.

MAL Summary

I would sum this show up as Lolis in Another World. That basically captures the essence of the show in a nutshell. Despite it having a higher rating on My Anime List than High School Prodigies, I would say that this is one of those instances were ratings can be deceiving. I’d give Prodigies a much higher rating than this dumpster fire. With a name such as Didn’t I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?! the author is shooting for mediocre at best. The biggest issue with this show is its concept, it is more serious in nature despite having a comedic undertone present. But when the show decides to focus on comedy it constantly falls flat.

When we first meet Adele she arrives at the town where she is enrolled to attend a Hunter’s school, think elementary school, to become a licensed adventurer known as a Hunter. Her “character quirk” is that she hates to standout because in her previous life she was always the top student and excelled at everything and because of this she felt like she could never make friends to blend into the crowd. So she wanted to be average when she reincarnated. If anything this girl seriously lacks communication skills and still does even in the new world.

She randomly blurts out like she is having an embarrassing conversation with someone despite talking to herself out loud in a public square surrounded by people. We are supposed to think this silly trait of hers is cute and just part of her personality, but unlike many other shows that have this same trait associated to similar characters, it falls flatter than a flat soda.

The most blatant issue with this entire series is its incompetent writing. There is no world building, not even plot development. The show just throws the main character into this town with events and situations that randomly occur around her. While not every show is someone’s cup of tea, having a cast of little girls and an entirely random plot without providing reasoning for such is like writing without a clear goal in mind. Madoka Magica has an entire cast of underage girls but the plot supports why the characters are that age.

This show is bland and flavorless in its execution and story development due to its lack of direction. The entire plot of the first episode seems to happen out of nowhere with only a brief mentioning of a group of bandits kidnapping little children at night. Adele then jump to the conclusion that she was kidnapped and runs around town at night looking for a little girl. This girl that she is looking for runs her family’s inn that Adele is staying at. While it is a very common trope to have a rash protagonist, they still have some reasoning to their actions unlike Adele. All of this happens within the first episode, at this point our protagonist has only had two conversations with this girl and already sees her as her best friend.

The pacing is all over the place with the entire main cast appearing out of nowhere to assist Adele despite having no prior screen time. The story is also absent in reasoning why these little girls are out at night or running inns despite there being adults present in the background. One of the main girls is also a knight despite being the most incompetent fighter in the episode. Each member of the main cast aside from Adele is practically useless because of how easily they are overpowered by throwaway villains. But here’s the kicker, Adele is actually overpowered and has inhuman abilities and magic gifted by the god that reincarnated her. So while she wanted to be average, the joke is supposed to be that she is overpowered and hates being a showoff and feels like she can never be friends with the girls she met because of it.

Again, jumping to conclusions without ever really communicating. The other conclusion Adele jump’s to is that she thinks the girl that was “kidnapped” was deflowered by the bandit’s boss. They show her visualizing this absurd fantasy in a very comedic way that is even more repulsive than the scene that people were critical about in Goblin Slayer. The reason why this is horrendous is because the entire scene involves a ten year old girl and the serious situation is played off as a comedic gag. That part alone is extremely tone deaf and doesn’t even need to be included in the story let alone shown. It serves no purpose and if anything is a strong deterrent from anyone wanting to be invested in it.

Overall, I have seen my share of isekai that range from good to mediocre to downright terrible but this one is a dumpster fire. A strong competitor for worst anime of the season let alone the entire year. With the word “average” in the title, a main character that jumps to unsubstantiated conclusions and wanting to be nothing more than a background character, there is only so far this show can go.

Didn’t I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?! can be streamed on Crunchyroll with new episodes airing every Monday.

To summarize my thoughts on the isekai this season, Kemono Michi and Cautious Hero are definitely the best this season has to offer and they are both comedies whereas the more serious isekais are severely lacking in being both unique and interesting.

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