Top 20 Isekai Anime
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Top 20 Isekai Anime

VOICE OVER: Ashley Bowman WRITTEN BY: Alex Crilly-Mckean
Real life is overrated anyway. Join Ashley as we count down our picks for the best anime to stem from the isekai genre, including the likes of "Re:Zero", "Overlord", "Rising of the Shield Hero", "Cautious Hero", "Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation", and more!
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Script written by Alex Crilly-Mckean

Top 20 Isekai Anime


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we are counting down our picks for the Top 20 Isekai Anime.

For this list, we’re going to be going over the crème de la crème of anime’s favourite sub-genre; random peeps from Japan getting dropped into a fantasy world! Think we missed an essential member of the isekai pantheon? Let us know in the comments!

#20: “My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!” (2020)


Most would jump at the chance to be dropped into their favourite video game. Unfortunately, this little lady just happens to end up as the one character destined to die. In order to prevent her canonical demise, Catarina decides to go off script and become the most lovable noble around. Turns out that having an in-depth knowledge of the game as well as being a beacon of good will makes you something of a romantic black hole, on account that it doesn’t take long for everyone and their mother to start to fall for Catarina’s new persona.

#19: “Problem Children Are Coming from Another World, Aren't They?” (2013)


Having immense psychic powers certainly takes the edge off when you’re suddenly thrown into an alternate world and forced to participate in various battles to preserve your newly fashioned community. An underrated romp of a series, if you’re one for watching adolescents beating the tar out of gods and cocky tyrants alike, then you’re in for a good time. Between the Gift Games, Izayoi’s absurd strength and everything Black Rabbit does, this one is in dire need of more recognition.

#18: “Ascendance of a Bookworm” (2019-)


Not all isekai have to be hardcore fantasies filled with giga-chads and harems galore, sometimes they can be a tranquil exploration into the wonders of reading. Awakening in the body of a five-year old girl in a world devoid of literature to all except the elite, Myne endeavours to put her otherworldly knowledge to good use in order to print her own books. If you can’t get it, make it. Definitely one of the most relaxing entries in the genre, watching the eager booklover go to such lengths just to get something to read is a joy to behold, especially if you’re tired of the same old formula.

#17: “So I'm a Spider, So What?” (2021)


It says a lot when a series manages to overcome glaring CGI and an admittedly rough start, only to go one to become a fun ride eager to demonstrate that Darwinism has got nothing on the spirit of a high school girl. Transformed into a talking, oddly cute arachnid, Kumoko is forced to pit her dangerously low-level webbing against a world filled with infinitely larger and more dangerous foes, a la Dark Souls. Maybe this would be a bust if not for Kumoko’s unbreakable spirit and slow growth into a magical apex predator. Girl knows how to take death like a champ.

#16: “Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest” (2019)


There’s edge-lord, and then there’s Hajime. Taking every grimdark trope imaginable and piling it into a one-eyed gunslinger with a vengeful loner complex, this once average high schooler became the very epitome of teen angst after one of his fellow isekai-ers yeeted him into the bottom of an abyss and left him for dead. And, you know what, it won us over. The unabashed pride it has in having Hajime use magical guns to wipe out CGI monsters while slowly amassing a monster girl harem is so in your face that it’s sort of impossible not to have fun with it!

#15: “Log Horizon” (2013-15)


Another day, another anime about a guild of players trapped inside a video game. It may be a familiar premise but trust us when we say this one perfects the basics to the point where even the traditional storyline is given new life. With a delightful cast including master enchanter Shiroe at the helm, this series gives you everything you could possibly want from a classic fantasy tale…if the protagonists just happened to be veteran MMORPG players. As such, expect to see plenty of upper-tier spells lighting up the screen.

#14: “Drifters” (2016)


From the beautifully, batshit mind that brought us Hellsing, this unorthodox gorefest sees prominent historical figures brought together by an omnipotent being in order to fight against some of time’s deadliest villains. One moment you’ll see famed swordsman Toyohisa Shimazu slicing through guards to protect a group of elves, and the next you’ll have Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid gunning down all orcs while escaping from a burning city. Oh, and they’re main foe is someone who could potentially be evil Jesus Christ. You have to experience this insanity for yourself.

#13: “The Saga of Tanya the Evil” (2017)


Middle aged Japanese man gets reincarnated as a nine year old girl and forced to fight in a magical war on behalf of pseudo-Nazi Germany…because they pissed off God. Welcome to Tanya’s world. The crazy premise doesn’t even begin to quantify just how ridiculous this series is, thankfully for all the right reasons. With a trigger finger that can drop enemy soldiers like flies and the scariest smile ever put to animation, Tanya’s new life as a squadron commander is a bombastic ride from beginning to end. We honestly can’t wait to see where the war takes her next.

#12: “How Not to Summon a Demon Lord” (2018-)


While maybe not as successful as some of the other “gamer becomes game character” isekai’s out there, Diablo takes the fantastical fun of the well-worn premise, and throws in plenty of OP madness. And Shera. Seriously Shera makes up two of the reasons why you’ll have a blast with this anime. The dichotomy between Diablo’s unbeatable demon lord persona and the anxiety-written nerd within certainly elevates him from every other brand of dime-store, power-fantasy protagonist out there. Especially when he’s defending his elf from low-life paladins.

#11: “Digimon Adventure” (1999)


Each iteration of this beloved franchise gives us a new band of Digidestined along with their digital partners, but to our mind, there’s no beating the original group of kids who first stepped foot onto the shores of the Digital World. With the power of friendship and some badass Digivolutions, Tai and company have to battle against the forces of darkness in order to protect both of their homes from facing deletion. The action scenes are awesome, the dynamic between the kids is engrossing, and even years on there’s a surprising amount of heart at its core.

#10: “Cautious Hero: The Hero is Overpowered by Overly Cautious” (2019)


Now THIS is how you shake things up! Called upon by the goddess Ristarte to save a fantasy world from oblivion, Seiya certainly has the stats and means to dispense any monster in his path. Just one problem; the boy refuses to do anything until he’s properly prepared, no matter how long it takes. The gags here hit harder than Seiya backhanding a loudmouth knight commander. While he certainly lives up to his reputation of being able to crush anything, it’s his interactions with the increasingly frazzled Ristarte that really sells this. That, and her inability to hold back her thirst.

#9: “Gate” (2015-16)


Have you ever wondered what would happen if a modern military took on the might of an empire made of dragons, elves and magic? Well, wonder no longer. After the titular gate opens up in Tokyo, Japan sends in its task force in order to occupy the foreign territory and take out any hostiles. If you like your characters smart, precise and open to employing a little thing called strategy, then this is the one for you. Don’t get us wrong, you’ll still get to see a dragon taken out by a rocket launcher, but the sensibleness that comes from the soldiers is still a breath of fresh air.

#8: “No Game No Life” (2014)


Unable to be apart for a single moment without breaking down, spending every hour of every day owning people at video games, siblings Sora and Shiro really didn’t have that many career prospects going their way. That is, until they find themselves transported to a fantasy world where gaming literally decides everything. With their unparalleled skills, the two soon find themselves leading the remnants of humanity to reclaiming its former glory as its new monarchs. Guess NEETS do have it in them to change the world.

#7: “Overlord” (2015-18)


Make no mistake, this isn’t the story of a hero. This is the rise of the most powerful villain in all of creation. After finding himself trapped inside his in-game Avatar, player turned unbeatable undead Ainz Ooal Gown decides to employ his overwhelming power in the best way possible; rule over everything and anything. Watching him employ his unbeatable power and a host of dynamic monster guardians, Ainz’s conquest is beyond the pale of entertaining. He may be far from hateable, but the Ruler of Nazarick would rather see humanity bend the knee to his will than protect the innocent. Yet we still love him for it.

#6: “Sword Art Online” (2012; 2014)


Yes, yes, everyone’s got an opinion. What can’t be denied, however, is that its polarizing status has also made it one of the most popular isekai series out there. After finding themselves trapped inside a virtual reality video game, future lovebirds Kirito and Asuna must band together to dungeon crawl their way to freedom, all the while taking down other players, monsters and each other between the sheets. Of course, with the release of Alicization, everything that was good about SAO skyrocketed into a blindingly brilliant barrage of epic battles, and a steller new candidate for best girl in the form of Alice.

#5: “Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation” (2021)


This one is a bit of an anomaly, since it’s both the oldest and newest isekai on the block. With the source material pioneering many of the tropes that every other titan in its genre has popularised, Rudeus’s transition from scum of the earth to being reborn into a world filled with magic is a true trendsetter, with his anime debut blowing its lesser counterparts out of the water. From Rudy’s inner conflicts about his past life, the gorgeous animation, top tier fight scenes and abundance of leading ladies, there’s just too much here to love. Also, GhislaIne. Hoo boy.

#4: “KonoSuba” (2016-17)


The world is vibrant. The lore is entrancing. It looks like it would be an adventurer’s paradise. At least it would…just so long as you don’t end up joining this particular party. After suffering a less-than dignified death, resident lovable douche Kazama finds himself being transported to an RPG World, where he soon finds himself embroiled with three ladies who are more hindering than helpful. A goddess who is all but useless. A knight with an extreme masochistic edge. A mage who only knows how to make things blow up. Needless to say, this is the antithesis of your average fantasy anime, and it is bloody hilarious.

#3: “The Rising of the Shield Hero” (2019-)


It’s an ugly world filled with backstabbers, betrayals, and every other kind of unpleasantries, but somebody’s gotta save it! Framed for assaulting a princess yet still forced to fulfil his duty as the Shield Hero, Naofumi is tossed to the wolves, paving the way for one hell of a character arc. From his initial bitterness to everyone he meets to learning to trust again thanks to the companionship of best girl Raphtalia, Naofumi truly comes into his own, finding both redemption and duty through his deeds, and in doing so raised the bar for isekai everywhere!

#2: “That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime” (2018-)


There’s world-building, and then there’s Rimuru slowly accumulating a country filled with monsters. There’s fantasy fight scenes, and there’s the Tempest elite rolling in and wiping out everything in sight. In short, this slime knows how to get shit done. Even if the transition between arcs can be a little slow at times, the progression of this former manager turned sentient blob turned leader of a nation has become one of the definitive titles that prove there’s still plenty of creativity and polish to be found in the isekai cesspool, especially when it slaps this hard!

#

1: “Re;Zero ~Starting Life in Another World~”


Death may not be the end of everything, but that doesn’t make it any less unpleasant. Stranded in a world with danger literally around every turn, our unfortunate hero Subaru finds himself intrinsically intertwined with the fate of the land and its inhabitants. Just one little problem. Every time he dies, he is brought back in time right to the moment where he first arrived. Spoilers, he dies a lot. While the medley of gruesome deaths aren’t exactly pleasant to witness, seeing Subaru overcome his suffering in order to save his new friends still makes for one hell of a watch. Plus, this show has Rem, what more do you need?
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Re zero is good. But it literally weakens your psychological strength. Believe me.