Crunchyroll's video essay series explores the fantastical subgenre from its folklore origins to its modern variations
If you're a fan of anime, manga, and light novels, you're probably familiar with the concept of "isekai" — a subgenre in which the protagonist is transported into a different world. However, you may not know that the origins of isekai stretch back hundreds of years, and that the subgenre has evolved in many different directions over the years, and that's where the Anime Explained video essay series comes in.
In the video (above), host Tim Lyu takes fans on a journey through the history of isekai, beginning with the subgenre's origins in folktales like the story of Urashima Taro, its earliest expressions in magical girl shows such as Sally the Witch, the rise of powerhouse shoujo isekai anime in the '90s with series such as Fushigi Yugi and Magic Knight Rayearth, the influence of cyberpunk and MMORPG cultures in shaping modern isekai, and the social, political, and economic anxieties reflected in isekai stories starring N.E.E.T. (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) and hikikomori (shut-in) characters.
If you can't get enough of detailed discussions about a range of anime and anime-adjacent subjects, Anime Explained explores a ton of interesting and off-kilter topics, from deep dives into the lore of Yu-Gi-Oh! to the logistics of figure merchandising to the history of hentai, too. You can check out the full YouTube playlist here.
Did you know that isekai had such a close relationship to early magical girl series? What are your favorite isekai anime? What kind of protagonists do you prefer in your stories of characters being cast into unfamiliar settings? Let us know in the comments section below!
Paul Chapman is the host of The Greatest Movie EVER! Podcast and GME! Anime Fun Time.
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