Last time, I talked about what isekai is and the general trends of world transportation like stories. This week, I’m going to be continuing that blog by talking about the second type of isekai I mentioned in that blog.
Alright, like I said in my previous blog, the second type of isekai is usually related to reincarnation. It still has the world transferring aspect but instead it affects more so the soul than the actual person. In these types of stories the protagonist always dies, the most common cause being car crashes, and gets reincarnated into a new world. In a reincarnated world, I end up seeing two kinds of it. A really structured kind with set mechanics and a free flowing one where the author has the protagonist figure out stuff on their own. More often than not, most reincarnation stories follow the former and even if that’s not the case there’s usually always someone to explain the new world mechanics. The difference between how this is presented to the reader is that in a structured world, the protagonist will usually meets some kind of ‘god’, or the world will be really game like with descriptions for everything. On the other hand, in a free flowing world, the protagonist will experiment and stumble a bit on their own before someone explain the actual mechanics to them. Sometimes this can be a few chapter in or even maybe several books later.
Even with these two categories, recreation stories can still be quite varied. An example of this is what I like to call the soul replacement stories. These stories still follow the trend of the protagonist dying and will either be set in a free flowing world or structured world, however, the difference is in the reincarnation aspect. Instead of full blow reincarnation, the protagonist gets placed into the body of a recently deceased character. This plot device is actually pretty common and can really help out the writer. The reason for this is that with soul replacement, the author doesn’t need to go through chapters of set up. It’s much easier to get action out of a walking child than a crawling baby. Even so, most writer don’t have the protagonist enter the body older than that of a teenagers. The reason for this can vary, but I personally think it’s for character and world development. It can also make explain new world mechanics much easier, as no one will question having to explain concepts, even basic ones, to a child. In the end though, soul replacement stories aren’t that different when you get down to it. In a way it is just a convent way for the author to skip a few years.
However, not all reincarnation plot devices are as common like the soul replacement. In fact, the reincarnation stories I find most interesting are the monster ones. In stories like these, the protagonist is not reincarnated as a human but instead a monster. The monsters can range from a dragon to a slime. However, the most common ones are usually slimes, with spiders following closely behind. The reason I like these stories so much, is because they put a twist on how people see monsters in RPGs. Instead of seeing the world through the eyes of a monster slaying hero, we instead get to see the exact opposite of that. Another reason, why these kinds of stories are so interesting is are the actual protagonist. In hero reincarnation stories, there is usually a trend of events that will almost always happen, but it’s different with monster reincarnation. In monster reincarnation stories, we don’t know how the protagonist will react to their new form. Sometimes, they will be disgusted with themselves or other times they will just accept it. Regardless, it is a different and the personality of the protagonist can be much more varied compared to hero reincarnation stories.
Finally, I get to talk about the flaws with isekai stories. Personally, I really like this genre, however, I can still see some faults with it. The most prominent is how bland some isekai stories can get, hero reincarnation stories are especially guilty of this. It’s actually quite hard to find a completely unique isekai story. The first time I read a monster reincarnation story I thought the concept was amazing, until I read five other different stories with a similar formula. My point, the genre is over saturated with bland stories and recycled plot points. However, it isn’t only the stories fault, it’s also the characters. Most of the time, you’ll be hard pressed to actually find a really good protagonist. Both world transfer and reincarnation stories are guilty of this. Most of the times authors focus more on the world building aspect rather than the character themselves, which isn’t a bad thing. However, what usually happen is we have an interesting world, but really boring characters. And in the end, it’s the characters that drive the story.
In the end, I had a lot of fun talking about isekai. Maybe this can be a new trend of blogs where I talk about other genres not really familiar in the west. Anyhow, I hope you now have a better understanding of what isekai is.