Explore the Dark Underbelly Of Isekai – This Week in Anime

Venture Into the Dark Underbelly of Isekai - This Week in Anime


Chris and Steve dive into the isekai series’ swamp to find out if anything is worth investigating. This Week in Anime features sex and drugs as well as slimes.

These series can be viewed online Crunchyroll, NetflixAnd HIDIVE

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Steve

Since this is my first opportunity to officially do so, allow me to extend a warm welcome to the “This Week In Anime” team, Chris! Thank you for joining us on our biweekly anime pain train. We could also celebrate our joint inaugural column by doing our favorite thing: taking our quarterly slog through the never-ending stream of isekai premiers. This card is a special commemorative card that I got for you.

Chris

Ah, it’s good to know that I am already being paid respects.
Main characters in isekai often rely on their previous gaming skills to navigate their fantasy-RPG universes. Although I am not the most skilled gamer, I feel that if Truck-kun were to come after me, I would still be able handle myself thanks to the knowledge and information I have gained from so many of these shows.

Me, I haven’t been shy about my disdain for many of this genre’s proclivities—proclivities that, due to the nature and origin of these stories, tend to be Xeroxed ad nauseum. While I have had some good times with a few exemplars, I try to avoid isekai as the rule. However, the pain I feel is for the benefit of my readers, so here we go again. The same as before.



We have five shows this season. Technically, six. OverlordWe’ll skip that one.
We might as well start because we seem to be on the same wavelength regarding our first volley of illustrative photos. Black SummonerThe series that asks the most important questions of gamers.

At this point, I only mean that I wish I hadn’t.

Imagine this being your first isekai animation and introduction to the style. These series assume a certain level of familiarity with their setup. This is similar to how earlier entries assumed some familiarity of the fantasy-RPG settings where their heroes were being teleported to. In this regard, it is possible to imagine how a complete novice might react when they are presented with all of this.



You really don’t have to do anything other than enjoy the show and all that it has to offer.
It is true that not all isekai stories start in the same way. Authors have a list with tropes. A story that doesn’t start with the main character looking at the stat screen may not be worth much. If I’m being charitable I can see the appeal to being part of an online writing community. I have a structure like this that I can work with and bounce off of for new ideas later on. However, if I don’t feel charitable, there is nothing to be done. Black SummonerThis is your chance to stand out in the first act.

It is actually the irony of crossing it off the docket first that makes it the most fascinating thing about this. Black SummonerThis season feels like a mix-up of two other contemporaneous shows. What type of isekai are we talking about? Both: Slavery and slimes!


It’s a strange idea, though, that slavery is being discussed. The episode’s rest is quite bland, but the protag still acts as a normal man up to that point. Then, just a minute into the runtime, the protag notices a few girls locked up in a box and immediately thinks, “hmm, that would make a great addition to my collection.”







Psychopath shit.
Trojan-Horse-ing as a slave-owning subplot, after lecturing your audience-insert the importance consent when summoning contracts.




If you feel the need to bring it up, we can move on to my arch-nemesis of the season and closest reminder to your days in the World’s End Harem trenches: Harem in the Labyrinths of Other World.


As your fellow harem expert I can attest to the unapologetic uglyness of World’s End HaremGlitchcore censors But Harem LabyrinthIt is a worthy fight. The audio censoring is, I have to admit, a brave new frontier for unintelligibility. It is difficult to understand some lines of dialogue. This is kind of beautiful, but it’s also depressingly postmodern.

I tried for years to find the right line. From context clues it seems Roxanne, Michio’s agent-challenged attendant, doesn’t have any concerns about pregnancy or STIs. But I can’t even begin to imagine what censor-worthy words would be used there.

The fact that “slave” can be used to describe anyone, but “sex slave”, is a bridge too far for this show, makes it look like the series Doing A Bit.


It’s an ontological goldmine for anyone who wants to write a thesis about obscenity and modern anime. There are also plenty of softballs like the barely visible gore in the opening scene. It’s all fine. But, lord have mercy on anyone who even detects one tit.


They will sell more premium uncensored Bluray releases and cable broadcasts later. This would mean that they would need to charge more for premium uncensored cable airings and Blu-ray releases. Harem Labyrinthcompelling content, rather than Michio endlessly scrolling through status screens.







Riveting.
This is what I mean by isekai being intimate. You will see the exact same scene in this and. Black SummonerBoth are boring and not at all interesting. It’s just a bunch of “video games”, am I right? There was a lot of stuff that should have disappeared with the fall of the webcomic gamer.







Although I suppose there is an alternative way isekai could be incestuous, it is not something that these shows do.

I suspect that these authors may not have done any research into the history or realities of slavery.

I can temporarily double-back on one of my other issues. Black SummonerIts utterly ignorant invocation of the “benevolent slave-owner” role.







It would be great if you could do something more for her to allow her to make her own decisions. But I won’t be held responsible if I can think up anything.

Although I am not asking them to be slavery scholars, there is plenty of information on the subject.

I feel like it’s a bit too easy to invoke my standby favourite How NOT To Summon a Demon KingIn this situation, however, it was at least able to set up its comedy premise to make the protag more likeable.

Harem Labyrinth barely gets a decent laugh out of me with its otherwise-inexplicable future-flash-forward in the second episode, wherein Michio deduces that a random kid is actually his forgotten son on account of how he looks like every other isekai protagonist.





It’s up to us to pass these potato genes on. I suppose I should think about getting back on the show, as I envision we’ll do at least one column. Something tells me that I’m going the be the lucky participant.

The harems can be taken away from Steve, but the Steve can’t be taken away from his harems.

Talking of potatoes, let’s move onto the most dull entry of the season. My Isekai Life. The title even sounds tired.
Yes, the unique slime designs are my favorite part. I love the one with thick Groucho Marx eyebrows.



The scene with the sidekick slime going Kirby Mouthful Mode™ on a dragon bone is also pretty good.


Bone-in slimes are a rare and exquisite delight.

The premiere is a disappointment. They battle some monsters with large magic and the hero does his best Doctor Strange impression. But, in the end, all I know about him is that he’s a monster-tamer of some repute. It would have been a crime not to include a little bit of personality.

In the next few episodes, he makes enough facial expressions that I can’t help but laugh at his one-fingered expression. Apart from the allusions to his office job that explains why Yuji prefers to be low-key and not encourage others to rely on them too much, there’s really nothing compelling about Yuji.



This was honestly the show that I found myself most inept at nodding off while watching.

Same. Even if I was an avid isekai fan, I cannot imagine myself choosing this show over any other. It’s actually depressing to consider all the effort that went into adapting this anime, especially since it’s unflavored agar. If this isn’t enough evidence to prove that we’re making too much anime I don’t know what it is.

The solution is to rebalance things. This is how we can help these children who are left behind by the isekai to be reunited with their natural habitats in the real world.





We can finally discuss an anime about normal guys.




Uncle from Another WorldThis summer, has an advantage over the rest of the isekai offerings by having a distinct structure/premise and b) realizing that being around an isekai protagonist will only bring you pain.
Although it is a conceptual joke, I do appreciate the recognition that someone who is not from our flesh and blood world will end up in a realm full of JRPG anime characters.



But is it really that much different than living as an ardent SEGA fan?

Induce the coma again. That would be the most kindest thing you could do for him.



Although I wouldn’t say the premiere is rip-roaringly funny or anything, I think it strikes a good balance between isekai in-jokes as well as more universal jokes about someone who has been asleep for nearly two decades and doesn’t understand how far internet discourses have fallen.


It’s definitely a joke in the sense of the strength and humor of its idea. But the jokes themselves are a lot more straightforward. Just like all the isekai prostags I’ve seen magically create powers and advancements in fantasyyland in play-straight shows in my life, Uncle and his nephew use their talents for half-baked YouTube sketches which don’t even pull large numbers.




Uncle will never get that Play Button.
Let him think about the phone of his dreams first.

How is it possible for this series to utter profound truths one minute, and then turn around and give factual inaccuracies another?

That line will be defended by me, since presenting indisputable facts as demonstrably incorrect shit is part of being a teenager.

Takafumi insists on that K-ON!Codified the slice of life genre.

Exactly.

In all honesty, I can understand why the author wanted the whole thing about Uncle and Tsundere not catching up, since it is a funny idea, even though it doesn’t really work out. It’s also a great example of Uncle from Another WorldYou can’t drag out one good joke to the point that it only works as a cringe comedy.



This series, like a reverse isekai, doesn’t do any favors when it shares the summer with the second episode of The Devil is a Part-Timer!There is a lot more to it.

It is also quite stiff. Although I am guessing, it seems like it is following the manga paneling very closely. This is usually not the best way of translating comedy from the page onto the screen.

The manga’s first volume was actually what I read last year. Although the manga has a lot more framing than the manga, the scenes from real life have much of the same framing. The art however looks better. Although they haven’t included my favorite joke, Uncle’s shock at KochikameFinally, he was gone!
He still has plenty of time to confront all the unpleasant truths. And let’s not forget about the flaws of the adaptation. Takehito KoyasuIt is the goat.
It’s a joke that adds another layer to the fun, as a celebrity like him is cast as a schlub and can’t even make it in the role of an isekai main character.



Fine, but if the Isekai doldrums can’t be completely cured by removing protags from fantasy worlds, what then? Might we have to pursue genuinely…medicinal methods?

Please don’t disturb me. I am in my laboratory using all of the knowledge I have gained in this column so to synthesize perfect isekai.




All jokes aside Parallel World PharmacyGet points for me at the gate for the micropipette fanservice.
Forget about sexy slave women or monster fights. This show wants lab equipment and chemistry.

The skeletal structure and toxicity of levofloxacin is what turns me on. Because I legitimately hold a degree from biochemistry, I was ready to enjoy it. Parallel World PharmacyThe most. That’s not much praise, considering the other options. But we all must work with what we have.

It’s fair because even though I don’t have the same level of expertise, this series was the most fascinating to me. It’s originality is something I cannot praise, even though I know it. Pharmacy IsekaiIt is its own sub-genre. This anime works because it uses concepts beyond just inserting a dude into the story. RPG MakerLet him roam aimlessly.

Although this is Writing 101 stuff, the mere mention that the dead sister of the dude infuses him with more personality than any of the other isekai heroes.

It’s even used to build a strong thematic thread as the story progresses. Our MC’s obsession with family leads him to contemplate his business of effectively “possessing” someone with familial connections in the world. He also gets a chance to use his pharmaceutical fantasy magic to treat his little sister’s chicken pox.


You already know the drill: Name yourself for what job you want.

While I’m aware that anime has thematic names, I had to laugh when I heard this one.
Many of the core ideas are in Parallel World PharmacyYou’ll feel at home if you’ve seen or read about it. Ascension of the BookwormThis is evident in the main character’s determination to improve the medieval-level technology he’s witnessed to or the magic system favoring nobility that sees civilians panicked when too much of it’s demonstrated. These series are not the only ones that have isekai similarities.
Yeah, BookwormIs firmly included in the aforementioned Pretty Alright Isekai pantheon. And Pharmacy’sPremiere also manages to include some outside-the box hooks like light alchemical experimentation, and possibly a ghost-boy. You will be compelled to continue watching. What will they think about next?


You have to watch that carefully just to see his tutor’s reaction to his extraordinary magic powers. He orders her to cover herself with an entire armor suit.


Real brain genius hours.
And I most likely will keep going! I can’t promise I’ll do it (willingly) for all the rest, so that’s what I think that means. Parallel World PharmacyThis round wins.

Every thing that can be made is possible in an embodiment Parallel World PharmacyThis is the kind of winner it has been so far: It has a great concept that plays off its Isekai hook but doesn’t make it the main focus. And it’s open to having fun while it tells its story. So, magic chemistry compounding isn’t the only focus of the action. My Isekai LifeThis magical programming language is snooze inducing.



Can confirm that I am able to keep up with this only one.
(Well, except for my loving obligation to) Harem LabyrinthIt is.

We’re not isekai haters. We are isekai wine sommeliers. It happens that 90% of the vinegar we try is pure vinegar.

Sometimes, I wish I could just spit out the contents of a series that I’ve just watched. But I know it is our loss and the audience’s gain. If we all stop watching bland anime, maybe they’ll stop making bland isekai.

I am certain that this will happen soon…

On second thought, perhaps we would have more success with Truck-kun.

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