The 10 Best Isekai Anime, Ranked
We all want to disappear sometimes. I’ve been there. Maybe you’ve been there, too. Sometimes modern life gets hard. The world can be a gross place. And there are many gross people in it. When it’s all too much, I personally find myself wishing to be transported to another world. A fantasy world! Maybe the world of my favorite MMORPG! Where I can slay goblins and collect gold and be ridiculously overpowered!
Lucky for me, isekai anime—in which characters are transported to new, unfamiliar worlds—fulfills that fantasy. Without further delay, here are the 10 best isekai anime on Netflix, ranked from least best to very best.
10. Log Horizon
Log Horizon is the quintessential isekai anime. It’s basically just Sword Art Online without the overpowered main character. An online update to an MMORPG mysteriously transports thousands of players into the bodies of their online avatars. And no one seems upset about it. Really. In Sword Art Online they freak out, but in Log Horizon everyone adjusts pretty quickly. Maybe they were all NEETs with no life to speak of back in the real world? Lucky for them, they were all rewarded by being raptured to nerd heaven. Hallelujah.
Hot take, but I would argue that Gantz is an isekai because the first thing that the main characters do is die and then they are instantly reincarnated and transferred to another world. Well, not really a world—more like a 2,000-square-foot room. They meet a sentient orb named Gantz, which forces them to use alien weaponry to fight horrifying monsters and earn “points” they can spend on new weapons or bringing dead friends back to life. I know which one I’m choosing. Sorry, friends.
8. No Game, No Life
This series is about two reclusive step-siblings who totally rule online gaming. They are then challenged to a game of chess by a literal god from another dimension. After beating the god, the god asks if they would like to be transported to another world where they can play games forever. Thinking it’s a joke, they say yes. Turns out it isn’t, and they are transported to a magical new world where all of humanity’s differences are resolved by playing games. Seems pretty idyllic, no? The siblings then resolve to be the best gamers in their new world. I think they have a shot.
7. Death Parade
Death Parade is another hot take for this list, but I think it counts. It’s about a man named Decim, who tends a bar in the afterlife. When people die, they are sent to this bar with no recollection of their lives or how they got there. Decim then has these people play a series of “Death Games” in order to reveal how they died and lead them to their ultimate fate. Depending on their performance, players are either allowed to undergo reincarnation or they’re banished into the void. Spoiler alert: the game itself doesn’t really matter as much as whether or not you’re an asshole while playing it. Don’t be a dick, and you’ll probably make it through.
Inuyasha is perhaps the most famous isekai on this list. It’s a classic, after all. The series follows a young girl whose cat goes missing one day. To find it, she explores a spooky well (bad idea) and gets dragged into the well by a horrifying centipede demon. She is then transported to—you guessed it—another world! She meets a half-human/half-demon boy named Inuyasha. The two are tasked with a quest to gather the shards of a magical sacred jewel from the clutches of other nasty demons! Beats looking for a cat.
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Another quintessential isekai! This one is about a man named Momonga who is the leader of a powerful guild in the online world of YGGDRASIL. After running for 12 years, the game announces that the server will be shutting down. Momonga is heartbroken and decides to stay online until he is kicked out of the server—except he isn’t kicked out. He’s magically transported into the body of his character! And that character is an evil skeletal “Overlord” who wishes to rule the world, so Momonga eventually begins to lose his moral compass in pursuit of his character’s goals. It’s great if you want to watch an isekai series focus on a villain for a change.
4. That One Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime
One day, a normal office worker suffers a totally un-sexy death after getting stabbed and is then reincarnated in a fantasy world as a totally un-sexy creature known as a “slime”! For those who don’t play fantasy series, slime is usually a pretty low-level enemy. It’s literally a ball of slime. Luckily, this slime (who is rechristened by a dragon as Rimuru) has the totally sexy goal of creating a world that is welcoming to all creatures and races! He later eats that dragon (consensually) and gains the wisdom and power to do it!
3. The Devil Is a Part-Timer
In a way, this anime is a reverse isekai. Most isekai involve a totally mundane person being transformed into a fantastical being or taken to an equally fantastical world. This anime is about a fantastical being who is transformed into a mundane person and has to live in the mundane world. And who is this fantastical being, you ask? The devil himself. After being defeated by the angelic forces of good, the devil and one of his trusted lieutenants flee to the real world and decide to lay low as humans. Satan decides that the best way to do this is to get a part-time job at McDonald’s. No one would suspect him, right? Well … you’ll just have to watch.
2. Saga of Tanya the Evil
This series is about a Japanese salaryman who gets transformed into a total villain. Worse than The Devil Is a Part-Timer’s Satan himself! After being killed by a subordinate whom he flippantly fired, this unnamed salaryman comes face to face with a being that calls itself God. The salaryman is an atheist, however, and mocks this entity, referring to it as “Being X.” Naturally, Being X takes offense, and transports the salaryman to a war-torn nation that resembles Imperial Germany. There, the salaryman finds that he has been reincarnated as an orphan girl named Tanya, and is told by Being X that she has to have “faith” in the mysterious being and die a natural death. If she fails at either task, she will be sent to Hell. Tanya is forced to rely on the entity to escape death in this violent world, even though she has to do some downright evil things to do it.
1. The Boy and the Beast
The Boy And The Beast is a film about a young boy named Ren who becomes the disciple of a martial artist beast named Kumatetsu. Kumatetsu is asked to find a disciple by his father, the Grand Master of the Beast Kingdom, so that Kumatetsu will have a successor. The boy is initially reluctant, but after seeing Kumatetsu fight, he agrees to accept the great martial artist as a teacher. The film is part martial arts epic and part coming-of-age story, where Ren learns that his greatest weapon is the “sword in his soul.” It’s a gorgeous story, and one that I believe is on par with the best works of Studio Ghibli.
(featured image: Madhouse)
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