Isekai is a polarising genre. Many otaku can’t get enough of the genre since being transported to another world works as a great form of escapism. Meanwhile, others groan in annoyance at seeing more longwinded sounding isekai join seasonal anime schedules. However, reverse isekai offers a refreshing and relatable middle ground for people such as myself.
Isekai anime dates back to the 90s with series like Magic Knight Rayearth and Fushigi Yugi. However, its surge in popularity spiked with the release of Sword Art Online in the early 2010s. The release of SAO combined with the growing popularity of light novels has bloomed an array of titles. Some of these titles fall into the reverse isekai genre, such as The Devil is a Part-Timer, Hinamatsuri alongside summer 2021 releases such as Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S and The Great Jahy Will Not Be Defeated! Ironically these titles feel far more magical and refreshing than their power fantasy otherworldly counterparts.
The reverse isekai genre offers qualities that traditional isekai cannot, relatability. The idea of venturing off on a quest to defeat monsters sounds like a fun adventure. That said, the idea of Satan himself having to work as a part-timer at a fast-food restaurant and learning that being a devil doesn’t get him anywhere in the human world is equally, if not more entertaining. Mundane, daily life is a relatable topic to everyone on some level whether it be in connection to work, school or learning how to get by in life.
The Great Jahy Will Not Be Defeated! is an excellent example of the relatability of reverse isekai. In the newly aired first episode, the anime introduces Jayh, the Demon King’s second-in-command transported into the human world after the Demon Realm perishes. The idea of a once all-powerful demon now having to try and survive in the human realm makes Jahy far more relatable to viewers compared to if she featured in a traditional isekai. Jahy working as a waitress serving customers will hit close to home for anyone who has worked in retail and hospitality. The glorious moment when Jahy is paid her wages and receives a bonus would fill anyone with glee. This happiness is then torn to shreds mere hours later when Jahy’s landlord shows up demanding rent money. These are all scenarios that can be considered relatable and often funny to audiences because an all-powerful demon is now put on a human level.
Reverse isekai offers respite for both otaku who love the genre and those who may be feeling tired of stereotypical power fantasies. While escapism through the form of a whole other world feels like the ideal, sometimes fantasy falling into reality can really hit the mark. The reverse isekai genre offers viewers the opportunity to turn characters we’d never imagine being able to related to into ones that mirror reality with an extra bit of magic.
Thank you so much for reading!