Isekai is one of my favorite kinds of anime types. I love the adventure, the risk, and being trapped in a world outside of your control. But after a few years of watching shows like SAO, Log Horizon, Re:Zero, Konosuba, or Cautious Hero just to mention a few, it’s all beginning to boil down to your Isekai options. For anyone wanting to write their own Isekai fiction I have put together a few thoughts that could help you boil down your Isekai. Remember Isekai worlds while fun are also pretty terrible places to be generally speaking. You need to think about your options, like what type of Isekai is it? What is the reason or purpose for your Isekai hero to be in your world? What is the punishment for failure? Who is your hero? What kind of twist are you bringing to the Isekai world?
These five starter questions are important to answer for any Isekai you want to write about.
First we start with type! Is your Isekai a video game? Is your Isekai an adventure world? Is your Isekia something that no one else has thought of? Choosing a setting or a type of Isekai is one of the fundamental pieces for creating your own Isekai world. Do you want to choose the type of setting that will draw in the gamer crowd? Do you want to pull in the D&D and Tolkien types? Do you want to have a universal appeal? The only limit to your setting is your imagination. Feel free to experiment, or just do what someone else has done but better.
Now that you know your type of Isekai, let’s move onto the second question. What is the reason or purpose for your Isekai hero to be in your world? After all you are the writer/creator of your world. What is the reason for your hero’s suffering? Is there a reason? Or are you just a sadist and like putting your hero through pointless struggle, or is that just the hook and then you plan on a grand reveal? Do they find value in the world they are placed in? Or do they resent the Isekai world of your creation? Be sure to help your hero, or don’t. The choice is yours! After all your fictitious character gets no rights besides the ones your give them.
Once you have an idea for your hero’s purpose, let’s move onto the punishment for failure. After all what is the point of bringing someone to an Isekai world without punishing them for failing to do their task? Are they some kind of hostage in your Isekai? Do they only get one life? Do they get infinite lives but have to suffer painful deaths to get those lives? Do they lose their memories of their old world if they get infinite lives? The more inventive the punishment for failure the more motivated your hero could be. Don’t deny your hero the pleasure of deciding what is worth doing given the consequences for failure.
Great you have made a punishment for failure to keep your hero in line. Who is your hero? Is he or she is smart, charming, charismatic? Is your hero stupid, boring, or uninspiring? Can they be a mix of multiple elements. Do you want your hero to be liked by the audience? Do you want to have the audience despise your hero? Perhaps the answer to this question plays into what kind of consequences you want to give your hero for failing. Don’t worry, you can always go back to the earlier questions if you get better ideas or think of more consequential punishments. Make your hero as great or terrible as you want them to be.
Your last starter question is: what kind of twist are you bringing to your Isekai? Do you want it to be serious? Do you want it to be a comedy? Should we laugh? Should we the audience cry? Do you want to have a balance between the two? Is your fiction dark? More than likely it is after all Isekai is a painful world for someone. Why else would you need to bring a hero from another world? Are there gods who dictate your Isekai? Or mortals? Or is your hero brought to your new world by fate?
Now that you have had time to think about your Isekai you are well prepared for the grand adventure, or perhaps the lack thereof. Remember this is your grand adventure that you are going to create for your fictional world. Your hero is waiting for you to write the lines that will sweep them and the audience off their feet. The more you are willing to hurt your protagonist the stronger the emotional response you are likely to get, assuming you have written it correctly. If you drop the ball the audience may laugh, but maybe that is the angle you are going for after all. What tips do you have for starting your own Isekai? Do you have further questions? Feel free to ask questions or leave your advice in the comments below.