10 best isekai anime everyone must watch in 2023

Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation
Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation (Image via Studio Bind)

Isekai anime, a genre where characters are transported from their normal world into a new or parallel one, has exploded in popularity in recent years. This engaging genre provides an escapist fantasy for viewers, allowing them to imagine themselves whisked away into fantastical new worlds.

The appeal of starting life anew in an unknown world where anything is possible continues to capture the imagination of audiences. With so many new Isekai anime coming out each season, deciding which ones are worth investing your time in can be difficult.

If you're new to Isekai anime or looking for a new series to enjoy, choosing the perfect one can be a challenge. Below are ten of the best and most influential Isekai anime that everyone should watch. These shows represent the diversity of settings, storytelling styles, and subgenres that Isekai has to offer.


Journey to another world: Top 10 must-watch Isekai anime

10. Ascendance of a Bookworm

Ascendance of a Bookworm (Image via Ajia-do Animation Works)
Ascendance of a Bookworm (Image via Ajia-do Animation Works)

In Ascendance of a Bookworm series, Book-loving Urano suffers an accident in our world and awakens as Myne, the sickly young daughter of a medieval peasant family. Forced into a difficult new life, Myne is determined to find or even recreate books to spark the printing revolution.

This unique Isekai anime follows an intellectual protagonist trying to reshape society with her knowledge. Myne’s struggles to pursue her bookish dreams despite class and gender barriers make Ascendance of a Bookworm an uplifting watch. Supported by a loving new family, her innovative spirit and magical aptitude drive the story forward.


9. The Rising of the Shield Hero

The Rising of the Shield Hero (Image via Kinema Citrus)
The Rising of the Shield Hero (Image via Kinema Citrus)

College student Naofumi is summoned, along with three others, to become heroes meant to save a parallel realm. But unlike his comrades, who are granted swords and spears, Naofumi is stuck with just a shield. After being framed for crimes he didn’t commit, Naofumi must rise from zero to become the realm's legendary Shield Hero.

The Rising of the Shield Hero takes a grittier approach to the Isekai anime genre. Naofumi faces trauma, discrimination, and injustice that test his resolve. Watching him struggle against a rigged system and overcome these obstacles through smarts and determination makes for a compelling underdog narrative. The other three heroes act as interesting foils to the ostracized Naofumi.


8. Sword Art Online

Sword Art Online (Image via A-1 Pictures)
Sword Art Online (Image via A-1 Pictures)

Sword Art Online follows protagonist Kirito after he and thousands of other players get trapped in a virtual reality MMORPG called Sword Art Online. With lethal consequences for anyone who dies in-game, Kirito and his allies must progress through each dungeon floor to free themselves from the game. This action-packed Isekai hooked viewers back in 2012 and remains hugely influential today.

The perilous stakes and spectacular animated sword fights made Sword Art Online a breakout hit. It also introduced many viewers to the concept of getting transported to and trapped in a video game world. The romance between Kirito and the female lead, Asuna, is a fan favorite. Although some might call Sword Art Online a disappointment, it is an excellent starter anime for the Isekai genre.


7. KonoSuba - God's Blessing on This Wonderful World!

KonoSuba - God's Blessing on This Wonderful World! (Image via Studio Deen)
KonoSuba - God's Blessing on This Wonderful World! (Image via Studio Deen)

When shut-in NEET Kazuma Satou dies in an embarrassing way, he's given a disappointing afterlife in an RPG-like world. He's quickly joined by the useless goddess Aqua and other dysfunctional adventurers. This comedy isekai anime series follows their errors and antics in a parody of the Isekai genre.

The ridiculous characters of KonoSuba, like the masochistic knight Darkness and explosion-obsessed mage Megumin, breathe new humor into the Isekai genre. It satirizes the concept of 'a gamer geek’s paradise in an alternate world' while delivering enough adventure and fun. The incompetent party’s mishaps provide constant laughs. Considered a great comedy anime, Konosuba is one of the best Isekai anime to start the journey.


6. Log Horizon

Log Horizon (Image via Studio Satelight)
Log Horizon (Image via Studio Satelight)

Log Horizon stands out for its deep dives into the mechanics and theory behind a world where people are trapped inside an MMORPG. Protagonist Shiroe is a master strategist who forms a guild and works on innovating a society among the players.

This Isekai anime series subverts combat-heavy Isekai stories by focusing on nation-building over fighting. The realistic character relationships and detailed game mechanics make Log Horizon a cerebrally engaging watch. Shiroe’s innovative strategies for governing the players and combating discrimination are compelling.


5. Overlord

Overlord (Image via Studio Madhouse)
Overlord (Image via Studio Madhouse)

When the popular DMMO-RPG Yggdrasil shuts down, veteran player Momonga finds himself transported inside the game world as his avatar. With all his player knowledge and mighty abilities, he sets out to expand his reign as the lich overlord.

Overlord offers a unique perspective by putting us in the shoes of an overpowered isekai protagonist. Watching Momonga, aka Ainz Ooal Gown, navigate and conquer this strange new world as an undead villain is gripping. His devotion to his guildmates and strategic oversight of the Great Tomb make him a layered protagonist, even as an undead monster. Overlord subverts the typical hero narrative.


4. No Game No Life

No Game No Life (Image via Studio Madhouse)
No Game No Life (Image via Studio Madhouse)

In No Game No Life series, Sibling gamers Sora and Shiro are transported to a reality where everything is determined by games. Their cunning tactics make them an unstoppable duo as they set out to unite the fantasy world’s factions.

No Game No Life is a quirky take on Isekai as the siblings navigate elaborate battles, perversions, and culture shock in this strange new realm. It’s as much about the bonds between the characters as it is about the exciting competition. The vibrant art and clever games draw viewers into the bizarre reality Sora and Shiro now inhabit. Their perfect coordination shows that together, they can conquer any challenge.


3. That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime (Image via Studio Eight Bit)
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime (Image via Studio Eight Bit)

Office worker Satoru is reborn as a slime monster after a tragic death. But rather than dwell on his strange new existence, he embraces the opportunity for adventure in a new RPG-style world. The lighthearted premise of a protagonist reborn as an unlikely creature gives this Isekai a unique twist.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime puts a comedic spin on the Isekai genre as the resourceful Satoru thrives as a slime. He befriends dragons and goblins to form his own nation of monsters. Watching Satoru’s escapades and political maneuvers as an amorphous slime is surprisingly uplifting and fun. The series balances humor with world-building and action and is one of the best modern Isekai anime.


2. Re:Zero - Starting Life in Another World

Re:Zero - Starting Life in Another World (Image via Studio White Fox)
Re:Zero - Starting Life in Another World (Image via Studio White Fox)

When suburban teenager Subaru is suddenly transported to a fantasy world, he thinks he’s lucky to join the adventure. But his excitement turns to horror as he’s killed shortly after arriving. Subaru soon realizes he has a mysterious power to rewind time upon death, allowing him to try to prevent tragedy in this dark fantasy Isekai.

Unlike many Isekai anime, Re:Zero subverts expectations of Isekai power fantasies by putting its protagonist through excruciating trials. Subaru’s gruesome deaths and anguished struggles to save his friends using his “Return by Death” ability make for an unpredictable viewing experience. The plot twists and likable characters, especially the supportive half-elf Emilia, have earned the series widespread popularity. In all honesty, Re:Zero could have switched place with the first entry on this list.


1. Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation

Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation (Image via Studio Bind)
Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation (Image via Studio Bind)

Mushoku Tensei follows a 34-year-old underachiever who gets a second chance at life after dying in a traffic accident. He's reborn with his memories intact into a fantasy world of magic and monsters. Striving to avoid making the same mistakes again, he dedicates himself to living a meaningful new life.

This darker, emotionally complex Isekai anime deals thoughtfully with its flawed protagonist and his efforts at self-improvement. The beautiful animation and captivating new world-building make it one of the most visually stunning recent series. Rudeus Greyrat may be flawed, but his journey to find purpose shows the storytelling potential of this series.


Conclusion

In conclusion, the Isekai anime genre continues to evolve and surprise, drawing viewers deeper and deeper into exciting parallel worlds every season. From classic action-adventure to comedies, parodies, and dark twists on the genre, these ten series represent the diverse stories that Isekai anime can tell.

Immerse yourself in these fascinating worlds and see why adventuring in another life never gets old. With so many thrilling new worlds to explore, the hardest part is picking which parallel universe to get lost in next. Whether you're a veteran fan or new to the genre, these ten Isekai anime offer something to enjoy for everyone.