The History of Isekai

A reader called my attention to this, a history and discussion of the tropes typical of the slew of recent anime, following on the heels of Sword Art Online, that depict a gamer otaku getting thrown into another world that looks like a sword-and-sorcery RPG.

This is a bit outside this blog’s usual scope; I admit my knowledge of this particular genre is minimal, simply because my interests run more toward shoujo anime, whereas isekai typically has male protagonists and a male target audience. However, the video does link isekai to predecessors from the ’90s like Magic Knight Rayearth and Vision of Escaflowne, which typically featured schoolgirls getting thrown into fantasy settings. Not discussed, but probably also an important influence on the isekai genre are the RPG-inspired fantasies from yesteryear like Record of Lodoss War.

In the last third of the video, the narrator explains that many of the light novels that make up the sources of isekai fantasy got their starts as web publications, and after suggesting that the isekai genre is saturated, he argues that this is leading in turn to a rise of “pure” fantasy without inserted modern characters, of which he holds up Made in Abyss as a premier example.

For recent examples of “traditional” or “pure” fantasy, I would also point to the less hyped but respectable Chaika the Coffin Princess, which was a competently made, light novel-based anime series that was something like an old-school fantasy in the tradition of Discarded Princess (because it was in fact from the same author and the same studio).

I have to confess I still haven’t watched or read Made in Abyss, though it’s on my list.

Once This Week Is Over, I’m Gonna Binge-Watch ‘Flip Flappers,’ ‘Made in Abyss,’ and ‘Sailor Moon S’

In case you’re wondering where I’ve been lately, I’m entering the last week of the summer school term, so I’ve been too busy to post regularly, or to keep up with current news in magical girls.

All my assignments are due by Friday. Once that day of reckoning comes, I’m going to sit down with Lamplighter’s notes on Jake in the Dynamo, make the necessary changes, and prepare a submission package. Once I have the art from Lowell, off it goes.

So once we reach the end of the week, I’ll start having some more reviews and essays for all y’all. We’ll definitely continue with Revolutionary Girl Utena and watch the second half of Sailor Moon S, at the very least.

Also, I noticed a couple of months back that my brief posts on the artwork from Made in Abyss were getting a lot of hits. This is because the animated adaptation is getting streamed on Amazon Strike. I’ll probably check it out as soon as it finishes its run; I don’t have time to follow it in real time.

As I had suspected it would when I saw some of the related art, the manga is also seeing an English translation, which I believe will be coming from Seven Seas Entertainment.

Also, based on the buzz, it seems the storyline is more … gruesome … than the puni plush character designs implied. You’d think I’d be familiar with this trick by now, but I guess I got fooled.

‘Made in Abyss’ Gets TV Anime

This escaped my attention back in January, but the web comic Made in Abyss by Akihito Tsukushi is slated to get a TV anime adaptation, directed by Masayuki Kojima and animated by Kinema Citrus.

I stumbled upon Made in Abyss back in December, when I raved about the artwork.

And though it escaped my attention at the time, it was only a few days later that Crunchyroll reported news of an impending anime adaptation. I take this as further proof that I really live in a solipsistic universe that bends to my will, and you are all figments of my imagination. Bwa ha ha.

I hope Crunchy’s report is indicative of their plans to fish for the rights to stream a sub. At present, Made in Abyss is not legally available in English, though it was originally produced as a web series and can be read online in Japanese. I for one am quite curious about the series because the story sounds charming and the art is gorgeous.

And Tsukushi-sensei’s characters all look so darn huggable.

Art, Featuring ‘Made in Abyss’

Featured Image: Cover art of Made in Abyss Volume 1 by Akihito Tsukushi.

I’m falling in love with the artwork of Akihito Tsukushi, and maybe also with him personally just a little bit. I don’t think I was aware of him or his work until just recently when I stumbled upon it, but I have found at least one place on the internet where he hangs out.

The featured image both here and on this post comes from his four-part comic book series Made in Abyss, which is unfortunately unavailable in English. The artwork is certainly stunning. Information on the series is scanty, but it is apparently about a plucky young girl and a boy robot who explore a giant cave system full of fantastic critters.

I don’t know if the story’s any good, but it sounds promising, and in any case, it’s clear that it would be worth reading simply for the visual feast, akin perhaps to Dinotopia or Neotopia. Who cares what the story is when you can look at that art?