Isekai: A Fantasy Genre Filled with Strange New Worlds

Magic, new worlds, and epic adventures can be found here! If you love fantasy you need to check out the isekai genre.

Book Culture Bookish Trends Fantasy Just For Fun Pop Culture Recommendations
8 isekai manga covers on a blue background image

Bookstr is back with another crazy book genre you need to check out. If you’ve been following our crazy book genre series then you know we always manage to find the genres that may not be getting the appreciation they deserve. That’s why it’s time to shed some light on this obscure fantasy subgenre; isekai. Isekai means “a strange world” in Japanese and we guarantee that this genre is full of strange worlds filled with new and exciting characters you’ll love.

What is Isekai?

Isekai is an up-and-coming genre known for its popularity in Korean light novels, webtoons, and manga. It is a fantasy genre where a character is magically transported into a new and foreign world. Isekai can also be found in Western culture in popular stories like Alice in Wonderland or The Chronicles of Narnia.

Couple standing close cover and woman surrounded by cards cover and man with dog ears with school girl cover

Characters are sometimes transported into a world they know like a novel’s setting or a video game’s universe. While other times they are brought to a world they possess no knowledge of that has magical features. The characters are often seen engaging in epic adventures filled with dangerous foes and unlikely romances.


Pink haired woman in black dress surrounded by flowers cover next to woman with pink hair sitting with child next to image of pink haired woman with white haired man cover

Reincarnation allows a character to be reborn into a new body in a new world. They may be reincarnated into the body of a baby, child, or even an adult. A popular theme in Korean light novels is characters being transmigrated into the body of a novel or video game character. This gives the main character knowledge of the world and their character’s fate that forces them into action. The characters intervene in the events of the story to prevent a bad ending for themselves or another character.

Transportation Through Portals

lion from narnia next to a man with red hair and an eye patch holding a gasping girl with pink hair holding a feather next to a dark axe on a purple gradient background and spiderwebs

This method of entering a new world does not require the character to change bodies only to physically or mentally enter a new world. In this scenario, the characters usually enter the new world through some form of portal. Normally the main character accidentally walks into the portal through no fault of their own. Another way they may enter the portal is if another character takes them through it. There are also instances where a character may enter the world mentally, but not physically. For example, if someone’s subconscious enters a video game, while their body stays put.

Unlikely Romances

Is there anything more romantic than a couple whose love transcends worlds? It might be obvious, but when you’re from separate worlds a matchup is unlikely to happen.

In stories where a character is transported into another world, they find someone they should never have been able to meet. One example is Empress from Another World. Sabina is transported into a new world where she ends up altering the course of the world’s history through her relationship with the emperor.

Brunette woman in pink dress holding hands with dark haired man wearing suit image next to blonde woman in blue dress next to long black haired man in chair next to image of brunette in pink dress being held by blonde man image

In reincarnation stories, the character usually ends up with someone who they traditionally wouldn’t be with. This could mean the villain, a character destined to love another, or a character not identified in the original story. The main character is often seen avoiding romance in these stories out of fear of the story’s original outcome. Why Raeliana Ended Up in the Duke’s Mainson is a great example as Eunha Park is reincarnated into Raeliana a side character destined to die at the hands of her fiancee. Raeliana goes against the story for her own survival and ends up falling in love with the novel’s male lead.

Exciting new worlds filled with magic and epic heroes make this genre the perfect fit for fantasy lovers. Allow yourself to be transported to a new world by checking out the isekai genre.

If you’re interested in reading about more crazy book genres click here and here!