Think being reborn in a fantasy isekai would solve all your problems? Think again.

One of the most popular anime genres is the alternate world, or isekai, story. It’s not hard to see the appeal, as most examples take a listless, everyman protagonist and whisk him off to a fantasy world, where he’s given a clear purpose and direct conflict to take on, exchanging the drudgery of real-world work or school for constant and meaningful adventure.

But would life in an alternate world really eliminate the ennui that causes so many fans to be drawn to the genre? Japanese illustrator and Twitter user @poppoyakiya isn’t sure it would, and lays out his theory, in manga form, of how things would really go down if the average Joe found himself in an isekai (translations below).

I was an ordinary wage slave. On the day it happened, I’d just got done doing a bunch of overtime, as usual.

I wasn’t paying attention, and I got hit by a truck.


When I came to, I’d been reborn in an alternate world.

Along with being reborn, I’d gained the special cheat skill to use all kinds of magic.

I was a wage slave until now, but I’m sure to become a hero in this alternate world!!

Six months later

I’m washing dishes in a tavern in the alternate world where I was reborn.

At first, I figured I was going to become a hero, but…

I can’t speak the language.

My Earth money is no good here.

Even in an alternate world, in order to survive, you’ve got to have a job.

At first, I was determined to set out on an adventure once I’d saved up enough money, but…

The area around the town is overrun with monsters. It’s dangerous to head out into the wilderness without proper equipment.

Powerful weapons and stout armor are expensive, so you really need to build up your finances.

So I swallowed my pride and got a job at the tavern, and after half a year, I finally had enough money to start adventuring.

And yet I’m still washing dishes in the tavern.

For half a year, I’ve been tying myself down with excuses to avoid heading out into the unknown world. Why?

Because I’m scared.

I know it’s cowardly to be frightened of venturing into a new environment, but I can’t bring myself to leave the environment I’m in now. It’s no different from when I was a wage slave.

Heroes don’t become heroes because they’re strong or have some special power. They become heroes because they’re brave.

And so, even though I’ve come to this alternate world, I’m still a wage slave.

The thousands of likes and retweets @poppoyakiya’s somber take on isekai stories suggests that a lot of people see plenty of truth in his theory. On one hand, it’s a pretty bleak message, at least if you choose to interpret it as “no matter what you do, you won’t be able to escape the soul-crushing tedium of adult life.”

But on the other hand, @poppoyakiya’s belief that it’s courage that makes someone a hero is actually powerfully uplifting. To turn your dramatic, romantic dreams into reality, you don’t need magic spells or divine intervention. What you need is a lot of courage, and while that may not be at all easy to obtain, at least it’s something that people can, and do, find in the world of reality.

Source: Twitter/@poppoyakiya via Jin
Images: Twitter/@poppoyakiya

Follow Casey on Twitter, which is sort of like an isekai in itself.