Anime Studios Need To Stop With Isekai And Go Back To This Classic Genre

By Jacob VanGundy | Published

The isekai genre currently dominates anime, and it has reached the point of oversaturation. Many niche genres have suffered in the isekai era, with less attention and funding going to even once prominent genres. Rather than continuing to pump out more and more isekai studios would do well to resurrect and update once popular genres like mecha anime. 

A Great Sub-Genre Is Overexposed

For those unfamiliar with the genre, isekai centers around characters who are transported between worlds, usually after death. It’s a genre that can take any tone, from comedic shows like KonoSuba to serious action-adventure shows like Sword Art Online. The flexibility and its relative newness of the genre have contributed to its overexposure, with over 30 isekai anime being released in 2023. 

Bring Back The Mecha

Meanwhile, genres that have been important to the medium of anime for decades, such as mecha, have been relegated to obscurity. Mecha series like Gundam Wing, Macross, and Neon Genesis Evangelion helped popularize anime in the West, and for decades, the genre was one of the most popular. While it’s far from dead, mecha shows aren’t nearly as popular or common as they used to be. 

Giant Mechs Are Always Awesome

Even the great mecha anime being produced today receives less attention from fans, overshadowed by massively popular isekai. SSSS.Gridman is a great example of this, as a mecha vs kaiju anime produced by the popular Studio Trigger has received minimal attention in Western fandom despite high animation quality and interesting ideas.  While genres always fade in and out of popularity, it’s strange to see how much such a significant genre has been minimized. 

New Mecha Anime Struggles For Attention

Despite the difficulty of getting attention for a new mecha anime, studios should be looking to it as an alternative to isekai. While isekai has become increasingly popular over the last few years, there’s no denying that the genre has become overexposed, and the signs of backlash against it are clear. Like Marvel fatigue, anime discourse has become dominated by fans complaining about isekai fatigue. 

Mecha Anime Covers A Lot Of Ground From Comedy To Dark Drama

As fans tire of isekai, they’re going to start looking for another genre to explore, and mecha anime stands out as an adaptable, proven option for studios to bet on. While the genre is often associated with serious military science fiction, shows like G Gundam and Gurren Lagan demonstrate just how versatile the genre is. The fact that it was a popular genre from the 1970s until recently demonstrates that it can have mass appeal. 

Always Room For More Mech Designs

One of mecha anime’s greatest strengths is that it allows for a distinct, iconic form of character design that is ripe for revival. While most shonen anime focuses on designing interesting human characters, the artistic focus of mecha anime is on the giant robots, which can be much more diverse and interesting in the right hands. A fresh, well-designed mech design could help a new show stand out visually from the sea of other anime. 

Honestly, We Just Want More Gunpla

The era of isekai dominance will end at some point, and the anime fandom’s complaints about how ubiquitous it is suggest that its end may be soon. Studios should be looking for alternatives to the genre to future-proof against its decline. There’s no way to know what the next big trend will be, but leaning on an established genre like mecha until that becomes clear seems like a safe bet.