Slavery In Isekai Anime Needs To Go Away

By Nina Phillips | Published

With pretty much any form of media you get, if you enter medieval times or something similar, slavery is brought up as a prominent plot point in the story. However, in Isekai slavery anime, it’s much more prominent and horrible to watch, primarily because most of these plots that feature slavery also include a romance between the slaves and the person who freed (bought) them. It’s a gross plot point that’s weak in execution and needs to go away. 

Seperating Fantasy From History

There is an argument that Isekai slavery is fine because they are often set in a time when slavery was prominent in history. While it’s true that slavery was more prominent in certain eras, Isekai stories often change around a lot of details to make the story more interesting. If the story can add running toilets and elaborate magic systems, they can eliminate slavery. 

Also, this isn’t actually all that true. Slavery has always been a part of human history. However, it wasn’t as prominent during Medieval times as Isekai slavery tropes would have you believe. From the 4th century to the 10th century, serfdom was much more prominent. 

Despite this, Isekais rarely have a serfdom trope, instead relying heavily on slavery in their plots. This, in my opinion, represents a lack of research on the writer’s part and weak writing to fill a plot hole or make it easy for the women. 

Usually Leads To Love

While it’s incredibly frustrating already that slavery is so prominent in many Isekais, the bigger problem is the purpose of this slavery. Usually, the Isekai slavery trope is used to add a love interest for the main character. We see this in The Rising of the Shield Hero and even The Ancient Magus’ Bride, though this one technically isn’t an Isekai.

Brings Down The Characters

Isekai slavery takes an already gross romance genre, harems, and makes it even worse. If a man can’t get partners without having to buy or “save” them, then they shouldn’t have a partner. It wouldn’t take much more to have the main character be a good person and gain a group of women because he did good things, saved them from fates like death from a monster, or even saved their village. 

This kind of plot would lead to the same level of infatuation as one of the slaves but would be far more heroic and romantic than an Isekai slavery one. 

Common In Isekai

Even the Isekai anime that doesn’t use the slave trope for romance has slavery as a prominent part of the story. Sword Art Online also brings up slavery, though thankfully, it’s more the evil guys who lean into the trope than the heroes. How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom, Jobless Reincarnation, and Reincarnated as a Sword are other Isekai slavery anime where slavery is a significant part of the story. 

Another issue is that Isekai slavery doesn’t ever seem to be a problem. I get the phrase, “When in Rome,” but the main character is meant to be a noble hero saving others. It’s hard to imagine that these moral people don’t even blink at seeing slaves. Personally, I find that it makes me like the characters much less, and their whole quest to save the day or be a better person feels shallow and fake. 

Anime Needs To Drop Old Tropes

I think anime and manga writers need to step away from the Isekai slavery premise and come up with something new and interesting. Have the main characters find partners in a different way than them buying them, and ignore the premise of slavery in general. This would make for a much more interesting and unique series, and one much less annoying to watch.