[Special] Isekai WebToons

We’re back with a new WebToon Special Edition! Isekai WebToons – what are they, why are they all the rage, and why you should jump on the bandwagon. We’ve compiled a handy guide to get you started; complete with our top picks to help you navigate the truly oversaturated market. So many series, so little time.

Isekai who?

Let’s get this out of the way: it’s pronounced ee-seh-kah-ee.

Now, you’ve probably seen this word floating around the interwebs, especially if you read a lot of manga/ Webtoons or watch anime. ‘Isekai‘ is a Japanese word to describe a genre of portal fantasy, basically stories where the hero gets transported to another world. So yes, in case you’re wondering, Narnia was isekai. Why we say isekai instead of ‘portal fantasy’? Well, because the current trend for it is rooted in Japanese anime and manga, not western pop culture.

Sometimes referred to as ‘transmigration‘ in English, I personally feel the term is only applicable to a sub-set of isekai fiction. The term normally means metempsychosis or reincarnation. In reincarnation isekai, it’s the hero’s soul that gets reincarnated into a character from another world. Most commonly that ends up being a world of a fictional novel or video game that the hero was interested in while still alive.

This sub-set of isekai is admittedly one of the biggest subgenres, and especially popular right now. I was not exaggerating when I said the market is oversaturated. You can usually spot them from the extremely long titles. Due to the fun premise and the potential for a lot of meta humor, business is booming. But when there’s piles of series to read and choose from, you’re bound to find some that are just poorly written imitations. That’s why we’re here, and we got your back. Below, 3 of our favorite isekai picks to get you started.

Solo leveling

Written by Chugong and illustrated by Dubu, based on the action fantasy novel that can safely be deemed a global phenomenon at this point, first on our list we have Solo Leveling.

In a world where awakened beings called “Hunters” must battle deadly monsters to protect humanity, Sung Jinwoo, nicknamed “the weakest hunter of all mankind,” finds himself in a constant struggle for survival. One day, after a brutal encounter in an overpowered dungeon wipes out his party and almost kills him, a mysterious System chooses him as its sole player. Jinwoo has been granted the rare opportunity to level up his abilities, possibly beyond any known limits. Follow Jinwoo’s journey as he takes on ever-stronger enemies, to discover the secrets deep within the dungeons and the ultimate extent of his powers.

There are those who argue Solo Leveling is not a true isekai, because the hero can go in and out of the ‘other place’, namely the dungeons. Being ‘trapped’ in the other world is a common, but not a mandatory clause for the definition of isekai, so in my book, this counts.

It stands out not only for its immense popularity, but its stunning art, and beautifully drawn action scenes. Normally this action trope bores me because the plot can often feel non-existent, but I really enjoyed this series.

Beware the Villainess!

After an accident, a modern-day college student awakens as the a romance novel’s villainess, Melissa Foddebrat. She’s far from popular, but she IS the daughter of the duke. Determined to live it up, this new Melissa is doing things her way — antiquated society be damned! Knowing what kind of trash each suitor of the heroine is, she takes it upon herself to protect her. All idiots, prepare to step aside or perish!

Also known as ‘The Villainess is a B*tch‘. This romance comedy one is a personal favourite among isekai webtoons. Being reincarnated as a villain is an overdone trope, but this series still manages to feel fresh. Melissa neither tries to live a quiet life, nor alter her fate by trying to be nice. No, her approach is ’embrace the infamy and roll with it’. It had me laughing so hard from the get go. Absolutely recommend. Bonus 1: It’s completed! Bonus 2: Nine is the most precious of cinnamon rolls ❤️

Tricked into Becoming the Heroine’s Stepmother

Daisy Heidi, recently deceased co-author of the romance novel “Why Did the Duke’s Daughter Roll Across the Pumpkin Patch?”, finds herself reincarnated in the fictional world she helped create. A so-called “tragedy”, the story is about the beautiful heroine Pierta indulging in reckless lust and hedonism with ten ardent suitors until a bitter end. Though Daisy is reborn as a poor commoner in this world, she has the distinct advantage over others in this life! She knows what’s coming. When fate brings Daisy into the lives of the novel’s heroine Pierta and her dashing father Duke Henstone, Daisy vows to do everything she can to prevent Pierta’s future of despair.

This is a super standard reincarnation isekai plot-wise. The hook, and what makes this one worth your time, is the devilish charm of little Pierta. See, Daisy finds herself there before the novel’s timeline, when the heroine was just a sweet, manipulative little schemer of a toddler. It’s a refreshing approach to the genre. The writing is fun and the art is solid, and the Duke is 2D eye-candy if there ever was any. I’ve really been enjoying this one so far. You can read it here.

Bonus brilliant series you should check out: Surviving Romance. It’s reincarnation isekai alright, but that one’s horror. Don’t be fooled by the ‘romance’ in the title! It’s impeccable, but as we’ve previously featured it, we wanted to avoid repetition.

So that’s it! Go forth and enjoy!

Avid manga fan, language nerd, RPG-gamer and coffee addict, I accidentally wandered into K-pop fandom in 2009 and stuck around to share the love ^_^