Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Best Isekai Anime Worlds Ranked By Livability

Anyone who has ever wished to be pulled out of their humdrum day-to-day life into a magical realm of action and heroic escapades knows the appeal of the Isekai genre of anime. Typically following a well-meaning protagonist who is urged to step up from their everyman status into a new role as a hero and protector in an otherworldly adventure, this subcategory of fantasy is storytelling at its finest. A genre that wears its heart on its sleeve, it's perfect for anyone who likes a little adventure in their fiction, and it has inspired seemingly endless top-notch entries in the anime canon.

Yet, sympathetic characters, high-stakes fight scenes, and earth-shattering events would all fall flat if there weren't an imaginative other world serving as the backdrop to these stories. Worldbuilding plays a big role in fantasy of all flavors, but that goes double for Isekai, which thrives on building stunning forests, high-concept landmarks, and surreal cityscapes for its protagonists to explore. Still, while most Isekai worlds are beautiful, they aren't all hospitable to humans. Many offer exciting alternatives to the reality we know, but some of them are downright scary.

It's easy to say which ones we'd avoid (hint: the dangerous ones), but as for the most livable among the worlds, that takes some thought. Fortunately, we've thought this through, and we've got some ideas for where we'd want to set up shop if we were sucked into an Isekai anime.

9. The Vision of Escaflowne

"The Vision of Escaflowne" rates as a bonafide mid-'90s anime classic, with manga and anime releases as well as the loosely connected film "Escaflowne." The idea behind the franchise is pure Isekai, with our hero, Hitomi Kanzaki, getting pulled into the world of Gaea via a beam of light after her pendant reacts to her love interest, Van, completing his "Rite of Succession." Gaea was created when the residents of the ancient city of Atlantis sought to replace the gods by becoming all-powerful through science. After several serious mistakes, they eventually created Gaea to exist opposite Earth as a better world free of the sins of the past.

Gaea is very similar to the Earth we live on, with a few major differences. For instance, it sports a number of species that don't exist here, including dragons, doppelgangers, and a race known as the Draconians. Though there are plenty of dangerous situations to be had on Gaea, which is in the middle of a war when Hitomi arrives, its magical creatures and plant life keep it interesting. Additionally, there is the matter of the stunning night sky. While people living on Earth can't see the world of Gaea, the people of Gaea can see both Earth and the moon once the sun sets, and it's a gorgeous view. 

8. The Rising of the Shield Hero

A novel series that became a manga series and is now an anime with a third season on the way, "The Rising of the Shield Hero" follows the story of Naofumi Iwatani. Naofumi is called upon to fight an interdimensional phenomenon colloquially referred to as the Waves of Calamity, which look amazing but are awfully hazardous, with hordes of demons appearing with them. Naofumi teams up with three other Japanese youths from alternate realities and they become the Cardinal Heroes, each gifted with gear to help them in their battle. While the others get effective weapons like spears and swords, Naofumi is disappointed to be given a seemingly comparatively useless shield.

Yes, there is a moral about finding strength in what at first seem to be weaknesses, but that's far from all there is to "The Rising of the Shield Hero." One of its best qualities is that there isn't just one magical world; there are several, with the Cardinal Heroes hopping between them in their ongoing battle against the demons that appear alongside the Waves. Each world is a lot of fun, but the best might be Raphtalia's World, where magic takes precedence over science. This is where the four Heroes are originally summoned and tasked with their sacred mission to protect the universe. Its lush scenery and relative lack of technology make it sound like the vacation spot of our dreams (minus the waves, but what can you do).

7. Parallel World Pharmacy

Kanji Yakutani is a pharmacist who burns the candle at both ends creating cures for illnesses. He was spurred to this obsession after his sister died of a tumor. Overworking himself quite literally to death, this anime kicks off with the passing of our lead. He's reborn into a magical world where he is part of a family of doctors. Tapping into his extensive understanding of chemistry and medicine, Kanji wields uncanny abilities in this alternate realm. Still, he's forced to fake amnesia to explain his lack of understanding of the world around him and the life he's been thrust into. With his newfound abilities, he is immensely powerful, but still needs to lean on others to grasp this new reality.

One of the major selling points of "Parallel World Pharmacy" is how well-established the historical and scientific principles are, making it easy to feel that this is a very lived-in world, even if it's new to us. Combining visual cues from medieval Europe with all-new belief systems, historical events, and scientific possibilities makes for a wild ride that never ceases to amaze. Very much a fish out of water, Kanji nevertheless steps into a new identity and explores his own abilities without the pressures and distractions of the modern world. Though we wouldn't want to die to get there, this is a fully fleshed-out world that we'd love to visit.

6. KonoSuba: God's Blessing on This Wonderful World!

When the unemployed and socially awkward Kazuma Sato unexpectedly dies via a head-on collision with a truck, he's transported to another realm where he meets the goddess known as Aqua. Kazuma isn't thrilled at the prospect of returning to his admittedly bleak life. The goddess instead offers him the chance to explore parallel worlds and battle monsters and demons. Kazuma agrees and opts to bring her along, though they're both somewhat lacking street smarts. Unable to return to the afterlife until the so-called Demon King is defeated, she and Kazuma join up with a small group of friends and allies to assist them on their mission to fight the Demon King and restore peace to the world. However, they have to attend to trivialities like food and housing first. 

While this series has a similar setup to an MMORPG and it's given the loose goal of eventually defeating a demon in battle, the world-building is what makes it truly great. Making a home of the city of Axel, our heroes have a classic fantasy setting to explore, and while this in itself is a delight, the series shines by introducing some of the weirdest creatures to ever grace a fantasy anime. Bunnies with unicorn horns and a cat with bat wings are standard fare in "KonoSuba," making it the anime realm most likely to completely distract us from the mission with its cute, strange animals.

5. The Twelve Kingdoms

Inspired equally by real-world politics, Chinese mythology, and Japanese anime, "The Twelve Kingdoms" follows Yoko, a teenager with a lot on her mind. One day, her ordinary world is flipped when a stranger appears fighting demons and pledging his undying support to her. He transports her and two classmates to the world of the Twelve Kingdoms, which is full of magical beings and beautiful settings. However, Yoko and her friends are forced to go on the run due to the fact that they all hail from Earth. Further, they don't understand why their lives have been disrupted, and you know what that means: it's time for a quest.

Though the anime ended with plenty of stories still to be told, there is no overstating how beautifully animated it is, and the expansive setting left endless space for new discoveries and adventures to be had. The Twelve Kingdoms are located on a series of islands that can only be accessed via a portal. Over the course of the series, our heroes travel through them. The story comes complete with a cool world map and a lot of unexplored space, making this a reality that is most exciting due to what we haven't seen just as much as what we have. Yoko's story may be over for now, but this Isekai world would be fun to live in because it seems so inviting to explore.

4. In Another World With My Smartphone

Here we have another Isekai anime that kicks off with its hero kicking the bucket. Touya is only 15 when God flubs and accidentally kills him. Thankfully, God is a pretty cool being and agrees to make it up to Touya. Unable to send him back to his own life, God instead offers him reincarnation and the ability to be born into a new fantasy setting. Being 15 years old, Touya makes the request to be allowed to take his smartphone along with him. Though he is unable to contact his friends and family from his old life, he can still use technological wonders like GPS, search engines, and apps that help him navigate his new home. 

The world that Touya is reincarnated to is a pretty standard fantasy setting, but that's exactly what makes it great. Granting Touya magical abilities alongside the power of The Mighty Internet is what makes this reality great. Many of the downsides of being a stranger in a strange land are circumvented by Touya's access to modern technology, which allows him to navigate the old-world vibe of the kingdoms he visits. Traveling through new lands with his trusty cell makes the stress of dying and rebirth almost seem worth it.

3. Sword Art Online

When the VR gaming console "Nervegear" is released with the game "Sword Art Online," Kirito and Klein befriend one another through gameplay. After having a grand old time exploring the VR world, they realize that they can't log out. The creator of the game turns out to be a supervillain who only released the game to trap people. Delighted to play God, he makes it impossible for anyone to leave the game except through death. However, he grants a slim window of hope by claiming that any player who clears the world's 100 floors will be able to leave the game. None of this sounds ideal for livability, but bear with us.

Though it's not without its controversial moments, "Sword Art Online" is one of the most popular anime series in modern history. This is another franchise that tends to hop between worlds, giving it lots of fascinating spaces to explore. The first among the worlds we visit, Aincrad, is an enormous floating castle made of iron and stone, merging sci-fi and fantasy into a delightful location that is likely booked all the way out for the next 20 years on whatever that planet's version of Airbnb is. Add all the swords on top of that and we'd move there in a second.

2. Ascendance of a Bookworm

Another Isekai that begins with the bitterly ironic demise of its protagonist, "Ascendance of a Bookworm" introduces us to Urano Motosu, an avid reader who is crushed to death under a stack of books due to a combination of overzealous reading habits and natural disaster. With her dying breath, Urano, who had been planning to become a librarian, wishes that she could read forever. However, she is instead reborn into a child's body in a world where books are strictly regulated tools to enforce rigid class structures. This all sounds pretty rough, but The City of Ehrenfest nevertheless makes for an enticing location.

With the subtitle "I'll Stop at Nothing to be a Librarian" and a positively adorable animation style, "Ascendance of a Bookworm" is still wholesome despite our rather grim introduction to it. While many of the worlds on this list thrive from bringing a sense of the epic to the table, "Ascendance of a Bookworm" excels by doing the opposite. By keeping it simple and allowing for the more interesting elements of this world to unfold naturally, the show's world mirrors the reading experience by allowing the viewer to ease into the show's pace. It's not free from the class struggles of our reality, but Ehrenfest is still a delightful place to explore, complete with conveniences like a thriving marketplace.

1. No Game No Life

Siblings Sona and Shiro are intensely withdrawn from society after losing their parents, but they come to life as a pair of undefeated gamers known only as Blank. After they win a game of chess with a mysterious challenger one day, they realize that their opponent was a god. This god then offers them the opportunity to live in a new world centered around gameplay. Certain that someone is pulling their legs, they call his bluff, which leads them to be transported to the world of Disboard. Taking the oaths of the land, they engage in several competitions to gain knowledge and power, with Tet becoming their elusive ultimate opponent.

Plenty of dangerous situations arise throughout "No Game No Life." Putting Sona and Shiro aside, what could be better than living on a planet where all conflict is settled on the court? With so many basic concerns more or less taken care of, the two are granted the ability to focus on sweeping the board day after day. It's hard to imagine what could be more ideal than playing games as your purpose for being, even though we admit that the "no life" part of the title concerns us a bit.