Date of Graduation

Spring 5-29-2020

Document Type

Project/Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Asia Pacific Studies (MAPS)

College/School

College of Arts and Sciences

Department/Program

Asia Pacific Studies

First Advisor

Brian Komei Dempster

Abstract

This study illustrates characteristics of the isekai genre, presents connections between this genre and social problems commonly found in Japanese culture and society, and demonstrates the widespread impact of Japanese popular media. By analyzing some of the most popular forms and categories of isekai, this research pinpoints important characteristics – in the form of certain themes, characters, and plots – that contribute to social problems like suicide and shut-ins. Escapism is a central theme in many isekai works, and while escapism is healthy to a certain extent, some take the concept too far, often getting lost in their own fantasies. The genre’s character types are also uniquely Japanese, making it easy for the Japanese audience to project themselves in the shoes of fictional characters. Overall, qualities like these demonstrate the power that Japanese anime and manga have to reveal complex inner feelings that members of the Japanese society harbors. Although there are positive effects we can attribute to the Japanese media industry, these significant negative effects need further examination, so that issues can be addressed at individual and societal levels. Through an analysis of primary source material in the genre along with quantitative data, this project shows the deeper personal, cultural, and social implications of isekai.

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