The idea of being reborn is quite fascinating and in reality there are religions that are founded based on this principle. You know, the cycle of life thingy etc. etc. (but sorry to say we will not dwell deeper into that kind of talks). Maybe, the idea itself stems from regrets that we did in our past. If you pursued that girl you liked 9 years ago there's a decent chance that you're a happy family man now and not stuck in your apartment doing things that is shunned by the general society. Or you could have braced yourself to get up even though you're sick and bet on the lottery to win the jackpot you missed. Things like these are life changing and fantasizing about them brings both hope and regret. One of the reasons why Isekai has been really popular is that people, especially teen agers and young adults can relate to this kind of situations and missed opportunities.
Isekai is a genre of speculative fiction or fantasy in which the main character or protagonist commonly referred to as the 'MC' in the otaku culture is transported to another world or being reborn as a denizen of that world with memories from the previous life intact. Isekai is the Japanese for 'Different World' and spans from different literature materials like light novels, anime, manga etc.
I don't know if it's proper to refer to it as Isekai but the Koreans and the Chinese also have their own take on the isekai+reincarnation trope. But in general and plot-wise, the Chinese novels and manhua pale in comparison with their Japanese and Korean counterparts. They have amazing diversity and this is not only true for Isekai or rebirth/reincarnation trope but for any other genre. Based on my experience, if a story sells well you could expect 3000+ chapters and you know after reading that it's still far from over. I've read in the forums that they tend prolong the story to milk more revenue but it greatly sacrifices the plot which is not worth it. It became very monotonous that you could already get an idea of what will happen to the next arc and it re iterates a few more times through the whole story. Of course, there were some exceptions like the works of the author 'I Eat Tomatoes' (not really isekai though) but in general reading Chinese material is just like playing a grinding game. Anyways, there are also pros on engaging with Chinese content. They have amazing world building and their myths, legends and history is evidently incorporated in most of their pieces. Maybe this kind of redeeming feature teases the readers thirst for knowledge and sense of adventure which in effect made them stay and patronize Chinese works.
I like Korean content because they are concise. They know how to end a story and their novels usually have very good English translation. I do not dare to say they're perfect as I myself suck in English. But compared to some Chinese which are usually edited from machine translations (like google!) they are way better and alot easy to read and understand. Most of the time, if it's Korean the plot goes with VRMMO (video games) or dungeoneering. The Korean manhwa have generally better art and coloring compared to the Chinese manhua and the Japanese manga (usually black and white). How should I say it? They have this kind of minimalist and efficient vibe. Korean materials are produced in lesser volumes compared to others but quality is more emphasized.
In all otaku Novel and Comic genre the Japanese specializes on Isekai/reincarnation. They are very keen to details and plots tend to be more spontaneous. I like how the smaller details from previous chapters play bigger roles on the latter part of the material. It seems very natural and unforced because these instances are often backed up by a pretty decent background story. If somehow you are interested in Isekai content and looking for a something to read then I suggest to look at the Japs first. If you like great art then Koreans and if you like the grinding feeling like playing in a game then Chinese content might be ideal. Well, in case you need some recommendations below are some of the best Isekai content you could find on the net.
Mushoku Tensei: Isekai Ittara Honki Dasu (Jobless Reincarnation: I Will Seriously Try If I Go To Another World)(JP)
Mushoku Tensei is one of the best examples of isekai content. It started as a light novel (already completed) and we have the manga version which is constantly updating. In my opinion many dudes are hooked up with the story Rudeus Greyrat. From being a 34 year old NEET which is constantly scrutinized by the society even his closest relatives, he turned out to be a dependable family man in the other world. But the journey of becoming one is far from simple.
Some Isekai content tend to have this beginning in which you pity the protagonist and that what exactly happened here. Mushoku Tensei presented you this irredeemable useless 34 year old man who still played games in his parents funeral. Later on, he got kicked out by his relatives which left him wandering in the streets. Then the author will give this chance for the MC to redeem himself. In case of Mushoku Tensei when the old Rudeus' mind was lost and wandering he just happened to get out of the muddled state and notice an impending danger for a group of high school students crossing the road. He pushed them to save from getting hit by a truck.
Welcome to the new world.
Living in a different world is often accompanied by other fantasy elements. In Mushoku Tensei the new world is a place of sword and magic, where there different races like elves and dwarfs, multiple Gods that loathe each other etc. etc. Of course, another notable element is 'Harem'. And frankly, this is one of the best selling point. Most readers fantasized on being surrounded by beautiful wives. Ahem ahem...
I can say that reading the light novel is an adventure. Unlike in most novels, he didn't became God or something uber powerful. Although he left a job somewhat unfinished, it was taken and executed well by his descendants. He died. But he died with satisfaction. He mended his relationship with his parents and his wives. And he save his child against the plot of a God and witness his sweet revenge before he passed away. Unlike his previous life, he left this life without regret. It was a great journey that ended really well.
Kumo Desu ga, Nani ka? (I'm A Spider, So What?)(JP)
Kumo Desu is a breathe of fresh air. We have this girl and her classmates that got entagled by the clash between a Hero and the Demon King from a different dimension. The super mumbo jumbo explosion from their powers affected the space in which our protagonist live in and their souls are brought and reincarnated in another world. It was a sword and magic type of world like in Mushoku Tensei. Sadly for her, while her classmates reincarnated and conceived as human babies she cracked from an egg as a spiderling.
The first time she saw as a spider was her many spider 'siblings' eating each other and then there's her giant spider mom that well... also want to eat her new born babies. The plot is simple. The spider with human consciousness need to survive and evolve inside a humongous dungeon. If I'm not mistaken her goal was to achieve human form and to have the ability to escape the dungeon which was difficult because of the harsh environment. She was surrounded by alot of overpowered monsters like dragons and of course, her giant mom. Kumo Desu is one of those that started the 'system' or leveling trope. The protagonist can view a status window like those we see in level up games. It's more of grinding/dungeoneering type of material. Of course, unlike the others the protagonist is a girl that plays as a monster rather than a human which made it unique.
The downside of grinding type of content is that you can't really remember all the skills and most of the time, their significance is close to none. You'll be given a display of 100+ Skills and all you can say is.. Ah so many, looks powerful. There's no impression at all. Usually they tend to add skills even though insignificant just to show a manifestation that the protagonist is getting strong. I just hate this side of things.
Kumo Desu has a really good comedy. Showing the day to day distress of a girl in a spider body compensate for the really boring 'system'/leveling up element. The art in the manga is also great so if I weigh in the pros and cons I believe that it is still worth the read.
Overlord is one of my favorites. The protagonist Momonga while waiting for the closing of servers of the popular VR game Yggdrasil suddenly couldn't log out. He was trapped inside. Now this is not new, we have also have the popular light novel Sword Art Online which also has this 'trapped inside a video game' scenario.
But unlike SAO, Momonga strives to find other people who are also trapped inside and maybe later on to get out of his current predicament. Overlord also has lesser emotional content compared to SAO which is within my taste. I'm really sorry because I'm not a fan romance/emotional type of content. It's okay if it's the level of Mushoku Tensei but I hate it being too cheesy and later on be overly dramatic.
For a novel I think Overlord is just right. It has that great sense of adventure. Apart from being overpowered the protagonist seemed really sane and has sound judgment. Well, it's also unique because Momonga's body in Yggdrasil belongs to a lich (elite skeleton mage, something like that). I can't say he has a love interest but he is surrounded by infatuated female subordinates, particularly the grand overseer Albedo. Albedo was programmed by one of Momonga's previous guild mate to be a slut but he later on dabble with the program, inputting Albedo to be in love with his character.
If you appreciate art I think that Overlord might suit your taste. It's one of the those novels with the best illustrations and manga. The level of detail is several tiers higher compared to the normal material you can find. Definitely, one of the best out there.
This is getting really long and there are still alot I want to share with you like No Life, No game, Legend of the Shield Hero etc. but let's save them for next time. Overall, Isekai is popular because readers can relate to the content and most of them have some fresh concepts of adventure and fantasy. But at the end of the day,it's about satisfaction. If an Isekai content or material can give a satisfying ending for the protagonist or their second chance should be lived much better compared to the previous one. Of course, it's readers who should also be satisfied in the end.
Note: This is just a random ramble. I'm just a hobbyist and not an expert to provide a grade A critique so please be light if there are any corrections or clarifications. English is also not my native language so do expect alot of errors on both typography and grammar.
Thank you very much for reaching this part.
Adios. Goodbye. Paalam.
See you next time.