20 Best Isekai Protagonists In Anime (Ranked)

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With the worldwide success of Sword Art Online and more recent titles in the same vein, the isekai genre is going to stick around for quite a while.

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing:

Writers in this saturated genre have more pressure to craft distinct characters and compelling, refreshing stories to stand out among the crowd each season.

Granted, not all isekai shows are worth your attention.

But more than a few have introduced anime fans to noteworthy main characters, and here’s our ranking of some of the best ones.


20. Rudeus Greyrat

Rudeus Greyrat from Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation

Anime: Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation

Some of you may think this is cheating since the first season of Mushoku Tensei isn’t even over.

But then again, Studio Bind is clearly going all out for this adaptation with stunning settings and visual storytelling.

Rudeus started out in his new world as a magically adept child. But his character acting is already interesting, thanks in part to the animators and character designers.

The story (specifically, the light novel) is considered a pioneering isekai title alongside Sword Art Online.

It helped create the tone and tropes of the modern ‘generic’ isekai shows — and many are eager to see how Rudeus grows in the long run, literally and figuratively.


19. Adele von Ascham

Adele von Ascham in Didn't I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?!

Anime: Didn’t I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?!

Can an isekai anime’s light novel source material be genuine if its title isn’t as wordy as this?

Sure, but it’s always funny when they’re like this.

All Misato Kurihara wanted was to live an ordinary and happy life (i.e. with great lifelong friends). Yet she left the world without fulfilling that dream — then she got transported to a magical world and was born as Adele von Ascham.

This time, she’s intent on finally having that normal life. But there’s a tiny problem:

Adele is overpowered.

Despite being thousands of times more powerful than the average human, Adele embarks on a journey to ordinary living. And it’s hilarious and charming.


18. Yuna

Yuna from The Bears Bear a Bare Kuma anime

Anime: The Bears Bear a Bare Kuma

Sometimes I think that a show is made to simply justify a silly title.

Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear is one such anime series.

But I have to admit:

This show has one of the most adorable and unique isekai MCs in the form of the bear costume-wearing Yuna.

No, the series doesn’t revolutionize or subvert the genre. That’s not the point.

And yes, she’s blessed with a stat-boosting cute armor. Yet The Bears Bear a Bare Kuma is also just about this young girl who loves the MMORPG experience and finally gets the chance to actually live in one.


17. Seiya Ryuuguuin

Seiya Ryuuguuin in Cautious Hero: The Hero Is Overpowered but Overly Cautious

Anime: Cautious Hero: The Hero Is Overpowered but Overly Cautious

I love the premise of this comedy series.

Usually, an isekai starts with the main character learning just how weak they are, perhaps by tasting defeat at the hands of low-level monsters.

But Seiya Ryuuguuin is a true RPG enthusiast:

Instead of trying to finish quests as fast as possible, he spends too much time training and upping his level. He also collects all the potions and supporting items he could ever need in a (gaming) lifetime.

Yes, it’s unfair to his enemies that he’s too cautious, which then makes him too mighty against them.

However, if you’re not saving all your potions until the very final stages of the game, can you consider yourself an experienced RPG player?


16. Diablo

Diablo from How Not to Summon a Demon Lord anime

Anime: How Not to Summon a Demon Lord

If you’re looking for an isekai protagonist who builds his own harem and (naturally) experiences ecchi moments, look no further.

How Not to Summon a Demon Lord introduces viewers to Takuma Sakamoto — your typical shut-in guy who spends his life playing video games.

As luck would have it, he’s sent to a fantasy realm and becomes the character he plays, Diablo.

What’s even better is his summoners are two beautiful girls, an elf and a Pantherian (basically a neko girl) — and they accidentally become his slaves.

Despite his evil name, Diablo promises to break the contract.

And so you get a silly, fanservice-filled story, which is sometimes all you need to enjoy your day.


15. Sora

Sora from No Game, No Life anime

Anime: No Game, No Life

I’m sorry if you’re a fan of No Game, No Life like me. It must be difficult to once again be reminded that the much-deserved second season is unlikely to arrive anytime soon.

In the meantime, I’d like to recognize Sora as a top-tier MC.

Sora is an amazing NEET.

Yes, his life is dedicated to video games, but he’s not afraid of people or social activities — so much so that he has a knack for correctly predicting how others will behave just by mere observation.

On the other hand, he’s extremely attached to his loli stepsister Shiro. That’s up to you if that’s a good or bad thing.


14. Kazuto Kirigaya

Kazuto Kirigaya in Sword Art Online anime

Anime: Sword Art Online

Sword Art Online is undoubtedly the most popular isekai series in anime history — and it’s far from over with the much-awaited Progressive adaptation.

I’m sure that Kazuto (or Kirito) has his fair share of detractors.

But his long journey has had more than a few considerably epic moments, especially in Ordinal Scale and the Alicization arc.

Plus, I can’t deny that the power fantasy and harem he provides is still enough to get my attention. Even if they’re already been overused in isekai anime at this point.


13. Ryouma Takebayashi

Ryouma Takebayashi in By the Grace of the Gods

Anime: By the Grace of the Gods

It’s humorous that the one and only Kirito of Sword Art Online was beaten by a young boy who’s meant to just relax and be happy in his new world.

And this is exactly what I love about Ryouma Takebayashi.

He has no desire to conquer the world, defeat the demon king, or do the usual isekai protagonist things. Instead, Ryouma loves his rustic lifestyle and tending to his slimes — and this series soothes my stressed soul.

Granted, he does join other people because of his human need for socialization. But Ryouma primarily continues a relatively easygoing and cheerful life, which he totally deserves.


12. Shinichi Kanou

Shinichi Kanou Outbreak Company anime screenshot

Anime: Outbreak Company

Outbreak Company feels like an underrated show that needs more views and adoration. But that’s far from the truth, because this series still gets into anime discussions online now and then.

What’s so great about this parody series from 2013 anyway?

Well, Shinichi Kanou is a splendid dude.

His crush rejecting him because he was an otaku led him to the path of the hikikomori, but then he decided to get a job meant for otaku.

He becomes the government’s promoter of otaku culture in the Eldant Empire, and the show hits it out of the park with its references — and I do ship Shinichi and the half-elf maid Myucel.


11. Haruhiro

Haruhiro from Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions anime

Anime: Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions

To this day, Grimgar remains to be one of the most refreshing isekai and fantasy series in anime history.

The first episode alone grabbed my attention with its nuanced take on monster killing and newbie party dynamics.

Haruhiro wasn’t meant to lead the squad in the first place.

He was just an anxious thief-class member who did his best to cheer up his pals. But something happens in the series, and he’s thrown into the role of a leader.

Haruhiro stumbles in his new position and often contends with himself, questioning his value when his pals are getting invites to other parties. Yet he improves, bit by bit, and I can’t help but root for him.


10. Naofumi Iwatani

Naofumi Iwatani in The Rising of the Shield Hero

Anime: The Rising of the Shield Hero

The Rising of the Shield Hero introduced Raphtalia, a demi-human with tanuki (a Japanese raccoon dog) ears.

She immediately became a top contender for the best girl of 2019.

Then you get Naofumi Iwatani, the male protagonist, whose bright outlook in life was tarnished early on by a selfish manipulative princess.

He forms disdain towards women and finds it hard to believe anyone who believes in the Shield Hero.

Thankfully, Naofumi doesn’t stay this way the more time he spends with Raphtalia and Filo. He’s not perfect, but he’s also not giving up on himself and others.


9. Hikaru Shidou

Hikaru Shidou from Magic Knight Rayearth anime

Anime: Magic Knight Rayearth

Magic Knight Rayearth is the oldest series on my list — and I’m sure some of you weren’t born yet when this aired on TV.

This premiered in 1994 and was a different kind of isekai, way before the tropes of SAO and the like came into play.

Hikaru Shidou (along with Umi Ryuuzaki and Fuu Hououji) deserves recognition.

She’s one of the first noteworthy female MCs in fantasy and isekai genres. Hikaru isn’t even 5-foot tall, but you wouldn’t want to be the target of her flame arrows and crimson lightning.

Furthermore, the ice-cream loving Hikaru is brave.

Even with all the chaos and tribulations (and heartbreak), she strives to maintain an image of hope and love. Plus, Hikaru is gorgeous.


8. Myne

Myne Ascendance of a Bookworm anime screenshot

Anime: Ascendance of a Bookworm

Does the presence of shelves filled with books new and old alike fill your soul with comfort and warmth?

Whenever it’s raining, I think of coffee and books — and Myne is a fellow person who loves the company of stories and pages.

I appreciate the slice-of-life nature of Ascendance of a Bookworm.

Urano Motosu, who dreamed of being a librarian in her original life, has been reincarnated in a medieval fantasy world.

But instead of being in her 20s, she’s a frail, blue-haired child.

Can she still find a way to read books?

She can, but she must first realize her socioeconomic status, her health condition, and how her new world operates with its class hierarchies.


7. Katarina Claes

Katarina Claes in My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!

Anime: My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!

I’m glad that this unusual isekai is having a second season.

Just like Myne, Katarina Claes is an adorable and interesting MC. Katarina was an otaku — specifically someone who loved playing otome games.

As luck would have it, she’s now inside the game called Love Fortune.

Surely this is the ideal isekai situation for Katarina, right? Not exactly.

Instead of becoming the main heroine, Katarina is the main rival.

Her character is designed to not have a good ending. But she’s not giving up, even if it means fighting against destiny (and game design).


6. Tanya Degurechaff

Tanya Degurechaff from The Saga of Tanya the Evil anime

Anime: The Saga of Tanya the Evil

I wouldn’t exactly say that Tanya is a lovable character. Many people do like her, but not necessarily for her small and sometimes deceivingly cute appearance.

See, what sets Tanya apart from other isekai protagonists is that she craves power.

Originally, the MC was a Japanese salaryman who wanted nothing more than to develop his career, even if it meant being ill-mannered to others.

Tanya is the same as her original self:

She’s fine with using others to move up the ranks and be viewed as a valuable soldier by her superiors.

But how exactly will she utilize her ruthless and cunning behavior in a world war? And how can he be free when an entity called Being X is around?

Tanya is crazy, but she’s also fascinating.


5. Shiroe

Shiroe from Log Horizon anime

Anime: Log Horizon

One big reason why Kei Shirogane ranks this high is that I’ve always had a soft spot for jobs or classes in RPGs that focused on supporting others.

Instead of being the usual warrior or fighter, he’s the one giving buffs and debuffs.

But this doesn’t mean Shiroe can’t do anything on his own.

He’s always been more of an introvert and an independent entity. However, his position now provides a good challenge to his usual demeanor.

And Log Horizon finally has a third season. While I understand that not that many watched, I’m sure more people will see the genius and charismatic aura of Shiroe in the long run.


4. Rimuru Tempest

Rimuru Tempest in That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime

Anime: That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime

Just like Log Horizon, TenSura got its much-awaited sequel season in 2021.

Rimuru Tempest is unlike your typical main character transported to a fantasy world.

First, Rimuru (originally Satoru Mikami) starts his new life as a slime — yes, a lowly blue slime. But that’s just the beginning.

If you’ve played RPGs before, you know that slimes can evolve in many ways, as if the sky’s the limit.

Eventually, Rimuru attains enough mass to look like a kid.

And even though Rimuru was also a salaryman like Tanya in his first life, he’s not a sadistic megalomaniac. He’s a gentle and rather laidback protagonist will offer a helping hand whenever he can.

Rimuru cares a lot. And I can’t wait for him to be the honorable and awe-inspiring leader he should be.


3. Kazuma Satou

Kazuma Satou in KonoSuba: God's Blessing on This Wonderful World!

Anime: KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World!

The general anime community loves both Season 1 and 2 — and the movie did well as it highlighted the beloved explosion girl, Megumin.

Even without S3, Kazuma Satou remains a top-tier isekai protagonist.

He’s the ideal male MC for a show as ridiculous as KonoSuba. His voice actor did an exceptional job, and I think his chemistry with Aqua, Megumin, and Darkness is hard to beat.

If you’re having a bad day or need a good laugh, let Kazuma’s antics and constant panic give you a good laugh or two.


2. Momonga

Momonga from Overlord anime

Anime: Overlord

Overlord had a ton of potential. The light novel source material has a cult following for good reason.

But then Season 3 happened.

On the bright (or dark) side, Momonga was awesome across all seasons.

The last remaining Supreme Being of Nazarick was getting closer to world domination, even though he didn’t plan for one in the first place (thanks, Demiurge).

I love how he always manages to fool Demiurge, Albedo, and the rest of the Nazarick NPCs that he has a genius masterplan.

More importantly, I can relate to Momonga, given how he deeply values the items left by his guildmates.

I’ve played many MMORPGs, and it’s always a bittersweet thing to see fewer and fewer players logging in each day — until you’re the last one in the guild. I hope Momonga (or rather, Ainz Ooal Gown) finds what he’s looking for.


1. Subaru Natsuki

Subaru Natsuki in Re:Zero − Starting Life in Another World

Anime: Re:Zero − Starting Life in Another World

It feels like Subaru Natsuki is in a league of his own, that he’s just an entirely different kind of isekai MC — and it’s true, in a way.

Re:Zero is not your ordinary power fantasy isekai.

Sure, Subaru was also a shut-in gamer in his old life like the rest of the male MCs. And he even has pretty girls surrounding him as well in the new world.

But Subaru’s despair is on another level:

Not only does he die in the new world — he comes back to life and goes back in time, like how you load a saved state when you die in a game.

This happens over and over, dying in different yet brutal ways, and witnessing others around him perish.

To say that what he goes through in the anime is horrifying is an understatement.

And yet Subaru pushes on, learning to face his grave insecurities and become someone who can protect his newfound friends.

Browse: Anime

R. Romero

Millennial introvert on the lookout for slice-of-life anime, world cinema, and European music. Follow on Twitter @notspencer08