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Is Forspoken an isekai? Answered!

Anyone familiar with anime like Sword Art Online, Log Horizon, or Overlord (to name a few probably three of the hundreds) knows about the isekai genre. The word in Japanese means “another world” or “a different world” and sees its protagonist(s) somehow transported from our usual earthly existence into a fantasy or science fiction setting, usually against their will. The following adventures tend to feature characters settling into their new world and possibly looking for a way back to their previous lives. Does Forspoken fall into the category of isekai then? Let’s discuss.

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Is the isekai story forspoken?

Based on the criteria described above, Yes, the isekai story is forspoken. Protagonist Fry is a young New Yorker whose life is at its lowest point when she finds Cuff in a dusty abandoned store. Taking him in transports her to the realm of Athena, and neither she nor her new companion know how they got there.

The circumstances surrounding Fry’s transition to her new world are slightly different from typical Isekai. Most anime that use the style see the protagonist die or otherwise be unconscious when they make the transition. Shortly after arriving in Athena, a confused Fry soon saw her home, meaning if she had been just a little faster, she probably would have returned to Earth and avoided the entire game. The story relies on her disoriented state moving forward, which is a reasonable enough setup.

This reliance on people behaving in a predictable manner is more familiar to Westerns who take on the genre — Alice in Wonderland, for example, makes a brief cameo in the lead — with curiosity or emotional distress being more key to transition than simple. The act of God (or gods).

Older manga and anime such as Inuyasha play this in a more classic style, with their protagonists able to move freely between Earth and the fantasy world. While Fry doesn’t have a quick way back, the fact that there was a portal for a brief period after landing in Athena means that there is a way between the two worlds. Like many other isekai heroes, the problem is finding him.

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