10 Isekai Anime That Came Before SAO

Sword art online is an unforgettable isekai who paved the way for many series that followed him. Although the series has had a major cultural impact since its release in 2012, it was not the first of its kind. Many isekai preceded him.

RELATED: Sword Art Online: 10 Undeniable Ways This Anime Influenced The Isekai Genre

Isekai is a genre that has existed in international and Japanese literature and folk tales since ancient times. Since then, the genre of isekai has expanded to include many films, video games, novels, TV series and much more. Sword art online is the first series that comes to the mind of most anime fans when discussing influential isekai. However, there are other series that are just as, if not more, captivating. The early 2000s were a great time for isekai.


ten Battle Girls: Time Paradox, an Isekai world where no boy is allowed

The female figures Sengoku from Battle Girls Time Paradox

TV anime, Fighting Girls: The Paradox of Time, based on the similarly titled pachinko game series premiered in 2011 and aired for 13 episodes. The anime centers on Yoshino Hide, a normal teenager, who finds himself strangely shipped to a country that appears, in all respects, to be feudal Japan.

However, it turns out that this is an alternate world inhabited only by women. Yoshino ends up stumbling upon medieval ruler Nobunaga Oda and helps him on his journey to assemble pieces of crimson armor to conquer all of Japan.

9 Dog Days, an Isekai that takes place in a world of dog-eating dogs

After the series premiered in April 2011, Dog days ran for three seasons and ended in March 2015. The series follows Shinku Izumi, an athletic boy who studies at Kinokawa International School in Japan. He is randomly summoned by Princess Millhiore of the Biscotti Republic to become a fighter and protector of his country.

Once in this incredible world, Shinku quickly takes on the work of a fruitful saint. However, soon after arriving, he learns that he is unable to return home to Earth and leave this alternate world filled with dog-like citizens.

8 Tenchi Muyo! War On Geminar, an Isekai spin-off from the iconic Tenchi Muyo! Series

Tenchi Muyo's Aura Shurifon!  War against Geminar

Japanese OVA Tenchi Muyo! War against Geminar was a spinoff from Tenchi Muyo! series. It aired for exactly one year, from March 2009 to March 2010. The story takes place in an alternate world, known as The Land of Geminar.

In this world, countless wars have been fought using Seikijin, biomechanical weapons limited by Seikishi using the power of enchantment called Ahou. Tenchi Masaki’s half-brother Kenshi Masaki, 15, is summoned to Geminar for unknown reasons and turns out to be an incredibly talented Seikishi.

7 Zero’s familiar, an Isekai about an outcast and his strange familiar

From 2006 to 2012, The Zero Familiar was adapted into an anime that spanned four seasons. The plot of isekai focuses on Louise Françoise Le Blanc de La Vallière, a self-consumed mage in a universe of chopsticks, shrouds and eminence. Despite her studies, Louise is not gifted in magic, which earned her the nickname “Louise the Zero” from her classmates.

RELATED: 10 Best Female Protagonists In Isekai Anime

When tasked with performing a summoning ritual, Louise’s call causes a calamitous explosion. However, when all goes well, a child named Saito Hiraga shows up. Currently familiar with Louise, Saito learns to manage her new life as Louise struggles to prove herself.

6 Kiba, the Tie-In Isekai Trading Card Game

Kiba the anime

The 51-episode animated series Kiba aired from April 2006 to March 2007. The isekai produced by Aniplex and Madhouse was a big hit and aired in North America on Toonami Jetstream from 2008 to 2009. The series takes place in an oversized world, where 15 years old Zed aspires to growth and opportunities.

While escaping the authorities of his reality, he is transported to a world ruled by nature rather than machines. There, he meets a young Shard Caster named Roia. Soon after arriving, Zed learns that his dearest companion, Noah, has also traveled to the New World. Together, they soak up the methods of their new world while evolving in their new roles.

5 Marchen Awakens Romance (MÄR), the game-like Isekai that later became a real video game

Officially abbreviated as MAR, Marchen Awaken Romance is an animated series that began airing in April 2005. Upon its release, viewers discovered Ginta, a Japanese high school student who regularly dreamed of a land known as Mar Heaven. Unexpectedly, he is transported to the fantasy land.

Upon arrival, he learns of the existence of amazing weapons known as weapons. Alongside her new companions, Ginta sets out to Erase Chess, a group led by Phantom determined to achieve the Ultimate Demise of Mar Heaven.

4 King From Now On !, an alternate world inhabited by demons

kyou kara maou casting

Commonly known by its original Japanese title, Kyou Kara Maou!, King from now on! is an anime that originally took place from 2004 to 2006. Unlike the second and third seasons, the first season of the series followed the storyline of the light novels it was based on fairly closely with a focus on on Yuri Shibuya and his normal life which has turned completely upside down.

RELATED: 10 Anime Kings Who Mistreat Their Own People

Following an incident of bullying, Yuri is mysteriously transported to another world where he is crowned Demon King due to his physical appearance.

3 .Hack // Sign, the Isekai virtual reality that rivals SAO

subaru .hack // sign

A unique anime that explores psychological and sociological concepts, .hack // Sign was a whole new take on isekai. The series aired for 26 episodes in 2002 and centered around Tsukasa, an introverted young man who wakes up in an online role-playing game known as The World.

After becoming an RPG character, he learns that he is trapped in the online universe. Oddly enough, he still has human senses and emotions. Tsukasa quickly befriends other characters who help him understand his surroundings and find a way to disconnect from the game.

2 Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi, the perfect mix of Isekai and parody

In the spring of 2002, Gainax and Madhouse co-produced the series Abenobashi Magic Mall. In the anime, beloved companions Arumi and Sasshi are occupants of the Abenobashi business district in Abeno-Ku, Osaka.

After an incident, they end up moving to an alternate world of swords and witchcraft. In their effort to get back to reality, they end up traveling through a series of unreasonable universes based on science fiction, warfare, fantasy, dating sim games, and American movies.

1 The Twelve Kingdoms, a high fantasy Isekai for medieval history buffs

Anime The Twelve Kingdoms

Also known as Record of 12 countries, The Twelve Kingdoms is an isekai based on a series of Japanese fantasy novels. The anime premiered in April 2002 and ran for 45 episodes until it concluded in August 2003. In the series, Nakajima Youko, a normal and rather shy high school student, meets a strange man named Keiki, who swears loyalty to her.

Before she can properly assess what is going on, evil animals assault Youko and his companions. After which, they are transported to an alternate world. Isolated from Keiki, Youko and his companions do everything to get by.

NEXT: 5 More Isekai Worlds Kirito Would Survive In (& 5 He Won’t Survive In)

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