Whether they wanted it to happen or not, anime fans have been inundated with isekai throughout 2022. The ubiquitous genre has grown more than ever, reincarnated in a number of shows that take the familiar concept in new directions. But as fresh and original as some of these shows were, only one 2022 isekai could top it, in this or any other world.
From being reborn as weapons to actually leaving the isekai world, the latest isekai anime has also had to contend with the rise of female-led and otome isekai. Still, there’s one guy who’s the best reincarnated hero of them all, with a Sega-obsessed relative leading the best isekai anime of 2022. Here’s why this mother’s brother from another world and his show are outshining the stiff competition .
2022 was filled with new varieties of Isekai
Given how common the genre is in anime, manga, and light novels, it’s definitely difficult to make isekai shine and stand out in the crowded playing field. Still, 2022 finally provided a bit more narrative diversity and offered isekai that weren’t too generic. As mentioned, otome isekai with female protagonists have become more common, with these anime playing on both dating sim and romance anime tropes. A good example of this is I’m the villain, so I tame the final boss. Adding organic romance with comedy is a way to take the focus away from the usual fighting elements of some fantasy isekai, and these otome entries are also the furthest from the “male power fantasies” that isekai are usually criticized for being.
Exciting isekai is, of course, about the randomness of reincarnations, with the genre recently focusing more and more on protagonists taking on humorously inhuman new lives. The best new example of this in 2022 is Reincarnated as a sword, which is much more original than it sounds. Although it may seem like a ripoff of That time I was reincarnated as a slime, the series is a rather heartwarming story in which the titular sword forms a father/daughter relationship with a cat girl. Said catgirl is a strong character in her own right, despite her many setbacks in life. The fact that the series feels like a true fantasy and not something that just riffs on video game tropes also goes a long way.
There’s certainly still been a litany of generic and subpar isekai in 2022, plus shows that adapted their original light novels too late to make much of it. In some anime cases, bad timing and production issues ruined their stardom. Such is the case with a well-received, yet somewhat underrated series that is perhaps the best isekai anime of the year.
Uncle from Another World is 2022’s best Isekai anime
The best isekai to come out of 2022 is easy Uncle from another world by studio AtelierPontdarc. The series adapts the Hotondoshindeiru manga and revolves around a man who wakes up from 17 years in a coma. During this period, he had been transported to another world reminiscent of the RPGs he enjoyed playing on Sega game consoles. When he returns to his own reality long after the Dreamcast has been taken off the shelves, he finds that his magical abilities have come with him. He now spends his time with his nephew as he adjusts to the modern world and talks about his extraordinary second life.
Uncle from another world is great on the one hand for showing the protagonist returning to his own world, not to mention the fact that his powers are still along for the ride. Likewise, it’s in many ways a love letter to classic Sega games, with the story itself loving the old titles as much as the main character does. This nostalgic variation of otaku culture is quite unique among isekai and anime in general. These concepts extend to the humor of the show, helping to make it more than just a generic isekai with the same tired, predictable jokes. “Uncle” himself is quite relatable as an otaku, and this is strengthened by the fact that he is somewhat unconventional in appearance.
Unfortunately, the show flies a bit under the radar, which was made worse by the fact that the later episodes were delayed. Still, the series is so far the best of several great isekai anime in 2022, which is likely to increase the popularity of the manga source material. Uncle from another world shows the potential of isekai, making it clear that even the “worst” genres can be reincarnated into something special.