25 Isekai Manga That Are Better Than You’d Expect

Although isekai stories have had their share of ups and downs, the genre’s also been responsible for some classic series over the years. Fans of the genre enjoy isekai because they offer interesting fantasy settings while remaining relatable through their grounded protagonists.

While several isekai get their start as light novels before being adapted into anime, some of the best got their start as manga. Despite the reputation some of these isekai series have, many are quality reads and are often better than their anime adaptations.

Updated on September 18th 2023 by Sage Ashford: Isekai continues to represent a major part of manga in the modern era. While many of them aren’t terribly good, many others are classics fans will find worth their time. This list has been updated to add more great isekai manga and offer more information about these awesome series.

25 Wise Man’s Grandchild

By Tsuyoshi Yoshioka and Shunsuke Ogata

Not every series focuses on a protagonist that hoards the glory for himself. In Wise Man’s Grandchild, the protagonist does the exact opposite. The reincarnated Shin is raised by a legendary magician, Merlin Wolfford. After years of training, Shin exceeds even his grandfather in every way possible and begins attending high school. There, he makes a number of new friends, and begins teaching them his absurd skills as well.

Wise Man’s Grandchild experiments with the isekai formula by making its entire main cast feel valuable. Rather than having the protagonist do everything, it’s fun watching Shin train those around him to make them competent as well. The series also excels at writing several believable romances, giving the reader characters to care about outside the lead.

24 I Got a New Skill Every Time I Was Exiled, And After 100 Different Worlds, I Was Unmatched

By Hinoura Takumi and Tsukasa Jinmori

I Got A New Skill embraces the idea of a “new game plus” isekai. The lead protagonist, Ed, starts at the end of his story. He’s been banished from one hundred different hero parties, gaining exotic skills after each banishment. After revisiting the first world he left, he learns the Demon King there took over, inspiring him to start over from zero.

While the overpowered protagonist isn’t anything new, I Got A New Skill is still worth reading thanks to its unique premise. The hero is determined to travel to one hundred worlds to see if he can fix what went wrong, giving him a sense of duty lacking in most isekai heroes. The artist’s offbeat sense of humor and the quirky characters also give even experienced isekai readers a reason to check the series out.

23 The Weakest Tamer Began a Journey to Pick Up Trash

By Honobonoru500 and Tou Fukino

Not all isekai manga need to be about overpowered leads capable of crushing every opponent. The Weakest Tamer follows a young child named Ivy, who seems to have exceptionally weak magical power and talents. Her taming ability is so weak she’s only able to tame a single transparent slime, who becomes her main ally on her journey.

Even experienced isekai fans are unlikely to have ever experienced anything like The Weakest Tamer before. Tonally, it’s not all comedy or grim and edgy, but often sad and bittersweet. It’s impossible not to root for Ivy as she struggles to make a place for herself in the world.

22 Trapped in a Dating Sim: The World of Otome Games is Tough for Mobs

By Yomu Mishima and Jun Shiosato

Many isekai feature their lead being reincarnated into their favorite games. Trapped in a Dating Sim though has Leon Fou Bartfort being reincarnated into a game he had no interest in at all — an otome game where women hold all the power while most men hold none.

Trapped in a Dating Sim is a fun read if only because of how different its lead is from most isekai protagonists. Leon is crafty and unafraid to manipulate situations around him to benefit him and his friends. He’s also all too willing to rub his victories in the face of everyone who looks down on him without ever being cruel.

21 I Got Caught Up In A Hero’s Summons But The Other World Was At Peace!

By Toudai, Jiroo Heian

Isekai that trade intense combat scenes for slice of life scenes are becoming more common these days, and I Got Caught Up In A Hero’s Summons is another such manga. As hinted in the name, Kaito Miyama is summoned to a world that’s completely at peace, and he’s been given a year to explore this peaceful planet at his leisure.

I Got Caught Up In A Hero’s Summons is a relaxing read that gradually builds up its world and characters but keeps the conflict to a minimum. It’s worth the time to check out for people who don’t mind trading the edgelord hero for a harem protagonist.

20 The Reprise of the Spear Hero

By Yusagi Aneko, Neet

Reprise of the Spear Hero is proof that good writing can make any character likable. Spear Hero character is one of the most annoying characters in the series, yet Reprise of the Spear Hero gets fans to resonate with him by keeping the story from his perspective.

In this world, Motoyasu loses his life in battle and is sent back to the very first day he was summoned. He maintains his same strength and knowledge, but chooses instead to look after the very Shield Hero he spent the last timeline denying. As wrong as it feels to see the Shield Hero and Spear Hero working together, Reprise of the Spear Hero is a cute alternate universe series that super-fans will find easy to get into.

19 My Next Life As A Villainess Side Story: On The Verge Of Doom!

By Satoru Yamaguchi, Nishi

In this My Next Life As A Villainess side story, Katarina doesn’t realize she’s living through the last otome game she played until she’s in her teenage years. Entertaining readers, it’s just as funny as before.

Without the cushion of several years, this series features a Katarina who has to work much harder to undo all the mistakes she made before she got her memory back. My Next Life As A Villainess Side Story: On The Verge Of Doom! raises the stakes to levels the original was never able to achieve.

18 Reborn as a Space Mercenary: I Woke Up Piloting the Strongest Starship!

By Ryuto, Tetsuhiro Nabeshima, Shunichi Matsui

Reborn as a Space Mercenary has something no other isekai series has: outer space. The series begins with its lead transported into a universe that resembles his favorite online game, operating a powerful starship that makes fighting pirates a breeze. With that power, Satou Takahiro decides to traverse the universe, building a name for himself and helping others.

Reborn as a Space Mercenary is exactly the manga needed for fans who want a break from all the classic isekai fantasy tropes. The manga’s still got the usual harem shenanigans for Satou, but it isn’t afraid to get serious for a few chapters or try out some creative sci-fi ideas to keep fans invested long-term.

17 Mushoku Tensei

By Yuka Fujikawa, Rifujin na Magote

Mushoku Tensei is a sweeping isekai epic full of character development and rich worldbuilding that no fan will want to miss out on. Rudeus Greyrat has been reincarnated into another world after a life full of regret in his old one.

Although he struggles with many of his old habits, he recognizes he has another chance. Taking destiny into his own hands, Rudeus Greyrat decides to try and live life to the fullest with his second chance.

16 MAR

By Nobuyuki Anzai

Marchen Awakens Romance is creator Nobuyuki Anzai’s next series after the end of the successful battle shonen Flame of Recca. MAR’s protagonist is Ginta Toramizu, a nerdy little kid who gets transported to another world and gets a boost in strength from its weaker gravity.

That said, Ginta’s going to need more than strength to fight the Chess Army, a group of sadistic warriors who want to take over the world. MAR is the perfect series for someone who just wants to enjoy a great shonen series with isekai elements. The battles are well-planned, the characters stand out from modern shonen series, and the series doesn’t wear out its welcome at less than 200 chapters.

15 Tsuyokute New Saga

By Jun Miura, Masayuki Abe

Tsuyokute New Saga follows a hero given a second chance. Kyle Lenard and his companions managed to defeat the demon lord, but with great sacrifice. Kyle becomes the sole survivor since all his friends were lost in the battle. In the aftermath, the world is thrown into ruin.

In his last moments, Kyle activates an artifact, giving him a second chance to save his friends and the world. Rather than presenting Kyle as a loner, TsuyokuteNew Saga presents him as someone who wants to make as many connections as possible with others to build his influence.

14 Handyman Saitou in Another World

By Kazutomo Ichitomo

Handyman Saitou in Another World focuses on a handyman who’s always been completely average at everything and never had anyone to rely on him. Upon being sent to a fantasy world though, Saitou finally finds himself called upon… to continue in his work as a handyman.

Handyman Saitou doesn’t offer any overpowered characters, and the story focuses on humor more than anything else, but it’s a great palette cleanser from other isekai series that take themselves far too seriously. Fans who get into it should be aware each chapter is shorter than normal manga chapters, leaving readers eager for more after every chapter.

13 Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear

By Sergei, Kumanano

Everything about Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear is adorable, from the outfits to its punny title. The plot is rather generic — a savant gamer gets transported into her game of choice and while Yuna’s overpowered as many Isekai protagonists are, it’s only when she’s wearing the cute yet ridiculous-looking bear costume.

When Yuna takes it off, she’s only a normal human. It forces her to keep on the costume, playing into the fact that the series is meant to be a good time and not something to be taken too seriously.

12 How Not To Summon A Demon Lord

By Naoto Fukuda, Yukiya Murasaki

On the surface, How To Not Summon A Demon Lord might seem like a typical fanservice-heavy manga, but that isn’t all the series has to offer. The series focuses on Takuma, a young man trying to act like the Demon Lord character he’s created, even though he’s normally socially anxious.

Takuma’s life took a turn when two girls who summoned him to be their familiar failed at the summoning, having their spell rebound and make them his slaves. From there, Takuma has to figure out what to do with his life, and how to protect the two girls who are now magically stuck with him.

11 Goodbye, Dragon Life

By Kurono, Hiroaki Nagashima

There aren’t nearly enough reverse isekai, where someone is sent from their fantasy world into a normal human world. Goodbye, Dragon Life does just that, introducing an ancient dragon that’s transported into the modern world and reborn as a regular human.

Goodbye, Dragon Life is worth it just for the incredible artwork alone, but the story is also compelling, as the dragon slowly discovers feelings he never had before. For fans that can ignore a little awkward pacing, they’ll find a lot to love with this isekai manga.

10 The Faraway Paladin

By Mutsumi Okuhashi, Kanata Yanagino

The story of The Faraway Paladin is a fan favorite, both for its expertly written characters and amazing world-building. A lot of Isekai series like to deal with introducing new “laws” of the world or Gods/deities.

However, Faraway Paladin introduces an all-new religion. The Faraway Paladin tackles religious, piety, faith, and the church in a mostly positive way in contrast to a lot of anime and manga which paints them as stereotypical bad guys.

9 By The Grace Of The Gods

By Ranran, Roy

By The Grace of the Gods is the ultimate comfort food isekai. The lead character was once an office worker who was so mistreated in his past life that the gods of the new world decide to give him his perfect life in the next. In this new world, Ryoma lives alone in a forest, taming slimes and leaving society alone, until he’s approached by the Jamil household, who take him in and allow him to adapt to this new world.

By the Grace of the Gods isn’t exactly going to provide people with intense fight scenes or even complex character writing. Instead, the value of the series is as one of the few manga where characters just talk things out and solve problems through mutual communication and human decency.

8 Reincarnated As A Sword

By LLO, Yu Tanaka

Reincarnated as a Sword follows a demi-human Black Cat named Fran who finds a mysterious, incredible sword while running for her life. This sword, as it turns out, was actually a human from Earth that reincarnated as a weapon rather than a human.

Using his power, the sword takes out Fran’s enemies, then agrees to work with Fran to fight for the liberation of other demi-humans. It’s a different set-up, but the approach to leveling, skill combinations and the complex relationship between Fran and her “Master” makes Reincarnated as a Sword absolutely worth the read.

7 Welcome To Japan Ms. Elf

By Suzuki Makishima, Sumio Aono

Normal office worker Kitase Kazuhiro has been journeying to fantastic worlds through his dreams. Usually he works alongside an adorable elf named Mariabelle until one day a mission went wrong and the both of them were attacked by a dragon. After that adventure, Kazuhiro awakens to find Mariabelle right there with him, finally understanding he’s never been in a dream world at all.

Though Mariabelle doesn’t seem to have much love for humans, once she’s pulled over to Japan, her mindset changes. Slowly, she becomes accustomed to the wonders of modern innovation, such as Japan’s amazing cuisine. Though Welcome to Japan Ms. Elf deals with classic isekai tropes sometimes, it’s still just different enough for fans to stick with it.

6 The Wrong Way To Use Healing Magic

By Reki Kugayama, Kurokata

The Wrong Way To Use Healing Magic is probably one of the best isekai manga of the last decade. The series has a unique concept, some genuinely hilarious comedy, and a likable cast. Three kids get transported to a fantasy land and are “made” into heroes. Two of the kids were high school stars, and the other was just a normal dude.

The stars of The Wrong Way To Use Healing Magic have hero-like stats while the normal guy only specifies in healing magic, but the way he’s taught healing magic is certainly unique. Instead of being a weak healer stuck at the back of a party, these healers tear their muscles to shreds, then heal themselves right back up, becoming beasts capable of inhuman speed and strength on the front lines.

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