Since its debut in 2016, Re:Zero has become not only one of the most popular and critically acclaimed isekai out there, but one of the most successful new anime in recent years. It won fans over with its determined hero, loveable side characters, fully realized fantasy world, and impressive animation.
After the second half of the second season finished airing earlier this year, fans have been looking for shows to fill the void while they wait to see if a third season will be announced. While there are plenty of shows with similar themes to choose from, some are more popular than others. Here's a look at some that have fallen through the cracks.
10 In Another World With My Smartphone Felt Like An Older Model
Airing in the Summer 2017 season, In Another World With My Smartphone belonged to the first generation of isekai anime in a post-Re:Zero world. This might have been a great opportunity for the showrunners to pick up on what viewers wanted.
Instead, what viewers saw as a blend of generic isekai tropes meant that it just looked tarnished in comparison. If there is a lesson to be learned from the failure of this show, it's that the complex, mature tone of Re:Zero isn't a gimmick that can be swapped out for a gadget.
9 Sagrada Reset Had Viewers Checking Their Watches
Fans of Re:Zero's use of time loops have probably already heard of the more popular anime that span multiple timelines, such as Steins;Gate, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, or Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni. One series that rarely gets a mention, though, is Sagrada Reset, a mind-bending mystery show that follows a boy with a photographic memory who meets a girl with the ability to control time.
Unfortunately for Sagrada Reset, its relatively quiet school setting wasn't as exciting to fans as Re:Zero's fantasy world or the cyberpunk set pieces of Steins;Gate. For fans wanting the unique stakes of time travel at a slightly more relaxing pace, though, it might be just the thing.
8 Endride's Shine Got Overshadowed
Despite becoming one of the most famous isekai ever, Re:Zero wasn't the only anime in the Spring 2016 season that was about "starting life in another world." Endride, a mobile game adaptation that features colorful art, ostentatious weapons, and a plot to topple a corrupt ruler, follows protagonist Shun as he finds a mysterious crystal in his father's study -- and a whole new world inside it.
This might have been a refreshing change from the genre's typical RPG worlds, but, ultimately, it wasn't enough. With smoother animation, a more modern style, and more compelling characters, Endride's opportunity to make a splash ended up totally eclipsed by Re:Zero.
7 Yu-No Was 20 Years Too Late
A time-traveling hero, a mysterious world, and a group of girls who may or may not have feelings for him? Yu-No: A Girl Who Chants Love at the Bounds of This World might seem like a show inspired by Re:Zero, but, in actual fact, its origins go a lot farther back: Yu-No is based on a critically-acclaimed visual novel from 1996.
This might be an impressive vintage, but it meant that anime fans were more confused by Yu-No than excited about it. Why the creators decided to make an adaption more than 20 years after the original came out, and long after its popularity peaked, ended up being a more compelling mystery than the actual plot.
6 Now And Then, Here And There Wasn't Exactly Entertaining
Despite being separated by more than two decades, the 1999 anime Now and Then, Here and There shares a striking number of similarities with Re:Zero: they both follow a young man who, transported to another world, vows to protect a beautiful young woman with long, pale hair and mysterious powers -- even though he must suffer through terrible trials to do so.
But, while Re:Zero balances the darkest parts of the story with moments of humor and colorful character designs, once things get serious in Now and Then, Here and There, they stay that way. Its relentlessly grim story makes for a moving portrait of the horrors of war, but not one that's easy to watch. Since many fans like their anime entertaining, this is a show that's definitely not for everyone.
5 The Legend Of The Legendary Heroes Has A Redundant & Vague Title
The Legend of the Legendary Heroes, a 2010 anime that has fallen into obscurity over the past decade, is another engrossing fantasy story that pits its protagonist, Ryner, against a world rife with danger and political corruption. Like Re:Zero, it's not afraid to have a tone much darker than most fantasy anime, while at the same time knowing when to throw in some much-needed levity.
It wouldn't be clear from the title, though, whose redundancy and vagueness make the show sound like a parody in the vein of KonoSuba. There aren't many titles bad enough to put people off an entire show, but The Legend of the Legendary Heroes, as anyone who's tried recommending it can attest, has to fight an uphill battle to get people to take it seriously.
4 Arifureta's Creators Struggled More Than The Characters
At first glance, Arifureta: From Commonplace to World's Strongest seems like exactly what Re:Zero fans would be looking for: another isekai that takes a surprisingly dark turn halfway through its first episode. Viewers ended up disappointed, however, with a protagonist whose sudden switch from weak to unstoppable paled in comparison to Subaru's gradual character growth.
It didn't help that the show's production seemed low-budget and rushed, due at least in part to a sudden change of staff that ended up delaying the release by a year. While the circumstances of this change are unclear, the author of the original light novels had voiced his displeasure with the anime in its original form. When even the creator doesn't like a show, it's unlikely the fans will.
3 Rewrite Was A Throwback To The 200os
It's not only the similarity in their titles that links Rewrite and Re:Zero together; they both focus on a protagonist who must change pre-written fate in order to protect themselves and their loved ones. But, although it came out in the same year as Re:Zero, it feels somewhat outdated.
Rewrite is an adaptation of a visual novel developed by the company Key, whose other games such as Kanon, Air, and Clannad were adapted by Kyoto Animation into extremely popular anime series. With their signature style, these adaptions were part of the defining aesthetic of 2000s-era anime. Rewrite, for all its interesting elements, feels like a relic from the past.
2 Ajin Struggled With CGI
As another psychological drama that deals with themes of identity, death, and rebirth, Ajin: Demi-Human seems like it should be a must-watch for fans of Re:Zero. But many viewers were put off by the uneven visuals of this all-CGI show -- and, although it only came out in 2016, the pace at which CGI in anime is improving means that Ajin looks more dated by the season.
Any fans that did wish that Re:Zero had a less traditional style are more likely to turn to something like Land of the Lustrous, where innovative CGI techniques enhance the storytelling rather than hinder it. Ajin might have had potential, but, sadly, it missed its moment.
1 Granbelm Couldn't Recapture The Magic
For fans of Re:Zero, Granbelm had a lot of promise; it was a show that reunited Masaharu Watanabe, the show's director, with the character designer Shinichiro Otsuka, giving Granbelm a familiar visual flare. With a plot that saw mecha pilots battling for the chance to become "printemps," it looked like the storyline might also be a refreshing take on Re:Zero's battle for the crown.
But high expectations can lead to big disappointments. Viewers might have been happy with the style, but were less pleased with the substance. Granbelm might have been able to stand on its own, but as a successor to Re:Zero, it fell flat.