Isekai is still, for better or worse, one of the most popular and prominent genres in anime, manga and light novels. Lately, this has led to the genre's authors concocting the most bizarre and inane plots in order to make their stories seem fresher.
One of these ideas was Cheat Slayer, from the creator of Kakegurui, which had a unique premise of someone killing interlopers who spawned into an isekai world and abused its resources. However, the series has come to an end as quickly as it started thanks to its on-the-nose parodies landing it in hot water, begging the question of how far is too far when mocking another creator's work.
Cheat Slayer's Isekai Parodies Were Too Close to the Real Deal
pic.twitter.com/R2eJ7wD9TL— riou (@riou1123581321) June 28, 2021
The story was initially described as one involving "hate and desire," which explains some of the more mean-spirited sentiments present in the actual product. It involves a villager named Lute who wishes to join a guild of powerful reincarnated fighters, but it was the nature of these fighters that quickly caused the series to achieve controversy.
As the tweet above shows, the figures in this guild, called "Rebels Against God," are all heavily reminiscent of characters from other manga. Most of these works are specifically other isekai, making things even more on the nose. Examples include characters that recall Sword Art Online, That Time I Got Reincarnated As a Slime, Overlord and arguably The Ancient Magus' Bride. This was never a mentioned selling point before the first chapter was published, but it was quickly pointed out by fans.
Isekai Must Die, Long Live Isekai
As mentioned, the premise of Cheat Slayer is that its main character kills the most overpowered reincarnated warriors in the land, essentially turning the genre's power fantasy on its head. This in itself isn't exactly a problem, but the fact that it obviously intended to do so with characters so heavily resembling other franchises is definitely a bit on the nose.
These poorly disguised expies were likely meant to be killed off in violent ways by the eponymous Cheat Slayer, making the book appear to be a spiteful middle finger to those established franchises, and though probably not intentionally, their authors and fans by association. The fact that the premise was defined by "hate and desire" suggests immense disdain toward isekai -- again, whether intentionally or not -- and a desire to metaphorically kill it for good.
As a result, the series was quickly canned by publisher Monthly Dragon Age after just one chapter, with the controversy surrounding the seeming copies of other intellectual properties being the issue. Monthly Dragon Age's exact statement was that Cheat Slayer might be viewed as intentionally denigrating to other creators' work. It's questionable what exactly it was about the series that went too far with the parodies, which usually fall under the legal blanket of 'fair use,' though the fact that they were so obvious to fans without being pointed out beforehand says a lot.
Perhaps it was that many of the works that were directly parodied are still in publication as either light novels, manga or airing as anime, thus, a spotlight is still being shone upon them. In other words, those properties' creators would likely have noticed eventually and potentially sought legal action. This is on top of what can be seen as personal attacks by virtue of directly demonizing those works and the characters within them, resulting in a story that was simply too close for comfort for the publisher. And so, it seems that in its attempt at wiping out the isekai genre, the only manga that was slain in the end was Cheat Slayer itself.