A Survey of the Story Elements of Isekai Manga
Keywords:isekai, data, portal-quest, manga, database, fantasy, dataset
This paper presents a survey of the story elements in isekai (other world) manga. The large number of available isekai manga series allows the use of a survey to investigate patterns in story elements. These patterns can be used to generate hypotheses about relationships between story elements, authors’ intent, and readers’ interests. The paper begins with a review of the characteristics of isekai manga stories and places the stories into existing speculative fiction ontologies. A brief history of isekai manga and their relationships to roleplaying computer and tabletop games is provided. Finally, descriptions of the survey framework, instrument and results are presented. The survey includes data on 746 manga series identified as isekai manga by publishers or fans. The series are divided into four types (portal-quest, immersive, intrusion, and liminal). A detailed survey was performed on the 427 series identified as “portal-quest” stories (the most common type of isekai stories). The survey results are captured in a database of story elements that is organized based on plot points dictated by the form of the portal-quest stories. The survey found that the majority of the manga series are inspired by first-person shônen and otome computer games. The characteristics of the stories vary with the gender and age of the protagonists (here taken as surrogates for the gender and age of the stories’ target audiences) and this variation allows the generation of hypotheses on the motivations and interests of the different reader demographics and how they are satisfied by the stories.
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