The isekai genre has been around for decades, starting with classic works like Aura Battler Dunbine, Super Dimension Century Orguss and Magical Knight Rayearth, though it exploded in popularity with Sword Art Online as anime fans yearned to escape their ho-hum boring lives and travel to fantasy worlds. But with hundreds of variations on the “trapped in another world” concept, it’s natural that the isekai genre could get a little stale. Happily, the currently airing Isekai Ojisan, aka Uncle in Another World, is a remarkably fresh concept filled with jokes about gaming and otaku culture.
Uncle from Another World is Hilarious
We all think about how cool it would be to leave our boring lives behind and enjoy exciting adventures in an alternate fantasy world…but what do you think happens to your physical body while you’re over there? Of course you’d go into a coma, which means your family and hospital staff have to care for you and keep you alive while you’re building that harem in another world.
That’s the premise of the Isekai Ojisan anime. Takafumi’s uncle (who we only know by the label Ojisan, which is used both for a person’s uncle, as well as any middle-aged man) has been in a coma for the past 17 years, but he finally comes out of it. When he explains that he was living in a fantasy world and having adventures, Takafumi doesn’t believe him… until Uncle shows off his new magical skills. Takafumi does what any of us would: start a YouTube channel to make money off his uncle’s powers. Things get more complex when Sumika, Takafumi’s childhood friend, re-enters his life, wanting to start a relationship with him.
One of the major plot points is that while he was in the isekai fantasy world, Uncle is K.Y. — which is Japanese for kuuki yomenai or “can’t read the air” and describes someone who can’t read social cues — and doesn’t know what a tsundere is. He assumes that the cute elf girl who was always complaining about him actually hated him when she was just following the tsundere trope.
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An Anime For Fans of Sega… and Glasses
If you’re a fan of the Sega Saturn and classic console gaming, you’ll love this anime because of all the related jokes they make, as the first words out of Uncle’s mouth after his 17-year coma is about which company won the console wars. Also, every character has glasses on, if that’s what you’re into!
The Meaning of “Ojisan”
One of the first things you learn when studying Japanese is that words and concepts from one language don’t always match up with words in another language. Just as the Japanese have two words for “cold” (tsumetai describes things that are cold to the touch, while samui covers coldness in the air), many relationship labels have multiple meanings. One is ojisan, which can be your parent’s sibling or a generic word for any middle-aged man. There’s always a bit of confusion about when a person ceases to become an oniisan (an older brother, or any male who’s older than you are) and becomes an ojisan, but it’s probably around 28 years old.
Will Isekai Ojisan Die in the Netflix Jail?
No! I was bummed when I saw that Netflix would be handling distribution of the Uncle From Another World anime, assuming it would get put in the “Netflix Jail” (delayed for three months to give the company time to make the various dubbed versions), or dumped onto the platform all at once, killing whatever buzz the show could have generated each week. The good news is that the series is being simulcast along with Japan, so there’s no delay, and the episodes come out weekly, so fans can share memes and images to help get more people to tune in next week. Hopefully, one of the things Netflix changed when they shook up their animation department earlier this year is permanently ending the Netflix Jail system, so that anime can be aired at the same time around the world, with dubbed versions made available a few weeks later. Fingers crossed that this terrible system is permanently dead.
Oops, I spoke too soon, as I was being shown Netflix results for Japan when I checked their lineup, thanks to my VPN. So at least the Netflix Jail is better than it was, with a two-week delay for episodes to allow for dubbing, which only adds a slight disruption to the overall flow of the season. As long as a standout show can still become popular without having all its buzz taken away via Netflix’s distribution approach, I am happy overall. Tell us what you think of the current system below!
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