Sometimes average is good. Sometimes average is bad. Isekai Cheat Magician is average and bad.

Shows like this cause people to joke that isekai is always generic and predictable. I guess it’s funny enough that studios continue to add fuel to that smoldering fire, but the shows themselves that make up that fuel deserve no less than the consuming flames. I don’t think I’d ever subscribe to the term “trash isekai,” but shows like this one make you understand why someone would use that term.

Plain characters, bland artwork, and non-existent story compose this particular iteration of the isekai treadmill. As a critic, I must at times review the bland as well as the good and the bad. But it’s hard to do it. The bad at least you can laugh at. The good is easy to praise. The average-bad hardly prompts a conscious thought. So in an attempt to not allow the reader to partake in that blandness while maintaining your humanity, I will attempt to make this review as interesting as I can. But this show was so blah, any effort on my part will make for a more interesting read than watching this show would entertain.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.


Rating: 2

The characters are bland. Not vanilla bland. People like vanilla. Like, broccoli stalk, fried onion string, green milkshake, quinoa bad.

Generic would almost be a complimentary term. What’s worse, it almost feels like some half-effort was put into trying to not make these characters so boringly generic. Mostly this is a dialogue thing: the characters occasionally seem to try to say something interesting or cool, but inevitably it comes out cringy bad, and looks just like what it is, a half-effort.

In addition to that, the studio went out and got top talent for voiceovers. Rie Takahashi (Megumin, Konosuba; Emilia, Re:Zero) is Rin. Ayumi Mayo (Cassandra, DanMachi; Alice, The Duke of Death and His Maid) plays Anastasia. Youko Hikasa (Rias Gremory, HS DxD) plays Grami. Marina Inoue (Armin, Attack on Titan) plays Sumella. Even Sayaka Ohara (Erza Scarlet, Fairy Tail) features prominently in this show as Lemiya. It’s quite a cast. 

But even they couldn’t save this show. The dialogue is so awful and the direction so poor that I cringed listening to some of these voices. I’ll generally like anything Ohara-san does, so colored is my favor towards her because of Erza, but Lemiya was awful. Rin was the same way, and Rie Takahashi could make a piece of broccoli (and its stalk) sound interesting, all other things being equal. It was hard to listen to. I think the dialogue and direction were entirely at fault here. We’ve all seen instances where the best of actors seem terrible simply because of horrific scriptwriting. Such was the case here.

This was ordinary but kind of funny. More on abs and such in the Artwork section.

You’ve all met the protagonist before by the way, right? Taichi Nishimura, or Isekai-Protagonist-kun? I’ll leave it at that.

Predictably, the bad guys were not all bad, but some were bad. What? I couldn’t even keep up with who was who and what his or her role was in the evil proceedings directed at our main characters and their loved ones. 

Then we had the thing with Anastasia. This is a story element, so I’ll cover it in the Story section, but it was a curious choice for this anime which seemed so bland otherwise. 

Whatever the goal, whatever the LN accomplished, these anime characters were pretty bad. It’s bad when you have a cast that prolific but even they can’t save a single character. I wasn’t so much disappointed as disgusted. I don’t like the mass production treadmill that some anime get churned out on, and I feel like these characters suffered tremendously from this effect.


Rating: 4

Somewhere between the LN and the anime, the artwork fell off the train and died.

Go look at examples of the light novel artwork. It’s really pretty. The colors, when present, are pretty. The girls are amazing. The guys are sharp. Everyone looks healthy and fit and fantasy. Ordinary but nice. Then we get to the anime, and everyone looks as weird as ordinary can be.

Lithe became too thin. Lively became lifeless. Firm and strong became too smooth and not muscular. Plump and pretty became nearly frumpy and plain. I swear it looked like the hair on each character didn’t sit right on their heads, like it was trying to follow them around instead of doing what hair does. Even without the comparison or the weird stuff, everyone looked very plain and unremarkable. What should have been nice fantasy artwork became blah “trash” isekai artwork. Even “ordinary” fantasy anime artwork can be better than this. It was so plain it was bland.

There was an attempt…to be sexy. The LN succeeds. It is nice. The anime does not. It is flat. I mean plain. It’s not all flat, and I will not descend into those…depths. Even where it is not flat, is still has that quality of bad ordinariness that makes it “meh” instead of “waaaah!” Do any of you remember that little guy that occasionally appears jumping around wildly in The Tatami Galaxy? This show didn’t have it.

I don’t know about any voice madam, not just now at least. There was an attempt I said.

There was also an attempt to not be too sexy. I can tell. The artwork succeeded here, of all things. Lemia should have had me out cold on the floor. I never moved, from gravity or otherwise.

My biggest peeve with the artwork is the lifeless eyes. Anime is all about eyes. These eyes were certainly anime eyes, but they lacked expression. I do not know why for certain. I remember many instances where I was not sure of a character’s emotions at that moment because the eyes were not expressing it. They were hardly expressing anything. Lemia looked smugly confident, but without any spark in her eye. Rin looked young and expectant (not expecting, for better or worse here) but that never seemed to change. This effect was so strong on my perception that I felt like each face had a mask-like quality, as if it never changed as a mask does not. I think this blahness of eyes affected every aspect of the beauty of this show.

The moral of this story, or the moral of this Artwork section, is…there isn’t one. It’s too blah to even warrant any additional thought or remark. Ordinary can be good, and I’ve seen that, but this is not it.


Rating: 1

Like many elements in this anime, I feel like there was potential in this story but it was destroyed by the poor quality production.

To begin with, a lot of very truncated arcs were crammed into this show. Was it three or four distinct arcs in 12 episodes? I can’t remember now. But I imagine a lot of detail was lost in this surgery on the original LN. Certainly the story lacked detail because of this. This was yet another piece of evidence that this production was rushed out on the isekai treadmill.

Yet there were shreds of detail. Initially I was intrigued by the four (five?) magic types and the fact that stronger mages could usually use more than one. Even though it was predictable that one of our protagonists could use all of the types, thereby making her overpowered, I still thought there was some decent creativity behind this system. This was a kind of good ordinary, and I was intrigued.

But as often happened in this show, something with potential was immediately dashed to pieces by an additional element that was completely ridiculous or boring. In the case of the magic types and our protagonists, while Rin got the OP all-elements potential, Taichi’s “potential” was “unknown.” This was a letdown right away, as it was too predictable—he had to be more OP’d than Rin or course, and therefore simply having more than the impossible wouldn’t do—but then it was made worse by evolving slowly from him being ineffectual with his “powers” to discovering them through a silly trial-like, life-or-death experience where a tiny fairy loli character becomes his inseparable companion and so he learns to use an overwhelming wind power…stop, please. Wind? Loli fairy sidekick? The potential was already dead.

Exactly what you think is happening here is happening here. There was a scene for this. In a twelve-episode anime, there was a scene for this. Giving new meaning to the expression “trash isekai.”

There were politics. This is normal for isekai. But it was boring. The bad guys came after the good guys until they weren’t bad guys any more. It was boring. Did I say that already?

Then there was the thing with Anastasia. One of the brief arcs introduced her first as an antagonist, turning her to a dear friend within an episode—already alarm bells for me, or more like the snooze alarm I should say. But then—spoiler—they killed her off in a battle (with a dragon, another poorly used story device). It didn’t have much emotional impact, unlike how character deaths often do in anime. It was sad but not much. But beyond that, this element made it feel again like perhaps there was more to this story than perhaps the anime succeeded in portraying—though “succeeded” is probably the wrong word. Like maybe the writers had something interesting here that was lost within this production.

All of this definitely makes me question, generic isekai or not, whether or not this story might actually have been decent in the source material, and whether it was simply ruined by this half-effort production. If that is the case, then the anime gets all the blame. If it’s not the case—well, my business is to review anime, not source materials. Either way, this story was probably the worst part about this show, even worse than the blah characters and ordinary artwork. It was predictable, uninspiring, paced too quickly, and unsatisfactory.

Overall: 3

This anime wins the award for worst-fitting OP ever. PANTHA REA is driving, intense, full of emotion and power like the vast majority of MYTH & ROID’s work. Somebody must have told them this anime was going to be exceptional, because they wrote and performed an exceptional song for it. But the show was below average in the end, and so the song doesn’t fit. The show is very blah, but the song is very powerful. It’s a very bad match. I applaud M&R again, and I lay the fault fully at the feet of the production of this anime that they wasted this song on this show.

Hawk, many of you are perhaps thinking, what did you expect? This show is, after all, generic isekai. Why are you criticizing it for poor quality and lack of effort? I have pondered that question myself. Should I really expect quality from these cookie-cutter isekai anime? 

The topic of “What is Wrong with Isekai?” is a larger one than I can address here, and one which is opined upon profusely in the anime community. But briefly, we all have seen what’s happening in the world of isekai anime. You have on one hand these generic shows that attempt to distinguish themselves with trifling differences and perhaps a top-notch voice actor or two, while on the other you have the attempts to take isekai into new places while utilizing a lot of the overused tropes either in homage to the genre or in parody. Among the latter we see a fair amount of quality works, such as Jobless Reincarnation, Tsukimichi, Isekai Ojisan, and even something like Sword Art Online or KonoSuba. On the generic end are shows like this one, where tropes take center stage and little differences are garnished on like seasonings on a cheeseburger. 

I can’t believe I’m saying it, but–where are they??

The former kind I can easily evaluate for quality, and consign them to the pinnacle of my favor or the depths of my disdain as my eye warrants. But these generic shows? As much as I don’t care for the term “trash isekai,” it’s not a completely inapt term. They’re all kind of “bad.” Should I be looking for diamonds among such pablum? If not diamonds, what about rubies, sapphires, carbuncles, pyrite even? 

My opinion is twofold. One, this is anime. I expect better. Let that sound as harsh as you deem it to sound, for I mean it so. My opinion of mass-production anime is not much different than my opinion of the thing-that-shall-not-be-named. It’s a pollutant. Maybe it’s not all irredeemable—I will always listen to any arguments—but these things are blights on an otherwise beautiful art form.

Second, while these shows are generic and therefore similar, the garnishing of seasonings metaphor isn’t inapt either. Not in that each generic show is different, but in that each at the core is therefore shown to be the same. They are all cheeseburgers, in other words. But shall I expect my cheeseburger to be ordinary or bad because that place over there also sells cheeseburgers, and lots of them at that? Shall I expect my cheeseburger to be ordinary or bad and accept it simply because its garnishments are different than another cheeseburger’s? I suspect that to most of you, especially those of you familiar with cheeseburgers, the single answer to all these questions is obvious. In the same way, I have some expectation that even generic, cheeseburger isekai shows should have some basic quality to them.

And upon bringing cheeseburgers into a discussion of anime, I shall end this review. I wish this show was better, because I want anime to be good all the time, and because there were a lot of nice VAs in this show, and because it had a really fun OP song by one of my favorite anime music groups, and because and because and because…but I am doomed to dissatisfaction this time. This was not a good cheeseburger, and I don’t recommend it. Anime I mean.

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