Have you read this cool new light novel? It’s about a super ordinary high school student, but he’s been taken to a strange new world! An anime adaptation is coming out soon, you totally check it out, it’s not like those other isekai series that star a teen hero…
In all seriousness, the isekai trend has been dominating light novels for nearly a decade now. It’s gotten to the point where authors have to use near parody ideas, like a teen turning into a hot spring, just to stand out from the crowd.
But, light novel (and manga) publisher Kodansha has had enough of the trend and are banning isekai stories for their latest light novel contest as part of an effort to appeal to adult readers. The effort is part of Kodansha’s Novel 0 label, which publishes light novels with the theme of “a cool way of adult living.”
To further their goal, their “Entertainment Novels that Adults Want to Read Contest” outright bans isekai stories and teenage protagonists. The only requirement is the main character has to be male. Kodansha is offering a grand prize of 300,000 yen ($2,700) and publication of the light novel.
It’s a bold move banning two of the most common light novel tropes, but a past survey of young Japanese adults shows an increasing disinterest in isekai stories and difficulty in relating to teen heroes. The ban may seem unfair, since there are some good isekai works, but you have to give credit to Kodansha’s Novel 0 for wanting to promote something different.