In recent years, the anime industry has seen a surge in narratives that tap into the innate human desire to overcome adversity. Many fans resonate with protagonists who start their journeys as underdogs, faced with insurmountable odds, only to later discover unique, often overpowered abilities that catapult them to prominence. This theme, prevalent in the isekai and fantasy sub-genres, speaks to the allure of transformation and the cathartic experience of witnessing a character’s rise from obscurity to greatness, like in Boushoku no Berserk.
For viewers who’ve felt the sting of rejection, the weight of mediocrity, or the yearning for a second chance, these tales offer a form of escapism that’s both satisfying and empowering.
The allure lies not just in the acquisition of power, but also in the trials, tribulations, and growth that precede it. If you’re seeking anime that captures this essence of progression and empowerment, here’s a list tailored just for you.
Table of Contents
Rudeus Greyrat, a NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) with a regrettable life, meets an untimely end, only to find himself reincarnated in a fantasy world as an infant. With memories of his past life intact, he vows to live this new life without regrets.
As he grows, Rudeus discovers that he possesses a prodigious aptitude for magic. With the guidance of his mage father, Paul, and a demon named Roxy, Rudeus begins his journey to master the arcane arts, all the while navigating the challenges and dangers of a world filled with magic and monsters.
Re:Zero – Starting Life in Another World
Subaru Natsuki is an ordinary high school student who suddenly finds himself transported to a fantasy world.
Without any preamble or reason for being there, he quickly learns that this new world is not as idyllic as it seems: every time he dies, he’s sent back in time to a specific “checkpoint.” Dubbing this ability “Return by Death,” Subaru realizes that it’s both a blessing and a curse.
While he can use this power to change outcomes and prevent tragedies, the psychological toll of repeatedly experiencing death and witnessing the suffering of his loved ones becomes a heavy burden.
The Eminence in Shadow
Cid Kagenou is a young man obsessed with the idea of being a “shadow broker” – a mastermind working behind the scenes.
In his previous life on Earth, this was just a harmless fantasy. But when he’s reincarnated into a world of magic and intrigue, he sees it as a chance to make his dream come true. Assembling a group of loyal followers, Cid establishes the “Shadow Garden,” an organization dedicated to fighting the “Diabolos,” an evil cult he made up for his backstory.
Unbeknownst to Cid, the world he’s in has real threats lurking in the shadows, and his fantasies might just become reality.
Ore dake Level Up na Ken (Solo Leveling)
In a world where mysterious portals, known as “gates,” lead to dungeons filled with monsters, hunters are individuals bestowed with powers to combat these threats. Among them, Sung Jin-Woo is regarded as the weakest of all, earning him the title “E-rank Hunter.”
However, during a particularly challenging mission, Jin-Woo faces death but instead awakens to a unique ability: he can now level up, much like in a game. With each monster he defeats, Jin-Woo grows stronger, transforming from the world’s weakest hunter to its most powerful.
As he delves deeper into the world of hunters and monsters, mysteries about his newfound abilities and the nature of these gates begin to unravel.
Rising of the Shield Hero
Naofumi Iwatani, along with three other young men, is summoned to a parallel world as the world’s four Cardinal Heroes. Each hero wields a unique weapon: sword, spear, bow, and shield. However, Naofumi is bestowed with the seemingly weakest – the shield.
From the outset, he’s betrayed and falsely accused of a crime he didn’t commit. Stripped of his dignity, resources, and reputation, Naofumi is forced to start his journey as an outcast.
With a burning desire for revenge and a protective shield as his only weapon, he decides to become the world’s strongest hero, meeting allies and facing challenges along the way.
I’m Standing on a Million Lives
Yusuke Yotsuya is a detached high school student with no friends or dreams. His mundane life takes a turn when he, along with two female classmates, is suddenly transported to a game-like fantasy world.
In this world, they are given a quest, and Yusuke discovers he has been assigned the role of the “Farmer,” seemingly the weakest class. However, there’s a catch: for every quest they complete, one of them can return to the real world.
But failure means death for all. As they journey through various quests, Yusuke learns that the lines between life, death, reality, and fantasy are more blurred than he ever imagined.
Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest
Hajime Nagumo is an average high school student who finds himself, along with his classmates, transported to a fantastical world. They are tasked with saving humanity in this new realm, with each individual granted powerful abilities.
However, Hajime’s newfound powers are disappointingly underwhelming compared to his peers. When a dungeon expedition goes awry, he is betrayed and left for dead in the depths of a dangerous abyss.
There, Hajime must face monstrous challenges, and in the process, he transforms both in strength and character. From a weakling to a formidable force, he must find a way to rise above and return home.
Parasyte -the maxim- (Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu)
When parasitic aliens descend on Earth, they stealthily take over the brains of their human hosts, resulting in creatures that look human but act with a deadly alien nature. Seventeen-year-old Shinichi Izumi is one such target.
However, when a parasite attempts to take over his brain, it mistakenly burrows into his right hand. Unable to relocate to the brain, the parasite, named Migi, and Shinichi are forced into an uneasy coexistence.
As the duo battles other parasites and grapples with moral dilemmas, they form an unlikely bond, seeking to survive in a world where the line between human and monster is blurred.
Sword Art Online
In the near future, the latest virtual reality MMORPG, Sword Art Online (SAO), is launched. Players can fully immerse themselves in the game using a device called NerveGear. However, the excitement turns to horror when players discover they cannot log out.
The game’s creator, Akihiko Kayaba, informs them that they are trapped in SAO, and the only way to escape is by clearing all 100 levels.
If they die in the game, they die in real life. Kirito, a solo player, embarks on a perilous journey to break free, facing both in-game challenges and psychological traumas.
Chivalry of a Failed Knight (Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry)
In a world where individuals manifest “Blazers,” the ability to materialize weapons known as “Devices,” academies train such individuals to become magical knights.
Ikki Kurogane, dubbed the “Worst One” due to his lack of magical abilities, attends one such academy. Despite his low rank, Ikki possesses unmatched martial skills. When he accidentally witnesses Stella Vermillion, an A-rank Blazer and princess, in a compromising situation, a duel ensues. The resulting bet? The loser will be obedient to the winner for life.
As Ikki and Stella navigate school challenges and growing feelings for one another, they also confront their own insecurities and the true nature of strength.