Lots of creators and researchers say that every story has been told. And, depending on how broadly you classify plots, they’re certainly right. Star-crossed lovers, an epic journey home, revenge… that takes care of the majority of stories right there! But even with nothing “new” to tell, both the creators and the audience can enjoy something old and familiar. Beauty and the Beast made millions by being a remake with minimal differences, and Wonder Woman and Spider-Man are two of the latest movies about someone with special powers fighting against enemies.
But what often happens, though, is that creators (directors, producers, authors, etc.) start focusing on one type of story. “Well, if that show/game/book was successful, I can do one too!” And before you know it, there is a lineup of similar stories that are all being compared to each other, and the viewers, readers, and players all start to tire of the same old tropes and clichés.
For me, although I sometimes get tired of reading the typical high school romance stories, the one manga/anime plot I am most sick of is “transported to another world”, aka isekai stories. I hardly ever read or watch them anymore because by the time one highly-praised series starts, two more are already being pushed as the real best isekai story ever.
Evidently, I am not the only one who wants to see something else besides another isekai tale. Kadokawa has launched a contest to find the next big light novel author in Japan. One of the rules? No transported to another world stories.
But wait, there’s more! If you enter right now, they’ll throw in this incredible bonus: one more condition! With this guideline, they are also banning high school males! The lead must be an adult male.
And with that, the list of eligible works for this contest has changed dramatically.
SoraNews24 suggests that this may be a “forward-thinking strategy”. Although school-age protagonists have been the default for years, Kadokawa’s new line, Novel 0, may be try to reach a developing market: adults who still watch anime. The theme of “cool adults” also reinforces this idea, probably trying to provide some escapism without having the hero actually escape to another world.
But Kadokawa has temporarily put a lid on a genre that has had great success the past few years, the Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation, Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody (pictured below), Rising of the Shield Hero-type stories. These series not only get published on a regular basis but get licensed and anime adaptations. In fact, another three or four new isekai anime are going to start airing this summer. That’s a potential next big hit they’re passing over.
True. I’m sure Kadokawa will have another contest where isekai plots are allowed or even encouraged.
But it’s still important to note that one of the major publishers in Japan is actively looking for something that neither involves being teleported to other worlds or high schoolers. It’s possible the winning story will never gain traction and will end after the single published volume. But it’s possible that more stories starring interesting adults will take off. With every new anime season comes the complaints that this cour is weak, that the series are just copies of previous anime, manga, or light novels. Even major magazines like Weekly Shonen Jump are dealing with decreased circulation and the lack of any new blockbusters to replace the likes of Bleach, Kochikame, and more. (How many times have you read “ends serialization in Weekly Shonen Jump” recently? Probably a lot.) Perhaps if Kadokawa’s latest contest proves successful, we will see other publishers start to reach out beyond some of the arguably overused plots?
The winning light novel hasn’t been crowned yet, but I would love to throw my money behind it. Even if every story has already been told, sometimes creators and companies need to be reminded to shake things up a bit.
And on a final note… please, Kadokawa, can you sponsor a similar contest for a female lead?
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Clichés don’t really tend to bother me as a cliché is simply a trope that has become stale due to over use and it’s how you use the trope that makes a difference. Personally I can’t blame or get mad at Kadokawa for not allowing Isekai in a contest. I mean when you have novels like My Reincarnation as a Hot Spring in a Different World is Beyond Belief ~ It’s Not Like Being Inside You Feels Good or Anything!?, Doing My Best to Pet Fluffy Things in an Alternate World, or I Reincarnated Into a Vending Machine.I really think it’s an act of mercy on Kadokawa’s part on behalf of the poor person who has to comb through titles honestly.
Good point. Those poor editors who sometimes must sit through the same story over and over!