Re: The beginning and end of an Isekai

Something I'm noticing a lot of is that Isekai tends to be a light-hearted sort of genre, with plenty of power-building and average joes rising to the top of a magical world. Wish fulfillment and power fantasy, as everyone says.

It's not often that you find Isekai stories to explore the darker parts to being thrown into an unfamiliar world.

Consider this: how does a normal person contend with being an alien in a magic place with vicious monsters, powers he/she is not familiar with, and strange cultures he/she has to adapt to? How will such people manage being in a society that is completely not their own? Whether they have 'cheats' or not, can they really brush off their old lives and settle in, or will the stark differences in the world and lifestyle weigh on them? Worse, what if the society was hostile to the foreigner too?

I'm all for the fluffy, power-gaining Isekai and all, so long as they're handled well, but a few more stories that analyze the genre more seriously would be nice (Stuff like Borne of Caution). Brainstorming and plotting those has been quite interesting, to say the least. 

But to answer the original question: I feel Isekai is a story about someone who ends up in a strange, faraway land and has to adapt or possibly die trying. It's like stories of real world immigrants who go to another country for reasons like seeking fortune or to escape war, except with a fantasy twist. The usual light-hearted Isekai stories are similar to immigrants who adapt fast and strike it rich in their new home. The darker ones are similar to immigrants who struggle to figure out their new home, its customs, and how to succeed in it.

The beginning is where a character is thrown into another world and trying to adapt. Depending on the tone of the story, the middle showcases their growth and how they fare in their new world. Typically, the end is where either the character makes something for him/herself in the new world, finds a way back to his/her old world, or something else occurs that satisfies their arc as an otherworlder.

Re: The beginning and end of an Isekai

I think the biggest issue with a lot of Isekai/Portal fantasies on RR is that a lot of them are written with the intention of being long running, episodic series with no intention of there actually being an end. They are written just so the author and the reader can experience the world together with the characters that were isekai'd. There's nothing really wrong with that, and a lot of people enjoy it.
For there to be an end, there needs to be an overarching struggle. There needs to be something that the characters need to overcome, or a mystery that must be solved. Something to chase. A lot of Isekai/Portal fantasies have characters that don't care how or why they got to a new world, only that they are there and have to survive there. They don't look for a way back to Earth, or try to defeat some great evil, they just exist as minor characters in a bigger world or as over powered murder hobos.

For these stories, an Isekai'd/reincarnated character whose past has no affect on their future is an appealing way to quickly connect with readers who are looking to escape into other worlds via reading for a short while.

From what I've noticed, if a story is written with the intention for there to eventually be an end goal, then the characters will be written to reflect that. Their goals or worries and their development as a character will reflect that they are "moving" towards a certain point, even if that point is unknown to the reader.

There are actually some Isekai/Portal fantasy stories out there that have endings. Not all are written fiction (some are movies, anime, manga, manhwa, etc.), but they do exist. The major difference between those and long running Isekai fantasies, is that they were conceptualized with larger, over arching goals and plots and things moving the characters towards an end goal, not all that different from a regular novel.

Overall, I think if an author intends to end a fiction, no matter how they do it, they should write with that intention from the very beginning. Otherwise if they tack on a random ending just because they're finally bored after writing after 1000+ chapters, it will risk feeling lackluster and not at all satisfying.