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Why are most isekai happening in a medieval world? I have been reading some of these and I actually can't recall of any in which the story is happening in an other era than in a medieval period. Why is that? Is it common in Japanese videogames too, as some like Dragon Quest and the first Final Fantasy had this background too? Was Japan influenced by the culture of European countries for this theme to be recurrent? Or am I just reading too few novels and I'm only interested in the same genre?

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I think you might have landed in a category of Isekai novels where Medieval influence is more prevalent. As a avid reader of Isekai's myself, I can confirm that there are also plenty of Isekai's available that do not draw from the medieval ages, but focus more on other eras or even on far more futuristic worlds.

However, as you validly point out, medieval influence can be found in in a lot of media, including video games, board games, manga, and of course novels. However, more often than not, those are not truly set in the medieval time period. They just tend to build upon the concepts of the medieval age, for example feudalism, and build their society around these concepts, all the while introducing their own mechanics such as fantasy races, magic, geo/demo-graphics etc.

This way of story writing is quite common in the the fantasy genre, and even more often so in the sub genre high-fantasy. Which, quite a lot of the Isekai's would fall under.

One of the reasons this happens is because it eases the burden on the writer but also the reader.

Rather than create an entirely different world that readers will recognize as alien, it's often simpler to revert to more primitive times, and simply add in magic when its existence doesn't require you to create a dozen centuries of magitech. It's a lot of work for the writer, and it may confuse or alienate the reader. - Jerenda @ Worldbuilding.SE

Additionally, the introduction of factors such as magic might also reduces the need for a society to evolve beyond the Medieval era, or at least, not in the same way as our society did. Why would a magic world be stuck in medieval times?

Most of the Isekai's that I personally encounter also tend to follow the High-Fantasy medieval settings. But occasionally I see a twist of Heroic Fantasy, Low Fantasy, Dark Fantasy and sometimes even Grimdark Isekai's.

To name a few:

  • Youjo senki set in a world war 1/2 era (reincarnated as a war prodigy)
  • Mezametara saikyou sobi set in a sci-fi space setting (reincarnated in a spaceship)
  • Musou Kouro ~ Tensei Shite, Uchuu Senkan no AI ni Narimashita set in a sci-fi space setting (reincarnated as an spaceship AI)
  • A returners magic should be special set in a relatively modern magical world (reincarnated/returned in their own world/timeline)
  • Moshi fanren a modern day world struck by a zombie apocalypse from space (reincarnated/returned in their own world/timeline)
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    Not to mention some of the older shows that might now be considered isekai, such as Inuyasha and Fushigi Yuugi, which are both set in magical worlds more reminiscent of Japan or other Asian countries in Feudal times. That said, it's also important to note that Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest were both directly inspired by Dungeons and Dragons, which is why they have a setting that resembles European medieval fantasy (albeit with occasional Japanese cultural quirks).
    – ConMan
    Oct 28 '20 at 22:38
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    I would say that a lot of the popular isekais (like the ones that get animated) tend to be directly JRPG/MMORPG based. Either literally (SAO), the world works on game mechanics (Konosuba) or a unknown mix (Overlord). Since those games tend to be high fantasy, it makes sense that isekais inspired by them are also high fantasy based.
    – pboss3010
    Oct 29 '20 at 12:50
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    @pboss3010 I'd have to disagree with the like the ones that animated part of that comment. Considering a plenty of non JRPG/MMORPG inspired series are popular and get animated. But beyond that, like ConMan also mentioned, those type of games are often directly inspired by DnD. And the sense of adventure and progression it brings is very enticing to people alike
    – Dimitri mx
    Oct 29 '20 at 16:14

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