Anime Like Rising of the Shield Hero
Sword Art Online
While .Hack is one of earliest examples of Isekai anime, it’s unarguably Sword Art Online that popularized the genre. Sword Art has enjoyed enduring popularity ever since the first series aired in 2012, and the latest series, Sword Art Online: Alicization may be the best one of all.
The franchise revolves around a young boy named Kirito, who plays a central role in each and every series.
In the original Sword Art Online, Kirito was an elite player in a game of the same name. One day a mysterious event traps 300 players within Sword Art Online, blocking them from logging out, and turning the game into their reality.
If they’re killed in the game, the virtual reality headset they’re wearing in the real world, called NerveGear, will also kill them in real life by releasing a toxin into their body. The same happens if the NerveGear is forcibly removed from their body. In order to escape the game, the 300 players must clear all 100 floors of Aincrad, a giant castle set in the middle of Sword Art Online.
The first season of the show is a gripping story that has a phenomenal first half, although it definitely stumbles in the second half. Further seasons would iterate on the idea with new video game genres, like the gritty shooter world of Gun Gale Online.
If you enjoy Isekai shows like The Rising of the Shield Hero, Sword Art Online is the epitome of what the entire genre is all about.