The elephant in the room in another world: Analyzing Isekai Tropes and how to Deconstruct them

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I think we are all aware that Isekai, by virtue of being a really popular genre in the lands of Japan, is flooded with really terrible stories that aren't worth the paper or the bytes they are written on, but get viewed regardless.
With that, the Generic Milquetoast 08/15 Isekai story, has amassed some tropes that are heavily associated with it, some less, some really fecked up.

Things like the Slave Harems, false underdog OP protagonists, really weird Japanese Nationalism in regards to rice and Soy Sauce, failing at deconstructing the classic fantasy by making the humans the bad guys and the demons the absolute good guys, etc.

Now then, this thread is for Collecting Tropes you find issue with, Brainstorming ideas of how to potentially deconstruct these tropes and get some cool concepts out.

Note that a proper Deconstruction requires thought and isn't as easy "Oh, we switch colors", here is an useful video on the topic:
And for the purposes of this thread, until someone decides to make a specialised thread for it, Otome Villianess stories qualify for this thread.
Treat Isekai stories as fantasy or self-delusional power fantasy and every worry disappears.
 
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'turning the kingdom into the big bad' or 'too many dont'? because for 'too many dont' i normally drop those forgettable manga. the most recent one i read and cant remember the name for was about a guy that got transferred along with random other people and got the farming skill instead of a more conventional one(dont worry he still kills everything in one hit) and gets abandoned by the rest of the 'party' in a forest where he farms with ease and bangs every women he meets. im sure he'll end up killing the demon lord or whatever by the end but its not a goal all he's doing is 'farming', if you can even call it that, and banging all the women that keep showing up...oh and he met the guy who abandoned him in like 5 chapters or somthing and beat him up so no revenge plot either.
Yes, I meant examples of "too many don't".
I guess I forgot the option of "abandoned by companions" to get rid of the social baggage that comes with summoning.
 
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Isekai Constructed: how M*G changed the other world.

I would love to see Isekai the Gathering (TM).
 
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i disagree, i think a survival isekai where the MC needs to find realistic ways to determine if the food they gathered is poisonous or not without killing themselves, hunt borderline mythical beasts, and make a safe home out of his environment would be really interesting
MC's life experience would be knowledge of all survival tactics in his original world and he would need to find ways to apply that knowledge in a world where alot of it may not completely apply, and MC's 'gift' would be heightened speed
Honestly even one with a normal guy would be quite interesting. No epic powers, No special gifts and no hordes of girls swarming him for his seed.
The character likely wouldn't know how to fight well (unless he was a practitioner of a practical marital art) or at least not as well as basically any noble or knight who was raised learning the way of the sword. This would force the MC to use the middle ages equivalent of 'noob weapons' the spear and crossbow. Also a belt knife. If the character can use magic he should be rather run of the mill.
I think with those restrictions you could have some fairly solid obstacles.
 

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...they're just as much a valid literature as horror stories or dystopian sci-fi.
Why are you defending Isekai tropes in a thread titled "Analyzing Isekai Tropes and how to Deconstruct them"? You're not doing much analyzing here. Yes, I get these tropes exist because money. That doesn't make these tropes any less stupid and unoriginal. I don't watch much horror, but I hear that genre suffers from tropes as well. What makes tropes obnoxious is their overuse, and authors' refusal to try something new. They can be present in any form of media. This thread is supposed to be about looking at these tropes in a different light, tearing them apart, and understanding how to change them to make them more entertaining, realistic, or even just unique. All you've done this thread is wave these critisms away with "it is what it is". You've offered almost no analysis of these tropes yourself and displayed zero willingness to change the genre, satisfied with the Isekai genre remaining the same for eternity. I've tried to ignore it, but at this point I must ask: do you actually like the state Isekai is in right now? The same cookie cutter story of guy gets reincarnated, gets some powers, gets a harem, and gets overpowered?
 
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Honestly even one with a normal guy would be quite interesting. No epic powers, No special gifts and no hordes of girls swarming him for his seed.
The character likely wouldn't know how to fight well (unless he was a practitioner of a practical marital art) or at least not as well as basically any noble or knight who was raised learning the way of the sword. This would force the MC to use the middle ages equivalent of 'noob weapons' the spear and crossbow. Also a belt knife. If the character can use magic he should be rather run of the mill.
I think with those restrictions you could have some fairly solid obstacles.
then i have a recommendation. "Isekai Munchkin -HP 1 no Mama de Saikyou Saisoku Danjon Kouryaku-" or my title for it "DND: the isekai, but i only have 1 hp and the DM's notes" MC's nearly gets taken advantage of by an evil god and she curses him to have 1hp his only saving grace is the book he stole from her that tells him information he may need
 
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Honestly even one with a normal guy would be quite interesting. No epic powers, No special gifts and no hordes of girls swarming him for his seed.
The character likely wouldn't know how to fight well (unless he was a practitioner of a practical marital art) or at least not as well as basically any noble or knight who was raised learning the way of the sword. This would force the MC to use the middle ages equivalent of 'noob weapons' the spear and crossbow. Also a belt knife. If the character can use magic he should be rather run of the mill.
I think with those restrictions you could have some fairly solid obstacles.
Hai to Gensou no Grimgar.exe
Treat Isekai stories as fantasy or self-delusional power fantasy and every worry disappears.
My frustration with the genre is that saying isekai is "self-delusional power fantasy" does not contradict criticism or complaints about it. But when I say "the obsession with slavery is weird", and "Japanese nationalism is weird", or "Man, there's a lot of shit where the author goes out of there way to excuse preteen brides in the way they design their world, that's kind of fucking creepy", people are quick to point out that isekai isn't meant to be taken seriously, and that it's a power fantasy.

I'm down for nonsense power fantasy. The Eminence in Shadow is absolutely stupid, and I really like it. It's a campy fun non-serious power fantasy about a dumb protag. Very enjoyable. Shield Hero, in comparison, tries very hard to make me take it's edgy protag and over the top villains (who are clearly stand ins for high school bullies or something) seriously.

And I also have to wonder why these power fantasy involve egregious amount of rape or slavery. It's a fantasy, right? You don't need to accurately emulate the medieval slave economy in Europe. You already added in magic, and let's be realistic here, Japanese fantasy manga/isekai are not accurate representations of any time period in Europe. If you're going to just make shit up as you go, why pretend that slavery is intended as an accurate representation of the time period or whatever. Seems fuckin weird to me.

There were also some people mentioning sales metrics and the sheer amount of isekai as indicators of the value of writing, media, or manga. I don't know. I've read a lot of garbage, and I know a lot of people who will read a lot of garbage. But honestly, I will see a new scan of a trashy isekai I was reading a month and a half ago, and take a solid 15 minutes to remember which cookie cutter storyline is which. It's gotten to the point where I organize my isekai by subtropes within the genre. If I can't tell your manga apart from any other isekai without re-reading two or three chapters, it's probably not good writing.
 
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So I'd like to compile my short list of Isekai Tropes I often or consistently see

It's just a videogame:
Either the isekai is just a video game, or is for all intents and purposes analogous to a videogame. Status screens, level ups, classes, quests, and power levels.

Hidden potential:
Our protagonist is scorned and laughed at for his lacking abilities. When in reality it turns out the ability to bend reality itself, or learn all the skills is actually good! Wow! Sometimes this is legitimately played well, but usually it's just that the author has decided everyone in the fantasy world is stupid and can't figure out how to train their abilities, or use "the master seal" or our protagonist had magical power so strong that it couldn't be measured, and he is labeled a failure.

Over powered protagonist:
What you see is what you get. The protagonist is a maximum level sage, or some sort of god, dragon, demon, emperor, genius in the body of a human. This trope gets old incredibly fast, and I most enjoy it when it is used to comedic effect. Eminence in Shadow or All-Works Maid are kind of fun to me. The more often a protagonist is completely and utterly unaware of their abilities (despite everyone telling them how insanely strong they are), the more annoying the trope becomes for me.

Urban isekai:
Halfway between isekai and urban fantasy. Either another world is coming to Earth and killing everyone, or there is a wormhole to another world that our protagonist is using. It's one of the less terrible tropes you might encounter.

Villainess isekai:
Our protagonist is the primary antagonist of an otome game involving a villainess. Except they're regained their memory of the game as a insert generic relatable character who was playing the game before they died.

Saint isekai:
Our protagonist is the primary protagonist of an otome or jrpg/mmorpg involving a saint. Except they're regained their memory of the game as a insert generic relatable character who was playing the game before they died.

Banishment fantasy isekai:
Often paired with hidden potential isekai. Our protagonist has been kicked out of the hero's party because the hero is stupid, greedy, or generically evil. Usually gets boring relatively fast for me, as it often has incredibly stupid or annoying protagonists. Can still be fun on occasion though.

Slave collector:
For some reason our protagonist has decided slaves is the way to go. Entire military outfits made up of slaves. Need to get some books made? Hire an orphan sweat shop. Can't make any friends? Buy some slaves.

Parental fantasy:
Our protagonist had a shitty family, or no family, or is a wage slave working 60+ hours a week. Now he can be reborn as a child and get unconditional support from a loving family. Isn't that sweet.

I have the best pet:
Our isekai protagonist woke up and has the best pet. It is either a fenrir, god, or maybe even a dragon if our authors wants to get really wild. Incredibly common starting trope.

Fantasy world morals:
Obviously I think murder, rape, and slavery are bad. But I'm in a fantasy™️ world, so it's all A-okay now, and I will have no moral conflicts about it from now on.

Japanese nationalism as a major theme:
Soy sauce is the best. Rice is the best. Japanese food is the best. I remember an isekai where the fantasy world inhabitants were legitimately just throwing out rice because they couldn't figure out how to thresh and boil it. Not my favorite trope.
 
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Isekai Constructed: how M*G changed the other world.

I would love to see Isekai the Gathering (TM).
These days, many computer games have CCG aspects to them. Like, instead of hitting with the sword as much as you have stamina, you can only perform strikes that are on cards in your hand. And you can find a cool sword that doesn't have a lot of damage bonuses, but has really nice cards.
I wonder what kind of RPG-fantasy people who grow up on these games will write.

Also, there are at least 2 magic the gathering mangas. One of them even translated on Mangadex.
 
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Japanese nationalism as a major theme:
Soy sauce is the best. Rice is the best. Japanese food is the best. I remember an isekai where the fantasy world inhabitants were legitimately just throwing out rice because they couldn't figure out how to thresh and boil it. Not my favorite trope.
Yeah... that one has always been weird to me. I mean you are in a different world. What is to say any of the plants you encounter would be even relatively similar to the ones we have on earth? (well aside from the similar planet size and atmosphere required to sustain human life). People have always found a way to eat things. Things we probably shouldn't that are naturally poisonous. Also acorns used to be a staple part of the Celtic diet.
 
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…has anyone here bothered to point out that what the video at the beginning is describing isn't actually deconstruction in the first place?

Like, people on the Internet bandy that word about to describe that particular school of subversion of expectations or recontextualisation of genre tropes, but that's not what deconstruction is. To simplify immensely, deconstruction is a broad school of postmodern philosophy particularly as applied within literary theory and criticism which is all about disrupting dichotomies and hierarchies of meaning within systems and forcing the reader to confront them to the end of challenging their perspective on the subject at hand. This is, of course, the goal of some fiction in one way or another, but a work is not simply deconstructive because it decides to break a trope apart and see how it ticks; rather that is a means of moving towards deconstruction, but only one of many.

The reason it exists in the contemporary nerd lexicon in such a watered-down capacity is probably due to the philosopher Iain Thomson's 2005 essay "Deconstructing the Hero", which talks about Watchmen as engaging in the deconstruction of the hero in the original postmodern philosophical sense, but which I suspect some comics writers read and then started using the term in the way that they thought Thomson meant it given the way that he talks about how Moore subverts and inverts the superhero by changing its context as a means of deconstructing the concept—confusing the method with the thing in itself, just as I described earlier.

Is this pedantic? Yes. But the fact remains that if you actually wanted to deconstruct the base assumptions of contemporary iisekai and narou-kei fiction, just pointing out what's flawed about the tropes wouldn't be "deconstruction," it'd just be reassembling works within the genre which are already critical of those elements from first principles as if such critique within the genre were non-existent. One thing that the video in the OP does get right about both actual deconstruction and the simplified nerd version is, creating a deliberately subverted version of something out of pure contempt generally doesn't work. It requires deep familiarity with and some affinity towards the subject being approached, a knowledge which cannot be obtained without giving something of oneself.

That said, if you want to create a twist on the core premise which is simply more to your liking and avoids perceived pitfalls of the genre? Go for it. Have fun.
 
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To simplify immensely, deconstruction is a broad school of postmodern philosophy particularly as applied within literary theory and criticism which is all about disrupting dichotomies and hierarchies of meaning within systems and forcing the reader to confront them to the end of challenging their perspective on the subject at hand. This is, of course, the goal of some fiction in one way or another, but a work is not simply deconstructive because it decides to break a trope apart and see how it ticks; rather that is a means of moving towards deconstruction, but only one of many.
You did not simplify at all. You just replaced one bit of incomprehensible philosopher-babble with another.
Which is why nobody uses philosophers' definition. You philosophers ran out of ability to talk human language at around Descartes' time.
 
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My frustration with the genre is that saying isekai is "self-delusional power fantasy" does not contradict criticism or complaints about it.
What isekai normally is, however, does obviate the discussion. You may as well complain about rats being disease vectors.

And I also have to wonder why these power fantasy involve egregious amount of rape or slavery.
Because the writers want to. Maybe it's because the audience wants it, to begin with. Maybe the audience wants it because some enterprising author tried it and the audience went wild, so everyone hopped on the trend.

There's a good deal of complaining about the homogeneity of the genre (which doubtless has fed into this issue where the titles for the series get longer and longer, as if to become synopses unto themselves), but the fact that throngs of authors jump on these obviously profitable trends should be indicative of what the genre is seen as being for.

We're talking about how people in the isekai game shouldn't be reclining on these clichés, but... why? It obviously and indisputably makes them money, probably entirely handed over by people who are gratified by what they buy, and keeps their publishers in business. I won't denigrate how you're annoyed by it-- I don't care for it myself, as I've said-- but we need to be clear that that's how you feel, based on what you look for in a story. And if you want to argue that what you feel should be held as common sentiment, you have to argue that it's a better viewpoint than "it gratifies people by appealing to what they want, puts food on the tables of the author, artist, and editor, and keeps companies in business".

Would it be great if the next isekai story could do something unique? No-- it'd be great if I enjoyed the next isekai story because it had stuff I liked or otherwise resonated with me. A story could fall and eat an entire flight of stairs immediately despite its author "deconstructing" the genre's clichés and having some confident understanding what makes them "tick" that he integrates into his story. Conversely, a story that simply embraces those clichés for what they are in the common genre consciousness could in fact accomplish being resonant and enjoyable for me. That's less about what's done and more about how what's done is done.

As an aside: I find both the complaint about "Japanese nationalism", and more so the reduction of "Japanese nationalism" to "superiority of Japanese food" absolutely baffling. It's just absurd to boil down the entirety of national/cultural identity, and the pride therefor-- deleterious or not-- to food.
 
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I want to specify one thing here, which does not invalidate anything of what you said, but it does make your post pointless.

This thread, after about five pages, has unfortunately degenerated into the thing I feared the most and which I tried to stop when I could, but apparently failed.

That is, it started to turn into useless bashing of tropes, followed by more useless apologetic replies, usually made of claims like "I enjoy the thing" or "it makes money so <some kind of consequence>" or even "isekai is always garbage so anything you said has no meaning".

To quote the post opening this thread:
"Now then, this thread is for Collecting Tropes you find issue with, Brainstorming ideas of how to potentially deconstruct these tropes and get some cool concepts out." (emphasis mine.)

This thread is to take a single trope, look at it and try to get something that might be more interesting than what authors usually settle with.

This place is exactly where you go beyond things like making money, or demand from readers or anything else. While it is true that subverting a trope for the sake of it does not make the story more interesting, it is also true that being apologetic of the status quo for whatever reason, even valid ones like some you raised, does nothing but make us unable to discover potentially interesting concepts.

When analyzing a trope one must go against everything built on top of it no matter what, even if it makes money or if the process makes the result less interesting or less believable.

Both the people that simply complain saying "why are authors..." or anything similar without providing different point of views, and people that unilaterally stop any attempt at discussing tropes by, for example, the genre is built around those tropes and you can't just change them, are posting in the wrong thread.

I repeat, you raised valid points: authors and artists are people too and need to survive, so if they get to have a job by bandwagoning then they should definitely jump in; if readers enjoy certain contents and are more willing to read or watch works with said contents than those without, then it is reasonable for editors and producers to provide these contents; and so on and so forth.

However, this is the wrong place for that.

As a side note: your complaint about national identity being reduced to food should be directed to authors: they are the ones using nothing but rice instead of, say, their architecture.

And guess what? Talking about this matter falls exactly in the intended topic of this thread! How can authors convey the japanese superiority without resorting to food?
A possible solution that is easy to use in works is with weapons. Of course I know about the billion fold steel meme, but there are things beyond that.
For example, you know those very long katanas you see in cringe weeb photos, the "I studied the blade" kind? Those kind of swords were used by cavalry and Europe never had an equivalent weapon (that I'm aware of, at least), so an author can claim superiority and even be a little more historically accurate than isekai normally are.
 
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That is, it started to turn into useless bashing of tropes, followed by more useless apologetic replies, usually made of claims like "I enjoy the thing" or "it makes money so <some kind of consequence>" or even "isekai is always garbage so anything you said has no meaning".
Right, but that was built not only into the challenge of the thread:

Now then, this thread is for Collecting Tropes you find issue with, Brainstorming ideas of how to potentially deconstruct these tropes and get some cool concepts out.
but also the thread premise:

I think we are all aware that Isekai, by virtue of being a really popular genre in the lands of Japan, is flooded with really terrible stories that aren't worth the paper or the bytes they are written on, but get viewed regardless.
With that, the Generic Milquetoast 08/15 Isekai story, has amassed some tropes that are heavily associated with it, some less, some really fecked up.

Things like the Slave Harems, false underdog OP protagonists, really weird Japanese Nationalism in regards to rice and Soy Sauce, failing at deconstructing the classic fantasy by making the humans the bad guys and the demons the absolute good guys, etc.
Altogether, the challenge of the OP is to bash isekai tropes by the proxy of alternative suggestions derived from (the popular notion of) "deconstruction". Extending from what @Mandragoras talked about, this thread would have been in a better position if it were about discussing tropes that were otherwise considered positively or neutrally. Not that it can be helped that no one person will like every single isekai staple, but starting from tropes you have no love or even appreciation for in the first place is almost certainly going to lead to what you dreaded because it comes from the same place as "why are authors doing X"? Except, it answers that question with "they should do [thing I like] instead".

This place is exactly where you go beyond things like making money, or demand from readers or anything else. While it is true that subverting a trope for the sake of it does not make the story more interesting, it is also true that being apologetic of the status quo for whatever reason, even valid ones like some you raised, does nothing but make us unable to discover potentially interesting concepts.
For the record, I'm not being apologetic of the status quo. I'm straightforwardly asking a question of why authors should be moved to do something "different" when there's no monetary- or audience-based incentive for it.

The only answer to this is "because they want to"-- and that's the answer I gave in response to someone questioning why slavery has become a common feature in isekai.

As a side note: your complaint about national identity being reduced to food should be directed to authors: they are the ones using nothing but rice instead of, say, their architecture.
Natives of any culture don't do that, because they're burdened with the weight of the knowledge of their own culture. At most, some diaspora do this out of insecurity because they otherwise have no connection with the culture of their parents and want some sense of broad belonging/want to be inherently interesting wherever they are.

I highly doubt that demonstrating that otherworld denizens have no context for rice and don't know how to use it properly is an example of "Japanese nationalism", especially not if the vector of introduction is (as it usually is) a consumerist anime otaku or shiftless salaryman (either of whom are-- in most cases-- unfamiliar with anything especially useful, like architecture or blacksmithing). Then there's the matter of the people being introduced to this cultural unit being completely fictional and normally not being an allegory for a present-time real people.

And guess what? Talking about this matter falls exactly in the intended topic of this thread!
How? It has nothing to do with deconstruction or analysis. It's purely suggesting that Japanese writers do something slightly different. That different results will follow from introducing novel weaponry or architectural styles as opposed to food isn't a deconstruction in any sense-- it's basic storytelling.
 
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Quoting properly for this reply is a hassle, so I hope you can follow along.

Analyzing something inevitably needs "bashing on it", even if this term is not appropriate. When you analyze something you inevitably separate the "good things" from the "bad things" (these are totally subjective groups, but fields where analysis are objective are few) and one thing you can do with these two groups is study how good things can become bad and bad things can become good. This thread has the premise of doing the latter, which means at a surface level it looks like another unnecessary complaint especially when it's not followed by a "good enough" explanation of alternatives or what have you.

The whole thing about deconstruction was probably a poor choice and since it has been explained that it was also misled by the wrong interpretation of the word, we can safely abandon it in favour of a more generic "analysis". Notice how I did not use the word in my post you are replying to except for the quote. Effectively, to escape the misused "deconstruction" term we would geblneralize this thread a bit, while still keeping its spirit. Admittedly I should have also written this in my previous post and I apologize for leaving it out.

By conducting an analysis instead of an ill-guided "deconstruction", even if the analysis is "basic storytelling" or if it does not substantially change the work.
Consider this example: "John took an apple from a tree but John could not take a bite of the apple because the tree fell on John."; now if we reword it as: "John took an apple from a tree but he could not take a bite of the fruit because the plant fell on him."
They are the same sentence, they express the same exact scene, but by replacing certain words it became less repetitive and it improved considerably.

Now, I'm not advocating that by swapping a few things here and there everything will automatically improve, but I did say that it is possible to make interesting changes, maybe even with deeper consequences than simply being a substitute, just by doing "basic storytelling". This is how the rice argument connects with this thread: by using "fruit" instead of "apple", even if they are not synonyms, you can create something different, regardless of originality, and potentially better than the current landscape.

With that said, your complaint that rice can't demonstrate "nationalism" is debatable. Even with the stereotypical isolationism of Japan, people still know that their stuff is being consumed by foreigners and even if most amateurs are likely just bandwagoning, I wouldn't be surprised if certain authors or editors were to add those elements knowing that the work might be licensed oversea. But I'm just speculating for the sake of making an argument, so take this with a grain of rice salt.

Also, authors in isekai do go into the most unnecessary details in blacksmithing, farming, animal husbandry and even architecture among others, and I could even give you some links if you give me enough time to compile a proper list, it's just that they rarely make it a japanese thing, when it's possible to do so. The unnecessarily detailed stuff is everywhere; even an overworked salaryman will know how to survive in a tempest while navigating on a raft because he read it on the web while at the bathroom. This is inherently a complaint on a trope, but it is to say that you can't claim something just because the main character in a story has a certain property, you have to see the author's actual intentions (or speculating on the intentions, of course.)

Finally, saying "you cannot say anything about X because Y", in which here you change X with "isekai tropes and clichés" and Y with "money", is defending the status quo, because you are denying any kind of activity regarding X on the basis that Y makes everything invalid. It might be the case here, but you should not stop anyone regardless.
As for you using it as a reply... you should have not do that. We all know why that thing became like that and for those that do not know this is not the place to learn. That question should have been left unanswered unless the asker also provided additional informations on topic for this thread.
 
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The description for deconstruction Mandragoras referenced works with me. That's why I like Grimgar, it makes you look at the world and then go "Man, I'd probably just be a side character, and killing things is messy, and dangerous, and more than a little terrifying.
There's not too too many isekai that make you confront the recurring themes in isekai. You could consider some of the elements of Eminence in Shadow as deconstruction, but the humor isn't really meant to confront isekai tropes, more just use them for comedic purposes.
I think it would be cool to have a story where the protagonist is forced to deal with incredibly cultural dissonance and isolation. Seeing as whenever/wherever fantasy worlds are is incredibly different, and most people aren't able to adapt to wildly different social norms that quickly.
 
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You did not simplify at all. You just replaced one bit of incomprehensible philosopher-babble with another.
Which is why nobody uses philosophers' definition. You philosophers ran out of ability to talk human language at around Descartes' time.
You ever read, I dunno, Bertrand Russell? Maybe Richard Rorty? They're very readable, actually, and pretty direct in their ideas. I'd also say that Michel Foucault is way more accessible than people make him out to be because a lot of people who translate contemporary French stuff tend to make what they're translating less clear than it is in the original.

As for what deconstruction actually is, I defined it as simply as I could because, well, for one thing, I'm not an expert and deconstruction is a really deep and idiosyncratic subject. I guess I would reframe it as, an actual literary work of deconstruction might seek to examine the base assumptions inherent in the genre which it is operating in as well as its historical and cultural context and seek to turn a lot of the priorities built into those base assumptions on their heads through various approaches, whether in the storytelling itself or the form or even the medium itself. This is maybe a cliché example, but one could argue that Neon Genesis Evangelion is a deconstructive work, particularly with End of Evangelion's disruptions of the medium through the use of "fan mail" and weird Lacanian psychoanalytic shenanigans and the Rebuild films' whole nature as a response to the phenomenon that the already highly reflexive franchise became and an attempt to recontextualise all of that which came before. But this isn't simply because NGE is a giant robot show which examines "real-world implications," or because it's a giant robot show about giant robot shows; rather, those aspects are simply parts of its deconstructive nature, in the same way that just having magic or castles doesn't make something a high fantasy series or having illustrations and a narrative doesn't make something a manga.

Anyway, all this is super off-topic and I apologise for derailing the thread like this, although the ensuing conversation has been interesting at least!
 
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Why do they so often end up in a pseudo medieval European world? There are many interesting historical periods in different parts of the world. The 1st Final Fantasy that interested me enough to play to the end was X, partly due to the southeast Asian setting.

Then when they get there they usually have to Defeat the Demon Lord® or an evil kingdom on behalf of a benevolent  dictator princess. But if you're coming into this world with modern wisdom, then save it by teaching them to turn their swords into plowshares. Show them that that violence is not the best way to solve problems. I also would like to see a formerly poor earthling finding a way to abolish slavery, a political uprising against monarchy, equality for non-human races, etc.
 
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