Watch this anime if you
- want to watch a series in the iseki genre that has a slight twist to the formula and doesn’t take itself seriously
- like a little more mature characters and humor in anime
Avoid this anime if you
- dislike isekai anime
- want more depth in the protagonist
- are looking for an involved plot where the isekai protagonist has to save the world
Benriya Saitou-san, Isekai ni Iku (Handyman Saitou in Another World) Review
In many ways, Benriya Saitou-san, Isekai ni Iku, or Handyman Saitou in Another World, is a lot like any other isekai anime: the protagonist, Saitou is a fairly bland or vanilla protagonist who awakens and finds himself stuck in a fantasy world where he gets a second change to reform his life. It shares much with anime released during Winter 2023.
Even method of his transference to this other fantasy world has since become a staple in isekai anime: he’s hit by a bus on his way home from his last day on the job as a handyman. Saitou is fired from his job after asking for a raise and being told he’s replaceable.
Audiences are supposed to gleam that Saitou doesn’t have much going for him anyways: he’s struggling to survive in a ruthless society (and economy) that only seeks to exploit his labor in any way possible. That he dares ask for a raise and deny his employer that fraction of profit is punished not only by the loss of his job and livelihood, but it’s also punished by the universe when he’s hit by a bus while walking home and contemplating his future.
Luckily, Saitou’s transfer to a fantasy world of swords, magic, and dungeons (of course) allows him to learn his own value and to find a group of people who value him not only for the skills he provides, but also as a person who deserves to be loved for who he is rather than how much he can earn.
Where Benriya Saitou-san, Isekai ni Iku differs from other isekai, or “otherworld” anime, is that the protagonist is an older man instead of a high school student or young adult—in this way, this anime shares a similarity with Netflix’s Isekai Ojisan, or Uncle from Another World.
And the supporting cast of characters, while drawing from the well-established list of Japanese animation tropes, is fairly mature as well—Morlock, the great mage, is in his eighties, an age which is not often seen in anime except for principals of academies or rulers of kingdoms.
Along with the characters, the humor in the anime is more mature. In the first episode, audiences get a glimpse of the type of humor they can expect when Morlock explains how measurement was standardized in the world (hint: it wasn’t the king’s foot). For those wondering, one maderaka is about a foot, or more precisely, 11.81 inches.
Unlike other isekai anime, Benriya Saitou-san, Isekai ni Iku doesn’t have a central plot throughout the series. Saitou and his group of adventurers aren’t tasked with saving the world from a demon king. Nor do have some kind of hefty or altruistic goal like saving a kingdom.
Instead, the story is told through vignettes that reveal the backgrounds of the characters as they struggle every day in the dungeons to scrape up a living.
Even though Saitou is in another world, he’s unable to completely escape the need to work in order to survive. One of the characters, the fairy Lafanpan, is an embodiment of this tenet of capitalism. Lafanpan’s curse requires her to offer gold coins to some unknown, but demanding, god in the sky in order to survive, so she’s understandably miserly.
While Morlock and Lafanpan seem like more interesting characters, Saitou himself is fairly generic. Even his appearance reflects his otherwise bland character: a plain, all-blue uniform that doesn’t make much of a statement, a fairly generic face, and otherwise bland personality. In this way, maybe Saitou symbolizes the everyman, the invisible blue-collar workers that turn the gears of society. To be fair, many male protagonists in anime tend to be fairly generic.
The plot of the anime also differs from other isekai anime in that the characters here have no noble purpose. They don’t have to save the world from a conquering demon king. They don’t have to fight some demonic army intent on razing kingdoms. Instead, Saitou and his group of misfit adventurers go into the dungeon and groups of enemies and certain death in order to eke out a livelihood—for Lafanpan, the struggle is real.
It’s not all work for Saitou though. His romantic interest is Raelza, and their relationship is fairly stereotypical of the romantic relationships in anime where the male protagonist remains aloof and confused while his female interest shyly loves him from afar. Maybe the only difference is that Raelza is physically the strongest member of the party.
Benriya Saitou-san, Isekai ni Iku is a nice change of pace from other isekai anime this Winter 2023 season where protagonists are powerful like Kaiko sareta Ankoku Heishi (30-dai) no Slow na Second Life (Chillin’ in My 30s after Getting Fired from the Demon King’s Army) or Rougo ni Sonaete Isekai de 8-manmai no Kinka wo Tamemasu (Saving 80,000 Gold in Another World for My Retirement). Audiences should enjoy the the more mature humor and character development that is made possible by the vignette format and the lack of a central, overarching plot.
Read reviews of other anime below.