Chapter 1:

Chapter 1: The First Episode

Reborn as the Protagonist: I’m a Weeb Who Got Isekaid Into My Favorite Anime and Now I’m Gonna Make the Side Character Waifu Fall in Love with Me

What I’m looking at is the most famous opening scene in anime history. The first shot of the greatest show ever made, in Japan or anywhere else. If you have a different opinion, you can keep it to yourself. It’s okay to be wrong.

The sun shines bright over the big two-story school building as teenagers in matching uniforms pour in through the front gate. There’s the PE teacher shouting at the stragglers and nitpicking the students with sloppy uniforms. The bell’s about to chime any minute now. Classes are about to begin.

I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen it over a hundred times.

The problem is, I’m not seeing it on my TV. I’m not streaming it on my phone. I’m not watching my deluxe edition DVD/Blu-Ray combo pack with director’s commentaries on every episode and the set of glossy postcards with each female character in an ecchi pose that came stuffed in the cardboard box.

This is real life, and I’m seeing it all play it in front of my eyes.

“Hey you!”

The PE teacher locks eyes with me.


“Yeah, you! Get a move on! You’re already late!”

I just stand there like an idiot. I can hear him speaking Japanese, but I can understand him perfectly. I’ve spent a lot of time binging anime, I’ve seen over a thousand series from start to finish including movies, OVAs, ONAs, spinoffs, bonus episodes, and webisodes. I’ve even watched camera footage of theme park rides based on my favorite shows because I never thought I’d be able to visit Japan to see them in person.

Even with all that time invested, I’ve only picked up a handful of key words and phrases, most of which would be utterly useless to someone trying to navigate the country, but might be helpful in a place like Akihabara where all the anime merch is sold.

And yet, here I am.

And suddenly I can speak Japanese? I said the word “me” but when it came out of my mouth, I heard the Japanese word instead. Apparently so did the PE teacher since he responded with no delay.

“Alright, kid. Come with me.”


I follow the PE teacher, a character who doesn’t have an official name. He leads me through the school, huffing and puffing and stopping to yell at me every few steps because I can’t stop gawking at our surroundings.

I’m like a tourist, stopping and staring in awe at the famous landmarks surrounding me. Every classroom we pass, the lockers, the bathrooms, the big windows outside the long hallways, they all trigger memories.

Not my own memories, memories from the show.

That’s when I realize where he’s taking me.

Season one, episode one, opens with the protagonist late for school. He runs to the gate with a piece of toast hanging from his mouth. He hears the school bell ring and gets yelled at by the PE teacher. Then it cuts to him standing outside of the classroom, holding buckets of water for punishment.

This is something of a cliché in anime, although I haven’t seen it pop up in a while. I always thought that was such a lame punishment. How hard could it possibly be to hold two buckets of water for a half hour while class in session?


So I’m standing outside of a classroom (maybe I should say my classroom?) with my hands gripping two metal buckets filled to the brim with water and feeling like a moron for ever thinking I could handle this.

My arms fill like they’re about to fall off.

I glance back and forth, down both ends of the hallway. I’m the only one here. I set the buckets down. What’s the worst that could happen? I’m not a real student. I’m not even from this country.

I step away from the wall and toward the big window. Through the glass I can see the whole city. There’s a crop of towering skyscrapers outside, clusters of small apartments buildings, cars and taxis speeding through the streets crowded with people on sidewalks waiting to cross.

I can’t believe I’m really here. Well, not really here. I’m not in the real, actual country of Japan. Everyone I’ve seen so far looks like a cartoon. Even my own reflection staring back at me in the window doesn’t look like a flesh and blood person. It doesn’t look like me it all. It looks like the protagonist of my favorite show.

Which means I’m the protagonist.

I stop and think about that and what it means. All the adventures I’m about to go on, all the classic characters I’m about to meet. For once, my life is about to be amazing, even if it’s technically not actually my life.

I see my reflection smiling at me in the window. And then I see a glowing red laser beam explode through the clouds as it shreds through shards of glass and cracks open the school building.

In the shattered remains of the cracked glass mirror I see my reflection still, a bloody hole cratered through my chest, wide enough to shove a fist through. The wall behind me is splattered with blood. I hear the sounds of panicking in the classroom.

The door flings open and I see her standing there. My waifu.

I collapse to my knees and try to say something but can’t.

Everything goes black.


What I’m looking at is the most famous opening scene in anime history. The first shot of the greatest show ever made- Wait… Have I said this before?

Hold on, what just happened?

I was standing outside of the classroom with those buckets...

Oh, yeah. Right.

How could I have forgotten?

I got so caught up in reminiscing about all the wild and crazy adventures I was about to embark on that I didn’t even think about what happens in the very first episode.

“Hey you!”

The PE teacher again. He’s gonna yell at me for being late and then force me to wait outside of the classroom for all of first period.

Except that’s not what happens

What happens is the protagonist decides to put the buckets down. He’s one of those characters who doesn’t care about the rules, always telling off authority figures and rushing into action.

The kind of guy I’ve never been.

So the protagonist stares out the window, daydreaming and longing for a life of adventure instead of enduring his punishment. He looks up into the sky and sees an enormous monster staring down at him. And then it attacks. A big laser beam fires from the clouds and hits the school. The protagonist sees the beam just in time and narrowly dodges it.

It didn’t work like that for me.

“Stand here and think about what you’ve done. And if you’re late again tomorrow, it’s gonna be much worse!”

The PE teacher hands me the two metal buckets full of water again. I wait til he leaves and then I toss them aside, spilling the water all over the floor. I run to the window and I look up to the sky. There’s nothing there. Yet. With that out of the way I try to focus and formulate a plan.

I check my pockets.

I find a phone. The only contacts are named Mom and Dad. The protagonist never really interacts with his family. He lives alone in an apartment while his parents live back in the country in his hometown. Apparently, he doesn’t have any friends either. I guess we have more in common than I thought. At least, not until the series gets going and he… or we… or I… start meeting all kinds of colorful characters.

I find keys. Gotta open that lonely one bedroom apartment somehow.

I find a wallet. My student ID shows the protagonist’s face which is now my face. The name Hiro is printed underneath our photo and I’m able to read it even though I normally can’t decipher the language at all.

Other than that, there’s nothing here.

I hear someone talking. The muffled voice coming from inside the classroom. It’s a voice I recognize from the show, from a thousand other shows and video games, from soundtrack singles and drama CDs and live performances.

It’s Yuko.

My waifu.

My favorite character in all of fiction.

The 2D girl of my dreams is just behind this classroom door. I caught a glimpse of her for a brief moment before dying a gruesome death only a few minutes ago.

I throw the door open and see Sensei, another generic background character with no real name.

“Hiro-kun! What do you think you’re doing?!”

Sensei’s understandably upset but I ignore her. I scan the classroom, searching for Yuko. I finally lay eyes on her. Besides me and Sensei, she’s the only one standing.

Yuko holds an English textbook open, her neon blue hair glimmering in the morning sunlight as it leaks through the window. There’s a beat of silence as we stare into each other’s eyes. The only noise coming from the restless cicadas as they buzz rhythmically outside.

“What are you lookin’ at, dumbass?!”

Yuko throws her textbook at me and nails me right in the face. I’m suddenly reminded of episode 2 of the OVA where she plays baseball with all the magical characters and has an incredible throwing arm.

Yuko realizes what she’s done and goes red with embarrassment. She puts a hand behind her head, closes her eyes, blushes, and a sweat drop appears near her temple as she laughs nervously.

“Sorry everybody…”

Her stomach growls loudly. The whole class laughs as she blushes harder.

Yuko is a side character.

A cute and excitable tomboy who dotes on the protagonist and pretends not to have a crush on him. But she never gets to go on any adventures. In fact, she only appears in the first three episodes.

I used to spend long nights in chat rooms and forums discussing the show with other fans, each of us lamenting our favorite sporty background character who was simply forgotten once the action started up.

That’s when I make up my mind. Right there in that comic relief moment. I decide that if I’m gonna be stuck in this world, I want to be stuck with Yuko. I want to live out our lives together in this world as a happy couple and grow old together. I haven’t quite figured out what I’m gonna do about all the monsters and the great big adventure that awaits me, but I’ll figure it out when I get there.

“Yuko,” I say, “I-“ and then I feel a familiar feeling.

My guts rumble, the twisting, turning, feeling growing rapidly inside my stomach until a red bolt of light rips through my body and leaves another massive, gory hole. I cough up blood as I stare down at the floor, there’s a hole in the ground and I can see down into the classroom below us where another sensei stares back, bewildered.

“Nevermind,” I say as Yuko shrieks, running to my side, “I’ll tell you next time.”


Standing outside the school again.

“Hey you!”

Bells ringing.

Buckets of water.

I’m back outside of the classroom again.

I have to think this through, I can’t just go around the school like a normal student. I have to use my knowledge of the show to save myself and, more importantly, to keep Yuko safe.

So what happens in the first episode?

Well, if you haven’t seen it, it goes like this:

The protagonist is late to school and has to wait outside of the classroom. A giant monster appears in the sky over the city. His eyes glow red. He unhinges his massive jaws and unleashes an enormous beam of red light from behind row after row of serrated fangs. The laser beam pierces the protagonist’s school building, sending steel beams and concrete crumbling to pieces. The protagonist manages to dodge the attack at the last second.

And then an angel appears.

A beautiful girl with long blond hair and enormous, fluffy, feathery angel wings materializes in front of the protagonist. She unsheathes a flaming sword and when the creature in the sky blasts his laser again, she slices it in half. The beam misses the school and reflects back at the monster. The monster cries out in pain before disappearing from view, completely engulfed in its own flames.

The angel reaches out a hand toward the protagonist and tells him to come with her, that she needs his help. Then off they go into the world of angels and deathgods and apocalyptic monsters, leaving all the normal characters like PE teacher and Sensei and, of course, Yuko, to live in the normal world while they fight for the survival of the human race.

Not this time. This time we’re gonna do things a little differently. This time we’re doing it my way.

“H-Hey!! Where are you going?!” The PE teacher asks.


I rush past him, sprinting through the empty school building until I find the janitor’s closet. Inside I see those two metal buckets that have been killing my arms. I grab them and hurry off.

Up on the second floor I reach the classroom and stop. I can hear Yuko again. Her voice stifled from inside the room. I hear her recite a poem in surprisingly diligent English. I think for a moment about how weird it is that I can somehow comprehend Japanese in this world, and I can even tell when someone who usually speaks Japanese is now speaking English and doing a really good job of it. It’s enough to warp my brain but I don’t have time to think about it at the moment.

For the third time today, I look outside of the windows in the hallway, feeling the weight of the water-filled buckets in each hand. What I’m about to do is a longshot, but it’s worth a try. Plus, I’m pretty sure I’ll just respawn back at the school gate if something goes wrong.

I see something up in the sky. An enormous, spindly leg pierces through the clouds and shoots down toward the earth. The leg ends in a sharp point like a needle and stabs through concrete. The impact sends rumbling shockwaves through the asphalt, cracking the street outside the front gate of the school.

I watch as the other three legs plant themselves into the ground, each one wreaking havoc as it lands, sending cars flipping into explosive crashes and sending citizens running for cover.

An eyeball slips through the cloudy sky and peeks out at the earth below. Maybe I’m overthinking it, but it feels like it’s staring right into my eyes. It’s expecting me. The giant beast unfurls his snarling snout, each tooth bigger than any single wrecked car in the street beneath its massive legs.

The creature emanates a crimson aura.

Now’s my chance.

I shouldn’t know how to pull off the move I’m about to use, but I’ve got a secret weapon. I’ve seen this whole show already, not to mention I’ve read the complete manga, played every video game, and listened to all the drama CDs. I know exactly what’s going to happen.

Which means I know about the power up in episode 24. I know that the protagonist, in this case, me, learns how to use magic.

There’s a character I’ll get to meet much later on and he’s gonna teach me how to master my own magical abilities. Basically, you have to reach deep within yourself and pour all of your energy into summoning an attack.

How hard can it be?

I don’t exactly know what it’s supposed to feel like when you do it right, but I’ve got to try.

The monster lets its laser beam loose. I can see it coming right for me. Somehow, time seems to be moving much slower. Maybe this is an effect of the soul sorcery? Is this what it feels like?

I’m in the zone. I pull the buckets back, ready to throw. I’ve never seen the protagonist try this move, but there’s no reason it shouldn’t work.

Besides, I’m the protagonist now.

As the beam inches towards the window, the glass begins to splinter and crack from the approaching heat.

I focus every ounce of my energy on the buckets. All it takes is concentration. I picture all of the energy inside me, envisioning a flow of magical power I’ve never sensed before today.

I throw one bucket, then follow up quickly with the other. The water from both of them combines, swirling into a powerful beam of my own. The water hits the monster’s laser beam and stops it on impact. The beam freezes over, the bucket water creeping back upwards towards the monster’s mouth and forming one long icicle that juts into the sky over the school building.

The monster utters an unholy screeching wail as the icicle freezes upwards into his mouth. The sound cuts out suddenly as its vocal chords turn tl ice and crack from the remaining vibration of its pained cries.

Then the thing finally freezes over completely. The ice begins to crack and split and eventually the giant monster falls apart, chunks of frozen monster meat thudding to the earth below and shattering into smaller pieces.

I pump my fist into the air like a true shonen hero.

Awesome! Now that that’s out of the way-”

I turn around in time to see the classroom door slam open. Everyone inside scrambles to exit but the one at the front of the crowd is Yuko.

“Hiro! What’s going on?!”

I approach her slowly, grab her by the hands, and look her in the eyes. Sensei and all our classmates flood out of the room and rush to the windows to see the damage.

“Wh-what the hell are you doing?”

“Yuko,” I say, taking an even bigger gamble than the crazy move I just pulled off, “will you go out with me?”

I’m so hyped up on adrenaline and magical energy that I barely even feel it when she hauls back and slaps me across the face.

Somehow, her face is even redder than mine.

Joe Gold
Joshua Lundquest