Chapter 1:

A Priest, a Mech, and a Catgirl Walk Into a Bar…

Isekai? I Hardly Know Her! Take My Waifu From Another World, Please!

Denny Fritz was dying on stage. Little did he know, he was about to die for real.

The amateur comedian had been delivering his best material for ten minutes, but not a single patron of the low-rent comedy bar had even acknowledged his existence. The problem, he knew, was his material. All his jokes revolved around anime, and the audience were a bunch of normies. It felt just like being in high school again. He was a lone anime nerd amidst those who held his interests in disdain.

Desperate for a reaction, any reaction, Denny decided to pull out his worst joke. It was better to be booed off the stage than completely ignored.

“And what’s the deal with tsunderes anyway?” he droned. “They’re always saying ‘anta baka’ and ‘betsuni.’”

Nothing. Not a single person bothered to heckle him. It was obvious that they wanted nothing to do with him, so he decided to cut his losses and walked offstage without another word.

“Tough crowd tonight,” one of the other comedians commented as Denny returned to the green room. Denny recognized the man. He saw him often at open mic events like this, but he didn’t remember his name.

“Maybe I’m just not cut out for this,” Denny mumbled.

“Perhaps,” the comedian shrugged, “but maybe you should change your approach. Find something else to write jokes about.”

“I love stand-up,” Denny said, shaking his head, “but not as much as I love anime. I know there are others who feel the same way. I just have to find my audience.”

“Yeah, well, good luck with that,” the comedian scoffed, pulling a small vial from his coat’s inner pocket. He tapped out a small line of white powder on a scuffed and dirty table and bent forward. “Where are my manners?” he chuckled, sitting back up. “Want a hit?”

Normally, Denny would have declined, as He had work in the morning, but he badly needed a pick-me-up. “Thanks,” he said, kneeling down in front of the table and inhaling the powder.

The rush hit him immediately. His heart raced, and he felt hot and cold all at the same time. As his vision began to blur, he could feel sweat breaking out from head to toe. “Damn, what was in that?” he managed to slur before collapsing.

When Denny awoke, he was lying on his back in a field, a warm breeze blowing across his face. Slowly, he sat up and looked around him. At first, he thought the drugs were making him hallucinate, but the world around him was too real for that.

He was sitting a few meters from a dirt road. He allowed his eyes to follow the road all the way to the horizon, finding no other evidence of civilization. Turning to look behind him, he spotted a city in the distance. With no clues to his whereabouts, he started on the road towards the city.

It took him hours to reach his destination. He met not a soul along the way. What at first had felt to him like a pleasant warmth became an uncomfortable heat as he walked without shade or water, but he forgot his discomfort completely when he arrived close enough to make out the details of the city.

The buildings, each a few floors tall, were of medieval European architecture, with exposed timber frames and dirty white rectangular panels. What was more shocking, however, was the stone wall that surrounded the city. It wasn’t very tall, less than three meters by his estimation, but what kind of city had walls in this day and age?

Denny’s mind couldn’t process it. He had to be hallucinating after all, but it felt so real. He hurried towards the city, desperate to find it had all been a mirage. As he drew near, a man with a spear emerged from behind the gate, causing Denny to stop in his tracks.

“G’day, m’lord,” the man greeted him, a quizzical look on his face.

“Hi,” Danny replied. “Um, I’m no lord.”

“A bandit then?” the man asked. “Stole those clothes from one of your betters?” Though his language seemed threatening, the smile that appeared on his face told Denny that the man meant him no harm.

“What, this thing?” Denny scoffed, lifting the breast of his secondhand tweed jacket. It was well-worn from years of service and covered in various stains, not to mention soaked in his sweat. “I got it for five bucks at a thrift store.”

“Surely, you jest,” the man chuckled, but then his eyes went wide. “Five ‘bucks,'' you say? Are you a bard by chance?”

“Well, I tell jokes, but no one’s ever laughed at them,” Denny admitted.

“No,” the man said, “I mean, are you one of those jesters from another world?”

“Another world?” Denny gasped. Suddenly it all made sense. The long dirt road that stretched for miles without any travelers, the medieval city with its stone wall, and the jovial man with the spear, they all suddenly made sense. “I’ve been isekai’d? Is there magic in this world? Do I get special powers?”

“There it is!” the man exclaimed. “That’s what they all ask first. No, no magic or special powers, I’m afraid, but the minstrel tales from your world are sought-after here.”

“Minstrel tales?”

“The heroic adventures of the Elric brothers are known throughout the land,” the man said. “Not to mention, there’s the journey of the Bebop, the war chronicles of Reinhard von Lohengramm and Yang Wen-li, and the saga of Ichigo Kurosaki, to name a few.”

Denny’s shock was replaced by pure elation. He hadn’t just been isekai’d: He’d been isekai’d into a world where everyone knew all the popular anime. He had finally found the perfect audience for his standup routine.