Original Run: January 11, 2021 - March 22, 2021 Number of Episodes: 11 Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Isekai Based on the Series Created By: Rifujin na Magonote
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation. Reader discretion is advised.***
In a tragic accident, a middle-aged shut-in (voiced by Tomokazu Sugita) tries to be a hero once in his life. Unfortunately, this one noble act cost him his life.
Feeling his consciousness slipping away, the man thinks back on the time he wasted closed off from everyone. Then, in an act of fate, the man gets a second chance. He is reborn in a parallel world as the young mage Rudeus Greyrat (voiced by Yumi Uchiyama).
Rudeus remembers the person he once was and is determined not to become that again. No matter what may come, he will move forward.
I want to sit here and tell you I liked Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation (Mushoku Tensei). After all, I did get enjoyment out of this series; there were things it did well. I am curious enough to learn what might happen in season two, which, at the time of this review going live, is scheduled for an October 2021 release.
Despite all that, no, I cannot say I liked this show.
I will try to explain myself later on but for the time being, know that I found Mushoku Tensei to be irredeemable.
Putting aside my hesitation, there are plenty of good things that can be said about this series.
First and foremost, Mushoku Tensei was beautifully animated. I was astonished by how amazing this show looked. The settings were wonderfully detailed, magic was a gorgeous thing to behold, and the land felt lush, vast, and whole.
When this series was lighthearted and silly, the visuals helped convey that. Likewise, when scenes turned dark, you could see how distressed our characters were.
From what I can tell, this is Studio Bind’s first production, and in terms of animation, they made one hell of an impression.
This was no high-fantasy story. Yes, there were demons, magic, and mystical creatures. However, this show’s characters were living an otherwise down-to-earth, simple world. There was an order to society, an order that could have still been prevalent had things like spells not existed.
Although people were born more adapted towards specific skills, someone had to put in actual effort to become a formidable warrior or caster.
In this context – and believe me, the context matters – Rudeus Grayrat did not adhere to a classic isekai narrative trope. He might have had a knack for magic and was a quick learner, but Rudeus did not get reincarnated as the most powerful being in existence. To reach the level he got to by the end of this season, Rudeus had to put in the work. And even then, many characters were much stronger than him.
Through and through, when the actual story was taking place – ignoring the “quirky character” moments (I’m about to rail into that problem) – Mushoku Tensei had a unique feel.
This show was by no means silly, but it also wasn’t dark and depressing. It was in this strange middle ground that would have made it an interesting fantasy story had it simply been a fantasy story. Unfortunately, this series was more akin to a ham-fisted isekai.
Sure, if you were to take away the entire parallel-world aspect, Mushoku Tensei would have been a very different show. Except, I don’t believe that would have been a bad thing.
Rudeus Greyrat is the primary reason why I cannot like or recommend this show – but it should be noted that all the males in this series were scumbags.
I am not saying Rudeus was a poorly defined character. No, I am saying that the very idea of his character made Mushoku Tensei gross, disturbing, and sometimes sickening to watch.
Before I go any further, let me make something abundantly clear. I understand that when Rudeus was a child in his previous life, he was the victim of harsh and inhumane bullying. His fear of going outside, even after being reincarnated, made sense. But that is where my sympathy for him ends.
Whatever Rudeus may have gone through did not give him a free pass to be a deadbeat who holed himself up in his garbage dump of a room while masturbating to I-don’t-even-want-to-know-what-kind-of porn instead of attending his parent funeral. Also, retaining the mind and memories of a middle-aged creep while in the body of a ten-year-old doesn’t turn pedophilia and sexual assault into something cute.
If you think I am being needless harsh and hyperbolic, trust me, I am not.
Ignoring the fact it didn’t make any damn sense how a freeloading shut-in had the same logical thinking that was on par with a master strategist, one of Rudeus’ primary character traits was his open perversion.
- He was not subtle when he drooled over big breasts.
- He was a habitual panty thief.
- He had a core understanding with his new father, who was a blatant womanizer and adulterer.
- His motivation for getting close to all this show’s female characters was to have sex with them.
TRIGGER WARNING AHEAD:
There was a scene where Rudeus didn’t hesitate to remove the underwear of a sleeping twelve-year-old girl.
Can season two recover from its predecessor’s trivialization of sex crimes? I’m curious about what direction this series might take because I really don’t think it can.
While Mushoku Tensei’s narrative evolved into something much deeper, Rudeus was no less a pervert than he was at the start of the show. I didn’t and don’t want to root for this guy. And if you’re going to tell me this story and Rudeus get better, you’re fighting an uphill battle. This is a case of too little too late. I am unconvinced this series has its priorities in the proper order; this is a misguided show.
To really drive my point home, let me take this stance – Redo of Healer was actually better in this sense than Mushoku Tensei.
In case you don’t know, Redo of Healer has explicit scenes of rape and torture; they are disturbing and brutal to watch. The thing was, though, that was the point. Did Redo of Healer have to go as hard as it did? Probably not. But at least Redo of Healer didn’t make light of what it was doing; it was f@#$ed up and there is no other way to interpret it.
Mushoku Tensei, on the other hand, was all like, “So you got into the maid’s underwear drawer again, didn’t you, son? Ha-ha, just like your old man, you little scamp. Now you go off and play while I stay here and boink the help behind my wife’s back and face absolutely zero consequences for my actions.”
“Ah, gee-whiz pop, you and I sure do think alike.”
I won’t pretend I haven’t overlooked this sort of thing in past anime. Thinking about it, I can tell you several shows I recommended that had similar traits. Those recommendations were mistakes; mistakes I regret. They were mistakes I will try my hardest not to make again.
It doesn’t matter if 90% of a show is blasting on full cylinders. If the other 10% treats sexual assault as just a mere character quirk, then that will outweigh the rest.
Having a perverted character is one thing. Having a perverted character that learns what they are doing is wrong and actively attempts to become a better person is another.
Such growth might take place in season two. If it does, then I will reconsider this series as a whole. For the time being, though, don’t let the beautiful animation and artwork fool you.
This show is fundamentally flawed, and Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation can be skipped.
But these were just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.