Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation may get to be a bit much at times, with its ecchi, but beyond that, it is one of the most consistent quality shows we’ve seen in a long time.
|Creator(s)||Rifujin na Magonote|
|Aired||1/10/2021 – 3/21/2021|
|Genre(s)||Action, Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy, Young Adult, Animation, Non-English|
|Lord Sauros||Binbin Takaoka|
This content contains pertinent spoilers.
In his former life, Rudy was a 34-year-old otaku, over 200 pounds, that due to being bullied throughout his formative years, became a shut-in. Yet, after being forced into the outside world, he finds himself saving some teenagers at the cost of his life. But, rather than that be the end, he is reborn in a new world with most, if not all, of his memories of his former life.
The combination of a new body, but this 34-year-old mind, leads to Rudy considering this his opportunity to start over again. Thus, he does his best to learn as much as possible, including magic. Then, after his teacher, Roxy, breaks his social anxiety, he makes friends more easily, and just in general, he corrects and avoids the mistakes of his past life and becomes the person he perhaps wanted to be.
However, don’t look at Rudy as perfect. Like his new father, Paul, he is perverted and ogles, savors people’s undergarments, and more. But, thankfully, Rudy more so erred on the side of his new mother Zenith, a notable spellcaster.
But, as for the first season, it is mostly an origin story that goes up until Rudy is on the cusp of becoming a teenager and features adventures to different cities, continents, and meeting both Paul’s family members and all kinds of demons. Some of which aren’t demi-human and threaten not only Rudy’s life but also those he forms bonds with.
The Balance Of World Building & Character Building
One of the things a lot of shows, live-action or animated, don’t master on both ends, is developing the world the characters live in and getting you to invest in the characters themselves. Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation is different. It deep dives into how things work, the history of certain areas, family lineage, different types of magic and swordplay, and so much more!
Then, in terms of characters, almost everyone you meet is given a story. Be it Rudy’s aunt Hilda that he meets when he moves to Roa, all the way to Rudy himself having a multi-layered persona due to the combination of what happened in his past life and what is happening in his present.
Tastefully Speeding Up Time
Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation does its best to recognize when things are potentially getting boring or when its audience might question, “Where is this going?” Often this is done once Rudy is established in his environment and his specific goals are established. Be it him learning to use magic, getting accustomed to Roa, after Paul ships him off, or living within the demon continent. In an almost chapter format, the show presents the beginning of things, builds a strong foundation, and then presents just enough of the awkward adjustment for you to understand Rudy is out of his element. But rather than dwell on this, it skips the less interesting parts of him getting acclimated and rushes you towards the middle-end of that chapter.
Thus, the pacing is usually kept quick enough to keep you interested, but never so far you feel like you didn’t get to understand the people or place Rudy finds himself in or surrounded by.
The Consistency of the Show’s Formula
Most shows start off strong and then taper off and become average towards the end. With Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation, that doesn’t really happen. Despite changing the main setting three times over 11 episodes and giving us new characters, a new location, and new challenges, the show never loses, beyond an adjustment episode, what makes it so intriguing.
Add in seeing Rudy’s new world cousin, Eris, joining him from the second location to the third, it really pushes the idea that the formula used could effectively work for any character. Leaving Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation to be one of the few shows, anime especially, that doesn’t seem reliant on challenging itself to be more violent, sexual, or ridiculous to keep you a loyal viewer.
Checking In With Familiar Characters, Despite the Story Moving Forward
Piggybacking off the headings above, what Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation also does, out of respect to its viewers, is check-in on characters introduced. It begins with letters from Roxy, who is one of the first characters who exits the main storyline. Then, when he leaves home, though it isn’t too often, we do see Zenith, Paul, and everyone else from Rudy’s hometown checked up on.
We highlight this because Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation is clearly just at the beginning of its story, and while adults are considered 15 in this unnamed world, it took nearly 11 episodes for us to just get Rudy to 10. So imagine, with three locations already covered, how many more will be seen in season 2? Never mind how many people? So getting to know how Paul and Zenith are, Roxy, Eris, and Rudy’s family in Roa, if just a few scenes, it makes it feel no one is forgotten and, ultimately, they might be supporting characters in Rudy’s life, but are very much the star of their own.
What makes Rudy such a compelling character is the relationships he builds. We won’t go into them all, but the best ones to focus on is his relationship with Paul, Eris, and Sylphiette. Beginning with the most startling one, there is Paul. Now, why is this startingly? Well, when the show just begins, you think will be an ecchi comedy that features this otaku in a new life. However, it is through Paul you begin to realize this show is going to pursue having depth.
How? Well, as we learn, Paul as much as Paul is scummy, he has this need to parent Rudy. The problem is, Rudy has the mind of a 30 something-year-old, so when it comes to Paul, there isn’t much to be taught there. So any opportunity Paul has to play father, you see him grab hold of it – including when he thinks his borderline perfect child did something wrong. And despite Paul being wrong in that situation, you can see the constant modifications that go on so that Paul can be more than half of Rudy’s genes. Which includes Rudy giving Paul a break and allowing him to help when it comes to his, Rudy’s, relationship with Sylphiette.
Now, when it comes to Sylphiette, she comes in after Roxy exits in the second episode and becomes Rudy’s first friend. From what it appears, this is his first friend in both his present and past life, and so there are some growing pains. The first major one being that Rudy thought Sylph was a boy, yet learns she is a girl – which causes a highly uncomfortable moment. But, Paul helps smooth things over, and you can see Sylphiette developing into a first love.
Mind you, we don’t see kissing or anything like that, but we are presented the idea that with Roxy breaking Rudy out of his shell, it has made him courageous, helped him acknowledge he is likable to people not obligated to him and has so much to give. Hence the relationship he develops with Eris was rough at first. How so? Well, Eris is very much like her grandfather, Lord Sauros, in terms of yelling and using physical violence to get her point across. So imagine Rudy, who is years younger than her, and expected to teach her to read, write, and do math.
Needless to say, their relationship starts off hellacious, but through manipulation and adaptation, Eris ends up trusting Rudy with her life, and while she may yell and fight others, Rudy she’ll listen to, even when enraged. Heck, because of how strange their family is, her father even offers up Eris as a potential wife, and things get a bit weird between Rudy and Eris – but more on that later.
Getting Just Enough Of Old Rudy
Part of Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation beating heart is that you know this is Rudy’s second chance. With that, it gets you emotional as Roxy helps him become curious and adventurous, as he makes friends, impresses Paul’s family members, and shows himself to be capable of things he wasn’t in his past life. And as he pushes himself, it really does make you feel for who he once was, a person bullied, in the form of being stripped in front of his peers, to the point he feared the outside world.
And even towards the end of the season, as he speaks with Man-God, you get a sense that Rudy is utterly ashamed of his past life and body, especially considering all he has done in ten years. This leads you to wonder, in season 2, will Rudy begin to forgive himself and accept who he once was? Or is any and all reminders of that 200-pound shut-in just a trigger he wants to avoid?
Rudy, The Pervert
We recognize ecchi is a beloved part of anime focused on a young male coming of age. However, what complicates that in Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation is that Rudy is 34. So while it is just perverted when it comes to ogling at Zenith’s breasts as a baby and listening to her and Paul have voracious sex, it gets uncomfortable and becomes a giant red flag when Rudy is trying to sneak a peek at Eris. For with Eris being 10, give or take a year, by episode 11, it makes the then mentally 40+-year-old Rudy a pedophile essentially.
Yes, in a body that is not even a teenager yet, but it is hard to reconcile Rudy’s physical age with his mental age when you’re talking about his interest in girls. Which often makes the ecchi eye-roll inducing at best and rapey at worst, especially since Rudy does grope/assault Eris or attempts to, more than once.
On The Fence
There Not Necessarily Being A Real Threat
The reason you may think, as noted, “Where is this going?” is because there isn’t a real threat presented in season 1. Some potential threats for season 2 are presented, but as for Rudy having to go against this person or having a time limit to do that? Neither time nor a specific entity are presented as opposition. Leaving Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation somewhere above being a slice of life, since it has a multitude of entertaining action scenes, yet not fully embracing what is expected when it comes to an adventure series.
Rating: Positive (Watch This)
The main issue we found with Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation is the ecchi, mainly in trying to deal with the idea Rudy is mentally a 40+-year-old man who lusts for girls who are not legal in the world he came from. That aside, Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation is probably one of the best anime we’ve watched in a long while. It has wonderful characters, with a fascinating world for them to live and play in, and it’s consistent throughout the series, of making sure both the places Rudy is in and the people surrounding him give the show value. Thus we get these characters who, both as individuals and in their relationship to Rudy, are assets.
Hence the positive label. While Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation has a few blemishes, including the first season completely being an origin story with no adversary, it is one of the few shows, live-action or animated, that somehow balances each element that a show needs to be great. That is a lead you can invest in, a world and supporting characters with rich history and lives, as well as being able to maintain the qualities you fell in love with throughout the season.
[amazon bestseller=”Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation” items=”3″]
There Not Necessarily Being A Real Threat - 73%
Rudy, The Pervert - 63%
Getting Just Enough Of Old Rudy - 84%
Rudy's Relationships - 86%
Checking In With Familiar Characters, Despite the Story Moving Forward - 85%
The Consistency of the Show's Formula - 91%
Tastefully Speeding Up Time - 87%
The Balance Of World Building & Character Building - 88%
While Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation has a few blemishes, including the first season completely being an origin story with no adversary, it is one of the few shows, live-action or animated, that somehow balances each element that a show needs to be great.
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