I was cautiously excited when it was announced that Mushoku Tensei would be getting an anime. On one hand, I was happy that one of my favorite pieces of fiction was getting an anime. On the other hand, I wasn’t sure the show could do the series justice due to how detailed the world and characters of the series are. After 4 episodes, I can definitively say that this adaptation easily does its source justice and stands on its own as one of the best anime this season.
As many other light novel adaptations start, an unnamed 34-year old hikikomori is run over by a truck while trying to save some high school students from getting hit. What makes this rote premise a bit more interesting than other series is that the main character is reborn as a child — we follow him through his entire life in this new world.
The attention to detail in the first episode blew me away. The interior of Rudeus’s (the main character’s new name) house to the exquisitely drawn landscapes were simply breathtaking. The character animation is also as exquisite as the world, too, with their expressiveness conveying their feelings while also being a joy to watch. You need to look up how magic is portrayed in this series, as well, because no single picture can convey how extraordinary it looks and feels. Even if I wasn’t already in love with the series, I would check it out because of its technical merits… or I would just look up all the sakuga on sakugabooru.
As much as I love the animation and art of Mushoku Tensei, I have been trepidatious about talking about the series’ writing, given other people’s reactions to the first episodes. Many people have issues with Rudeus’s inner monologue, which shows how he mentally objectifies the people around him in an often sexual manner. Plus, it’s off putting to see an infant be horny.
Honestly, all of the criticisms I’ve heard about the writing are legitimate, and they have made me reflect on why I still love this series to this day. After much consideration, I’ve come to the conclusion that the writing recognizes that many of the disgusting thoughts Rudeus has stem from his character flaws that were carried over from his previous life. The writing also illustrates that Rudeus will have to work hard to make sure he doesn’t fall into the same pitfalls that he fell into before he reincarnated, as well.
Over the course of the first four episodes, we see how and why Rudeus’s old self was such a terrible person. The show makes a point that even if Rudeus’s old self was scum, he still has a chance to become a respectable person. So, he makes every effort to improve himself in this world and he’s able make great strides on his own. However, he is a fallible human with limited world experience and must rely on his new parents and tutor to help him overcome the large hurdles he can’t solve on his own. When Rudeus does overcome these hurdles, the show shines because it ties these emotional moments with magnificent animation that sear themselves into my long-term memory.
I feel like the first four episodes did a great job of capturing Rudeus’s good and bad traits in a way that makes him tolerable and moderately interesting to watch. Although, I feel I would have grown tired or frustrated with the series even with its amazing production if it only focused on Rudeus.
Luckily, Mushoku Tensei puts a loving amount of detail into its supporting cast. Every major supporting character feels real in that they have adetailed history that informs their current behavior and actions. Not only do the side characters feel fully developed, they also change based on the event of the first few episodes.
The best character to represent this is Roxy, Rudeus’s magic tutor. At first, Roxy is not enthusiastic about teaching him magic because she thinks that he is like other spoiled and coddled children. When Rudeus displays his genuine magic ability, however, Roxy decides to earnestly train him. Over the two years Roxy spends tutoring him about magic and the world, she gets inspired by Rudeus’ quick growth, eventually deciding to further improve her magical abilities once she has finished tutoring him. The characters in Mushoku Tensei all feel layered in ways that make them both compelling and interesting to follow.
As a fan of Mushoku Tensei, I couldn’t be any happier with this adaptation of the novel. It retains almost all of the small details in the source that it can almost feel overwhelming to absorb everything that’s happening in the anime. The series is also lovingly animated — it’s probably also one of the prettiest series airing right now. However, I feel like the series’ decision to prominently feature the flaws of the main character could turn some people off.
If you take anything from this article, I hope you decide to try out this series at least once. If you can’t stand the main character, then follow your instincts. If you do stick with the series, I bet you’ll have a great time.
Title: Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation
Based on: Light Novel written by Rifujin na Magonote
Produced by: Studio Bind
Streaming on: Funimation
Episodes watched: 4
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