Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation [Studio Bind]

無職転生 〜異世界行ったら本気だす〜 Mushoku Tensei: Isekai Ittara Honki Dasu, lit. “Jobless Reincarnation: I Will Seriously Try If I Go to Another World”

Directed byManabu Okamoto
Written byManabu Okamoto
Music byYoshiaki Fujisawa
StudioStudio Bind
Licensed byFunimation Muse Communication
Original networkTokyo MX, KBS, BS11, SUN
Original runJanuary 11, 2021 – March 21, 2021

When a 34-year-old underachiever gets run over by a bus, his story doesn’t end there. Reincarnated in a new world as an infant, Rudy will seize every opportunity to live the life he’s always wanted. Armed with new friends, some freshly acquired magical abilities, and the courage to do the things he’s always dreamed of, he’s embarking on an epic adventure—with all of his past experience intact!

A new form of sensitivity

My favorite part about this whole show was how it treated sexuality, from Rudy being an absolute piece of shit NEET pervert in his past life, to his parent’s having sex all the time with no quarrels towards Rudy. To Roxy also being a little bit of a peeping tom, to Rudy’s father impregnating their maid, to how Rudy assumes he has permission to go all the way with Eris, when clearly not.

Every single time sexuality came up as a topic, this show never hid in the dark. Or did something that made the whole thing retching. Every single time it was dealt with a soft hand, and given to us in a manner so delicate, the only other show that comes close is this season other top contender, Wonder Egg Priority.

Although vastly different in subjects, both show’s approach their content with a delicacy I have yet to see twice. Rarely, I feel, do show’s manage to touch upon heavy adult themes, without border lining on tactless. Wonder Egg is about girls and how they deal with the trauma of having their best friend taken away by suicide. While at the same time each one of them is being pushed towards the same fate. Abuse, bullying and other topics that are hard to deal with in a narrative get touched upon, while giving moment’s of respite by letting us get to know the characters.

The way the scenes are written in both shows, interlaced with one another, hold a soft grasp over their greater themes. So much complexity in fact, that’s it’s hard to point what exactly makes it special. In my mind, it’s the writing. The way the writer carries the pen over the paper, it can be with a soft grip, or a hard clench. It can be with sensibilities that approach our human condition, or it can be a one of thing, because someone has to do their job.

In Mushoku Tensei, sex is never shied away from, in fact it’s at it’s core. Since Rudy, although not a horrible person, and eventually being able to grow on you, drives his actions by two things. 1. I want to live with no regrets 2. Everything is always about sex. Wether it comes with a deep romantic connection or totally emotionally disconnected from it, it’s up to Rudy. Even going as far as to sexualize his own mother. Even if he wasn’t able to speak just yet.

It’s all to set his personality, and then the eventual reveal of his backstory. At first it might be funny, but it later evolves into a whole problem Rudy has to actually deal with.

The novel that started the genre

And hey, I don’t blame him, not one bit. If my consciousness got reincarnated into another world, with all of my current life memories. Do you not think I would try my best to go out and have sex with a hunky strong muscular man. Of course I would, but that’s me. In this case it’s Rudy the one we’re talking about, and since he’s getting a second chance, he’s gonna take every opportunity he gets. As you should, and it also makes for an interesting plot device.

Many have quarrels with the idea that this protagonist is senseless, because in his past life, he didn’t actually lived. He spent most of his time enjoying the NEET life. Let’s dive deep into what constitutes as a true NEET. First and the most obvious, you must not be producing any income for your household. Second, you must have abandoned all willingness to live and dedicate your life to anime, manga and video games. Most importantly the consumption of these – while not producing any of your own. Third, while this can also happen within the LGBTQ+ (it can happen but most of the time it’s not by choice) community, I believe it’s more prone to happen with a cis male. This is because of the self imposed ideology that woman owe you (they don’t), just because you are a person of the opposite sex.

Which is not true, and in fact that idea and ideology convert’s you automatically into an incell. Would I place the protagonist in his past life as an incell? Yes – what’s more – I would even say he’s a 2D pedo. I feel sorry for him, as I get his ideology, but don’t agree with it. I think life should be full of hurdles, because progressing over them, means you’re constantly trying to grow as a person, and sacrificing your free time to invest in what you actually want to do with your life (writing – art or any other medium that requires you to create something – anything), only means that you’re putting in the work to actually make something of yourself. Because rewards only come after hard work.

In fact this is an idea that is extremely engrained in Japanese ideology. So in a sense, Rudy in his past life, gave up, rejected those ideology’s imposed by society. And became selfish, only seeking things that give him pleasure. But I’m sure he doesn’t need my pity. He has one redeemable quality. As in his last moment’s he jumps in front of a truck to save some high school girls, making him a grand savior or something.

But in fact, it’s quite the opposite, he gave up, his brother’s and sister’s abandoned him, after the death of his mother, essentially making him homeless. He gave up, but I see him as a coward. Suicide would have been a better option as it fit’s with the selfishness of the character.

This grand savior BS is only there to make us like this unlikable character. But he saw an opportunity, a quick get out scheme, while framing it as an act of good. If we hadn’t seen his backstory, then it would have come off as a grandiose act. But like I said, for me it just meant a quick death to an already shitty life. He saw an escape and he took it, and he hates himself for it, without actually knowing the full extent of the reason.

Do over

My main praise for this show and what I’ve been trying to make clear is that I have never seen such a nuanced representation of sex and sexuality in general.

Japan has a lot of strict rules of what can and can’t be shown in TV. They have strict rules regarding this, one of them being that sex can’t really be shown, gore blood and guts also fall into this category. Thus the heavy censoring in show’s like Tokyo Ghoul. This show never really goes down that rabbit whole, but in fact I feel uses that to their advantage, by not showing the act, and focusing on each character’s reaction’s, the show evolves into a higher form of art. It’s honestly something I wasn’t expecting.

Rudy’s mom and dad constantly do the deed without worrying about Rudy, they’re lousy and loud, something that doesn’t really affect Rudy because of his perverted personality. In fact it forms him and makes him into a better character. This new version of Rudy, who doesn’t have any regret’s, might feel shy about it at first, but since this is a new world, a fantasy world, where the prejudice and taboo the Japanese people hold over sex doesn’t really exist. Then he quickly get’s acustomed to it.

Honestly it threw me for a loop as I was watching the show, very calmly not expecting it, then suddenly it just kinda happened, then it happened again and this time Roxy was peeking, what’s more she was touching herself. I guess you gotta make do when you don’t have internet pr0n, right?

The thing is, and why I’m giving it so much praise, is that we haven’t really seen this type of sensitivity towards an anime before, not towards their character’s not towards the story. Most anime that have to deal with sex, just kinda bash it into a corner, or heavily censor it, or straight out go into unrealistic territory. They never tackle it head on. They much rather deal with the fantasy element of it, while this show is fantasy in nature, but it’s representation of sexuality makes it grounded.

And that’s what Mushoku Tensei does, it embraces this specific aspect, not just of anime in general, but of life itself. It’s something natural, that has just been seeped deep down as something you should feel shameful about. Both western and eastern countries still deal with this taboo as shameful. It is however changing.

Because does that do it freely and openly, must have something wrong with them. And I’m sure the older generation still feels this way, and because Japan has that thing of hierarchy, (sempai’s – older men – they know better than you, because they have more experience, so you should follow their advice – type of thing (which is true – but it’s taken to an extreme) )

When in reality, this topic, is just part of human nature, it’s just part of life, so it should be okay, we shouldn’t feel shame for feeling desire, and acting upon it, as long as it’s consensual. And that’s the exactly what Mushoku Tensei does, it doesn’t really care what your discernment towards sex is. Because of the fantasy setting. It present’s ideology it’s own and expect’s you to follow along.

As beautiful as a red sunset

So in case I haven’t already said it, this series is beautiful. So much so that I started dreading watching the episodes because they were so much of a treat. Each episode has key animation that is gorgeous to look at, furthermore each episode has at least one moment where the character’s go full out in a choreographed fight scene, or some magic effect’s happen. So even though I’ve never read the light novels, and didn’t exactly knew what was going to happen, I still enjoyed watching it, because of it’s beautiful and luscious world.

The world was an exquisite treat to be in, and Rudy’s old but young mentality is something I found refreshing once he got isekai’d into the new world. As even though in his past life he’s not exactly a good person – in his new life he at least tries to be one, getting out of his comfort zone and helping other people when their in need. This is how he meet’s his potential first love interest, an elf that’s loved by magic. Sylphiette is half human, half elf, half beast. I don’t know how that really works, but it’s one of the first things we learn about her as she get’s closer to Rudy.

In such conversation’s we also learn about the Superd tribe, a group of warrior’s that do not have any type of moral compass, so when they’re in battle they don’t distinguish between friend or foe, and just simply fight anyone who comes across their way. This happened in a war over 400 years ago, and now they have bad stigma for being rude-less, and they are feared.

This is actually later expanded with Ruijerd, a character that saves the kids as a big glowing orb descends upon them casting powerful magic. I’m sure this phenomenon will be later explained in future season’s, but for now it remains a total mystery. And it seems the only thing it did was teleport the kids into the outside world, and so they are tasked with the decision of either helping this man and becoming friends with him, or let him follow them through the shadow’s and in case something bad happens, he would intervene. But it’s better this way, as there are no secret’s between them anyway.

Rudy comes up with a plan – but in the end it comes crashing down on him, and he is forced to take some serious ill decision’s. When they start getting big in the current town of Rikarisu City, the horse beast-men swindles and blackmails them into giving him 50% of the total money they make, this way he can have an easy life and let the kids do all the work. But in the end Ruijerd ends up scaring the horse guy into submission by showing the color of his hair.

He also threatens that if their questing/adventure license get’s removed, they will come back to him, and they will kill him, or so that’s what they make him think. Of course they’re not coming back to Rikarisu City, they just needed to give him a good scare so that they can travel to the next town and continue making money. Of course as they do quest’s and make their way through the underbelly of the city, finding dark and mysterious things as they come along, they have one very important conversation about what really means to be a good person, even if one does bad deeds. This causes a clash between Ruijerd and Rudy, and Ruijerd doesn’t have the mental capacity to discern between right and wrong, between a white lie and a lie that could destroy whole kingdom’s. Maybe he has BPD, or PTSD from being used a weapon in battle. Non the less Rudy really tries to get him to understand, but in the end Ruijerd is unable to discern between the two.

Hi fantasy story and lore

Another thing I particularly liked about this show is how it incorporates story and lore, it slowly gave us lore to work with, slowly introduced it’s character’s and slowly introduced us to important idea’s that later come back in the story creating a sense of fulfillment. Something like – oh I paid attention – makes you feel smart without a heavy hand. It doesn’t necessarily abrupt’s you with information, and it doesn’t necessarily bore you to death. It’s a good mix between the two, and I think that comes down to the adaptation. Adapting is an important part of the medium as well.

It seems that we’re just scratching the surface when it comes to it’s story and lore – there seems to be so many important details that we just don’t know about, unless we read the source material, but otherwise we’re just seeing what’s on the surface, there are a lot more layer’s to unpack here, and we’re just getting started. The good thing is that I’m sure that this anime will be back with a S2, but for the meantime this first cour was extremely well made, produced and delivered with outmost professionalism.

There was not a single time where I felt the animation was lacking or that it could have been better, most of the time details were extremely well drawn. I guess it pay’s to come from a company that produced really good show’s in the past. Studio Bind was formed within a joint venture of White Fox [Steins;Gate , The Devil Is a Part-Timer! , Re:Zero − Starting Life in Another World , Goblin Slayer] and Egg Firm [Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? , Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online , No Guns Life] So that means there is great talent within this venture, as White Fox and Egg Firm have produced some of the most popular show’s within recent memory. They haven’t produced any show’s that reach popular cult statues, but as the year’s progress I’m sure some of the show’s listed above will in fact reach that cult status.

Furthermore the ability on display here is almost effortless, I really want this show to continue as it was certainly a treat, in fact every time I opened an episode, it was a little respite from life. [Quarantine, Life, etc…] and I was able to forget about the world outside, and how bad things are. It trapped me, it pulled me to that world, and I think the best anime should do that. It should effortlessly pull you into it’s world and keep you there for the duration of the episode. What’s more at the end of the episode, there should be a cliffhanger that tells me, and pulls me back to that world. Something that leaves me thinking about the story, and makes the story live rent free in my head. Maybe I’m asking too much from a show, but that’s what anime, TV and Film should be. There shouldn’t be any roadblocks between me having to enjoy the show, and the show actually being enjoyable. If that makes any sense.

Furthermore – I really enjoyed how it’s period accurate. Kings are absolutely despicable men that get their way no matter what – and woman who are not of noble statue, don’t really get to enjoy a life outside the comfort’s of male suppression. For example Zenith, Rudy’s mother, is able to live a happy go lucky life, because she married, a nobleman’s soldier. Yes she lives in the boonies – but she lives in middle class mansion. Is able to throw feast’s of food in special occasions and mostly just live a quiet life with her husband. Roxy suffer’s oppression from Pax, the noble man she’s supposed to be teaching magic. Sauros get’s his way with the maids. And I’m sure his wife know’s about it, even though he tries to hide it. But Rudy quickly finds out without much effort. So is he really hiding it that well? – I don’t think so.

The one thing I do not allow is how Eris treats Rudy, I never finished completely liking her, like one hundred percent. I get she’s supposed to be the fiery character – but that doesn’t give her the right to hit other people who make her mad. It does come around in a nice way and she ends up protecting Rudy from some bad guy’s thanks to her bad temper. But still, it doesn’t give her the right to hit other people just because they make her mad. This is a situation of bad parenting. Please Sauros control your child!

Honestly if I was in Rudy’s position I would have used my magic to – scare her a little – I mean I’d probably go berserk the moment she even lay’s a finger on me. No one hits me – not even my parent’s – so the moment she does, shit is going down. – In fact Eris doesn’t deserve respect from stranger’s because she doesn’t give that respect. It’s something Rudy has to deal with during the four years of his internship with her. And something constantly pushed on her. Even though she doesn’t appreciate it. She’s as spoiled as they can be. And I just personally hate that personality. Maybe I’m seeing Eris situation with modern eyes, and in the middle age’s, maybe that was more acceptable. Who are we anyway to tell Sauros how to raise his child, but common folk.

Fully developed 3D characters.

Even though I might hate Eris for who she is, I have to admit, her personality is strong, and through interactions with other character’s and herself we see that she is actually a human being, with emotions, traumas and insecurities. And that’s what makes her human, that what makes her come alive from the screen and make us believe that she is actually a human being with emotions and thoughts of her own. She has her own morality, but it’s the morality that has been imposed on her through her surroundings. We are in fact what we associate with. And sometimes that association is not a choice, it’s sometimes our family impregnates our ideals and moral compass – with their own. With what they think is right and wrong, and they try to stir us in the right direction, but sometimes that’s hard, and sometimes they might not do a very good job, because our parent’s themselves are in fact spoiled. And so we become a mirror for what they are.

Sauros for example seems like a parent that might be emotionally close, but when it comes down to actually teaching anything to the kids, he might actually just pull something from under his sleeve, and wing it. While Hilda might be the cold one, the distant mother that doesn’t actually care for her child, and leaves Eris alone to her own devices. So Eris dedicates herself to the sword, in retaliation.

But that just causes a more wider gap between Eris mother and herself. But I’m just speculating from what I saw on the show, I might be completely wrong. So it makes Eris have this like fire inside her that burns at the slightest retort. And also be emotionally distant from those that she sees as bad. Eris is a complete psychopath, because she lacks empathy towards other’s, because she hit’s people who make her mad. She unable to see past that rage, unless she knows someone personally, or they have something to offer to her. Like for example Rudy being a better mage than her, far surpassing her expectations. And Ghislaine being a natural at the sword, wielding it like an extension to her arm.

And I think this might be at the core of the show and the novels – exploring the grey mortality between good and evil. This is prevalent for example, when they have a conversation in the depth’s of Rikarisu City, and find the guy’s who steal – umm pets? – and then later return them for the fee.

Eris is able to drop her empathy in flick of a switch. Meanwhile Rudy has an internal turmoil when Nokopara swindles them for their hard earn money, Rudy has this whole inner dialogue with himself about what to do – how to get out of this situation – but he finds no solution – and so concludes that the only way out is to kill Nokopara, while moment’s before he was telling Ruijerd not to finish the black market guys off.

Ruijerd see’s the kill intent in Rudy, and makes a scene as to not have Rudy kill Nokopara, because he changes and grow’s with Rudy’s words, he actually takes them to heart, and that’s something not a lot of character’s do. Non the less – it’s an incredible discord that this series is presenting, and I can’t wait to further dive deep into this topic with the series. As I think it’s doing an wonderful job of presenting it’s ideals, while not shoving them down your throat.

New Heights

One more thing I want to point out with this show, is that this it does have an opening, but I don’t remember it because it skipped so much over it. It did the thing where it played the song but instead of playing the opening it showed a montage or it showed a little bit of story as the opening played in the background. Further developing scenes, that would otherwise not have time for.

I really like this, it means the studio is taking the show seriously and doesn’t want to cut any corner’s just for the sake of cutting corners. I think Re-Zero did this a lot too. It’s just a little detail that I really appreciate from the animators. And I wanted to point it out.

Non the less, this review might be getting a little long. So I’ll just leave you with that. If you’re looking for a sign that tells you to go watch this show, this is it! You must watch this show, as it’s a really good isekai, and if you don’t like isekai as a genre, then you can take this as a fantasy series because it has everything to be that. But at the center of the story – there is that isekai element. But don’t let that deter you, as it is a really good series, that must at least be appreciated once. Do not miss out on this one!

Sources | [Wikipedia (Anime)]| [Fandom]| [Anilist] | [Wikipedia (Studio)]

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A young fantasy writer during the night, motion graphics and illustration during the day. Currently living in Mexico. Aspiring to make a feature film.

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