Mushoku Tensei: Second Unemployed Reincarnation Court – The Fall 2021 Preview Guide
What is that?
After a cataclysmic event leaves Rudeus and Eris stranded in the Demon Continent, they continue their journey with Superd guide Ruijerd in order to return home. The Man-God continues to guide Rudeus with his enigmatic guidance, and Rudeus has an altercation with a figure from legend: the Great Emperor of the Demon World, Kishirika herself! When Rudeus comes to his aid, Kishrika rewards him with a strange new powerâ¦ a power that may well be more than he expected. Meanwhile, Roxy resumes her quest to find Rudeus. Will the two meet one day?
Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation is based on Rifujin na Magonotethe series of light novels and streams on Funimation Sundays.
How did the first episode go?
The thing about this episode of Mushoku Tensei is that this is a first season in name only. He doesn’t need to set up the world or introduce his protagonists. He doesn’t even need to establish a conflict for the season. Our heroes are just in the middle of the journey they started last season, the journey home. In other words, this is just a normal episode of Mushoku Tensei.
The heart of Mushoku Tensei is that Rudeus is a 34-year-old recluse in the body of a child. But even though he’s now going through childhood for the second time, he still has a long way to go to grow.
In this episode, Rudeus learns what it means to be part of a group. In his past life, he has been excluded and intimidated to the extreme. He grew up being alone and was only responsible for his own decisions. Although his time in this world has taught him the importance of friends and family, he is still quite egotistical, even when he tries to be selfless.
At this point in their journey, it looks like they can’t go on without some sort of sacrifice. Because he cares about his friends, he decides to be the one to do it. But the issue here isn’t Rudeus’ decision to sell the staff or even his motives behind the act. The problem is, he makes the decision unilaterally, without even discussing it with Eris or Ruijerd. It is only when Ruijerd confronts him that Rudeus is able to understand. It is solid character growth, pure and simple.
The other interesting part of the episode deals with Rudeus’ most recent conversation with “god” and its implications regarding free will. This god claims to see the future – or at least a future. However, by hinting at that future to Rudeus, he changes it, seemingly turning things around in directions even the gods can’t predict. If so, does that mean that Rudeus really only has free will at such times? Or is the god completely omniscient, giving Rudeus just enough information to cause him to make specific choices?
And beyond all of that is the question of whether Rudeus even did what he was supposed to do this episode. Was finding the Demon Emperor and gaining a Magical Eye the god’s plan? Or was he supposed to run into Roxy? All of this mystery makes the god a great character because not only do we not know which side he’s on, but we don’t even know if Rudeus is following what the god wanted or not. And, at the end of the day, it’s just one of those things that hooks you up and makes you want to keep watching.
If you couldn’t pass the first court of this anime because of Rudeus pedophilia, then you better stay away from the second court also, because this first episode opens with Rudeus evaluating the now 13-year-old Eris in a decidedly inappropriate way. He also has an altercation with a Demon Emperor who took the form of a prepubescent-looking girl in a revealing outfit (and yes, there is sexual teasing, too). As always, I can only recommend this series to those who are desensitized to this kind of anime content.
The rest of the episode is a solid high fantasy adventure. Since Rudeus and Eris stranded on the Demon Continent, every episode presented completely new views, and this episode is no exception, as our characters make a stopover in a port city. Lush background art and vibrant detail in animation brings the world to life. Kishirika’s introduction is easily the highlight, as her cartoonish expressions immediately show how out of place she is in a way that ends up contributing to immersion rather than harming it.
On the other hand, I am a little mixed on the implication of the Man God in the story. One of the great attractions of Mushoku Tensei so far, Rudeus has decided his own actions completely independently; he came into the world as an empty shell of a man and decided he would “do his best” here. With the Man-God telling him what to do now, Rudeus feels more like a “Chosen One” character following a prophecy, which is a less interesting direction for his character.
This is somewhat mitigated by the fact that Rudeus is deeply suspicious of the Man-God and did not follow his instructions to the letter. I appreciate the confirmation in this episode that Rudeus derailed last time around and found himself in a totally different situation than expected, as it opens up the story to some interesting twists and turns. But just like the man God says in this episode, things turned out just the way he wanted them to be anyway. I love the mystery and intrigue around his presence, but it also means that Rudeus’s acquisition of demon eyes, this episode ends up looking like an obvious setup for a future plot point.
Nonetheless, despite the story’s hiccups, it was a confident opening episode that re-establishes the strengths of this animated adaptation.