[12 Days of Anime] Day 7: THAT show, Mushoku Tensei

I know I’m probably going to get some heat for including Mushoku Tensei in my 12 Days, or even just watching it to completion at all–of all the isekai that aired this past year (and there have been a lot), it seemed like Jobless Reincarnation alienated people with its protagonist, a self-aware scumbag with a penchant for young girls.

…yeah that sounded just as bad written as it did in my head. It is bad.

But, HEAR ME OUT, this scumbag actually showed physical and mental growth throughout his journey. His environment and the people in it shaped him into the young man that he becomes over these past two seasons, reaffirming my belief that we are shaped by our experiences rather than born to a set path.

I can see the lewd behind those baby eyes

When I say there have been a lot of isekai this past year, that doesn’t even begin to cover the sheer magnitude we’ve received since before the pandemic started more than two years ago. Most of them I dropped after single episodes, and some even less than that (looking at you, The Dungeon of Black Company). When I started up Mushoku Tensei, I nearly dropped it as well since I was so repulsed by Rudy’s lecherous personality even when reborn as an infant.

But here’s the thing. He was a hopeless shut-in in his previous life, the circumstances of which we learn over the course of several arcs and flashbacks. He retained all those memories, including the time of his death, going into his new life. These memories affect his every reaction and decision, no matter his age or location. Unlike the protagonists of so many other isekai, he doesn’t immediately become some lauded hero we’re supposed to adore like everyone else in their world. He struggles to move past his trauma and previously formed instincts. Does he slip up and act on his disgusting sexual impulses? Obviously, yes. The amount of tweets I read after his scene with Eris are completely understandable, because there’s just no excusing the wrongness of that moment. Yet I stuck with him, because I could tell there was till hope for his character; he wanted to be the better person, if only others would have the patience to help him along that path. And I’ll stay with him over the course of this journey–he still has far to go.

2 thoughts on “[12 Days of Anime] Day 7: THAT show, Mushoku Tensei

  1. I have to agree with you on this one or maybe even go farther in defending Rudy. As you mention, he almost never acts on his impulses, whether out of cowardice or knowing that they’re the wrong thing to do. And what’s more, I think it’s probably a bit unfair to judge Rudy the same as ordinary people walking around, because we’re in the unique situation of snooping on his thoughts. If you snooped into just about anyone’s thoughts, you would probably find a lot of things that are unsavory and put them just as bad of a light. And on top of that, we’re treated to only a curated selection of those thoughts intended to characterize Rudy in such a way to make the story appeal to a particular audience.

    I really think that this show is a very well-written show, with development for all the characters, agency for all the characters, and a story that just plays out by people doing things they’d do, not a contrived story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s good to acknowledge that we do all have darker thoughts we wouldn’t want public in the way that Rudy’s is to us—I think a lot of viewers forget that fact instead of putting themselves into a similar light. I’m excited to see where we go from here given the more recent developments and Rudy’s actual near-death.


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