Finally, a year later, I’m getting to talk about one of my absolute favorite isekai anime, Mushoku Tensei – Jobless Reincarnation. Originally, I was going to write a post after the first part aired last winter, but decided to wait until the second part in fall 2021 so we had a more complete season. Let’s be honest, first season was clearly a teaser.
Regardless of the reason for the delay, we’re here. And let me just say, this anime was absolutely incredible. The plot was on point, the adaptation was faithful (though I haven’t read the light novel, but I’ve heard it’s even better than the manga), the animation quality and voice acting was excellent. I literally can’t think of a complaint as I sit here writing this. Time to dig a bit deeper.
The plot for Mushoku Tensei is spectacular. After dying in his previous NEET life, Rudeus has reincarnated into this world of magic. Not wanting a repeat of his dreary, regrettable life, he decides to give everything 110%. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Isn’t that basically the plot for every other isekai series? What makes it so good?” Well, that’s just the setup.
Calling this an isekai anime actually feels a bit inaccurate. Yes, it gives him an advantage when he’s young, beginning to learn magic at the earliest possible moment (which results in a borderline power-fantasy level of skill), but his past life doesn’t really affect much else. Not from a magic or ability perspective, at least. Much of it really is in the form of helping him deal with interpersonal dilemmas.
His more mature mind helps him handle people better than most kids. When his dad is caught in an affair with Lilia, Rudeus is the one who helps the family navigate through the issue. Yeah, he throws his dad under the bus to do it, but everything ends well.
This adult perspective on events isn’t even all-powerful, and results in a few mishaps for him. He grows to realize this, especially when confronted with dire situations that he could never even imagine in his past life. The final product of this is very emotional, very real growth as a character. Need I reference the scene in the second season where he’s reunited with his father? That scene really hit me hard, and was a feeling I could really empathize with from my own experiences with my dad.
Point is, Mushoku Tensei isn’t just some magic and adventure. The series as a whole is a journey for the characters, and we get to be there as they grow and mature. The plot serves its intended purpose: to facilitate this growth by conveying the characters from one event to another. Though, I wouldn’t discredit the magic and adventure. It really does get exciting, especially when you meet Orsted. There’s just so much going on, between the emotional story and the physical story, and it’s great.
One more point I need to bring up (if you’ve read any of my other posts, you saw this coming…), the pace of the story is superb, and mirrors events in the manga almost to a tee. We’re never force-fed some random side-story, the story never meanders too far away from the goal. It’s perfectly paced, where you never find yourself bored but also aren’t skimming over the story on the way to the next major event. It really does leave you feeling like you have gone on an adventure, and a satisfying one at that.
The characters were all distinct and interesting. Each of them felt believable in their own way, and there’s enough variety to give you a real feel of them being individuals.
Rudeus serves as a great protagonist. He’s both hopeful and grounded, mature enough to be relatable but leaves plenty of room for his character to grow throughout the series. Though clearly a bit of a pervert (though this adds some humor throughout), his morals show when the situation gets serious. It really makes it easier to get behind him as a character.
The side characters are given a lot of love as well. Many of the characters, from Rudeus’ family to Ruijerd, are fleshed out well, with believable character traits and flaws. Due to events of the series, you might not get to spend a lot of time with most of them (though some get some attention later, after the events of the last episode!), but there were few that felt flat.
Probably the most important side character for this arc of the story was Eris. Through her journeys with Rudeus, from the beginning of her training to their melancholic return to their homeland, we see Eris change dramatically. The once spoiled little noble girl becomes a badass in her own right, and even makes a pretty monumental and carefully-considered decision at the end of the second season. The budding relationship between her and Rudeus was also very cute, and made that final act of hers even more significant.
Honestly, Eris may have stolen one of the most dramatic moments in the whole series for me. Rudeus’ moment with his father was great and all, but Eris learning what happened when they return home was chilling. We knew pretty early on what happened to her family, most notably her grandfather. Seeing her be so happy to be back, only to receive that news… It was brutal, and perhaps one of the most impactful character moments for anyone thus far.
There’s a lot to like about the characters in this series. They’re all enjoyable, or grow on you very quickly. And best yet, none of them feel out of place or shallow. This is an incredible cast of characters.
The animation quality of this series was spectacular. The spells were badass, and loved seeing the larger spells build up. The action sequences were both fluid and brutal, depending on what was happening or how one-sided it was. Whether they wanted it to seem clean, or to have a more visceral feel to it, they knew how to evoke both sensations.
The character designs were also great. I liked how it wasn’t all fanservice, though we did get some of that (nice bikini armor there…). For the most part, each character had a unique design. They even adapted character designs to fit a given situation, such as Paul’s ragged look when he meets Rudeus again.
The music was very fitting. It almost wasn’t noticeable for much of the series, but as I listen to the soundtrack now, I realize it was there quite a bit. Each score fit its scene so perfectly that it almost became more ambience than music, just enhancing the scene by incorporating another sense into the immersion. It really is a very mystical, whimsical soundtrack, perfect for a fantasy adventure. I’m also going to give a nod to the theme music for the fight with Orsted. Badass.
I loved the voice acting in this series too. Many of the characters had emotional highs and lows throughout the series, and they nailed the emotions perfectly every time. You could feel the emotions behind their lines. Just an excellent job across the board.
Okay, this was a long post, and I can definitely make it longer, so let’s wrap this up. All I can say for Mushoku Tensei is that there’s a reason both seasons found their way onto my most anticipated anime posts, as well as topping my top isekai manga list. This series is exciting beyond belief, and it only gets better and more intricate as you go through it.
While this is an isekai series, calling it JUST an isekai anime is a mistake. It really is a journey, both literally and emotionally, and it all coalesces into a great story overall. I love the fantasy setting, but it’s the emotional connection with each of the characters that will really make you remember the series.
Fact is, this series is a masterpiece. I could even argue that this is a perfect isekai anime, and arguably perfect adaptation (again, haven’t checked out the LN). If you enjoy isekai anime, or fantasy in general, or even anime at all, it’s definitely worth a watch.