'So I'm a Spider, So What?' Manga Artist Praises the 'Vulgarity' of Mushoku Tensei's Setting
posted on by Kim Morrissy
On Sunday, Asahiro Kakashi, who draws the manga adaptation of Okina Baba's So I'm a Spider, So What? (Kumo desu ga, Nani ka?) novels, posted a popular Twitter thread on Sunday effusively praising the world and storytelling of Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation. In particular, they praised the series' "affirmation of vulgarity" and its matter-of-fact depictions of sex in another culture.
Their full thread is translated below:
Watching the anime adaptation of Mushoku Tensei reaffirmed to me that it's both a Shо̄setsuka ni Narо̄ novel landmark as well as a work with a certain eccentricity about it. I'll try to write down just what's so outstanding about it.
Mushoku's eccentricity is in its "affirmation of vulgarity." Stories that have come out later tend to unconsciously tone down the sexual depictions, perhaps because they're used deliberately as "fanservice" to hook readers in. However, in Mushoku's case, sex is depicted frankly as a matter of course. Parents who already have a child will go at it every night in an attempt to conceive a second baby, and members of royalty will get themselves off with a maid in front of a child.
There's a very subtle distinction between "This is how I wish it could be" and "This is how it is." It isn't the convenient, happy sexy times you would get if you work backwards from a fantasy. Instead, it imagines the common sense of a place from human history and constructs a fictional culture when it comes to sex. Of course, it does include some personal kinks, but the fact that it depicts them unflinchingly is atypical.
At any rate, when it comes to the morals depicted in a fictional work, there is a tendency for them to reflect the values of the modern era, but when it comes to sex, they tend to pull their punches too often. When it comes down to it, if you're going to depict a culture on the level of the Middle Ages, then there's no way to escape from sex. Mushoku depicts it unassumingly. It even calmly portrays women masturbating. It's because it was serialized for free that it was able to overcome the taboo.
The hopeless protagonist doesn't have his negative traits affirmed. The negative parts aren't whitewashed to become something lofty. In his own hopeless way, he feels remorse for his actions and struggles to live life in a better way. As a result, he is "accepted." I think that this perspective of "accepting someone, warts and all" is lacking in today's media culture.
Rudeus grows. However, his essence as a middle-aged pervert does not change. Even so, he's allowed to live a life that "bears fruit." In this, there is a sense of forgiveness towards others. It is the antithesis of the kind of hate that inspires people to browbeat and ostracize someone because of their hopelessness. Although I'm sure that some people will feel a visceral disgust at a vulgar pervert, the theme of this work is that even someone like that can be forgiven.
I might have gushed too much, but I think it captures the spirit of the Buddhist quote: "Sinners are even more in need of salvation than good people."
In January, Mushoku Tensei author Rifujin na Magonote commented on the nature of Rudeus as a perverted protagonist, saying that, "There are a lot of people who can't accept how in Mushoku Tensei, the protagonist remains a pervert even after he reincarnates. It's the same in the original work. But it's not as if he has loads of regrets about being a pervert in his previous life. That's why in the isekai he doesn't necessarily think, 'I'm going to live life seriously! That also means stop being a perv!'"
The story follows a 34-year-old man who is killed after trying to save someone from getting hit by a car. He soon finds himself reincarnated in a magical world as Rudeus Greyrat, except that he gets his whole life reset, starting as a baby.
With all of his knowledge from his previous life, and a new heaping helping of magical ability, Rudeus quickly becomes a formidable warrior ready for adventure. Oh, and he's still a total pervert.
The anime premiered on January 10 at 24:00 (effectively, January 11 at midnight).
Rifujin na Magonote first launched the story on the "Let's Become Novelists!" website in 2012. Kadokawa published the first volume of the light novel series with illustrations by Shirotaka in April 2014. The novels ranked at #8 on the 2019 Kono Light Novel ga Sugoi! tankōbon list. The novels and manga have a combined print total of 2.2 million copies in Japan as of October 2018.
Asahiro Kakashi's manga adaptation of So I'm a Spider, So What? runs on Kadokawa's free manga website Young Ace Up, and Kadokawa published the ninth compiled book volume on October 10. The manga and novels have a combined 1.2 million copies in print. An anime adaptation premiered on January 8.