The Fall 2021 Preview Guide
Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation Second Cour
How would you rate episode 12 of
Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation (TV 2) ?
What is this?
After a cataclysmic event left Rudeus and Eris stranded on the Demon Continent, they continue their journey with the Superd guide Ruijerd in order to make their way back home. The Man God continues to guide Rudeus with his cryptic advice, and Rudeus has a run-in with a figure from legend—the Great Emperor of the Demon World, Kishirika herself! When Rudeus lends her aid, Kishrika rewards him with a strange new power... one that might just be more than he bargained for. Meanwhile, Roxy resumes her quest to find Rudeus. Will the two ever meet?
How was the first episode?
The thing about this episode of Mushoku Tensei is that it's a season premiere in name alone. It doesn't have to setup the world or introduce its protagonists. It doesn't even have to establish a conflict for the season. Our heroes are simply in the middle of the journey they started last season—the journey to get 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 lot of growing up to do.
This episode is all about Rudeus learning what it means to be a part of a group. In his past life, he was excluded and bullied to an extreme. He grew up keeping to himself and was only responsible for his own decisions. While his time in this world has taught him the importance of friends and family, he's still rather self-centered—even when he tries to be selfless.
At this point in their journey, it seems that they can't continue on without some sort of sacrifice. Because he cares about his friends, he decides to be the one to do it. But the problem here isn't Rudeus' decision to sell the staff or even his motivations behind the act. The problem is that he makes the decision unilaterally, not even discussing it with Eris or Ruijerd. It's only when Ruijerd confronts him that Rudeus's able to understand. It's solid character growth, pure and simple.
The other interesting part of the episode deals with Rudeus' most recent chat with “god” and its implications in regards to 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 making things spin off in directions that even the gods can't predict. If this is the case, does this mean Rudeus only really has free will at these moments? Or is the god completely omniscient—giving Rudeus just enough information to trick him into making specific choices?
And beyond all that, there's 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 actually supposed to run into Roxy? All this mystery makes the god a great character because not only do we not know whose side he is on, we don't even know if Rudeus is following what the god intended or not. And, in the end, this is just one of those things that hooks you and makes you want to keep watching.
If you couldn't get past the first cour of this anime because of Rudeus's pedophilia, then you're better off staying away from the second cour as well, because this first episode opens with Rudeus sizing up the now 13-year-old Eris in a decidedly inappropriate way. He also has a run-in with a Demon Emperor who has taken on the form of a prepubescent-looking girl in a revealing outfit (and yes, there's some sexual teasing there, too). As always, I can only recommend this series to those who are desensitized to this kind of content in anime.
The rest of the episode is solid high fantasy adventuring. Ever since Rudeus and Eris got stranded on the Demon Continent, every episode has presented completely new sights, and this episode is no exception, as our characters make a stop at a port city. The lush background art and vibrant details in the animation once again bring the world to life. Kishirika's introduction is easily the highlight, as her cartoonish expressions immediately convey just how out-of-place she is in a way that actually ends up contributing to the immersion rather than detracting from it.
On the other hand, I'm a bit mixed on the Man God's involvement in the story. One of the big appeals of Mushoku Tensei up to this point is that Rudeus has been deciding his own actions completely independently; he came to the world as an empty shell of a man and decided that 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 has not been following his instructions to the letter. I appreciate the confirmation in this episode that Rudeus went off the rails last time and got into a totally different situation from what was intended because it opens up the story to some interesting twists. But just as the Man God says in this episode, things have been turning out exactly as he wants anyway. I like the mystery and intrigue around his presence, but it also means that Rudeus's acquisition of the Demon Eyes this episode ends up feeling like an obvious setup for a future plot point.
Nevertheless, despite the hiccups in the story, this was a confident opening episode that reestablishes the strengths of this anime adaptation.
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