Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation 2nd Part
Episode 19

by Kim Morrissy,

How would you rate episode 19 of
Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation (TV 2) ?

Although this episode loses marks for me because of the cartoonishly evil prince at the end, it does have a conceptually interesting foundation: The tension between Rudeus and the Man God. With Rudeus falling into a sinister trap, seemingly thanks to the Man God's contrivances, the typical Chosen One narrative gets thrown into question. The Man God's attitude has always been less than benign, but his advice has produced beneficial results for Rudeus and the people around him thus far, which makes it difficult for even a genre-savvy viewer to figure out what exactly he is trying to manipulate the protagonist into eventually doing. It's this uncertainty that makes each and every one of Rudeus's choices feel meaningful, regardless of divine intervention.

Speaking of the Man God, I've always appreciated how awkward his scenes look, with him being rendered as a CG character who's constantly moving about in ways that look jarring next to the 2D-animated Rudeus. This kind of uncanny presentation has become increasingly common in anime (EX-ARM and Tesla Note, anyone?), and it tends to stand out particularly poorly if the 3D animation doesn't modulate the number of frames to match the fluctuations typically employed in Japanese anime. But here, the use of full 3D animation for a character feels like a stylistic choice that actually emphasizes the out-of-body experience of these sequences. The Man God doesn't feel like a presence that belongs to Mushoku Tensei's world, and that seems deliberate for an anime that's extremely precise about every other aspect of its visual presentation.

The anime continues to show off the strengths in its world design, too. It's nice to see historical Vietnamese and Thai influences represented in a series that otherwise takes the bulk of its fantasy inspirations from Japanese role-playing games and The Lord of the Rings. One neat detail is the brown rice featured in this episode—it might not precisely match the white rice of Rudeus's original country of Japan, but it's the first time that rice has appeared at all in this series. The fact that Rudeus doesn't show excitement despite his rhapsodizing about the subject in the previous episode is a clear demonstration of his distracted state of mind. These subtle interactions between world and character make each location feel a little more memorable even as the anime speeds through them within a matter of episodes.

But no matter how strong the presentation is, this was still a weaker episode by Mushoku Tensei's storytelling standards. Aisha's establishing scenes don't leave a strong impression of who she is as a character because they're mostly spent detailing Rudeus's perversions. Meanwhile, the evil prince Pax talks like a character from a hentai, what with his explicit motivation of wanting to... sigh... rape Roxy in front of Rudeus. He's portrayed as such an over-the-top and dim-witted villain that it honestly kills the dramatic tension of this episode. Of course, the point is that Rudeus only ended up in this situation because of his naivete and complacency, but unless an extra threat is introduced to compound the current dilemma, it's hard to take this subplot seriously.


Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation 2nd Part is currently streaming on Funimation.

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