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Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation II
Episode 23

by Richard Eisenbeis,

How would you rate episode 23 of
Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation II (TV 4) ?
Community score: 4.2

In this episode, Rudeus makes a lot of stupid decisions. He lashes out at those trying to comfort him after the death of his father, cheats on his pregnant wife, and asks his cheating partner to marry him and enter into a poly relationship without consulting his wife first. Yet, the context in the episode makes his actions understandable, if nothing else.

Rudeus is in the unique situation of having lost his parents twice. The first time in his old life, he was so caught up in his trauma that his parents' death almost didn't register. However, this time, the death of Paul (and the mental death of Zenith) leaves Rudeus emotionally devastated. This is made even more complicated because, in some ways, he always felt as if he wasn't their "real son." Sure, he was biologically their kid, but his soul was of someone unrelated. Only after losing them can he see he loved them as his parents—far more than he ever realized.

Enter into this Roxy—a girl head-over-heels in love with Rudeus. She sees him in pain—not eating or sleeping, still wearing his blood-spattered clothes—and knows one certain way to get his mind off of things for a night. So she seduces him, and, in his weakened mental state, he gives in. While ostensibly a one-night stand, things are not that simple.

As the party returns home, Rudeus is forced to confront the fact that he loves Roxy as much as he does Sylphie (not surprising, considering he idolizes Roxy to the point that he prays to her daily). Both he and Roxy can see that if she'd have re-encountered Rudeus before Sylphie, she'd almost certainly be his wife now.

It's here that Rudeus runs up against his Japanese morals. In his mind, monogamous couples are the socially accepted norm. However, that's not the case in this world. As Elinalise reminds him, outside of the Milis' faith, polygamy is considered relatively normal. In fact, the reason his father's affair was so detrimental to his family was simply the fact that Zenith was a devout follower of Milis. There is every possibility that Sylphie will accept Roxy as another of Rudeus' wives. Luckily, while Rudeus jumps the gun a bit with his marriage proposal, Roxy is smart enough to put any such discussions on hold till Sylphie and Rudeus hash things out.

Ironically, Rudeus' act of betrayal toward Sylphie draws Rudeus closer to his father. When Paul went through a similar situation, Rudeus vowed never to be like his father in this aspect. However, now that he's in his father's shoes, he understands the man better. It's ironic, tragic, and more than a bit heartwarming.

Now, onto the meta-perspective. I can't imagine that anyone didn't see this coming. From the start, Mushoku Tensei has had three main heroines: Roxy, Eris, and Sylphie. All three have been on equal footing. They all met him as kids, met him again as young adults (or grew up with him in Eris' case), and fell in love with him. Of course, this was going to turn into a harem/poly relationship.

That said, I'm constantly impressed at Mushoku Tensei's willingness to confront genre tropes like this one head-on. The series does its best to play things straight—explore the potential real-life consequences and emotional fallout. Doing so makes Rudeus often come off as an asshole and leaves more than a few people with gaping emotional wounds—but it's hard to say that it doesn't make for a compelling anime to watch.

If anything, next week's episode looks to be even more drama-filled than this one. Not only will we get pregnant Sylphie having to deal with a sister-wife chat, Rudeus will have to break the news to Norn and Aisha—and I can't imagine a world where that turns out well.


Random Thoughts:

• Roxy has some serious self-esteem issues regarding her size and shape. If nothing else, I hope her budding relationship with Rudeus will help her in this area.

• I can't imagine Elinalise suggesting the poly relationship solution if she didn't think it was truly in everyone's best interest. There's no way she'd risk her relationship with Sylphie—i.e., the only member of her family who truly accepts and loves her—unless this were the case.

• Who were the other members of the party that were protecting Zenith and Lilia on the return trip (a rogue and a mage, I think)? Are they new hires, or were they always there in the background with Lilia?

• I liked that Rudeus blindfolded everyone except for him and Elinalise when going through the teleport gate. However, I can't help but wonder how they managed to get the sled and giant armadillo down the stairs and through the teleporter all while blindfolded.

Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation II is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Disclosure: Kadokawa World Entertainment (KWE), a wholly owned subsidiary of Kadokawa Corporation, is the majority owner of Anime News Network, LLC. One or more of the companies mentioned in this article are part of the Kadokawa Group of Companies.

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