Right, so I’ve gushed about this show quite a bit. It’s popularity and content has caused more than enough discussion among the anime fanbase. But now I finally get it sit down and put out my thoughts with the whole first cour done. So let’s not waste any more time. After the cut let’s take a dive into Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnaiton
While not the first isekai, neither of this new generation or the past. Jobless has long been considered by readers as the best, having codified and established much of the genre’s archetypes and plot points that other series have, for good and ill, taken to varying degrees of success. It has also strangely been a series that took forever to get its anime adaptation. When shows like ReZero (which was written at the same time) and Sword Art Online came out and shot to the top of superstardom, Jobless seemed to have been completely forgotten, or was patiently biding it’s time. Well it turns out the latter was the case, as an entire anime studio was created just to bring this show to life.
And man oh man, was it worth it.
Jobless Reincarnation, right off the bat, is an absolutely beautiful, and I mean BEAU-TI-FUL, anime series. Everything from it is crafted with the sort of love, care and effort that you’d expect from a film. From the grainy almost hand-drawn textures, to the gorgeous country-sides, to even the small little moments of character moving and speaking. There is a level of dedication and care put into this show that is no present even in the biggest of series, and in many ways, it is the reason why so many people have come to see it.
The story of Jobless is, like the Isekai it would inspire, very simple. The man who would become Rudeus Greyrat was an overweight, bullied, worthless NEET of a man who, after being kicked out of his house for ditching his parent’s funeral, is at the lowest point in his life. It is only through a uncharacteristic act of kindness, and a intimate meeting with Truck-kun that we see him reincarnated into a world of swords and sorcery. Still aware of his old life, and gifted with ability to conjure spells. Rudeus is determined to live his life to the fullest, and make something of himself in this new world.
Now that story has been done before, in fact it is the boilerplate Isekai story. However what makes Jobless stand out, is the time it spends building it’s world. It is not a show that is content to whiz through the childhood years to get to the regular isekai adventure. Instead it spends more than a handful of episodes showing Rudy growing up. The friends he makes, the relationship (and drama) with and between his parents, and the fears he has of going out to see the world. When Rudy is whisked away to help a family friend, meeting the tsundere with a capital T Eris, again there is time spent on developing their characters and world. Even before the show reveals its hand and the real adventure starts, this isn’t a checklist running through the usual isekai stuff, instead this is about telling a story.
And it is also the reason why it was forced to sit in the ‘problem chair’ for this season.
Jobless Reincarnation was a web novel, and an anime that doesn’t run away from its sexual content. Sex is in fact a major part of the story. Whether it is hearing Rudy’s parents Paul and Zenith go to town, catching his teacher Roxy diddling herself in her room, the revelations of Paul and Zenith having an affair, or Eris and Rudy being pushed together. Sex is here, and it is part of the story. That has also rubbed people the wrong way, especially with the idea that Rudy was (most likely) a 30ish year old man, who by all accounts, was probably a lolicon/pedo.
Now, I don’t lecture on Shallow Dives in Anime. I don’t condemn people for what anime they like and watch. I’ve not shied away from talking about controversial shows like Yosuga no Sora and hentai series like Emergence. I absolutely loved that Jobless was a show that takes sex seriously, that it presents its world, warts and all, with a degree of realism and bluntness that is downright refreshing. Despite the steps made in shows like Interspecies Reviewers, Domestic Girlfriend and yes, even Redo of a Healer to make sex a part of its stories, it is taking more seriously in Jobless. Instead of the sex being treated as a joke, or being edited out, it is there, and it opens up the avenues for character development other anime have either been too timid, or too uninterested in exploring.
But, I will also fully admit that Rudy’s mannerisms in the first half of the season were creepy at times. I won’t lie that during the scene with him and Eris alone in his room, where he attempts to make the moves on her, I skipped through most of it. It was uncomfortable, and unsettling, and I didn’t need to see it, even though I was glad that the show didn’t try to run away from what it was. It also doesn’t really help that Rudy’s inner monologue is done in the voice of his past self, which, when his a kid running around with his mom’s panties on his head, doesn’t paint the picture of the adorable scamp the writer may have wanted.
Yet I can have those feelings, and still not just enjoy the show, but absolutely adore it. To condemn Jobless Reincarnation for this, when everything else seems to be tailored made to address all the hang-ups viewers have with modern Isekai (the gary-stu lead, the harem of one-note girls, the rushed sense of pacing, a lifeless undeveloped world) is frankly unfair. It is 100% okay to not enjoy the shows’ approach to sex, but to dismiss this anime (and its viewers) because you are uncomfortable is not just silly, but also deeply ignorant. This is a story that is being told, the slow transformation of a man who is given what many people would dream for: a second chance at life. It’s not a switch you can flip, a single moment isn’t going to make Rudeus forget who he is, or the life he led. Rudeus’s journey is just beginning, and I am so eager to see the man he will become, one that is hopefully well-adjusted, mature, kind, respectful, and aware of the icky parts of his past self, but also true to who he is.
Mushuko Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation has been a bonafide home-run hit, without a single clunker in this initial 11 episode run. And if the show continues with this level of quality, then it is very likely we are watching the birth of not only an Isekai classic, but also the genre’s first true epic. The level of detail, the effort and time put into the story, the world, just everything about tells me that this is going to be something truly special. This IS my front-runner for anime of the year, and if the second half coming in July is just as good, then it will be really hard to knock off that pedestal. Jobless may not be the first Isekai of its generation, but it may well end up being the best. If you haven’t watched it yet, change that at once. Yes, there are some skeevy moments, but don’t let that turn you away from a show that has everything going for it.