Watching a show you don’t agree with (Mushoku Tensei Review)

Getting the obvious out of the way; this review will contain spoilers for the entire season. If you’re here to figure out if you should watch it: I recommend giving it a shot. It’s flawed in ways, but it has a lot going for it too.

I went into Mushoku Tensei fairly blind. I had seen that it was apparently a fairly old Isekai story that finally got adapted, but that’s about all I knew about it. The first few scenes were a bit uncomfortable, with a rather strange birth scene and some strange perverted inner thoughts. I’ve been watching anime for over a decade, so I’m used to some pervertedness here and there. As a teenager I thought this stuff was funny, as someone in their late 20s I barely tolerate it. But it wasn’t too bad, and I like Isekai when done well so I was definitely willing to look past this point.

This set the tone for the show pretty early on.

We learn pretty quickly that these are Paul and Zenith, Rudy’s parents. Rudy, or Rudeus is reincarnated from (presumably) modern-day earth to a fantasy world. The first half of this story takes place in his hometown, with Rudy slowly growing up until a young teenager. The first half of the show has a few questionable moments and sex is definitely a big theme in this story. Rudy is an incel by every definition of the word, and doesn’t really realize anything wrong with his behavior. He steals his teacher’s underwear, constantly leers at the family’s maid and even, albeit accidentally, assaults his friend. He was under the impression that it was a boy and not a girl, which makes it slightly less awful? I think? I don’t know, it’s a questionable moment regardless, but credit where credit’s due, he realizes what he did was wrong here.

He also points out his fathers awful behavior, and this is one of the things I did really like from the early show. Paul is kind of a scumbag, and the show addresses this properly. Which is why I think it’s that much more frustrating that the show is less willing to address Rudy’s behavior more properly. Grooming a little girl to marry is not okay, even if you have the body of a child as well. Eventually, about four episodes in, the dynamic changes when an old friend of Paul shows up and kidnaps Rudeus. With Paul’s permission of course, because that’s definitely a Paul thing to do. Either way, Rudy now has a job teaching a spoiled nobleman’s daughter.

Yup, she knows Paul alright.

The second arc follows Rudy in his endeavors to try and get the nobleman’s daughter in line and it’s definitely a challenge. Eris is very strong willed, but Rudy shows some promise here as he tries his best and doesn’t give up in the sight of challenge. I say he shows promise, but one of the more disappointing moments of the show happens during this arc. Rudy sexually assaults a girl barely 10 years old. Some have argued that he’s a child himself, but it’s important to remember that not only is he mentally an adult, he also comes from a world in which this behavior is not accepted. I’m an advocate for art and media to push boundaries, and I don’t think this scene is problematic per se, but I would have liked for the show to do more with it. Rudy doesn’t really seem to learn that his behavior is incorrect, and I would have appreciated it if he did.

Yeah, I had to rewatch this scene to capture this screenshot and it was worse than I remembered.

The third arc is where the story picks up, and I’ll avoid talking too much about it, for those of you who have yet to see it. A strange magical object appears in the sky and after a little while Rudeus and Eris are teleported to a strange place. They meet a strange man who is willing to help them get home. We’re past the introduction of the story, and well on our way to the more action packed parts. Rudeus and Eris both show off their skills here and Rudy also quickly learns that there’s much he still has to realize. Life isn’t easy, and being too cocky can cost you. There’s also the question of what this strange magic was, and what the mysterious god has in store for Rudy.

You’re not wrong

Conclusion

I think Mushoku Tensei is a good show with lots of potential. As far as I’m aware, the studio that’s working on it has plans to adapt the entire story, which is a very good sign. The animation has been solid throughout and the art is very well drawn. The world feels well-built and I’m very curious to know what’s actually going on. Does the show have problematic moments?

Yes, it certainly does. Sexual assault of a minor is terrible, and it’s really put a blemish on the show in my opinion. I hope they address this in a later arc, because when you include a scene like that, I feel like there should be a message. There was no message here. He did what he did and then went on with his day as if there was nothing wrong with it. Ignoring that moment, I do recommend the show. I had a blast watching most of it, and I think it’s telling a very interesting story with lots of cool worldbuilding.

I don’t really give ratings to shows because I’m awful at being objective. (I know, that’s a terrible trait for a teacher). I would give Mushoku Tensei a passing grade though. How about you? Do you agree with my review, or do you think differently about the show? Please leave a comment and share this review with your friends, it would really make my day!

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