TL;DR – a jobless recluse dies in an accident only to be born in another world where sorcery, warriors and monsters exist. He has a chance to live a second life. Oh and he also remembers his first life entirely so he has an adult mind in a child’s body.
The story of an introverted, jobless Japanese man who undergoes some sort of transformation is a common trope in anime. For Mushoku Tensei, the transformation occurs when said character trope attempts a heroic act to save some teenagers only to be hit by a truck and dying in hospital. He then gets reincarnated into a world of might and magic as a baby but retaining all his memories and knowledge of his previous life.
Known as Rudeus Grayrat, this second chance at life leads him down a path where he learns to live with greater meaning and purpose than he ever did in his first life. He is nurtured and loved by his parents, Paul Greyrat (father and master swordsman) and Zenith Greyrat (mother and accomplished healer) and soon discovers that he, too, can conjure magic.
The anime is strong at the beginning as Rudeus, as a baby and toddler, has a mind of an adult. The inner monologue is amusing as he absorbs his new environment and learns the rules and mechanics of the world he has been born into. The fact, his parents and everyone around him, has no idea that he has already lived an adult life leads to some comic moments ripe for ecchi.
Through flashbacks you discover, he was bullied, oppressed and homeless, which traumatised him deeply. And through the bonds he forges with the new people he encounters, he learns to overcome those emotional scars.
The novelty of the beginning soon wears off. The episodes moving slower than I wanted. Episode five was a particular highlight when Ghislaine Dedoldia, a warrior beast woman, comes to rescue Rudeus who is trying to protect Eris Greyrat (his cousin) from being kidnapped.
After that the story unravels somewhat as a mysterious ball in the sky appears along with an increase in monster activity. The mysterious ball turns out to be a gathering collection of mana and then in episode eight, new characters are introduced with no clue as to who they are or what their purpose/motive is. There’s a guy who appears to be able to control dragons, a little horned demon girl who leads an army that we don’t see, a dude that lives in a castle that floats in the sky and ruminates that the ball of mana may be a spell seeking to break the seal imprisoning a demon-God named Laplace.
The ball of mana explodes engulfing Rudeus and Eris and teleporting them to a demon continent where they are saved by Ruijerd Superdia, an elite killer, who decides to help them get back home. Together the trio journey to the city of Rikarisu where they register as official adventurers and can take on quests to earn money.
As you can see I wasn’t joking when the story unravels into a disjointed mess. Events occur that I’m sure will tie in to later episodes but season one ends with no answers provided. The series becomes flat and lifeless and my investment in Rudeus and his friends hanging by a thread.
The animation is solid if not spectacular, and there’s really not enough provided in the story to keep me going. Season two is scheduled to be released in October 2021. It’ll be a coin flip as to whether I’ll watch it.
5.5 out of 10