It would be hard to describe Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation Part 2 as anything but an odyssey at this point. We began with Rudeus, Eris and Ruijerd still on the demon continent and crossed oceans having adventures and facing perils along the way. All three of the characters faced personal challenges and grew as a result and all of them still have room to progress as their weaknesses can still bring them down.
However, because Rudeus’ journey has become this epic odyssey, there’s really no defined beginning or ending (at least in this leg of it). Instead we pick up mid-journey and continue on a ways coming to an emotionally satisfying point (for the protagonist at least) but not one that provides any kind of clear resolution on the journey itself.
It also makes it kind of hard to review because as with any journey, the one undertaken by the characters here in Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation has high points and low points (both in terms of the journey and the writing).
What makes Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation work?
For all the flaws that might be pointed out about this isekai anime, Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation actually remains pretty compelling viewing. We have flawed characters who are at times difficult to like and choices that are hard to accept. Also, there’s a range of other issues that might put viewers off.
And yet this story isn’t trying to be a dark affair where everyone remains miserable forever.
Instead, Mushoku Tensei tenuously balances the emotional (and physical) punches our characters suffer with lighter moments where small successes or connections bring them joy. A single episode may tip between the two tones in an instant and back again or may choose to wallow or embrace a single thought to really dump the audience into the emotional notes the character is experiencing, but it never surrenders to becoming fatalistic or just unpleasant for the sake of it.
A fine line and one that less nuanced stories have failed to grasp. You can’t just have your character be miserable and the punching bag of the world minute after minute, episode after episode, and still elicit sympathy for them. After awhile the audience becomes more or less immune to it and you either have to increase the pain inflicted or accept that nobody is emotionally invested anymore.
As much as I don’t like Rudeus, his character moves through bouts of depression and self-doubt and loathing, to soaring confidence after achieving some success and routinely his own cockiness is what leads to the next punch that brings him low. He feels believable as a character because he isn’t just perpetually optimistic, nor is he constantly in a low state of mind and there’s usually a clear catalyst that compels him to move from one state to the other.
This also means that it sometimes feels very satisfying watching Rudeus get knocked down.
Mushoku Tensei manages to make him obnoxiously cocky (just in small spurts) and while there is some charm and appeal to Rudeus when he’s on top of the world, it makes the next blow feel kind of necessary.
It also means you have more sympathy for him when he’s brought down low because you know how hard he worked to pull himself out of that state before.
of course, there’s also his confusing relationship with the man god that continues this season and it is so hard to tell whether this guy is actually trying to help or not. Hopefully some of his mystery is revealed should there be a follow up season.
Eris is a far easier character to appreciate despite her beginnings in season one as the self-entitled brat. Mushoku Tensei has really put some effort into her character arc and as a result she’s someone who can now turn an entire scene around just by entering it. Her effort and hard work are seldom rewarded though and that feels a little cheap given how much time she has put into becoming a warrior.
Alas, Eris suffers from not being the reincarnated protagonist of this isekai story and so instead of getting to win the fight and save the day, for the most part she’s either absent from the fight or side-lined too quickly.
Still, despite that, she’s been given a wonderful emotional growth period throughout this part of Mushoku Tensei and her character is a true delight. I just wish she occasionally got more than a side villain to defeat.
Of course, Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation has quite a large cast and while that helps the feeling that this world is real and rich and full and populated, the downside could be felt all too clearly in the final episode of Part 2. instead of being able to wrap up any one character’s story arc, all of these characters, spread across continents, are still moving on their journey’s. It meant the season final, while trying to give us an emotional arc for Rudeus, kept splitting its focus against a myriad of supporting characters and the end result was that none of them really left an impression.
Which could really be a complaint for the whole series. Outside of the main trio, the only characters who really leave an impression are ones like Paul, Rudeus’ father, and largely he makes an impression for the wrong reasons. Though bad anime fathers are a dime a dozen and at least Paul mostly tries, he just has the emotional maturity of a child.
One thing we do get a lot of in this part of the story are encounters. Our characters are traversing unknown lands and passing through cities so there is no shortage of bandits and monsters and bad-guys for our characters to cross swords/spears/magic with.
I don’t really remember the fight sequences from part 1 of Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation, but I can say confidently the fights here are highly entertaining with some good fluid movement and enough variability to keep them interesting. Whether it is Rudeus using magic, training to use his demon eye, or simply Eris or Ruijerd relying on raw skill, power and speed, the fights are all quite fun to watch.
Another thing I really enjoyed about Mushoku Tensei that seemed to feel a bit different from other anime was that rather than an OP we instead had the characters continuing their journey during the opening credits with a montage of images each week while he music played. It meant we got to see more or the daily lives and events the characters when through than we might have if 2 minutes was taken up each week with the same OP visuals.
It was worth appreciating.
Basically, if you enjoyed Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation season one, part 2 continues the journey seamlessly and gives you more from all of the characters. For those who were on the fence in season one, a lot of the same problems still exist in terms of content at times. That said, despite the fact that Mushoku Tensei fairly regularly steps on the lines I’ve drawn it doesn’t seem to cross them to the point where I don’t want to keep watching.
Instead, for all the moments where it leaves me feeling uncomfortable it gives me three or four moments where I’m impressed by how a character has been written or a situation has been resolved. The one or two missteps where a plot feels like it just kind of got wrapped up and shoved aside without enough effort, are few and far between.
So my verdict for Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation Part 2 is that it is very watchable and quite interesting. Not perfect but it does seem to distinguish itself from the sea of isekai out there.
Images from: Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation Part 2. Dir. M Okamoto. Studio Bind. 2021
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