「無職転生」 (Mushoku Tensei)
Dreams really do come true. And what’s more, this adaptation of Mushoku Tensei was every bit as awesome as I remember it being when I first read the novel all those years ago. If you haven’t watched this episode, what are you waiting for?
The background origin details will come next episode – as I’ve seen from the Nico Douga pre-air. But our protagonist dies in an accident and reincarnates as a baby: Rudeus Greyrat. Already, you can tell that his personality is unsavoury. Perving over his new biological mother’s boobs, seeking out knickers in the laundry basket and trying to hit on his magic teacher using lines he remembered from a dating sim. There’s no doubt about it. He’s absolute trash of the highest order.
After accidentally destroying a window after months of messing around with water magic basics, we receive confirmation that Rudeus is special enough for his mum to demand a magic tutor. Despite their previous arrangement that their son would be trained as a swordsman, while a daughter would be taught the ways of magic. But the maid’s logic and his magic talents override this original arrangement – and Rudeus is set to train his swordsplay during the morning, while practicing magic in the afternoons.
Through abundant curiosity as well as trial and error, Rudeus figures out that some established theories are wrong. Namely that mana limits can be increased by repeatedly exhausting it as a kid and that spells can be casted without requiring incantations – a fact which deeply shocks Roxy, who assumes he was just some coddled boy whose parents overestimated his ability. We don’t know if this is some kind of cheat skill or a new discovery Rudeus made that no one else has realised. Or something hereditary. His mother seems like a skilled magic user, suggesting he might have inherited powers from her.
However, one thing’s for certain. Huge regrets and emotional scars cloud his heart and he’s working hard because he desperately wants to live a second life that’s actually worth living. For all of his faults and flaws, I can respect someone who earnestly wants to change themselves for the better.
What are my thoughts on how Studio Bind did? Perfection. The facial expressions are exceedingly well animated. It includes the tiniest of details and flickers of movement expressing various hints of emotions or thoughts. Parental love from Paul and Zenith to Rudeus. Rudeus squirming about uncomfortably when sitting in the garden next to Roxy, hugging his face into Paul’s chest because he genuinely carries trauma from his past life and is scared to face strangers as well as the outside world. Roxy’s initial indifference to becoming a full-on adorkable klutz when she accidentally breaks the trees and realises how much talent Rudeus actually has.
I’m really really pleased so far. Completely satisfied. It’s crystal clear that Studio Bind’s staff really care. The pacing does not feel rushed at all. Despite the fact a certain someone from late on appears in the trailer, I’d be very surprised if they rushed to that point within 24 episodes. Because the pacing between the first two episodes went was very slow, very methodical, very deliberate. Not to say it went at a boring, snail pace. Rather, they’re really taking the time to painstakingly expand and flesh out the premise like artisans seeking to craft out an immaculate masterpiece.
And yeah, I’ll say it again, the animation was utterly superb. Did you see that sequence where Rudeus conjured the spiraling ball of water? The water was squirming and bobbling exactly how you’d expect real water physics would behave. Unlike the perfect water sphere you’d see in other shows. They’re animating the water and it’s close to life-like. Don’t even get me started on when Roxy repaired the tree. That wasn’t just some magic glow and fusion like I’ve seen in every other show. THE TREE WAS ALIVE. THE WOOD SINEWS FORMED TENDRILS AND TWISTED AROUND INTERCONNECTING AS IT REGREW. It was a relatively mundane scene in the novels, but even this was made to be absolutely magical, I tell you. In creating Studio Bind, White Fox/Egg Firm clearly sent out some of their best to work on this project. And not only are they top talents in the industry, it’s blindingly obvious that they love and care about Mushoku Tensei as a source material too.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think adapting a 25 LN behemoth like Mushoku Tensei would be possible. Let alone an adaptation that would do the novels justice – given the copious number of gutter adaptations which desecrate source materials that had no issues. But here we are. This is what fans have long wished for, in the flesh. It’s early days, but I’m seriously close to crying tears of joy. Let’s just hope it wasn’t like that time I teared up seeing the iconic Starwars text scrawl when Episode 7 came out, only for the sequels to completely shit the bed on my heartfelt nostalgia.
Okay, maybe you hate isekai. I understand there are people like that out there. But please, give Mushoku Tensei a chance. If you’re a fan of great stories and great character development, there’s no reason not to. If this adaptation truly delivers, you might actually just be witnessing history in the making.
Anyway, for now I’m trusting Studio Bind. And that’s about everything I wanted to discuss. Thanks for reading this post and stay tuned for more in the future!