「友達」 (Tomodachi)
“A Friend”

While a Roxy shaped hole is left in our hearts, a new character quickly arrives to fill it up in the form of Sylphyiette. Her elven ears are so adorable and I love how Studio Bind animated the wiggling. We’re reminded how difficult life must have been for Roxy when Sylphy is horrifically bullied and abused by the village children for having green hair. Due to his own personal experiences, Rudeus decides against remaining uninvolved, rushing in to protect the child from being attacked. And coming from another world with different cultural sensibilities, Rudeus is unphased by the child’s green hair – allowing them to quickly become friends. That said, the process wasn’t simple and easy when new and complex issues arise from the course of their social interactions.

Two Sides to Everything

Something I wanted to acknowledge from this episode was the way in which Paul handled allegations of Rudeus bullying other people. Namely those kids who had been attacking Sylphy. Having only heard their side of the story, Paul comes to believe the worst about his son. That his son has been using his magical abilities to pick on normal people who can’t fight back. From our perspective and that of Rudeus, we saw that Paul didn’t give his poor boy a chance to explain himself and slapped him when he tried to do so. Obviously this was really unfair. And not what a father should do. And although he deeply regretted the situation, probably resulting from his excessive pride, Paul ultimately never apologised.

However, two things. We know Paul’s son is extremely unusual. I would feel pretty freaked out if I had a baby son who has their shit together like that. Let alone being completely owned in the logical sense by a 5 year old. That stuff really damages your pride and makes you wonder if you’re doing anything right as a parent. And Rudeus behaving like an adult has probably been bugged Paul throughout the years, with this incident being the straw that broke the camel’s back. Not that it excuses Paul’s actions, but it contextualizes his reaction. Secondly, he eventually redeemed himself by applying the lesson Rudeus taught him to Sylphiette’s situation. Instead of beating his son without demanding an explanation, when Rudeus stripped Sylph bare without realising she was a girl under the assumption it was a prank between boys, Paul gently reassures his son and gives him helpful advice on how to make amends with his first real friend. Interestingly, Paul himself seemed to be a victim to this kind of harsh parenting, talking about his father as well as seeing himself in his son. That sort of characterisation is so well done, where you come to realise this is Paul ever knew and he subconsciously slipped into doing it without realising, before correcting the error of his ways. In choosing to recognise his mistake, he’s managed to break free from that cycle of parenting, which might not be anything flashy like taking down a dragon but certainly constitutes an impressive achievement.

On a different token, just like how Paul never intended to be a bad parent, Rudeus didn’t intend to wrong Sylphy like that. We know his intentions were good in trying to pull that prank. But having been a hikkikomori for many decades, to say he’s poorly adjusted in social terms would be a massive understatement. To him, it was a harmless joke that he’d probably seen many times in the media or games that he consumed. But Rudeus learns that these kind of actions can have severe repercussions, including social fallout that potentially results in the loss of friendship. So slowly but surely, he learns valuable life lessons he never had the chance to formalise during his original life in Japan. Fortunately Sylphy doesn’t take things personally. A quick aside, these are also the things that make Mushoku Tensei so special. It is definitely a story about Rudeus and his second chances or realisations. Yet it’s also so much more than that. It’s also about the second chances and realisations of the people around him too, making them way more than just mere characters in a generic story.

Concluding Thoughts

Who has been best girl so far – Roxy or Sylphiette? For me, best girl hasn’t shown up yet. Some of you might ask – is that even possible? To which me and many other novel readers would say ‘Yes it is’. In this episode, Rudeus did have some strange thoughts regarding how Sylphy would grow to become an attractive guy, and that it was worth being friends so he could potentially capitalise off Sylphy’s popularity. This thought process is inherently offputting. But it will make it all the more satisfying when Rudeus realises the fundamental error behind this thought process, and comes to experience as well as understand genuine romantic love for what it is. Though that will be far away considering we’ll be following the rest of his childhood and teenage years too.

Anyway, that’s about everything I wanted to discuss. As always, thanks for reading this post and see you all next week!

27 Comments

  1. I am seriously irked by this show 2 episodes in a row putting 2 underaged girls in vulnerable positions for lolicon Rudeus to see. The first time was a common hentai fantasy with Roxy pleasuring herself in the hallway, and this time, Rudeus couldn’t tell that Sylphiette was a girl even though she clearly had a girl’s voice. Both instances were ridiculously contrived and should not be necessary to tell a good story.

    Vance
    1. You clearly never interacted with other kids, and you are probably mute. My male childhood frineds had girls voice, many of them until teenage.

      If you are going to complain every week, at least try to be logical for once.

      Jon
    2. In case you oversaw it, at the end both made up again, and we have that he regret it. Also the actions or more the words of his Father here is somehow accurate

      You see this scene with the Eyes and experience from an Adult. But they are Children

      Worldwidedepp
    1. Rudeus is not under 6 when he meets Sylphiette. At the start of the episode, he notes that it’s summer, and then he says that it’s summer again later, which means a whole year had passed. I don’t know about you, but when I was 6, I never mistook short-haired girls for boys or long-haired boys as girls. I could tell from their voices whether they were girls or boys.

      Vance
      1. there’s a reason why women voice younger boys… just like Rudeus is… and unless you’re still not even teens, your memory of back when you were 6 is *not* going to be so clearly rememberable that you can say that you could tell the difference with confidence…

        you’re also in over your head if you think that’s actually true since it’s scientific fact that voices don’t change before puberty. you can find studies proving there’s no measurable difference in voices at this age. even 7 is too young for the start of puberty. and the point of discussion waas *Sylphy*’s age and voice

        also… Roxy is not young. even without knowledge of her actual age, she’s traveling alone so you’d be able to assume that she’s at least an adult, which puts her at 15 minimum. she’s also able to take care of herself alone while traveling, which means she also has life experience, putting her a few years above 15 at least. and with anime shenanigans, being a demon she might be far older than she looks

        GoXDS
          1. You forget that the language of the people in this series isn’t Japanese. Just because the actress says, “boku”, doesn’t mean that the character actually says it. This is really grasping at straws to defend Rudeus not being able to tell it was a girl when every other character, including Lillia and Rudeus’s father, Paul, could tell that Sylphiette was a girl just from a single glance.

            Vance
          2. it’s an explicit choice by the author, meaning there’s a purpose in the story. meaning even if they weren’t speaking actual Japanese, in this other world language Sylphy would be doing something similar. plus this is a *side* comment, and not the main argument, which you ignored. plus, iono, maybe everyone knows everyone? it’s a small village and Rudeus’s father is the noble of the village. ie. he knows everyone (he knows Sylphy’s parents as well obviously). kinda hard to not know about the kid in the village with green hair, considering how stigmatized green hair is in the world

            as asked last week, why bother watching when you already explicitly understand this is not for you and you don’t enjoy it. you said people don’t always watching something they enjoy but there’s still a difference between watching something just because and watching something you *actively* dislike (judging from all your comments at least)

            GoXDS
  2. @Vance
    Wow calm yourself man , you really don’t have to take it so seriously ! If you are that sensitive to such thing in an anime, then this show really might not be for you, as there alot more of these stuff coming in the future episodes !
    Personally I’m absolutely loving this show. There is something fresh about this that I can’t put my fingers on it and the narration is making it 10 times better !

    monkey
    1. if you’re referring to all the kids’ reactions, a few things

      one, this is a village far from a city. two, education is limited and books expensive. three, there’s already incomplete knowledge about magic making it difficult for people to learn anyways (and it’s not as simple as simply reciting the words. there’s internal understanding and compatibility. plus the lack of mana for anyone learning late)

      GoXDS
      1. education is limited and books expensive

        I think this is the main key. As in other fantasy settings, especially video games, I think modern audiences overestimate the literacy and education the average Medieval person could access.

        Rudy’s family seems relatively affluent. They have a big house, a maid, and can afford a magic tutor for Rudy. But even they have only just a few exensive-looking books, and that’s in a family where the mother seems to have been a magic practitioner in the past and encourages similar interests in Rudy. That nobody else in the surrounding countryside is familiar with magic is not only possible, but realistic.

        Indeed, this might be another kind of detail that grounds the setting in “reality”, so to speak. Someone posted a very interesting analysis of the real-life historical inspiration of many elements in the first two episodes:

        https://www.reddit.com/r/mushokutensei/comments/kzedkz/some_background_details_you_might_have_missed/

        Mistic
  3. I agree, I liked the scenes with Paul a lot. Heck, I like that we also got to hear HIS thoughts on the matter, his doubts, his regrets, his learning. It’s not just a tool for the protagonist.

    It is said that one of the strengths of the literary medium is the ability to peer into a character’s mind, read the thoughts and opinions that in real-life we can only infer from their words and actions. Getting the two perspectives at the same time was well done in the anime.

    I also like the parallelism. Technically, both Paul and Rudy are men with decades of experience, and in-universe they appear as a confident father and a genius child. But they’re also flawed, make serious mistakes that can ruin a relationship and have past regrets. The good news? They can learn to do better from each other.

    Mistic
  4. Also this Scene with the father

    I had lost my Keys while playing in the Snow with an Friend. i Noticed it when i was about to go home. So i keep searching them because we could still see the marks on the Snow where we run along. After some searching we found them. After being happy an run away. My Father was there in front of the Door. He did not even gave me the change to speak up. He just gone and hit me with an stick. Because i was around 30 minutes late for Dinner… You know for someones eating at giving time is above all… Well in the end i had blue brushes from his “Love” and could not attend School 3 Days.. and he never ever asked the reason or apologies

    Well, it’s way in the past now

    Worldwidedepp
  5. My 2 main thoughts here was:
    – Any criticisms to Paul’s initially not listening to Rudy’s side of the story while valid, is incredibly realistic. Pretty sure most people as kids had to deal with having to apologise or getting punished while they did nothing wrong purely because they are not listened to.
    If not with parents, teachers tend to be masters at this.

    – I can sorta understand people getting bothered by the pervy stuff and whatnot. Although I’d say just don’t watch, not everything has to be made to fit your preferences.
    Big difference between valid criticism and just whining.

    But honestly, I can’t be bothered by something I don’t even take seriously. I have seen/listened to so much of Sugita Tomokazu’s pervy pranks, jokes and antics, I’m just hearing Sugita doing what Sugita does and it’s hilarious! XD

    Almost like they called him up like “We need a narrator, just be yourself”.

    Jerrold Nas
  6. Still not comfortable with him keeping and “worshipping?” a pair of stolen panties every morning. Don’t really find that “quirky” or “charming” and really would prefer he (the show) move on from that

    I’m more or less OK with the other stuff in the show as they seemingly had a reason behind them other than the character just being a bad person.

    hjerry
  7. I really like the pace that they are going here, even with the changes from the ln, it all feels fluid.
    Really enjoying it (and i know it only get’s better).

    “Who has been best girl so far – Roxy or Sylphiette? For me, best girl hasn’t shown up yet”
    The correct answer is,,, well, if we get a season 3 or 4 at this pace we’ll get there. Till then is just hoping that the quality maintains and they decide to do more seasons (it deserves it),,,nyaa~.
    (Sorry couldn’t help myself)

    Rama

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