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.
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!