「子供と戦士」 (Kodomo to Senshi)
“Children and Warriors”
The Penny Drops
I can’t imagine what it must be like for Roxy. Or even Paul. To not know the fates of people they love. We find out that the explosion has randomly teleported everybody to different places in the world. To elaborate, this can include hundreds of meters in the sky unconscious like Rudeus and Eris. These two would pretty much be dead if Ruijerd hadn’t seen and rescued them.
On the other hand, people could have been teleported under the ocean or instantly die as they’re teleported inside a solid rock. This mana calamity is truly gnarly business. Just because a person went missing doesn’t mean they’re still alive. It could just be they were taken to a place that can never be reached or accessed through conventional means. Even with magic. And that’s the horrifying reality Paul has to live with. Agonising over the possibility that his beloved family might be dead. With absolutely no way to control the outcome, or knowing if they passed peacefully or in extreme suffering.
He may be a flawed man who is beyond redemption in certain aspects. But I feel nothing but sympathy for Paul and there’s no denying how much he cares. And the lengths he’d go to make sure his family is safe and reunited. On the other hand, this starkly contrasts Rudeus – who sort of lacks perspective and still treats the whole experience like it’s some kind of game. He doesn’t even think about if his family members are okay, which is… just wrong.
It’s Not Just A Game
In addition to not even giving a second thought about his family, Rudeus was so caught up in his scheme to get rich quick that he didn’t consider the peril other lives could be in – holding back Ruijerd from rescuing fellow adventurers in the hope of indebting them to Dead End, only for one of those adventurers to be instantly killed. You can see just how much it punches Rudeus in the gut, as well as the guilt he’s crushed by. That person could have been saved. He didn’t directly take away their life. But he pretty much caused their death.
Although Ruijerd is typically soft on children, I appreciate how he didn’t hold back with Rudeus who absolutely deserved to be called and held to account. I remember being angry at Rudeus for treating the situation like it was a game. Fortunately, Kurt bails Rudeus out. Sure, the other world might have its customs. Where even young adventurers who would be considered kids have their pride – desiring to be treated as an adult, and not as a child, since they very well knew the risk inherent to adventures. This causes Ruijerd to apologise and calm his ferocious anger, as he acknowledges and respects the young adventurers for the adults they strive to be.
But I’m still in complete agreement with Ruijerd here. They might see themselves as grown up, but I certainly don’t. A kid dying is a kid dying no matter how that gets twisted by unique cultural notions. However, that’s the beauty of Mushoku Tensei. I’m not defending Rudeus over his actions. Yet it’s rare to see protagonists make this sort of error in judgement and truly suffer for it. Rudeus looked genuinely horrified at the consequence of his judgement. He’s clearly exhibiting a consceince. And this kind of emotional low is an integral part of the process by which Rudeus grows and become a better person.
Rudeus Discovers Conviction Through His Errors
At the very least, Rudeus isn’t completely headless and self absorbed. He’s fiercely committed to protecting Eris and seeing through her safe return to Fittoa. And Ruijerd senses this resolve when Rudeus almost casts a silent Saint Level destruction tier water spell on the demon city. To avoid letting Bojack Horseman blackmail them, Rudeus washes off the dye keeping his hair blue – exposing himself for the terrifying Superd he truly is, sending every demon in the vicinity scampering, and threatening Bojack until he passed out.
What I can appreciate is that though Rudeus, Eris and Ruijerd are fearsome entities in their own right, they’re not infallible. And there are even some situations they cannot just resolve through brute force. This situation pretty much forces them away from the city, and means they will have to continue travelling until they find a safe as well as comfortable spot. Perhaps they’ve lost this chance to restore the Superd’s reputation. However, this is just one of infinite chances they can create.
While Kurt and his party member might have cowered away in fear, despite the fact Ruijerd had saved their lives earlier in the day – even comforting them over the death of their comrade. However, they will surely reach the realisation that Ruijerd is a good person. Not all Superds are bad people, and it’s little steps like these, starting from absolutely tiny progress, that will form the framework for bigger scale transformations to become reality. The dream is still very much alive. As long as Rudeus and Ruijerd don’t give up, restoring the Superd’s reputation will definitely be possible. Even if it’s an undertaking that would span a human lifetime.
So apparently that‘s it for now. Split cour with the first half wrapped up, and the second half due to air in Summer 2021. One of my disappointments is that they did cut out many moments of introspection involving Rudeus, such as the way he beat himself up over trying to make a move on Eris. Or the guilt that crushes him . However, I understand that there will always be constraints when it comes to ambitious adaptations. And all things considered, I’d still give Mushoku Tensei top marks – simply because it’s clear there’s overwhelming soul and passion overflowing from the staff involved with its creation. Even if the animation quality somewhat deteriorated in the latter half.
The modern anime industry generally feels too corporate. Soulless to me. So I’ll embrace what Studio Bind have sent our way. Especially concerning my favourite light novel which heavily influenced my current love for characters and character development cycles. They’ve got a long road ahead of them if they truly plan to adapt the whole thing. Also, I’m not one to judge an unfinished product. Let’s hope Studio Bind rest up well and that they can maintain this level of care and passion for the franchise. And I wish them well in their endeavors.
As always, thanks for following my coverage of Mushoku Tensei up till this point. See you all in Summer 2021 for Part 2!