Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation, Vol. 5

By Rifuin Na Magonote and Shirotaka. Released in Japan as “Mushoku Tensei – Isekai Ittara Honki Dasu” by MF Books. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Paul Cuneo. Adapted by JY Yang.

I was pleased to see that almost all of the things I brought up as negatives in the last review were improved here. Yes, OK, there are several scenes of Rudeus getting distracted while fighting as he literally cannot stop staring at large breasts, but compared to prior volumes, this is on the light side of him perving out. Eris gets a great deal more to do, and the scenes with her and Cliff on her goblin hunt were probably the funniest in the book. It’s also made clearer, in case it wasn’t already, that she is over the moon in love with Rudy. She also plays a part in the main plot point of this book – indeed, the entire book seems a letdown compared to these scenes – where Rudeus is finally reunited with his father and younger sister. Sadly, due to misconceptions on both sides, it’s not exactly a happy meeting. In fact, things go south far more rapidly than anyone could have guessed.

The biggest point of interest in the series is, of course, the dissonance between Rudeus’s adult reincarnated otaku brain and his physical (and, let’s face it, emotional) child self. Here, after getting caught beating up kidnappers who turn out to be his father’s group rescuing slaves, we get the biggest contrast yet, as he tries to impress his father with everything that he’s been through to reassure him that he’s fine, but is confronted with a very real question: why does he not know what’s going on with the entire kingdom being teleported and displaced? I mean, Eris knows – she’s been keeping silent as she assumes Rudy is keeping silent for her sake. And everyone else in the world knows. But Rudy, by various plot coincidences, has never seen ANY of the messages his father left at various guilds. The result of all this? A huge father-son fight.

Paul is handled well here – he’s at his wit’s end trying to save people, getting drunk and depressed as most of his family is gone, and suddenly here’s his son back, being smug, and accusing him of sleeping with women when he hasn’t actually done it. You can see why he snapped. At the same time, Geese is absolutely correct in reminding him that Rudy is a child (has he turned 12 by now?) and the mere fact that he survived at all is stunning. Rudy’s genius makes people expect things of him that he is not functionally equipped to handle at times. As we see in the best scene in the book, when Rudy, post-fight, simply lies dazed in his room at the inn Eris tries to comfort him in a really awkward yet sweet way. Fortunately, things are mostly resolved, with father and son making up. That said, the younger sister will take longer – her seeing Rudy punch her dad’s lights out means she is not forgiving him ever ever ever. Eris hates Paul too. Fun times!

So yes, a stronger volume in the series. I also liked seeing another of Rudy’s relatives here, and hope we see more of her. The side story about the princess and her retainers (including the mysterious Finn) was also excellent. I could hope for less horndog antics, but I know that’s vain. Just sit back and enjoy it.

Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation, Vol. 4

By Rifuin Na Magonote and Shirotaka. Released in Japan as “Mushoku Tensei – Isekai Ittara Honki Dasu” by Media Factory. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Alyssa Orton-Niioka. Adapted by JY Yang.

Ugh. After three volumes where I was mostly pleased and interested in the story, despite the occasional bits of sleazery from Rudy, I now come to a 4th volume where it’s getting really hard to ignore the sleazery. Rudeus is a reincarnation of an otaku lech, and thus spends much of this book either perving on everyone, or else being mistaken for perving on everyone because his “I like petting a dog” face is the same as his “I like groping a boob” face. He’s still not actually trying anything with Eris, but it’s not for want of temptation. But frankly, they’re still both too young for this to be anything other than icky, reincarnation memories or no. Rudeus is an interesting character with him trying to think of elaborate schemes and failing, we really don’t need him to also be thinking of banging everyone and everything. Even bits that aren’t sexual feel wrong – he’s naked in a cell for about a week at one point, and seems to revel in it.

The girl on the cover we don’t recognize is Kishirika, self-proclaimed Emperor of the Demon World, who (stop me if you’re surprised) looks like a little kid but is really [x] hundred years old. Her main purpose here, besides what I just said, is to give Rudy another power-up, as he gains a demon eye that can see into the future for a second or two, provided that the user has lots of mana (which he does). Needless to say, he’s instantly put into situations where that’s highly useful, though it can’t always save him. He’s trying to get back home, but traveling with a Suijerd makes that hideously expensive, so they’re looking at alternatives. These alternatives involve ripping off some slavers, only to end up double-crossed themselves. It’s complicated.

Other issues: Eris continues to be used very sparingly, as if the author can’t figure out what to do with her. She’s getting better at the sword, but still has a ways to go in terms of growing up. (So does Rudy, but it’s more complicated with him because of the past life.) I wish she was more relevant. I also wish Roxy had managed to find Rudy (they just missed each other), as that means we’re left with her side-story, which mostly revolves around one of her companions killing time while they’re searching for people by having a five-way. Mushoku Tensei is one of those books that you would never recommend to anyone but adults, despite the seemingly cute child cast on the cover.

So will I keep going? I’ll probably give it till the end of this arc. We meet another adventurer/gambler by the name of Geese, who describes an adventuring party that sounds very familiar to me. I suspect, if Rudy ever reunites with his family, sparks are going to fly. I also want to see if Eris does anything, or what’s going on with the princess and her (also suspiciously familiar) new bodyguard. That said, based on what I’ve read, I worry once Rudy comes of age the books will just involve him banging half the cast. He’s much more interesting when he’s trying to think about dangerous situations and sometimes failing.

Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation, Vol. 3

By Rifuin Na Magonote and Shirotaka. Released in Japan as “Mushoku Tensei – Isekai Ittara Honki Dasu” by Media Factory. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Paul Cuneo. Adapted by JY Yang.

A lot of people had talked about the influence of Mushoku Tensei on other reincarnation isekais, and I must admit after the first two volumes I wasn’t seeing it. If anything, this series is more interesting for what it doesn’t do, as we see Rudy training up as a child, and at the end of this book he’s still only eleven years old or so. The subplot with Eris in the second volume also seemed fairly unique. But then there was that cliffhanger, with everyone and everything being scattered to the four winds. Unfortunately, we don’t find out anyone else’s fate (though there is a bit at the end that hints about why it happened), but the good news is Rudeus and Eris are fine. The bad news is that they’ve ended up in the middle of the Demon Empire, and their only companion is a Superd, whose mere presence is enough to reduce people to shaking terror. And the better (or worse) news is that this volume has them become… adventurers.

Yes, THIS is what everyone was talking about when they mentioned influence. The guild, the levels, its rules. Unfortunately, Rudeus is in a bit of a bind, as he’s got a plan to a) get back home, and b) restore Ruijerd’s reputation so that everyone does not scream and try to kill him on sight. (He has a tragic backstory.) This requires being a cool adventurer, but that takes lots of time and grinding. Fortunately (?), he has some advice from a god who speaks to him through his dreams (more things we’ve seen in other reincarnation books), and so is able to cheat the system a bit and Make.Levels.Fast. Unfortunately, Rudeus is still the combination of a precocious child and a shiny shut-in, so sometimes he has grand plans and they end up going very badly. It’s not till the end of the book that he works out how to handle their group of three, and by then they’re off to another city.

Rudeus is the highlight of the book, and the book is at its best when he’s seeing the consequence of a bad decision he’s made, usually involving someone dying. He’s having to grow up fast, and relying on his past life really isn’t helping here. After a couple volumes showing him as a child prodigy, he struggles with exhaustion, his magic isn’t always useful or effective, and he resembles what he is: promising but that’s about it. Eris does not fare quite as well here, for the most part remaining the hothead tsundere girl, though her swordsmanship is miles ahead of Rudy by now and she’s on her way towards being a legend. The debut here is Ruijerd, who is a good strong, silent type, and again at his best when he’s upset, such as when Rudy makes bad decisions and people die. I like him.

It’s clear that this book is the start of an ‘arc’, and I’m not sure when Rudy and Eris will be returning to what’s left of their home. Till then, though, enjoy a volume that’s a bit more like what you’ve read before but still worth reading.