Comic Picks By The Glick

Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation vol. 1

December 14, 2015

Now here’s a title that I really wanted to like because of its premise.  It starts off with a jobless otaku shut-in being kicked out of his family’s house -- because staying inside his room during his parents’ funeral was the last straw -- and the immediately dying after pushing a couple out of the way of a truck.  Death is only the beginning of this adventure, as the 34-year-old man is reborn as a baby in a medieval fantasy world.  The catch here is that he also retains all of the mental faculties his 34-year-old self possessed, so young Rudy has a huge head start in life and he’s determined not to make the same mistakes again.  Though his dad wanted him to be a swordsman, the kid demonstrates a great aptitude for magic, and we see him learning more about it from his teacher Roxy over the years as he puts all of the knowledge and presence-of-mind from his past life to work.  The idea that someone worthless is doing his best to make the most of his second chance is a compelling one and seeing Rudy slowly overcome the hang-ups from his previous life was interesting enough to keep me reading to the end.

It wasn’t easy, though.  That’s because this volume’s biggest stumbling block is that Rudy’s actions tend to make him come off as a smug little creep more often than not.  Even if he is a 34-year-old in a kid’s body, it’s still creepy to see him enjoy being clutched to his new mother’s ample bosom more than he should, take a vested interest in his parents’ baby-making sessions, refer to the stolen panties of his teacher as his treasure, or argue circles around his dad while sporting a know-it-all grin.  All these things make it really hard to warm up to Rudy as a character.  Though you could argue that these negative character traits are part of the issues from his past life that need to be overcome, that’s not how they’re presented in the story.  The writing, from original light novel writer Rifun Na Magonote, tends to set these things up as jokes, while the art from Fujikawa Yuka really plays up the skeeziness of Rudy’s actions and tends to emphasize fanservice whenever it can during the volume.  In short, this first volume has problems that its creators don’t seem to regard as problems.  It makes me hesitant to pick up the next volume to see if things get better, because how much improvement can there be if the creators have a mindset like that?

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