Oh man. With one scene in this third volume, “Mushoku Tensei” effectively cements itself as something just for the fanboys. It was my hope that the story would focus more on the redemptive aspects of Rudy Greyrat’s journey from reincarnated NEET to first-class wizard in this fantasy realm with the fanservicey bits firmly in the background where they belong. That almost happens here, until one moment after a birthday celebration where things go right off the rails.
Rudy is his usual manipulative self during the celebration, to the point where he accidentally winds up endearing himself to the lady of the house. So moved is she by his plight that the lady pledges her daughter, the tsundere Eris, to be his wife when she is of age. Rudy doesn’t think much of this at first… until Eris shows up in his bedroom later that night.
Now, it’s worth pointing out that this celebration was for Rudy’s 10th birthday. Eris is just as old. Rudy, having the mind of a thirtysomething otaku, decides to push this as far as the girl is willing to go. The good news is that Eris eventually beats his ass down for this, but not before things become irredeemably skeezy. Seeing this kind of foreplay between pre-teens is bad. That one of them knows exactly how bad this is and does it anyway is downright skin-crawling.
This is only a comic book, so it’s not like there are any real people being affected by Rudy’s actions here. However, the idea that his actions here are okay on some level and even rewarded -- after the beating, Eris tells Rudy to hold off for another five years until they become adults -- really casts a shadow over any (admittedly modest) enjoyment I’d expect to get from this series. “Mushoku Tensei” has a core idea of redemption that I like and at this point it has basically been overwhelmed by the pandering it offers to the basest desires of fandom.