Hello folks, and welcome back to Wrong Every Time. Today we’ll be checking out… wait, seriously? An isekai? Don’t you folks know how I feel about those? Well, a job’s a job, so I guess today we’re checking out the … Continue reading →
Hello folks, and welcome back to Wrong Every Time. Today we’ll be checking out… wait, seriously? An isekai? Don’t you folks know how I feel about those? Well, a job’s a job, so I guess today we’re checking out the industry’s latest isekai production: Jobless Reincarnation.
I don’t know anything about Jobless Reincarnation in particular, but I do know that I am flat-out exhausted by the isekai genre, and basically every one of its assumed qualities. There is definitely a strong potential isekai within the template as we know it – a show that genuinely reflects on the alienation of modern society, and interrogates the self-defeating ugliness of using fanatical fandom as an escape from reality. But even the shows that ostensibly do this, like Re:Zero, are still drenched in obnoxious otaku-isms, and simply not written well enough to keep my attention.
Characters in isekai shows speak in fan-aimed cliches, not like human beings, and the worlds they interact with are playpens filled with otaku ephemera, not convincingly realized alternative worlds. They are a warm hug aimed at a very specific set of consumers, which lack either the maturity of perspective or beauty of narrative craft to offer anything to a general audience of art-likers. As someone who has read a lot of actual adult-aimed novels, light novel storytelling is almost never going to impress me; particularly in this field, where novels are frequently written by amateur authors who are taking influence from other amateur authors, and being guided by editors whose notes presumably run the range from “needs more harem archetypes” to “mention her boobs more.” It’s the blind leading the blind while a third guy actively guides them off a cliff, and while the results of this process are understandable, they’re not generally consumable.
So that’s my opinion of isekai anime: a genre with theoretical potential, but no shows I could recommend to art enthusiasts, constructed under economic conditions that may well preclude the creation of any genuinely interesting art. Let’s see what I think of this one!
Some neat layouts and unusually realistic art design as we open on our protagonist, already having suffered a fatal crash. Presumably this art style is being used to establish a visual contrast with the world he eventually enters
One of the big issues with isekai is it’s just so damn structured. “Horror” can mean basically anything scary – “isekai” presumes a fairly strict adherence to an extremely overused narrative template, meaning any new isekai are almost destined to feel derivative. But again, to its intended audience, that’s presumably one of its charms – this audience isn’t looking to be surprised, they’re looking to be praised for their knowledge of anime archetypes. Fandom-aimed works feel like the opposite of true art to me; rather than challenging and dazzling, they tell viewers “you’re good. You’ve already figured it all out. The art you’ve consumed so far is enough art for you”
Our MC has been a shut-in for twenty years
This shot of him sinking beneath the doctors is really suffering from this show’s limited animation
“I wish I could’ve at least lost my virginity.” Are lines like this just intended to comfort the audience? Do these writers actually think this stale line is funny? So many of these productions’ details just feel bad for no reason – instead of giving us any reason to actually care about this protagonist, or perhaps introducing a fragment of what he’d lost, in order to provide a future hook, they just include these stale, canned lines, because other stories like this had these stale, canned lines. And it’s not like any single clumsy, weirdly horny line will sink the production by itself – but they just keep coming, and eventually you realize this story is clearly not intended for you, it’s intended for someone who can’t help but say “hehe nice cans” whenever they pass a woman on the street
Welp, clearly our protagonist has been literally reborn, as a baby with the mind of an adult man
“If you leave yourself that open, I might cop a feel.” Jesus fucking christ. Our protagonist, as a goddamn baby, is attempting to hornily grope that baby’s mother. Who is this for? Who watches a sequence like this and actually laughs? All this sequence tells me is that this protagonist is an idiot and a creep, and that the author is also an idiot and a creep. As I said, whatever their merits may be, these shows are so drenched in the absolute worst parts of anime culture that it’s impossible to wade through the sewage to find them. You can tell me, “oh yeah it’s got a lot of creepy, horny jokes, but the story goes to interesting places” – but guess what? There are countless great stories out there that don’t assume their audience is some weird insular creep, and thus don’t calibrate all their humor in that direction
Paul and Zenith are the parents
“Getting to suck on a hottie’s tits for free rules.” God I hate this genre. Thank you, my loyal readers, for reminding me just how bad anime can be
The protagonist is now named Rudeus. He was 34 in his past life
Now he’s stealing and sniffing his mother’s panties, because isekai is like that
Lilia is the maid. And of course, our protagonist immediately highlights her boobs too, because he’s just an absolutely wretched person. Why would I want to follow a character like this? What single thing about this show so far has encouraged further viewing in any way? He’s simplistic and deeply unpleasant, and his sense of humor is “I love to objectify and harass women,” and the narrative overall is entirely textbook isekai. Genuinely asking – what am I missing here? What here is good?
“He’s a child. He doesn’t know any better.” Yep, the plot so far is just “creepy middle-aged man uses becoming a baby in order to harass women.” No hook, just “harassing women sure is funny”
We’re wasting so much time on this kid’s superfluous inner monologue. That’s a problem endemic to light novel adaptations, though; the original format tends to just be a run-on monologue, with no real scene-setting or prose to sink into. Again, it’s a largely amateur art form, with editorial input mostly intended to make sure it hits all the right tropes
Some very nice cuts of character acting as mom and maid rush to Rudy. The character acting has been quite good in general, it’s just only being used for evil
Oh my god, his monologue is incessant and insufferable. Is this Kyon’s fault? Are we all paying the price of Haruhi’s success? At least Haruhi was occasionally actually witty!
“Mommy used to be an adventurer!” A line that speaks to another of this genre’s key failings. Isekai almost never envision a genuinely believable fantasy world, a world like Tolkien’s or Le Guin’s, with its own cultures and working societies. Instead, it’s always just “we’re inside a videogame’s version of a fantasy world,” which is a far more simplistic simulacrum, and generally doesn’t feel “real” as a place at all. These worlds just have Peasants and Adventurers, because that’s all they need for their game design, but a world like that is wildly insufficient for an actual fantasy story – it feels like simplistic wish fulfilment from moment one. You could never imagine someone actually living out their daily life in an isekai world; it’s just a videogame stage to make the protagonist look strong
More great character animation, wasted on this utter garbage
“I used to have over a thousand books at home! All light novels, though.” This man was thirty-four years old. Thirty-four years old, and he’d never purchased a book written for actual adult audiences, rather than insular teenagers. In the end, this might be the ultimate downfall of all these light novel productions – they are all written by and for people who never really grew up
Ah, time for another isekai staple: rambling explanations of arbitrary magic systems, because isekai are more about explaining how good you are at a videogame than actually telling a story. Great writing uses exposition like this as rarely as possible, but isekai is all about systems (and it’s not alone in that fascination – our prior worst anime trend, magical school anime, was also full of it). These stories are not about discovery in an unknown situation, they are about cataloging a familiar database
Of course, you don’t have to be this clumsy in this genre. Log Horizon explained its base magic systems through actual combat, using an active situation to create a sense of suspense and drama while still conveying the necessary exposition. Storytelling!
“Your magic affinity is set in stone from birth.” A smarter story might use this premise to explore the inherent injustice of our own quasi-Calvinist society, and how we must disassociate merit from these intractable qualities. But these stories are about wish fulfilment, not thematic interrogation, and so instead they generally just recreate the injustices of our own world, except the protagonist is now at the top and has all the power. Even the ones where their weakness is ostensibly the point, they generally unlock powers that make them secretly the best (like in Shield Hero, etc)
Excellent effects animation for this spellcasting. The production here is generally quite good, which unfortunately doesn’t really help. I will never be a sakuga guy – animation in a vacuum is not what I watch anime for, and I generally need an emotional, narrative connection for visual theater to work
“This is all the MP I’ve got?” Gaaaahhhhhhh
Our MC finds incantation-free magic easy, presumably because he’s so naturally good at everything
I do appreciate his methodical teasing at the limitations of magic. System-based conflict can be exciting, as Hunter x Hunter readily demonstrates, as long as you create a coherent and dramatically satisfying system. Most isekai stumble by ostensibly introducing such a system, but then just giving their protagonist the power to have all powers
What is the MC’s father’s job? He just spends all day swinging a sword around in the yard
Getting extremely bored of watching this kid power level this videogame
Whew, the conjuring of this intermediate water spell is gorgeous. Combining the effects animation with the spinning camerawork creates this incredible sense of building energy, and I love how the layers of the composition amplify the sense of consistent, flowing movement. Some beautiful cuts in this premiere
The parents actually have a pretty charming rapport. I feel like a lot of isekai would be much more pleasant without their protagonists
Ah, Paul is actually something like a village guard, or sheriff
Soooo much wasted time. This rambling exposition about finding him a magic tutor serves no purpose at all – any half-decent editor would cut this whole segment. But I suppose any half-decent editor would reduce most light novels to four or five pages, and we can’t have that
Ohoho, they expected an old man, but the tutor is actually a cute girl! Imagine my surprise, a surprise enriched by the narrator actively telling me this is supposed to be surprising
Her name is Roxy, and the narrator immediately starts talking about her pubic hair. Just, you know, gotta keep reminding us that our protagonist is a detestable shitheel
“Maybe she has a complex about it? I don’t mean her chest, though.” God, the worst of anime is so, so bad
There are three types of magic: attack, healing, and summoning. Again, this is because this is a videogame world, not an actual fantasy world. A genuinely decent work of fantasy would likely use the infinite potential of magic to design its own system, or perhaps take a non-systemic approach to magic altogether; instead, we’re just getting JRPG attacks
The character animation for Roxy is extremely fluid, to the point where it feels like she’s overplaying her clumsiness
Really good facial acting, too – I like how we can very briefly note the pride in her face at being praised, before she turns aside and denies her talents
As expected, his incantation-free magic means he’s actually the best at it
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Whew, my god, it’s finally over. Well, that was atrocious. It was atrocious in most of the ways isekai tend to be atrocious, from its absurd glut of obnoxious, unnecessary exposition, to the “jokes” which only emphasized the grossness of its abhorrent protagonist. It was clumsy and poorly paced, and the world it was illustrating offered no genuine hooks at all – rather the opposite, in fact. Through its explanation of magic and fantasy culture, it basically just emphasized that its author has never thought deeply about fantasy or people, and is only interested in play-acting in a videogame world. With an utterly obnoxious protagonist, a barely-sketched world, and no hooks beyond the generic conceit of every isekai, Jobless Reincarnation stands as a total waste of some genuinely great animation. Isekai continues to precisely meet my expectations.
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