By Owen Glancy
Asst. Arts & Features Editor
“Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation” was a smash hit back when season one aired in 2021, single-handedly bringing the often chastised isekai genre of anime back into the mainstream. Season two had nearly impossible shoes to fill, and it wears those shoes extremely well.
The biggest difference from season one is in the show’s pacing. Season one, while still relatively slow paced compared to other shows in the genre, had fast-paced action and a massive journey at the center of its plot. However, with Rudeus’ journey back home now over, and his lover Eris having abandoned him, season two fully dives into Rudeus’ psyche.
While the first season was definitely emotional, season two goes much further in its touching moments. The first half of the season sees Rudeus traveling north to find any clues to the whereabouts of his mother while also tackling the many issues he is facing due to the rapid decline of his mental health.
This arc lets the animators flex their mastery of subtle body movements and facial expressions. The action scenes here are also masterful, giving every sword, spell, and arrow a properly weighty yet fast feeling. Despite the fantasy setting, the animation makes everything feel realistic, like we really are looking into another world, similar yet different from our own.
The new characters introduced in this arc of the show are all great, with Soldat in particular being a standout, helping Rudeus through arguably the hardest part of his life so far. Not all of these new characters are as fun to watch or as memorable as Soldat, but they’re all great characters in their own right.
After episode four, Rudeus is invited to the Ranoa University of Magic, where the bulk of the season takes place.
Ranoa University of Magic is such an incredibly interesting setting. The implied history of the university and many of its students makes the world feel so alive and connected. We meet the relatives of characters from season one, background characters who now become extremely important, and most importantly Sylphiette.
Sylphiette is reintroduced back into the show after being gone since episode four of season one, and she is easily the best character this season after Rudeus. Seeing them slowly get closer to each other throughout the 13-episode run is extremely wholesome and very rewarding by the end.
Despite the constants of great animation and characters, the story and pacing takes a dive in quality during the university portion of the season. The fast-paced action scenes become less frequent and the side characters have increasingly less to do. While a slower paced story arc does make sense in the context of Rudeus’ mental health journey, it doesn't stop this part of the season from feeling incredibly slow.
The animation also suffers during this season. While it’s still a beautiful looking show, there is a noticeable lack of movement compared to the earlier episodes in the season, and especially compared to season one.
The show also adapts a more typical episode structure. Season one and the first four episodes of season two were all 30 minutes long, with no opening song and only an ending credits. However, season two shortens the length of the episodes to add an opening sequence to every episode. While this complaint is ultimately very minor, the wasted time caused by shortening the episodes and adding an opening adds up in the end.
“Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation Season 2” is not as polished or action packed as the first season. The cast of characters is also slightly less memorable and the animation doesn’t hold up toward the end of the university arc. Despite all these issues, season two overshadows the first season in terms of emotional moments and the payoff at the end. It also retains the excellent protagonist, music, and art style of season one.
While not as consistent as the first season, “Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation Season 2” still stands as a pinnacle of the isekai genre, making its fantasy setting feel real with excellent characters, strong emotional moments, a beautiful art style and score, and an ending that wraps up the season on such a positive and heartwarming note that it’s impossible not to feel something after it’s over.
A worthy successor to season one