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Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation Episode 4 Review – Best In Show

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Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation Episode 4 Review – Quick Summary

In Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation Episode 4, “Emergency Family Meeting,” we get three bombshells within the first fifty seconds. First, Zenith is pregnant with her second child! Yea! Second, Lilia apologizes because she is with her first child. Um, is that a yea? And third, Paul is the father in both cases. No, not a yea. Not even close. And boy, did that drop the temperature in their humble abode! Will Zenith murder Paul in his sleep? Will she send Lilia away on a month-long journey to her home after she acts as Zenith’s midwife? Though that might kill Lilia, her unborn child, or both… And what will Rudeus do about this threat to his happy childhood? Or is there anything he can do?

Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious.

Favorite Quote from Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation Episode 4

Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation Episode 4: Lilia apologized for being pregnant. As if she did it all by herself!

Lilia’s short, two sentence pronouncement could have meant the life she’d come to know was now out of reach. Or worse. Capture from the Hulu stream.

In terms of show-stopping power, it’s been awhile since I witnessed a single quote with this kind of impact.

Zenith had just announced that she was with child. To be honest, given how often — and loudly — Zenith and Paul had tried to conceive, it’s amazing it took this long. But the household was in high spirits. Heck, even Rudy looked forward to a little brother or sister!

A little later, Lilia, bowing, said (00:36), “My humble apologies. I am pregnant.”

As a maid who could be dismissed at any time, as a woman whose dismissal would likely mean impoverishment or worse, and as an unwed mother in a society with absolutely zero safety net, that quote carried serious dramatic weight!

Best in Show Moment for Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation Episode 4

Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation Episode 4: Paul convinced Rudy the only way he knew how.

Paul knew there was only one way he could win an argument with Rudy. It had to do with swords. Capture from the Hulu stream.

Setup: Rudy Dug His Own Grave

I was about to address the gorilla in the room (yes, the mixing is intentional) when I realized that there were more than one. This episode rivals re:ZERO in terms of how much it can pack into 23 minutes. So, to avoid a complex discussion of morality (Paul’s), a less complex but more profound discussion of love’s strength over pain (Zenith’s), of gratitude as a driving force in life (Lilia’s), or even of young love’s terror of an uncertain future (Sylphiette’s), I’m going to focus on something a little more subtle and a little more fun.

Remember in the previous episode when Rudy argued Paul to a standstill — then elicited an apology from his father? Paul remembers.

And remember in this episode when Rudy understood that if Zenith sent Lilia away, the maid would likely die in transit, along with her unborn child? Rudy could see that Zenith felt sick at Paul’s betrayal, and that she would see Lilia and her child as a constant reminder. Yet, at the same time, she loved Lilia. They’d been together for years, and Zenith saw Lilia as part of the family. It was almost as if Zenith needed an excuse to keep Lilia close.

Zenith didn't want to send Lilia away. Rudy helped her find a reason to keep the maid around.

Zenith didn’t want to send Lilia to her death, so she was ready to listen when Rudy gave her an alternative. Capture from the Hulu stream.

Rudy gave Zenith that excuse. I thought he was going to leave off at “Father has a hold over Lilia…” (04:55), maybe because I’ve been through too many anti-sexual harassment training classes. Subordinates cannot give unencumbered consent because a boss’s positional authority gives them the power of retribution. I doubt that this world has the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, so Rudy had to imply that Paul forced himself on Lilia for the statement to have any weight. Zenith relented and welcomed Lilia to stay with them.

Paul remembered how Rudy had manipulated that situation, too.

Delivery: Paul Struck The Only Way He Could

On the Intellectual Field of Battle, Rudy Had the Advantage

It looks like Paul got into a habit of taking his frustrations out on Rudy during sword practice. As if Paul didn’t clearly understand that when it came to logic and rhetoric, his son could demolish him, he got another reminder. Seeing his son glaring at him, Paul asked if he wanted to be cool like his dad.

“Is it cool to cheat on your wife and almost wreck your family?” Rudy asked (11:10). Paul didn’t argue. He couldn’t. In his heart of hearts, he’s an honest man. He owned up to being the father of Lilia’s child, didn’t he? And now, he had to admit that his son had him dead to rights.

Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation Episode 4: Paul found it impossible to argue with Rudy -- with words, anyway.

Paul knew Rudy was right — but it also reinforced that if Paul wanted to get something across to Rudy, he couldn’t use rhetoric. Capture from the Hulu stream.

So it’s no surprise than when Paul read Roxy’s letter, Paul knew that there was no way he could convince Rudy that Sylphiette was holding him back, and that for his own development, he needed — even if just temporarily — to get away from her. He came up with a plan to ask his friend Ghislaine Dedoldia (who’s interesting on all kinds of levels) to take Rudy away, presumably for training. Paul obviously convinced Zenith and Lilia that the plan was sound, or they never would have gone along. Else, as we saw in this episode, both of them would have vetoed the idea.

But Paul Had the Advantage on the Field of Physical Combat

Rudy was astounded at the sight of Ghislaine. He was equally as mystified as to why Zenith and Lilia were saying goodbye to him. Paul said there was no way Rudy would listen if told to stay away from Sylphiette. “If I tried to explain, you’d just argue your way out.”

So Paul proceeded to pound Rudy with his wooden sword. For a brief moment, Rudy held his own using magic. But as Paul said in previous episodes, magic was no good for close in combat. He succeeded in knocking Rudy out. When Rudy came to, he was in a carriage with Ghislaine.

Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation Episode 4: Rudy knew better to leer at Ghislaine!

When Rudy regained consciousness, he saw Ghislaine watching him. There was something about her that inspired instant respect — Rudy wasn’t even lustful within his inner monologue! Capture from the Hulu stream.

It looks like Paul, and likely Zenith and Lilia, too, were concerned that Rudy’s development had stalled. Roxy’s letter made it clear that something had to change. It’s a parent’s duty to encourage their children to develop, isn’t it? Didn’t Paul try to do a good thing here by pushing his little baby bird out of the nest? Whatever else we can say about Paul, he’s trying to be a good father. He knew he couldn’t convince Rudy with logic, and he knew that if Rudy dug in, his magic might carry the day — or seriously damage the property around them. So, Paul did the only thing he could think of.

I’m not sure what the plan is, but I know this: Paul better practice his sword play. Because if Rudy ever masters that and magic, the balance of power in the Greyrat household is going to change!

What did you think of seeing Roxy again? What was your Best in Show moment? Let me know in the comments!

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11 thoughts on “Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation Episode 4 Review – Best In Show

  1. Honestly, this episode poured oil on the fire for me. It’s really weird and complex. To summarise: the show does empathise with its female characters, but it also seems to take a boys-will-be-boys/not-my-problem stance. There’s a skin-deep judgment of Paul as “scum”, but then the respect goes to strength, when he’s also obviously caring. The show seems so grounded in its partriachal values, that it can’t even imagine anything outside of it. It feels like the “nature of things”. In a way, this feels worse than “Redo of Healer”, which is plain and straightforward depravity voyeurism (you’re either into revenge porn or your not). It feels worse, because Mushoku Tensei got its heart in the right place but doesn’t bother to follow up. Hitting things with a sword is strength, self-control is a nice extra – if you find time for it.

    So we see Roxy again, and she’s got another pervert to deal with. Business as usual. It’s so jarring, because it would otherwise be a really good show.

    It’s not a dealbreaker for me, but it’s… sort of sad. There’s actually the makings of an interesting look at social constellations and monogamy (and what behaviour culturally-meaningfully breeches it), but the show needs a status-quo background for its pervy jokes to land (if you’re the target). An opportunity sacrificed to indulgence, all the while openly admitting that it’s bad. But, well, as long as you’re “kind” you’ll be forgiven, so is it really [i]that[/i] bad?

    I’m enjoying the show, and I’ll finish it. The show gets away with what Rudy gets away. I’m complicit, ain’t I?

    1. “The show seems so grounded in its partriachal values, that it can’t even imagine anything outside of it.”

      I see that, too. I’ve interpreted it so far as a reflection of the world in which Rudy finds himself.

      “So we see Roxy again, and she’s got another pervert to deal with. Business as usual.”

      That’s one of the scenes that helped define the world for me, primarily because it was another data point outside of the Greyrat household. Roxy didn’t scold the Grabby McGrabby. She responded with strength: She set him on fire.

      ” but the show needs a status-quo background for its pervy jokes to land (if you’re the target). ”

      It might just be my philosophy of consuming and critiquing fiction, but I exclude any conjecture as to the writer’s view of our world; I focus exclusively, to the extent possible, on the world as it’s portrayed in fiction. So when I see the scenes you referenced, I try to see them as indications of how this world works. Is it funny that Rudy retained the holy relic? Maybe. For me, though, the detail as more about who Rudy is. It also gave opportunity for Lilia to earn some of Rudy’s trust by not turning him in.

      “I’m complicit, ain’t I?”

      If you are, I am, too. But to me, it looks more like we’re enjoying a well-constructed work of fiction.

      I’ve been thinking a lot about the discussions surrounding this series. I haven’t come to any conclusions, but one thing has bubbled to the surface.

      I am not required to file a moral analysis report on every action a character makes or does not make. I am not required to judge Elaina harshly for not trying to attack a field-sized magical phenomena (a.k.a. the field of flowers). I am not required to judge Rudy for finding Lilia’s breasts attractive.

      I’m building out some other positions. Haven’t figured out how to explain it, but my next point has something to how I see fiction. The question isn’t how an event, or a character, upholds my personal moral code. The question is whether the work of art stands on its own. But that’s a really ham-fisted way of putting it. So I’m trying to work through how to be more specific

      1. ****I’ve interpreted it so far as a reflection of the world in which Rudy finds himself. ****

        I don’t think it’s that easy, even on an in-world level, since the show’s an isekai and I’m talking, here, about Rudy’s judgement of Paul (“He’s scum, I respect him, because he’s strong.”) Isekai shows, through protagonist points of view, always already compare two worlds. That’s a feature of all portal fantasy, whether it’s Peter Pan, Wizard of Oz, Narnia or Mushuko Tensei. So when I am judging and speculating about Paul’s judgment, I’m actually not judging the new world here.

        The next step is the meta-level. And here I then ask the question: what perspectives does the new world challange? How does Rudy have to adapt?

        ****That’s one of the scenes that helped define the world for me, primarily because it was another data point outside of the Greyrat household. Roxy didn’t scold the Grabby McGrabby. She responded with strength: She set him on fire. ****

        It didn’t give me any significant information about that world, though. Yeah, it’s another data point, but I don’t really know how to interpret it.

        What is Roxy’s social status as a tutor? How would the boy’s parents react to both their son’s behaviour and Roxy’s reaction? How much fine tuning do you have to put into an imollation type spell so you don’t leave the kid with serious burns? How many of these questions do you think the show will answer?

        My own hunch is: we’ll be learning more about class structure, since they’ve already hinted about it with that magic school. That’s almost certainly something we’re going to hear about.

        Are that boy and his family ever going to be characters, so we can contextualise this scene on a personal level? Maybe, but so far that boy looks like a throwaway to me. Could become a classmate at some point, though. Who knows?

        As for the magic question? Nah, I think that was Roadrunner/Coyote style comedy. In terms of narrative, we’re dealing with hyperbole. A bit like chibi-reaction faces not telling you anything about in-world physics. Note, that the show can prove me wrong on this, but that viewer bias on my part would mean the show would have to be more obvious about it than if I saw this as potential world building. So why don’t I see this as potential worldbuilding? Learned genre expectations.

        *****It might just be my philosophy of consuming and critiquing fiction, but I exclude any conjecture as to the writer’s view of our world;********

        Well, I’m more concerned with my viewer response than with the writer’s world view. There’s a reason why I use “seems” a lot. It’s not something I do consciously at this point. I don’t use “seems” in every sentence, as that would be clunky, and I leave out “to me” as a matter of course, because that would be even more clunky. I watch the show, I roll my eyes at some things, and I try to figure out why.

        Take the above scene, where Roxy immolated her molester. Did I worry about him suffering severe burns? No. Why didn’t I worry? Because Roxy’s control is so great that she can burn him without actually leaving scorched skin? No, we get a sooty molester after all. This scene isn’t going to have the repercussions I’d expect it to have, if the show wanted me to see this as a realist scene.

        Ecchi elements in anime have their recurring patterns; I’m used to them. Take the panty collecting; that’s a very anime thing to me. Before I ever watched ecchi anime (they weren’t the ones that found their way to me during the 70ies and 80ies) I’d heard about panty shots, but actually seeing them in action was a culture shock. It was presented way more perverted in the show than it seemed to me, and I found that confusing. Spotting a bit of underwear was never a big deal for me, not even as a teenager (that’s actually more personal than cutlural, I think). I basically thought showing underwear is a replacement-value for showing nudity. Well, no. Shows that have abundant nudity still bothered with panty shots. The semoitics of female underwear in anime is something I had to acquire by watching many shows. If I’d seen Rudy wear panties on his head before I went through this, I’m fairly sure I wouldn’t have properly understood the scene. I mean the direction of the scene would have been clear, mostly by Lilia’s reaction (scene in episode one), but I’d have flagged this as something to explore rather than recognised this as something familiar.

        Actually, Lilia’s reaction to Rudy wearing panties on his head stood out to me. It didn’t feel like it played for comedy, and I wasn’t sure what the show wanted to tell us, but at least by the time she almost told Rudy’s mum something but thought better of it, it was clear that she suspected something. From episode one on, this scene was rather interesting: it could easily have lead to a series of scenes that inconvenienced Rudy, so that he was forced to learn more tact. Well, as of this episode it didn’t. It was clearly addressed: Lilia thought he was possessed, but now he’s her saviour, so her child will be his attendent. Ah, I see. It makes sense in-world of course, but it also makes sense in terms of ecchi shows. I didn’t really expect the show to give me something more interesting here, but I thought it would have been possible. The result is a mild disappointment, and a fatigued told-you-so (my cynical self talking to my hopeful self).

        The show raises little points like that, engaging hopeful and cynical me in conflict, over and over again. (This episode it was Roxy’s casual comment about her new pupil being a pervert, too, like Rudy, for example. That was really well done.) But the result is usually that my cynical side wins out, the way I talked about in my previous paragraph. So in the end I wish the show wouldn’t do that to me. Don’t show awareness, if you don’t follow up. It’s irritating. I’d have a far easier time ignoring these elements if the show were… worse.

        ************I am not required to file a moral analysis report on every action a character makes or does not make. I am not required to judge Elaina harshly for not trying to attack a field-sized magical phenomena (a.k.a. the field of flowers). I am not required to judge Rudy for finding Lilia’s breasts attractive. **************

        The only reason I didn’t edit out the “I’m complicit, aren’t I?” line was because I didn’t know what to replace it with and ran out of time. I’m not entirely sure how it comes across, but I’m really being flippant here. I’m a social relativist, so for me morals are about how people can be happy with themselves while living with others. A conscience is a social inevitability (if you’re not, say, a psychopath) rather than something you’re supposed to develop, or an imperative of some sort. It’s something you deal with, one way or another.

        And even basic feelings are more learned than you’d imagine. Take hunger: I can work all day without eating anything and if you ask me to eat, I’ll ask you not to interrupt me. Hunger doesn’t interrupt me. On the other hand, if I have nothing to do I can get a feeling of hunger, even if I’ve eaten something just an hour ago. Similarly, toilet training: it becomes more urgent the closer I get to a toilet. All those things are supposed to be biological functions, but how they announce themselves to you is deeply involved with learned behaviour.

        Similarly, I think a lot of rational thought is rationalisation, but it’s also where you get “the foot in the door”, so to speak. There are repeating patterns, but in the day-to-day decision making some repetition might become harder. So when I’m making posts like this, I’m not even entirely sure what I’m doing to myself, much less what I’m doing to, say, you, and even less than that what I’m doing to anyone who might invisibly read this and never reply.

        Part of me doesn’t want to bring up the same points again and again every week, but that’s just what engages my “talking mind”. The part that enjoys the show just says “that was fun,” and then leaves off. So it’s a two-fold problem: I have to silence the ecchi-parts-are-annoying-in-this-show part of my brain, while I have to coax the “well, that was fun” part of my brain into action, and just don’t think, all things considered, the show’s worth it. (Note that the well-that-was-fun part of my brain did spring into action on its own when I praised the show for how pretty the walk through the woods was.) I did consider not making a post at all, actually. That would be fairly easy.

        1. It almost feels like we’re talking how we each fine-tune our reactions.

          A lot of what you just described as how you approach and process genre anime feels very familiar, mostly because it’s how I perceive the way I think.

          Which just reminded me of The Traditional Catholic Weeb’s post defending the anime AVI. He used Aquinas’ scholastic format to present his objections and arguments, which is also very familiar to me…

          Anyway, I don’t have a lot to say in response, except thanks for taking the time to lay out your perspetive!

  2. Spot-on on your analysis about Rudy and Paul though you should’ve also mentioned being separated is also good for Sylphy.

    1. Good point. My focus was on Rudy and Paul’s perspective on what he should do for his son. But Sylphie is too young to be so fixated on one character. Her raw talent needs to be developed, and it’ll be hard to do that if she’s emotionally dependent on Rudy.

    1. This might sound strange, but given who Rudy is, wouldn’t it be more strange it he didn’t do that?

      He’s Rudy. You’ve seen what he’s been through.

      What’s even more interesting to me is how much he’s grown and matured since the first episode. Remember how he reacted to Roxy? Now, compare that to how he reacted seeing Ghislaine. He seemed to terrified of her to think about undressing her in his mind. To me, that looked like at least the beginnings of respect!

      The show’s taking on some subjects that are tough. Lilia becoming a maid for the household of the man who raped her is an example. To modern sensibilities, that seems insane. Paul should be in jail. Failing that, why would Lilia do that to herself?

      Well, the answer is she had little choice. What else was she going to do?

      Dramatizing that element is interesting to me. Seeing how the characters react to tough situations is one of the reasons I like fiction, and this show has no shortage of those kinds of moments!

      1. Yeah, I imagine that Lillia had no other choice given that Paul forcefully took away her virginity. What other man would want to take in someone who is perceived to be damaged goods like that?

        I found it very creepy that Rudeus thought about grooming Sylphie to be his ideal woman. Maybe this time away from Sylphie that his father arranged will change Rudeus’s thought process on that matter. Or he’ll just keep being Rudy…

        I don’t think Rudeus’s initial reaction to Ghislaine was terror. He even blushed upon seeing her and excitedly exclaimed, “A beast woman.” I believe he is already attracted to Ghislaine given that she barely covers up her breasts at all.

        1. “What other man would want to take in someone who is perceived to be damaged goods like that?”

          We haven’t seen evidence to prove that this is the case in this world, but I think you’re right.

          “I found it very creepy that Rudeus thought about grooming Sylphie to be his ideal woman. ”

          I’m not sure I’d use the word “grooming” here. I don’t think the connotations match. Being Rudy, of course he’s going to try to mold her. He thinks he knows what he wants from a relationship, and his older intellect in a child’s body has probably given him a skewed view of his own capabilities.

          But did you notice that even as he thought about trying to shape her into his idea woman, he was still helping her learn magic — very, very powerful magic? Even though he knew she’d likely eclipse him?

          To me, the fact he didn’t try to sabotage her spoke a lot more about how he really felt about her.

          “I don’t think Rudeus’s initial reaction to Ghislaine was terror.”

          Sorry if I suggested terror. I tried to say that he was amazed (the moment you quoted) and felt respect for her obvious power. Is he attracted to her? This is Rudy we’re talking about. Yes, he’s attracted to her. But that’s my point. Despite how she’s dressed, he didn’t just drool over her breasts. He spoke to her with respect.

          That’s how I saw that scene, at least!

Please let me know what you think!

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