A 34-year-old NEET gets killed in a traffic accident and finds himself in a world of magic. Rather than waking up as a full-grown mage, he gets reincarnated as a newborn baby, retaining the memories of his past life. Before he can even properly move his body, he resolves to never make the same mistakes he made in his first life ever again and instead live a life with no regrets with the new one that was given to him. Because he has the knowledge of a middle-aged man, by the age of two, he has already become a magical prodigy and possesses power unthinkable for anyone his age and even older. Thus begins the chronicles of Rudeus Greyrat, son of swordsman Paul and healer Zenith, as he enters a new world to become the strongest mage known to man, with powers rivaling even the gods themselves.
Mushoku Tensei: Isekai Ittara Honki Dasu is a web novel that was serialized on Shousetsuka ni Narou website from November 22, 2012 to April 3, 2015, with a total of 24 volumes. It made repeated appearances on site's rankings as the most popular work during its serialization. Media Factory published the first volume on January 23, 2014.
If you are a tl;dr person, just scroll down to the very bottom where I have included a summary. This is a review of the web light novel.
I know I'm going to get a lot of hate for giving such a low score, but I'd greatly appreciate it if you commented to me why you disagree with my points and you could convince me of my errors. There are no spoilers in this review, I am writing this mostly for the sake of those who are considering reading this.
First thing you should know is that Mushoku Tensei is escapist literature - wish fulfilment - a story for one to find escape and live out one's fantasies. If you enjoyed SAO, chances are that you will at least somewhat enjoy this. If you are primarily looking for a deep story, compelling characters, and/or beautiful worldbuilding, look somewhere else. The base concept is certainly alluring and full of potential, however it never aspires to do anything else but shallow wish fulfilment. And then, my main gripe with this story is that even as a power fantasy, it is severely lacking.
Let's start out with the main good point. I'm sure many of us would like to live in another world more beautiful than ours, or go back and undo our regrets in life. The premise of Mushoku Tensei is especially powerful - a man who has hit rock-bottom in life dies and is given a second chance at living a fulfilled life... in a sword and sorcery world. He gets reincarnated with all his memories as Rudeus Greyrat, the child of two former adventurers, and he decides that he will make use of his life to the fullest. He trains in magic and the way of the sword from a very young age, reaching incredible heights using the learning ability of a toddler with the wisdom of an adult. I personally love this concept and greatly looked forwards to how far he would get in life. The idea, at first glance, was handled decently well. They even dealt seriously with the issues of his young parents being unsure how to raise a prodigal child that, from birth, had no life lessons left to learn from them.
The story, content-wise, goes well up into the second volume. We see Rudeus step out into the great big world, and grow and develop. Even a prodigy like him has ways to go. There is also a certain pleasure as we see how his knowledge and experience from our world helps him in this life.
In volume three, things start going downhill. An incident happens, and Rudeus and a girl go off on an adventure through dangerous lands. Those of you who purely enjoy power fantasy will still enjoy this part, but the fact is that Rudeus is close to fully developed at this point and there is quite little else to do with him. He is quite powerful and extremely reliable, however he still manages to be humble and he knows how to socially interact with others despite being a hikikomori (shut-in) in his previous life. At this point, the story becomes a typical fantasy, and falls short of anything particularly entertaining. It becomes just about a Gary Stu genius magician and his companions rather than whatever the original premise was.
A simple fantasy would have still been decent, however we come to the weakness Mushoku Tensei has as a fantasy. Quite simply, the world is really, really bland. It’s an ill-disguised attempt to make a generic MMORPG world make sense as an actual other dimension, and it comes complete with dungeons, organized adventuring, and a combat system with named and ranked techniques. I don’t have a problem with an MMORPG-esque world, but the author put no effort into making a world that is actually interesting. There are no fascinating new things to learn and discover about this world, because it’s exactly like every other Japan-made Western fantasy out there. I feel the author actually finds his worldbuilding satisfactory, because he spent the majority of the first chapters on a huge infodump about how his magic system worked, when it’s actually so bland and intuitive that I would have immediately assumed it more or less worked that way just seeing it in action once. There are numerous other occasions where a great deal of time is spent on the generic history of the world. I actually first came to read this light novel after stumbling upon the manga adaptation and I applaud the mangaka for the sense to skip this useless exposition.
Of course, that is mostly my own opinion on how fantasy worlds should be, I know many people find comfort and joy in having a familiar fantasy world with no uncomfortable new elements. However, we come next to the author’s technical ability to write.
Whether it is the translator’s fault (I used Bakabt) or the author’s, I can’t say I’m 100% clear, but I feel like it’s a combination of both. The narration is really dry and straightforward, there is no emotion or intensity put into it. We don’t feel how the main character feels, except in moments of great conflict which still wasn’t conveyed very well likely more due to the translator’s lack of talent in prose. The author also puts in a bunch of unnecessary and boring detail. For example, at one point there is a day by day account of which monsters they fought that day, how many there were and etc.,and that goes on for over a week. I understand the appeal of reading the daily life of someone living in an exciting fantasy world, but that’s only if the daily events that transpire are actually exciting. I don’t want to hear how you crushed the same weak creatures over and over.
And indeed, CRUSH his enemies. Rudeus eventually becomes one of the strongest magicians around and all day, everyone praises him for being such a prodigy and having immense ability to take down enemies that usually require 20 powerful people to safely subdue. They also note how much of a mature person he is, and how humble. (This is an almost irrelevant point I want to say, but for some stupid reason, even after a really powerful person noted that his magical reservoirs were even greater than that of an ancient Demon God who once almost took over the world, he still doesn’t get how amazing he is until a few volumes later. As a former otaku hikikomori, he should have realized immediately.) Regardless, he is the walking dictionary definition of a Gary Stu. It seems like the author remotely understands this, and made him unable to cast healing magic without an incantation, but that literally has no point considering he almost always manages to cast it fine using the incantation. While having a Gary Stu main character is somewhat excusable in a power fantasy, and still remotely salvageable in terms of storytelling, it can only be done with a strong enough story and villains.
However, at a certain point after the decent first few volumes, the author seems to just start having random shit happen. No offense to all the actually good fanfic writers out there, but this is exactly like the quality, writing-wise, of your average fanfic (there are loads worse, but being better than a bad fanfic is nothing to be proud of). The writing is really weak, story proceeds without a really strong direction to push it along. It ends up that it is completely lacking in flow or tension. Speaking of tension, never was there any amazing enemy out there for Rudeus to really show the extent of his abilities, except during certain really short encounters that still lack tension because of either lack of proper build-up or, in one case, how the enemy just randomly appeared - he literally happened to be passing by on the road, meeting the main cast by chance, and then he proceeded to attack them before leaving soon after.
You’ll notice I gave character a slightly higher score than all the rest. It may well have been even higher if Rudeus hadn’t stolen the spotlight. The characters are, how should I say... quite typical. Not terrible, but nothing outstanding either. There were a few that had some good development, namely Rudeus’s father. However, I won’t go into detail so I don’t spoil it for those who might read this.
Now, lastly, I’ll get to what was really the last straw for me here. I didn’t mention it at all previously because I wanted to put it all down here. It can be seen more of a personal preference that really made me uncomfortable, but I’m sure it is something that will turn many others away as well. Mushoku Tensei is really, really perverted. The main character is a massive pervert who gets aroused the moment he sees a little skin, and he’s always trying to peek on girls, or steal their unwashed panties. While I’m fine with this when played for gags like in Bakemonogatari, there are a number of times when Rudeus can barely hold back from actually raping a helpless girl. It doesn’t help that almost all the girls in this series are physically under the age of 15 (in a few cases under 10), and Rudeus is actually over 40 years old. He’s constantly thinking about perverted things, quite a few times when it’s supposed to be serious or he’s suppose to be thinking about serious things, it diverts to him catching a glance at some pretty girl. The perversion is such that one massive arc is about him going somewhere seeking a cure for his erectile dysfunction.
There’s also a case with the portrayal of women in this story, basically all of them really don’t mind him doing all these perverted things such as stealing their underwear, eyeing them, groping them, while you can say that it just happens all these girls just really like Rudeus that much or are understanding of his urges, it still leaves a bad impression and a bad aftertaste. Rudeus passionately describes how his one wife, who is particularly shy, submissively allowed him to try out all the sexual practices he dreamed about. And then there’s the case of polygamy. In this world, polygamy is allowed except under the bad Christianity-ripoff in this world. It happens that most characters are not religious. While I say polygamy, you only ever see polygyny ever happening (one man, multiple wives). While the polygamy debate is something you could legitimately tackle, the way this novel goes about it, it really just is pure wish fulfilment and acceptance of being a pervert. Rudeus ends up unable to contain himself, cheats and ends up with multiple wives (two at the time which I am writing this). At the end of the day, they just sit down and happily say “I wonder what perverted things Rudeus will do to us”. I mean, this might be a little extreme, but what. the. fuck.
There is a lot I missed. I could go on and on, but I’m sure you don’t want to read on and one, so it’s time for my summary.
+Some good characters
+Some good development
-Uninteresting, unimaginative world
-Bad writing after volume 2 (this is a really big point)
-Lacking in tension or good antagonists
-Gary Stu protagonist
-Really, really perverted and can be uncomfortable (I’d suggest reading my last two paragraphs)read more
WARNING: This novel contains mature content and many plot twists!
"This time I'll really live my life to the fullest with no regrets!" -Rudeus Greyrat
Normally, a review that is written before the manga/novel is finished should be considered incomplete. Having a review written when it lack of information lacks credibility and is unable to judge the worth of the entire story. I wrote this review because the current reviews do not give the novel justice as they're all reviews with a similar point of view. Noticing the lack of variety I decided to post my own review which will side with the other half of the readers (and hopefully future readers). I also would like to note that Mushoku Tensei isn't one that needs to be complete to be able to understand how amazing the novel is.
Upon the first volume you will immediately realize this novel is a 10. Mushoku tensei is a very entertaining and extremely detailed novel. I felt as if I was immersed in to the world that Rudeus was experiencing, whether it be the hardships he may be facing or his interaction with the other characters. Often times Rudeus is forced to make difficult decisions, which always leaves you wondering what happens next? After reading the first novel you can tell immediately the amount of effort the writer used to allow the readers to understand visually how amazing and captivating this world truly is. There are also many plot twist which are extremely surprising (BEWARE MANY ATTEMPT TO SPOIL THIS STORY FOR OTHERS!), without a doubt the story is extremely detailed and has many different stand points from multiple events which allows you to understand how each character feels during the events because the author takes the time to write in different perspectives.
The novel didn't come with many images (I believe there is none after volume 6) this is quite disappointing but it's not a big deal (you can check the manga for reference images). The art I've seen so far seems to really suit the novel and it really brings the environment and the characters to life. The one thing that I really loved about this novel is how the author provided a map. Yes a map of the entire world which is extremely helpful and interesting to look at especially for reference during Rudeus' adventure.
The author allows you to see how the main characters grow and change. Although the protagonist Rudeus has lived about 30 years in his previous life there are MANY times he is still learning and changing, this allows for interesting plot points where his knowledge in his past is both useful and at the same time useless. The characters you meet in the novel seem really static, but without realizing I noticed the characters really changed. The changes are really subtle that they feel as if they happen immediately, but you have to think back to the previous chapters to notice the gradual change. There are minor and or major events that occur, where each event that happens reveals a little more about a certain character. NOTE: This is because the author writes the story from 1-3 peoples perspective, which allows us to be able to understand the characters thought process through each event. Keep in mind although he writes it in a different perspective it isn't as if it's a complete repeat of what happened, he usually gives a 1-3 summary, then quick thoughts about what happened and then moves on with the story, sometimes continuing from the prospective or changing to another.
Without a doubt this has to be a 10. I love this novel. A good phrase for this would be "never a dull moment" because that’s how i felt when I was reading this. This novel is really entertaining and I highly recommend it to those who have the spare time whether it is before sleeping or while taking public transportation.
Here is the part where I persuade you in to reading the novel. I found the novel an easy read something that anyone can pick up. The content is mature and isn't intended for younger readers. There are many points that happen to leave the reader thinking WHY DIDN'T YOU DO THIS OR THAT, but it all happens for a reason. Thanks to the great details provided by the author, I was never left in a situation where I had to wonder why a situation occurred. Everything that was shown was thoroughly explained which I loved since often times in many novels I'm left with why, what or how...? I rarely read novels because I normally prefer manga's but if you're like me and you want something that is amazingly detailed with how the characters are and how their thought process is this novel is meant for you. The novel sells through its characters, meaning that if you don't like the characters then you're likely to dislike the novel.
Although it would be extreme to say this manga is the best, but it isn't one that you will regret reading. I'm often in a situation where I have to choose between finding out the rest of the novel or just do some plain ol' studying (easy choice novel of course). I highly recommend this novel to everyone to at least give it a chance, there are MANY volumes out already so there is more then enough plot to go around. read more
Edit (11/18/2016): This review has been edited to reflect on the series as a whole after the latest arcs that have not been included in this review during the time it was written (the arcs being Overthrow the King Dragon King, Jobless Oblige, The Ancient Dragon's Old Tale and a bunch of Redundancy Chapters.)
If you have stumbled upon this review, you are probably having trouble deciding whether or not to read this novel. This is where I come in and let you know why I believe this novel is one of the best Web Novel/Light Novel the medium has to offer.
-THE FOLLOWING IS A SPOILER-FREE REVIEW-
Mushoku Tensei is a 24 volume completed Web Novel that is currently being published into a Light Novel series. The author is currently writing Redundancy Chapters on the internet and is planning on writing a sequel to the series that will serve as the main plot to the story meaning that Mushoku Tensei was intended to be a prequel all along.
Do not let this fool you though, it is by far the best fantasy Web Novel/Light Novel in the market right now.
It is the highest rated Web Novel on syosetu.com and is ranked higher than series such as Overlord, Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari, RE:Monster and etc...
Now with the introductions out of the way, let us get on with the review:
Mushoku Tensei is a story about Rudeus Greyrat, a NEET who was reborn into a realm of fantasy and given a second chance at his life. This book is the journey of Rudeus from his baby years all the way into his adult years. As you go through this journey with Rudeus as a reader, you will see how he gradually improves and redeems himself for his past life. There are also quite a few plot twists and developments along the way to make sure the ride never gets too stale.
However, one of the cons to the story is that it does feel quite a bit cliche at times and the overarching plot isn't as mind boggling or grand as other works. There also may be a story arc or two that you may find boring because of the lack of action that goes on.
The world building on the other hand, is incredible. Each area that the novel introduces has its own culture, history and religion that they follow which are important as it impacts how some characters react to certain situations. The author did a fine job of making each city/country feel unique enough without making the world too bland/repetitive. Each country also has their own unique history which is told not through bland dialogue of explanations, but actually through arcs Rifujin wrote such as The Ancient Dragon's Old Tale and such. It really is a show and not tell kind of worldbuilding that Rifujin excels at and really makes the reader feel engaged to the MT-verse.
With the series being originally a Web Novel, it did not have any art at all. However, after being published into a Light Novel series, readers were finally able to get a visual image of the characters. Needless to say, the art in my opinion is really well done and Sirotaka Sensei has done great work for the series.
This is the department that Mushoku Tensei really shines like no other. The cast of this series is diverse and full of unique personalities, motives and quirks. Each character develops in one way or another, certain events changing their view on life and motives.
In Mushoku Tensei, almost no character is left behind to serve as fodder material for Rudeus. Even the main female cast serve as strong entities that can fight side by side or even overpower the Main Character. Not all characters may have a strong fighting ability, but these characters are definitely not useless and play a key part in the overall story. Each character has their own unique perspective on a given situation, and the author does a splendid job of detailing each thought out. It is hard not to get attached to the cast as the story moves along, as certain events pertaining to certain members of the cast will make you feel devastated and joyful at times.
Rudeus is a fascinating Main Character. However, if you are looking for a Gary Stu protagonist, you will not find it here. He is both intelligent but at the same time realistic and relatable. He cowers when he knows a certain situation is hopeless and panics sometimes as well. Some people may say this is what makes Rudeus a frustrating main character. However, it is exactly because of these traits that Rudeus comes off as a much more realistic character than other fantasy Web Novel/Light Novel MCs. Also, he is most of the time quite intelligent and uses his experiences from his previous life as well as strategies to deal with hardships that overpower him.
Not only this, but Rudeus' character development is amazing. To go from a NEET to a respectable man in the future is quite a feat, but what really matters is the process. The author does an amazing job of showing the reader the process of how Rudeus' overcomes his past, fears and insecurities to quite literally grow as a new man.
After catching up to the latest arcs, most of the cons regarding the lack of
well written motivations regarding certain antagonists as well as some unexplained plot points have been fixed by Rifujin. Literally every character we've seen has an arc (in the Redundancy Chapters or other arcs such as Jobless Oblige) written about them regarding their history and the reason why they do the things they do throughout the series.
The story may be a focus on Rudeus' journey to becoming a changed man, but every side character and antagonist is fleshed out to the tiniest detail and this alone really differentiates the series from any other fantasy or Isekai WN/LN in the industry.
I absolutely loved this series. From an enjoyment standpoint, there is almost none if at all any anime/manga/Light Novel/Visual Novel I have watched and read that gives me the joy that this series does. With a cast of characters that I love/care for, the jaw dropping plot twists and the incredible world with infinite possibilities to be expanded on in the sequel and Redundancy chapters, Mushoku Tensei is everything I could have asked for and more in the anime/manga/Light Novel/Visual Novel medium.
Despite some of it's flaws, Mushoku Tensei is still a masterpiece of a Light Novel. Sure there are some cliche tropes played here and there with some inconsistent plot points, but that does not deter the series from it's incredible cast of characters, story and world.
Overall, it is a series I would recommend to anyone that is a reader or simply a fan of fantasy. Mushoku Tensei is a top quality fantasy novel that other Web Novel/Light Novel can only hope to be. If you are looking for a series to read that will stay with you for quite a long time, this is the series you should be investing into.
However, I would not recommend this series to anyone that does not like sexually explicit material or mature themes such as gore/violence. This is a novel targeted at young adults rather than young teenagers.
Feel free to message me if you have any questions or responses you want to make about this review. If you want to debate about the series with me but haven't even finished the series, I will not bother.
This one is a "Must Read book".
Is well written with a lot of details to help you get immerse in the story and the world of Rudeus.
realistic character development not just the MC but also the other characters, it is a slow change resulting of the different realizations that each character reach as they grow up and not just a twist of personality caused by a major event. Great twists in the story. Well is not finish that's is the only bad point and that the MC is a pervert. I pretty much read every chapter publish so a can assure you the quality doesn't drop.
That's all; i just gonna let that the work speak for itself you just read the first volume my friend and you'll seeread more