Mushoku Tensei Jobless Reincarnation Controversy and Chinese Ban Explained

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Credit: Studio Bind

Mushoku Tensei, also known as Jobless Reincarnation, is a popular isekaianime based on a light novel and manga series. It tells the story of a man in his 30s, who dies and gets reincarnated in a magical world, as a magically gifted child named Rudeus Greyrat, with a second chance in life. But does everyone deserve a second chance? While Mushoku Tensei was one of the stars of the Winter 2021 Season, it's not for everyone. There is a particularly controversial aspect about the show that caused many anime fans to hate it and even got it banned in China. So what exactly happened?

Content Warning: Sexual abuse

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The concept of an isekai show, taking a human from a purposeless life into a magical one, is by no means unique to Mushoku Tensei. However, the real problem with Rudeus' previous life in the human world wasn't that he had not achieved success as modern society defines it, but rather, that he was quite perverted.

This did not stop when he reincarnated into a new life, as he still retained all memories of his previous life. Therefore, he is guilty of sexual misconduct even though he inhabits a child's body for most of the 11-episode first cour.

Author Rifujin na Magonote addressed this criticism, saying that even though Rudeus had an adult's understanding from the moment he entered the magical Six-Faced world, he wasn't fully acclimated in it, and the world's nature encouraged him to see others around him more like RPG characters before learning to live in said world. To be fair, the world of Mushoku Tensei does look a bit like a video game, but to me, this is beside the point.

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Rudeus' inappropriate sexual conduct is even harder to talk about considering that he has an adult's mind. The female character he associates himself with are girls around the same age as his child self or a little older, but the fact remains that they are children, and he only has a child's body, making his behavior entirely unacceptable.

This got the anime suspended from Bilibili in China, with the accusation of immorality. The fact that, in one of the first episodes, Rudeus' father cheats on his pregnant mother with their maid, and Rudeus eventually persuades his mother to accept this situation doesn't help the impression.

While, of course, banning a work is an extreme measure that will most likely just get people curious about said work–not to mention the question of whether censorship is ever acceptable–the trope of perverted male anime characters is a tired one. Some anime haven't been the most sensitive about taboo topics–often playing these for laughs–but new works such as Wonder Egg Priority, which also ran in Winter 2021 and dealt with difficult topics–prove that anime can–and should–do better.

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