An Interesting Story with Despicable Characters

Jobless Reincarnation

A while back, I watched this anime called ‘Jobless Reincarnation’.  I’d seen people mention it online and it seemed to have a following.  Sounded like a standard Isekai (person transported to another dimension) and I didn’t dig deep enough to found out that it was controversial.  That happened after I watched the first few episodes . . . Then, I got really confused.

Now, the story is about a jobless asshole who dies in our world and is reborn in a fantasy world.  Even as a baby, his 40-year-old past life mind is inside his brain, so you get to hear his thoughts.  They sure are some thoughts.  He’s a pervert and not the kind that gets his comeuppance because nobody can hear his thoughts.  The few times he seems to get caught spying on bathing women, stealing panties, and being a horrible letch come with no consequences.  I can see why people hated this series and that was before I got to the grooming part.  Keep in mind that this show only comes newborn until eleven or something.  Some other characters are just as bad as him too like his adulterous father, who has a baby with their maid.  There’s no consequence for that either.  It truly was a mesmerizingly horrific display of characters with maybe the murder who goes after anyone who even threatens a child as the most moral of the group.

Yet, I watched it all because I just couldn’t look away. Why?

First, the characters weren’t terribly written.  They were just horrible people and written well enough to make me despise many of them.  This was included with a story that was fairly interesting.  This newborn grows up with great magical power and is learning about this world.  He goes to school and gets stronger, but not enough to be unbeatable since he screws up and gets pummeled a lot.  A disaster happens and throws the entire world into chaos, so now he has to survive alongside one of the girls he was with.  They want to return home with the help of an infamous killer who is trying to soften his reputation since he is not really evil.  They also try to find out if their loved ones survived the disaster and how they can find them.  So, there is a lot of heart in the story, but it battles the despicable personalities of the characters.

As someone who loves to connect to characters and enjoys good stories, I found myself in conflict.  I couldn’t connect to anyone and sometimes hoped for a few characters to die, which never happened.  The story and world kept me going along with a desire to see consequences.  Maybe that kind of happened at the end, but not enough for me to think the scales have been balanced.  There really wasn’t a sense of redemption even if some characters took a first step.  Not that I trusted the step because I can’t remember if any of them actually accepted their past mistakes and apologized.

I can totally see why so many people on forums said ‘It is a great anime/manga with a great story, but I really can’t recommend it.’  This thing can be fairly triggering to certain people.  Some of the manipulations done gave me shivers because I remember being on the receiving end of that kind of bullshit.  Really made me question why such a story existed.

My curiosity did lead me to look up why this thing was written and if there was a point to the despicable characters.  Supposedly, the author wanted to have these characters be terrible and heavily flawed.  He wanted to see if they could eventually be redeemed after their actions.  So, the perverted main hero would probably reach a point where he saw women as humans instead of options to lose his virginity.  At least, that’s what it sounded like and many people don’t seem to have the patience or desire to redeem.  After all, these are sexual transgressions and not violent ones.  The former tends to be harder for people to forgive than the latter.

That brings me to the big question: Can a despicable character gain redemption in the eyes of readers?  Is it possible after they’ve been terrible for so long?  I can’t figure out an answer for myself.  Not enough happened in the series to earn forgiveness and I’m aware that the story keeps going.  So, I can’t take a stance since I haven’t, and probably won’t, get back into it.  Doesn’t give me the urge to try the experiment either because I’d hate the backlash. What does everyone else think?

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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24 Responses to An Interesting Story with Despicable Characters

  1. I don’t believe a character has to be likeable to be compelling – the unlikeable ones are often the most interesting – but I guess there’s a limit to how horrible a character can be before they lose their audience.

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    • That’s what I was thinking about. A lot of heroes are unlikable. They still have a fan base. Others are downright despicable. I actually just stopped watching a show because the main character went from unlikable to plain evil.

      Liked by 2 people

    • I concur; however, when there are virtually no likable characters (season 1 of White Lotus) such books/film are not worth spending the dwindling amount of time I may have left to me. As dire as are many of Dicken’s characters and stories, at the end of each, I am left with a sense of the nobility of love and courage that is an admirable part of our humanity. Contemporary lit and film too often leave me feeling only delusional and meaningless fantasy and/or hopelessness blanketed by the bouquet of the sewer side of humanity.

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  2. L. Marie says:

    Interesting post. I would be curious also as to what would inspire an author to write this sort of story. But I probably wouldn’t be interested enough to watch the anime. I have read books where the characters were unlikable. In fact, Jane Austen set out to write a character she knew readers would dislike. “Jane Austen famously wrote of Emma, the protagonist in her novel of the same name, that ‘I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like.’” https://lawliberty.org/jane-austens-unlikeable-emma/#:~:text=Jane%20Austen%20famously%20wrote%20of,Autumn%20DeWilde's%202020%20film%2C%20Emma.
    Most movie adaptations soften Emma, probably out of fear that moviegoers will hate her otherwise. That’s the same with Becky Sharp in Vanity Fair. She was written to be unlikable. But a Reese Witherspoon adaptation of the novel made her sort of a victim who didn’t have much choice.

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    • From what I read with the anime, the creator wanted to see if a despicable character could gain redemption in the eyes of the audience. It worked with some people.

      Liked by 1 person

      • L. Marie says:

        Did the creator want the audience to see themselves in the character and, therefore, offer that redemption? Or was the creator thinking that the character’s actions were so bad that the audience would extend grace thinking that there had to be something good in the character?

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      • He didn’t seem to describe the exact plan. The character has bad thoughts and does act on them at times. Though less often when he grows up. The rest of the time, he’s acting either good or simply okay. I guess it was a curiosity to see if people would condemn without forgiveness even if there is good coming from the character at times. The bad thoughts are all sex-based too. The characters who were violent seem to be forgiven.

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  3. There are so many despicable people in the world, I for one don’t need them in my fiction. I tend to avoid stories that ask me to put up with characters that I don’t like.

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    • Unfortunately, you can’t have varied fiction without the darker side of humanity showing up from time to time. It is an interesting experiment to see if a despicable character can earn forgiveness. Yet, I think many people are burnt out on it due to how many act in real life.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. For me, I’m actually writing a character right now who’s the unrepentant follower of an evil wizard, and a key question as I write is whether she can be saved. My first step was to make sure she showed some redeeming qualities. Like you said, there has to be some hint that this person could be pulled back from the darkness.

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    • That seems to be the trick. With this anime/manga, there are times when the MC tries to be good. His attempts to be better kind of keep the door open even if a setback drives him back several steps. The anime I just stopped watching really closed the door on the possibility of redemption.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is interesting. I suppose without going to the far extreme it could happen. It seems to me there are a few characters who were hit-men types who then go all out to protect a child. Sexual perversion is something modern audiences find un redeemable. I remember learning about the villain and the monster. The villain can be redeemed, but usually isn’t. Readers can’t wait for the monster to get what he has coming.

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    • That’s one thing I thought about with this anime. The lines being crossed are sexual. So, redemption seems incredibly unlikely. There was even a big uproar about this series when it debuted here. Another anime got the same treatment due an episode one rape scene that showed why a certain monster was pure evil. People condemned the series. Yet, the violent killings aren’t dealbreakers. I wonder if the creator of Jobless was trying to investigate that situation.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. noelleg44 says:

    There are a lot of unlikeable ‘heroes’ out there in the literature. I find them more interesting and the regular ones!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Your observations about characters with no redeeming qualities resonates. My spouse and I are unable to engage with popular series (like the first season of White Lotus) where almost all of the principal characters are despicable and/or pathetic. It seems to be a generational trend in film-making, along with the (to me) disproportionate emphasis on fantasy. I still want to read/view stories about “real” ordinary people in extraordinary (but plausible) circumstances where good and/or love ultimately triumphs over evil. It is the only formula I use when I write or select fiction to read. I guess I’m a literary dinosaur!

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  8. Jennie says:

    Awful characters, and the last thing I want to watch or read about are these characters.

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