Now that Mushoku Tensei's first cour is done (it will return April 5th, 2024), here are my thoughts.
This cour was hard to like at first because it was really slow. Rudeus had a lot on his plate at the end of Season 1 and those issues (being abandoned by Eris, finding his mother) couldn't be dealt with immediately or even in just a few episodes. As I think back, though, the vibe of the cour was really powerful and the final catharsis at the end wouldn't have been so satisfying if the show hadn't taken its time. The animation slipped a little from Season 1, but only in less important scenes. It seems this cour was all about relationships and from that perspective there was A TON of story and changes.
PLOT SPOILERS (THROUGH EPISODE 12)
It's funny how much this anime speaks to me. Rudeus' impotence reminds me of how I felt romantically after I got divorced, not knowing what I did wrong. I spent 12 years trying to figure out what went wrong and what I needed to fix about myself, unable to commit to getting back out there and trying again. It was only when I finally let go of those feelings that I was able to move forward (and learning that it wasn't my fault after all helped too). Last season, Rudeus' journey from being a selfish, hedonistic person who only cares about themselves spoke to me too, as it reminded me of who I was when I was in school, ignoring family to play video games.
As it has been earlier in the series, when you summarize parts of it it sounds like a much less thoughtful and deep anime ("Rudeus' main motivation this cour was his impotence" which makes it sound like sex is all that matters in this anime). But as Rudeus learned to work with new comrades, made unexpected friends, reunited with old friends (and old childhood friends), it was more than just that. Rudeus is putting in the work. He's grown and he' still growing. Having read the light novel up to the end of Season 1, Ariel is described as being a leader and a person who draws people to want to fight for her because of her poise and temperance but before this cour, that description didn't have much weight. Seeing her care for Rudeus and Sylphie and act selflessly (even though she has a lot to gain with Rudeus on her side) finally made those traits real for me. Zanoba, the beast-women Rudeus conquered (see! when you put it this way the anime sounds a lot less scrupulous than it is!), the dwarf girl, Nanahoshi - all these relationships forged and moved forward for a reason. The pieces are set for big things to happen, and I'm very much looking forward to next year.