The isekai trope has become so overwhelmingly prevalent – alongside harems and overpowered protagonists – that there are new tropes rising within the trope. For instance, reincarnating the hero as something other than human, like a slime, or a spider, or a skeleton (and why has no one become an elf or a wolf already? has anyone become a demon yet?). But I think this is the first time I’ve seen them become an inanimate object, a literal living weapon. It’s an interesting twist, one which could have been handled very badly, but they’ve done a pretty good job with it so far, I’d say.
Reincarnated as a Sword follows the titular sword and his wielder on their adventures together, beginning with the circumstances surrounding their first meeting and on through their shared quest to grow stronger. Said wielder is an adorably cute cat-girl with black hair – her people are called Black Cats – named Fran, and she calls her living sword Teacher, he being her guardian, instructor, and helper in everything. Spending every moment together, they are a formidable team on the battlefield as well as the dearest of friends, with Teacher taking on a very nearly fatherly role in the wake of Fran losing her parents.
The entire show would have fallen apart if the dynamic between Fran and Teacher had been bungled in any way, but, fortunately, the two of them simply work very well together. They’re adorable and easy to love, with Fran’s cleverness, curiosity, and her free, childish enthusiasm complemented by Teacher’s knowledge, experience, and devotion. Though Fran has little to no magic of her own, Teacher is able to let her use his as long as they’re together, and as the first stage of his life as a sword involved vanquishing a number of strong monsters, he has plenty of magical power to spare. But Fran is able to pick up on the tricks he teaches her very quickly, and adapt them on the fly to various situations, in ways which have not yet occurred to Teacher.
In short, one does the thinking and one does the doing, and they love each other to bits.
Other characters have some varying significance, but they can mostly be divided into Fran’s friends in the adventuring guild and Fran’s enemies. Among the former category: a brutish oni who is basically the father/big brother of the guild, leading and guarding his people, and getting upset with Fran only when she endangers herself; an elven guild master who is constantly impressed by Fran but treats her fairly, without favoritism; a half-elf woman who is quite formidable and takes it upon herself to be a motherly figure to Fran, much to Fran’s reluctance; a receptionist whom Fran defends, a dwarven blacksmith who instantly recognizes Teacher for what he is, and a few other fellow adventurers who fight alongside her and whom she helps. In the latter category, Fran’s enemies, these include the monsters of the dungeons – goblins, giant insects, giant spiders, a devil – as well as slavers, a corrupt nobleman, and a Blue Cat, that last being a beast-like person whose people have often preyed on Fran’s.
There might not be a great deal of depth shown to most of these minor characters – though the half-elf woman, Amanda, has more to her than first meets the eye, including a connection to Fran’s own parents – but they are colorful and lovable nonetheless, and feel remarkably genuine.
The plot thus far – twelve episodes in the first season, and eagerly awaiting more to come – looks fairly simple as well, but there are glimpses of the depths lurking beneath the surface. It may be summed up as, “girl meets sword and they go adventuring together both in dungeons and in ordinary life,” but there are intrigues afoot, and actions taken by the minor characters which are shown only briefly but which shed light on the situation.
I want to give a particular shoutout to the fights. Most fights in most stories are – let us be honest – either ultimately simplistic with two sides just hitting each other as hard as they can, or far too convoluted in the cunning behind them. The fights in this anime strike a balance between the two extremes which really impressed me. The physical blows are guided by the intelligence of the characters, but fights aren’t chess matches either. The speed and tension of them is not slowed down by the useless commentary or super-slow scenes of explanation. And they manage to keep things tense despite how strong Fran and Teacher are by pitting them against enemies which are properly strong, deadly, and sometimes personal. When Fran is seriously injured, it’s a big deal. As is the trick of first building up how much Fran and Teacher need each other, and then separating them at a climactic moment, showing who they are without each other as well as how they build one another up.
Before I start rambling more about that, I will just summarize it as, “The fights are exactly my cup of tea!” 🙂
And I have to appreciate how they ended the season, leaving off on such an obvious note which promises, above all, more hilarity, more growth, more friends, and more adventure.
In short, Reincarnated as a Sword is a fun and funny adventure, with a colorful cast and a tender story about the heart-warming bond between the main characters, as well as interesting fights and an intriguing plot in the background. I really, really enjoyed the first season, and I look forward to more!
Rating: 9 stars out of 10.
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