Original Run: October 5, 2022 - December 21, 2022 Number of Episodes: 12 Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Isekai Based on the Series Created By: Yuu Tanaka and LLO
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Reincarnated as a Sword. reader discretion is advised.***
Upon his death, a nameless human reincarnates as a sentient sword (voiced by Shinchiro Miki) in a parallel fantasy world. The new blade begins to explore its surroundings and develops an impressive skill set, thus becoming a legendary weapon. All that remains is for the sword to find its wielder.
As fate would have it, that wielder turns out to be a most unexpected individual.
Having been forced into slavery, a young black cat beastkin, Fran (voiced by Ai Kakuma), wishes to grow strong. While on the road, Fran and her captors fall under attack from a monster. Just as Fran thinks she is about to die, she crosses paths with the sword. Working together, Fran and the sword defeat the beast and free Fran from her enslavement.
Taking pity over Fran’s story, the sword accepts the girl as its rightful wielder. Having found someone – or rather, something – to trust, Fran names the sword Shishou, and the two begin their adventure.
Thanks to Shishou’s powers and Fran’s natural combat abilities, they soon become a nearly unstoppable team.
Isekai series, like slice-of-life anime, are tricky. Since the medium is overflowing with them, it is difficult for any show to stand out. Sure, there are examples that are better than the average. Except being a slight cut above the rest, or even just being straight-up good, isn’t usually enough. Since isekai stories, nearly without fail, hit the same notes – overpowered protagonist, video game logic, high-fantasy settings, etc. – many put a ton of effort into maxing out one particular element.
For example, among the best of the best:
- Konosuba plays up its utter silliness to ludicrous levels.
- Overlord goes ham with its overpoweredness.
- Re:Zero thrives in its darker tones.
Now, Reincarnated as a Sword doesn’t reach the cream of the crop. Nevertheless, it is still pretty damn good.
Let’s make no mistake; this series is not a game-changer. Its story doesn’t strive far from the expected; the animation is decent but not spectacular; all the plot-fuelers are as standard as standard can be. Be that as it may, Reincarnated as a Sword proved surprisingly addicting, visually exciting, and undoubtedly memorable.
And it’s not hard to narrow down where this success came from. As the best of the genre have done, this series put in the effort to strengthen one critical aspect. In this case, that critical aspect was its lead characters, Shishou and Fran.
Shishou is especially fascinating because, despite being the reincarnated character, this wasn’t our primary, at-the-front hero. Yes, Shishou had all the power, carried most of the battles, and was why our main due could punch above their weight. Except, Shishou was always supporting Fran. After all, when Shishou reawakened in this world, it was a mere – albeit unique – sword. It wasn’t until Fran came into the tale that Shishou had any goals.
Therefore, it was Fran who really drove this show forward and became its breakout character. If you don’t think adorable can also be badass, then maybe you should give this series a shot.
Fran had firm footholds in two usually clashing personalities. On the one hand, she was a tragic hero who had endured countless hardships and sadness. And yet, she could also be this massive, sometimes ditzy, goofball.
While separately, Shishou and Fran had a lot going on in their favor, as a team, they turned Reincarnated as a Sword into an immensely satisfying watch.
One of the benefits of having an absurdly overpowered protagonist is all the chances a story has to slap around over-inflated egos. Watching a holier-than-thou character get humbled in less than a second is amazingly cathartic. The Overlord series is exceedingly good at achieving such an outcome in this way. Reincarnated as a Sword managed the same result but through a different path.
Although the word “overpowered” has been used in this review, such a word doesn’t actually describe this show. Shishou and Fran were not the most powerful beings in this story. Granted, they had their share of f@#$-around-and-find-out moments. Still, the duo’s most impactful encounters were the ones where victory wasn’t a guarantee.
Unlike the average isekai hero, Shishou and Fran couldn’t always rely on brute strength to win the day. On occasion, they had to strategize, exploit weaknesses, and dig deep to achieve success.
While there is no reason to doubt Shishou and Fran will likely become among the most powerful, by the end of this season, you want to see them get to that point. Therefore, a season two of Reincarnated as a Sword, and there really does need to be one, is definitely something to hope for.
One cannot understate Shishou and Fran’s importance to Reincarnated as a Sword. Without them, this series would have been a fairly unassuming isekai anime. Although it wouldn’t be fair to say that would mean the show would have been bad, it would have been nowhere near as memorable.
As stated above, this series wasn’t anything groundbreaking. Due solely to two exceptional elements, Reincarnated as a Sword became an anime worth watching. Take that away, and circumstances change dramatically.
That notwithstanding, there were aspects of this show that held it back.
Although it was nice that Reincarnated as a Sword mostly dropped this point, it didn’t sit well whenever the show played up the sexual aspect that can accompany cute cat-girl characters. One particularly annoying scene put Fran through a clothes-changing montage, and it was utterly uncomfortable.
Luckily, other characters came into the show that did and could continue to “fulfill” any fan service interaction the series might want to do. Of course, it would be better if this franchise didn’t think it necessary to have them since it is strong enough without them.
More crucially, though, Reincarnated as a Sword went all-in with the RPG aspects of its setting, and it was always just word vomit.
While it was knowing everyone’s levels did help quantify strength, the amount of detail the show went into was way too much. For instance, did we really need to know the difference between Art and Magic? Probably not, and if we did, then this series could not have gone about it in a drier way.
In the end, Reincarnated as a Sword tended to go a tad overboard with its wordy exposition. Luckily, the show could rely on fun action moments and strong character dynamics to keep attracting interest.
In many ways, this show had no right to be as good as it was. It had so many by-the-book isekai elements that it should have relegated itself to the dime-a-dozen bin. However, with the help of a few key aspects, this show was able to rise much higher than its station.
The story of Shishou and Fran is one that deserves a continuation. They were brilliant standouts in a genre that is generally over-saturated.
Although it is, perhaps, utterly unexpected, Reincarnated as a Sword has earned a colossal recommendation.
But these are my thoughts; what are yours? Have you seen this show; how would you advise Reincarnated as a Sword? Leave a comment below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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