Directed by Shinji Ishihara
Produced by C2C
Streaming on HIDIVE
The isekai genre has existed in some form or another for decades, though the current model was cemented a decade ago by the runaway success of Sword Art Online. It’s funny, though, that I’ve seen debates on whether or not SAO even qualifies as a portal fantasy; they don’t even technically go to other worlds.
But that only speaks to how far the genre has come. In the past ten years since SAO first aired, we have been absolutely flooded with fantasy anime about overpowered characters in other worlds that operate on RPG logic. It has given us some of the best anime ever made, my own favorite Re:Zero included, and delivered a few hundred half-baked duds as well.
The genre of light novel isekai adaptations has become oversaturated to the point of bursting, as authors trip over themselves to produce new and weirder stories than ever before. It’s a competitive market, and if your main character isn’t getting reincarnated as a vending machine in another world, sorry, but the readers don’t care.
It is with great trepidation that I introduce you all to the anime Reincarnated as a Sword. I will struggle to even tell you a basic plot synopsis, because the title has already done a better job than I ever could.
If you have a strong drink handy, head on down to this magical world where multiple corporate executives had give their stamp of approval to an anime where a guy dies, becomes a sword, and joins a loli catgirl on her quest to…end slavery, I think?
Reincarnated as a Sword does not have the most intricate of plots. See, light novel authors have pretty much figured out that their entire audience knows the deal already: the main character is either a high school dropout or single salaryman as well as an otaku who dies after getting his first kiss from the bumper of our old friend, Truck-kun.
Since we know all that, we skip past that boring stuff like characterization. I mean, it isn’t like the guy who literally codified the hero’s journey also established that we should see the hero in the normal world to contextualize their actions in the other world. So, we start with our unnamed protagonist getting hit by a car and dying, and waking up as a sword on a pedestal.
Before going any further, let me add a side note that treating the conventions of your genre as so well-worn that you don’t bother explaining them, all while not doing anything to innovate them, is extremely lazy writing.
The first roadblock to the sword’s new life is that he’s an inanimate object, so the author cheats around his own premise by giving the sword a full magic loadout. Thanks to that, he’s able to maneuver his way into a grinding session for the better part of the first episode.
I don’t need to tell you how unbelievably boring this is. It was kind of novel when That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime did it, but that was four years ago, and that series actually has decent character writing. You got to learn about Rimuru before his death, and he was developed through his relationship with Veldora. Here, we get to see a sword goof around killing knock-off Dragon Quest enemies for ten minutes.
Then we have Fran, the aforementioned catgirl, who escapes slavery after finding the sword, who she names Shishou. That’s it, actually. The whole first episode kind of just wastes its time on tired old RPG tropes, barely setting up Fran and Shishou meeting at the end of it, and a stupid in medias res beginning that offers nothing of importance to the story.
The plot and characters of Reincarnated as a Sword are what happens when a writer has an idea with absolutely none of the skill to follow through on their execution. The emotion is forced, I don’t care about either of them, and they waste so much time in the first episode that it’s a miracle I got through it.
I might hope that its terrible bland writing would be redeemed if Reincarnated as a Sword was at least pretty to look at. For what it’s worth, there is some solid direction involved, and the fight choreography isn’t terrible. It’s actually rather interesting, considering Shishou can’t fight like a normal person.
The music is quite good, but if you read my review of Eminence in the Shadow, stuff like that just makes the rest of the series’ flaws stand out worse. It just leaves you thinking, “Why is this grand music playing over a scene where barely anything is happening?”
The character design is just atrocious. Cool swords are a staple of anime, so I have to ask why our main character is the ugliest weapon I’ve seen in the medium. Fran’s just sort of plain and while they really try to make her cute, her design is so uninspired that it completely misses. And the side characters?
Anime like Princess Connect! Re:Dive have some objectively ugly and bland character design for unimportant characters, but the main difference here is that Priconn is based on a gacha game, so every important character is gorgeous. The cast of Reincarnated as a Sword looks ugly because, well, the show is ugly.
I foreshadowed this moment when I talked about Eminence in the Shadow, which was a bad anime, but one that I could reasonably see an audience for. I do not know the person who likes Reincarnated as a Sword.
If we’re talking about isekai fans, then there are so many better options. It’s not self-aware enough to be a good parody like Konosuba or The Hero is Overpowered but Overly Cautious. It’s not written well-enough to engage anyone looking for something more than surface level enjoyment. It’s not even good for popcorn anime, because there are so many better isekai and fantasy anime for that.
Just about every idea that Reincarnated as a Sword has to offer was already done much better in That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime. The protagonist becoming an unconventional fantasy mainstay, grinding his way up to being OP, only works when you have a fun, likable cast of characters. There’s no tension in the story, so what do you have left?
And I’m not even holding up Slime Isekai as this tentpole of the genre; it’s just a bit of light-hearted fantasy anime. I just fail to understand how anyone could enjoy an anime whose very purpose has already been exceeded in every way by an anime that came out years prior.
Heck, just start looking at the isekai tag on MyAnimeList and you’ll probably find fifteen shows that are equally derivative, but at least manage to be entertaining.
It’s not fun writing these kinds of reviews. When I talk about a hilarious dumpster fire like Girlfriend Girlfriend or a schlocky edgefest like Eminence in the Shadow, I have the hope that the creators of these anime are aware that they’re not making Casablanca. There is a place in anime for bad and nonsensical shows to be enjoyed for what they are, but Reincarnated as a Sword has no place.
It is ludicrous to the point of parody while taking itself as seriously as a show with triple the emotional stakes. It presents ludicrous concepts side by side with jarring dark turns.
The main character is a sword who saves a slave catgirl while all the other slaves get brutally murdered by a monster while the masters run away. Is this a comedy? Is this horror? I don’t know, and I don’t think the writers know.
So, yeah, just give this crap a Boring Egregious and I’ll try to talk about an anime I like more next week. It’s not very good either, but like in a way that doesn’t make me want to throw myself into the sea. Until next time, thanks for reading.
|Egregious||Reincarnated as a Sword||Eminence in the Shadow|