Isekai stories of thirty-something Japanese salary men being killed and reincarnated into a fantasy world are literally everywhere these days. Reincarnated as a Sword enters this overcrowded field and throws in the gimmick that the protagonist is actually reborn as a sword.
Let’s face it, they have to have a gimmick. Whether the protagonist is reincarnated as the villain, the demon lord, the rejected hero, a slime, or whatever else, it is about the only distinguishing feature most of these stories have because once they get rolling they all fall into more or less the same narrative patterns and much like reading a romance story, fans of the genre don’t really want it to deviate too much from the prescribed path. Just be entertaining enough and that will be fine.
Reincarnated as a Sword doesn’t seek to break the mould.
As with most of these gimmicks, they don’t seem to really want to deal with the idea of the protagonist actually not being human. Despite being a sword, magic allows our protagonist to see, hear, telepathically communicate with those he chooses, and even telekinetically move himself around.
I kind of thought going in that they would at least make his movement dependent on his wielder but he gets around just fine long before he meets his cat-girl companion.
He also largely maintains his memories and knowledge of his former life and picks up skills and powers at a ridiculously fast rate. About the only real concession to being a sword that is made is that he can’t remember his name and it isn’t until Fran, the cat-girl who ends up picking him up, calls him ‘Teacher’ that he has any name at all.
Despite the generic nature of the story and the characters, Reincarnated as a Sword is surprisingly fun to read. Early chapters with the sword zipping through the air telekinetically and taking out monsters solo are a nice introduction to the mechanics of the world and establish the protagonist’s character (generic though it might be) and by the time we meet Fran, the slave, and are introduced to all the other clichés of the world readers are already pretty committed to the story.
There’s enough of a sense of movement as our Sword first encounters Fran and then they become adventurers in one city, moving on in search of a dungeon and ending up fighting zombies in the second volume, before saving a Prince and a Princess from slavery and taking on sea monsters and a corrupt king in volume 3. Basically we never stay anywhere too long to get bored and yet each volume kind of builds around a central event or challenge.
All the while, Fran and Teacher (the sword) are getting stronger and learning more about the world together.
Actually that relationship between Teacher and Fran is probably the linchpin holding this story together and elevating it from forgettable and generic isekai to something pretty enjoyable. One positive coming out of our hero being reincarnated as a sword is that there’s no harem here. Even Fran, the rescued slave, is treated more as a daughter or student, someone teacher seeks to protect, but it isn’t a romantic relationship.
When you throw in a plethora of supporting characters including other adventurers, guild masters, the summoned wolf, and so on you end up with a colourful cast who manage to keep each volume feeling fresh and interesting and none of the characters overstay their welcome.
The flip side of course being that outside of Teacher, who remains nice guy protagonist material all the way, and Fran, who is pretty much driven to be stronger and obsessed with curry, none of the characters really get much depth or focus.
Still, if you’ve got some time and enjoy isekai stories, Reincarnated as a Sword is a pleasant enough affair. It isn’t a wild and shocking ride, but it does capture an overall sense of joy at adventure and discovery and manages a few tense moments for our main characters despite them being fairly overpowered. Largely because despite their over-the-top strengths this story has managed to balance them with other characters within the story who are stronger or smarter giving the main characters something to work toward becoming in the future.
I very much enjoyed reading these first three volumes and look forward to seeing more of Fran and Teacher’s adventures in future volumes of Reincarnated as a Sword.
Reincarnated as a Sword by Yuu Tanaka is available from the Book Depository and Amazon.
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