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Reincarnated as a Sword can be a real roller-coaster sometimes. Not necessarily in the sense of exciting narrative ups and downs, but more in succeeding at being a solid fantasy-action show one minute before descending back into the kind of tedium I’d hoped we were properly past. Now even Fran, who was previously nodding off during any explanations of the blatant RPG mechanics that govern the world she’s always lived in, finds the time and interest during this dungeon excursion to ask Amanda for the full, granular rundown on how the basic act of doin’ stuff works within here. When even the cute catgirl has found the fortitude to follow up on these mechanics, have those of us with less dedicated attention spans truly been abandoned?

Technically there are reasons for this stretch of summing up stuff like Arts, Skills, Magic, and the differences between them. There’s the question of how people who occupy this world who don’t have access to convenient video-game menus and context for their usage, like Teacher, even figure this stuff out. And this spider dungeon the guildies are trekking through is supposed to be a training and exam exercise anyway, so it’s a place in service of Fran’s growth, especially on the eve of a last-minute plot twist which will surely see her served well by the knowledge she’s now accumulated. But ten episodes in, it also feels like this level of tutorializing was something we should have been past already, especially given that it remains the most disinterestedly presented element of the show.

I can dissect a couple of significant points of umbrage here beyond “It’s boring,” too. For one, the in-universe mechanic of Arts and Skills being divinely granted to users based on achieving set circumstances while serving a fine function within a video game doesn’t make for the most compelling narrative on a character level. Given how this story started with the arc of Fran rising from a station rooted in a gritty, real-world-style institution, applying these sorts of hard-coded mechanics into elements of her ascent feels cheap, honestly. Now obviously, this sort of thing is a bias I have. Still, given a choice between watching Fran try out, practice, and hone new fighting techniques versus seeing her acquire the ability to use new moves after a set amount of time and points, well, I would absolutely take the former.

I can give the magic system explanation a little more leeway, given that there are fewer real-world comparisons to be made in its ability implementation, and they have put a decent amount of thought into how it works. But much of it is simply in service of setting up the multi-element specialties of Fran and Teacher. I also have clearly articulated my staunch stance that magic is for nerds. Fran is lucky that her enthusiastic interest in learning Thunder Magic is so cute; I’ll let her have that one. But all the adorable ‘Zappy Zappy!’ exclamations in the world can’t make up for much of the episode’s content being an RPG Player’s Guide narrated over middling dungeon-battling B-roll footage.

That’s the overall problem here: There are a few spots of fun battle action at the beginning, with even Krad and those mooks from last week getting to show off. Fran still gets the best bits, but as the dungeon is still presented as a rote, sanctioned Guild activity at this point, it quickly becomes unable to keep us adequately engaged simply by watching these characters hack and slash through it under all these explanations. Unlike the goblin dungeon from earlier in the series, there’s no immediately-pressing threat that has to be dealt with, nor is there much raw spectacle to appreciate, like in the exhibition match with Amanda last week. There are a few neat details, like the specificity of Amanda needing to stay off unengaged while the trainees fight or watching a dedicated dungeoneer disarm traps. But it’s all scattered and shallow apart from the assurance that this will benefit Fran’s leveling-up ambitions in the long run.

This episode is a perfunctory link in the chain to the actual exciting development made apparent by the end. It’s codified by an astounding assessment moment wherein the party wonders what’s going on with these stronger spider monsters that use Lethal Poison before Teacher helpfully uses Identify to confirm that they are…stronger spider monsters that use Lethal Poison. But that unnaturally escalated threat level and Fran’s separation from her big blade bro is what, at last, creates a situation we can be excited to watch unfold…next week. Hopefully, that one will be the killer since all this just felt like the filler.


Reincarnated as a Sword is currently streaming on

Chris is a freewheeling Fresno-based freelancer with a love for anime and a shelf full of too many Transformers. He can be found spending way too much time on his Twitter, and irregularly updating his blog.

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