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Say what you will about Amanda, I know I sure as hell did in last week’s review, but she sure can provide Reincarnated as a Sword with a cool fight scene or two. This episode’s centerpiece showcase of the morally-questionable Mommy versus our resident combo of cat and cutlery was teased at the end of last week, and it’s not like this series has ever been a slouch as far as action scenes are concerned. What is perhaps a bit more surprising is that the battle between Fran and Amanda really is (technically) nothing more than “a friendly sparring match,” and yet it still goes so hard and does enough for the characters and themes of the show that it doesn’t feel even remotely inconsequential.

It primarily works because of being set up around what’s always been Reincarnated as a Sword‘s strongest thematic hook: Fran wants to prove herself. This current arc is, in fact, all about her embarking on an examination to reach the level of a C-Rank adventurer. Still, within that officiated structure, she must informally confirm her abilities to her peers on the quest. Key among these doubting Thomases is Krad, a spear-user who exemplifies the misgivings the Guild Master had previously warned Fran that other adventurers held towards her. Krad is a generally rude and crude piece of work, an insecure weirdo who immediately jumps to accusing someone he takes umbrage with of being a pedophile, like some fantasy Elon Musk. But his insulting issues with Fran seem to mostly glide off of her until he specifically besmirches her Teacher. Then it’s on.

The battle action in this episode, especially once the later fight with Amanda gets going, is as consistently strong as the sword show has been through its run. The other touches in the run-up to that showcase also merit mentioning. The scenery we see during the montage phase of this fantasy field trip is attractive, arriving at the nifty bony-looking ridge that serves as the stage for the showdown. And Fran gets some lovely little character animations building up her attempts to shrug off Krad’s bullying until his final sword-smack talk pushes her over the edge into a flurry of little ear-twitches and an angry face so pouty we can’t help but see her as adorable. Her preliminary spellcasting has its own nice little animation flourishes, all before the relatively brief fight between Fran and Krad where she pointedly lays him low without even really having to use Teacher. It’s cute, it’s fun, and it’s all just the opening act for the real reason we’re here.

After the last episode, where she was pointedly butting in unwelcomely at every turn, Amanda mostly, thankfully, stays off to the side for the first part of this episode, save for piping up occasionally to stick up for Fran in her own…unique way. Concocting an excuse for her and Fran to engage each other in a sparring match like this follows up on some of the reasons both we and the show know we are here in the first place: See what an A-Rank adventurer like Amanda can actually do, and follow on Fran’s desire to test her powers. We, and Teacher, know that Fran never really needed to prove herself to the likes of Krad, but proving herself to herself, that’s the kind of constant pushing to self-evolve we’re so fixated on following our favorite catgirl for.

It provides just enough tonal investment for what’s effectively an exhibition match. A visual medium like anime can succeed even with the thinnest of contexts so long as the spectacle is fantastic enough. And the fight between Fran and Amanda is a pretty cool display of animation. Amanda uses a whip, which is a uniquely dynamic sort of weapon, and the staff is excited to show off its momentum through animation (to say nothing of the wild action it gets up to when she starts directly controlling it with magic). They also throw in other distinctive bits, like Amanda catching Fran off-guard by attacking with the whip’s handle. You don’t get up to Rank A by sticking with conventional fighting techniques, and pushing those kinds of limits and taking those kinds of chances seems to be the ambition Fran is working towards here. Setting up the mechanics of the Split Mind technique was an important detail earlier in the show since now we get the significance of Fran taking a shot at using it when her previous issues were treated as a momentary, aside joke. There is some levity still in this fight’s execution, it is still a ‘friendly’ match with a character who served as a comedy sketch until now, but it’s held up by both fighters still mostly taking it seriously, meaning we’re earnestly rooting for Fran here as we and Teacher have through the whole story.

Reincarnated as a Sword has had at least one foot planted in the overt battle-action genre from the beginning. And this episode, more focused on Fran’s efforts while Teacher is relegated to mild analysis and clarifying narration, is another strong spin on that. It means even something seemingly inconsequential as a sparring match comes off as another critical step on Fran’s journey of actualization. It is also just rad as hell as a fight sequence, with several distinct stages to the battle within a short time frame. It doesn’t change my opinion of Amanda; I’m sure I’ll still find her annoying when she needs to facilitate a sequence like this. But it’s a presentation that justifies her inclusion, and she seems to settle into being a little less creepy at its resolution. It confirms that I can keep being here for this show so long as it consistently delivers cool sword fights and reasons to be proud of my adorable adopted cat daughter.


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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