Reborn to Master the Blade: From Hero-King to Extraordinary Squire – Ep. 1

Reborn to Master the Blade: From Hero-King to Extraordinary Squire is, at the time of writing this post, the latest in a line of fantasy anime that realizes that they can just do the popular reincarnation gimmick without actually sending anyone to another world. It also happens to be one of a couple Winter 2023 shows that features a guy becoming a girl in some way. I assume that’s entirely a coincidence but it sure is an amusing one.

The show begins with Inglis (Mughito), the Hero-King of the Kingdom of Silvare, on his deathbed. During his last moments, he is visited by the Goddess Alistia, who offers to fulfill any wish as a reward for his services. Inglis makes the wish to reincarnate so that he can master the blade, something which he lacked the time to do when he became a king. Alistia grants Inglis’s wish and the king wakes up in their new life hundreds of years later. Coincidentally, Inglis is reborn into nobility and given the same name as his past life (though later she goes by the nickname Chris). To his surprise, he discovers that he is a now a girl (Akari Kito).

I’m not entirely sure if it actually matters that Chris is now a girl. Given the medieval fantasy setting, the show can very easily have her deal with sexist gender roles. Like, have some jerk make the cliché comment that it’s unladylike it is for her to become a swordfighter. If that is going to be a thing in this show, it’s already being swept aside. There’s a scene where a 5 year old Chris watches the knights train with her cousin Rafinha (Ai Kakuma) and she notices one of the guests is cheating with magic (knowledge of which has apparently been lost to time). Not only is Chris allowed to fight the guest in a duel, the crowd becomes ecstatic when she wins, potentially putting her foot in the door. Training may already be an option for Chris as there’s an earlier scene where her mother tries to fend off a dragon with a sword. If she has some experience with the blade, I don’t know why Chris wouldn’t be allowed to train as well. The point of the matter is that it doesn’t seem like the show is making a big deal about Chris’s gender. To be fair, this also means that the show is less likely to use it as a crutch for its writing so I’m fine if that’s the approach the show is taking. I also like how Chris reacts to her change in gender. Obviously, she’s a little shocked at first but fast forward five years and she’s like, “Dang, I’m cute!” and enjoys looking at herself in the mirror.

As is the case with a lot of fantasy anime these days, Reborn to Master the Blade does run the danger of making its protagonist too strong. Evidently, Chris is in New Game Plus mode as not only does she retain her memories of her past life, her magical aptitude and her current skills with the blade have also carried over. It would’ve been really funny if Chris initially forgets how to wield a sword and she has to spend some time relearning it. Given that the whole show is about her picking up her sword training again, you’d think she be a little rusty in some way. That said, the element of magic concerns me much more. During the scene with the dragon, Chris defeats it by casting a powerful spell. It would be too goofy if baby Chris uses a sword against the beast but by establishing that Chris is that strong with magic, you have to wonder why she’s bothering with the art of the blade apart from maybe self-indulgence. During the mock duel, Chris only uses magic to counteract her opponent’s but even so, she wouldn’t have easily won without this ability. It just seems like magic is going to matter more than what Chris is actually striving to master.

While this won’t exactly solve the overpowered protagonist problem, I do like that Chris is rather humble about herself and her powers. While Chris can easily save the day herself, she’d rather hand the spotlight over to someone else such as her cousin and Rafinha’s older brother, Rafael (Atsushi Tamaru), only stepping in as a last resort. It makes sense. She was the Hero King in her past life. She doesn’t need that level of success and fame again and she would be interested in seeing newer blood take the reins. There’s also a funny bit where Chris gets extremely excited about the prospect of fighting Magicite beasts, monsters that now exist in her world including the dragon she fights in this episode. Everyone considers them a blight and wishes for them to be gone. Meanwhile, Chris is out there craving for violence. Considering her current power level however, I’m doubtful any of these monsters will give Chris the fight she wants (though the show could make something funny out of that).

Reborn to Master the Blade probably won’t rock the boat and I’ll admit that this type of show isn’t normally my cup of tea. That said, I think this first episode isn’t half-bad, certainly enjoyable enough that I feel compelled to keep watching. I’ll be covering this show in episode reviews as a bit of a challenge for myself, to cover something that I normally wouldn’t pick for coverage (though this show does have cute anime girls so maybe it’s really not that bold of a decision…). Because of that, I aim to stick with the show no matter what though it does it end up being good, then more power to it.

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