The following contains spoilers for the light novels reincarnated as a sword. The anime will start streaming on October 5, 2022.
Isekai has developed a sort of subgenre, and it’s thanks to the popularity of This time I got reincarnated as a Slime. Since then, many isekai light novels, manga, and anime have had their protagonists reincarnated into all sorts of seemingly weak and ridiculous things. This resulted in another series with a very similar name called Reincarnated as a Sword.
Although both are isekai and have nearly identical titles, Reincarnated as Slime and Reincarnated as a Sword are quite different in terms of how they handle their stories in the original light novels. From differing visions of world-building to reveling in the excesses of the genre, these two reincarnation light novels take incredibly disparate forms in their second lives.
What is reincarnated as a sword and reincarnated as a slime?
The first of these isekai light novel franchises to see the light was This time I got reincarnated as a Slime, which was created by Fuse in 2013 as an online novel. The story centers on an everyday earner who is relatively dissatisfied with his life, culminating in his end when he is killed by a mysterious mugger. As he dies, his consciousness is reborn in a fantasy world, though his body is very different from before. Knowing a simple slime, his apparent weakness is offset by his powerful “Predator” ability, allowing him to mimic the shapes and powers of others. Acclimating to its new world and gaining a group of followers after taking on the name Rimuru, the slime seeks to defend its new realm while expanding it and its own power.
To debut in novel form two years later was Reincarnated as a Sword by Yuu Tanaka. Featuring a protagonist whose previous name is unknown, the series followed a similar trajectory to most isekai franchises from being a novel before eventually becoming an anime. Reincarnated like a sword sees its main character reborn too… thus, a sword, finding himself in a strange fantasy world with no way to regain his previous locomotion. Fortunately, he is discovered by Fran, a slave catgirl who is attacked at the time. Teaming up, with the sword taking on the name Master, the two go on an adventure as they develop a close bond with each other.
Reincarnated as a Sword Doesn’t Repeat Isekai’s Biggest Mistakes
While both series are great examples of what the often mundane isekai genre can become when done right, it’s ultimately Reincarnated as a Sword it’s the better of the two light novel franchises. Vase focuses more on world-building, and while that’s a great strength, especially for many more superficial isekai, it can leave something to be desired in terms of character development. Reincarnated as a Sword, on the other hand, is all about the relationship between Master and Fran, resulting in something akin to a father/daughter dynamic. It’s not the only way to go against the grain of the genre and in the opposite direction of Reincarnated as SlimeNevertheless.
Reincarnated as a Sword treats the Master’s situation as being as disadvantageous as it appears. He has no real locomotion, and it is only the appearance of Fran that saves him from a lonely existence. Despite the name, This time I got reincarnated as a Slime often forgets that the situation is supposed to be less than grand. Rimuru quickly reverts to humanoid form, and when combined with his Predator ability, makes him essentially unstoppable. This seeps into a major criticism of isekai: power fantasies. Many isekai heroes are overpowered, which makes any inconvenience they are initially to a moot point. Reincarnated as a Sword doesn’t fall into this trap, which makes for a more entertaining read. If the upcoming anime adaptation is something similar, it should also give the This time I got reincarnated as a Slime leads a race for his money.