When it comes down to it, Reborn to Master the Blade is a fish-out-of-water tale—and not just thanks to Inglis’ new body. Despite being reincarnated in the same world, Inglis—or “Chris” as she is commonly known in her second life—finds things quite different from what she remembers.
In this age, the elites of the world, “Highlanders,” live on flying sky islands and enjoy technological/magical superiority over the masses still living on the surface of the monster-filled Earth. The Highlanders then offer monster protection to those below in the form of living humanoid weapons known as Hyrule Menaces—in exchange for their subservience and resources, of course. The blatant exploitation of those on the planet creates a setting rife with adventure and political drama. Much of what happens in the anime is due to this situation and Chris’s unique place.
Chris is a wildcard in the cold war between land and sky, but she is determined to be selfish in her second life. She has no interest in the greater good (or evil). As she only wants to get stronger and fight other strong people, she is more than willing to fight people on either side whenever the chance arises. It is, of course, the key to the show’s comedy. Chris is so single-minded in her goals that she purposely derails situations so she could be in more dangerous fights. Luckily, this tendency is tempered somewhat by Rani, her cousin.
While Chris wants nothing more than to fight, she has a special affinity for Rani—viewing her as the granddaughter she could never have in her first life. While Chris doesn’t wish to be a hero or leader again, she is more than willing to help Rani become one—especially as heroes tend to get into fights with all kinds of strong villains.
The relationship between the two girls is the emotional core of the series. Rani is pure, just, and true. She always believes in the best in people and strives to protect the weak. This, in turn, puts Chris on the side of the angels in most cases. The only thing that can stop her from fighting for the sake of fighting is her love for Rani and the need to protect her.
All this comes together to create an anime with equal parts drama, action, and comedy. The world is a serious one with dire stakes and lasting consequences. However, Chris’ insane strength and off-kilter personality can turn things comedic at any time. While this could be a detriment to the show’s tone, the anime manages to handle switching between comedy and drama expertly—never undercutting the seriousness of what is happening, even when Chris is at her most self-centered.
As for the presentation, Reborn to Master the Blade is slightly above average. The world design is creative and distinct, from knights and monsters to cities and airships. The animation is smooth and easy to follow, especially in fight scenes. While ultimately forgettable, the music does its job setting the emotional tone for what appears on the screen well enough—and the opening theme song is a bit of an earworm in its own right.
Overall, Reborn to Master the Blade is a solid fantasy adventure. While Chris is by far the most interesting and enjoyable aspect of the anime, the show’s complex world and interesting supporting cast bring out the best in her character. Add some decent-looking animation and a few surprising plot twists, and you have an anime worth watching. My only real complaint is that, while it has a fun action climax, the series ends without any major revelations or significant plot resolutions. But, on the other hand, I suppose that’s just another way of saying I would love to see it continued in a second season.