Content warning: Violence, future potentially fanservice-y character designs
What’s it about? The Hero-King Inglis has lived a long and fruitful life in service to the nation he found thanks to the blessing of a goddess. As he dies, the goddess promises to fulfill one more wish for the dying king as thanks for his service and the ailing monarch wishes for a second chance at life, this time to see how far he can develop himself as a swordsman. When he comes to, he is reborn as Inglis, a daughter to a noble. Using his knowledge of magic and swordsmanship, Inglis embarks on a renewed lifelong journey.
Reborn to Master the Blade: From Hero-King to Extraordinary Squire (Jesus that’s a long title) clears the low bar of not having any sexually-charged jokes for an entire episode despite starring an old man in a little girl’s body. I’m doubly thankful since the first episode features Inglis as a newborn baby and a five year old, so we totally avoid having a horny baby moment.
It’s truly heartening to watch an episode where a man wakes up as a woman and, for once, their biggest priority isn’t “Dude, where’s my dick?”
While fully cognizant of her past life from her first moment of consciousness, Inglis isn’t such a pitiful chud that her whole being goes “heh heh, girl.” Instead, she is only your humble incorrigible battle junkie thirsting for the blood of her enemies. Her single-most passion is driven by her thirst to become a better warrior through combat and that has nothing to do with gender.
Reborn to Master the Blade: From Hero K- … ‘Murder Baby’ as I will henceforth be calling this show, is interesting. It’s got its bog-standard European high-fantasy setting, but its humor derived from Inglis’ abnormal thirst for battle lends a disarming comedic air throughout the premiere.
Yes, evil magic dragons are attacking her town and family, but there’s no sense of danger since our young heroine (literally a newborn) spends all her time marveling at the prospect of being able to slay monsters rather than fearing for her life as a literal baby. She even goes as far as protesting against her mother wishing for a safer world for the children, because that would mean less daunting foes for her to defeat.
It’s disarming, but in a good way, since it maintains a consistent tone to the episode unlike some other shows this season.
In another light, Inglis being an adult on the inside also means she’s not written as a pwecious babby either. And her spending years growing into her new identity also helps prevent this show from being another “dude in a girl’s body” scenario that makes gender so performative.
Inglis is just Inglis, kind of like how Maple is just Maple in Bofuri and while she might have her memories of being a king in a past life, she’s focusing more on living her current life to the fullest. And doing so entails her being a shrewd warrior as well as your average five year old brat. She’s just a fun character.
And for those of you keeping score at home, this show having a gender-bender premise at its crux makes you think I’d be going gaga over GENDER in this review, but I’m not because Inglis being a girl has very little impact on who she really is. Yes, she has a brief moment of dysphoria at the beginning and she continues to think about herself back when she was the hero-king, but Murder Baby does not get itself caught up in Inglis being formerly a man. She has everything she needs to be successful thus far and gender has nothing to really do with it.
And Inglis is by far not the only woman who can fight in this show. The cast of as-of-yet unintroduced heroines featured in the opening notwithstanding, Inglis’ own mother appears to be formidable with the sword, even if she lacks the power to slay magicite beasts, and it’s a nice touch to know women in this setting can learn to fight without being blessed with magical reincarnation powers.
The mere fact that this show let Inglis’ mother live through a fight with a terrifying beast is refreshing enough. The show doesn’t cop out to building character through dead moms and it instead makes Inglis’ mother—average as she is—incredibly cool in her own way. I even hope that she’ll have a consistent presence even as Inglis grows more and more powerful.
That all could very well change, of course. Inglis could rediscover her sexuality once she is a teenager and the cast expands to include more girls. For now, the only other girl her age is her cousin, and I pray this show won’t try to make this a yuri between them. Though, I am left a little wary given the opening credits show Rafinha in the prominent number two position to Inglis.
Also worth noting, the first episode features Inglis and Rafinha as babies and then as five-year-olds to establish their characters and have yet to get to the core of the story where Inglis no doubt sets off on an adventure with other elite warrior girls. The girls in the opening animation, meanwhile, accentuate bountiful chests with boobwindows to show off their cleavage, so the character designs are bound to become more catered to the cis het male gaze.
And a quick note on production values, this isn’t the fanciest animation, but I think it’s storyboarded well, and the action flows nicely. So overall, just a nice premiere to watch!
Murder Baby has potential, but it’s too early to say anything from just one episode. It’s a coin-flip, and I’m really hoping this show does well. I’m definitely having fun and I think it’s worth a shot if you like high-fantasy adventures. As long as the show doesn’t become too reliant on fan service, I think it will do fine.