Sweet Reincarnation – Episode 1

By: Alex Henderson July 4, 20230 Comments
A young boy with purple hair and a dreamy expression superimposed over a background of tarts, cakes, and pudding

What’s it about? After being crushed to death by one of his own candy sculptures, a master pâtissier is reborn in a fantasy world as Pastry, the son of a noble family. Alas, sugar is not a local crop in this new place, but Pastry is determined to use what he has available to chase his dream of making sweets.

Don’t you love these isekai premieres that toss you around on just the wildest, most inconsistent tone and pacing you can imagine? For all that it’s about a reincarnated chef who just wants to make desserts, Sweet Reincarnation carries itself with a bizarrely serious tone, from the epic feel of the opening theme to the very serious military concerns motivating Pastry’s family as they prepare to defend their fiefdom from bandits.

The ritual to activate Pastry’s magical potential looks genuinely harrowing. The opening worldbuilding spiel about cultivating crops feels very grounded and meticulous. And then ping, this severe atmosphere is interrupted by a) Pastry daydreaming about baking apple pie, and b) goofy gags about Pastry’s mother and older sisters dressing him up like a girl and it being soooooo embarrassing.

A young boy caked in makeup and wearing a frilly pink dress. In the backdrop, a woman and a young girl are watching with glee while he looks embarassed
[canned studio laughter playing in the distance]

Did I mention that the episode opens with a chef being crushed to death by one of his own candy sculptures? With a puddle of blood and everything? Was I meant to hoot with shocked laughter at that? Because I did! Sorry!

To give this show some credit, it could be very interesting to watch a character from the modern world navigating a setting that’s far less globalized and where many of the ingredients we take for granted aren’t available. If Sweet Reincarnation’s long-winded ponderings over soil cultivation are anything to go by, it’s taking a very grounded approach to worldbuilding aspects like agriculture, which is honestly pretty cool—at least, it stands out in the sea of isekai series that shrug and say “eh, it’s a generic fantasy world, of course they have potatoes.”

Though please take my use of “interesting” there with a grain of salt (they don’t have sugar, but I think they do have salt). Series with that kind of meticulous, detailed, historically-inspired worldbuilding can be dry as flour without engaging characters and story. And Pastry, bless his little sugar-candied heart, is just not grabbing me as a protagonist. Nor is anyone, really. I wonder if the mother and sister characters will get some depth the further we go along, just so we have some female characters doing something. Then again, even the much-more-important male leads are as shallow as a baking tray, so there’s probably not much hope.  

A young boy swinging a sword, but daydreaming of dessert, with cakes and macarons superimposed around him. Subtitle text reads: Gosh, I sure do wanna make sweets!
I mean, it’s A character motivation!

For a show about sweets, the whole thing is awfully flavorless. Combine this with the strange pacing choices, the tonal shifts, and the “haha, isn’t it funny that this boy is dressed like a girl?” bits, there’s really not much enticing me to come back for a second helping.

Weird as it is that Pastry is carrying his adult brain around in a nine-year-old body, at least there’s been no Horny Baby shenanigans. A low bar, I know, but we may as well give it props for that.

About the Author : Alex Henderson

Alex Henderson is a writer and managing editor at Anime Feminist. They completed a doctoral thesis on queer representation in young adult genre fiction in 2023. Their short fiction has been published in anthologies and zines, their scholarly work in journals, and their too-deep thoughts about anime, manga, fantasy novels, and queer geeky stuff on their blog.

Read more articles from Alex Henderson

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