I love stories like this, that try to do something different while still staying the same; adding a little bit of creativity to an over used plot. I didn’t think it would work for my tastes but by the end of 12 episodes, i was hooked. And while i doubt there will be another season, i will hold onto hope.
Togame has trusted before several other partners to aid her in pursuing and acquiring all 12 of the deviant blades in service of the shogunate but each time she
This time she adopts a different strategy, she will get Yasuri to ‘fall for her’ and in turn gain his aid in pursuing the blades, believing that love will surpass all other temptations that might befall Yasuri. But her quest might not be as easy as she hoped. For one thing, Togame is actually princess Yosha, daughter to Takahito Hida, a former feudal lord that led the last rebellion against the shogunate and whom Mutsue Yasuri, Yasuri’s father andwielder of the monstrous Kyotoryuu style killed in service of the shogunate, an act that had him hailed hero of the land as well as exiled. As such her hair turned white on witnessing the death of her father, and the eye that witnessed the incident will take on a snake like form when she is scheming and plotting. Even if the pair were to forge past this bit of history, Yasuri is far from capable when it comes to dealing with humanity and the world. Having been raised on the island and having only known his father and sister, Yasuri is beyond backward and rustic. Beyond incapability to understand common customs and behaviors, Yasuri can’t even recognize or distinguish between faces, having known no other but his sister.
ON their backs and equally motivated are the Maniwa corps, the 12 elite guards of a remote village, once members of the shogunate but who chose to rebel, and whose dangerous ninja skills are the very reason the helpless and physically useless Togame sought out the services of one such as Yasuri.
But even beyond the maniwa corps, Togame’s schemes and plans for the deviant blades as well as her fear that Yasuri might succumb to their poison even as she schools him in the ways of the world as one would a child, are the stories and lives of those that wield the deviant blades.
I remember a scene when an especially powerful character storms a castle manned by hundreds of well trained and well armed monks, ready to fight to the death to defend their master and his weapon. You would have anticipated one epic battle with this new protagonist/antagonist displaying an amazing show of power against overwhelming odds. However the series chose to treat this like an old videogame, with the camera shifting to the sky as the dot like figures of men and weapon ducked, flipped and strayed left and right while firing off red and blue curved lasers. This scene was done complete with those funny noises and beeps you would expect from a video game, and again this might seem like a cop out from showing an incredible battle; but if you really take the time to watch and think about this scene, you will understand the idea that the director was trying to convey, that this one opponent was so overwhelming that the combatant took about the same amount of energy you would use to tap a few buttons to take mow down a hundred foes.
Most anime relies on music and lighting to convey the emotion of a scene; i liked how katanagatara would vary its animation graphics completely to convey the same meanings. When it had to be serious, then the battles were animated beautifully, and when it wasn’t, the director added some creativity to the episode. In short, Katanagatari is simply good to look at, at least for me. As such i would rate it a4/5 in terms of art and animation.
This does play a pivotal role in their relationship as Togame comes to realize that not only does she not understand him but he probably doesn’t even understand himself either. She then can’t help but wonder why he chose to become her sword, because clearly he doesn’t understand what she meant by having him fall for her, or what he meant when he said he had done so. Besides mere relations, there is the problem of controlling Yasuri’s actions, especially in the area of death. Yasuri quickly shows, time and time again, how much little regard he has for life, with the way he will take it with no remorse whatsoever. Be it man, woman or child, to yasuri a fight must end in death. The problem that Togame has stems from Yasuri’s upbringing. She isn’t dealing with some crazy psycho who must be reminded about the beauty of life and vileness of his blood lust. To Yasuri, killing is no different from taking out the laundry or throwing a stone. It is simply an act that must be carried out once in a while, there is no moral argument involved. It is not different to an infant sticking a dagger in you and not feeling anything, because he doesn't or can’t understand the logic or moral element barring him from carrying out such an action.
And as such it is quite interesting to watch Togame work through this obstacle and try to figure out a way to get some of these basic concepts about life and death into Yasuri. It isn’t a matter of simply stopping him from killing when she orders it so, because he pretty much does as she asks, it is a matter of Yasuri himself learning to make the distinction between when and when it isn’t necessary to take a life. Togame only understands just how much of an obstacle this is when Yasuri doesn’t show the slightest sign of remorse when he mentions killing is father, the sixth head of the school.
Then there is Meisai, wielder of Tsurugi, a blade that is actually one thousand swords, who, as priestess of the temple, has taken in lost and demented souls in the women that survived the last war; it is clear to Togame what Meisai’s intentions are in gifting each woman with a Tsurugi; it is the poison of the blades that comforts them and attempts to cure the demons of the war. Then there is Hakuhei, wielder of needle, a delicate sword, brittle as glass, but with which Hakuhei has achieved the title of strongest swordsman.
While all swords are poisonous, it is default to gauge the consequences of the infection and whether the result is always negative. It is impossible to allow these blades to continue their stay in the hands of human beings and allow their poisoning to continue, but because no wielder can ever willful give up his sword due to its curse, the act of causing them to relinquish control is usually easier said than done. That said, the unveiling of each sword reminds me of bleach where i would shift to the edge of my seat in anticipation of a newly revealed bankai and shikai.
The mainwa corps provide entertainment in their search for the blades and pursuit of Togame; unfortunately they don’t reveal nearly as much as they should have about who the 12 are, the history of their village or even the danger they speak of, for which they seek the 12 deviant blades. Most are disappointments in that they held so much potential for great story and drama but had less screen time than should have been assigned to them.
Even the most mysterious of them, the phoenix like maniwa Houou doesn’t get the kind of exposition he should have, only a few words and hints with Emonzaemon, Princess Hitei’s retainer and Togame’s arch enemy. Maybe they didn’t want to stretch the story but it is a shame none the less; they could have done so much with these intriguing figures. Oh well.I give this story a 4/5. For all this basic premise ‘mission to find 12 items’, it manages to deliver more that it promises.
I have to say that my favorite members of the quirky maniwa corps were the insect squad.
Music: This is worth mentioning, because while i really liked it, i didn’t get it. I kind of sounded like rap, but i can’t be sure. Either way i give it a 4/5
Each episode of Katanagatari runs for about an hour, so there is no to be continued at anyone point in time. Each episode begins with a new weapon, new characters and new mysteries and by the end of the hour all has been solved, which i think is great; it is kind of like you are watching a mini movie with each episode and it allows the story all the time in the world to delve into each character in detail and explore everything the plot for that episode has to offer. It is a perfect bargain for the fact that each episode came out once a month, which means that if you watched this when it was released, you watched it over the course of one year.
OVERALL RATING:> 5/5 I definitely recommend this. And don’t let the graphics put you off. It is a great story.