21 Jan 2013


The first thing you'll notice about this brilliant anime is the strange art style. The eyes are certainly minimalist. I initially refused to watch it because I didn't like the visuals. It just seemed unnatural and put it to the bottom of my list. However, as you might have guessed- I eventually got to it and boy, was I surprised. The concept behind the episodes appeals to me more than most of the anime I've ever seen.

Shichika and Togame, our dynamic duo.

Katanagatari is about one overpowered motherfucker without a sword kicking the shit out of people who have swords. That and a lot of talking about stuff. You won't really know what I mean about the talking until you watch it. Each episode is 40 minutes long, twice the length of what you normally watch. at least 30 of those 40 minutes is all conversation. Boring, right? Wrong. Sure, it takes a certain kind of person to enjoy this anime- you have to be entertained by the discussions that often revolve around morality and Japanese culture.

Although this anime isn't a comedy, I laughed and smiled quite frequently. Now that I think about it, I don't really know what genre Katanagatari falls under. Sure, it has action. Adventure and Romance? Check. Martial arts, Slice of life or un-life and fantasy. It's an epic story with a slow build up culminating to the explosive ending.

Shichika Yasuri lives with his sister Nanami on a small island off the coast of feudal Japan. They have never had contact with the outside world. Brought up by their late father, the two have continued to live a peaceful life. Shichika was taught Kyotoryuu by his father, a sword fighting technique dedicated to combat without a sword.

Shichika, making yet another person look like a fool wielding a stick.

Togame is a Japanese general. She travels a long distance from the Shogunate to find the head of Kyotoryuu. Strong in mind yet feeble of body, Togame needs an unrivaled warrior to help her collect the 12 cursed swords from the possession of formidable ninja throughout the country. After recruiting Shichika to her cause, the couple return to the mainland.

The 12 deviant swords were crafted by Kiki Shikizaki, a renowned swordsmith. He used all manner of unearthly means to create them, giving each weapon a special ability. Most of the swords corrupt the user, with varying effects. Shichika and Togame aren't the only ones who seek the swords. They are competing with the Maniwa corporation, ninja who were once employed under the Shogunate. The devious princess Hitei is also trying to gain control of the swords to win favor against Togame in the royal court.

I don't even remember this bit.

So the main emphasis of Katanagatari is the plot, which is mostly depicted by conversation. The graphics and animation are lackluster, the fights are nothing special. It's set to appeal to the kind of audience that can get hooked on the witticisms that are conveyed through Shichika and Togame. All it will take is one episode for you to see whether you enjoy the style. I was captured by the charm of the characters, and even though I missed a fair amount of the nuances related to Japanese culture- I still found myself intrigued by the philosophical debates and life lessons.

What I noticed about Katanagatari is how the story grows on you, which in turn makes the fighting more climactic, and the artwork more bearable. While there are still boring bits and not so great episodes- I still couldn't stop watching it. I am a sucker for romance though, which is why I was so addicted.
Yep, she can't decide on her favorite sword.

The fight scenes are also cemented with dialogue, and Shichika often undergoes epiphanies whilst battling for the swords. The plot couldn't be considered original, but I can't really say I've ever experienced an anime quite like it. Shichika is a brilliant character, his almost blind devotion to Togame admirable; whilst his naivety and lack of knowledge makes him seem inhuman at times. Despite this, it's very easy to sympathize with him. Togame is the strategist and the mastermind, and somewhat tsundere. Although she isn't that useful in a lot of episodes, she can be very charming and certainly has a brain. Most characters are only in a single episode, save a few exceptions. So expect to see a lot of Shichika and Togame; which is fine because they have a brilliant rapport.

What I really enjoy about this anime is the little bits. It's hard to explain. How Togame orders Shichika about and he follows her orders without a blink. How Shichika doesn't understand anything of human culture, and struggles to come to terms with the many idiosyncrasies that we go through every day. He can't even pick up a sword without hurting himself.

He's like Goku without magical beams of death.

I'm a sucker for a badass main character- it is no secret. And Shichika is way up there on the list. He leaves his island of isolation with no knowledge of the world, and proceeds to tear it up with no equal. Despite how overpowered Shichika is, he still finds time to learn, grow, and become more powerful on his journey. He truly made the anime for me.

I did love this anime, it's very unique and has flamboyance and flair. I do understand however, that the majority of people may be bored by it. Therefore I do not suggest attempting to watch it unless this review has somewhat piqued your interest. As I mentioned earlier- one episode should be sufficient enough to hook you. If it doesn't, I can promise it does get more interesting. Just remember, it's not about action or graphics, just plot. Maybe my review is a little biased, chalk that up to enthusiasm for Katanagatari.

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