Katanagatari(刀語?, Sword Story) is a Japanese light novel series written by Nisio Isin and illustrated by Take. The series is published by Kodansha under the Kodansha Boximprint. An anime adaptation by White Fox began airing on January 26, 2010 and consisted of 12 episodes. The story revolves around the collection of twelve weapons that were created by a fictional swordsmith. A single episode of the series was aired each month. NIS America announced that they have licensed the series. They released the first part of the series in Blu-ray/DVD combo set in July 2011. Part two was released on September 20, 2011. The anime series aired once more on Fuji TV's noitamina between April and June 2013 as the block's first rerun, with a new opening and a new ending song.
Katanagatari is the story of Yasuri Shichika, a swordsman who fights without a sword, and Togame, an ambitious strategist who seeks to collect twelve legendary swords for the shogunate. The son of an exiled war hero, Shichika is the seventh head of the Kyotouryuu school of fighting, and lives on isolated Fushou Island with his elder sister, Nanami. At the request of Togame, Shichika sets out on a journey across Edo-era Japan to locate the Deviant Blades, all wielded by formidable opponents. But, in order to prove his loyalty to Togame, who has been betrayed before, and relies on neither money nor honor, Shichika must fall in love.
The main focus of the story is the gathering of twelve distinct weapons that were crafted by Kiki Shikizaki, a reclusive swordsmith. His bladework had been widely popular during the last war, but only twelve out of the many he had done are rumored to have been specially crafted via alchemy, the occult, and other magical means. Although they are supposedly "katana", not all of them are such, for they have different forms, such as a suit of armor, a dagger, and a pair of guns. The reason for the "Deviant" label is that the people wielding them are prone to their "poison" and will do anything to keep it to themselves, which is the case of most of their current wielders. Each of the blades has a distinct feature or ability that makes them the strongest. Later it is revealed that all twelve swords were created with the sole purpose of perfecting which Kiki labels as the ultimate Deviant Blade, the Yasuri family's Kyotōryū fighting style, which is fulfilled during Shichika's journey to retrieve them.
The first blade retrieved by Shichika and Togame, it is in the possession of Koumori Maniwa. The blade is straight unlike most katanas, and it is the hardest blade with the ability to never break or bend. The hilt is neatly decorated with plum flower designs. This blade is strongly based on the real life Dotanuki.
The second blade recovered, it is in the possession of Ginkaku Uneri. It is the sharpest blade with the ability to cut through anything, in sharp contrast to its ironic name, meaning "blunt". It was also made for unsheathing at an incredible speed. The katana has triangular patterns around its hilt guard and a black sheath.
Comprising 1000 swords, with the last 999 being copies of the first, all 1000 of them are in the possession of Meisai Tsuruga. Even though there are 1000 swords, all of them together are considered to be one sword. It is the most numerous blade with the ability to overwhelm its enemy with its numbers. What makes them stand out is their red sheaths. Only Shichika is able to identify the original sword.
An extremely thin blade as per its namesake, meaning "needle", it is in the possession of Hakuhei Sabi. It is the brittlest blade as the blade itself is made of glass, which gives it its light weight, but it is rather fragile if used incorrectly. The sheath and hilt are white and decorated with floral patterns.
A massive full set of armor, it is in the possession of Kanara Azekure. It is the most defense-oriented blade with the ability to protect the user from any damage, especially against attacks that have armor-piercing properties. Its design was based on Western armor, and it has numerous blades around it if observed carefully, both according to Togame. The armor is decorated with many references to the ocean, such as shells and a helmet that's based on a whale.
A large, blunt-looking, stone sword, it comes into the possession of Konayuki Itezora. The blade is extremely heavy, capable of leaving a crater even when it is simply dropped, and only Konayuki is capable of wielding it with extreme ease. It is the heaviest blade with the ability to crush the enemy with its weight. The sword can also be held by its tip, and used as a hammer instead, hence its "double" title.
A small yellow kunai-like weapon, it comes into the possession of Nanami Yasuri. It holds electricity within it and was designed with the appearance of a lightning bolt. It is the most evil blade with the ability to rejuvenate the user's body.
A four-armed, four-legged, solar poweredclockworkmechanical doll that seems to function on its own. It is the most human-like blade with the ability to think by itself and adapt to any situation. It wears a kimono and tall black shoes. Each of its arms hold a sword, and an extra one is hidden in its mouth. Its appearance, made in the image of its creator's love, changes according to the situation, becoming more menacing.
A wooden sword that sharply contrasts its title as "King of Swords", it is in the possession of Zanki Kiguchi. Unlike the other Deviant Blades, it doesn't have any of the poison found in Kiki's blades. It is the purest blade with the ability to cure the poison the other swords have on their owners. A small floral mark and yellowish streak on the sword identifies it as Nokogiri.
A sword with no blade, it is in the possession of Rinne Higaki. The blade itself is not meant to "cut" anyone other than its owner. The hilt (tsuka) is black and decorated with orange floral patterns, and a wreath of flowers circle as the guard (tsuba). It is the most trustworthy blade with the ability to weight the user's heart.
A black jagged and bladed katana decorated with iridescent designs, obtained by Houou Maniwa. The blade also gives off a dark cloudy aura. This blade originally has no owner as it was found inside of a crystal-like spire in a cave, preserving it. It is the most poisonous blade with the ability to corrupt the user. The blade itself contains a part of the spirit of its creator within.
A pair of handguns, one a blue six-chambered revolver and the other a red semi-automatic that holds eleven bullets, both are in the possession of Princess Hitei and used by her retainer, Emonzaemon. Each is decorated with a long flowing mane with a bead on its end. It is unknown the limit (or if there is a limit at all) of how much ammo both guns can carry, as Emonzaemon is not seen reloading them even after firing dozens of rounds.
The anime is composed of twelve 50 minute episodes and follows the two main characters while there are searching for the katanas, except for one episode which is centered on Nanami Shichika. In each episode, Yasuri and Togame will collect one katana. The length of the episodes is unusual since most anime have 24 minute episodes. The fourth episode, which is centered on Nanami, does not show the fight between Yasuri and the wielder of the katana but the fight is described at the end of the episode. However, at the end of the third episode, a short preview concerning the fourth episode can be seen and shows a part of the fight. The fourth episode never showed any part of this preview.