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Cover of volume 1 of Katanagatari, published by Kodansha
|Genre||Chanbara, Comedy, Tragedy, drama, action, Romance|
|Written by||Nisio Isin|
|Original run||January 2007 – February 2008|
|Volumes||12 + 1 spinoff|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Keitaro Motonaga|
|Written by||Makoto Uezu|
|Music by||Taku Iwasaki|
|Network||Fuji TV (Noitamina), MBS, BS Fuji, Animax|
|Original run||January 26, 2010 – December 11, 2010|
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 Box imprint. An anime adaptation by White Fox began airing on January 26, 2010, and consisted of 12 episodes. The story revolves around a "sword hunt" (katanagari) for 12 weapons that were created by a fictional swordsmith. A single episode of the series was aired each month. NIS America have licensed the series and released the first part on a 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.
Plot and settings
Katanagatari is the story of Yasuri Shichika, a swordsman who fights without a sword, and Togame, an ambitious strategist who seeks to collect 12 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 Deviant Blades
- 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.
- Kanna (絶刀「鉋」 Zettō Kanna?, [Absolute sword, Plane])
- 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.
- Namakura (斬刀「鈍」 Zantō Namakura?, [Beheading sword, Blunt])
- 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.
- Tsurugi (千刀「剣」 Sentō Tsurugi?, [Thousand sword, Sword])
- 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.
- Hari (薄刀「針」 Hakutō Hari?, [Thin sword, Needle])
- 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.
- Yoroi (賊刀「鎧」 Zokutō Yoroi?, [Bandit sword, Armor])
- 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.
- Kanazuchi (双刀「鎚」 Sōtō Kanazuchi?, [Double sword, Hammer])
- 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.
- Bita (悪刀「鐚」 Akutō Bita?, [Evil sword, Worthless])
- 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.
- Kanzashi (微刀「簪」 Bitō Kanzashi?, [Delicate sword, Hairpin])
- A four-armed, four-legged, solar powered clockwork mechanical 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.
- Nokogiri (王刀「鋸」 Ōtō Nokogiri?, [King sword, Saw])
- 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.
- Hakari (誠刀「銓」 Seitō Hakari?, [True sword, Scales])
- 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.
- Mekki (毒刀「鍍」 Dokutō Mekki?, [Poison sword, Gilded])
- A black jagged and bladed katana decorated with iridescent designs, obtained by Houou Maniwa. The blade also gives off a dark butty 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.
- Jū (炎刀「銃」 Entō Jū?, [Flame sword, Gun])
- 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.
- Yasuri (虚刀「鑢」 Kyotō Yasuri?, [Empty Sword, Rasp])
- The Kyōtōryu style itself, founded by Shichika's ancestor, Kazune Yasuri, along with Kiki. In contrast with the other twelve swords, which are labeled as "Perfected Deviant Blades," Kyōtōryu is called by Kiki a "Completed Deviant Blade," as Shichika had "forged" it himself throughout his journeys, as was Kiki's intent with its creation. Due to the nature of Kyōtōryu, this "sword" is by nature antithetical to the other twelve.
Katanagatari was released one volume a month throughout 2007. A spin-off novel, Maniwagatari, was released a few months later.
|January 9, 2007||Katanagatari Chapter 1: Zettō Kanna (刀語 第一話 絶刀・鉋?)||ISBN 978-4-06-283611-1|
|February 3, 2007||Katanagatari Chapter 2: Zantō Namakura (刀語 第二話 斬刀・鈍?)||ISBN 978-4-06-283604-3|
|March 1, 2007||Katanagatari Chapter 3: Sentō Tsurugi (刀語 第三話 千刀・鎩?)||ISBN 978-4-06-283619-7|
|April 2, 2007||Katanagatari Chapter 4: Hakutō Hari (刀語 第四話 薄刀・針?)||ISBN 978-4-06-283623-4|
|May, 2007||Katanagatari Chapter 5: Zokutō Yoroi (刀語 第五話 賊刀・鎧?)||ISBN 978-4-06-283628-9|
|June, 2007||Katanagatari Chapter 6: Sōtō Kanadzuchi (刀語 第六話 双刀・鎚?)||ISBN 978-4-06-283631-9|
|July, 2007||Katanagatari Chapter 7: Akutō Bita (刀語 第七話 悪刀・鐚?)||ISBN 978-4-06-283634-0|
|August, 2007||Katanagatari Chapter 8: Bitō Kanzashi (刀語 第八話 微刀・釵?)||ISBN 978-4-06-283636-4|
|September, 2007||Katanagatari Chapter 9: Ōtō Nokogiri (刀語 第九話 王刀・鋸?)||ISBN 978-4-06-283639-5|
|October, 2007||Katanagatari Chapter 10: Seitō Hakari (刀語 第十話 誠刀・銓?)||ISBN 978-4-06-283643-2|
|November, 2007||Katanagatari Chapter 11: Dokutō Mekki (刀語 第十一話 毒刀・鍍?)||ISBN 978-4-06-283648-7|
|December, 2007||Katanagatari Chapter 12: Entō Jū (刀語 第十二話 炎刀・銃?)||ISBN 978-4-06-283652-4|
|February, 2008||Maniwagatari: Maniwa Kōmori I, Maniwa Kuizame I, Maniwa Chōchō I, Maniwa Shirasagi I (真庭語 初代真庭蝙蝠 初代真庭喰鮫 初代真庭蝶々 初代真庭白鷺?)||ISBN 978-4-06-283687-6|
The anime is composed of a dozen 50-minute episodes and follows the two main characters while they are searching for the katanas, except for one episode that is centered on Nanami Yasuri. In each episode, Shichika and Togame collect a katana or a new one will be introduced. The length of the episodes is unusual since most anime have 24-minute episodes and run weekly instead of monthly. On a monthly basis, a new episode would be released every month, beginning on January 26, 2010 and finishing on December 11, 2010.
For the first half of the series (episodes 1-7), the opening theme is Meiya Kadenrō (冥夜花伝廊) by Minami Kuribayashi while the second half of the series (episode 8-12) is Katana to Saya (刀と鞘) by ALI PROJECT. However, the ending theme changes for each episode. For the noitamina rerun, the new opening theme song was Hakushukassai Utaawase by supercell, and Piko performed the new ending theme song Kotonoha.
|No.||Title||Ending theme||Original air date|
|1||"Plane, the Absolute"
|"Tasogare no Gekka" (誰そ彼の月華?) by Yōsei Teikoku||January 25, 2010|
|Strategist Togame arrives on an island where she is supposed to find the head of the Yasuri family who was exiled there many years before and meets the current head of the family, Yasuri Shichika and his sister Nanami. Togame explains how she is on a journey to find the 12 most powerful swords in Japan that had been made by Shikizaki Kiki and needs his help. Seeing no reason to help her, Shichika refuses until Togame commands him to fall in love with her thus giving him a reason to help her. Suddenly attacked by a ninja from the Maniwa Ninja Corps with one of the 12 swords (Zettō Kanna), Shichika decides to help Togame and defeats the ninja. They then set out on their journey across Japan.|
|2||"Blunt, the Decapitator"
"Zantō Namakura" (斬刀・鈍)
|Refulgence by Shoujobyo||February 8, 2010|
|After a month of travelling, Togame and Shichika reach Inaba where their lead to the next sword (Zantō Namakura) is supposed to be found. The find that the swords current owner, Uneri Ginkaku, in a small room of his home and has nothing left except the sword and his home within the ever-growing sand of Inaba. After failed negotiations and learning Ginkaku’s challenging speed, Togame and Shichika retreat from the home to form a plan. After some deliberation, they meet Ginkaku again and Shichika defeats him, earning them the second sword.|
|3||"Blade, the Thousand"
|"Senbon Sennyo no Hamari Uta" (千本千女の刃毬唄?) by Aki Hata||March 8, 2010|
|In their third month of travel, the duo wind up at the Sanzu shrine where the ex-bandit master Tsuruga Meisai protects the third sword (Sentō Tsurugi) and the shrine maidens who each carry one of the thousand blades classified as this sword. Togame is given the challenge of finding the original of the thousand swords before Shichika can fight Meisai for the swords. While Togame searches over the next few days, Shichika bonds with Meisai and learns or her struggles. Another ninja from the Maniwa Corps shows up and tried to wreak havoc but meets a quick death by Meisai’s hand. the next day, Togame presents Meisai with what she concluded was the oldest sword and Meisai agrees to fight Shichika. The fight ends with Meisai’s death and the third sword in Togame’s hands.|
|4||"Needle, the Fine"
|"Kyomu no Hana" (虚無の華?) by Kukui||April 16, 2010|
|During the fourth month, Togame and Shichika encounter Sabi Hakuhei, one of Japan’s strongest swordsman who challenges Shichika to a duel for their swords. He proves to be much stronger than the other opponents Shichika faced before. Meanwhile, Shichika’s sister, Nanami, is attacked by one of the Maniwa Ninja squads in an attempted kidnapping. Her foes soon discover that Nanami is actually the more powerful of the Yasuri siblings despite Shichika being the head of the family. She quickly deals with them as Shichika defeats Sabi Hakuhei, gaining their fourth sword (Hakutō Hari).|
|5||"Aegis, the Resentment"
|"Ai to Makoto" (愛と誠?) by Yukari Tamura||May 21, 2010|
|In their fifth month, the duo encounter the pirate Azekura Kanara who rules the small port of Satsuma and possesses one of the 12 swords (Zokutō Yoroi). Finding Togame resembles his deceased younger sister, he strikes a deal that if he wins a battle, he takes Togame as his woman. During the ensuing fight, Kanara proclaims his love for Togame and the fight then becomes more than just a fight for the swords. After finding the weak spot of Zokutō Yoroi, Shichika slams Kanara into the ground, forcing Kanara to admit defeat. Despite being one of the only survivors of Shichika’s battles, Kanara spitefully changes the course of the ship Togame and Shichika take to get to their next destination.|
|6||"Hammer, the Dual-Edge"
|"Yuki no Onna" (雪ノ女?) by ALI PROJECT||June 4, 2010|
|Lost and freezing in the Ezo region, Togame and Shichika are found by an 11 year-old girl named Itezora Konayuki who is the last of the missing Itezora clan and takes them into her makeshift home. Later, she helps them find the sixth sword (Sōtō Kanazuchi) and follows her clans instructions of not giving the sword up unless defeated in battle. When Shichika challenges Konayuki and goes easy on her, his arm is broken and Konayuki becomes the first person to defeat Shichika. While Shichika recovers, Konayuki encounters the vengeful Maniwa Kyōken uses her power to take over the young girl’s body and sees how Konayuki’s clan had been annihalated by Nanami. She then engages Shichika in a fight. Unlike his last match with Konayuki, Shichika is able to see through this ninja’s moves and defeats Kyōken’s spirit, knocking Konayuki unconscious. Later, Konayuki gives up the sword and apologizes for lying to them about her clan’s instructions. With Kanazuchi, Konayuki promises to take it to the mainland with her on her way to live at the Sanzu shrine.|
|7||"Destitute, the Vile"
|"Mayoigo Sagashi" (迷い子さがし?) by Mai Nakahara||July 9, 2010|
|Back on the island, Nanami becomes annoyed with her brother’s slow progress and decides to set out and collect the swords herself. Along the way, she annihilates the Itezora clan along using methods much more violent and destructive than Togame and Shichika. She eventually comes to possess one of the 12 swords (Akutō Bita) and uses its power to strengthen her frail body by having it stabbed into her chest. Encountering his sister, Shichika fights his most deadly opponent during which Nanami asks him to kill her to spare her from the suffering that Bita brings with its power. After battling against Nanami’s all-seeing eyes and inhuman strength and Togame's life being threatened, Shichika is finally able to free his sister from Bita by killing her.|
|8||"Sai, the Minute"
|"Karakuri Nemuridan" (からくり眠り談?) by nomico||August 13, 2010|
|In an abandoned lake, the duo find the next sword roaming around as a robot. Togame gathers information and attempts to capture the robot by setting traps for it, all of which fail. Shichika eventually fights the robot but it blocks and dodges all his attacks and surprises him with unusual attack patterns. Finally, the robot jumps into the air just as it runs out of energy, and Shichika swoops in to catch it, later sending the doll off to Princess Hitei.|
|9||"Saw, the Imperator"
"Ōtō Nokogiri" (王刀・鋸)
|"Akashi" (証?) by Annabel||September 10, 2010|
|Togame and Shichika now meet Kiguchi Zanki, owner of a dojo and the ninth sword (Ōtō Nokogiri). She and Shichika duel for Nokogiri but Shichika loses and Zanki decides to teach him the art of kendo. He proves to be very unskilled since his family's inheritance simply prevents him from wielding swords at all. This causes him to be clumsy and cause many accidents during their training to land them in positions that could be perceived as sexual without context to which Togame is victim to, making her immensely jealous. Meanwhile, Princess Hitei’s servant Sōda Emonzaemon is commanded to assassinate the Maniwa Ninja Corps, killing off one of their remaining members, Maniwa Umigame. Finally, Shichika and Zanki duel again even though Shichika is still horrible with a sword. Togame’s newest scheme wins them the battle by distracting Zanki with shogi moves during the match, helping Shichika to win them the match.|
|10||"Scales, the Sincere"
|"Ina, to Hime wa Subete o Katarazu" (否、と姫は全てを語らず?) by Haruka Tomatsu||October 15, 2010|
|Arriving in Togame’s deserted homeland of Oushuu, the saint Higaki Rinne appears in front of Shichika in the form of a young girl whereas Togame sees him as her father who was murdered in front of her as a child. Rinne tells Togame that she can find the next sword (Seitō Hakari) 30 meters under the ground she was standing on and she starts to dig furiously for it. She passes out and Shichika questions her motives but she doesn’t give him an answer, going back to work at finding the sword while Shichika is brought into Rinne’s illusion world. Both Shichika and Togame are then forced to face the memories they didn’t want to face. The two remaining Maniwa Ninja, Houou and Pengin head for Oushuu was well, anticipating that Emonzaemon would come after them. Emonzaemon is meanwhile receiving orders from Princess Hitei to find out who Togame really is. While Shichika and Rinne begin fighting, Rinne continuously guards, posing questions that make Shichika question himself and his motives. Frustrated, Shichika realised that fighting was pointless and runs back to Togame, remembering that his real reason for fighting was Togame all along. Woken from a tired slumber by Shichika, Togame realises Rinne’s intentions and is rewarded with the memory of her father’s dying words. Later, the duo learn about Shikizaki Kiki from Rinne and find out that the Kyotoryu technique was actually Shikizaki Kiki’s complete and final technique. Leaving with Hakari, they head for Owari but are stopped when they find Maniwa Pengin in critical condition, asking them to save Houou.|
|11||"Gilt, the Venomous"
"Dokutō Mekki" (毒刀・鍍)
|"Bōrei-tachi yo Yabō no Hate ni Nemure" (亡霊達よ野望の果てに眠れ?) by Faylan||November 12, 2010|
|In a flashback, it is shown how Shikizaki Kiki met Yasuri Kazune back in the Sengoku period. In the present, Togame and Shichika discuss their journey ahead as Princess Hitei finds Togame’s true identity, giving her an even better reason for getting rid of Togame. In the past, Houou and Pengin encounter Emonzaemon and a fight breaks out. While Houou fights Emonzaemon, Pengin watches from a distance, holding the eleventh sword (Dokutō Mekki). Frightened Houou might lose, Pengin makes the mistake of throwing Houou the sword, giving Houou not only the power to hurt Emonzaemon but the insanity that comes with the sword as seen when Houou hurt Pengin after taking down Emonzaemon. Bleeding in the middle of a road, he is found my Togame and Shichika who take him to an inn to heal him. They deduce that he had been cut by Dokutō Mekki and decide to go after Houou in search of the sword. In the present, Pengin wakes up from a nightmare and is about to leave the inn when Emonzaemon appears with the last sword (Entō Jū) to take Pengin down. With Entō Jū being a pair of guns though, the bullets are countered by Pengin’s special abilities which Emonzaemon is able to later counter to fatally shoot Pengin and violently finishing him off. In an abandoned village, Shichika, Togame and the possessed Houou meet and they find that Houou had been taken over by the worst side of Shikizaki’s spirit. After a long talk, the fight begins and ends quickly with Shichika the winner. As they continue on their way to Owari, they talk about what’s going to happen to the Maniwa and how Pengin will now be in charge, unknowing of Pengin’s death. Finally making it to Owari, they stand in front of the setting sun, hand in hand, when Emonzaemon appears and reveals that he knows Togame’s true identity. Shocked, both Togame and Shichika freeze as Emonzaemon pulls out Entō Jū and shoots Togame.|
|12||"Gun, the Firearm"
"Entō Jū" (炎刀・銃)
|"Toki Sude ni Hajimari o Kizamu" (時すでに始まりを刻む?) by Minami Kuribayashi||December 10, 2010|
|As Togame bleeds to death, Shichika runs to her and holds her in her final moments as Emonzaemon walks away. She tells Shichika that she had the most fun with him and that she was glad to be dying in the middle of road since it meant she didn’t have to kill him as that had been her intention at the start; the burden she had to carry. In her last words, she orders him to forget about her, the things that happened to her and to stop falling for her. Shichika pleads for her to stay but she asks with her last words if it was okay if she fell for him too. Shichika is left holding her dead body. Night falls and Princess Hitei is revealed to be Shikizaki Kiki’s descendant as she meets with the Shogun to tell him that the country would fall in a thousand years during which an intruder enters the castle. Shichika enters the main gate, quickly killing the first set of guards before doing the same for the next set. Fearing the worst, the Shogun send out his best men and Emonzaemon, armed with Shikizaki Kiki’s swords, to deal with the problem. Shichika goes face to face with the first swordsman and in mere seconds kills him and breaks Shikizaki’s sword before moving up to the next floor. This goes on for each floor he set up and every time he breaks each and every sword, leaving no survivors including Emonzaemon. When he gets to the final room, where the Shogun and Princess Hitei are waiting, he asks Hitei if she liked Togame. Hitei says that she didn’t dislike Togame and Shichika spares her in lieu of killing the man who sent Togame out on the suicidal mission of collecting the swords in the first place, killing the Shogun with Togame’s favorite line ‘cheerio’. After the ending sequence, Shichika sits at a tea shop by the ocean with Hitei sometime after the Shogun’s death as he is on a journey to map the entirety of Japan.|
- "NIS America Adds Katanangatari, Arakawa Under The Bridge". Anime News Network. 2011-04-15.
- "NIS America Announces Katanagatari Volume 2 for DVD/Blu-Ray". Inside AX- Anime Expo. 2011-08-18.
- "Katanagatari to Rerun in Noitamina Block in April". Anime News Network. 2012-11-21.
- "Katanagatari: Kanna, the Cutting Sword". TV.com. Retrieved 2015-11-16.