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Katanagatari

Synopsis: The legendary swordsmith Shikizaki Kiki made 1000 swords in his career. The more swords a state had, the greater success they had in the wars. When the Shogun emerged victorious, he collected 988 of the swords…but those were just practice. The final twelve swords were the pinnacle of his career. Each of them has powers so extraordinary, one man could defeat small armies. Shogunate strategist Togame has been ordered to recover them. She first hired a ninja…but the worth of the swords is so great the entire ninja clan defected the moment they recovered one. Then she hired a swordsman…but he kept the sword for himself. Her last hope is Shichika, the seventh and last practitioner of the Kyotoryuu — No Sword School. He and his sister live on an island cut off from civilization, they have no need for money. His sword school does not use swords — he would not want the swords for himself.

So why should he help her?
“Because you will fall in love with me.”

I should start off by stating that Katanagatari is not an action series. Even if the main focus is on finding all the Katanas and involves swordsmen/women, the main focus is of an dramatic tale with action elements and not an action tale with moments of drama. If you found this anime and was hoping for non-stop scenes with loads of sword-play and battle scenes you will be very much disappointed.

When you first start watching this series it seems like it is going to be a boring concept to have based the series around a quest to gather all the special swords in every episode, but despite that it had enough charms to make you go on. The story start out with Shichika Yasuri who is the series hero. he is the son of Mutsue Yasuri who was once banished to a tiny island in the middle of nowhere after when he made use of hes fighting technique called No-Sword fighting style wich he used to crush a rebellion against the Shogunate. Until a girl named Togame sets foot on the island no one has been there for two decades, Togame is the strategist for the Shogunates army and when she meets Shichika she will come to understand that Mutsue Yasuri is long dead and only his son and daughter remain.

The prime thing any series needs to have is memorable characters, this show succeeds is just that, let me explain. Shichika started out as an emotionless weapon that blindly follows Togame’s orders, like a sword. By facing the variety of opponents in their journey and influence of Togame herself, Shichika gradually grow up as a human being, learning ways of the society and new emotions with each encounter. Character development was excellent. By the end of the show, Shichika was no longer a brutal killing machine; he had his own opinions and purpose to fight. Character design was fantastic in this series. Everyone was easily distinguishable. Even those who died quickly had very distinct personalities and features that left lasting impressions.

The animation is quite good and seems to be the strongest point in this series because of it’s unique art style. White Fox did a great job. I love all the vivid colors and the odd attire and how simple the people look. it would look very strange if it Was not drawn with the original artwork in mind.

As for the music the backround music makes a really strong case for a new benchmark. During every episode there is at least one new piece of backround music being played except the final episode, but all pieces flows so well that it doesn’t sound like deliberate theme music for each antagonist. Most pieces are fully orchestrated in Western or Japanese traditional instruments, charged with the grandeur of the adventure. Others are jovial Japanese rap that serves its purpose by being so bad that it’s funny. However, it is not the quality of individual numbers that makes the background music of ‘Katanagatari’ remarkable, it’s the application. Every number is used in exactly the right places.

I believe this show, like the deviant swords, chooses its own audience: Being so dialogue-heavy despite its picture book and forces the audience to accept so many quirks. It was one hell of an adventure around Japan for me though. Katanagatari is a series that I enjoyed tremendously, and remember for a long time.

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