Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Jan 26, 2010 to Dec 11, 2010
Duration: 50 min. per episode
Rating: R - 17+ (violence & profanity)L represents licensing company
Score: 8.491 (scored by 34120 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
2 based on the top anime page.
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Jan 4, 2011
Which is where Katanagatari comes in to the picture.
Written by Nisio Isin (although he usually writes it as NisiOisiN since his name is a palindrome), the twelve volumes of the original light novel series were published as part of the Kodansha Box line. Strangely, all of the books were released at a rate of one per month from January to December 2007, with a spin off novel published in February 2008. Now while this is clearly a phenomenal feat, one does have to wonder if a few corners were cut for the sake of expediency and to meet deadlines, and also if the adaptation can stand up to scrutiny.
Katanagatari is basically what the title suggests - a story about swords. It begins with fire and death as a rebellion against the Owari shogunate meets a bloody end. Twenty years later, a small boat makes its way across the sea to a deserted island where the passenger, Togame, hopes to enlist the aid of Yasuri Mutsue, the 6th generation head of the Kyoutouryuu sword style and the hero of the rebellion.
Instead she finds Yasuri Shichika, who is more bumpkin than the term allows for, and is also as hard as nails.
One of the things that really stands out about the series (aside from the visuals, but we'll get to that in a bit), is the dialogue. The show is very well scripted with some very good conversations and witty repartee, and the explanations are usually clear and concise enough for the viewer to follow. There are also numerous verbal nods in the direction of modern popular culture, which makes a nice change of pace as one might normally expect lots of serious conversations about honour, loyalty, duty, revenge, or other concepts that are usually found in these types of story.
The problem though, is that the dialogue can also be off putting for viewers who want a little less conversation, a little more action (sing along if you know the words), especially as the fights are over in a very short space of time. In addition to this the story can sometimes err on the side of predictable, especially with the number of plot coupons that drive the whole show (in this case the "cursed" swords), and the series can sometimes become nothing more than a repetition of talk, talk, talk, fight, talk, end. The biggest criticism about Katanagatari though, is that it's nothing more than a very nice looking "fetch quest", and while the dialogue really does pull the whole show together, the storyline can sometimes feel derived or contrived.
What really makes the series stand out are the rather stylized visuals. The design principle attempts to merge several themes ranging from traditional Japanese art to modern fighting games, and while there are some flaws here and there, the overall effect is ... something else. The scenery is surprising to say the least, and almost every frame is literally filled with little details that will often go unnoticed by the viewer, from the grain and different tones found in wood, to the multiple hues and fractures of stone.
In contrast to this the characters are simplistic yet colourfully flamboyant. The costumes vary from the utilitarian to the nonsensical (especially those of the Maniwa ninja corps), while the characters themselves have exaggeratedly simple, almost cartoon-like, facial features. Oddly enough, whilst one might expect this sort of design to lack in terms of expression, the opposite is true for Katanagatari.
White Fox, who produced Tears to Tiara and are currently working on Stein's Gate, have done a tremendous job with the design and animation of this series. The characters have a certain grace about their movements that belies their simplistic appearance and sometimes clunky costumes, while actual combat scenes are extremely well choreographed and animated, so much so that the individual moves of Shichika Hachiretsu (Seven hits, Eight Pieces), are clearly defined.
That said, the art style may not be everybody's cup of tea, but if you can handle it then there's a pretty good story here.
One of the defining aspects of a good narrative is the strength of the scriptwriting, and because of the extremely strong dialogue in this anime, it's often easy to overlook how good the actors actually are. Hosoya Yoshimasa's role as the über country bumpkin Yasuri Shichika may have caused him some consternation as the character is effectively emotionless for a good portion of the series. That said, his deadpan delivery works very well, and can often make the viewer stop and try to work out if what he says is meant to be a joke. On the other hand, Tamura Yukari's not-quite-tsundere Togame is sometimes a joy to watch, with the character's many mood swings and emotional changes handled with aplomb. But then again, what else would one expect from an actress who's also played Takamichi Nanoha, Kawasumi Mai (Kanon), Furude Rika (Higurashi), and a horde of other lead and supporting roles.
To be honest, given that Hosoya only has a handful of shows under his belt it's amazing he managed to keep his head working alongside such an experienced seiyuu.
Katanagatari features quite a lot of music in the form of two opening themes, twelve ending themes, and a plethora of background tracks. The OPs and EDs are handled well, but given the number of songs on offer, deciding what works and what doesn't is very much a matter of personal taste. The incidental music is another matter, as while there are scenes where the music dominates proceedings, the majority of the series features either very subtle tunes that are almost unnoticeable, or no music whatsoever.
The nice thing about this approach is that the dialogue doesn't have to fight to lead a particular scene, and while the more subtle background music is pleasant enough, this is ultimately a "wordy" anime.
The biggest weakness of shows like Katanagatari is that they have too many characters for their own good. While Shichika and Togame are played confidently, have some well though out dialogue, and generally bounce off each other like peas on a drum, the same cannot be said of the supporting characters, in particular the Maniwa Corps who seem to be nothing more than a collective of whipping boys whose only role in life is to prove just how strong Shichika and his sister are.
That doesn't mean the characters are bad though. Both Shichika and Togame's emotional development is handled in a very competent manner, and as their relationship slowly becomes more defined, so too do their actions change towards each other and the world around them. Unfortunately, while a lot of attention is lavished on the two leads, there is very little left over for the supporting cast, which is a shame as there are some great performances in this anime.
Now while the series has a lot to recommend it there are some valid criticisms that can be levelled at it, the main one being that Katanagatari is far too "wordy". See, the problem is that since the dialogue is very good, someone has decided that the series should have more of it than it actually needs, and the upshot of this is that there are occasions when the characters just go on and on. Now it should be pointed out that a part of this is because the series parodies certain stereotypical behaviours found in shounen anime and manga (and James Bond stories I might add), which is nice, but ultimately unnecessary.
Katanagatari is a strange anime that's part "fetch quest", part wuxia tale, and strangely enough, part Seinfeld (i.e lots of people being dryly humourous, deadpan or witty), which isn't a normal combination by any measure. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed this anime for its originality and innovation, as it would have been all too easy for White Fox to follow the tried and tested route for samurai anime, so the fact that they decided to stick with Isin's concept of how the characters should look is laudable.
Now if only the other studios would start broadening their horizons ... read more
May 10, 2013
Now, Katanagatari is great, it's absolutely wonderful, but depending on your ability to immerse yourself in a story so much that you forget time this may or may not be for you. If you are like me with the attention span of a goldfish, initially the 50-minute long episodes might scare you off. If you are able to put up with it, however, you are in for a treat.
I will not summarise the series because frankly you can look at the anime description for that, that and I doubt I will make it that much more interesting. I will just go through why I like it.
First of all there are the characters, which I think are the main driving force behind this anime. They bounce off each other really well, providing good (but not ROFLOL hilarious) comedy and creating an overall likable character dynamic. The side characters are also fairly good, they do their thing, but for the most part you will not see them for more than one episode, so they do not matter too much. I will also give points to the incredibly forced romance. I like that Katanagatari doesn't even try to build it up naturally but instead approaches it like "Yeah, we're in love even though we've shared a whole of five miniutes of screen time. Deal with it."
The action scenes are short but very energetic and well directed. While they are very good, be warned if you are going into Katana thinking it wll be 90% action; it will not. In fact, much of the anime is spent on dialogue. Think Bakemonogatari, just not quite the same bullet pace.
The sound track is excellent, and while I do not think it stands out per se the music tracks are used very efficiently, creating just the right mood every single time.
The art can be descriped as fairly minimalistic - it certainly does not stand out in terms of production values - but it gets its job done and does it well.
Overall, Katanagatari is gud, you should definitely check it out if you like dialogue and good action scenes, but due to the length of the episodes you may or may not be able to marathon through it. Also: dat last episode. read more
May 3, 2013
A mysterious woman called Togame headed for a lonely island to recruit the martial artist Shichika. She needs his help to gather twelve swords from twelve infinitely powerful warriors, Shichika will help Togame but he won’t use any weapons. Almost every episode our two protagonists face powerful warriors, but before that battle, Shichika and Togame have a lovely conversation. (If you have already watched Bakemonogatari don’t worry about that, you’re prepared).
Not that Katanagatari is incapable of stunning action sequences. The unusual format of twelve one-hour series ensures that, after substantial character development, there’s still plenty of room to stage a spectacular battle. Stylized and inventive, but also brief, the duels cap the hefty narrative like jewels on a crown.
Katanagatari final episode will make you amazed. I was stunned for nearly a minute. Guarantee your pulsation will stop.
It is beautiful and exciting. I have never seen animation like this. Character design, nature, weapons, costumes everything is just perfect. The only thing, however, is Maniwa ninjas’. Our main antiheroes. What’s up with their design?! That’s just horrible.
If you can’t say anything good, say nothing. Alas this is that case.
Togame represents the brains of Katanagatari, “packing” with amazing Shichika’s strengths to defeat their enemies. She combines her formidable intellect with a temperamental personality, which helps her to stay and win the battles. She is very interesting character. Genius woman, annoying like brat, fragile beauty, yet capable of great endurance.
And Shichika, having set off from his island a ‘blank slate’ simpleton, clearly needs her direction. A somewhat blunt instrument, he is seemingly fit between duels only for carrying her luggage, holding her long hair while she dresses, or standing against the sun to provide shade while she writes. Apart from that, something appears essentially wrong about him. I think he has lack of will, but from other side he always say I am a weapon, weapon don’t have will, from that point I may be alright.
Togame and Shichika reminds me Spice and Wolf both don’t have many action scenes,yet both anime for real connoisseurs. Their development as partners involves a lot of playful antagonism as she insults his lack of flair or poor dress sense while he absorbs her teasing with a combination of steadfast pragmatism and simple formlessness. But both help each other to grow mentally.
Katanagatari is very special. It takes us on a long journey that miraculously feels over all too soon, and when the characters walk onto the screen, we cannot wait to hear what they say. This anime is for real connoisseur. If you enjoyed watching Spice and Wolf,Bakemonogatari, Ninja Scroll, Rurouni Kenshin, Samurai Champloo, you will like Katanagatari.
I wish you to find out what the words cheerio and gyafun mean.
1132013 read more
Dec 10, 2010
Original work written by the same author as 'Bakemonogatari', this is a dialogue-based series that I cannot recommend to Shounen and other viewers who seek mindless battle scenes, you can ignore my warnings... "but by that time, you'd be slashed into pieces."
The story of 'Katanagatari' is driven by the characters who stand in the way of the sword gathering. New characters and weapon of the month are introduced in every episode. Through negotiation and battles with Togame and Shichika, we learn about their opponents' backgrounds and purpose to fight. It can be said that the story progresses by disposing expendable side characters. The story may be about the main couple gathering the 12 swords, but the show is really all about why people fight.
The humor in this series heavily relies on 「すべり芸」, the comedy through deliberately failed attempts to be funny, which in turn creates a humorous atmosphere for its sheer lameness. The frantic pace of conversation was the key to making this comedy style work, as well as the persistence (such as catchphrases, Togame missing the battle, sexual implication etc) in every episode.
The episodic nature of the series makes character development difficult, but it was made possible by dedicating each episode to a theme or lesson for Shichika, and sometimes Togame.
2: What to protect
8: Human Will
Shichika started out as an emotionless weapon that blindly follows Togame's orders, acting as her 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 end of the show, Shichika was no longer a brutal killing machine; he had his own purposes and opinions. 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.
Character naming was pretty interesting in kanji, such as Shichika --> "Seven Flowers", Togame --> wordplay of 「十が目」(Eye is a Cross) and "Blame", Hitei-hime --> "Princess Denial". Every name basically describes the person.
My only complaint with the characters is that every adversary in this show had a sympathetic or honorable reason to fight. They were too lovable. I believe there should be at least one character for everyone to hate in this type of action/adventure series. There should've been an enemy who was simply a serial killer who loved taking life, or a corrupt leader oppressing the innocent civilians. I also felt sorry for Maniwani, for being defeated (often easily) in every single battle against Shichika or Sword-holders.
The final episode summarizes and concludes the series well, lots of cool action, and the funniest scene occurred in stage 10 of dojo-yaburi, with Hakari the Scale. I also liked how in the end, it showed that possession of powerful weapon is pointless unless the wielder has the skill and knowledge to make full use of it.
I still consider 'Bakemonogatari' voice acting to be the best ever, but 'Katanagatari' is a close second. Togame (Tamura Yukari)'s voice takes a while to get used to, but it grew on me in time. Shichika (Hosoya Yoshimasa)'s voice sounds like reading the script at first, but not really; quite humorous and emotional when needed to be. Other than that, everyone else's voice was an instant hit (this is important because some of the characters were dead within minutes of appearance), which is quite a feat because there are over 30 major characters in this series. This is another series that made me think "Seiyuu sure are amazing".
BGM, on the other hand, makes a strong case for a new benchmark. It should be noted that at least one new piece of BGM is played in every episode, but all pieces flows so well that it doesn't sound like deliberate theme music for each villain. 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's not the quality of individual number that makes the background music of 'Katanagatari' remarkable, rather its application. Every number is used in exactly the right places. The most distinguishable characteristic of the implementation is that the music start well before each significant scene to build up the tension, harmonizing with the story to enhance the drama as they climax with absolute precision.
OP1 was very catchy with good balance of anime beats and traditional Japanese atmosphere, but OP2 was average. EDs are different for every episode. Ep4, 8, 12 were particularly strong songs, but all were shared by outstanding vocals.
Character in this series had extremely crude designs, with background detail of varying degree. However, the artwork has a very unique style that creates a Japanese fairytale, picturebook-like atmosphere that suits this series well. One can tell the animation director and staff went lengths to visually compliment the story with wonderful "camera work", composition, and fabulous fight scenes.
I want to believe that the character designs are simplified so that they (especially the protagonist) begin as blank canvases, and their impressions and details painted in viewer's minds as the show progress through words.
The art quality in this series is technically inferior compared to most shows airing this year, but in my opinion had one of the best presentation and style. Probably hit or miss depending on tastes.
Although there are limits to episodic storytelling, the show had great character development and interesting story. The story was full of surprises and unpredictable turn of events despite it being a simple tale of sword gathering. Quite innovative and bold in style with both artwork and plot development. There were many great episodes in this series, I hereby declare episode 2, 4, 10, 12 「神回」 (godly epic episodes). Episode 7 was one too, though it probably had been possessed by a demon than god in many ways.
Perhaps it's a result of loose deadline due to monthly episode, but you can tell the staff paid close attention to perfect everything, from animation to sound to story structure.
It was one hell of an adventure around Japan. In spite of all the flaws mentioned above, 'Katanagatari' is a series that I enjoyed tremendously. This series was filled with so many interesting quirks, and I will definitely remember it for a long time.
Cheerio! Let's all hype up this word with the wrong meaning. read more
Nov 4, 2013
The story has surprisingly little action especially considering the fundamental concept is action-related and could of potentially been made into an action anime. Instead it relies on the story telling, plot and dialogue to maintain and create its appeal to the audience. Because of this, the sheer amount of dialogue makes the physical action appear non-existant. This could be a 'turn-off' for some however the script is necessary for the story development. The simplistic plot and structure allows for flexibility and creates unexpected plot twists, and does so repeatedly.
They art style could initially be uninviting towards some viewers, but once you grown accustom to it you sink into a unique pictorial book. The animated picture book contains simplistic characters set against a characteristic background.The motionless background acts as the stage for the crisp and fluid animation. "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players".
Not much to mention about the sound/music, as it is pitch perfect. The instrumental melody harmoniously dissolves into the world of Katanagatari.
The focus is less on the idea of becoming 'stronger' and instead takes on the concept of 'growing and maturing'. With Shichika starting as a character oblivious of the outside world and its morals, changes with every sword he collects. Togame herself goes through characterization from her egocentric personality to an extent. But of course to achieve the final goal, becoming stronger is a prerequisite but is almost second nature to Shichika due to his natural talent. Togame and Shichika integrate with one well another forming a pleasant and entertaining relationship which blooms throughout the series.
The long dialogue which shadows the action could be off-putting for some, but those who manage to stay with it are rewarded. The art and sound are the highlights of the anime, but the art may take some time to get use to. The characters themselves are unique and complement one another well. The basic plot itself isn't the most interesting but it is transformed into something bigger and deeper.
"life is a journey, not a destination" read more
Jul 1, 2013
The story which I have already discussed is extraordinary. But like many great stories it is something that needs to be experienced first hand, and no summary can give you the same feeling as watching it unfold in front of you. That being said the plot and all it's twist and turns will keep you at the edge of your seat, and the 50 minutes per episode will just fly by.
This is a hit or miss. You either fall in love with it or you hate it. The artwork is simple, yet to me its beautiful. The characters have such detail given to them, (especially in the fight scenes) that its hard to believe that its the same anime that you were watching before. The backgrounds, although looking plain are again simple. The aren't bad but they fit in perfectly with this type of anime.
The music and voice acting are great. The voices match the characters and their emotions quite well. Togame and Shichika can have almost their entire personality and development as characters be seen through the voice acting and tone. The playful and comedic parts, ranging to the intense fights is all very well done. The sound tracks, (the two openings and 12 endings) as well as the background music is all very nice. The only problem is that during the anime itself is that either the music is barely noticeable or its blaring ridiculously loudly.
I fell for the characters. I fell for Togame. I fell for Shichika. These two main characters were done extremely well. Their development, their personalities, their cons and their pros. All of it was done incredibly. Some of the other characters (especially the Maniwani) did have their problems. The majority of the supporting cast did not have their full characters developed. Normally this would warrant a lower score but the incredible detail that went into making the two main characters cancels out an faults that were left by any supporting cast.
As i have said before this has become my favorite anime of all time. The story, the art, the sound, the characters all led me to love this anime. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it, from the beginning to the very end. read more
Apr 13, 2013
The soundtrack, composed by Iwasaki Taku (Soul Eater, Gurren Lagann) is matched to the actions in wonderful form, and his work is as excellent as ever. The pacing is fun, with a good balance of humor, drama, and tragedy. From beginning to end, the journey featuring the two main characters is something enjoyable. The art may be a hurdle, to begin with, but the show is definitely worth your while! Let's also not forget that this is brought to you by Nisio Isin, author of Bakemonogatari and Medaka Box, and while this piece certainly isn't as ridiculous as either of those, it's a brilliant display of his work in animated form. read more
Apr 6, 2013
The animation of the series were unique. Smooth during combat, The OP and ED were not that good in my view, but it certainly synced in with the feeling that the story gives. The environment music really matched the setting, making it sometimes unnoticed, which is good.
The Ups and Downs of this anime depends on the viewer. As mentioned by a lot of other reviewers, the anime is too wordy. Wordy in the sense that dialogues are long, but substantial, witty, and carefully planned. Usually a battle here wouldn't show the action because of the fast speed of swordslashes, Leaving the viewers to see only conversations in a lot of times. As per usual martial arts genre, a lot of unusual tactics, wits, and schemes are shown. Pointing out the weakness of one another, and yes, that adds up in the conversation.
The factor that i really liked about this anime is its uniqueness. The 12 perfected deviant swords were unique, the 12 Maniwa Head Corps were unique. Ichika's Sword style was unique, every perfected deviant sword owner was unique. Every Character backgrounds were unique in their own ways. Even the romance between Ichika and Togame was unique. I have to say, never seen anything quite like this.
Overall, Katanagatari reminds me of Inuyasha, collecting pieces of the shattered jewels. Instead of shattered jewel pieces, they are trying to collect the 12 perfected deviant swords of Shikizaki kiki. Of course, other factions are also searching for the 12 swords, one of those factions were the maniwani, and as the story passes, more factions will rise in collecting the swords.
The story and plot twists were awesome, which i find very outstanding. May i also say that on the some revelations of things made me cry. One advantage of this anime of being wordy is that it left no question unanswered. After finishing the 1 hour~ per episode of the series, it left me satisfied and happy that i watched katanagatari. Am actually considering to watch this again. Highly recommended for anyone. read more
Aug 22, 2013
White Fox adapted this from the light novel Katanagatari, and although they have the same author and a similar name, it has no connection to the Monogatari series in style, substance or story. The two main characters romp through a mythologized version of feudal Japan, neatly divided into formulaic episodes, collecting swords and killing fucking everyone they see.
Katanagatari is by no means a terrible anime, but if you look at the way it is treated, you might think it’s an absolute masterpiece, or panders to the shounen crowd excessively. Neither is true. The world and action are so ridiculous and clichéd that you might be forgiven for thinking it is simply a parody. If Katanagatari deserves any praise (which indeed it does), it is for managing a certain level of uniqueness. However, uniqueness alone is not enough to carry a series.
This is a twelve episode anime about collecting twelve swords. As such, you may begin to notice a pattern that the anime follows. In case you can’t I can spell it out for you: find the sword, find the wielder of the sword, get ready to kill sword wielder, fight scene, kill sword wielder, take sword. Fortunately, Katanagatari is not so obtuse as to staunchly follow this formula for every episode, but it can get pretty tedious at times; sometimes the biggest surprise an episode will shock you with is how few people die.
That’s right, none of the characters have any qualms about killing even friendly characters, resulting in one of the highest body counts per episode I’ve seen in anime. Not that it is necessarily a bad thing, but Katanagatari just makes it annoying; out of a cast of dozens of characters, you can count on one hand those alive at the end. There is even a set of twelve characters who exist for no purpose other than dying violent deaths as soon as they’ve received their quota of characterization.
This “quota of characterization” brings me to another annoying habit of this show: a naruto-esqe need to explain every technique and move of every character. Announcing attacks beforehand already makes the action scenes a little silly, and very few characters indeed do not at least once give a lecture on their fighting style, magical moves or weapons, usually in the middle of a fight. This highlights the more prevalent flaw of excessive dialogue. For an “action” show there is not nearly enough action. A lot of this does contribute to the story and characters, but some of it makes me wonder if it wasn’t just to fill up their 50 minute time slot.
I feel that the ending deserves special attention. Jarring would be an understatement, a better description would be “feels like it’s from a different show.” All of the characters in the final episode have their personalities nearly reversed, and events transpire that makes the rest of the series relatively meaningless. It feels terribly contrived and without spoiling too much, it is a massive disappointment.
The art in this show is unique. Opinions on the character designs will be very subjective; they are certainly atypical of anime. Over the course of the series they will likely grow on the viewers. Backgrounds are colorful and charming. The art really does not fit the story and setting but some will love it.
The real weakness of this show’s art is the animation. It starts out passable, but as it goes on you can almost see a counter on the screen as White Fox’s budget for this show drops. Fight scenes are the only part that gets any special attention as the show goes on, and even their quality drops over time. It starts out fairly pretty but increases in still frames, simple designs and reused animation become more obvious. If I did not know they spent a month on each episode I would say it looks rushed. Overall this extreme inconsistency leads to some parts looking quite attractive and others looking really awful.
The music in Katanagatari is pretty lackluster, but often fits very well with the show. The music definitely contributes to the mood of scenes. The voice actors complement the show far worse. Tamura Yukari does a brilliant job as Togame. Unfortunately other characters generally deliver their lines with all the emotion of reading a string of numbers with a director over their shoulder shouting “sound angry for this scene!” The sound effects really shine.
The characters are the point of Katanagatari. Whether you like the show are not, everyone will agree that the action, story and everything else are secondary to the character development. Unfortunately, this means the show puts incredible effort into one area that ultimately falls flat on its face. The only good thing I can say about the characters is they are not stereotypes.
The side characters are particularly unimpressive. They are incredibly shallow and most are killed off as soon as they receive just enough development to elicit an emotional reaction from the lowest common denominator. I also can't count the number of "Japan's strongest" that come out of the woodwork.
Togame, Shichika and their relationship are the real focus of the show. Throughout the show they slowly develop from a largely superficial relationship into one of real trust between partners. Finally, at nobody’s surprise, romantic love blossoms between the two. Unfortunately, the circumstances surrounding this make it unsatisfactory. And it happens during the final episode, which I have mentioned involves everyone acting tremendously out of character.
Although their interactions are very strong, Togame and Shichika themselves are rather weak characters. Shichika especially is quite the Gary Stu, with a lot of forced development. “Why does he fall for Togame in minutes?” Because he does. “Why does he suddenly get way stronger?” Because he does. “Why is he unable to use a sword?” Because it makes a convenient plot device. This sort of thing is constant.
One last problem that bugs me particularly is that Katanagatari succumbs to temptation and commits one of the cardinal sins of anime character development: “cHAIRacter development.” This is changing hair style, especially cutting a female’s hair short, to demonstrate character development. It is usually done when the character is so weak that a superficial change is required to show growth. It was completely unnecessary and just annoying.
It isn’t hard to get caught up in Katanagatari. If you can overlook some flaws then there isn’t any reason you can’t enjoy watching it. The ending is lousy, but the ride to get there can be pretty fun at times.
The art and focus on characters make this show unique, but uneven animation, disappointing characters and the ending cause this show to fail at being what it wanted so desperately to be: special. read more
Mar 10, 2012
Katanagatari has a simple structure. Each episode we are invited to watch our lovely couple trod to the next blade wielder, devise a strategy, and invariably defeat them before they grab the goods. If this encompassed all there was to the show though, it would be certainly not be worthy of the praise and admiration I am so aptly about to shower it with.
The simple minded Shichika begins the series as a… dull character. He replies blatantly to questions, and due to his ignorance of the world outside his island, these answers are often unexpectedly lacking in social understanding and convention. Ominously pointing towards a highly grating and redundant protagonist, these first impressions are dissipated rapidly as experience of the world refines Shichika’s internal ideology, without washing away his accustomed roots. His grasp of the world, while naïve, is nonetheless insightful and grounded in a sound logic that turns out quite wholesome and compassionate in its essence. A refreshing change from the often one-dimensional, “I’ll be the very best!” attitude the standard shonen lead possesses.
Without a doubt, the reason for Shichika’s remarkably enticing character stems directly from our oh so terribly clever female lead, Togame. Always prepared with meticulous counterarguments to all possible holes in her complex machinations, these become hilariously misplaced when used on our completely oblivious male lead; It’s a definite high point of the series. Togame’s labyrinthine thinking plays well off of Shichika’s simplistic personality, creating a combination far greater than the sum of its parts. As the unlikely duo encounter each blade wielder, it is consistently the coupling of Togame’s quick ingenuity with Shichika’s fighting prowess that makes the battles so enthralling. Neither alone has the capability to win each of the fights, quite a contrast to shows where one of the leads is delegated to the background, the mere caricature of an equal teammate. In Katanagatari, neither character jumps above the other, the radical equality a wholly satisfying change from the usual paradigm. As the show progresses, their chemistry shifts unnoticibly from a faint background atmosphere to a highly palpable ardor, each battle entangling them ever further into an altogether quite intensely gratifying relationship.
Using a simple animation style that mixes bold colors, bold calligraphic lines, and whimsical design, the animators created a one of a kind setting for the series, a creative blur between childish and mature, historic and fantastic. Add to that a grandmotherly narrator who introduces us into each week’s episode, her wise yet light hearted tone endearing us to watch the young couple more attentively, almost as if to say that we are becoming their hopelessly overbearing parents. Vibrant modern interpretations of Japanese folk music ties the whole package together, with a wide selection of tracks unobtrusively creating the well balanced ‘old meets new’, ‘simple meets complicated’ atmosphere of the series.
As a whole, Katanagatari comes together effortlessly. The viewer left feebly unable to explain its appeal precisely because it is so finely woven as to have its individual strengths rendered indiscernible. The backdrops of history, simplicity, and tradition interweave seamlessly with creative battles, intricate plots, well developed characters, and a myriad of fresh ideas. All this happening in progressively more and more captivating episodes, and then culminating in an exceptionally visceral, emotional ending that may leave you, as it did me, completely breathless. Highlights include scenes from the shocking and highly entertaining episode four, the tragic and tense episode seven, the mystically profound episode ten, and the entire final episode, which had me absolutely absorbed from the first scene to the wretchedly bittersweet finale. It is unlikely you’ll find a more unassumingly brilliant series than this one in any given year of watching anime, and I couldn’t recommend it more.
For such an inconspicuous series, it’s unlikely you could do much better. Katanagatari gets my highest recommendations due to its exceptional quality from start to end, perhaps even tantalizingly heightened with moments of true masterpiece. read more
Jun 19, 2013
Katanagatari is one of Nisio Isin's serial works and is, in all honesty, really interesting in it's transformation from a standard 'fetch the sword' quest, to it's ultimate conclusion of being that something more.
Story (8/10): Being a Nisio Isin story, it's not going to be simple. In fact there'll probably be parts where the story makes no sense (that part actually comes along in episode 11, but spoilers kiddies). But the fact that it transforms over the course of the 12 episodes makes the story pretty fascinating. Shichika and Togame's quest across Japan for the 12 swords is detailed, filled with action, and some throw-ins in the form of comedy/romance/etc.
Art (9/10): Katanagatari is brightly colored, all smooth lines, and filled with little details that make it a beautiful show. Thanks in part to the wonderful art by Take, this show had uniquely designed characters that just kinda lept off the screen with how vibrant and interesting they were. Plus the fight scenes are a real treat thanks to the great designs.
Sound (8/10): While the openings and endings were OK to me (the first is probably the better one, if I had to pick), the incidental music is what really sets the mood for the show. From very traditional Japanese music, to something that reminds me of rap, to slower jazz-ish sounding background music, these songs were what helped you really get into a scene.
Character (9/10): The main draw to the show is it's main characters. Shichika and Togame are the most interesting duo that you'll come across, which makes watching them develop so much fun. Shichika starts out as an out of touch, muscle headed idiot with virtually no emotions to a hero that we have really be entertained by. Togame is much the same, beginning as a the devoted strategist who will complete her mission, to a girl who comes around to being more interesting. Both characters transformations are evident by the last episode, so paying attention to them during their travels makes the entire show worth it.
As well, Nisio Isin adds in some interesting secondary characters that just add into the whole experience, with the mysterious Princess Hitei and her servant Emonzaemon, the Maniwa Ninja Corps, and the Deviant Blade wielders. They add into the character of the show and make the progress on the main duo's journey all the more interesting.
Enjoyment (9/10): This show really does almost have it all: adventure, action, comedy, romance, tragedy, philosophy, and political intrigue. Thanks to hitting so many little pieces like that makes this anime really interesting. I was never bored, I had fun with the characters and the fight scenes. Hell, I even wrote a philosophy paper on Shichika's starting characteristics in the first and second episodes for a class. Katanagatari is entertaining to the end and you won't be disappointed.
Overall, Katanagatari is another success for Nisio Isin, with it's interesting format, story, and characters. Even when the story was odd or the characters were rambling in that certain NI way, the payoff for this show was wonderful and I highly recommend that you check this show out.
"And so, we draw a close on Katanagatari this review." read more
Nov 24, 2012
Nisio Isin has become somewhat of a household name in the anime community for his signature writing style. Widely acclaimed for his work on both the Monogatari series and Medaka Box, Katanagatari is another example of Isin’s talents. Situated in a traditional period setting, Isin defines his story with contemporary allusions and innumerable jokes on the sub-culture particularities of modern day Japan. Along with an eccentric cast that remains engaging, Katanagatari becomes a journey unlike any other.
As the title suggests, Katanagatari is a story about swords, or more specifically a journey set in Japan’s Edo era revolving around the collection of twelve legendary swords sought out by the shogunate: the Deviant Blades. The plot kicks off following the shogunate’s self-appointed tactician, Togame, landing ashore a small island in the middle of nowhere. Here she meets Shichika Yasuri, the son of an exiled war hero and seventh head of the Kyoutouryuu school of martial arts. Through some rather unorthodox reasoning, Togame enlists Shichika’s aid. Much to her dismay however, she receives far less than what she bargained for as Shichika is a country bumpkin with some of the most deplorable social skills. And so begins a journey of friendship, adventure and tragedy as the two skewer Japan’s outer reaches for the twelve Deviant Blades.
Much like Shichika, Katanagatari is a story that hails from humble roots. Since the show’s premise does very little to distinguish itself from a bare bones fetch quest, audiences expecting a more innovative plot line may be discouraged at first glance. Coupled with a narrative composition similar to a JRPG, Katanagatari can give the initial impression that it’s nothing more than a string of random fights interspersed between lots of long-winded dialogue.
Fortunately, this is one story that proves it shouldn’t be judged solely by its cover.
Although the premise makes it clear that the original goal of the story was to retrieve each of the twelve Deviant Blades, the route that Katanagatari takes allows for a much grander experience. The episodes are usually structured in such a way where adequate time is given to allow the two characters to soak up the local culture extensively before confronting their foe. Each of the locations that the characters visit is rich with unique customs, practices and cuisine. Complementing the backdrops nicely is Isin’s vision for his story, which integrates endless puns, otaku-centric humour and modern day practices into the script.
Further immersing the viewer are the show’s artistic direction, animation quality and soundtrack. To complement the wide variety of locations that the characters visit, the animation quality remains high throughout the series with plenty of rustic detail being given to the interior locations and outside environments. However, to spice things up, the unusual character attire designed by illustrator Take along with the colour palettes chosen by White Fox juxtaposes the more traditional style of the time period. There’s also some other nifty elements of contemporary culture present such as Togame’s misuse of the British saying “cheerio” along with some of the designs of the later Deviant Blades. In a similar vein, the soundtrack is primarily composed of traditional Japanese music, which is occasionally mixed in with more modern day electronic tracks, further adding to Katanagatari’s uniqueness.
For an individual such as Shichika who has lived a secluded life with largely only the company of his sister, the journey unsurprisingly does wonders for him. As the series progresses, he becomes increasingly humanized, gaining a better grasp of the way of the world, its customs, and most importantly of all, how to hold a regular conversation. Now this may seem like a fairly straightforward progression in terms of character, but one area Katanagatari excels in is how naturally it handles Shichika’s development. While many series encounter the unfortunate pitfall of having characters restate the obvious via monologue, the show takes a subtler approach by conveying his improved conversation proficiency and wider variety of facial expressions. In his upbringing, Shichika was raised solely as a human weapon, an idea which finds itself challenged by Isin’s writing numerous times throughout the series. The dialogue central to Shichika is part of White Fox’s comprehensive process of humanizing him over the course of the twelve fifty minute episodes. The end result of this progression being that it directly reflects the encounters Shichika has across the different lands, making the journey a more believable account.
Of course, only half of the credit can really be given to Shichika himself as he’s just one side of the coin. His trusty travelling partner, Togame, complements the dynamic duo’s chemistry nicely by serving as a motivating love interest and compensating for his intellectual weaknesses. Togame is a bit of a tsundere character minus most of the unneeded servings of abuse and archetypical one-liners, sparking some engaging dynamics between her and the show’s resident brick wall. Her upbeat, quick-tempered attitude with the occasional blush thrown in really lightens up a lot of her conversations with Shichika considering their rather questionable methods for obtaining the swords. Especially during the early stages of their journey when Shichika’s social skills are lacking the most, Togame’s ability to make light of many situations keeps the dialogue from reaching an otherwise dead halt. Along with her cultural clumsiness, snarky remarks, and childish demeanour, she helps to maintain the energy of the journey amidst the most barren of locations. These conversations also highlight Shichika’s social ineptitude, keeping it in focus for the audience so that his progress throughout the series becomes evident.
Aside from the two peas in a pod and the contemporary allusions used to spice up this tale, it is Isin’s signature writing style that is the final ingredient of Katanagatari’s unique flavour. The most prominent instances of his style are his characteristic fourth wall breaks, word plays and genre parodies, which fit nicely into such a dialogue heavy show. Many of the pair’s conversations err on irrelevancies such as Togame’s misuse of common sayings or Shichika’s lack of knowledge about the world, whereas other topics deconstruct more common usages of words such as a weapon. That isn’t to say that these conversations serve no purpose in the grand scheme of things, as it is actually quite the opposite. Since much of the series revolves around Shicika's social development, even the most mundane of topics help with his progression and are thus important in the long run.
However, there are instances where Isin’s writing style is almost a double-edged sword. Though a great deal of the dialogue heavy scenes between Shichika and Togame are right on track, the same cannot be said for every application of his writing. Since Katanagatari does feature a number of fight scenes in almost every episode, there are instances where the long-winded dialogue does more harm than good. This is partly due to the show’s primary antagonists, a group of ninja also seeking out the Deviant Blades called the Maniwa Corps. Unlike Shichika and Togame, the Maniwa seem to just ramble on about unimportant details that can leave the audience in anticipation for far too long. And while some of the wit or self-parody can be amusing at first, the pre-battle dialogue does drag out to the point where some viewers may wonder why Shichika hasn’t already floored each overly flamboyant punching bag. Especially for audiences simply craving a good fight, this aspect of Katanagatari along with the large gap in strength between Shichika and his opponents can be rather off-putting.
To make matters worse, a lot of the genre parodies within the script can make it difficult to determine how this story of swords wants to view itself. While there are instances where it’s evident that the show is engaging in light hearted fun, some of the more serious moments aren’t made nearly as crystal clear. The merging of clichéd dialogue with highly emotional moments can frustrate some audiences, while leaving others bewildered. It also doesn’t help that the series lacks closure during parts of its finale, making it difficult to determine whether Isin’s writing is simply getting sloppy or he’s just pulling the audience’s leg once again.
With all said and done, Katanagatari is still a fresh take on a fairly traditional tale. The numerous contemporary allusions, colourful cast and setting along with the script possessing Isin’s signature flair truly makes this a journey unlike any other. The dialogue between Shichika and Togame is rich with puns and clever word plays, while ultimately reflecting their experiences during their journey. Although the story does have a few rough edges, it’s certainly something that can be overlooked in favour of the overall experience.
Even with the original purpose of the journey lost, meaning can still be found in the enriching experiences encountered along the way. While every person may have his or her own island, Katanagatari demonstrates that it is only if they travel into the wide seas that they will truly see the world for what it is. As they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained. read more
Nov 24, 2011
One-liner: If you want an anime with amazing art, great character development, good romance and an ending which you cannot predict from episode 1, Katanagatari is for you.
[ Introduction ]
Katanagatari, or Sword Story, is about the Strategian Togame and her "sword", Yasuri Shichika. The story is about their journey to collect 12 legendary deviant swords made by master swordsmith Shikizaki Kiki.
[ Story = 9 ]
When I see animes about a journey to collect swords, I generally think: "Sword fights to be expected. Blood and gore. Severed limbs. Magical sword. Ooooh... Duh!". Katanagatari is about swords, of course, but not your run-of-the-mill sword anime.
So what will you find: sword fights! Duh no. Not many sword fights! But... but! It's a sword anime! Yes, but not so many sword fights. Interesting huh? Romance. Was kind of expected. Lots of lovey-dovey kissing? Nope. It's more of a... weird kind of... love. Comedy. Yes, fair share of good laughs. Plot twist. On the menu too. Main character gets beaten, levels up, gets beaten, levels up. NO! NO! No level up! AT ALL! So awesome.
I found the pacing a bit slow sometimes, with a bit too much dialogue between the characters. A few particular scenes were stretched the limits of my patience. However, one can argue that the slow-ish pace is used to build character. One would be right. Still feels a tad slow at the start.
Otherwise, the story is unpredictable. There are no cliff hangers! No cliff hangers! In a modern anime, can you imagine? All episodes are basically stand-alone except the last two. I really liked the story. It's simple, really. But it's so well narrated that it doesn't feel simple at all.
The story is unpredictable, but each episode follows a certain pattern. Tip: There are 12 Deviant Blades. There are 12 episodes. See a pattern?
[ Art = 9 ]
9.5 really. The art is not your classic anime art. It's hard to describe... Don't expect big anime eyes. Don't expect anime expressions. Ok maybe a few. Don't expect anime faded colors.
What you should expect are vibrant colors that look like pastel, well-designed character models and excellent backgrounds. It's one of the animes you can watch just for the characters and art. Definitely worth checking out.
The animation is smooth, well detailed - even fight scenes. Costume design is especially great. I liked how Katanagatari shifted from "known and tried" art to something interesting and beautiful.
For some people, the art and animation can feel slow and simplistic. Almost un-moving. For me, that's what makes the beauty of Katanagatari. Remember, it's a sword anime. It's supposed to have fast animation! Explosions! Clash! Not a relaxed animation!
[ Sound = 9 ]
Uhh.. if you read my reviews, you'd know am not really good at rating sound. For Katanagatari, I'd say the music really fits the situation, and the episode intro music (very Samurai-ish) was really nice and mood-setting. Haha... Sorry. Not very satisfying huh?
The anime is a bit wordy. I didn't mind. The background music helped with that.
[ Character = 9 ]
Ahhh the major attraction in Katanagatari: characters. It's one of the animes I've watched where I truly liked the character development. It's slow, methodical and done in great timing. Nothing is revealed too early. Some things are not revealed at all. No plot holes, I think.
Katanagatari is only 12 episodes, but it has a ton of characters. Thankfully, the two main characters: Togame and Shichika are explored in depth, their relationship getting major screen-time. Their journey together and interaction gets much attention.
The side characters are all unique, and I can't say I've found their similars in other animes. Like, Katanagatari features ninjas. You'd think, yeah, black-outfitted ladies and dudes with masks. HAH! Think colorful animal-themed clothes instead! Also, they all have their own stories and it's not just insignificant stories; sometimes their stories do play a major role in the episodes. They're all likable, even the bad guys.
The most interesting part? There are no bad guys! None of the characters are portrayed as "bad" or evil. There is no arch-enemy. Even the character you think are bad guys are only trying to get their share of the action. They have their own reasons and their own troubles. As another reviewer mentions, you may even come to like the "bad" guys...
Sadly, there is not enough character development. Some of the characters' stories are not explained at great length. The episodes are 50 minutes each but you'd still feel like the side characters are not explored in enough depth. Example? The Maniwa Corps. The background story of their members are hardly explored. Same for Shichika's sister. Shichika's mother is not mentioned at all. Togame's background story is breezed on, and I still don't completely get it.
Overall, good main character development, interesting character relationships, good character background-stories, likable and memorable characters but unfortunately, not enough in-depth exploration of each character's story.
[ Enjoyment = 9.5 ]
I really liked Katanagatari. It even made it to my Favourite Animes! So what did I enjoy?
- The art. I really liked the pastel-like colors, the feeling like everything is drawn on paper. Really changes from the "normal" animes out there with big sparkly eyes etc.
- The story is not what I'd expected. There are a few plot twists and "wtf" moments which spice up the plot. Good pacing. It never feels too rushed. Except maybe last episode which I think should have been a bit longer, say 20-25 minutes more than the other episodes to completely wrap up the story.
- The characters: A very nice, likable set of characters. I also enjoyed how each had an elaborate background-story.
- The relationship between the main characters. Not what I'd expect in an anime like that. It's just fun! I.e. the non-fighting parts of the anime didn't bore me. Also, I did say there are not that many extended fight scenes overall.
What I DIDN'T enjoy:
- Not much I should say. Am quite satisfied.
- I wanted some characters to be developed in greater depth. E.g. Shichika's sister who is just... unimaginable!
- The anime is a bit wordy. LOTS of talking. I didn't mind that, but you may so am listing it here since people complain about it.
[ Overall = 9.5 ]
Good anime. Very, very easy to overlook. One hell of a lost opportunity if you do miss it. If you are on the lookout for an anime with distinctive art, good character development, an interesting story, a good bit of romance and an ending which, in my opinion, fits the anime, then check Katanagatari.
Oh and... CHEERIO! read more
Apr 10, 2011
The year is 1977 and the 15-year Mozambican War of Independence has been over for a few years. The setting of the show is a sort of alternate reality where Portugal had somehow won the war and retained Mozambique as a colony. We follow the brutish Rhamadhani Shichika and the mysterious, yet clumsy, Waseme on their journey to collect the 12 Deviant Automatic Rifles for various political and personal reasons. 12 episodes, 12 guns, you do the math.
No seriously, do the math because I can't.
So why is this show so successful (and by successful I mean this is like the Kill Bill of anime) despite its seemingly average plot-line and formulaic approach? The answer might surprise you.
Each episode is roughly 50 minutes in length, double in length of your standard serialized anime, and half the length of the time it takes for Papa Johns to deliver me a pizza. The show gives itself ample time to unfold, to extrapolate on the characters and the universe. The new characters introduced each month aren't just flavors-of-the-week; each one is a carefully crafted living thing with a tearjerker back-story and refreshingly unique identities and motivations. Even the Deviant Automatic Rifles themselves seem to have their own personalities, their own belief systems. Don't be surprised if you grow attached to these characters, both protagonists and villains, and their lovable quirks.
And this is exactly why the formulaic approach works. Katanagatari revels in the strength of its characters, its variations, its predictable unpredictability. Who is the next badass villain going to be? What awesome gimmick is the next automatic rifle going to represent? How are our protagonists going to grow? What is Natalie Portman going to wear to the Oscars this year? I found myself asking these questions constantly during the months in between airings, something that is truly rare in anime. Bleach at its best managed this before it turned to piss. Neon Genesis Evangelion had this in spades. Katanagatari realizes our expectations and plays with them every month, giving us what we want on top of what we didn't know we wanted (kind of like how I didn't know I wanted power folding seats, but the guy at Subaru convinced me to pay extra for them somehow).
As for the rest of the reasons why this show should be considered a classic, there are too many to count. Waseme (Togame in the Japanese version) captured my heart from the first episode. Her elegant, yet cute-like-a-brand-new-kitten, design is a visual beacon, even in this show of wonderfully colorful and unique character designs. Her personality is similarly attractive. It's built on some admittedly cliche foundations (see clumsy tsundere), but she's so much more than that. She's the kind of girl who graduated top of her class at Harvard, and the level of confidence she has in her genius is pretty awesome to watch (you get a hint of Death Note every now and then).
Shichika, as well, is an extraordinary character. This is a guy who honestly doesn't give a flying f*** about morals at the outset, and observing such an inhuman force in the context of humanity is interesting at the bare minimum. The story of his transformation is both poignant and action packed, like a distillation of everything we love about shounen anime protagonist development without any of the bad.
As for aesthetic value, the stunning art is what you as the viewer will be drawn to at first, and the impeccable production values do not disappoint. Everything else from the soundtrack to the voice acting to the font used for the ending credits all score perfect marks in my book. Even the Swahili dubbing was well acted, capturing the nuances of the Japanese language, something that English dubs rarely ever do. The only thing I could've done without were the opening tunes, but whatever; this is a problem I find with anime in general. Why do we need minute-long opening sequences? Why does ALI PROJECT continue to make music?
tl;dr - Black Swan should have won the Oscar for Best Picture. read more
Jul 2, 2010
The story is actually quite simple. Overly simple even. But that isn't a bad thing. Basically, the two main characters are out to collect 12 legendary swords. Conveniently enough, there are 12 episodes. So I'm sure you can put it together that it's about 1 sword an episode, and it's completely episodic. Normally I hate episodic things, but Katanagatari makes up for it in enjoyment. I've only seen half of it so far, so there is plenty of room for the story to blossom for sure. I'm certain it will, but so far it is quite basic, so don't expect plot twists or anything complicated to think about.
The art is really unique. It doesn't follow many typical anime cliches, mainly the eyes. Also the character detail gives you a bit of a water colour feel to it, rather than anything detailed. At first I was really skeptical, but it grows on you and becomes very interesting and cool to watch. The fight scenes, few as they are, are really cool and done pretty well. Rather than just a still image of some sort of attack action, they are fully animated, although they are short. Art overall is one of the shows strong points.
There are only two characters that you should really worry about. Shichika and Togame. I, personally, love Togame. She cracks me up and her voice is cute. Also seeing her standing next to Shichika (who is like 3 feet taller than her) always amuses me to see. Apparently Togame is supposed to be a genius strategist (according to her xD) but her plans aren't really THAT intelligent. Perhaps next to her partner, she could be considered bright. That brings us to the main character, Shichika. At first, I didn't really like him too much. He seemed to be a typical main character who isn't very bright and only proves his worth with fighting. But as the series went on, I realized that he knew more about what was going on and had a deeper thought process than I had first imagined, making him a very good main character. The chemistry between him and Togame is golden, and yoiu better get used to it because 90% of the series is the two of them talking.
The series is very enjoyable, but not for the action. The fight scenes, as I said, are very short and far between. The best part of the show is the dialogue. Some may find it boring, but most of the show is just talking between the main characters. For example, they spent about 20 minutes talking about Shichika having a catch phrase (which is later referred to again in the episode and at that moment I knew this series would be great.) It's a lot of fun and even more, it comes out once a month so you tend to forget it exists and when it does come out it's a pleasant surprise :P
Overall this series is great so far and I can only seen good things ahead of it. Not perfect of course, but very enjoyable and can be kind of deep sometimes. The symbolism between Shichikia and Togame's sword is kind of genius and simple at the same time. The diaglogue between main characters is fantastic and really makes the series. So if you are looking for flashy action scenes and plot twists, look elsewhere, but if you're looking for something like spice and wolf, this is a good one to check out
Looking forward to more episodes. read more
Feb 10, 2013
This is where the Story takes a bit of a left turn. The show has a very loose definition of what a sword is, and as the episodes continue, the swords become increasingly bizarre and eventually impossible, hence the show existing as fantasy. There's also mentions of a prophesy, and the hint that the events of the series are being manipulated in some kind of grand scheme that reaches across time and space itself. To say more would be to spoil the plot entirely. What I can tell you is that while the plot is serviceable enough, that's what it is - a vehicle for everything else. 7/10.
The good news is, everything else is GREAT. The Art style is different, to say the least, and looks a bit like a fusion of Samurai Jack and Naruto. While you're getting your head around that bizarre visual, let me say that it's very pretty, though the minimalist method occasionally has you begging for more detail. 8/10.
The Sound design is pretty good, and let me say while the music itself does a great job of capturing the feeling behind the moment, the actual sound you're going to hear can get a bit annoying. Some of the twangyness from a few songs stuck with me like the auditory equivalent of gristle in my teeth - mildly unpleasant but not enough for me to reduce the volume. 7/10.
Characterization is the strongest aspect of this show by far. Shinchika and Togami have a wonderful dynamic that slowly progresses from episode to episode, and you can track specific qualities of their character growth with ease. Perhaps the best part of the characterization is how the protagonists always get to know the owner of the Deviant Blade before doing battle, and the human qualities we see in them create a subtle cognitive dissonance. Most of them are not using their weapons to do any harm, so are the protagonists the 'good guys'? The show never gives any easy answers, and at the very least the nature of the characters will stick with you long after the show is over and you've forgotten the plot.
One character in particular keeps this from a perfect score - Shinchika's sister. To explain the exact nature of her character would ruin the plot of at least two episodes, but in advance she's probably the greatest Mary Sue to ever exists. Episodes with her are entertaining, but her complete lack of meaningful flaws and poor character development make her a liability more than an asset. 9/10
I really enjoyed Katanagatari, far more than the studio's previous show Bakemonogatari. The relationship between characters feels natural, the fights are a fun mix of physical prowess and cerebral strategy and tactics, and the slower pacing of the show never felt like a hindrance, rather it gave the writers more time to explore the nature of the characters presented. 9/10
I give it a solid 8 out of ten. If you're looking to blow a full day (the episodes are 50 minutes each, not 22) and you're into historical fiction or martial arts, you'll have a good time. Just don't analyze the plot too much, and just roll with it.
As a final thought, I should mention that the final episode of the show is ALL payoff, and contains one of the most brutal, one-sided series of fights I have ever seen, culminating in an incredible final showdown that will leave you wanting to watch it all over again. read more
Feb 22, 2011
Story- Great story, not the most original I've seen since there are many anime's out there based on sword fighting and the edo period but everything else makes up for the story's lack of originality. 7
Art- The art was gorgeous, I loved the traditional spin on the animation and it's consistency.9
Sound- I'm not one to pay too close attention to the sound but I liked the background music, nothing really to complain about. 8
Character- If this show has a strength, it's in its characters. Not a single one of them has a boring or stereotyped personality, it was especially enjoyable to watch Shichika and Togame's interactions and development. read more
Dec 12, 2010
Katanagatari (directly translated to English as Swordstory), is from the same guy who wrote Bakemonogatari. As famous as that anime was, I wasn’t very thrilled with its episodic nature. The smart gags and the wordplays were all nice but all the rest felt like random psychedelic rambling with lots of otaku culture cliches. But it still had enough artistic expression and weirdness to be memorable in a way.
Katanagatari is practically reusing the same formula, only here it offers a better feeling of progress, focuses more on the main characters and less on most others who come and go in the same episode they appear. I for once welcome this change in a positive light. You can’t watch the episodes in random order and the characters don’t mysteriously disappear after their use in the story is over (even when killed they are still mentioned in passing).
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 8
The strongest feature that exists here is its style of conscious trolling, you literally know the scriptwriter is messing with your expectations but you actually like it. That means, things are made as to make you expect something that never happens and surprises you with its unexpected turn of events. In most other series, being trolled is a very negative feature, the cause to hate an anime and downvote it for disappointing you or ruining your expectations. Easy examples are the wars foreshadowed for dozens of chapters/episodes in famous fighting shounens such as Naruto and Bleach. We were promised a war of epic scale and were offered a lukewarm and poorly handled line of small spars that were hardly exiting.
Katanagatari managed to reverse the feeling with smart gags, wordplays, and using a famous literature devise of foreshadowing called “Chekhov’s Gun”. If you are given a detailed description of a gun, you are given the impression it will be useful in the plot later on; that is, someone will fire it or it will be a key element in revealing the mystery. Most authors are advised to hide their guns as best as possible with subtle hints and red herring (intentional misguide) in an attempt to make the revelation less expected. But not this author. No sir, he is firing his gun all the time and throws it at your face. You are of course expecting for this gun to be damn important later on. And no, that moment comes and goes as if the gun was just a cigarette lighter. Ooooh, you didn’t see that coming! How unexpected!
As I said, this works only because the show never tries to be too serious to anything other than the core reasons every character is fighting for. All your expectations from the plot, formed by decades of stereotypes and tropes are in this case working against you, being used by the author in a way to make YOU the reader/viewer the expected and the stereotype. The roles are in a way reversed and you become the kitsch factor; the joke is on you and in this case it is funny. It is a kind of humor that directs at you, making you part of the show. Just like when a magician makes a building disappear, you being present and gasping at the illusion is actually part of the act as well. You don’t know it but DAMN it works.
So yeah, I liked it how I was being trolled all the time with events I couldn’t predict. To the overcritical this will feel like the show is going through totally random events and stupid character reactions, which is true and made deliberately as such. It was funny, unlike those stupid wars in other shows that were supposed to have seriousness and consistency. The only reason I didn’t give a full mark is because I’m not fond of the long talking feature. I prefer more action and less blah-blah, which is a personal taste that can vary from one person to another.
ANIMATION SECTION: 9
First of all two warnings about what will follow. By any means, do not try to view this show as historically accurate. It has ninjas dressed more colorfully than circus clowns, while it features guns and robots centuries before they are even invented and introduced to Japan. Also, by any means do not try to view this anime as an action series. It has action alright but it is much undermined in favor of dialogue. Plus, most battles are made to last only a few seconds as part of being trolled again. You would expect them to last for entire episodes yet they end quite fast and anti-climactically. Sounds frustrating but it’s meant to be funny.
Now onwards with the rest of the animation.
A nice contrast of plain character designs next to a broad range of colors and patterns filling said designs; it creates a dreamy feeling, open to personal interpretation. I mean, how old is each character or how does he look in real life? The artwork does not help; you need to imagine all that; and this is what makes it great; making you imagine the scene despite it being shown to you. You are forming the details in your mind, practically embracing the characters. The environments are basically colorful cartoons so even when you don’t want to think, you are still taken in by the visuals, like reading a very well made picture book. Once again you are tricked to be part of the act, which is what I call genius.
But you don’t need to think so deep if you don’t want to; there still is a large amount of fan service present, as each scene with the main duo is basically passing like sexual foreplay. It is not original in any way but in this case the author once again manages to turn the joke on you. Because the stereotypical couple would be about a tsundere loosing her clothes all the time before the guy, who would immediately have a nosebleed, she will scream, call him a pervert and hit him a hundred times. Well, again this is not the case here. The lead guy has NO idea how to be ashamed of nude and the girl is NOT afraid to be naked. Heck, they spend a lot of time being naked or him smelling her hair and although it doesn’t feel sexy to them, we are completely taken in by the fact that for us it is. Ingenious!
I will still not give full points here. Although the cinematography part is brilliant, the characters remain terribly frozen for several minutes. It is supposed to be part of the whole picture book act but ten minutes of endless talking with the screen showing the same picture slowly scrolled sideways can get to your nerves. Not a tragic problem but I sure mind it a bit concerning animation... which means something moving.
SOUND SECTION: 9
Voice Acting is superb; although at first it will feel like amateurish or stereotypical, in reality it’s again just more trolling. Each character will have a very distinctive voice, accompanied with personal catchphrases and different pinch in voice. It may feel like a repetitive joke at first but in reality it is a basic way of character immersion. At some point all their reasons for talking like that are exposed. So yeah, voices are not random cartoony squeaks, they are part of one’s personality.
The dialogues are again great to listen too; I get easily tired if they are long but they are great nonetheless. After all, most of the series consists of talking rather than acting, so we are talking about a lot of speech here. In fact you can watch half the show without even staring at the screen but just listening to what they say. What makes it interesting is once again the trolling part as you are constantly fed with possible future actions that are proven fault or meaningless a few seconds later. Heck, the characters themselves are constantly fooling one another with misunderstandings and wordplays, so the feeling is mutual.
But jokes aside, the seemingly endless talking offers insight to each character’s personality. Ten minutes of a monologue and you know who someone is or what he/she wants. It will feel artificial or forced at times because of the long duration but it still helps you to get to know them. So yeah, great work here as well.
If I need to lower the score a bit, that will be the Music Themes. Nice pieces of pop with folklore and ambient overtones but not something to hum for life. Not a real minus but I only give full score to series with memorable songs. There are otherwise numerous and each episode even features a different ending.
STORY SECTION: 8
The core story is quite the simple one; one guy and one girl, stroll around Japan to find twelve magic swords. One each episode they face a villain of the month (well, it was a monthly series) and acquire a sword. This pattern does not change from beginning to end but what DOES make it feel better is the way each sword is acquired. The method used each time is different, the circumstances are different, heck, the whole aim of the episode is different. So don’t expect the lead to constantly use his signature move as panacea every time; each adversary needs a different approach. Another minor but nice detail is how the weather slowly changes per episode to signify the time of the year it takes place in.
So even in such a formulaic show there are plot twists. Some events occur in moments or in ways you were not expecting, thus being trolled once again in a good way. Even the ending is considered quite uncommon for such shows. Not only it is strong and solid but features events most would never expect the outcome despite the info being offered by previous events.
But as I said earlier most of the plot is talking rather than acting; the actual screen time of getting the sword lasts only around 5 minutes at each episode. The rest is getting to know the characters and fooling around; thus the core series is way too small next to the side stories of the characters they meet in each episode. Very good entreating-wise but rather poor story-wise. Most secondary characters are never shown for more than an episode so the feeling of expanding future possibilities as the episodes go by feels a bit off.
But other than that the pacing does not feel erratic at any point. Since each episode is pretty much self-contained in plot there is no room for fillers or staling. And no episode is really treated as unnecessary since there always is a sort of progress present; so it is not really bad. It’s just that powers and characters found on one episode would make an interesting event if they met powers and characters from following episodes. Sounds like poor excuse for needless crossovers but I still like the idea.
CHARACTER SECTION: 8
The prime thing any series needs to have is memorable characters. This show succeeds and wins by failing, thus performs a double victory. Sounds weird? Let me explain.
The main duo is definitely worth to remember. Although they initially feel like the usual tsundere and blockhead of so many anime out there, by the end of the show they are given so much color and insight that you have all the reason in the world to cherish them for life. That is something I can’t say for other shows with similar duos like Inu Yasha or Spice and Wolf. Their development and presence was a lot less bold, stretched amongst several episodes, most of which are fillers, while the ending was lukewarm at best. But here they did an excellent job at making them worthy. I mean, Shichika is a clueless to the world swordless swordsman; he fights better against swords when he is not holding one. Isn’t that weird enough? And here I though the three-sword style of Zorro from One Piece was too much. As for the lead girl, her title is Strategian (a fusion of tactician and strategist) Togame looking for 12 hentai swords, who keeps using the word “cheerio” with the wrong meaning. Isn’t that weird as heck? And it’s just the tip of the iceberg of what their personalities are like.
The secondary cast is also memorable for being… killed right away. Sounds weird but it’s the trolling effect again. Most adversaries will be presented as super powerful and will be handed a Chekhov’s gun. But when the action happens they will pretty much not use the gun and die fast and anti-climactically. What is funnier is how a simple handgun is far more powerful than elite ninjas, which is true but still not something you would expect to see in a show about superhumans. Trooolled!
But anyway, most characters will still be colorized enough before they kick the bucket on the same episode they appear in; it will frustrate you but you will probably like the feeling.
Besides that, all characters have a really strong presence on screen; they all have their set of catchphrases, unique uniforms, special attacks, demeanor, etc. For a cast where most are killed right away and the rest just talk to the end, they did a great job and I salute them for that.
And no, I still don’t give a full mark for a cast where most are rather stereotypical and die 20 minutes after they appear. This trolling trick still has its limitations.
I am not a fan of episodic plots or this trolling business. It worked on me all right but only this time. I am also not willing to sit down and relive all those long dialogues either. But heck, going though rough times in the anime industry I say this anime feels like an oasis in the desert. I mean, it is not devoid of moe, sex jokes, or meta-modern feeling but at the same time it is not aimless, carbon-copied, lukewarm adventure either. So ok, some say it pays tribute to Rurouni Kenshin, or Dragonball, or even Inu Yasha and Naruto. The similarities are still not clear enough to make it a retelling of those shows and to my knowledge it has a lot better directing and feeling than most of the above.
So yeah, it’s a good show… Even for MY strict tastes. read more
Nov 13, 2012
this anime was one of the best short series anime out there. Although it's not as renowned, the qualities of story, characters, artwork, and overall content are simply marvelous and unprecedented.
There are many interesting points to elaborate on in this anime;
First of all, the story is quiet the surprise. Although the whole "quest for finding swords" seems rather cliche and (quite frankly) boring at first, this story takes on a whole new outlook that clearly distinguishes itself from other adventure stories out there. Because of the character development, interaction, and dialogues filled with philosophy and humor, each episode approaches with a completely different feel.
In terms of characters, I was a bit (really, just a teeny tiny bit!) disappointed. Not because of the fact that I don't like the characters--given that I'm in love with our dense and naive Shichika--but more because of the development of relationship between Togame (heroine) and Shichika (hero). Although Shichika was supposed to be in love with Togame, his naivete and failure to make any initiatives sorta kept me on my toes as a girl who would love to see a touch of romance here and there to a beautiful story of a couple.
Togame's personality irked me a little; I'm not a huge fan of Togame, who I can describe as selfish and spoiled. To completely stand back and look at the anime, she's not the pivotal character. No one is. Everyone has equal amount of contribution to her journey. It's her background that earned her the position as a heroine. My superficial complaint would be how her voice tone changes so drastically that it was a bit annoying to my ears.
Yasuri Shichika. Ahh, Shichika. It was a pleasant surprise to find out that Hosoya Yoshimasa was the voice actor. He did a great job of acting dense yet keeping keenness during battles as well as softness and unspoken love hinted when with Togame. He adjusted accordingly to Shichika's development and quite frankly, it wouldn't have been as good if it weren't for Hosoya Yoshimasa.
Other than the fact that it lacked the romance that should be developing between a couple (but then again--it enhanced the character of Shichika who was supposed to be the thickheaded, dense guy), the interactions between characters seemed a bit unnatural; heroine and hero, Maniwa Groups, the sword bearers, and Princess Hitei and her servant Emonzaemon were all involved in this journey yet there wasn't much significant of a substance when they actually met.
However, the specific interaction between the protagonists and the antagonists (for example, Princess Hitei) was confusing yet so obvious and realistic. Can't say much without spoiling, but the fact that both the heroes and the anti-heroes have equal footing was interesting--and realistic.
Artwork? No comment. Too good, must watch. Beautiful. Character drawings may be simple but simple doesn't mean boring. It turns out very elegant at the end. Blends in with the background which has subtle care in color, texture, and placement.
It confused me a little when in Edo era there'd be things like European style armors, guns, tux, and whatnot... and don't forget the costumes that resemble animals for Maniwa groups. It was a bit strange, but in a good way. Each characters were unique and I appreciate care put into every single character.
To those who don't appreciate dialogues, avoid this anime, or at least don't complain that it doesn't have a lengthy fighting scene. They talk a lot--but every sentence is nicely thought out that you'd be missing a big chunk without it.
The dialogues, although they may not seem much, are one of the most crucial elements to Katanagatari. You'd be surprised by how captivating the conversation is, as well as by such clever, witty remarks going back and forth when humor intended. No wonder it aired once a month; it would require that much time to come up with meaningful dialogues.
Overall story was good, but a bit of a shocking end to it; I have to admit, I almost threw my laptop because the ending angered me. But it all contributes to the story... just be prepared for the ending. Personally, I loved every second of this episode except the ending. Should I hint that I almost cried after finishing?
I definitely recommend this anime to those who like cynical, a bit explicit, and both light-and-dark stories. It's not your ordinary action, shounen, adventure-with-romance story. It's much deeper. But seriously, go watch it now I guarantee you it'll be worthwhile. read more
Aug 1, 2011
Each of the twelve episodes of Katanagatari features a different sword and the struggle for the protagonists to obtain it. Even though each episode is around 50 minutes long, it would be going too far to say that they become boring. Rather, each episode goes a lot like the other episodes and any remotely attentive viewer will pick up on the formula quickly. However, the show is not episodic and the main story progresses interestingly. There are a lot of things to pay attention to, even if the main plot of any given episode is somewhat obvious.
Katanagatari's art is a mixed bag. The backgrounds are extremely detailed and consistently gorgeous. The characters tend to have exciting, if impractical, outfits. The cartoony bright colors of the characters and their pleasantly simple faces contrast nicely with the scenery. Here's the problem: the animation is frequently static and even lazy. This is less of a problem because much of the show revolves around the dialogue, but even so there is far too much panning of the background and many shots seem to have been chosen to protect the budget, rather than to enhance the scene. Fortunately, the dialogue and the quality of the voice-acting are good enough to distract even the most critical from many of the animation shortcuts.
Katanagatari's characters stand out from the crowd in regards to the generic ones found in most animes. Shichika's deadpanning and Togame's heckling go great together and sometimes it's difficult to tell if one of the characters was trying to be humorous. Their relationship progresses so interestingly that the show would be worth watching just to listen to them converse. Even characters that only appear for one episode or sit on the sidelines tend to be worth focusing on. Every character's motives are understandable and the viewer will even find themselves caring about the "bad guys" like the members of the Maniwa Ninja Corps.
Katanagatari is a great anime. It's a must-watch if you can get over the predictability from episode to episode and the static animation. The story is good throughout and has a lot of great themes. Even though you will predict a lot, a lot will take you by surprise. As an added incentive, the last episode is so great that it more than makes up for all of the show's flaws. read more