Sunday, January 31, 2010

First Impressions: Katanagatari

I've been burned too many times by recent series about swords and samurai. That's why I didn't leap out of my seat when I saw Katanagatari on the Winter 2009/2010 line-up. Then I watched the first episode....
EPISODE 01: Zettou Kanna
More Screencaps from Katanagatari 01

OP: Meiya Kadenrou (Minami Kuribayashi)
ED: Tasogare no Getsuka (Yousei Teikoku)

20 years ago, Japan was torn by a civil war raging between the Shogunate loyalists and the rebels, led by Hida Takahito. To quell the rebellion, the Shogun sends his most powerful weapon yet -- the head of the Kyoutoryuu ("swordless") style school, Yasuri Mutsue -- to eliminate Hida once and for all. The mission was successful, but fearing a Yasuri-led revolt this time, the Shogun banished the entire Yasuri family to an uninhabited island. 20 years later, Togame, a self-proclaimed military strategist for the Shogun, steps foot on the island, looking for the Kyoutoryuu head, only to find Yasuri Shichika, Mutsue's son and the current head of the swordless school. Despite this minor setback, Togame orders Shichika to help her on a mission, under the Shogun's mandate, to collect and gather the last 12 swords created by a master sword smith. Shichika, who is not interested in swords, initially refuses but when Maniwa Koumori of the Maniwa ninja clan surprises them with an attack and kidnaps Togame, he finds himself facing his first ever opponent in a real battlefield. In so doing, he discovers Togame's real identity as the daughter of the rebel leader, Hida Takahito, the man his father killed. Realizing that Togame was willing to work with the son of her worst enemy to complete her mission, Shichika makes the decision to leave his island home and accompany her in her journey.


The first thing I noticed about this new series is the art style. It's definitely a stand-out. It's unlike anything I've ever seen before -- whimsical without being childish, colorful without going overboard and just pure, unadulterated eye-candy. Maybe not everyone will take to it but if you want something a little different in terms of style, Katanagatari deserves a second look.

The storyline is simple to follow. A journey to collect twelve precious swords. The format reminds me a little of a Chinese wuxia novel by Gu Long, called -- quite appropriately -- The Seven Swords. In the novel, each chapter is named after the name of the sword. The similarity is probably unintentional but this is the same format that Katanagatari uses.

Interestingly, Katanagatari (lit. "sword hunt") has historical bases with this series taking particular inspiration from the Sengoku Period sword hunt commanded by Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

This series is based on the light novel of the same by NisiOisin, the same guy responsible for 2009's unexpected hit anime, Bakemonogatari. While I expressed some interest in the latter, I never got around to watching even a single episode. From what I hear, Katanagatari is very different from Bakemonogatari but if things turn out well for this current series, who knows, I might go back and give its predecessor a look-through.


Katanagatari @ ANN


crazyanimegyrl said...

Sounds like this series is worth checking out! =)

jute said...

Yes it is interesting. Unfortunately, only the first episode has been subbed.

jute said...

ON second look, apparently the anime is going to be aired on a monthly basis.