The Unbearable Emptiness Of Finishing Katanagatari (AKA My Sword Story is Unbelievably Dull)

Am I exceptionally hard on shows like Katanagatari, or exceptionally easy on them? I’m leaning towards the later, because if Katanagatari wasn’t what it is, then I wouldn’t have picked it back up, having dropped it after the first episode. There were times during the series where I felt I might’ve been glad that I decided to finish it, but now that I’ve done so, there exists no such positive emotion. Very rarely do I finish a show with as much spite as I did this one.

No Name and I watched it together and found that a very difficult activity; but not, for the most part, an offensive one. Let it be known that while these days I give shows more of a chance than I used to, I still would never go on watching a show that I had no desire to watch. I’m not a masochist like ghostlightning, and I don’t feel like I owe it to myself or anyone to finish a show. No Name was pretty set on dropping the show after two episodes, but I talked him into a three-episode test, and both of us enjoyed the third episode enough to keep watching.

The fourth episode was less easy to finish, and No Name got particularly pissed at the troll fight (even though I’d warned him about it), but there was still enough good to persist. Episodes five and six were good enough. Episode seven was the high point of the show, and the point at which I thought “I’m glad we didn’t drop this.” Episode eight was less good. Nine and Ten were enough to restore my faith that the series could honestly end well. Eleven was lame, and twelve was complete and utter shit, leaving such a bad taste in both of our mouths that we were upset for some time afterwards. The first thing I said when the show was over was “well, that sucked.”

I’m breaking it down on this level for a reason. My disdain for this series is not a simple animal. I don’t always write posts about anime that I don’t like, and especially not serious ones, but the way in which I dislike Katanagatari is, I feel, important to my identity as a fan, especially because it’s so closely related to the stories I care about most (being based on the works of one of my favorite authors, NISIOISIN.)

I have it on good faith that the novels are bad, because the biggest Nisio fan that I know of, Andrew Cunningham, hates them. (Albeit he’s far less easily pleased than I am.) Katanagatari was a stunt novel series wherein Nisio published one book a month for an entire year and created a matching formula for the books wherein the main characters travel across Japan for a year collecting twelve legendary swords. It’s a very cliché plot device, but the kind that seems like it would easily lend to creativity. All Nisio really had to do was create twelve interesting swords and twelve interesting sword-users, and the rest of his work would’ve been cut out for him. Considering that his entire shtick is interesting characters, this sounded like something he should be able to do.

Such was not the case. Maybe there wasn’t enough planning involved. Maybe he wasn’t really attached to the characters. While there were plot elements that must’ve been in place from the start, there were many parts of the story that were clearly made up as he went along, or things that weren’t thought out very well and ended up being useless.

The biggest failure to me was the Maniwa ninja corps, whose existence was almost entirely meaningless from beginning to end, to a point where they became a joke. In the first episode, the Maniwani were introduced as a dangerous third-party competing for the swords alongside Togame and Shichika, and in fact, the first Maniwani was already in possession of a blade. That was practically the last time a Maniwani was any kind of threat.

In the second episode, one of the 12 Maniwani captains was slaughtered by Uneri Ginkaku long before he was properly introduced. This trick would’ve been fine once. It also led to a funny fourth-wall-breaking scene where Togame noted that she was glad he was already dead because his thing was talking backwards, and she would’ve hated to have to write backwards dialog in her report. This may as well have been a commentary on Nisio’s own desire to make a backward-speaking ninja, but lack of desire to write backwards dialog. A lot of this commentary existed in the series, and I can’t help but feel that at times, it cheapened the experience, like Nisio was admitting his own creative bankruptcy in making the story.

In the third episode, a Maniwani was briefly built up to be a badass and then quickly slaughtered. He was killed in such a way that the attack wasn’t seen, as if to foreshadow this attack in Shichika’s fight with Tsuruga Meisai. The attack, however, was not used in that fight, and the Maniwani’s presence seemed pointless.

In the fourth episode, the part of the Maniwani in the story entirely changed gears, and unlike the first three, who were all clearly psychotic killers, three were introduced who were more normal and sympathetic, and also far more interesting characters. They were slaughtered by Nanami in the name of showing how strong she is—the tactic was effective, except that like almost every other fight in the show, the combat was horribly boring, consisting of five-second, barely animated action punctuating endless explanations about either what was about to happen, or what had just occurred.

I despise fight scenes that involve explanations of what’s going on, especially when what’s going on isn’t so hard to interpret as to need explanation, which the fights in Katanagatari almost never were. In episode two, I got it the first time that the blade was drawn so quickly that it couldn’t be seen—that was the point of the Maniwani getting killed to showcase the blade’s power. I didn’t then need it to be re-explained several times. I’ve seen a hundred and one super-fast swordsmen in anime, and I get the fucking point.

In the fifth episode, the Maniwani decided to team up with Togame in search of the blades. This was handled with the introduction of by far the most interesting Maniwani member, their leader, Houou, who cut his own arm off just to earn enough trust for an audience with Togame. This was classic Nisioisin, and there’s a lot of “classic Nisioisin” to go around in Katanagatari, which was exactly what kept me interested enough to keep watching. The fact is, I love his style of characters. Even if he failed to make me care about almost anyone in the series, at least they did crazy shit like cut their own arms off to keep me interested.

In episode six, one of the Maniwani went berserk with rage over her fallen comrades and attempted to kill Togame and Shichika herself. She did this by taking over the body of snow-loli Konayuki, which actually created some tension because I liked Konayuki. However, Shichika managed to kill the Maniwani without harming Konayuki, so the attack was ultimately meaningless. What’s more, in order to gain the trust of Togame once again, Houou sacrificed one of his comrades, particularly one who had powers useful to the sword hunt. Do you see the trend here? All the Maniwani did was die without putting up a fight.

In episode eight, Emonzaemon was ordered by Princess Hitei to assassinate Houou. In the process of attempting to do so, he murdered all three of the other remaining Maniwani. Not one of them managed to so much as harm him. The only thing that the Maniwani accomplished was obtaining one of the twelve blades, which happened to be one that, when taken hold of, would possess the owner with the spirit of Shichizaki Kiki. Houou meaninglessly got taken over by the sword, and in spite of the fact that he seemed to mortally wound Emonzaemon, who was built up as an arch-enemy of his, he didn’t manage to kill him, and the two never fought again. Instead, Houou rampaged and massacred the entire Maniwa village, only to be beaten by Shichika with relative ease. Not a single one of the twelve Maniwani heads accomplished anything except for getting killed.

This was a shame, because I really wanted to like the Maniwani. I thought they had potential as characters. Oshidori was heartbroken at the death of her fiancée at the hands of Nanami in episode four, but she died in a completely unrelated fight against Emonzaemon without doing anything. The adorable Pengin, played by Hirohashi Ryou (one of the few noteworthy seiyuu in the series), was told by Houou that he could herald in the next age of the Maniwa clan after he and the other “relics of the old era” were gone. Pengin was even built up to be quite strong, and was also given a big chance to come out alive, but he ended up being killed in a completely lame way by Emonzaemon after his unexplained escape from death against Houou. Emonzaemon was not so interesting a character as to have been worth sacrificing all of the Maniwa clan. He would’ve been a more fitting final battle for Houou, and not a final boss, as he turned out to be. Houou was really robbed in that not only was his final battle lame, but he didn’t even get to fight it, having been possessed by the blade.

It all seemed like such a joke, and the worst part was in the final battle when Shichika had to fight all twelve blades. One of the people he fought had the single line “I’m also a member of the Maniwa clan,” before getting slaughtered in a single hit. Shichika said “you were definitely the weakest of the Maniwa,” which made me burst out laughing because all of them were fucking weak.

The primary driving force behind the narrative of Katanagatari was an adventure to collect swords. Out of that equation, for the series to be successful, either the adventure or the swords should’ve been interesting. Neither was so.

Leaving aside the Zelda Wind Waker-esque starting island, the first location on the trip was a desert. Nothing else to it, just a desert with a castle in the middle of it. The desert was background for a long walk and conversation that had no real sense of distance since the direction didn’t use any fades or changes in scenery to make it look like space elapsed. Inside the castle was shown almost exclusively one hallway and room, where Uneri was stationed. There was no unique aspect to this room or hallway, and they’re easily forgettable.

The third episode had by far the most interesting location, being a mountain shrine that’s home to ten-thousand yandere lolis. This location was actually interesting and memorable enough to catch my attention, and was what gave me the drive to continue the series after that episode.

Four mostly took place on the starter island, and five took place in a port town of which very little was shown, so neither was really notable. Six took place in another somewhat memorable locale, a mountain with blistering winds and a constant blizzard where a race of super-powered beings would’ve lived, had they not just recently been wiped out.

Seven was another regular town. Eight took place in another somewhat interesting location, perhaps my favorite, being basically a lake that was now a giant trash-heap. (I have a strange affinity for trash-covered locales.) A huge opportunity was wasted, however, in that the laboratory of Shichizaki Kiki that they came to look for was never shown. Nine took place in “shogi town” which, in spite of being important to the way the match was won, wasn’t really explored.

Episode ten, one of my favorite episodes, took place in a ruined field, and jumped between there and a wooded meadow for Higaki Rinne’s trippy mindfucking, but once again, the field was shown in exactly one spot (where Togame was digging for the sword), and the meadow was just a rock in a clearing surrounded by trees. Episode eleven was sort of all over the place, and twelve took place in the capital. All in all, the adventure only had a few memorable locales and didn’t feel like much of an “adventure” at all.

The twelve “swords” were essentially what I would’ve come up with when I was thirteen if you’d asked me to think up a group of legendary swords. (As a matter of fact, I had my own group of legendary swords, since I was big into samurai stories, and a lot of them were like these ones. I wonder if I could’ve liked this show for the weapons as a kid, or if it would’ve just put me to sleep with the incessant rambling.)

One sword was super-strong, one was super-sharp, and one was super-heavy (and could be held from either side, which seemed completely irrelevant and wasn’t used for any cool purpose in battle), which covers the very essential basics. One wasn’t really a special sword, but ten thousand normal swords. One was apparently made of glass and must be swung in a perfect arc—it was never seen in a proper battle, though, and only seen getting broken with ease in the final gauntlet. One was a suit of armor with no special quality other than being extremely tough. One was a dagger that apparently gave its user infinite vitality, though its nature was never really explained. One was a fucking robo-geisha that just used normal swords. One, as aforementioned, contained the spirit of Shichizaki Kiki, and another was a pair of handguns. One was a bokutou that apparently made the user not care to fight, which wasn’t clearly explained either. Finally, one was just a sheath that, by some extremely convoluted explanation, made the user “find the sword in themselves” or something.

It was basically a mountain of generic blades, and the worst part is that they all got ceremoniously broken in a matter of seconds during the last episode. As it would turn out, had Shichika been allowed to break the swords all along, none of them would’ve even posed a remote threat to him. This revelation was probably the lamest part of the entire show. There was nothing cool about watching Shichika make every single hard-won fight throughout the series look like it would’ve been cake if he hadn’t held back, and he didn’t break any of the swords in a cool way. He just mowed them all down with hardly any effort. Robo-geisha, which should’ve been difficult, was killed for the bullshit reason that the person who tried to fight with it got in its way. The swordless sword was so useless that Shichika told the girl who used it to “just throw it at me.” She obliged, so he kicked it into her face, and it broke. The blade possessed by Shichizaki Kiki just made its second holder rabidly scream “SHICHIZAKI!!!” and charge at Shichika before getting his ass handed to him. The suit of armor was broken because it supposedly couldn’t absorb shock if it wasn’t on the ground or touching anything, which I don’t believe was ever mentioned in the first fight with it.

But hey, like I said earlier, Nisioisin’s specialty is in creating interesting characters. The Maniwani had potential to be cool, had they not been fated to die before accomplishing anything, but that still leaves all of the sword-holders and the other characters.

Before I get to them, I’ll start by mentioning that one of Katanagatari’s big weaknesses was its voice cast. Not all of it was bad, and some of the many newcomers who were used in the show might be worth looking out for in the future, but otherwise, there were a number of outright annoying performances. The big one was Shichika, the main fucking character, played by Hosoya Yoshimasa, who got a bit better as the show went along, but mostly had a flat, boring voice that aided him in being a flat, boring character for the early part of the show.

Worse than him, the most wretchedly annoying performance in the show was Nakahara Mai (the sole remaining member of my “seiyuu shit-list” for good reason) as Shichika’s sister, Nanami. She tried to do the whole deadpan psycho-loli thing and came off terribly monotonous and annoying. This was a huge shame, because she was one of the more interesting characters in the show, and I imagine if she’d been played by Yuuki Aoi or something, I’d have really loved her. I won’t get into all the minor characters with annoying voices beyond that point, though.

The first non-Maniwani sword holder was Uneri Ginkaku, a generic live-and-die-by-the-sword ronin with no personality to speak of. He didn’t even get any real dialog outside of his fight banter, what with the episode mostly having consisted of Shichika and Togame babbling on about nothing in the desert.

Next was Tsuruga Meisai, another part of why episode three was the one that finally drew me into the show, who was enjoyable if not particularly coherent. Tsuruga had a fun personality and commanded immediate respect, but as is my trouble with a lot of Nisioisin characters, her convictions were incomprehensible. I had trouble understanding why it was that she apparently had to die, or why, if she understood that she was mistaken about the swords, she was unable to correct herself. Her death just seemed pointlessly counterproductive.

Sabi Hakuhei fell victim to the troll of not actually being shown outside of a few glimpses before his episode. (At first, I honestly didn’t think he was supposed to be a real character, but just what Shichika was imagining when Togame told him about the character traits he should have.) Azekura Kanara, the pirate captain, was utterly unmemorable.

Itezora Konayuki was an adorable loli, which is always enough to earn my adoration automatically, and the reason for her being the first to defeat Shichika was interesting enough that I could accept her having done so. That said, Konayuki is where I bring up the obvious reason that my level of care for any sword-carrier is held at bay—they’re only around for one episode. It’s just not enough time for anyone to become a favorite character of mine unless they do something exceptionally interesting.

As I mentioned before, Nanami had potential to be the most interesting character in the show, even though her voice was annoying. Nanami was the epitome of Nisioisin’s characters. Nisio has this undying obsession with “geniuses” that have some extraordinary natural ability, and they find their way into everything he writes. Nanami was one of those, and as always, he brought in the conflict between how an outsider sees a genius and how said genius experiences their own abilities. Not just that, she had the works—a convoluted and incomprehensible thought process, a sadistic streak, murderous intent, strange speech patterns, and a weird desire to be killed for reasons that the plot tried to rationalize even though they’re completely irrational.

After that was the robo-geisha, which didn’t have a master. I enjoyed the robo-geisha enough, if just because its fight with Shichika was easily the best in the series. Next was Kiguchi “fucking sword-hair” Zanki, who was basically a generic serious-girl samurai’s-daughter character. I didn’t dislike her, but didn’t care about her either. Her sword-hair (and shogi eyes) were a perfect example of why I’m not big on take’s character designs—there’s a level of ridiculousness where things may be neat, but are no longer aesthetically pleasing, and this is exactly that.

Higaki Rinne was easily my favorite episodic character in the series, which is somewhat ironic since the character was actually a fabrication in most senses. His design was a combination of the best elements from Nanami and Konayuki, which I thought was great, and his personality was apparently supplanted from Togame’s father, who must’ve been a really fun guy. No Name was annoyed by his voice, but I thought it was fun and suited him well. If there’s one character likely to have a lasting impact and influence on me, it’s him.

Moving onto the regular characters, Hitei-hime was mostly an unlikeable bitch. I didn’t necessarily hate her outright, and didn’t mind the idea of her being Shichika’s travel partner in the end, but she was played up to be such a bitch that I couldn’t find any way to enjoy her. Her vassal, Emonzaemon, wasn’t bad, but he eventually grated on my nerves because he killed so many characters that were so much more interesting than he was. Had he died when it looked like he did while fighting Houou, it would’ve been fine, but he was nowhere near interesting enough to warrant surviving, killing several other characters, and being the final boss.

I believe this boils it down to the main characters. Starting with Shichika: at first, I didn’t like him at all. He had no personality and no chemistry with Togame whatsoever, plus his voice was terrible. Shichika, however, was the one character that was around long enough to prove his worth through action. I liked his nature as a human weapon, and admired his dedication to Togame. Somewhere in my heart lies a hopeless romantic whose favorite male characters are the ones that dedicate themselves to facilitating the happiness of their female counterpart. This is why I admire Kokuto from Kara no Kyoukai, for instance, as he makes it his purpose to facilitate Shiki’s growth of character.

That said, Shichika did little to make Togame grow and more did the growing himself, and he ultimately proved worthless because Togame died anyway. With my ability to care about him so intrinsically tied to Togame, there wasn’t much left for me to care about once she was dead. His final battle ended up having no weight to it whatsoever, and for fuck’s sake, he agreed! He went off into battle intending to be killed, and when he failed at that, he went off to absently perform what he would’ve done with Togame had she not died. I ultimately felt no need to care about his future in the end.

Togame, on the other hand, was long and by far the best part of the show for me, as she damn well had to be since she pretty much carried the entire thing on her own. In particular, Tamura Yukari was left to carry the entire weight of the dialog on her back, since she far outdid anyone else in the show in performance. (Even still, she wasn’t my favorite Tamura Yukari role, though she was one more reason that Tamura deserves some kind of fucking medal for her work holding up shows in 2010. B Gata H Kei, anyone?)

Togame was the best design, the best voice, the most interesting character, and the easiest to care about. She made her interactions with Shichika worthwhile and gave me a reason to care about him as a character. Her energy made it so that I could sit through the endless slog of tedious dialog without falling asleep, and the intrigue of her past and reasons for travelling spiced up the plot, even though those things never actually felt explained in the end.

The death of Togame is exactly why Katanagatari left me feeling empty, because her death was simultaneously meaningless and bullshit. Her final words to Shichika were the most painfully bad dialog in the show. I didn’t buy for a single second that she honestly still thought of him as a pawn. Her roundabout logic that “even [her] own emotions [were] pawns” was bullshit, and had no purpose to the story. At first I thought she was trying to BS Shichika into accepting her death, but when it became clear that she honestly believed in what she was saying, and when Shichika couldn’t call her on her bullshit, meaning that the series honestly expected me to buy into it, I was repulsed and disappointed. This was not characterization. This was shit.

Her death served no purpose to the story. It didn’t change the course of how things played out, didn’t facilitate anyone’s plans, and didn’t change Shichika in any meaningful way. It added nothing to her character, and only served to sever my emotional involvement in the story so that the rest of the episode was meaningless.

The plot that emerged in the last episode was, as Andrew Cunningham put it, embarrassing, and none of it mattered in the end anyway, so why should I care? The story itself declared its own meaninglessness after killing all enjoyment that I had for it, so why would I come away with a good feeling? If anything, I felt like the show was giving me permission to hate it, which is permission that I don’t want to be granted. This was not storytelling. This wasn’t Nisioisin’s “zaregoto” shtick done right, either. This was bullshit.

I’m definitely being too easy on Katanagatari, even though I just spent four thousand words ripping it to pieces. I could do this for any show that I don’t like, I just don’t care enough to do it for other shows. Obviously, I had a personal investment in Katanagatari, or else I wouldn’t bother. I wanted to like this series, and there are parts that I obviously did. The good things had enough of a poignancy and resonated with me so deeply as to make me finish the show and feel the need to talk about it publicly, in four thousand words, no less. It’s precisely because I love Nisioisin and love this kind of story that I feel compelled to love Katanagatari, and why it’s such an important thing that if it disappointed me so greatly, I understand exactly why.

tl;dr: I loved Togame and Higaki Rinne, wanted to love the Maniwani, enjoyed episodes 3, 7, 9, and 10, especially 7 for the visual style, video game references, and interesting characterization of Nanami, even though she had a shitty voice. Also, it had one of my favorite soundtracks of the year, and I enjoyed Shichika and Togame as a couple. Besides that, the entire thing was a shitpile.

30 thoughts on “The Unbearable Emptiness Of Finishing Katanagatari (AKA My Sword Story is Unbelievably Dull)

  1. I haven’t finishing watching Katanagatari yet so didn’t read xP
    seriously you have a good eye for fanart, I saved all of them <3 so pretty~

  2. I dropped this anime after the second episode, but my friend wanted to cosplay it at the upcoming convention so I kept myself updated on the plot by reading episode summaries. And then I read Andrew Cunningham’s reviews on the novels and thought to myself ‘man, I sure did myself a favour, dropping this anime’.

    The maniwa characters were quite cute/interesting in design, and I remember I was surprised at how they were dropping like flies as the anime went on. What a waste *sigh*

  3. There was actually a pretty good (if cliched) story there waiting to be told, but it wanted to be more of a talky shounen parody instead. None of the humor really worked for me, though I could see some of it being funny to others who like lazy and obvious parody or NisioisiN’s cheesier dialogue.

    Ultimately I think I had the same problems you seem to have: there was no heart, and almost no substance. Yet, the substance that was there pointed to a lovely fairy tale-style story that could have pulled heartstrings if it actually tried. In short, it was so lazy and boring that I couldn’t invest myself in it (which is strange given that I often like lazy and boring shows).

    The animation studio did a surprisingly good job, though, in bringing out the fairy-tale parts effectively and making the most of the “parody” (at least some people enjoyed that). I think ultimately that it really suffered from the 44-minute format, because if it were at least better-paced within the confines of each episode, I would have probably really enjoyed it (trolling and all).

    • Indeed. As I said on twitter, how I’d improve Katanagatari would be to overhaul the vocal cast, cut the episodes down to regular size, and let SHAFT do the show, since White Fox did so little to make it visually interesting (with the exception of episode 7). I’d add to that now “change the ending,” but yeah, there was potential here for something good that did not come to fruition.

      • True, it really wouldn’t take much to improve it. I think even think the ending (sans the stupid Mega Man-style “face off against the bosses again part) could have worked, but every chance they had to break out of the mold of a shounen, they drew back in the name of emulating what was supposed to be parodied, ie:

        – Every time Togame’s character or the romance could develop, she would say “Cheerio!” or act generically tsundere instead
        – Shichika had one or two scenes of real character development, and it’s taken for granted until the last couple of episodes that he’s supposedly a different person now somehow.
        – Hitei comes out of nowhere to replace the “why are we here again?” monsters of the week (esp. the Maniwani).
        – All the interesting stuff is concentrated into 5 or 10 minute chunks leaving broad stretches of generic filler in between.

        This type of series always seems to struggle with the fine line between parody and homage; in this case, it was really far closer to a homage (of shows that I don’t feel deserve one). There’s such a thing as turning out to be the same thing you are trying to parody, and Katanagatari unfortunately proves that.

        As for Shaft, as much as I feel they can bring certain shows to life, I don’t think they’re miracle workers and their track record on their acclaimed shows is pretty mediocre. It wasn’t the director or studio’s fault that Katanagatari show was so.. meh, and given a re-written ideal version I don’t think I’d risk giving it to Shaft after seeing how long and how poorly-animated Bakemonogatari was (thank goodness it was a talking-heads show that didn’t need much animation!).

  4. I can’t understand how you were able to dissect Togame’s dying speech so well. When I watched the final episode for the first time, I was too caught up with the shock of Togame dying to care about what she was saying. In that emotionally overwhelmed state, she could have said anything and I would have approved. Perhaps it’s because I marathoned the show, rather than watching it month-by-month. Since you see her die in Episode 11, it would have given you plenty of time to absorb that scene before being confronted with the absurdity of episode 12. But since there was no such break for me, I was too emotional to give any sort of judgement. On rewatch, of course, it is quite bad, the way 12 plays out. What they really needed here was some kind of catharsis, you know? The lack of one is why you felt “empty.” Tragedies like this should sooth, purge, and heal. Having Shichika beat the crap out of that long-named guy would have worked. We would be content, then, despite Togame’s death.

  5. Pingback: Steins;Gate Is Just What I Wanna See~ | My Sword Is Unbelievably Dull

  6. So, I’ve just finished this show about 15 minutes ago and feel the same emptiness after episode 12. Although, I do feel better now after reading this, you’ve put into words everything I was thinking.
    For a minute there I thought there might be something wrong with me or something I missed, Nope! The ending really is that horrible!

  7. Wow, I just finished this myself. I’m glad I found your writings here because I agree with a lot of the things you said.

    “Emonzaemon, wasn’t bad, but he eventually grated on my nerves because he killed so many characters that were so much more interesting than he was.”
    I lol’d at this line in particular because it’s so true. The slaying of Maniwa Corps. Pengi was the most disappointing and unsettling thing I’ve watched in any anime that I can remember. I don’t know why, something about the way Pengi was killed, something about his character, really got me. When his blood splattered on the mat I yelled, “BULLSHIT!” and it took me a while to get back to watching the episode, I was emotionally disturbed.

    So many loose ends, I was relying on the final episode to pull them together. I really hated Togame’s behavior toward Shichika, the way she treated him like a tool, and I really hated the way he went along with it for so long, senselessly devoting his entire existence to a woman who didn’t even show him human decency and respect. Still, I sensed Togame’s deeper love. I was really hoping in the final episode that both of them would realize they are equals, Togame would confess her love, and she would start treating him like a normal fucking human being (and he would stop being such a doormat allowing himself to get walked on).

    I also desperately wanted to see a flashback-fight or explanation for Shichika killing his own father. Nee-chan hinted at it before she died, but it was never shown. Halfway through the final episode I thought this would come up with the swordless sword, which would force him to face the final painful memory he had left in him, but instead he simply kicked this legendary weapon into his opponent’s head, instantly breaking it. So anticlimactic.

    Anyway good analysis, I definitely respect your writing style as well as your opinion. I’ve never felt so personally betrayed/pissed off by an anime before.

  8. I only watched this series because it was on the top 50 list if you type in best anime.

    I agree with everything, the show had potential but in the end turned to shit.

    Spot on with the Maniwani. Honestly the insect squad members were the most sympathetic characters in the whole show for me. Their deaths in 1 episode were acceptable if the anime were to flesh out their circumstances even more with some flashbacks of some sort but nope… nothing.

    But the main reason why this anime is a complete shit heap is because of its ridiculous plot that will take 12 hours of your life if you watch the whole series. Kiki SIZIZIKIKI’s plan was to just kill the shogun. For that he made 12 perfect swords and honed a swordless art style that encompassed so many generations. So much effort to just kill 1 fucking guy ??!!! Even the weakest of the Maniwani could have taken down his powerless retainers and killed the guy. SO WHY THE FUCK WOULD YOU SCHEME TO SUCH A RIDICULOUS LEVEL THAT WOULD INVOLVE A SWORD HUNT A COUPLE OF HUNDRED YEARS DOWN THE ROAD JUST TO KILL 1 FUCKING GUY?????? If Kiki sizikas;vd wanted to save Japan, and he was a true prophet, WHY NOT JUST TAKE WEAPON TECHNOLOGIES FROM THE FUTURE AND DEFEND JAPAN.

    In the end this anime sucked and made me lose faith in people’s “top anime lists”. What could anyone take anything from this? Same with Code Geass, that was a heap of fucking rubbish to me as well. Would greatly appreciate if someone could recommend an anime like Elfen Lied, to me that series had a whole lot more substance.

    Good review.

  9. Holy fuck, you hit the nail on the head with this review. Somehow it kept me watching, somehow it seems pretty popular online, yet at the end of it I was left saying “why the shit did I bother to continue?”

  10. Shame, I actually enjoyed this. The artwork was simple, didnt need to be overly shaded and extra sharp. The characters looks were interesting. The main character started op ended op as was said in the beggining. And tbh sword fights arent meant to be drawn out. Its desicive. Naruto and bleach kinda kill that. I mean someone takes 12 stabs and multiple cuts and blows and lives then somehow doesnt bleed out finishes their oponent with a super attack hidden until near death? What? Your insane if you find that not cliche and hard to watch. Katanagatari was a step away from that. It did lack in story but to fit the animes 12 episode plan they basically made each episode like 2 episode length and didnt bore with too much detail. Not trying to defend it like it was a masterpiece but it was good and doesnt deserve to be chopped up.

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  14. I end up loving katanagatari , I was a really original story where you end pissed off with the unexpected. I agree with some of the things you sayd but I also think that those were the things that called my atenttion. Im bored of the mainstream storyes .

  15. Well I have to agree 100%. But you didn’t even cover how illogical even the plot was in relation to the last episode. It’s beyond silly.

    For example, What exactly was the purpose of killing the shogun when in fact it says on the same last episode that it didn’t change history and that his younger family member just took the position and became shogun so the shogunate didn’t even change. Basically nothing changed, Same Shogunate and Shikizaki’s plan failed.

    Also it also said that “history corrected itself” and this is correct since while Shikizaki did create the swords and kill Hida (Tagome’s dad) and all of them and stopped that Shogunate from ever being, But a similar one just rose in it’s place and brought similar peace was explained in the last episode so that is “history correcting itself”.

    Basically from the starting episode to the ending episode nothing in the world changed except a bunch of people died and some swords got destroyed. The Shogunate stayed the same, what was the purpose of it all?

    Essentially no goal was actually achieved in this anime other than a bunch of characters dying.
    That’s literally why it feels so empty I think.

    Plus I got the feeling a lot of it was a bit weird like the creator didn’t have much of a grasp on human emotion maybe. Like how Shichika killed his sister and father and his father killed his mother. And also his sister was totally sick in the head. That part where she said she ripped all of his fingernails out to teach him not to bite his nails was just disturbing.
    How she killed all those people.

    Most of the Maniwa were sickos also. In fact most in the entire thing were sickos. Only Tagome and sometimes Shichika showed signs of being

    • Also something that seems silly (Are they actually talking about WW2 and the nukes) when they are referring to a foreign country destroying Japan?

      Since she said 100 years from now. That would mean it would have had to have been 1840 or so. But clearly Katanagatari is based before that time period. lol
      So that is odd.

      Also Japan in reality was far from destroyed, it’s in fact doing better than most western countries in fact. It’s also stayed ethnically pure compared to white countries. Also it has the longest life spans and among the highest national IQ’s and low crime etc. In no way is Japan doing bad. lol

      Heck in fact Germany is in fact also doing alright also despite being firebombed in WW2 a lot. Germany and Japan in fact are doing better than the countries that are said to have won WW2. lol

      Also in real history it wasn’t like Japan was just sitting there and foreigners came in and attacked them. They in fact opened up to the world themselves a few hundred years ago, they then turned militaristic and took over lots of Asia. Then they attacked the USA also. By that time a small country like Japan could not fight all these enemies and of course were already weakened and spread out with their empire. So the Americans finished them off and them Japan declared defeat. But after that not much changed, There were a few American military bases in Japan but many have closed down and only a handful are still there now.

      In fact Japan has only lost once in history and that is in WW2. Many other countries have lost multiple times and changed in history. So I think the creator of this anime overdoes it when he says “Japan will be destroyed”.

      Those two nukes were terrible, yes. But technically the numbers killed were only a fraction of the amount of Russians or Chinese killed in WW2.

  16. Some one had to say this. All of this. The title is perfect. Thank you fellow watcher. Wish i could blog abouy series with a person such as yourself.

  17. >Her roundabout logic that “even [her] own emotions [were] pawns” was bullshit, and had no purpose to the story.
    Ah, but this is where you’re wrong. It actually reminded me a lot of my younger self. Digi, you’re a cool guy and all, but this sort of logic is actually not that uncommon for teenagers and 20-somethings that have mathematical thinking. And Nisioisin was obviously one of these in the past. So, I’m saying, Togame is probably the closest thing we have to an author avatar in a nisio work. Which is probably bad writing, but eh. The stories I came up in my head when I was young often ended… or even started with the author avatar dying. Been there, done that, can’t blame nisio.

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