Hihi'irokane

Hihi'irokane (sometimes spelled with a g instead of a k) is a legendary Japanese metal said to shine brightly in a way that resembles flames. Its name translates roughly as "Flame-Colored Metal" or "Brilliant Scarlet Metal".note 

It's not quite clear whether hihi'irokane was an ore or an alloy, except that it was apparently a common metal in ancient times, with many important objects (including the Imperial Regalia of Japan) said to be made from it. In fiction, hihi'irokane is generally depicted as a form of Unobtanium which is harder than diamond, resistant or immune to rust, an excellent conductor of heat (or even a generator of heat), and an even better conductor of souls, emotions or spiritual energy. Due to its similarities to Orichalcum, in Fantasy Kitchen Sink settings they are often compared to each other or even considered to be the same thing. Sometimes it is seen as a mythologized version of stainless steel, particularly that with chromium sourced from red-yellow minerals such as crocoite.

The first recorded appearance of the metal was in the Takenouchi Documents, a set of pseudohistorical manuscripts which appeared in 1935, claiming to be the last surviving records of a globe-spanning Utopia ruled by the Emperor of Japan billions of years ago. While largely regarded as a hoax, a number of the Documents' ideas became absorbed into popular culture, hihi'irokane included.

Subtrope of Fantasy Metals, and frequently overlaps with Law of Chromatic Superiority (when it is depicted as red or gold). Compare Cold Iron, Mithril, Orichalcum and Thunderbolt Iron. A weapon crafted from hihi'irokane may be a Technicolor Blade or even a Flaming Sword.

Not to be confused with the videogame Red Steel. Or the D&D setting Red Steel for that matter.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Hitogatana, hihi'irokane is a metal which responds to human thought. The Katana combat androids are created with hihi'irokane cores which allow a human operator to transfer their soul into the Katana and control it.
  • In Kamunagara the protagonist wields a magic sword made of hihi'irokane, which is said to be a metal capable of absorbing souls.
  • In Kill la Kill protagonist Ryuko uses half a giant pair of scissors as a sword. The scissors are made of compressed Life Fiber, which gives the blade a scarlet hue. The blade is shown multiple times to be incredibly durable and reactive to its wielder's will, as Life Fibers are a symbiotic alien life form.
  • In Orichalcum Reycal, featuring Mons named Orichalcums created from the substance of the same name, a pair of Japanese-themed orichalcum sisters are named Hihi'iro and Ronokane.
  • In Shaman King, the Futsu-no-Mitama sword ("the Antiquity" in the English anime) is an ancient blade whose red color and affinity for souls suggest it was made from hihi'irokane, though it looks more like polished stone than metal.
  • Spriggan has rogue KGB agent Koichi Moroha uses a Hihiirokane-made sword in the Fire Orb arc, which was made to take out Yu Ominae's Orihalcon combat suit. It, however, cannot break anything made out of OOPArt-type metals.
  • The Sword Of Roaring Flames Yagyu Jubei revolves around Yagyu Jubei fighting Nue with bodies made of hihi'irokane, which is so hard that it can only be cut by a sword made from the same substance. The story's title in Japan is "Hihi'irokane: Jubei Guren Ken".Translation 

    Literature 
  • In Dragons Bloodline, hihiirokane is one of the high-grade materials used for crafting magic items; while relatively soft compared to mithril or especially orichalcum, it has a higher capacity for magic. It's noted that hihiirokane can be made almost as hard as orichalcum if that's what it's enchanted for, but most craftsmen would see this as pointless and wasteful unless it's the only material available.
  • Hidan no Aria has a number of types of Irokane ("Colored Metal") with supernatural powers. Hihi'irokane exists in the form of the eponymous Scarlet Bullet (Hidan) embedded in Aria's body, which is responsible for her red-pink hair and eyes.
  • Overlord: According to Narberal adamantite is a soft metal compared to hihi'irokane. A pair of Gem-Encrusted hihi'irokane gauntlets are among the items in Nazerick's treasure vault.
  • In a chapter of Touhou Kourindou ~ Curiosities of Lotus Asia, Marisa hears about the properties of hihi'irokane and asks Rinnosuke to use some of his limited stock to upgrade her battered Mini-Hakkero. Rinnosuke agrees in exchange for Marisa's collection of scrap metal, which unknown to her contains the Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi. For further irony, the Kusanagi itself is described as being made of hihi'irokane.

    Tabletop Games 
  • While Dungeons & Dragons does not feature hihi'irokane by name, it has a number of materials with similar properties:
    • In the Red Steel setting of 2nd Edition, the eponymous metal is a highly-magical material created when cinnabryl absorbs the energies of the Red Curse. Weapons crafted from Red Steel combine the offensive advantages of both Silver and Cold Iron with the durability and light weight of Mithril, and always count as enchanted. In the 3.5 update, weapons and armor crafted from Red Steel are always masterwork quality, and require 75% the normal amount of XP to enchant as magic items.
    • In the Magic of Incarnum supplement for Edition 3.5, items crafted from Pentifex have "a peculiar brushed-gold color that carries hints of red and brown" and are strongly associated with incarnum (soul energy). However, this is due to their use as a symbol of The Pentifex Order (an organisation that regulates the use of incarnum) rather than a property of the metal itself, which is functionally identical to steel.
  • Tenra Bansho Zero features hihi'irokane ("scarlet steel" in the English translation) as an extremely hard but malleable metal created from soulgems, which has "a delicate golden-red color, like a mixture of twilight and crimson". It's an important component of Magitek due to its ability to conduct spiritual energy, and gemblades are forged entirely from it. It's also mentioned to be known in distant lands as Orichalcum.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!, the card Metalfoes Crimsonite is themed after Hihi'irokane, as part of the set's Metallic Motifs. Interestingly, each of the Metalfoes based on Fantasy Metals are powered-up versions of cards based on real metals (Silver -> Mithril, Gold -> Orichalcum, Steel -> Adamant), and Crimsonite is placed as the upgraded version of tungsten.

    Video Games 
  • Monster Kingdom Jewel Summoner features the Hihiirokane Sword as an item used to instill monsters with the ability "Inferno".
  • Onigiri features a Hihiirokane Bell and the Hihiirokane Cudgel weapon.
  • Puzzle & Dragons has the five Mythic Stone Dragons - Hihiirokane, Mythril, Adamant, Orichalcum, and Damascus Steel. In English versions Hihiirokane is translated as "Vermilionyt".
  • Appears in the Shin Megami Tensei franchise and its spinoffs as a material which can be crafted into weapons.
  • In the Soul Series "Hihiirokane" is a recurring unlockable weapon for Yoshimitsu, consisting of a katana and wakizashi forged from that metal.
  • Way of the Samurai 4 features Hihiirokane as a rare material used for upgrading weapons.
  • In White Knight Chronicles, the Hihiirokane Dagger is the strongest purchasable dagger in the game.
  • In The World Ends with You, Hihi'irokane, Orichalcum and Tektite pins can be traded to shops in exchange for special items; like the Final Fantasy example, Hihi'irokane was translated as "Scarletite" in the English release.


Alternative Title(s): Scarletite, Scarlet Steel

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