"In Europe, swordsmiths were constantly and incrementally improving and changing their designs, experimenting with longer, shorter, more curved, less curved, more pointed, tapered and so forth, different construction methods and so forth, but no, no, in Japan they came up with perfection and then stuck with it. But was it perfection? "
Japan is the country of origin of a large number of games, movies, TV shows, myths, and legends. Rule of Cool
says swords are cooler than guns and tends to also hold the katana to be the coolest sword.
Of course, in real life, a katana isn't inherently better
than any other type of bladed weapon. Different areas of the world developed and used different weapons to fit their unique situations, and for the most part, they were all pretty balanced compared with each other
. A katana in fiction (and on film, Every Japanese Sword Is a Katana
) can slice through anything as if it were butter. Further, merely wielding a katana makes one a superhuman fighter. A skilled fictional katana wielder can slice bullets in mid air, chop gun barrels off and even slice other swords not as cool as the katana off at the hilt
. The katana wielder him/herself will also be considerably more agile and skilled than any other weapon wielder. If on the enemy side, expect a katana wielder to at least be an Elite Mook
, if not a Big Bad
or The Dragon
Since fencing with katanas will usually be depicted as being an "honorable" manner of fighting, it will in most cases be implied if not stated outright that using firearms is despicable, cowardly or somehow "low". At the same time, fencing won't be depicted as "low" compared with hand-to-hand combat, nor will it be "low" for a katana wielder to attack people armed with less effective melee weapons
, like knives or farming implements.
We also have a Useful Notes
page on Swords
; add further details of Real Life
swords and katanas there.
Those wielding a katana may like to Swipe Their Blades Off
A Super Trope
to Wooden Katanas Are Even Better
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Anime & Manga
- Yoh from Shaman King is a good example of this trope. Even if he is using the sword of his 600 year old spirit, Amidamaru, it's still him using it. It tends to grow in size when he uses his Over Soul's second version. He's also usually the winner. Unless he doesn't wanna be. Such a lazy boy. This Over Soul also tends to be able to change its shape with... Yoh's mind... right. Matamune is a Badass cat. He's the first katana that Yoh uses as a guardian spirit. Good pussy cat. Kill the Oni.
- Assassin from Fate/stay night uses a katana (nodachi, really). The long range of his weapon, excellent skills, and a nigh-undodgeable ultimate technique make him a very difficult recurring opponent to the Western swordswoman protagonist, Saber. This technique isn't even really a special, unique skill like the other Servants have — He's just that good.
The difference in the swords is actually commented upon by Assassin. Saber uses a heavy western sword useful for chopping, blocking and endurance fighting. Assassin's nodachi is a good sword, but it's a lot lighter and more suited for quick kills because it's not strong enough to block. When he stops parrying and actually blocks an attack to get into a better position, his sword gets bent slightly and he ends up losing the fight because it creates a gap in his ultimate technique. The weapons screen also notes that his sword isn't useful for actual battle, but since he's such a badass he can do it anyway.note
- Sort of present in One Piece. Many of the series' prominent swordsmen (Zoro, Tashigi, and Ryuuma) wield katana or similar swords. However, Mihawk, known as the greatest swordsman, uses what seems to be an enormous Großes Messer.
- Weiß Kreuz
- Aya, the primary protagonist, uses a katana as his weapon of choice even against enemies wielding guns, and pulls off a couple of Diagonal Cuts throughout the original series. On the other hand, the trope is also subverted several times throughout the series:
- In the Radio Drama Endless Rain, several characters discuss the idea that Katanas Are Just Better, with one of them remarking that the katana is just a weapon like any other and, all things being equal, he'd just as soon have a gun. In another scene, Aya, wielding a katana, is defeated effortlessly by another character who wields only a paper fan.
- After a katana vs. katana battle by at the conclusion of another Radio Drama, Dramatic Precious, Aya finally defeats his former swordmaster by shooting him with the gun he carries as a backup weapon.
- And in the manga sequel Weiss Side B, Aya is provided with his pick from another character's collection of katanas before going into battle, and takes all of them, correctly expecting all of them to break before the fight is over. One of them is broken by Chloe's rose.
- Code Geass
- The show has Humongous Mecha wielding katana with superheated chainsaw blades. Their superiority comes from the fact that they're one of the two types of powered melee weapons in the show's universe, with The Empire preferring to use vibro-swords as introduced on the Lancelot Super Prototype.
- Turning it up a few notches, Kyoshiro Tohdoh, CG's Manly Japanese Guy has a Chainsaw Katana with rockets on it. To make it hit harder, of course. And change directions, letting him hit you, even if you dodge. And a rocket powered spike thing on the bottom of the handle, just in case you can dodge that, too.
- But among all these super-advanced mecha with their fancy fancy swords, Li Xingke carries around a traditional sword. You know, just in case anyone needs humiliating.
- Hatsu from Tower of God dual-wields Katana, though it is not a simple as you think. One is a Flying Weapon, the other shoots Sword Beams. So these Katana actually are better. To contrast that, Hong Chunhwa's Narumada is a European longsword that also can fire Sword Beams. Both Narumada and The Sword That Flies Lower Than Any are known as ignition weapons.
- Cowboy Bebop's Vicious, in a world where most characters are gunmen or martial artists, uses a katana as his weapon of choice. And he is damn good with it, good enough to match his rival, The Gunslinger Spike Spiegel, in no fewer than two one-on-one duels. It helps that he was probably hopped up on Red Eye.
- As is Ginji Matsuzaki from Black Lagoon, an underboss of the Washimine Group who takes a shirasaya katana to a mess of gunslinging yakuza goons and performs feats like slicing bullets in half and slicing one cocky yakuza's gun (and his hands!) to pieces. He's even Badass enough to take on Revy herself on equal footing in a one-on-one battle to the death, even though he ultimately throws the fight and loses.
- Lowe Guele in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Astray prefers the Humongous Mecha-sized katana Gerbera Straight to the Beam Swords his mecha comes with. Partially justified in that Beam Swords are rather power-intensive and the mobile suits of the Cosmic Era typically use finite batteries rather than nuclear reactors as in past series (not that this helps Lowe, as his fighting style tends to drain Red Frame's battery very fast).
- Played very straight in Astray R, where the Gerbera Straight is portrayed as being much, much better than the Western-style swords used by the GINN and CGUE mobile suits. Moreover, in what may be the ultimate example of this trope, Old Master Un No uses his normal, human-scale katana to do a Clean Cut on a mobile suit's beam rifle, twice.
- Subverted in Gundam 00: Graham Aker's Susanowo uses two solid katanas when he tries to finish off the 00 Raiser with an overhead swing, but Setsuna just grabs the blade with the 00's hands and shatters the sword by bending it backwards.
- Turn A Gundam, features eventual villain Gym Ghingham who carries a katana and insists he is a samurai.
- Justified in Lupin III; Goemon's katana is made from a specialized metal hard enough to cleave steel. In the manga, it's meteoric iron; in the anime, it's an unearthly metal or alloy. Early stories for Goemon actually have him searching out a sword durable enough for his Implausible Fencing Powers. Subverted in that there are rare objects and materials in the franchise that are not affected by the sword or actually break it.
Goemon: Once again, I have cut a worthless object...
- Used interestingly in Busou Renkin. The Sword Samurai X Busou Renkin is noted to be abnormally fast and accurate, but is otherwise played as the equal counterpart to the main character's European-super-lancey-thing Busou Renkin, itself excelling in overpowering the opposition. It doesn't necessarily help matters that the character holding the sword had previously been training in kendo, and a bokken is very different in weight to a katana. It's also totally useless against European Victor's axe-type Busou Renkin, Fatal Attraction.
- Creed from Black Cat used to wield a katana he called "Kotetsu." Later, although still in the form of a katana, it becomes a blade formed from Creed's Chi. Still, the sword gets broken by a gunshot.
- Dragon Ball: Yajirobe, a rotund samurai, uses a katana. His one main moment of fame was using his sword in a surprise attack on Ōzaru Vegeta, which revealed that Yajirobe's katana was the only thing that could penetrate Vegeta's armour and actually hurt him. In his first appearance, he effortlessly slices one of Piccolo Daimao's offspring to pieces. At the time the Daimao's offspring were feared and considered extremely powerful, capable of killing seasoned martial artists without breaking a sweat.
- In Saiyuki Gaiden, Tenpou Gensui is a soldier who fights with a katana, interesting because as a god and an agent of Heaven, he's not permitted to take a life (even the gunslingers in his group of soldiers only have stunguns), although when he throws all rules out the window, he's shown to be pretty damn good with it. Also interestingly, katanas are rare in the Saiyuki universe (other than the cannon fodder opponents at the end of Gaiden, Tenpou is the only character shown using one), possibly because it's set in China rather than Japan. His reincarnation, Cho Hakkai, uses no weapon and is, instead, a gifted martial artist and manipulator of chi.
- In Mai Hi ME Destiny, Shizuru uses one with expert skill to disable a gang of gun-wielding yakuza mooks.
- Discussed early in Bakuman。, as Moritaka and Akito discuss what to have in their manga. Akito helpfully points out that many of the most successful manga that are currently running (some of which already cited here) use katana in them, be they the main focal point of the overall story (as is the case with Bleach) or not (as in One Piece).
- The Sacred Blacksmith runs wild with this trope in the first episode. Luke Ainsworth uses a katana to cleave clean through a giant claymore, with the show's heroine spending the rest of the episode fawning over the exotic super-blade that chops through everything other swords can't. Then said katana breaks when blocking ice. So... yeah. It is worth mentioning that part of the plot revolves around how magically-forged katanas will never be as durable as an actual forged blade. When Luke actually forges a katana by traditional methods, the end result slices any sword in half that strikes at it while it is resting still on a table top.
- Played straight and subverted in Chrome Shelled Regios. Almost every single character used a weapon other than a katana, and they aren't really being shown as inferior to those that do use katanas. However, the protagonist, Layfon Alseif, who has been using a standard sword the entirety of the series, gets his greatest Crowning Moment of Awesome after fusing two different kinds of Infinity Plus One Swords together. Partially justified in that all of his training focused on katana-using, and it was just a personal vow of repentance that kept him from using it the whole time.
- Samurai 7; samurai armed with katana are able to take on powered armor, cyborgs, and more. One enemy samurai turns to using a BFG; he is looked down upon for it, as are the former samurai cyborg bandits, who have given up their bodies and, according to Kambei, their honor as well. He insults them, doubting they were ever samurai.
- In Soul Eater, Tsubaki has a katana as one of her several forms; Mifune had many katanas; Ragnarok has been shown in a katana form, a departure from his usual shape as a decidedly Western sword design. Becomes a subversion when you remember Excalibur surpasses all of them.
- Played straight in the fifth Kara no Kyoukai movie. When Shiki gets her hands on a katana, she becomes exponentially more proficient and deadly.
- In the Digimon Next manga, near the end, there is a battle between the gun-wielding RiseGreymon and the katana-wielding Zanbamon. RiseGreymon takes a few potshots at his enemy, only for him to deflect the shots and give us a quote that damn well embodies this trope:
Zanbamon: The gun is mightier than the sword, but the katana surpasses the gun.
- In the manga Katana, though the protagonist is descended from a long line of Japanese swordsmiths, and can see the spirit of any sword, he doesn't want anything to do with them. Later it's played straight when he's introduced to a collector of Japanese swords, and the strongest sword spirit is a katana.
- Zoids Generations has Liger Blue Souga, a lion mecha that wields a katana with its mouth.
- Saitō Hajime of Rurouni Kenshin preferred the katana above all other types of swords, even going so far as to seek out and receive permission to use one when all the other police officers authorized to carry swords used Western sabres. One major factor in this decision is that his Signature Move is intended to be used with a katana rather than a blade of a different design - the one time he tries to do it with a Sword Cane, the blade breaks.
- This is Colin's weapon of choice in Highlander: The Search for Vengeance. It is actually one of the Big Bad's swords and Colin only keeps it around because all his over swords broke. So in this universe it seems that Katanas really are just better.
- In Gangsta Nicolas has carried his katana around like a Security Blanket ever since he was a child.
- Sort of subverted in Gamaran: true, most of the greatest warriors in this setting (including the protagonist, his school and the main villains) are all katana-wielding swordsmen, but certain weapons (like polearms or chains) are shown to best swords. Plus, they tend to break against very powerful attacks, and generally speaking is not a matter of weapon, but rather technique: A good example is when Gama, using a katana and his strongest attack, is beaten silly by Iori who uses an empty scabbard and the very same technique against him.
- Played with in one episode of Kaiketsu Zorro (Zorro's anime adaptation), where the conflict was around a race to get a katana imported from Japan before the villain, because otherwise the katana would have been able to cut Zorro and his sword if he was forced to block. The villain gets his hands on the katana and faces Zorro, who at one point is forced to block... At which point it's found out it's a wooden katana (the importer had not been able to bring out the real thing), that is cut upon hitting Zorro's sword.
- In Genzo, the Warrior Monk Kyokai boasts about the quality of katanas, though he doesn't talk about their effectiveness in battle, but rather to their value as masterworks and artistic objects. In the same story is also explained that, because of the constant wars, katana of low-quality were mass-produced, while the most precious ones are harder to find.
- Micaiah's Seiran in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid. In contrast to the more hi-tech swords of the Lyrical Nanoha franchise, Seiran is just a normal physical katana. However, it makes up for it by proving to be an Absurdly Sharp Blade capable of slicing a falling bus into fours in an instant with minimal magic enhancement, a feat that the Cyborg swordswoman Deed had doubted was possible to do with an ordinary blade.
- Subverted in Bladeofthe Immortal where this trope is at the base of the story. All the main characters are out to prove that katanas are not the best and use weapons designed to counter them.
- Lampooned in the non-collectible card game Let's Kill. One of the weapons available to the serial-killer players is a 'Cool Oriental Sword', whose flavor text cited all the work the smith put into forging it just so 'you can play this card and Whack (kill) a couple of other cards.'
- In an early issue of his first ongoing run, Wolverine states that "in the hands of a master, there is no deadlier single-combat weapon in the world, in all history... than the Dai-Katana, the Japanese samurai sword." One of his villains, Silver Samurai, proves this a few pages later, deflecting bullets from a semi-automatic gun. This was probably more because of Silver Samurai's mutant power of channeling energy through melee weapons he wields than from the katana itself. Although that would help keep the bullets from shattering the katanas, but the fact that he can intercept the bullets at all is solidly this trope (or maybe a subtrope along the lines of "people who use katanas are just more skilled").
- The Muramasa Blade is a katana occasionally used by Wolverine (and others in related stories), and is one of the few weapons that is stated to be capable of killing him on its own, without otherwise negating his healing abilities. This weapon was used to kill Sabretooth. Thus, while not necessarily stronger than adamantium (itself Unobtainium), it is still better. Of course, this being the Marvel Universe, there are many Western-style weapons that are superior to it, including Thor's Mjolnir, Namor's Trident, and of course Hulk's fist.
- The DC heroine named Katana wields a magical katana called "Soultaker". It cuts through just about anything. It completely resists melting. And yes, she can deflect bullets with it. But it also has a curse: Those killed by the sword may have their soul taken into the world within it, and can subsequently be summoned to do the wielder's bidding. And it makes an evil person who holds it even more malevolent.
- Groo The Wanderer fights with two katanas, one in each hand. A "swords origin story" in the Epic run established that his skill in combat is due to them. The first time he uses them, he is stunned by how well they work.
- Deadpool frequently uses and is often seen Dual Wielding katanas, and kills a ton of people with them. It's not clear whether this has anything to with the katanas, though. Of course he does use guns more. In Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Deadpool can fight his equivalent, Dante. In other words Dante, a character made in Japan, will use his broadsword against Deadpool, a character made in America, who use two katanas.
- Green Arrow took up the katana under Judd Winick's authorship. By all accounts, he's fairly good with it, although this is more out of a tremendous amount of life-or-death training than the weapon itself. Many Green Arrow fans find the use of a katana instead of a more theme-appropriate longsword somewhat pandering.
- Toyota, the female ninja mercenary in Y: The Last Man, displays open pleasure whenever someone challenges her to a sword fight, as her previous (male) sparring partners were all killed in the gendercide. However she prudently vanishes when her sword is shot in half by one revolver-wielding opponent.
- Zealot of the Wildstorm Universe uses a Kherubim warsword that can absorb large amounts of energy and is sharp enough to cut atoms (makes you wonder what it is made of, a super-sized neutron or something?) It is, incidentally, often drawn as a katana.
- Knives Chau's father uses a katana in Scott Pilgrim, at one point even slicing clean through a street car!
- In Lucifer, the god Kagutsuchi wields the "three-named sword," the slightest nick from which kills instantly.
- Justified in the Taskmaster mini-series, where Taskmaster states that he began using a katana so he could duplicate the moves (his power) of Silver Samurai.
- The appropriately named Captain Katana from Empowered had his arms and legs replaced with 'em. He also has a magical one stuck in his head.
- Miho in Sin City often uses a katana in concert with a wakizashi.
- Michonne's main combat attribute in The Walking Dead is slicing zombies' heads off with her katana.
- Psylocke can manifest a telekinetic katana blade composed of raw psi-energy at will, which at its lowest intensity, functions to disrupt neural pathways and at its highest level, her katanas can slice an armored opponent and cut through the armor, but leave the attacker physically unharmed.
Films — Live-Action
- The Last Samurai is based on the Satsuma Rebellion against the Meiji regime in 19th century Japan, at a time when the rapid modernisation of the country had just begun. The "honorable" rebels are depicted as wearing anachronistic armor and using "honorable" weapons such as katanas. Their opposition fights in the "despicable" Western style, with rifles, field artillery, and wearing "barbarian" uniforms. In the first battle, the rebels crush the poorly-prepared loyalists. One particular samurai cuts through an enemy's rifle to kill the man behind it. Subverted, however, by Algren, who seems to be defeated and is about to have his head cut off by a katana-wielding samurai, only to turn the tables with his cavalry saber and a spear-tipped banner pole. Averted in the final battle, where the rebels make a good showing of bravery, but succumb to the superior firepower of the loyalists. ** The historical rebels actually used a good deal of Western tactics and weaponry, but did die in an old-fashioned cavalry charge after their ammo ran out.
- In Kill Bill, The Bride and several of her adversaries wield katanas crafted by Hattori Hanzo, the greatest swordsmith to ever live. The Bride's sword in particular is said to be his finest work. But the film also averts the katana's overpowering superiority: The Bride is helpless against the only two characters who have her at gunpoint, and she gets beaten up with a meteor hammer for a little while. And, of course, the katanas not forged by Hanzo break like dry twigs.
- In Pulp Fiction, Butch Coolidge, Bruce Willis' character, chooses a katana over a variety of other weapons (including a small chainsaw) to rescue Marsellus Wallace, the guy that previously wanted him dead, from the hillbillies raping him.
- Subversion: In Dead Mans Shoes, wielding a katana doesn't do the Anti-Hero's prey much good at all. It pretty much highlights the way the villains do everything they think Bad Ass gangsters should, while their opponent is a no-nonsense Combat Pragmatist.
- In The Matrix Reloaded, Morpheus wields a katana for an extended period of time and causes a car to flip over by slicing its tires as it passes. However, overall katana are not given a great deal more weight than other weapons. In the stairway fight, Neo actually spends the most time wielding a European longsword.
- The Kevin Costner flick The Bodyguard uses this trope. Costner demonstrates the implausible sharpness of the katana by tossing a silk cloth into the air... which lands on the katana blade and is cut in half just from its own weight. This scene is probably taken from an apocryphal story celebrating the sharpness of Damascus steel.
- Older Than They Think? In the 1974 Hammer Horror Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter, the title character carries a katana as well as a cavalry sabre, and at one point kills three bravos who try to pick a fight with him in two quick slashes. However, since it's still an Unbuilt Trope, it turns out not to be the ultimate vampire-killing weapon.
- The original Highlander finds an unlikely way to arm their eponymous highlander, MacLeod, with a katana, receiving it from his world-traveling master. The sword is actually a proto-katana, having been created about five hundred years before katanas as we knew them were even invented. Various spin-offs generally carry on the custom of giving their hero a katana. Funnily enough the sequel's villain is named General Katana, but does not wield a katana.
- In the 2009 Star Trek movie, there's a scene where Sulu fights Romulans with a folding sword that looks a lot like a katana, though it could also be a saber. He describes his combat training as "fencing".
- Played straight and subverted in 300, where the Persian army's elite Immortals dual-wield katana-like swords for some reason, but they prove useless against the Spartans. note
- In Ninja in the Dragon's Den, a Chinese sorcerer proves completely immune to a Chinese sabre, but a katana neatly slices his leg off. However, the katana only defeats the sorcerer because it's foreign, and therefore not affected by Chinese magic.
- G.I. Joe
- Subverted in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Snake Eyes is very good with his katana... until Storm Shadow breaks it. Then Snake Eyes pulls out the Bladed Dual Tonfas and wins.
- Played straight and slightly subverted in G.I. Joe: Retaliation. Snake Eyes uses his katana to chop Storm Shadow's shuriken to pieces. Storm Shadow uses his dual katanas to block incoming automatic weapons fire from prison guards. Subverted when Storm Shadow breaks a katana that he allegedly used to assassinate the Hard Master by striking it against Snake Eye's own sword to prove that the broken sword was not his—"Arashikage steel would not break" — and that it was a copy Zartan used to frame him for the Hard Master's death.
- The Western Red Sun is about a samurai (played by Toshiro Mifune) trying to retrieve a gold katana, meant as a gift to the US President from Japan, that was stolen by the leader of a band of train robbers. He teams up with an outlaw (played by Charles Bronson) to get it back.
- In the epic swordfight in the James Bond film Die Another Day, at one point Gustav Graves gets hold of a katana and promptly chops James Bond's sabre in half with a single blow. Curiously, they both pass up katanas in favor of broadswords for the final duel.
- DOA: Dead or Alive shows the katana's sharpness when it slices a kimono discarded by Kasumi just by it landing on the blade!
- In Predators, a yakuza scavenges a katana and faces a predator in a Duel to the Death, managing a Mutual Kill. The other humans had a harder time getting a kill with their automatic weapons.
- Elysium: Kruger has one in addition to his other weapons. He even keeps it after acquiring his own Powered Armor.
- My Way: Tatsuo and other Japanese officers used these to great extents during the battle at Nomohan against tanks.
- Adam R. Brown's Astral Dawn. Drawing from his years watching anime and reading manga and other comic books, Caspian chose his personal weapon to be a katana. Though it appears solid, his katana isn't a physical sword. It actually made out of pure energy, more specifically his own energy, forged within his center. Caspian's sword goes from having a silver blade to bearing a golden blade after he experiences several upticks in power.
- Eric Lustbader's Nicholas Linnear novels (The Ninja, The Miko, and White Ninja) tend to use katanas. A lot. At one stage the protagonist cautions his Love Interest against touching the blade of a katana because if she did it would sever her finger. Lustbader goes on to suggest that a bigger katana is even better: Iss-hogai, Linnear's weapon, is a dai-katana, or literally "big katana".
- Niko, the Badass Normal of Rob Thurman's Cal Leandros series, is proficient with a variety of edged weapons, but his favorite is the katana. Interestingly, his brother Cal fares as least as well or better when he just shoots monsters with a gun.
- The hero of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Hunters Of The Red Moon is abducted by aliens and ends up being chosen for a Most Dangerous Game-type reality show. He is given the choice of a wide range of hand-held weapons from across the galaxy and is happy to spot a Japanese katana which he uses to be one of the rare survivors of the game.
- Surprisingly subverted in Snow Crash. Although the katana-wielding Hiro turns out to be an amazing swordsman even outside of the Metaverse, it's the Big Bad's glass daggers with their monomolecular edges that do all the improbable cutting. Hiro also makes a point to compensate for the fact that his sword won't slice clean through bone like in the movies.
- As a fanboy of ancient cultures, Valerian Mengsk in the StarCraft Dark Templar Saga novels has quite a collection of ancient weapons. In itself, perhaps not so strange. But he's also a master swordsman who regularly practices with his trusty katana.
- Star Wars Expanded Universe
- In The Thrawn Trilogy, part of the A fleet of two hundred dreadnoughts called the Dark Force was also called the Katana fleet after its flagship. However, the Katana Fleet was a dismal failure in the eyes of the Republic, having lost the entire thing.
- The Jedi used katana before lightsabers were invented. They were even used sometimes afterwards, but to a much lesser extent than the Sith used their broadswords after they had lightsabers.
- In David Weber's first Safehold book, Off Armageddon's Reef, Nimue Alban manufactures a katana and wakazashi for her "Merlin" persona specifically because there is no specific counterpart in Safehold society and her intent is to give Merlin as exotic an image as possible (And because that's the style he was trained in). The weapons do prove to be superior, but only because they're made from advanced alloys that make them much sharper and stronger than ordinary steel, and are wielded by someone with literal superhuman strength.
- Both played straight and subverted in The Golden Age series by John C. Wright, as a katana is used to finish off an enemy after he has been hit with hard radiation, nanotech poison and disruptive supergravity. On the other hand, said katana is only still a sword in the loosest sense, being stuffed so full of hyper-tech that it almost bursts at the seams. Poked fun at by the protagonist, who at one point internally ridicules the soldier for still "carrying a sharp bit of metal made for poking people."
- In The Zombie Survival Guide, the author states that a katana works best when trying to behead a zombie. Where did he get this idea from? A "lost" scroll about a samurai who chopped the head off a zombie with one, though the weapon's aptitude for beheadings is well documented historically. He still recommends a crowbar over swords in general.
- In the middle section of Princess of Wands the heroine uses a magically-imbued katana against the demon in the middle section of Princess of Wands. The sword is later seen (but not used) in the last part of the book.
- In Rick Cook's Limbo System, Dr. Takiuji practices with one — and uses it to impressive effect later in the novel.
- The Riftwar Cycle: In Talon Of The Silver Hawk, Tal goes up against an assassin armed with a katana in a fencing tournament. His footman comments that badly made katana are useless against armor, and well made ones so expensive very few people can afford one, but they're wicked when it comes to cutting flesh.
- The Adventures of Samurai Cat: Averted, ironically enough. While Tomokato does indeed dual-wield a katana and and wakazashi as his preferred weapons, he is not at all averse to picking up anything that comes along. He even agrees with the Norse Troll who points an GAU Avenger at him that the gatling gun is a superior weapon - just before stepping aside so that Shiro could blast the Troll with his Avenger. Don't ask how tiny Shiro was able to lift a quarter-ton of cannon and fire it.
- In Auction Kings, Katanas are popular items. Especially if they come with a rifle and are from World War II.
- The Xena: Warrior Princess finale took place in Japan, and featured numerous references to the superiority of the Katana, even depicting Xena's sword being sliced in half by a katana. After her first experience with the katana (seen via flashback) warlord Xena says, "Oooh Gimme, Gimme!" She also uses a katana upon her second trip to Japan (the non-flashback material of the finale), to fight Yodoshi, the Lord of The Darkland.
- The Highlander TV series carries on the film's tradition of arming its Scottish Highlander main character with a katana as his default weapon; justified as well by the sword' sentimental importance. Duncan was versed in a variety of weapons, however, and would occasionally wield other weapons—one episode had him refreshing his memory with a rapier and dagger when preparing to fight a duelist on equal terms—and sometimes switched back to his old Scottish claymore when things get very personal. In one notable episode, Duncan is able to quickly dispatch a foe after they swap weapons—while Duncan was proficient in his opponent's weapon, his enemy was totally unfamiliar with the katana.
- Kamen Rider
- Kamen Rider Ryuki's hero starts off with a katana in his blank form. Subverted when it easily snaps against the very first Monster of the Week, only to be replaced by a Chinese dao which easily minces the same monster while deflecting all its attacks.
- It's worth noting that for a Japanese franchise, the only notable use of katana was in Kamen Rider Hibiki, culturally steeped to the point of being a Widget Rider series. And even then it was just a handful of times in the series (combined with Blazing Sword) and part of The Movie.
- Super Sentai gets to use more katana, due to Rangers being more weapon-savvy than Riders. In particular, Ninja Sentai Kakuranger, Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger, DekaMaster from Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger, and Samurai Sentai Shinkenger. Other seasons (in fact, other toku as well) sometimes employ kendo technique to non-katana swords. The Megazord is also not a katana.
- Dekaranger's DekaMaster is a particularly prominent example compared with the others listed above, as while all the others are ninja/samurai, DekaMaster, the head of his branch, is a Master Swordsman in a department of laser-pistol-wielding space cops, that fully subscribes to Authority Equals Asskicking.
- The CSI: Miami episode "Die by the Sword" features the sekiru (Yakuza with the serial numbers filed off) wielding katana that can cut a person in half, literally.
- The CSI: NY episode "Corporate Warriors" features a businessman beheaded by a katana-wielding rival from his firm. Also inserted are obligatory scenes of Mac Taylor looking sexy while testing a katana.
- Deadliest Warrior averts this. The katana is not granted any more special powers than it demonstrates during testing, and many western swords are shown to be just as lethal. Testing suggested that the katana could slash straight through more than one unarmored body in a single swing, but could not slash through chainmail.
- R. Lee Ermey on Lock and Load tested a katana against a traditional European longsword. He determined the katana was better at both slashing and penetrating armor, though through very dubious methods and not to a significant degree.
- MythBusters averted this trope when testing if one sword can slice through another. The katana got bent sideways by a Scottish Claymore.
- In The Outer Limits (1995) episode "Mindreacher", a woman is attacked by a monster in a dream. After she realizes she's in a dream, she wills a katana into her hand and kills the monster.
- In the Doctor Who episode "The Girl Who Waited", Amy wields a katana and a staff against the Handbots after the Doctor abandoned her for 36 years.
- Invoked in the Criminal Minds episode "True Night," where a delusional man on a vendetta imagines himself in a Badass Longcoat and Dual Wielding katana, while in the real world he's wearing a hoodie and wiedling hardware store machetes.
- The Walking Dead: Michonne is the most effective survivor at killing walkers at close range. She uses a katana to effortlessly decapitate zombies, often two at a time.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- In first and second editions, katanas were pretty much the ultimate one-handed weapon by a fair margin, and a solid contender as one of the best two-handed weapons.
- Third edition toned katanas back, determining that a genuine katana was merely a masterwork bastard sword under another name. Presumably, a cheap knock-off would be only a regular bastard sword.
- Fourth edition weapons are more formulaic and balanced in design. Using examples from the existing weapons table, a flavorful yet fair 4E katana shouldn't be hard to improvise... a bastard sword with a lower proficiency bonus and the high crit property, for example.
- Pathfinder's katanas and wakizashi are essentially longswords and shortswords that can land critical hits more easily and have a property that makes it easier to execute helpless opponents. Wakizashi also have the minor but sometimes useful bonus of being able to do slashing and piercing damage (standard shortswords are assumed to be like the Roman gladius, meant only for stabbing). However, both are classified as "exotic" weapons when used one-handed, which requires special training, and are generally the same level of power as western exotic weapons.
- Fifth Edition does not include them in the final release at all. As the bastard sword has been effectively merged with the longsword, which can now be used two handed for extra damage that would be the most logical equivalent but no special rules apply.
- d20 Modern has the katana as the best sword in the core rules, but it requires the Exotic Weapons Proficiency feat to use.
- Very much used in the Old World of Darkness, where statistically the katana was undoubtedly the best weapon you could use. However, this changed over time. In the Revised (third) edition of the old WoD, all swords have the same stats. In the New World of Darkness, katana have the same stats as all other swords, but extremely expensive "genuine" katana are more durable.
- Played straight to the point of parody in Dudes of Legend, which lets you give special abilities to katanas, like "Armor Ain't Got Shit Against This Blade".
- In the Stick Guy Role-Playing Game, most equipment provides either a +1 or +2 bonus on a roll. Katanas always provide a +3, whether the situation makes the use of a katana logical or not.
- Shadowrun 4th edition takes this trope in a weird direction, with the katana being better than the generic sword, as good as the mono-filament sword, but worse than the combat axe and claymore.
- In GURPS 3rd Edition, a katana wielded two-handed did more damage and was better at defending than any comparable western blade. After many "Magical Sword of Ethnic Badassery" jokes, the katana was rendered slightly inferior to comparable western swords, since it does an equal amount of slashing damage and less stabbing damage.
- Used and (partially) subverted in Legend of the Five Rings. In fact, the book lists half a dozen weapons as "the only truly honorable ones for Samurai". In due fairness, however, it then proceeds to list exceptions by clan, and the katana is not an all-purpose superweapon in this game (heavy weapons are more useful against opponents with carapace, bows can be devastating if used right, etc.). Nearly all of the powerful magical weapons in the setting are katanas, though.
Played completely straight in earlier editions though. No matter what tricks a weapon had, the katana could generally outdo it simply by being so damaging that nothing else mattered. 4th Edition solved this by giving other weapons a general boost while leaving the katana untouched. The katana is still a solid bread-and-butter weapon though. This IS a game about Samurai after all.
- The Riddle Of Steel, a highly intricate game with a largely accurate depiction of historical European martial arts, added Eastern swords and Kenjutsu to its repetoire in one of its supplemental books. Katanas are quite weak against plate armor and require some work to set up their best moves due to a poor reach, but their proficiency contains several excellent maneuvers with which to accomplish this and if you DO land its draw cut on an unarmored or poorly armored part of your opponent? He's probably a goner.
- In Chaosium's Basic Role Playing system, a multi-genre game based on the rules used in Call of Cthulhu and RuneQuest among others, the Katana does the same amount of damage as a bastard sword ... but it has a higher "base" value, meaning that people who train in the use of a Katana start out with a higher chance to hit — and it can be used one handed by weaker and less dextrous fighters, as well!
- Anima Beyond Fantasy makes not just the katana, but all Japanese weapons superior to western counterparts. They all have a higher presence(coolness factor basically) than western weapons. Mechanically, however, it's not really any different from a longsword in combat and its higher presence score only means that it's very slightly more resistant to being — for example — magically transmuted into a rubber chicken. It's also slightly less durable physically.
- Savage Worlds outright asks: "How do you want katanas to work? If you want realistic katanas, use longsword rules. If you want movie katanas, use katana rules. If you want anime katanas, use laser sword rules." Katanas can be better, or not, as the GM pleases.
- In BattleTech, the Draconis Combine features battlemechs equipped with mech-sized katanas. However, melee for mechs are typically Awesome but Impractical and the sword is no exception, dealing only a single point of damage more than the mech could have inflicted just by punching the target. The trope is completely avoided by the Katana Battlemech, which is just a variant of the Crockett with inferior armor and heatsinks, making it a worse mech. In the Battletech RPG, katanas are superior to generic swords as melee weapons, but they're identical to scimitars, so the difference is probably meant to just be in quality of manufacturing.
- Zig-zagged in Mutant Chronicles. Mishiman katana are better than all other readily available swords. However, there are also Ace Custom claymores forged by the master-smiths of clan Gallagher, which are the finest blades in the Solar System. There are similar Ace Custom katanas as well, but they are significantly worse than Gallagher swords, and stated to be made using stolen and imperfectly understood Gallagher smithing techniques. The Mortis-patterns swords used by Brotherhood Mortificators are better than standard Mishiman swords, but only superficially resemble katana (Mortis-swords have a prominent false edge) and are closely guarded.
- Invoked in BIONICLE. Lewa's swords are called "Air Katana", despite not reembling katana in the slightest.
- Weapon of choice of the strongest in Greek Ninja. Played straight.
- Subverted in Survival of the Fittest; while people have been assigned katana as weapons before, the people with katana are not shown as any more skilled than anyone else for the most part, and rarely accomplish much. In fact, the person assigned a katana in V1 was quickly killed off in their debut thread, and to add insult to injury their killer discarded the sword as useless. Adam Dodd would later use the weapon near the end of V1 to pin his nemesis Cody Jenson to a tree before carving the word "rapist" into his chest, a reference to one of the acts that drove Cody over the Moral Event Horizon.
- Parodied by SCP-572 of the SCP Foundation: it's a poor-quality katana intended exclusively for display, but anybody who holds it becomes convinced of its balance and cutting power, as well as their own invincibility. They then attempt the feats commonly seen of this trope (such as cutting a car in half) with predictable results.
- Both parodied and played straight in zOMG. In the introductory comic, the guard's weapons all shatter on the hides of the Animated. When a heroic looking guard steps in to save the day with his katana, the other guards express awe at the sheer awesomeness of his weapon... only for them to scream in horror as his Katana is shattered and he gets attacked by Animated Buzzsaws. Despite this, the Mantis Ring generates a G'hi Katana that actually can harm the Animated. Even then, the Katana isn't the most powerful weapon, as the Hack and Slash rings (which summon cutlasses) deal more damage in exchange for speed and energy consumption.
- Sapphire: Especially when it's the detonator for a bunch of exploding throwing stars.
- Things Mr. Welch Is No Longer Allowed to Do in an RPG has numerous katana jokes, none of them flattering.
87. There is no such thing as a dwarven katana.
1408. Even if the rules allow it, I cannot fence with a katana.
- Kickassia: Phelous and President Baugh both have fake katanas, with varying degrees of realism between the two.
- Post-Mission That Dude in the Suede. He's using one in Suburban Knights, notably.
- Mall Fight: Tox's choice weapon, Epsilon, is a katana.
- So popular in the Whateley Universe that when sensei Tolman sees that Bladedancer wields a jian, she makes note of it. Swordmaiden wields a katana, as well as a couple other types of sword, and her own manifested-matter sword.
- CJ on We're Alive uses a Katana as her weapon of choice.
- Heavily disputed by lindybeige.
- Defied by Cracked in their article about famous "zombie apocalypse" weapons that would suck in a real zombie apocalypse. According to this article, katanas are best suited for quick draw — something totally useless against zombies — and are way too fragile and high-maintenance to be of any use in a survival situation.
- In Noob both Decklan and Omega Zell have upgraded from their earlier weapons to katanas over the course of the story.
- In the Transformers Generation 1 episode "The Burden Hardest to Bear", a Japanese man is able to use a katana to hurt a Matrix-powered Scourge.
- In Transformers Prime, Wheeljack has two katanas which have kicked liberal ass of enemies wielding what should be much more powerful weapons whenever he shows.
- Ulrich Stern from Code Lyoko is certainly a victim of this trope. The Lyoko forms are hypothesized to be created from the subconscious of the virtualized persons... and seeing himself as The Hero, his avatar is quite naturally a samurai with a katana. Since this is a virtual world, he can get away with things like Reflecting Laser, Throwing Your Sword Always Works or Sword Dragging. But in "A Bad Turn", he uses an authentic katana in the real world with just as much skill.
- On Frisky Dingo, Killface's plan to recover his son Simon from Torpedo Vegas while wading through the sewers under Vegas's hideout is laughably over-the-top, and involves witty catchphrases, throwing stars and Xander/Barnaby's ludicrous distraction technique (he's already completely naked anyway, and in Killface's imagination, his job is get the attention of a guard, rub his nipples and yell, "OH ME SO HORNY! YOU DISTRACTED? YOU LIKE TEABAG, CHINATOWN?!"). But the trope comes into play when Killface muses that the final showdown with Vegas will be an epic battle, "probably with katanas!". Of course, while he slices Vegas in two in his imagination, they're captured before even getting out of the sewer.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2003 makes it pretty clear that the skill of the wielder is more important than the blade itself, and a Simple Staff or a pair of sai are just as good. However, that doesn't stop Leonardo's swords from cutting through robots and metal garage doors like a chainsaw through butter. With katanas he made himself.
- Pre Vizsla from Star Wars: The Clone Wars uses a black-bladed lightsaber shaped like a katana. He's still beaten by Obi-Wan, who could equal him in swordsmanship and beat him with the Force.
- Enforced and subverted during World War II. Japanese officers originally carried kyū-guntō ("old military sword" in Japanese), which resembled western cavalry sabers, until a nationalist movement demanded a more traditional katana shape. Most of the resulting katanas, called shin-guntō ("new military sword") were simply mass-produced pieces of machined steel with an edge ground into them. The swords also made it easy for enemy soldiers to spot officers from a distance.
- A notable aversion is the Defense of the Great Wall during the Second Sino-Japanese War. In spite of inferior equipment and numbers, Chinese soldiers managed to inflict heavy casualties on the invading Japanese army using, among other light weapons, traditional Chinese swords such as the dāo and dàdāo. These swords were accounted to be superior to the katana for use by untrained peasants against infantry and mounted soldiers.
- Katanas are quite popular among criminals in countries such as the United Kingdom and Malaysia, where firearms are harder or more expensive to purchase. Cheap katanas have become quite common due to their popularity as a collector's item, so many of them naturally find their way into the hands of unscrupulous people who are prepared to use them. The UK even bans the selling of all mass-produced curved swords due to their use in violent crime.
- The MythBusters showed whether or not a katana could actually decapitate a sheep in one swing (Warning: Possible icky video). This isn't particularly surprising, since the victim is stationary and braced to get the maximum effect from the swing.
- There is a minor internet meme of a Japanese-made President Obama action figure posed with two katanas.◊ Further pictures reveal that the toy doesn't come with katanas, but does have hands that can hold about just about any scale weapons you might have lying around.
- Need to stop a burglar in a hurry? Just unleash a Bankai on that mofo and call it a day.
- The History Channel show Lock and Load has R. Lee Ermey attempting to determine whether the katana or the longsword is "better." The test, determined by damage to a metal breastplate by an untrained user, concluded katanas to be the overall better weapon. The validity of the test, and the quality of the weapons tested, are both in question.
- On Weapon Masters, in a comparison between a traditional katana and a sword made of modern alloys by Chad Houseknecht (albeit in the same shape so it could be used by a Japanese sword expert in tests the same way), both swords performed equally well.
- One Japanese-based cutlery smith, KAI Industries (who release their kitchen knives under the brand name "Shun"), uses this trope in advertising their wares, claiming that usage of katana forging techniques makes their knives the best in the world. Professional chefs aren't fooled, however, and do not generally rate their knives particularly high.
- On a German TV show, the katana is shown to be just another sword with all the accompanying limitations. The blades are forged by Stefan Roth, a smith known for both European and Japanese styled blades.
- Actual samurai used their katana only as a back-up sidearm in battles. When their opponents were at a more comfortable distance, they preferred their other two traditional weapons, the spear (yari) and bow (yumi). It was only during the Edo period when the concept of the wandering ronin swordsman became romanticized and katana gained a larger cultural importance.
- The Ascent Of Man has an episode (or chapter, if you read the book of the series) called "The Grain In The Stone" examining how humanity's investigations into the structure of matter has advanced technology. One sequence examines the traditional forging of a katana blade, detailing how the folding process made the blade both flexible and capable of holding a cutting edge, how smiths of the era knew the temperature of the metal they were working (through visual cues) and how the blade was ultimately tested. It can be seen here.