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Long ago, in a distant land, death was unknown to the world. Eventually, however, death first showed up, and with it, the "messenger from afar." The cause was found to be "Hell's Gate," and a sealing ritual was performed to keep the dead behind there, thus creating the two worlds. The Four Gods keep a constant eye over the gate. Eventually, Shinnosuke Kagami (Suzaku's earthly avatar) becomes tired of how foolish and weak people have become, and decides to take advantage of the power of the gate for himself.Meanwhile, three adopted children of a great swordsman, Kaede, Yuki and Moriya Minakata, find their lives in turmoil. Kaede and Yuki, off on an errand, return to find their father dead, Moriya standing over his corpse. Kaede, assuming that it was Moriya, attacks him. Moriya takes the beating without fighting and walks away afterwards.Kaede, feeling that he was too weak to help, goes to train with the old hermit Genbu Okina, and discovers that he holds the power of Seiryuu. He eventually fights with Kagami, and not only defeats him and saves the world, but also discovers that Kagami is the true killer of his father.In the second game, the Hell's Gate is still wide open and to seal it for good, the 'Sealing Maiden' is required to sacrifice her life. Kaede, Moriya, Yuki and Okina tried to search for this Maiden, with several surprises in tow that there's this madman called Setsuna who claims to be a "Messenger from Afar" that wants to kill everyone, and the trio's master, Gaisei, reborn into Kohryu and plotting to open Hell's Gate as well to let the spirits akin to Setsuna enter the world. Luckily for Kaede, not only he's the Seiryuu power holder (Okina's obviously Genbu), the Heavens has sent back Kagami to the mortal world, on the humans' side in a Redemption Quest, and the holder of the Byakko's power, Naoe Shigen, previously Brainwashed and Crazy by Kagami, is now also back to his senses and the formation of The Four Gods power holder are complete. Unfortunately for Kaede, the Sealing Maiden is actually Yuki and she resolves to sacrifice herself.The Last Blade (in Japanese, Bakumatsu Roman: Gekka no Kenshi, "Tales of the Shogunate's End: Moonlight Swordsman") is a cruelly short-lived (two games in two years total, NGP ports notwithstanding) Fighting Game series developed and published by SNK in the late 90s — their prime. Seen by many as a Spiritual Successor to the Samurai Shodown series, LB still managed to stand out with its melodramatic aesthetic, extremely smooth animation and two modes of play (Speed and Power). The Neo Geo games are generally regarded as among the best SNK ever produced; at any rate, they're most certainly the most underrated. Both of them.
This series contains examples of:
Actually a Doombot: You can't kill Akari in the second game if you meet the triggers (hit with a super or a hard slash attack that cuts at full power for starters) that would kill any other character you find out what you "killed" was actually one of her shikigami paper doll things and she appears on the side wall you're facing and taunts you for the bisection kill while standing or crouching on the ground and for the other kill strikes ( bleeds out / fatal cut while in the air ) she falls out of a portal koed but alive.
Compilation Re-release: Both games in the series were released as Bakumatsu Roman Gekka no Kenshi: 1+2 on the PS2.
Costume Copycat: In the PS1 port of The Last Blade, an alternate version of Akari, known as "Akari" Ichijou or "Ponta" Akari, is selectable, sporting darker hair, goldenrod robes, and a tail. This is because the "Akari" in question is a male tanuki in disguise, who is parading around and making mischief. Understandably, the real Akari is none too pleased by these developments and gives chase.
Counter Attack: One important part of game mechanic, with a single button assigned in the second title. By successfully parrying an incoming attack with a special move, the opponent will always flinch, leaving themselves defenseless.
Demoted to Extra: Yuki is the main heroine of the series, but has never set foot outside her own series, unlike Akari and Hibiki. Also, she took a tremendous dive in character rankings in her transition from The Last Blade to The Last Blade 2.
Juzoh and Mukuro/Shikyoh are reduced from playables to just mini game-only characters in the NGPC version of the game. Musashi just disappears completely.
Diagonal Cut: As in Samurai Shodown, finishing a standing opponent with a hard slash has chances of slicing them in half. Many super moves make it a guarantee.
Unless of course your playing the edited versions of the game which remove that animation.
In fact, if the language is set to English in the BIOS for the 2nd game, these are removed completely regardless of blood setting.
Ditto Fighter: Sort of. A cheat enables you to play as one of Akari's paper dolls, which takes the form of whoever you're fighting.
Akari herself can also do it for a short time by invoking one of these.
The Ditz: Amano sees leaves falling off the trees (in the first game, autumn is giving way to winter). Amano deduces that something rotten is going on. Well, at least his conclusion was correct....
Gainax Ending: Mukuro's ending in the second game. He, uh notices that gravity doesn't suddenly affect him anymore and spends the rest of the credits swimming through the skies until he is knocked out by the THE END sign. This is even turned into a mini-game in the portable version!
Long Title: The original Japanese name of the Neo Geo Pocket Color version of the game, which is Bakumatsu Roman Tokubetsu Hen: Gekka no Kenshi - Tsuki ni Saku Hana, Chiri Yuku Hana ("Romance of the Bakumatsu, Special Edition: Swordsman of the Moonlightnote The original Japanese title of the series - Flowers Harvested Under the Moon, Flowers Scattered Away") in its entirety. May also be a form of Colon Cancer.
Meaningful Name: Yuki means "snow", Kaede means "maple", Setsuna means "moment", Hibiki (with the kanji used to represent it) means "echo", Mukuro means "corpse", Zantetsu means "steel-cutter", and Rekka (technically not Chinese, but a Chinese word that also happens to be a Japanese word pronounced the Japanese way) means something like "a raging fire". In addition, Genbu no Okina literally means "old man of the Black Tortoise", Shikyoh is composed of the kanji for "purple" and "mirror" (a reference to a Japanese Urban Legend that the phrase 'purple mirror' is a Brown Note of sorts), and Kouryu is the 'yellow dragon'. Some of these are Meaningful. A few might just be non-names.
Nietzsche Wannabe: Setsuna's win quotes are full of questions like this. Kagami straddles the line between this and Knight Templar, particularly during his tenure as the final boss of the first game.
No Fourth Wall: In his endings, Amano directly addresses the player Visual Novel-style and converses with them via a series multiple choice questions. Depending on the player's answers, he could either tell you a secret URL for the game's official site that could be used to download some wallpapers or the command for a hidden taunt for him.
Shout-Out: To SNK's own The King of Fighters series, which is in continuity with this series. For one, Zantetsu is Eiji Kisaragi's ancestor. For another, Kagami shares Kyo Kusanagi signature move and bears a strong resemblance to him as well. Lee Rekka is a Shout-Out to Jet Li, and, later, Kung Fu. (He is also based on Chinese hero Wong Fei-Hung, portrayed by Jet Li in film.)
In a reversal, sometimes designers play up the resemblance between Kaede's awakened form and Rock Howard, mainly because they both are blond red-eyed guys who have yet to fully comprehend the power within them.
Smoke Out: Again, sort of. One of Zantetsu's moves makes him briefly invisible.