Video Game: The Last Blade
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
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.
- An Ice Person: Yuki.
- Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Kaede's powered-up form, Washizuka, Moriya.
- Incidentally, Lee Rekka who IS a Kung-Fu guy appears pretty laid back and friendly.
- The English version of Washizuka's win quote when he kills the other player makes him sound very apologetic. The Japanese says roughly the same thing, but is not quite as apologetic.
- The Atoner: Kagami in the second game.
- Badass: Quite a few. Amano, Setsuna, Washizuka...
- Badass Longcoat: Setsuna, Moriya, Kagami and some. At the time of the games, Western-styled clothing is being introduced to Japan.
- Badass Adorable: Akari, Hibiki to an extent.
- Barrier Maiden: Yuki.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Hibiki Takane is usually a very meek and kind individual. But, if you go the extra mile and kill your opponents, she becomes a deranged murderer.
- In the few appearances she's had outside the series, she shows up as the murderous version you can mold her into instead of her sweet, kind self.
- Bifauxnen: Kojiroh. To help it along, she's also a Sweet Polly Oliver with a Tomboyish Name.
- Only when adopting her brother's identity. She has a feminine name otherwise (Kaori).
- Bishōnen: Half the male cast.
- Blade on a Stick: Yuki uses a naginata.
- Boisterous Bruiser: Juzoh, big time.
- Break the Cutie: Hibiki. And you're the one that breaks her. What the hell is wrong with you!?
- Butt Monkey: Juzoh again.
- 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.
- Chivalrous Pervert: Hyo Amano.
- 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....
- Elemental Powers: Most of the characters. Shigen summons sharp stone blocks, Lee and Kagami play with fire, Yuki is An Ice Person, Kaede and Setsuna displays Shock and Awe, etc.
- Enemy to All Living Things and Omnicidal Maniac: Setsuna is made of these tropes (almost literally so). So much so his fighting styles are listed as "kill" and "murder," rather than any kind of swordplay.
- Everything's Deader with Zombies: Mukuro, a.k.a. Shikyo from the first game turned undead.
- Expy: Akatsuki Musashi. It's actually a plot point, as Musashi is supposed to be the reincarnated soul of the Miyamoto Musashi.
- The Four Gods: Kagami, Okina, Shigen, and Kaede represent Suzaku, Genbu, Byakko, and Seiryu, respectively.
- Fragile Speedster: Moriya, Akari.
- 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!
- Genki Girl: Akari.
- Glass Cannon: Zantetsu, Mukuro.
- Half-Identical Twins: Kojiroh Sanada is actually the deceased Kojiroh's twin sister, who took his identity to find his killer. She ended up living the rest of her life under the charade.
- Heel-Face Turn: Kagami in the second game.
- Hell Gate: Kagami opened it, was sucked into it, and spat out of it some time later.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Yuki dies in the end of the second game to seal the Hellgate.
- Infant Immortality: Akari appears to die when fatally struck, only to reveal the body you cut down was just an illusion. The real girl will appear on the side of the screen and run off afterward.
- It Gets Easier: Zigzagged with Hibiki. She gets more and more distraught at her kills until her sixth, where she takes up a look of stoic bliss.
- Justice Will Prevail: Lee Rekka's creed.
- Knife Nut: Mukuro.
- Lady of War: Kojiroh, possibly Yuki.
- The Last Title
- Lawful Stupid, Chaotic Stupid: Washizuka is, arguably, Lawful Stupid.
- Little Miss Badass: Akari.
- 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 - 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.
- Mighty Glacier: Juzoh, Shigen, Musashi.
- 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.
- Old Master: Okina.
- Omnicidal Maniac: Kagami in the first game, Setsuna in the second.
- Paper Fan of Doom: Lee Rekka has a paper fan, but uses it rarely.
- Playing with Fire: Lee Rekka and Kagami.
- Power Dyes Your Hair: Kaede can awake his inner powers and become more powerful, faster and blond.
- Power Floats: Kagami floats a few inches off the ground in his Final Boss form.
- The Quiet One: Did someone say Moriya?
- Real Men Wear Pink: Amano, who is Badass enough to wear a pink kimono and use cherry blossoms magic and look awesome while doing it.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Although they don't wear the appropriate colors, Kaede and Moriya have the personalities and rivalry down pat.
- Scenery Porn: Even going by fighting game standards... boy howdy.
- The Shinsengumi: Keiichiro Washizuka and Kojiroh Sanada.
- 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.)
- Also, Musashi's haircut bears an uncanny resemblance with Haohmaru's... who also was an Expy of Miyamoto Musashi.
- Several of The Last Blade's characters are inspired by Rurouni Kenshin; according to Word of God, this was a friendly nod to Nobuhiro Watsuki, who is a self-admitted fan of the Samurai Shodown series.
- 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.
- SNK Boss: Musashi, holy crap!
- And Kouryu, of course.
- Also Kagami's "hyper" form in the first game.
- Stone Wall: Shigen, who also literally turns his body into stone in case you didn't get the hint.
- Sweet Polly Oliver: LB2!Kojiroh, who is Kaori Sanada, the sister of the Kojiroh from the original.