When I saw the last chapter of Katanagatari, I felt angry. Princess Hitei survived? And maybe she Pair The Spares with Shichika? Unforgivable! But then it hit me: I was completely at peace with Togameís death. Why?

First I tought this tale was a deconstruction of the High Fantasy Chambara sword fights in eighteenth century Japan. But then I couldnít place exactly where was the deconstructive work. I certainly recognized Truffaut Was Right or Shoot The Shaggy Dog, but I was still confused.

Now I think I have figured it out and I want to share my theory:

We are seeing not a deconstruction, but a very normal and even typical Chambara story. There is an Ancient Conspiracy that must be stopped. There is Gray And Gray Morality, there is the usual epic battles, heroic sacrifices and cardboard villains and heroes.

But in this tale, the Sympathetic POV is in the villains, and all the attention is given to the protagonist of the Shoot The Shaggy Dog Story, because is the only way to truly avert the Truffaut Was Right trope.

Sympathetic POV: Togame is the Dragon In Chief who thanks she was killed before getting a true chance to become the Big Bad. Shichika is The Dragon. The Big Bad was Shikizaki Kiki, the guy who organized all the plot. Princess Hitei is the Antihero and Emonzaemon is The Lancer. The Evil Plan was stopped. Japanís true history was restored, and You Cannot Change The Future.

Shoot The Shaggy Dog Story: This tale is not about Princess Hitei and Shichika (lampshaded as the least interesting characters and among the only ones to survive), is about the Maniwani Corps, whose every member had less power and more personality than Shichika. Itís about the story of the mook who looks cool for a moment and is killed immediately by the Antihero. Itís about The Lancer who knowís the antiheroine will never love him and yet fights for her. And more than anything, Itís about the interesting villain Togame, who sacrificed everything to accomplish his goals and is killed by the antiheroine just in her moment of triumph.

Only that you can avert Truffaut Was Right. Only that you can explain chapter 4, when instead of a Crowning Moment Of Awesome you get a Mook Horror Show. Indeed, swords and Nanami, even when beautiful, where created to kill.

You have to love and respect a show that reminds you of that little truth.

Comments

  • Augustine
  • 23rd Jul 11
It is an interesting take, but I'm not sure I agree with you. Togame is a liar first and foremost, we never find out if she was actually telling the truth about planning to kill Shichika, it could have been a fabrication to get him to live his own live. I also disagree with you about Shichika and Hitei being uninteresting, but that is a matter of personal preference.

My favorite thing about the series though, is that you could be absolutely right. There is so much doubt in every part of the story, any theory with some basis can be correct.
  • MrMallard
  • 13th Jul 12
Uhh, yeah. A spoilers warning would have been appreciated.
  • Immortalbear
  • 8th Jul 17
I disagree. If there was supposed to be a PersecutionFlip, then they should have made Togame and Shichika much worse people than they are. In the series, entire series they only kill 5 people that own swords and kill two more in self-defense. They even find an orphan and send her back to the government, so she can get the proper care she needs. Besides, many of the people they do kill either cruel and sociopathic, or wanted to meet their own demise due to the depression life caused them. In episode 10, Shichika reflects on the deaths he caused up to that point and he only feels bad about killing Meisai and his sister.

Beyond that why is Togame evil? Because she wants to get on good terms with the Shogunate by retrieving the blades and doesn\'t mind getting her hands dirty? Because that\'s just military life in general. Its not like she doesn\'t give the sword wielders an offer of compensation in exchange of the swords. Besides the swords are poisonous, they cause their wielders to be paranoid and bloodthirsty just having them in possession. It\'s not wrong to perform a public service out of the desire to be rewarded. Its the reason why many people do them.

If the story was a Shaggy Dog Story, then they should have shrunk the Maniwa Corps considerably put more focus on a handful of members, as well as thrown the whole conspiracy plot line out the window. So many of the Maniwa are disposable mooks it is hard to care about the few that get a small whiff of backstory.

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