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Light Novel / Katanagatari

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"People who work for money are no good. People who work for honor are no good either. That leaves only one reason: Love!"

A twelve volume novel series by NisiOisiN and illustrated by Take, later adapted into a 12-Episode Anime in 2010. Despite the similar name, it is not related to Isin's other work Bakemonogatari. A spin off, Maniwagatari, was released.

The legendary swordsmith Kiki Shikizaki made 1000 swords in his career. His skill was such that entire wars were decided by how many of his swords each side had. When the Shogun emerged victorious, he collected the first 988 of those swords... but those were just practice for Shikizaki.

The final twelve swords were the pinnacle of the swordsmith's career. Each of them has powers so extraordinary that just a single man could defeat small armies while wielding one of them.

Shogunate strategist Togame has been ordered to recover them. She first hired a Ninja...but the worth of the swords is so great that the entire ninja clan defected the moment they recovered one. Then she hired a swordsman... but he kept the sword for himself after finding it and went rogue.


Her last hope is Shichika Yasuri, the seventh head and last practitioner of Kyotouryuu, the No Sword School. He and his elder sister live on an island cut off from civilization, and as such they need no money. His fighting style doesn't use a sword, so the famous weapons are useless to him.

So why should he agree to help? Only one option remains — they must fall in love.

The anime adaptation is notable for its highly unusual approach. Not only does it use a very stylized, angular Thick-Line Animation visual style rooted in the light novels' equally stylized illustrations, but its episodes are fifty minutes each and were aired monthly over the course of a year, as opposed to the industry standard of 22-minute weekly episodes. It also has a prequel Drama CD series by the author bundled with the DVD/BDs.


Katanagatari provides examples of:

  • 12-Episode Anime: Averted. The twelve episodes here are some 45-minutes-long and they premiered at the pace of one episode per month, making an initial run of it last one year. The plot unfolds in full.
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: The power of the Zantou Namakura is being this.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: A number of Deviant Blade wielders and Maniwa Corps members have redeeming qualities or backstories that make you genuinely sympathize with them when they die.
  • All for Nothing: Invoked in the final episodes. Hitei's machinations and Shichika's decisive kill amount to literally nothing, because the son of one of Masatsuna's descendants succeeded the seat of the 9th Shogun. History was not falsified in the end.
  • Aloof Big Brother: Nanami is a female example, but she fits the trope to a T, especially in Episode 7.
  • Alternate History: The Yanari Shogunate, rather than the Tokugawa, unified Japan to end the Sengoku Period and established a capital at Owari rather than Edo. This is because Shikizaki Kiki foresaw the Tokugawa's rise to power and stopped it, only for a different family to seize power in a similar way.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: Kyotouryuu (a sword fighting style that doesn't use swords) sounds silly until you remember that a certain big name in martial arts created a fighting style that incorporated fencing tactics.
  • An Aesop:
    • The ending. Episode 10 comes to the conclusion that fighting is meaningless. At the end of Episode 12, almost everyone has died... and nothing of note has changed. Meaningless indeed.
    • Essentially the entire point of the ending sequence is reinforcing this view, with the show giving us a slow montage of the locations in which characters were slain or fought throughout the series before stating that the plan still never succeeded.
  • Anti-Hero: Shichika has no hesitation whatsoever about killing any foe on his path (even if they are likeable, or women and children). It should be noted that this is because of his upbringing but still...
  • Anti-Villain:
    • All of the non-Maniwani villains, and even then the Insect Squad isn't too bad.
    • By Episode 6 the Maniwa have cemented themselves as near Anti-Villains, being very Affably Evil, and mostly neutral. Houou takes alliances seriously, and the remaining Maniwa (except for one) all understand the path of the shinobi well enough to know that revenge will not prosper.
    • The Reveal in Episode 12 retroactively makes Togame a protagonist example.
  • Anyone Can Die: This series is absolutely brutal with its character mortality. The body count includes the entire Maniwa Corps, seven of the twelve Deviant Blade wielders (not counting one who has been dead for centuries and the autonomous blade that gets destroyed), countless mooks, most of Shogun Owari's elite forces and the Shogun himself. Even Togame isn't immune.
    • In the end, aside from Hitei and Shichika, only two little girls, a shogi player, a hermit and a pirate are spared.
  • Arc Number:
    • 12. There are twelve swords, the story takes place over roughly twelve months, and is comprised of twelve volumes/episodes.
    • Also, there are 12 Maniwani leaders and 12 Shogunate guards.
    • 7 might also be a character oriented number: Shichika is the 7th Kyotouryuu head, Shichi in Shichika and Nana in Nanami are both 7 in Japanese. Also, his ultimate move has 7 components and he battles his sister for the 7th sword in Episode 7.
  • Armor-Piercing Slap: Togame tries, but inevitably hurts her hands more than she does Shichika.
  • Artistic License – Martial Arts: Many a Martial Arts Movie tends to show martial arts just as a way to obtain different superpowers. Nanami reminds us that true martial arts seek two Simple, yet Awesome things: to teach a technique that improves the student's self-worth by patience and practice, and to give the students at the school a sense of community and pertinence. Those were the very things being Blessed with Suck denied her. That is what makes the moment before her Final Battle a true tearjerker:
    "Seventh head of Kyotouryuu, Shichika Yasuri."
    "With neither style nor school, Nanami Yasuri."
  • Art Shift:
    • The entire seventh episode. It just keeps outdoing itself.
    • Done absurdly for Togame's fantasies in Episode 9.
  • The Atoner:
    • Meisai gave up the bandit life to care for the girls of the Sanzu Shrine after the previous Meisai Tsuruga used his dying breath, not to curse her, but to beg her to forgive the broken girls of the shrine. Because of this, she uses Tsurugi as a healing agent for the girls. Suffice to say, this is an incredibly unusual use for a spiritually poisonous Deviant Blade, and it's unclear how helpful Tsurugi even is for this purpose. But as Meisai is bound by the taint of the sword, this was likely the only way she could go on living without having to continue to kill people.
    • Also, Shichika for Togame at the end. He denies it, however.
  • Audience Surrogate: Shichika, during Episode 11 due to a few fourth wall leaning comments.
  • Awakening the Sleeping Giant:
    • The Maniwa really shouldn't have sent the Insect Squad to attack Nanami. This allowed her to have both the motivation and the means (thanks to her newly acquired walk-on-water technique) to get involved in the sword hunt — which spelled trouble for Shichika and Togame.
    • Certain events that transpire towards the end of the series make Shichika a prime example of this. Perhaps quite literal considering his stature.
  • Badass Adorable: Konayuki, the opponent from Episode 6. Extra points on the badass for being the first person to wound Shichika through the journey, while being a complete amateur.
  • Battle Amongst the Flames: The battle with Shichika's father that ended Togame's father's rebellion took place inside a burning castle.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished:
    • Nanami didn't even get her kimono dirty the last time she fought Shichika to a "draw". In Episode 4 the last Insect Corp ninja actually hits her with two barbed caltrops, but she simply digs them out without even flinching. There's surprisingly little blood too.
    • How about when Nanami slices off Togame's hair in Episode 7? A hair cut like that should have left it frayed, but somehow it's a perfect bob. Shichika even comments that his sister is pretty good at it.
    • Averted in Episode 10, which Togame spends covered in mud while digging.
  • Becoming the Mask: Shichika and Togame really do fall in love. But on the other hand, at least according to her, it didn't make a difference — she still would have killed him in the end.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Dear God, Nanami!
  • Big Eater: Shichika and Togame consume at least several thousand calories worth of rice dumplings and red bean soup while recapping the awesome battle they had with Sabi Hakuhei in Episode 4.
  • Big "NO!": Togame lets one out when she discovers the true meaning of her Catchphrase.
  • Bodyguard Crush: Invoked. And perhaps played straight with Emonzaemon.
  • Body Horror: Oh goddess, Koumori's transformation ability... and to a lesser extent, being able to produce a full costume from his mouth.
  • Body Surf: Maniwa Kyouken's ability. Only it has to be a female.
  • Book Ends: The BGM "Togame" plays during Togame and Shichika's first meeting, and its near-identical twin "Is It All Right to Fall for You?" plays as Togame says her last words to Shichika 12 episodes later.
  • Boss Rush: The final episode has Shichika carving his way through the Shogun's retainers wielding the Deviant Blades, with Emonzaemon as the Final Boss.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Entou Jyuu, which were created by Shikizaki Kiki using future technology.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: During one of the dialogues between Princess Hitei and Emonzaemon in Episode 10, she stops him after he's about to reveal her motivation for collecting the swords. She then puts her fan over her mouth, looks at the camera, and says "I don't know who might be listening, so refrain from saying anything careless."
  • Calling Your Attacks: Sometimes followed by the attack names getting their own screen, written in badass calligraphy.
  • Catchphrase: Togame will make you think that Catch Phrases are Serious Business in the world of Katanagatari.
    • "Cheerio!" Which doesn't mean what Togame thinks it does... she has a Freak Out in Episode 5 when Houou tells her the actual meaning.
    • "However, by that point you'll have been torn to pieces." Picked almost at random due to Togame's demanding he get one, and by the end of the episode Shichika managed to make it badass.
      • Also "Such a hassle..." used before he picks from Togame's list and after she dies, a few times during the castle fights.
    • Sabi Hakuhei's: "I'll make you fall for me." To which the guys he kills respond: "So... cool..."
    • And later we have Nanami's "That's good... Or is it bad?"
    • Hitei also seems to have adapted "I deny it" as her speech gimmick, which is a play on her name.
    • Emonzaemon has a morbid habit of asking what a person's last words would be.
  • Censor Steam: Always a staple of hotsprings, and the ending of the soak in Episode 5 portraying Togame is no exception.
  • Character Filibuster: Everyone, bordering on World of Ham since it's the sole reason that the episodes are longer than a usual anime.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • On Hitei's mantle lies a matching handgun and revolver set. At first they look like decorative pieces when in reality, they're Deviant Blades, and actual working guns.
    • The poison on Mitsubachi's caltrops is not fatal. However the hidden poison, which Nanami took from Kamakiri's molar earlier, must be fatal, right? It's for suicide after all.
    • The map shown during the narrations about the main characters' travel around the country significantly differs from the real map of Japan. It turns out no accurate map of Japan exist in-universe, and Togame plans to be the first person ever to compose one.
  • Clarke's Third Law: The Deviant Blades are not magical, they're made using future techniques discovered through Kikizaki's seer powers. Most literally seen with the last "sword" Entou Jyuu.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Togame shows signs of this in Episode 8 and it becomes blatantly obvious in Episode 9.
  • Close-Call Haircut: Nanami deliberately does this to Togame, as a warning shot.
  • Clothing Damage: Ginkaku takes a swipe at Togame and luckily Shichika steps in and prevents the damage from being worse. All that is damaged is the top layer on Togame's bust area.
  • Combat Pragmatist: To Emonzaemon's surprise, he's actually completely unable to get through Oshidori's attacking whips/barrier combo. When she decides to stop playing around and go on the attack, he... shoots her to death.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Several of the swordsmen in the boss rush in the final episode completely miss the point of the swords they're supposed to be wielding and end up using them in an ineffective fashion as a result, especially the Maniwa ninja who negates the weight of the sword whose special power is supposed to be its weight.
  • Credits Jukebox: The anime has one ending theme per episode.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Never attempt to fight Nanami.
    • Shichika mops the floor with every last one of the Shogun's bodyguards in his Roaring Rampage of Revenge after Togame bites the dust. Bonus points for the fact that they are wielding the Deviant Blades. Emonzaemon is the only one to put up a decent fight.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Nanami feels this way. She claims to envy people who have to actually put in effort to learn abilities (she can learn a skill by seeing it once and master it after seeing it twice) and she hates that her body won't allow her to die no matter how much suffering she endures as a chronically ill girl (she's pretty much immune to most poisons as a result and doesn't even flinch as she rips a hooked caltrop out of her back).
  • Cute and Psycho: That sweet ill girl of an older sister we meet in Episode 1? She's a powerful martial arts prodigy who even scared her father and forced her brother out of his nail-biting habit by tearing them off when they were children. In Episode 4 she eliminates the unlucky Quirky Miniboss Squad sent to capture her without remorse. Then she goes on a little tour of Japan, leaving a bloody trail in her wake.
  • Death of a Child: Episode 11 looks like this is going to be avoided with Pengin. Then he gets a gun shoved into his mouth.
  • Death Seeker:
    • Nanami, since she is so strong that no disease nor wound can prove fatal, but her own body can't bear the strain and makes her physically ill as a result.
    • Arguably Uneri Ginkaku, who just wanted to be able to die like a warrior, protecting something dear to him.
    • Shichika in Episode 12. It doesn't work out for him.
  • Delayed Reaction:
    • Togame carries on monologuing as if Shichika had agreed with her after asking if he wanted to rule the country, or has heard of Shikizaki Kiki. It takes a minute to sink in because she just can't believe he's so dense and demotivated.
    • Also her Freak Out after discovering the true meaning of "Cheerio".
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Togame in Shichika's arms. Doubles as a Dying Declaration of Love.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: When you think about it, it's not the Shogun's fault that Togame wasted her life on pointless revenge; he didn't even know who she was. It seems Shichika just wanted to make a really big example of using "Cheerio!" as war cry - to grant Togame's dying wish.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Even in the midst of fighting/torturing Maniwa Corps, Nanami maintains her soft-spoken and polite disposition.
  • Dodge the Bullet: Emonzaemon is mystified as to how he could completely fail to hit Shichika with Entou Jyuu. Shichika explains that he didn't miss - he took the wounds in order to get close enough to break the gun barrels. After an impressive display of speed to keep Emonzaemon from actually aiming those shots at anything vital.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The back massage in Episode 5, among other things. Played for Laughs.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Hilariously subverted. Togame hurts herself more than the oblivious, insanely tough Shichika. And in many cases, Shichika teases Togame quite a bit, sometimes forgetting his super-strength which gets her hurt and tossed around from time to time. Particularly in Episode 5, where he even states they were getting even. This is all played for laughs.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: Sabi Hakuhei, according to Togame, could be mistaken for a woman.
  • Dull Eyes of Unhappiness: When Shichika storms the Shogun's castle after Togame dies, in the last episode, his eyes turn dull and grey.
  • Face Death with Dignity:
    • Hida Takahito calmly awaits Yasuri Mutsue in his burning castle and, when he arrives, gently tells his daughter that he loves her and goes out to greet the man he knows will probably kill him with a polite smile.
    • Many years later Takahito's daughter does the same.
    • Hitei also seems prepared to do this; her tone of voice doesn't change when she tells Shichika he is welcome to kill her now.
    • Mitsubachi chooses to die by the sword rather than succumb to poison, since he thinks it's more dignified.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Everybody that worked with Togame before Shichika betrayed her the moment they got their hands on a sword.
  • Fetish: Togame frequently wraps Shichika in her hair as "training" to help him learn to distinguish people. Lampshaded when she accuses him of having a hair fetish. Togame has her own fetish moments at least every episode.
  • Field of Blades: Meisai lures Shichika into a Forest Of Blades to give herself the advantage in their duel. Shichika just runs back out, forcing her to follow him.
    • The Shôgun's retainer Akatsuki Tomoe who is given Sentou Tsurugi plays it straight, though. Given, she did it indoors, and Shichika just carves through it and hits her into the wall. Fat lot of good it did her to "master" the fighting style Meisai used.
  • Final Speech: Togame gives a long one to Shichika. It could even qualify as a Final Conversation, given that Shichika says quite a lot as well. Emonzaemon even says that he deliberately aimed for non-vital areas to give them time to chat.
  • Flower Motifs:
    • Shichika's design has them all over the place: His hair looks like a maple leaf, and his hakama, gloves, and even his sandals have the same leaf motif on them. Not to mention the fact that all Kyotouryuu techniques are named after flowers.
    • Nanami has a theme of pink carnations (she wears one in her hair), and Hitei covers her room and outfit with pink roses.
    • Flowers of different seasons are a key element of the light novel artwork too.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The narration at the end of Episode 6 tells the audience exactly how Episode 7 is going to end.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In Episode 2, Shichika asks whether Zantou Namakura, the sword that can cut anything, would be able to cut Zettou Kanna, the invulnerable sword, and Togame says that since it was made later she supposes it could. Sure enough, in the last episode, Shichika is able to break Zettou Kanna using Kyotouryuu, the final perfected Deviant Blade.
    • Even further, pretty early on the idea is introduced that the first hundreds of swords were simply practice for forging the final twelve Deviant blades. In the end, even they weren't the final product. Kyotouryu was.
  • Freudian Excuse: Nanami's life is one of continuous pain, alienation from her Martial Arts School, existential frustration and continued assassinations attempts (even from her own family!) that she is understandably desperate for success.
  • The Gadfly: There is a non-comedic example with Higaki Rinne. While he does have a fairly trollish personality thanks to Togame, his life is based around pointing out uncomfortable truths and things people would rather avoid.
  • Godiva Hair: First with Koumori's doppelganger ability to impersonate Togame; we then get to see the real thing in Episode 4.
  • Grand Theft Me: Anyone who draws Dokutou Mekki is possessed by Shikizaki Kiki's memories. Maniwa Houou is on the receiving end of this. It is hinted that this may be because he caught it with the hand of his trusted ally Maniwa Kawauso, who could read the past of objects as he touched them. How that is? Houou grafted that hand onto his body, of course.
  • The Greatest Style: Shichika gets scouted for the big artifact-sword-retrieval mission of the story after previous-attempt helpers had helped themselves to the swords they were supposed to recover. Shichika is a safe choice because his sword(s)manship-style has no need for swords, and he does prove himself capable to hold his own against the sword-wielders and more. The latter fact would later prove to have been a foreshadowing.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: None of the characters are really good, but none of them are really evil either and their motivations, if not sympathetic, are at least understandable.
  • Hairstyle Inertia: Both Shichika and Nanami.
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Meisai wields a BIG bottle of sake at that.
  • Holding Hands: Togame and Shichika do this in Episode 11, against the sunset. Which makes what happens next all the more heartwrenching.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Shichika and Togame in particular. Also Togame and Kanara, if it had ever worked out.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: Shichika, no longer bound by orders such as "don't destroy the swords" and "protect yourself", proceeds to completely curb stomp just about everyone in Episode 12.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every volume/episode is named after one of the 12 swords.
  • Idiot Hero: Shichika plays this up, especially in the first episode, but he doesn't actually come across as an idiot so much as he has No Social Skills because of his upbringing. He still finds it troublesome to give more than minimal thinking effort.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Delivered to multiple opponents by Shichika.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Played straight with Konayuki and Saraba. Though Shichika probably would have killed them if he thought it fair.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: Kyotou Yasuri in its "complete" form.
  • Informed Ability:
    • Sabi Hakuhei is apparently the strongest swordsman in Japan. It is rumoured that he could even slice the sun in half. Then he gets killed off-screen by Shichika...
    • Togame's status as The Strategist at first appears this way but fortunately later on she does show skill in coming up with clever schemes.
    • The ninth deviant blade, Outou Nokogiri, is said to be able to cure the poison of the other deviant blades off the wielder. While we actually see what it does to regular people, it was never used on people who used the other swords.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • Shichika's Catchphrase, especially the first time it was used, but also for a few jokes. The context tends to change its meaning completely.
    • Also, Togame's jokey death speech from Episode 6, which she repeats almost verbatim in Episode 12 when she actually dies.
  • I Was Just Passing Through: Togame gives Shichika the order to protect himself, stipulating that she's not giving this order because she cares if he gets hurt, but because she can't gather the swords if he dies... she then immediately gives him a second order to protect himself, stipulating that this one is because she cares if he gets hurt.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Many examples:
    • When Dokutou Mekki is first encountered, before they know about the memory effect, Shichika and Togame mock it for actually being a katana, saying stuff like "At this point, I was expecting a liquid sword or something, that blade is way too normal".
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • Togame tends to make comments that'd be fourth wall breaking if it weren't for the fact that she's writing everything down for publication.
    • Shichika in Episode 11 too, when the pair are speaking to Maniwa Houou/Shikizaki Kiki.
    • The light novel sometimes comments on or references the genre savviness of characters, and starts hanging lampshades around.
  • Lonely at the Top: Essentially how Nanami feels.
  • Magic Skirt: Togame's impossibly tiny, decoratively torn skirt is nothing short of miraculous in its ability to conceal the goodies. It fails in a few frames if you look closely enough.
  • Male Gaze: In the first opening, the camera slides from Shichika's face to Togame's... then to her chest and things for no apparent reason than fanservice before moving to the sword. Her behind and legs also get plenty of focus later on.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Inverted in that Shikizaki Kiki's sense of irony made him name some of his swords for what they are not, e.g:
      • Zettou Kanna, Plane the Absolute for the sword that cannot bend or be broken.
      • Zantou Namakura, Blunt the Decapitator for the sword that can cut anything.
    • Pretty much every character is carefully named after one of his characteristics. For instance, the strategian's nickname, "Togame", refers to her peculiar left eye, basically meaning "cross-shaped eye" in very irregular Japanese.
    • When Togame swore vengeance against the Shogunate she threw away everything, including her original name, Yousha, which means "forgiveness" or "mercy" in Japanese. So in her quest for revenge she threw those things away too.
    • You will never get a straight answer out of Hitei, this is largely because hitei means "to deny" in Japanese.
  • Miko: Plenty about in the Sanzu Shrine, whose Shrine Maidens each own a Sentou Tsurugi. When Togame dresses up in their clothes however, the narrator comments that Shichika isn't attracted to "miko moe".
    • Konayuki too, after she drops off Kanazuchi at the capital and joins the shrine.
  • Mind Screw: Episode 4... Just... Episode 4. This series is seriously playing mind games with us.
  • Mugging the Monster: The Insect Squad attack Nanami thinking she is at best a "mere" Kyotouryuu practitioner weaker than her brother (who is technically the head of the family) — a fatal mistake.
  • Named Weapons: All of the Deviant Blades.
  • Never Bring A Knife To A Fistfight: Defied by Emonzaemon, who kills Oshidori with a barrage of bullets from Entou Jyuu.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The next-episode preview in the third episode shows snippets of the battle between Shichika and Sabi Hakuhei... which then happens entirely offscreen in the fourth.
  • "No More Holding Back" Speech: When they start travelling together Shichika is given a set of rules by Togame. Towards the end of the story when he no longer is bound by them, he calmly explains to his opponents how each of the rules were holding him back, and demonstrates just exactly how powerful he really is when going all out.
  • Normally, I Would Be Dead Now:
    • Shichika when fighting Emonzaemon. Despite being shot countless times and slashed to bits, he manages to come out of the fight victorious with only a few scars. Let's not forget, he purposely went to the castle to die.
    • The same could also be said for Nanami, who manages to continue fighting her brother after they remove the sword from her body. If you're wondering why that fight would fit this trope, she had a gaping hole in her chest.
  • No Social Skills: Shichika. Being raised on an island with just his family members, he is only able to tell people apart by height at first, and has little sense of when it's appropriate to kill people.
  • Not What It Looks Like: A running gag between Togame and Shichika. Episode 9 is full of this once Togame's imagination runs away with her.
  • Older than They Look:
    • Togame, who is around Shichika's age (24) but looks much younger. Hitei even mocks Togame relentlessly for this after her Traumatic Haircut.
    • Nanami is an even worse example - she's pushing 30 but looks even younger and smaller than Togame.
  • Ojou Ringlets: Togame goes for broke by combining these with a Hime Cut and long hair. Now what do you think the odds are she's a high status/important character? Also followed by her rival, Princess Hitei. Halfway through the series, Togame gets a Close-Call Haircut. Hitei cuts hers too, although not until the very end.
  • Once an Episode: Each episode ends with the narration "the story of Katanagatari, on this month and this evening, has come to an end".
  • One-Man Army:
    • Every member of Kyotouryuu. Shichika takes down dozens or hundreds of the Shogun's warriors, then his bodyguards, each wielding one of the Deviant Blades, and Hitei's Dragon with relative ease.
    • And then he punches the Shogun's castle (keep) in half. Mind you, with a single blow.
  • Person of Mass Destruction:
    • Nanami killed an entire city in half an hour.
    • Maniwa Houou when he's possessed by Shikizaki Kiki. Togame even points out the fact that Nanami isn't the only one capable of such a thing when she and Shichika come upon the aftermath.
    • Shichika himself. Or at least, if not an entire city, dozens (if not hundreds) of soldiers, plus eleven Elite Mooks, plus a Dragon. And at the very end, he punches a castle in half.
  • Power Copying: Nanami can learn other people's techniques after seeing them once and master them after seeing them twice. She does this in order to become weaker. Her instinctive skills are so perfect that anything she might learn can only be called a step down.
  • Punny Name: The title is a pun on the katanagari ("sword hunt") issued by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, which stripped peasants of their weapons to prevent an uprising. However, in this case, Shichika and Togame are literally hunting for a group of swords. There's also the fact that gatari can be read as "story" (making the title literally mean Sword Story), similar to Isin's other series Bakemonogatari.
  • Retirony: Used in Episode 4, where Chouchou goes on for several minutes about his plans to go home and get married after this last mission. Mitsubachi even starts to interrupt and tell him that saying all that is a bad idea... then stops, since there's a strong sense that they both know he won't survive.
    • Also, in Episode 11 Togame talks about going on a sight-seeing journey with Shichika after all the action is over, then is shot to death one minute before the credits roll. Subverted when she admits in her Final Speech that it was all a lie; she was planning to kill Shichika to avenge her father.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning:
    • Houou when he's possessed by Dokutou Mekki. Also Glowing Eyes of Doom.
    • Inverted with Togame - it's when one of her normally red eyes turns purple that you should look out.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Togame was going to kill Shichika after their journey was over to avenge her father's death at the hands of Shichika's father. She admitted that she would have gone through with this even though she truly loved Shichika if she hadn't been mortally wounded. To her, everything — people, swords, even her own heart — were tools for her vengeance. When Shichika calls her an idiot for wasting her entire life on revenge like this, she readily agrees with him.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Subverted in the last episode with Shichika against Emonzaemon and the Shogun. He says that he's not doing it for revenge, instead he's rebelling against Togame's last order and harboring a deathwish.
  • Rōnin: Uneri Ginkaku, the owner of Zantou Namakura. Also technically Sabi Hakuhei, since he defected from the shogunate.
  • Run the Gauntlet: Shichika goes through this fighting eleven Shogunate warriors equipped with Shikizaki Kiki's swords in the last episode.
  • Schizo Tech: Other than the third and ninth blades, the 12 blades are quite weird and unnaturally powerful for pre-18th century mechanics and forging skills. In the second to last episode it is revealed that Kiki utilized his soothsayer abilities to find new blade-making techniques, essentially making all the blades weapons from the far future.
  • Screw Destiny: Shikizaki Kiki forged the Deviant Blades for this purpose.
  • Second-Hand Storytelling: The fight with Sabi Hakuhei, the strongest swordsman in Japan, is given massive buildup across multiple episodes, then played this way as a joke.
  • Secret Test of Character: Higaki Rinne's way of determining whether Shichika and Togame are worthy of taking his Deviant Blade.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Shichika admits in Episode 3 that he killed his own father, the previous Kyotouryuu master. In Episode 7, Nanami tells Togame that her father might have killed her mother to show Togame that it's not unusual for members of the Yasuri family to kill each other.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The entire series. The shogun is replaced by a relative and nothing changes. Lampshaded by the narrator at the very end.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Episode 7 has a scene where Nanami's attack on the monks in an overhead view very similiar to the game Pocky and Rocky (Kiki Kaikai) for the SNES and GBA. Earlier in the episode there's a conversation between three portraits of the characters as if it were a Visual Novel.
    • The few seconds before the meeting with Emonzaemon in the same episode may possibly be a shoutout to Muramasa: The Demon Blade, as the way the map is shown is similar to how the map is displayed when moving between areas in the game, and the exclamation mark and sound effect that accompanies it as they encounter Emonzaemon is the exact same thing that happens in the game right before an enemy encounter. Not to mention the side scrolling view it shifts to as they get off the boat.
    • Episode 11 has Shikizaki Kiki mention a sword stance that has a simultaneous three pronged attack.
  • Skintone Sclerae: Several characters, noticeably Shichika, have this.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Subverted with Nanami. Her father refused to teach her Kyotouryuu and decided to make Shichika the next head of the Yasuri clan — not because she was a woman, and not because she was an ill girl, but because she was too powerful for him to properly train. Not that it mattered — she mastered Kyotouryuu anyway by simply watching her father train her brother.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: Both Shichika and his sister decide to call the Maniwa corps "Maniwani" completely independently of each other.
  • Strange-Syntax Speaker: "'Shirasagi talk-reverse' me call people." Much, much worse in the Japanese version, where the kana as a whole are reversed, as opposed to neat words in backwards order. He speaks normally after Ginkaku cuts him in half, however.
  • Stronger Sibling: Nanami to Shichika. The last time they had a match, Shichika was battered and bruised and Nanami wasn't even scratched. It was only a "draw" because she gave up on account of her low endurance as an ill girl. Shichika even thinks that Sabi Hakuhei, the "strongest swordsman in Japan" who wielded one of the 12 swords and could supposedly cut the moon in half, wasn't as strong as Nanami.
  • Superpower Lottery: The power level of the swords varies wildly, ranging from some that are unbreakable or can cut through anything, to one that's a gun on one end of the spectrum... all the way down to a sword whose "power" is that it's made of glass and breaks if swung anything less than perfectly, and a "sword" that's nothing but a useless hilt with no apparent powers.
  • Super Strength:
    • The slender Shichika fends off a full blown charge from Kanara and Zokutou Yoroi, crashing through the ring's boundaries... and LIFTS both the armor and its occupant over his head for a good long while, finishing with a free trip into the air, crashing back down with great force. Togame puts this down to him having trained virtually his entire life to hone his muscle strength.
    • And yet Shichika doesn't hold a candle to the Itezora Clan. The little girl, Konayuki, last of her kind and the only one left that can wield the insanely heavy Soutou Kanazuchi, is the first person in the sword hunt to ever hurt Shichika, and she was the weakest of all the village children. Still their Super Strength did nothing to save them from being wiped out by Nanami.
    • And then Nanami learns the Super Strength of a fully grown warrior of the Itezora Clan.
    • While not as apparent as the others, Emonzaemon is able to block a powerful missile dropkick from a vengeful Shichika in which the shockwave was strong enough create a small crater on the floor and knock some of the panels off from the mere force.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Princess Hitei in Episode 10. May be a mockery of this trope.
    "The way you put it, it almost sounds like I'm the descendant of the legendary Shikizaki Kiki who ruled over the Sengoku Era, and that I've kept track of all of the Perfected Deviant Blades and stayed one step ahead of that unpleasant woman to collect them. That's totally not true of course, so there's no need to say it." note 
  • Take Our Word for It: The fight between Shichika and Sabi Hakuhei was apparently 11 different kinds of epic. Of course, this all happened off-screen...
  • Talking Is a Free Action: A lot of the dialogue in this series is held in mid-air, or while descending at breakneck speed towards an opponent. Lampshaded somewhat by Shichika in Episode one, who explains his inability to wield a sword to Koumori — while the latter is in midair, descending, about to drive a sword through his head — with a casual "by the way".
  • Technicolor Eyes: Lots of characters demonstrate this, but Konayuki, Meisai, Zanki and Pengin are perhaps most prevalent.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Subverted hilariously in the final episode. Saraba, the wielder of Seitou Hakari decides to just chuck the weapon at Shichika, who proceeds to knock it back at her. At least she's the only one of the Boss Rush who doesn't die.
  • Theme Naming:
    • Members of the Yasuri family have names which combine numbers (depending on their generation) and plant aspects. Shichika means "seventh flower", Nanami means "seventh fruit", Mutsue means "sixth branch", and Kazune means "first root".
    • This carries over into the names of their techniques as well, simple strikes having names like "Dandelion", and the big Finishing Moves full on plant/flower yojijukugo.
    • Every Maniwa ninja is named after an animal (divided into bird, insect, fish, and beast squads), starting with Koumori meaning "bat" and Shirasagi meaning "white heron".
  • Tickle Torture: Togame's collarbones. Highly suggestive of arousal too, from her Luminescent Blush. Tickling also proves enough to make her reveal her schemes. In both cases it was just Shichika being silly though.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Oshidori and Chocho. He's the size of a child, and she's about six-foot-tall.
  • Too Dumb to Fool: A villain in the first season uses a complicated technique to take Togame's form... only to get foiled by the fact that Shichika can't distinguish between people at all anyway.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: In Episode 10 Kyotou Yasuri is revealed to be the completed Thirteenth Deviant Blade.
  • Tragic Keepsake: In Episode 12, Shichika keeps a lock of Togame's beautiful hair which he loved so much. Princess Hitei also starts wearing Emonzaemon's mask when she leaves with Shichika.
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • TOTALLY averted with the end of Episode 3/beginning of Episode 4. If you've read down this far, you'll have a good idea of what happens, but... yeah.
    • This is, however, played straight in the preview of Episode 11, which clearly shows Emonzaemon shooting Togame, thus spoiling the otherwise surprising ending of that episode.
  • Tranquil Fury: Shichika after Togame's death.
  • Traumatic Haircut: Togame. AND HOW. It's a Berserk Button for Shichika.
  • Tsundere: Parodied with Togame, who tries to act tsun-tsun towards Shichika every once in a while, but Shichika is simply too oblivious for it to work.
  • Tying Up Romantic Loose Ends: Shichika and Hitei, possibly.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Yeah, like the technique they carefully discuss and demonstrate in advance in Episode 5 is really going to work...
  • Unstoppable Force Meets Immovable Object: Kanna, the first sword, is said to be unbreakable, but Namakura, the second, is said to be able to cut anything. Shichika points this out in the second episode, and asks what would happen if they were to meet in battle. Togame acknowledges the paradox, but offers that, since they are actual objects and not abstracts, one of the two must yield. She chooses Kanna, since logically Shikizaki's craft would improve with each sword, meaning Namakura is slightly closer to perfection. By that logic, the even later Yoroi, also touted as a perfect defense, would be impregnable to Namakura. Both Kanna and Yoroi are ultimately destroyed using the thirteenth, Kyotouryuu.
  • Villain Decay: It gets harder to take the Maniwa ninjas seriously as threats with each new episode. The first one was a skilled assassin who made good use of disguises and trickery and only lost due to bad luck. The second and third are one-shotted by the real antagonists of episodes 2 and 3. Then there's the Insect Squad... poor bastards had the bad luck of going up against Nanami. The Insect Squad even lampshade the Villain Decay; noting that the Maniwa Corp is being seen as the underdogs now.
    • Averted with their Leader Houou who's making up for their apparent weakness by himself.
    • However, by the end of episode 10, every single Maniwa Corp head besides Houou and one seriously wounded member is dead.
      • Lampshaded by Shichika in the final episode, when he kills the Maniwa ninja wielding Soutou Kanazuchi, he says that there wasn't really any Maniwa ninja weaker than that one — if you listen closely, you can hear him laughing as he says it.
  • Villainous Valor: Almost the entirety of the fourth episode. Nanami is scary.
  • Voodoo Shark: Togame reasons that the Perfected Deviant Blades can't really be magic or violate the laws of physics, so they must be technology copied from the future using Shikizaki Kiki's magical abilities. Wha?
  • Walking the Earth: Shichika and Princess Hitei in the end, to draw a map of the country.
  • Was It All a Lie?: Shichika asks a dying Togame if their plans to travel together were just a lie, desperately trying to convince her to hold on to life. It was all a lie. She was planning to kill him to complete her lifelong mission of vengeance.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: A few of the Maniwani, namely Shirasagi, Kuizame and Kawauso, are killed off without being developed. Also goes for the shogun's Twelve Guardians, aside from Emonzaemon.
  • Wham Line: Hitei's "If you don't die, this won't end", revealing that her family's plan had been to destroy the Shogunate all along.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Lampshaded with bladeless sword Seitou Hakari in the final fight sequence; all the other fighters find at least some way to use their sword, but the little girl who gets Seitou Hakari can only say "this thing is kind of useless..." and is reduced to relying on Shichika for an idea on how to attack him with itnote .
  • Wolverine Claws: Nanami learns how to grow long fingernails for this purpose after seeing a (male) ninja attempt the technique against her. Hers aren't quite as powerful since she only saw the technique once — not that it matters.
  • Worthless Yellow Rocks: While digging for the swordsmith's hidden workshop, Shichika finds a locked box that Togame yells to just toss aside. It breaks open, spilling its abandoned contents of gold bars.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Shichika had no real qualms with killing Meisai in order to get one of the Deviant Blades. Togame later makes an observation about how he doesn't distinguish between men and women.
  • Would Hurt a Child:
    • Emonzaemon has no problem feeding Maniwa Pengin a gun.
    • This is at least implied for Shichika when Togame asks if he will be able to fight Konayuki despite her age. He replies that a child opponent would be easy.note 
  • You Will Be Assimilated: Maniwa Houou's ability. He could learn other people's abilities by grafting part of their bodies to his own. Did this to Maniwa Kawauso's arm and implied to be done to Emonzaemon's FACE. It is implied as well that he could potentially gain immortality by repeatedly replacing his body parts like this.


Video Example(s):



Houou tells Togame what "Cheerio" really means.

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