Hihi'irokane (sometimes spelled with a g instead of a k) is a legendary Japanese metal said to shine brightly in a way that resembles flames. Its name translates roughly as "Flame-Colored Metal" or "Brilliant Scarlet Metal".note English translations often render the name as "scarlet steel" or "scarletite", as was famously used in Final Fantasy.
It's not quite clear whether hihi'irokane was an ore or an alloy, except that it was apparently a common metal in ancient times, with many important objects (including the Imperial Regalia of Japan) said to be made from it. In fiction, hihi'irokane is generally depicted as a form of Unobtanium which is harder than diamond, resistant or immune to rust, an excellent conductor of heat (or even a generator of heat), and an even better conductor of souls, emotions or spiritual energy. Due to its similarities to Orichalcum, in Fantasy Kitchen Sink settings they are often compared to each other or even considered to be the same thing. Sometimes it is instead depicted as a mythologized version of stainless steel, particularly that with chromium sourced from red-yellow minerals such as crocoite.
The first recorded appearance of the metal was in the Takenouchi Documents, a set of pseudohistorical manuscripts which appeared in 1935, claiming to be the last surviving records of a globe-spanning Utopia ruled by the Emperor of Japan billions of years ago. While largely regarded as a hoax, a number of the Documents' ideas became absorbed into popular culture, hihi'irokane included.
Subtrope of Fantasy Metals, and frequently overlaps with Law of Chromatic Superiority (when it is depicted as red or gold). Similar amazing metals are Cold Iron, Mithril, Orichalcum and Thunderbolt Iron. A weapon made of this stuff may be a Technicolor Blade, a Flaming Sword or even both at the same time.
- Major plot point in Aria the Scarlet Ammo, which makes use of it as well as its apparent sister metal Ririirokane as a focus for the supernatural powers in the setting. The title character Aria gained her camellia eyes and reddish-pink hair after being shot by the eponymous Hidan (Scarlet Bullet).
- The miko Shirayuki has a katana forged from Hihiirokane which apparently acts as a conduit for her flame-based powers.
- In Hitogatana, hihi'irokane is a metal which responds to human thought. The Katana combat androids are created with hihi'irokane cores which allow a human operator to transfer their soul into the Katana and control it.
- In Kamunagara the protagonist wields a magic sword made of hihi'irokane, which is said to be a metal capable of absorbing souls.
- In Kill la Kill protagonist Ryuko uses half a giant pair of scissors as a sword. The scissors are made of compressed Life Fiber, which gives the blade a scarlet hue. The blade is shown multiple times to be incredibly durable and reactive to its wielder's will, as Life Fibers are a symbiotic alien life form.
- In Orichalcum Reycal, featuring Mons named Orichalcums created from the substance of the same name, a pair of Japanese-themed orichalcum sisters are named Hihi'iro and Ronokane.
- In Shaman King, the Futsu-no-Mitama sword ("the Antiquity" in the English anime) is an ancient blade whose red color and affinity for souls suggest it was made from hihi'irokane, though it looks more like polished stone than metal.
- Spriggan has rogue KGB agent Koichi Moroha uses a Hihiirokane-made sword in the Fire Orb arc, which was made to take out Yu Ominae's Orihalcon combat suit. It, however, cannot break anything made out of OOPArt-type metals.
- The Sword Of Roaring Flames Yagyu Jubei revolves around Yagyu Jubei fighting Nue with bodies made of hihi'irokane, which is so hard that it can only be cut by a sword made from the same substance. The story's title in Japan is "Hihi'irokane: Jubei Guren Ken".Translation
- Aria the Scarlet Ammo has a number of types of Irokane ("Colored Metal") with supernatural powers. Hihi'irokane exists in the form of the eponymous Scarlet Bullet (Hidan) embedded in Aria's body, which is responsible for her red-pink hair and eyes.
- In Dragons Bloodline, hihiirokane is one of the high-grade materials used for crafting magic items; while relatively soft compared to mithril or especially orichalcum, it has a higher capacity for magic. It's noted that hihiirokane can be made almost as hard as orichalcum if that's what it's enchanted for, but most craftsmen would see this as pointless and wasteful unless it's the only material available.
- Infinite Dendrogram: In book 11, the backup weapon of "King of Swords" Foltesla was a hihi'irokane greatsword which proved to be one of the few things strong enough to withstand Tri-Zenith Dragon Gloria's vaporising breath, instead melting into one of the beast's wounds and creating a weakpoint which Figaro later exploits.
- Overlord: According to Narberal adamantite is a soft metal compared to hihi'irokane. A pair of Gem-Encrusted hihi'irokane gauntlets are among the items in Nazerick's treasure vault.
- In Renegades, though never referred to as such, the metal that Nova's father could create from pure energy has many qualities of hihi'irokane, including reddish colour, being nigh-indestructible and channelling prodigious power. Among others, Ace Anarchy's helmet, which serves as his Amplifier Artifact, is made from it.
- In a chapter of Touhou Kourindou ~ Curiosities of Lotus Asia, Marisa hears about the properties of hihi'irokane and asks Rinnosuke to use some of his limited stock to upgrade her battered Mini-Hakkero. Rinnosuke agrees in exchange for Marisa's collection of scrap metal, which unknown to her contains the Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi. For further irony, the Kusanagi itself is described as being made of hihi'irokane.
- While Dungeons & Dragons does not feature hihi'irokane by name, it has a number of materials with similar properties:
- In the Red Steel setting of 2nd Edition, the eponymous metal is a highly-magical material created when cinnabryl absorbs the energies of the Red Curse. Weapons crafted from Red Steel combine the offensive advantages of both Silver and Cold Iron with the durability and light weight of Mithril, and always count as enchanted. In the 3.5 update, weapons and armor crafted from Red Steel are always masterwork quality, and require 75% the normal amount of XP to enchant as magic items.
- In the Magic of Incarnum supplement for Edition 3.5, items crafted from Pentifex have "a peculiar brushed-gold color that carries hints of red and brown" and are strongly associated with incarnum (soul energy). However, this is due to their use as a symbol of The Pentifex Order (an organisation that regulates the use of incarnum) rather than a property of the metal itself, which is functionally identical to steel.
- Tenra Bansho Zero features hihi'irokane ("scarlet steel" in the English translation) as an extremely hard but malleable metal created from soulgems, which has "a delicate golden-red color, like a mixture of twilight and crimson". It's an important component of Magitek due to its ability to conduct spiritual energy, and gemblades are forged entirely from it. It's also mentioned to be known in distant lands as Orichalcum.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh!, the card Metalfoes Crimsonite is themed after Hihi'irokane, as part of the set's Metallic Motifs. Interestingly, each of the Metalfoes based on Fantasy Metals are powered-up versions of cards based on real metals (Silver -> Mithril, Gold -> Orichalcum, Steel -> Adamant), and Crimsonite is placed as the upgraded version of tungsten.
- Azure Striker Gunvolt: One of the crafting materials you can find is a Hihiirokane Shard.
- Hihiirokane is used in the armor of the Murakumo Units, and also makes up the "gold" portions of Hakumen's Susanoo Unit.
- Jubei's brother Tomonori owned a soul-cutting katana actually named Hihiirokane, which can take different forms depending on the wielder. It first appears in Blaz Blue Phase Shift 1, before becoming an important Plot Device in BlazBlue: Central Fiction.
- Chrono Trigger's Dreamstone may have been inspired by hihi'irokane, being a crystalline red material used by ancient civilisations to craft magic items (including an apparently metallic sword).
- In Demonbane the eponymous Humongous Mecha has hihiirokane armour which offers great defence against conventional weapons, but little against magic.
- Eiyuu Senki: The World Conquest has Hihiirokane as an item which reduces damage taken. Orichalcum, which also appears in the game, has a stronger version of the same effect.
- Appears a number of times in the Final Fantasy franchise, where English translations usually render the name as "Scarletite".
- Gensou Shoujo Taisen, being a Touhou fanwork, gives Marisa the hihi'irokane version of her Mini-Hakkero (see the Literature section above) as a Mid-Season Upgrade in the third game. However, in this version of the story, the addition of hihi'irokane causes it to become an Empathic Weapon which Marisa cannot master without further Character Development. Hihi'irokane also appears as an equippable item which boosts HP, armor, accuracy and critical rate.
- In Granblue Fantasy, 10 Chrome Nuggets can be combined into Hihiirokane (localised as "Gold Nugget" and "Gold Brick" respectively), which can be used to break the upgrade Cap on a weapon of any rarity. Hihiirokane is also one of the ingredients required to upgrade a Revenant Weapon to its final form, which in turn unlocks a powerful new character.
- Hihi'irokane appears as a crafting material in the smartphone MMORPG Iruna Online.
- In Looters of Dystopia, Hazuki's sword Rougetsu and Edgar's sword Shura are both stated to be made from hihi'irokane, which the game translates as "scarlet gold". This is supposedly why Rougetsu is such a powerful sword.
- Monster Kingdom Jewel Summoner features the Hihiirokane Sword as an item used to instill monsters with the ability "Inferno".
- Onigiri features a Hihiirokane Bell and the Hihiirokane Cudgel weapon.
- Puzzle & Dragons has the five Mythic Stone Dragons - Hihiirokane, Mythril, Adamant, Orichalcum, and Damascus Steel. In English versions Hihiirokane is translated as "Vermilionyt".
- Appears in the Shin Megami Tensei franchise and its spinoffs as a material which can be crafted into weapons.
- In the Soul Series "Hihiirokane" is a recurring unlockable weapon for Yoshimitsu, consisting of a katana and wakizashi forged from that metal.
- Way of the Samurai 4 features Hihiirokane as a rare material used for upgrading weapons.
- In White Knight Chronicles, the Hihiirokane Dagger is the strongest purchasable dagger in the game.
- In The World Ends with You, Hihi'irokane, Orichalcum and Tektite pins can be traded to shops in exchange for special items; like the Final Fantasy example, Hihi'irokane was translated as "Scarletite" in the English release.
- Kei Sakurai from Dies Irae wields a flaming blade called Hihiirokane, which is said to be made from the very metal that shares its name.