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Video Game / Akai Katana

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Akai Katana (2010) is a Bullet Hell Shoot 'em Up by Cave. It is Cave's third Horizontal Scrolling Shooter and revisits the concept of the pilot and gunner being different characters, such as in Progear and Ketsui. Programming was done by S. Yagawa of 8ing/Raizing fame. Music was composed by the late Ryu Umemoto. There is an Xbox 360 port, titled Akai Katana Shin. Those with a Japanese Xbox 360 can download a free trial of the first two stages. It has been localized for Europe and the US by Rising Star Games as simply Akai Katana (although having the same content as Akai Katana Shin). This version was ported back to arcades as Akai Katana Shin for NESiCA×Live in 2012. Another arcade release, Akai Katana EXA LABEL, is in the works.

Set in a parallel world resembling Japan's Taisho period, the people have discovered the powerful Blood Swords, the titular Akai Katana. Requiring human sacrifices to unleash their immense destructive power, these swords have been used by The Empire to crush neighbouring countries. However, all the bloodshed and power gained through sacrificing close family members has made some of the swordsmen reconsider. With new fighter planes and the powered up swords at their disposal, this small band of rebels now fight back against the tyrannical empire.

  • Type 1 (Marigold, strong straight-forward shot)
    • Phantom: Sumire Asaka
    • Guide: Tsubaki Shinjo
  • Type 2 (Orchid, fast homing shot)
    • Phantom: Kikyou Saionji
    • Guide: Botan Saionji
  • Type 3 (Sakura, weak spread shot)
    • Phantom: Suzuran Sanada
    • Guide: Shion Kobayakawa

Akai Katana contains examples of:

  • Absolute Cleavage: Nazuna, the boss of stage 5 (Akai Katana Shin only), wears an outfit with this.
  • All There in the Manual: The majority of the storyline or even how to play the game (properly) isn't shown in game. Rather, you have to look at the 29-page instruction manual, the tutorial videos, the official websites, and/or the artbook for information. In fact, most of the information regarding the characters on this page is taken from websites or manuals.
  • Archnemesis Dad: Emperor Basho Saionji is this to Kikyou and Botan
  • Arrange Mode:
    • The limited White and Red modes only available on a "Limited Edition" PCB has a stage select option and can only be played on Free Play mode. In the White mode, the option has a shorter tether, and bomb invincibility is reduced. In addition, while in Phantom mode, Gold, which gains its value from the HIT counter, is sucked in, as opposed to orbiting the phantom. Red mode is a harder mode of White mode, with rearranged enemy placements and bullet patterns. In addition, the HIT counter only resets when the player is hit, instead of when the player exits Phantom mode.
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    • Akai Katana Shin contains three modes: Origin, which is the original arcade version, Climax, which is a modified version of Origin with widescreen compatibility, and Slash, which is the designated arrange mode. Climax mode removes the on-screen score item Cap, as well as increases the number of suicide bullets fired. Slash Mode also removes the score item Cap, and disables the Phantom's invincibility when in Defense mode, but allows the collection of Steel Orbs and Katanas. Both can cancel bullets, and anything Katanas pierce create huge score items.
  • The Atoner: All of the rebels.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: In-game, the 'human' half of the player's team appears larger than the plane half and the boss models are giants as well. This is not Gameplay and Story Segregation.
  • Bigger Is Better: In an interview with director Hiroyuki Kimura, he states that “Having a giant ninja do battle against a giant battleship that has been summoned by another giant ninja looks normal and natural in this game though!"
  • BFG: The spirit ninjas carry big guns, even relative to the size of their bodies.
  • BFS: Part of some of the new game modes in Shin. Killing things while being in Ninja mode summons giant blades around your character that are unleashed when the player switches back to the plane (but not when the green bar runs out).
  • Blind Weaponmaster: Botan Saionji is this for not just katana, but also piloting a fighter plane.
  • Brother–Sister Team: Kikyou and Botan
  • Butterfly of Death and Rebirth: Shumeigiku, the boss of stage 2, wears a butterfly in her hair.
  • Cast from Lifespan:
    • Shion Kobayakawa, the pilot of the third set of characters, bonded with a Blood Katana but lost her youth in the process.
    • Also part of the game system. Having fewer lives will increase the length of the spirit bar, i.e. let you stay in Ninja mode for longer.
  • Cute Is Evil: All of the cute child-like characters are evil, including Suzuran.
  • Co-Dragons: Boss 5
  • Darker and Edgier: It might be the darkest game CAVE put out since DaiOuJou. Doesn't help that Treasure was involved in it as well...
  • Defector from Decadence: Tsubaki and Sumire, although they more or less agree with the Gekka Battalion's goals. Tsubaki left the organization due to its arrogant actions.
  • Diesel Punk: The game's setting has the visual aesthetic and technology level of World War II.
  • Downer Ending:
    • Kikyou is mortally wounded, telling Botan to live on in his place, and kills himself with the Blood Katana. He gives her the ability to see, and she says that she can feel him next to her.
    • Tsubaki kills herself with the Blood Katana in order to bring Sumire back to life, but then Sumire decides to kill herself because she doesn't want to live without Tsubaki.
    • Suzuran crushes Shion to death so that she can have the Blood Katana all to herself, but she ends up losing her youth to it just like Shion had.
    • In the True Ending, all six of them destroy the Blood Katana together, and they all die for a better world.
  • Drunk on the Dark Side: For starters Emperor Basho killed his own wife just to get his own Blood Katana. Shakunage also counts; his bloodlust causes him to try and kill his sister, Suzuran, for even more power. Suzuran kills Shion in their route in order to use the blood katana.
  • Dual Wielding: The final boss does it - one Blood Katana made from his wife, and one made from himself.
  • Dying as Yourself: Shakunage apologizes to Suzuran and Shion before dying, suggesting that he recovered his memories of them, which he lost after his soul was consumed by a blood katana.
  • Evil Mentor: Hiiragi is this to Sumire and Tsubaki.
  • Evil Overlord: Basho, the emperor of Japan.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Nazuna is in love with her mentor Hiiragi, Shumeigiku is in love with Shakunage, and Hiiragi has a wife, Karin.
  • Fanservice Pack: In the Slash edition, Boss 4, Nazuna, gets a Stripperiffic ninja costume.
  • Flower Motifs: The three planes are named after flowers. Marigold, Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) and Orchid. The members of the Ten Suns, as well as the Gekka Battalion (as they were former Ten Suns members), have flower names as well.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Shumeigiku hates Suzuran, the younger sister of her Love Interest Aogiri/Shakunage, since she always pesters him.
  • Guide Dang It!: Played with. Many a player have expressed their frustration online about being unable to figure how to play the game, only to be told that pressing B will give them a tutorial.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The True Ending.
  • Highly Visible Ninja: Every Phantom is around fifty feet tall, flying around in ninja garb shooting lasers.
  • Hitbox Dissonance:
  • Human Sacrifice: The Blood Katana require these to be created.
  • I Hate You, Vampire Dad: Kikyou and Botan fighting against their Phantom father.
  • Important Haircut: Tsubaki makes one as she decides to live as a man to atone for her actions as a member of the Ten Suns.
  • Incest Subtext: The two holding hands in the cover, title screen and pretty much every picture? That's Kikyou and his sister Botan. Yeah...
  • It's Personal: Nazuna faces the protagonists after they kill Hiiragi, whom she was in love with.
    Nazuna: I don't care about the past! It's I who takes revenge for my master!
  • Katanas Are Just Better: As if the title of the game was not enough, all of the player characters also carry one inside of their airplanes.
  • Kill 'Em All: The True Ending.
  • Last Chance Hit Point: Taking a fatal hit while on your last life will empty your stock of Smart Bombs instead of killing you.
  • Might Makes Right: Hiiragi believes in this. "Power IS justice! I will use any means in order to acquire it!" Leads to a My God, What Have I Done? moment. Also doesn't stop him from being defeated both times he's the boss.
  • More Dakka: This goes with the genre, but is made even more explicit in this particular game because the spirit ninjas also carry massive rotary cannons.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: War Deity Hiiragi (Boss 4) acquired his power through sacrificing his wife, Karin, which now plagues him with regret.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Depends on how much you know of the story. In their background story, Shakunage tries killing Suzuran out of bloodlust, which is what leads her and Shion to join the Gekka Battalion. However, if you play as them and meet up with him during the third boss fight, he seems surprised that they're on the opposing side, and apologizes them when he dies. Based on the True Ending, Shakunage's calmer, more caring side is his real face, so his moment of bloodlust was OOC.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: These ghosts are humongous phantoms with massive weapons, including chainguns that are the size of trains.
  • Pinball Scoring: Maybe not on the same level as Giga Wing, but in some modes, it's possible to reach the first extend in Stage 1.
  • Rebellious Princess: Botan
  • Recurring Boss: Hiiragi is fought twice.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Progear and Guwange.
  • Summon Magic: The bosses use this to summon mundane things like battleships, aircraft carriers, hordes of fighter planes, and so on.
  • Supporting Protagonist: The first pair of characters, the ones initially highlighted upon game start-up. The box art for the Xbox 360 port features the second pair of characters.
  • Tank Goodness: Yep, goes with the typical Cave enemy design.
  • Together in Death: Sumire decides to do this to be with Tsubaki.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Tsubaki Shinjo, who decided to live like a man to atone for her past.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: These seems to have happened to all of the imperial loyalists.
  • You Rebel Scum!: Most of the Ten Suns call the Gekka Battalion members this.
    Ran: I wonder what your faith is at all ...
  • Younger Than They Look: Shion Kobayakawa, who is only 17 years old but looks like she is in her 70s as a result of her bond with the blood katana. This also happens to Suzuran when she ends up with the same curse that Shion had.