Happy holidays to all! Today we continue on with my trademark (not really), anime reviews!~ Today, we’re going to be chatting about Katanagartari!
Katanagatari’s premise is essentially the typical shounen premise. Yasuri Shichika, master of the swordless sword style, Kyotouryuu, lives on an island with his older sister, Nanami. They know nothing of what life is like in the outside world until one day an intruder interrupts the tranquility of their island. Togame, a self-proclaimed strategian, enlists the help of Shichikia to acquire the 12 deviant blades for the shogunate. In anyone else’s hands, Katanagatari would’ve been ridden with cliches and tropes found in much popular shounen anime/manga. However, Katanagatari is anything but typical.
In all of Nisio Isin’s works, the dialogue is always at the forefront. Katanagatari is no different, it is probably even more so since each episode is a whopping 50 minutes long. But that is exactly where the show succeeds, in its dialogue. The dialogue is witty, clever, intelligent and insightful. All without being verbose and mundane. The conversations often provide background and motivations for characters and do a phenomenal job at world building, bringing the world and characters to life while giving it a touch of realism.That is not to say the plot itself isn’t interesting either.
As the story progresses, there are a lot of unforeseen twists and turns that serve to deepen the plot without being convoluted or contrived. All the plot points are revealed at the right time to cause the greatest impact on the viewer. It is not this often that a story is able to hit all the right notes.
The art for Katanagatari is nothing short of beautiful. It has a very vibrant color scheme that your screen will be glowing the entire time. The character designs are a bit atypical because they seem more…..cartoonish. They aren’t overly detailed but aren’t so base that you can’t remember what they look like. The backgrounds are detailed to that point where the world itself becomes a character.
The soundtrack is nothing short of memorable. It is composed by Iwasaki Taku who is famous for his work on Rurouni Kenshin Trust and Betrayal, Now and Then Here and There. The soundtrack is a unique blend of jazz, Indian flutes, and traditional pieces that compliment the world adding to its character.
By far, the best thing about Katanagatari is the relationship between Shichika and Togame; how their relationship grows and how they mature throughout the story. Shichika starts out as a bland individual. He lacks any traits, besides his strength, that causes him to stand out. He is essentially a living weapon. Each encounter he has with an enemy, leaves a lasting impression on him, causing him to change little by little. Throughout the show, you see him make the transition from a mere weapon to a human being. You feel as though you are changing with him.
The encounters not only change the characters themselves but also serves to deepen their relationship. With each encounter Shichika has with an enemy, it adds another dimension to his relationship with Togame. He starts out as merely a tool for her to use, but slowly she grows to love Shichika. The same for Shichika as well. He follows Togame blindly without any reason but over time he finds a reason to fight.
The villains are not mere caricatures either. Due to the length of the episodes, the villains are fleshed out to the point where they are human. They each have their own reasons for pursuing the deviant blade, along with a distinct personality and worldview. It is rare that a show gives development to almost every character in the cast, in a seemingly short time frame.
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