Katanagatari

coKatanagatari (刀語, Sword Story – Katana monogatari) is a light novel series written by Nisio Isin and illustrated by Take from January 2007 to December 2007 with a total of 12 volumes. The series was animated by White Fox and began airing on January 25, 2010. The anime is a monthly series of an hour-long episode each (not the usual weekly supplement of 30-minute airing). It is scheduled for a total of 12 episode.

The series is based on the retrieval of 12 katanas created by Shikizaki Kiki, a fictional swordsmith, which is spread across the land and owned by different characters. During the Edo era, under the Bakufu (幕府)/ Shogunate, the famed katanas are ordered to be found and returned to the imperial court, to prevent uprising against the emperor. Samurai general and self-named strategist of the emperor, Togame, sets out to collect the swords with the aid of one highly skilled swordmaster. Said swordsman, is the 7th head of the Kyotouryuu (swordless style) house of Japanese sword martial arts Yasuri Shichika. He has lived in exile with his sister, Nanami, and father, Yasuri Matsue, in the Island of Fushou. Ironically, even though he calls himself a swordsman, he doesn’t ever wield a sword. The Yasuri family has no talent in wielding swords.

The opening and ending themes are:

1. “Meiya Kadenrou (冥夜花伝廊)” by Minami Kuribayashi
2. “Tasogare no Gekka” (誰そ彼の月華) by Yousei Teikoku
3. “Refulgence” by Shoujobyo
4. “Senhon Senjo no Jinkyuu Uta” (千本千女の刃毬唄) by Aki Hata
5. “Kyomu no Hana” (虚無の華) by kukui
6. “Ai to Makoto” (愛と誠) by Yukari Tamura

January 25, 2010, Episode 1: Zettou Kanna – Absolute Sword, Plane

During a period of corruption in Hidan Castle, a highly skilled swordless swordsman, Yusuri Matsue, becomes the emperor’s ultimate weapon. During an uprising against the shogun, Matsue kills rebel leader Hida Takahito (one red-eye and one crossed blue eye) to quell the insurgency.

Unfortunately for Yusuri Matsue, the 6th head of the Kyotouryuu style, he is later exiled to Fushou Island with his children, eldest daughter Nanami and son Shichika. Twenty years later, self-named government strategian, Togame, seeks the help of Matsue to retrieve 12 indestructible katanas.

In the deserted island where Matsue was banished, Togame finds only a brother and sister living in a small hut. They introduce themselves as Nanami and Shichika, children of the late Matsue (who has recently passed away). Like his ancestors before him, he practices the Kyotouryuu style, a distinctive martial arts that do not use swords, for they are unable to use them. “We’re not swordsmen who don’t use swords; we’re swordsmen who can’t use them!” This style of Japanese martial arts, according to Shichika, can only be inherited through bloodlines.

Meeting of the "minds"

Meeting of the "minds"

Even as Togame tries to test Shichika’s skills, she clumsily trips on a non-existent stone. “Gyafun!” she exclaims and immediately falls flat on her face. (much like Nodame‘s “Gyabo!” in Nodame Cantabile) So she proves that she is incapable of fighting and has two left feet. But she says she’s extremely intelligent.

To interest Shichika into helping her, she tells him the story of the famous heretic swordsmith during the Sengoku period. Shikizaki Kiki, a reclusive master swordsmith, randomly distributed his swords to different factions. It is said that country that owned his sword has an edge in war. For more than a century, warriors and emperors alike have tried to amass his swords. Finally, they realized that the master had forged 1000 katanas, out of which 12 were specially crafted using alchemy and magic to create truly evil swords. Wielders of the swords have turned crazy, or worse, became evil themselves and would do anything to retain and protect the sword in their possession. Each blade has its own distinct feature and ability, and even though they are “katanas” they can take on different forms such as an armor, dagger, or even guns. The 12 swords are Kanna, Namakura, Tsurugi, Hari, Yoroi, Kanazuchi, Bita, Kanzashi, Nokogiri, Hakari, Mekki and Jyu.

Knowing that all is might, the current Shogunate is afraid of rebellion, and has taken the steps to retrieve the swords. The hired ninjas, who were entrusted to collect the swords, have betrayed the Shogun instead and seek the swords for themselves. The only reason for Shichika to aid Togame in her mission is if he fell in love with her. Those seeking money and “honor” will eventually betray them. Only love will not be betrayed.

Togame

Togame

As it is, the two characters have no romantic spark at all. She tells him to fall in love with her, as if she is the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. He can barely remember what she looks like, for crying out loud!  It’s not like she has a winning personality either with her constant need to talk.

Suddenly, shurikens (little daggers) are shot at them. Nanami is the first to notice and saves both her brother and Togame. Shichika immediately chases down the intruder. After Nanami careful questions Togame, she realizes her ferryman is Maniwa Koumori of the Maniwa Corps. The Maniwa Corps, a group of rogue ninjas, are seeking the 12 blades too.

After Shichika catches up with the ninja, he introduces himself as Maniwa Koumori, one of the 12 leaders of Maniwa Corps. He reaches into his throat, and unsheathes the Zettou Kanna (絶刀, 鉋). Shichika stares at him in disgust instead of awe, as saliva lines the entire blade and hilt. As Koumori attacks Shichika, he performs the Kyotoryuu Lily of Valley stance, followed by Chrysanthemum, using his arms and legs as swords, intending to break the sword. Unknown to him, Kanna is the hardest blade of the 12, and will never break, bend or chip. The blade of Kanna is straight, unlike most katanas, and its hilt is decorated with flower plum patterns. Shichika breaks into his second stance, the Daffodil, intending to break the sword, until Togame appears and orders him to protect the sword at all cost. Koumori swallows Kanna and spits out shuriken at Shichika and kidnaps Togame in the process.

Koumori has the sickening ability to transform into an exact copy of any being (a shape-shifter ala Fringe) he chooses, and he changes into Togame to ambush Shichika. All Shichika heard was someone creeping up to him and he immediately uses his Kyotoryuu Peony kick against the intruder. Koumori is startled that Shichika knew it was a fake Togame. However, Shichika corrects him, and tells him he can’t differentiate between Togame and Koumori.

 

Peony Kick on the impostor

Peony Kick on the impostor

Koumori tries to dissuade Shichika from helping Togame reasoning that this is her way of gaining recognition within the ranks. She will sacrifice anyone for her goal to be the right hand of the shogun and eventually rule the world. What’s more, she’s the daughter of the leader who led the last rebellion against the shogun. Her father was killed by Matsue, Shichika’s father. Shichika asks Koumori if anyone else knows this secret other than him. “No.” Then the secret is safe, as he prepares for his newest and last stance, the Hachiretsu. Even as Koumori tries to copy Shichika’s appearance, he is split in eight by Shichika and looses the sword together with his life.

Shichika goes in search of Togame and finds the klutz tied up to a tree, but is up-side-down as she tries to free herself unsuccessfully from her bindings. He finally sees her one red and one blue eye, trait of the late Hida Takahito.

“I will help you,” he announces to Togame. (Is it out of guilt after learning the history of their parents?) But he continues, “…because I have fallen for you.” (does he even know what love is? Or is it pity he’s feeling for her?) Nanami agrees to Shichika leaving the island to aid Togame in her quest, because it is his choice to finally leave the island after all these years in exile. As they row away from the island, Togame gives him four directives to live on during their journey:

1. Do not break the swords (otherwise the mission will fail)
2. Protect me (if I die, it will all be in vain)
3. Protect yourself (this is not her being considerate. Until all 12 swords are collected, dying is unacceptable)
4. Protect yourself (this is her being considerate)

The last directive is the only time she has shown her softer side to him. Where is the romance again?

So, Shichika is hunting down swords, but he can’t use any of them. I guess he would be safe from its evil influence then. Then, his sidekick, Togame, who is the brains of the operation, was actually tailed and then kidnapped. This is a disaster waiting to happen.

February 2010, Episode 2: Zantou Namakura – Decapitate Sword, Blunt

Once in the city, after being stopped by a girl commenting on his lack of clothing in the middle of winter, Togame decides to go shopping for Shichika, but ends up buying for herself. Meanwhile, Shichika has a new set of clothes. Before, he was at least covered with a shirt, with some mid-drift and arms showing. His new costume consists of armbands covering ONLY his arms and a pair of baggy palazzo pants, but leaves the rest bare. Now how is this decent clothing?

On top of that, even after traveling with her into the city, he still cannot recognize her, and mistakes a young girl for Togame. Talk about love.

Togame & Shichika

Togame & Shichika

On the road, they bump into a group of bandits who want to rob them. Shichika breaks the hand of one and the sword of another before they can even unsheathe their weapons. However, before he ends their miserable life, Togame stops him and tells him he cannot go around killing people as he wishes. “Mendo na!” (What a hassle!)

As they begin their journey towards Inaba for the second sword, Togame with her newly acquired wardrobe stumbles into nothing and falls flat on her face again. Stopping at an inn to rest for the night, Shichika suddenly decides to “cuddle” Togame, not for romantic reasons, but to learn her color and scent so that he will not mistake her for another again. She even tells him to lick her, to know her taste. Oddly weird, and not even erotic. He then wraps her long white hair around him like a scarf – maybe that’s why he doesn’t need clothes. Her hair will be his clothing! Her hair comes in handy too after a meal, to be used as a napkin to wipe his mouth. During their conversation, he asks her a valid question. What if one Shikizaki sword meets the other? Will they break? Perhaps.

She falls…yet again

She falls…yet again

Togame, the self-named strategian and wanna-be author, lectures Shichika on being more personable. His personality is so weak that even Koumori outshone him. She rattles on for a good 10 minutes, and finally tells him he needs to find a catchphrase. “Anona, mendo…” (This is such a hassle…) There.  THAT is his catchphrase.  Nothing fancy, but shows his personality. But she disapproves. It has to be charming as well as lethal.

Just like the man who betrayed the shogun after he was hired to retrieve one of the swords, Sabi Hakuhei says, “I’ll have you fall for me.” Corny.

Just like her too, her catchphrase is, “Cheerio!” but she really means, “Chesuto,” a misuse. However, I really think hers is, “Gyafun!”

Finally she chooses, “…by that point, you’ll be torn to pieces” for him. He accepts, if not to just shut the dominatrix up.

Zantou Namakura (斬刀, 鈍) is protected by Uneri Ginkaku. The sword is made for unsheathing the sword at incredible speed. Ironically, the blade is named blunt, but it is the sharpest blade of the 12, having the ability to cut through anything. Its katana has triangular patterns around the hilt guard. Ginkaku is the sole swordsman left, in a deserted country of Inaba, guarding a castle that has turned to a vast and inhabitable dessert 5 years ago. His fighting style is based upon his agility in drawing his sword at lightning speed, called Zerosen. The sword is highly sought after by Minawa Corps, and they too have sent their tenth General, Minawa Shirasagi to retrieve it. This man speaks in reverse, and is yet another oddity of the Minawa Clan. The moment he steps into Ginkaku’s space, he is sliced in two.

The duo finally finds the castle by pure luck, after stumbling upon the corpse of Shirasagi in the desert. They enter the castle cautiously to negotiate for the sword. They find Ginkaku behind a small entrance, but they do not cross the threshold. Togame politely tells him that there is a bounty on his head, but it can be removed if he gives up Namakura.

“Come closer. It is rude to make such request so far away,” Ginkaku says.

As she crosses the threshold, Shichika immediately throws Togame back with his Kyotoryuu Lily style. Her multiple layers of clothes might have saved her, as a piece of cloth on her chest is sliced. Ginkaku is pleasantly surprised that someone actually evaded his Zerosen. Generations of his people have kept the sword and each have drawn the sword faster than the speed of light.

Shichika does the unexpected. He tells Ginkaku that they will be right back, as they need to discuss a few things. He actually proves to have more brains in the matter that the self-proclaimed genius. By leaving, and Ginkaku not giving chase, it proves a few things. One, Ginkaku is not interested in them once they leave. Two, the room is the ideal fighting ground for Ginkaku. Therefore, they have to find a way to make him leave the room. They could use Togame as bait, but they she will die, rendering everything null and void. They will not be as lucky as the first time, with Koumori and on his “rescue” of Togame before being sliced by Ginkaku. Shichika reasons that people with things to protect are stronger. And he’s got Togame to protect. Therefore, she has to stand behind him at all times for safety sake.

Meanwhile, Ginkaku’s reason for being strong is to protect the castle and most importantly, the sword. Everyone left because they were able to. Sadly, the sword has been his anchor, and Ginkaku will never be able to leave Inaba.

Shichika and Togame return to the swordsman and he immediately readies himself. Shichika performs the seventh stance of Kyotoryuu, Iris, and leaps in three steps across the room towards Ginkaku who misses with the phantom illusion. Next stance, Kyotoryuu Rose, he manages a kick, but Ginkaku uses the Zerosen five lines, which throws him off. The lightning-speed cuts misses Shichika, but Ginkaku cuts himself. This technique was once used to kill 10,000 men. Blood slowly flows from his shoulder onto the blade, thus decreasing the friction between the sword and the sheath called the Zantou Gari. With this, Ginkaku will further increase the speed of Zerosen, but will leave him practically bleeding to death. Ginkaku uses the Zerosen 10 lines technique, with Shichika backing away, but using Togame as his wall to push him up against the ceiling. “Gyafun!” exclaims the unsuspecting Togame.

Stepping stone / face

Utter disregard: The face as a launching pad

Shichika realizes quickly that Ginkaku cannot draw the sword above his head. Shichika immediately attacks from above with Kyotoryuu Blossom and deals him a fatal blow. As Ginkaku lay dying, he asks for Togame to restore Inaba to its former glory. Unfortunately, she will not be able to fulfill his final request, as she cannot reverse the effects of the dessert.

With his last breath, Ginkaku whispers, “At last, deep sleep is allowed onto me.” Togame later tells Shichika that finals words are more powerful than catchphrases, but he is not allowed to think about that. Back in their inn, she tries to show him the Namakura, but he denies his right to see the sword, not when he can’t even follow the flow of it.

March 2010, Episode 3: Sentou Tsurugi – Thousand Sword, Blade

Three months passes since the retrieval of their last sword, Namakura. Togame and Shichika are finally at Sanzu Shrine in Izumo. The temple is like a fort, with a 1000 steps up to the actual shrine, it guards against intruders. As they make their ascend, Togame complains she is getting tired, but refuses the indignity of being piggybacked by Shichika. Instead, she comes up with a brilliant plan. Aside from having to carry her load of luggage, Shichika has to now carry her, not on the back, but in front like a baby, under the watchful eyes of the shrine maidens scattered across the forest.

They meet with the priestess Tsuruga Meisa, wielder of Sentou Tsurugi. Seven years ago, she was the leader of a group of bandits and inherited Tsurugi from them. She took up the name of the former priest, after she killed him, but was asked to protect the maidens living in the temple. She claims to have forgotten her given name.

As Meisa speaks to Togame, she tells her that all 1000 shrine maidens in the temple, each wielding a Tsurugi blade, has killed before. The mikos have all been physically and mentally abused by men to the point of fearing most men. (Later, responding to their sensitivity, Togame forbids Shichika from leaving their room without her) Togame tells Meisa she is there on the orders of the Bakufu to retrieve Tsurugi to keep peace and order. The Shogun has promised to care for the maidens if she gave up the sword(s). Meisa agrees, with conditions. Togame has to first find the original Tsurugi, from the thousands of replicas. Once she identifies it, it will be a battle of Sentoryuu style against Kyotoryuu style of sword fight. If Meisa wins, she retains Tsurugi and gets the other two deviant swords: Kanna and Nakamura. If Shichika wins, they get Tsurugi.

Tsurugi (千刀, 鎩) Sentou Tsurugi, is made of one thousand swords, where 999 swords are the exact copies of the original. The multiple swords are all at the owner’s disposal, and is able to overwhelm the enemy with numbers.

Meisa’s Sentoryuu style revolves around using many blades at her disposal, something that Tsurugi possesses. She was once the daughter of powerful kendo master who practice this style. Her father, was an ally of Togame’s father, Hida Takahito, both killed by Shichika’s father, Yusuri Matsue.

That night, as Togame chats with Shichika, with him wrapping her hair around him once again, the maids watch this deviant couple who do not act like master and servant.

The next day, dressed in a kimono, Togame sets out to identify the real Tsurugi, but warns Shichika from leaving the area cordoned off to them until she signals him with a light. During the inspection of the swords, an amok maid tries to kill Togame, but Meisa protects her and gets cut instead. The miko drops the sword immediately and cries inconsolably after realizing what she has done. The abused mikos are all mentally ill. Meisa had hoped to use Tsurugi’s magical properties to cure the girls of their wrath. It had worked to a small degree, as the sword gave the maids confidence.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on a bridge, Sabi Hakuhei makes an appearance once again with Hari, the needle blade.

Back at the hut, a bored Shichika runs into the working maids who are moving chopped wood into a shed. He approaches them, but they shy away in fear. Unconcerned, he begins to help with the chore. The maids, slowly, one by one begin to continue with their chore of moving the wood together with Shichika. He then exclaims that he doesn’t feel the presence of the Tsurugi sword, even though every one of the maid is carrying the Tsurugi. Meisa’s two bodyguards see the phenomenon and watches in awe. They return to Meisa to tell her of the latest development.

Meisa, upon hearing about her maids and Shichika being able to pick out the Tsurugi, pays Shichika a visit. During their visit, Meisa reiterates that the Shrine is a temple of refuge of the abuse maids. The sword, a necessary evil is used to cure the souls of the maids – fighting fire with fire, poison against poison. Shichika tells Meisa that his body and soul will not move except for Togame. He is her sword. This sword has killed two people in his lifetime. As they trade “war stories, Meisa tells of her killing 43 outlaws. Forty-three bandits, who were once her brothers.

Of course, the story is not complete if a Maniwa Corp. (or as Shichika calls it – the Maniwani group) leader does not appear to try to retrieve the sword. After the ferryman gets him to the Sanzu Shrine, he kills him with his Uzugatana, Whirlpool Blade. He has come not only to avenge Koumori and Shirasagi. Maniwa Kuizame intrudes into Shinchika and Meisa’s meeting and announces his intentions on the Tsurugi and the other two attained by Shichika. Meisa tells Shichika to step back, so that she can show him Sentoryuu for their impending battle (since she knows how the Kyotoryuu style works). Without blinking an eye, she breaches Kuizame’s swinging chains and kills him mercilessly.

Togame finally returns, but Shichika is late in getting to her signal, as he was helping Meisa with the body of the Maniwani. It seems, Togame has found the Tsurugi sword, which she identifies by its sheath being the oldest. Shichika doesn’t correct her mistake.

Meisa vs. Shichika

Meisa vs. Shichika

The next day, the fight between Shichika and the priestess begin. Meisa flings her sword and sheath at him and makes a mad dash into the woods. The swords are strategically placed all over the woods, testament to the Sentoryuu style of sword play and making use of Tsurugi’s multiplicity. She tells him to give up, as he will never overcome her. Instead of surrendering, he tells her simply that he eats meat. That means he has to set traps to hunt for his meat. He once set it all over the woods, including the area outside his house. His sister was not too pleased when she stepped into one of those traps. From then on, he learned not to shit where you eat. That applies to Meisa too, as he leads her back to the opening of the shrine. She pulls out a lone Tsurugi from the ground, which Shichika immediately identifies as the real sword with its deadly aura emanating from it. Meisa, as the 12th generation of Sentoryuu style meets Shichika the 7th generation of Kyotoryuu style of sword fight. He uses Kyoka Suigetsu Okumojikiri and kills her. Before she dies, she once again asks Togame to protect the shrine and the girls.

By removing the real poison of the girls, maybe Shichika has given a second chance in life for them. The sword only perpetrated their fears and did not build their confidence. In fact, it only made things worse, as they hid behind their masks and the sword for protection.

April 2010, Episode 4: Hakutou Hari – Thin Sword, Needle

Four months drift by, Togame and Shichika are in Sou Village to meet with Sabi Hakuhei after a letter of challenge was issued. They will duel for the Shikizaki swords. Hakuhei’s desire for his sword caused his betrayal to the Shogun. He lost his humanity when he began devoting his life to the sword he was charged to retrieve, Hakutou Hari (薄刀, 針). Hari is an exceptionally thin blade that resembles a needle. The needle itself is made of glass, giving it its light weight, but fragile characteristics. He is a force to be reckon with and Togame cautions Shichika on their imminent battle. While talking, she begins to strip, with the help of Shichika. When she questions him on his killing of Meisa, he tells her he does not discriminate the enemy as man or woman.

Naked Togame

Naked Togame - not doing anything for Shichika

As she stands naked before him, she begins to praise the beauty of Hakutou Hari. He tells her not to praise other swords in front of him, while he begins to touch her collarbone. She warns him not to tickle her there as her collarbone is weak (some fetish), but he doesn’t heed. Even as he continues his massage on her, and she comes to a near orgasm, she still manages to tell him that if Shichika defeats Hakuhei, he will be the strongest man in Japan. In the back of his mind, he is thinking of how his sister will always be stronger than him.

Meanwhile, in Ganryuu Island, the Mushishi clan (Insect Squad) of Maniwa Corps. plans to kidnap Shichika’s sister, Nanami, to bribe him into giving them their swords and to avenge their fallen comrades. Three Maniwa leaders have perished, all because of the greed of one Owari Shogunate. It will be a disgrace to their name if they sat around and did nothing. The leader of the Insect Squad, Kamakiri the Praying Mantis, decides to go alone to capture Nanami. He leaves them his red crystal incase an unforeseen circumstance befalls him.

Maniwani Insect

Maniwani Insect Squad

Chou Chou, the butterfly, and Mitsubachi, the bee, play go and dice while waiting for the return of Kamakiri.

Kamakiri tries to attack and capture Nanami, but he wakes up with him tied to a tree. When he was unconscious, Nanami removed his poison molar. She wants to know how many of his companions are coming. He refuses to answer. She tells him timidly and shyly that if he keeps his silence, he will die. On the other hand, even if he talks, he will also die. Now, she just has to devise a way of torturing him.

Nanami also questions him about her brother and his traveling companion. She is unhappy to learn that he has left home for so long, but only retrieved three swords. Curious, she asks about all the swords and its abilities. She tells Kamakiri that Shichika had a habit of biting his nails when he was younger. To stop him from his bad habit, she tore out all his nails. How about she cut out his tongue? Kamakiri relents. But instead of talking, he uses his deadly Tsume Awase, a fighting technique, against her.

Yusuri Nanami, Shichika’s older sister, was at first depicted as a gentle and weak little thing. When they were younger, her father Matsue gave the head of Kyotoryuu to Shichika instead of Nanami. She has never been taught the art of fighting nor the Kyotoryuu style, as she not only had a weak body, but according to her father, she was a deviant. She is able to learn any fighting technique with just one look and master it on the second try.

The red crystal of Kamakiri cracks, signifying that he has perished. The remaining two insist they each go, but if there is only one survivor for the clan let it be the youngest. Chou Chou vows to stay alive and return, for he is getting married upon his return to the 12th head of Maniwani, Oshidori of the Bird Squad.

Yusuri Nanami

Yusuri Nanami

Chou Chou sneaks up on Nanami, but she already knows he is there. She uses her unhuman-like claws on him as he takes a stance. She laughs at him, telling him as a deviant, she does not have a stance. However, she can read his next moves as she begins to use the Kyotoryuu Zero Dance and Poppy on Chou Chou. He uses his Ashigaru, light feet, to evade her. This technique allows one to cancels out his own weight to make him faster. She surmises that it must have taken him his entire life to perfect that technique. However, in that brief moment of him showing her the move, she has learned it and subsequently uses the Kyotoryuu Dandelion to kill him. Chou Chou senses Mitsubachi in the vicinity and telepathically warns him to stay away from this woman.

He immediately attacks her with Makibishi Shidan. Nanami is stung, but Mitsubachi tells her the poison is not lethal, just to paralyze her. He tells her that they do not want her, but her brother and his swords. Unbeknown to him, she is only pretending. Nanami, being a sickly child, grew up with medicines and to be exact poisons. Besides her deviant learning style, she also has an unnatural ability to recover from serious injuries and poisons. She pulls Mitsubachi’s caltrop out from herself with her nails, and steals another from him, using the Ashigaru technique she just learned from a dead Chou Chou. Using the enemy’s own poisonous weapon, she maims him and adds Kamakiri’s earlier poison molar to the mixture. She gives him a choice of a slow death by poison or a quick death by her hand. He chooses the latter and she uses Kyotoryuu’s eight and final stance on him. Before he dies, he requests that she buries the three friends together.

In the end, Togame and Shichika defeats Hakuhei and retrieves Hakutou Hari. He is now officially Japan’s strongest. Or is he? Why wasn’t this fight against the strongest swordsman shown? Instead, Nanami’s easy defeat of the Insect Squad is told. If this episode is about the strongest swords(wo)man in Japan, then could it be an implication that Nanami is the one.

Nanami has not only mastered the Kyotoryuu style with ease, but now she also knows the Maniwa Insect Squad’s fighting technique. The world has not seen the end of her yet, especially since she has decided to join the bumbling duo in their quest. Will the siblings be forced to face each other one day as enemies?

May 2010, Episode 5: Zokutou Yoroi – Bandit Sword, Armor

In Owari, Hitei hime, Princess Hitei who must be close to the shogunate, has been spying on Shichika and Togame now that they have taken down Japan’s strongest swordsman Sabi Hakuhei. She was the one who bestowed the title upon him. Her spy tells her that Shichika’s style of fighting lies not in offense but defense. The wheels are turning.

After their last battle, Togame decides to take it easy. Shichika has come out of all the battles unscathed and she plans on keeping it that way. The dynamic duo finally reaches Satsuma, an island inhabited by Azekura Kanara, a pirate who rules the small port town and the owner of their next deviant sword. There they witness a fight in an arena, where an armored body belonging to Kanara takes on another man with a huge sword. The opponent charges with his sword, but it breaks upon hitting the armor.

The armor, Zokutou Yoroi (賊刀, 鎧), is worn by Kanara. It has numerous blades around it and  is the most defensive blade forged with the ability to protect the user from any damage. Kanara’s appearance is never seen, as his armor completely covers him.

Togame & Shichika taking a soak

Togame & Shichika taking a soak - again, no reaction

 

Shichika and Togame takes a well-deserved break, sharing a soak in the hot springs, onsen, together while she tries to “seduce” him unsuccessfully. She even makes him stand up for her to see him, but he has no reaction. She only comments at how muscular he has grown. She later puts on a yukata to seduce him. Nothing. So it’s back to business for them two.

Seeing that the sword is an armor, they can only assume that Kanara’s primary weapon is defense. Togame comes up with ridiculous ideas to retrieve the armor without destroying it: first pushing him into the sea to drown him and then recover the armor, or use heat to burn him to a crisp and then retrieving the armor. Both plans, seem rather evil and underhanded to Shichika. How about attacking him while the armor is not on him? Unfortunately for them, Kanara always has the armor on. Shichika will be fighting a giant, but he will have to be swift and light. As they talk, and he gives her an erotic back and head massage, the inn keeper tells them they have a visitor.

If the mountains can’t go to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountains. Kanara has come implicating them as the duo collecting the deviant swords on behalf of the shogunate. He issues a challenge; defeat him and not only will they get the armor, but they will be safely escorted out to Owari. On the other hand, if they lose, he takes Togame. What a shocker! Togame was prepared for the swords to be his price. Kanara proceeds to confess his love to her.

Houou cuts of his arm

Houou cuts of his arm, while smiling. Demented.

 

Togame ponders this deal. Win or lose, the arrangement is still a win for her. Either way, she gets another sword to add to the collection, and a stronger bodyguard. Before they can decide on their course of action, a letter from Maniwa Corps.’ Bird Squad commander, Houou (the Phoenix) arrives. He hasn’t come to challenge them. To prove it, he cuts of his arm. He wants to know if they have come across the missing Insect Squad, which they deny. That means half their members are now lost to the cause of retrieving the swords. He offers a temporary truce and exchange of information. The group will go after swords that the pair are not yet pursuing. Therefore, Soutou Kanazuchi, the Hammer, in Ezo is off limits to Maniwa. But Houo tells them the location of three other swords: Mutsu’s Mountain of Spirits, Tendou in Dewa, and Lake Fuyou in Edo. He also drops a hint that Princess Hitei is on the move. Finally, he tells her she’s been misusing the word, “Cheerio!” Even Shichika knew it, but never corrected her.

As a child, Kanara was taken in as a cabin boy/slave to pirates after his younger sister (who looks suspiciously like Togame) was killed. The ship he was brought on housed the Zokutou Yoroi armor, and he soon became the owner of it.

The next day, as the duel between Kanara and Shichika begins, Togame requests that Kanara’s life be spared. He readies himself in the stance much like during the battle with Ginkaku. He uses Kyotoryuu against Kanara, but it proves ineffective. Should he then accept defeat, since Togame already asked that Kanara’s life be spared? Maybe she does love Kanara instead of him? Then Togame yells out at him, reading his mind, telling him that she never gave him permission to do that (accept defeat).

“I told you to win!”

If his style of fighting doesn’t work, then use brute force to protect her. Shichika goes into the first stance, Lily of the Valley, as Kanara charges towards him with the Blade of Gulls. Shichika is pushed, but he holds his ground. Bigger doesn’t mean stronger. Shichika picks him up and hurls him on the ground. He’s down.

“Don’t touch my woman!”

Shichika claims victory. Kanara is the only one to have met Shichika in battle and live to tell about it. Looks like he is strong enough even without Kyotoryuu.

They leave as promised, unharmed. But the boat’s final destination is not Owari. Kanara has instructed the boatman to take them to Ezo (now Hokkaido) instead, home of Soutou Kanazuchi.

June 2010, Episode 6: Soutou Kanazuchi – Twin Sword, Hammer

Shichika and Togame are left at Ezo (now Hokkaido) in blizzard-like conditions. They climb Mount Odori to reach the Itezora clan who is said to possess the Soutou Kanazuchi (双刀, 鎚 Twin Sword, Hammer), a large, blunt-looking sword. Little is known about the clan, except for rumors Togame heard. It seems the clans people resemble yeti/abominable snowmen because of the heavy fur covering them. Kanazuchi is the heaviest sword of all Shikizaki Kiki’s evil swords. It is one sword that can be held on both ends of it, that’s why it is also called a twin sword. However, one thing’s for sure, the clan’s ancestors were giants of Izumo. Since Togame doesn’t know much about the clan, Shichika points out that their plan is to make things happen as they go along. He finally figures out Togame is not as clever as she claims to be. Through their climb (Shichika carrying the lazy ass Togame), Shichika finally succumbs to frostbite and falls. He insists he’s not cold. He’s just losing control of his body. He promptly loses consciousness.

They are saved by Itezora Konayuki, a petite but strong girl, who has long white hair similar to Togame but is missing a tooth (which makes her even cuter). In the warmth and safety of a cave, she tells the pair that she is the sole survivor of the Itezora clan (based of the Ainu people) after an avalanche took out the entire village a month ago. She was never privy to the clan’s secrets as she is only a child of 11 years. However, she has seen the mayor’s son wielding it before. Maybe she can search for it under the snow.

After Konayuki leaves, Togame wonders if Shichika can even fight the child, or can they get the sword by just negotiating with her? On that note, how did the village, which has lived in the mountains for 100 years get wiped out with a single avalanche? It is more than meets the eye. Maybe Konayuki was the one who caused the demise of everyone? Or someone of her size?

As Togame snuggles up to, and wraps her hair around, Shichika they talk about their fathers. He tells her that he killed his own father. He also knows that Togame is the daughter of the rebel Hida Takahito, whom his father killed. Yet, he chose to be her sword. She forces him to swear not to share this secret with anyone else. Then he asks her what she will do with her OWN personal sword (him) after all 12 evil katanas are retrieved. She can’t answer him yet, but starts rambling. He pretends to fall asleep so as not to listen to her jibber-jabber anymore.

Back at Owari Castle, Hitei hime speaks to her ninja spy, Emonzaemon. Seems like the two have more history between them. Mount Odori has been claimed a disaster zone not for the harshest winter in Japan but because of the Itezora clan. The pair do not know what they are up against.

 

Remaining Maniwani

Remaining Maniwani

Elsewhere, the remaining six Maniwa Corps. members meet. Houou the phoenix, assumes the position of the leader and tells them he made a temporary alliance with Togame. The remaining members are Umigame the sea turtle, Oshidori the mandarin duck (fiancé of Chouchou), Kawauso the river otter, Pengin the penguin (ingenious!) and a missing female rabid dog Kyouken. From now on, they will move together as a squad. Pengin, their information tracker, tells them that the sword in Shireizan has been taken and the owner wiped out the entire village in under 30 minutes. Kyouken will have to track this mysterious person down. Then they realize that Kyouken is missing. If she is after Togame, the alliance will be shattered. Houou and Kawauso will have to stop her.

As the pair of Maniwa members travel to Ezo, Houou tells Kawauso that the original Kyouken died a long time ago. Her ninpou allows her to jump into new bodies, but only women’s bodies. They will have to catch up to Kyouken to prevent her death and the lost of the new alliance with Togame.

At the mouth of the cave, Konayuki returns with the sword. She hurls it to Shichika, he misses it, and the sword drops to the ground with a loud thud! The ground around the sword is broken. Shichika tries to lift it, but it is just too heavy. They can only look at the little munchkin in awe. She has superhuman strength, but she tells them she is the weakest among her clansmen. Then she tells Shichika, “If the land dweller (them) wants the sword, they will have to prove their worth and fight her for it.” Konayuki battles Shichika. Not only is he unable to bring himself to hurt her, but he can’t seem to read her moves. He uses the Kyotoryuu: Rose and Violet attacks. She evades and falls into the snow only to stand up quickly. It is her turn to attack. Shichika manages to avoid the first hit, but she lands the next hit and breaks his wrist. This will be Shichika’s first defeat!

Konayuki, innocently, apologizes to Shichika for him being weak. He humbly states that the fault lies with him for underestimating her as a child. An opponent with no sense of logic, filled with pure innocence, is the strongest kind of fighter. Even then, he still can’t bring himself to kill her. Maybe, they don’t have to fight her. She’s just lonely. Konayuki has probably figured out that if she handed the sword over, she would be alone again.

At the grave of her fallen people, she visits them and lay down flowers for them. She also shows off her newly hunted rabbit, proof of her ability to care for herself now.

On her way back, Konayuki meets Kyouken at the mouth of the cave and beats up the dog. Hearing the commotion, Shichika and Togame rush out to see. They see Kyouken Hatsudou on the ground, who she vows to avenge her friends. After Shichika reveals that he is unable to defeat Konayuki, Kyouken quickly transfers her soul and takes over Konayuki. Now Shichika can kill her, but his arm is broken.

In Konayuki, Kyouken receives the memories of the host and sees the devastation of the village caused by a certain someone, not an avalanche. Maybe it was Nanami who came seeking the sword. Kyouken, upon inhabiting the new host, she also inherits their skills too. Seeing the new Konayuki/Kyouken, Shichika tries to confirm his theory. Togame orders him to kill the dog. He attacks her with Kyotoryuu: Plum and she falls. He certainly can read her moves now. Using Kyotoryuu: Hikara Kuyou, Shichika uses his energy to push out Kyouken without killing Konayuki. Kyouken dissipates from Konayuki. He reasons that only Konayuki is able to carry the sword back to the Shogun. He has outwardly disobeyed Togame’s order of killing Konayuki! Have a heart! She is only a child…

Kawauso and Houou finally show up. With Kyouken dead does that mean that their fragile alliance is no longer valid? To show his sincerity, he lops off Kawauso’s head. Now they are even? Kawauso’s ninpou as a Record Tracker is extremely valuable to the Maniwa Corps. He can track inanimate objects like swords. And then there were four.

A surprised Togame had to agree on the alliance again. To show his gratitude, he shares with her that the sword in Shireizan has a new owner. That person wiped out the entire village in less than 30 minutes. Said person is headed to Shikoku. (Sounds like Nanami’s doing again…)

Half a month later, Konayuki is sent to Owari with the sword. After that she will head to the Sanzu shrine in Izumo to live there from now on.

Shichika, all healed, and Togame head to Shikoku to see the big Buddha. He however regrets having lost to Konayuki. But to appease him, Togame promises that he can fight her again after all the katanas have been retrieved. On the ship ride, someone is eavesdropping on their conversation. It is none other than the princess’  loyal servant.

July 2010, Episode 7: Akutou Bita – Evil Sword, Poor

Yusuri Nanami, a petite and unassuming figure, once saved Shinchika and Togame in their first meeting against Koumori of Maniwa Corps. She later proves to be quite frightening and an intimidating foe when caught in a battle. Even though she has never learned the family’s fighting style Kyotouryuu, (or most likely banned from learning/practicing it) she is not only quick on the uptake, but has fast reflexes and the ability to think a few steps ahead.

Yusuri Nanami

Yusuri Nanami

Nanami reaches Shireizan, at Gokenji Temple, and kills all the inhabitants there before releasing Akutou Bita from its shrine-like-prison. She comes into the possession of Akutou Bita (悪刀, 鐚) a rather small knife-like weapon that is able to sustain a dead body. Weirdly enough, Nanami keeps and uses the sword, even though the Kyotouryuu is a swordless style. The sword is a match for her, a “poor” but “evil” sword. What will happen to her if she continuously uses it? Ironically, even in her weakened state, the Bita is able to sustain her, rejuvenating her body through black magic, allowing Nanami to fight at full capacity without succumbing to her illness.

Of course, this is not her first massacre. Remember Konayuki of the Itezora Clan on Mount Odori? The yeti-like people with super-human strength that were wiped out in one day? Well, that was Nanami’s doing too.

Coincidentally, this particular episode is an homage to both the siblings: Shichika and Nanami (7 in Japanese, on the 7th episode of the series, in the 7th month of the year).

A month ago, Togame and Shichika trek the Itezora Clan killer to Tosa. There their trail goes cold, but the princess’ trusty ninja, Emonzaemon, follows them and lead them to the attacker at Shireizan who has also occupied the Gokenji Temple. He reports back to the princess, after the Itezora incident, that Yasuri Nanami is one unblinking, ruthless killer. She is so powerful and unstoppable that even though the Maniwa Corps know she is the one behind the killings, they dare not move. More so now that they only have three members left. Houou, Pengin and Umigame. Oh, and Togame is so mean, that she pretended to trip a few times during the journey and end up kicking him. I have news for him, it was not intentionally. She really is this klutzy.

The siblings finally meet in battle, as Shichika meets the true “strongest swordsmen in Japan,” his sister. Shichika wonders if he really has to fight his sister to the death to gain the sword, after learning she stole the Bita from its people. But on their first meet, Nanami realizes just how “weak” her brother has become. She didn’t raise him to be compassionate. As a sword, instead of being honed over time, he has become rusty. She blames Togame for this new, softer, who thinks twice before striking Shichika.

Nanami realizes her end is near. This is her chance to ensure that her brother can truly fend for himself by finally beating her. She sees through all his moves, using her hidden technique: Migeika, where she pinpoints and finds weakness in his “latest” creation. As he utilizes his ultimate move, Shichika Hachiretsu: Ryuuryoku Kakou, she grabs him by the waist and easily throws him down, much like the Itezora Clan. In that move, Shichika realizes that Nanami was the one who made little Konayuki an orphan. She tells him, just like when they were in their little island, she loved to pull weeds. “After all, weeding is my hobby.” And those people were weeds. If Shichika doesn’t come up with a new plan of attack, she too will be weeding him out. Using his technique against him, she creates a hybrid of his technique: Kyotouryuu: Daisy and Iris, and puts him to the ground.

But how was she able to use that many stances, 272 in all, to strike down Shichika when she has such a weak body?

Suddenly, Nanami undresses in front of Shichika. She shows him where she has kept Bita; on her chest beats her heart in sync with the Bita. It is keeping her alive, but more than that, it is rejuvenating her body. That explains her ability to use that many stances.

The devil sword in her

The devil sword in her

Togame has to find a loophole is Nanami’s prowess. Shichika can’t see himself winning against his elder sister. Ever since they were young, she has always beaten him. Shichika admits that when he saw Togame at the island, he didn’t correct her into thinking he was the stronger of the two. Otherwise Togame would have left with Nanami instead of him.

“I don’t know what I would have done half a year ago, if I knew Nanami was the stronger sibling,” she replies, “but you’re my ONLY sword now.”

To be her sword, he has to be stronger than Nanami. He has to win over her. But first, they have to dissect and find the weakness of Hachiretsu. It is a hybrid of seven techniques used in rapid succession of the other. He has to improve on it. That seven techniques has a possibility of 5202 different approaches. He has to find a combination with the least amount of moves in it. What he doesn’t understand is how can a sword, like his sister, own a sword? For that matter, why has his sister pointed out the weakness of his ultimate technique so that he can actually work on it to improve on it? He doesn’t realize it yet, but Nanami is trying to leave him as the true greatest swordsman in Japan before she dies.

Girl talk

Girl talk aka digging for info

Meanwhile, Togame will figure out why a sister, who so loves her brother, is willing to kill him? Why has she asked Shichika to kill her, like he did their father? To solve the riddle, and shed some light to the matter, Togame pays a visit to Nanami. Maybe she can convince Nanami to stop this senseless battle. During their talk, Nanami reveals that her father was exiled to an island because he, Mutsue, killed her mother, Migiri. Shichika will later kill his own father. Thus, it has become a normalcy for the Yasuri family to kill each other. In the end, she warn Togame that no technique can escape her eyes. Shichika will be dead.

That night, the siblings meet each other in front of the Buddha of Sword. Before the battle begins, Shichika asks Nanami once more to hand over the sword without bloodshed. She refuses. She brings up the death of their father at Shichika’s hands. “I won’t thank you for that,” she begins, “I wanted him to kill me instead.” Then she reminds him that this will also be their last time talking to each other. And at that moment, the candles in the hall are doused simultaneously.

Shichika attacks and strikes with the least amount of moves, using Shichika Hachiretsu Kai. Since she can’t see in the dark, she can’t imitate, nor can she find his weakness. In a blink of an eye, he has wounded her but not killed her. He pulls out the Bita from her. “Call a doctor!” he says urgently. “Without the Bita, my sister’s life is in danger.” Nanami asks Shichika to finish her, but he no longer has a reason to fight. Nanami chops off Togame’s locks with the true intention of killing her. She has riled him. A surprised Togame drops her lantern.

The new short do

The new short do

Nanami has gone and done it now. He did prefer girls with long hair, just like their father. That disgusts her.

As the place goes up in flames, a crying Shichika uses his final technique against his only kin. He stabs her with his bare hands using Kyotouryuu: Dandelion as she falls into his arms. She is truly at peace now, dying by the sword/hands of her own beloved brother.

killing his own flesh and blood

Killing his own flesh and blood

Kyotouryuu cannot use sword. They absolutely cannot wield a sword. Nanami wanted to be killed to end her misery. She was a prodigy, and a very powerful and skilled one at that. But it became too much for her weak body to handle. Shichika never wanted to kill his father or his sister.

Later, as they leave the temple towards Yanami Shogun’s home, Shichika realizes they are both without family. However, Togame corrects him. “I have you, you have me.” To that, Shichika replies, “Aren’t you even embarrassed saying that?” Yeah, the woman has no shame.

August 2010, Episode 8: Bitou Kanzashi – Fine Sword, Sai

Shichika and Togame return to Owari on orders from Hitei Hime. Owari is the Shogunate’s base and a warrior’s town, a strict and regimented city unlike the capital Kyou. He points out one tastelessly flashy mansion with purple roof and golden walls adorned with fishes that sticks out like a sore thumb in the midst of uniformed and pristine-looking estates. Laughing at the vulgar display of call to attention, he wonders who the owner may be. “It’s mine,” Togame states rather miffed. The inside is as inconspicuous and empty as the outside is loud. Togame was definitely prepared for her travel. While Togame runs off to her boss to report on her travels, she warns Shichika against following her. There’s a new no-weapons policy in the castle.

Chibis

Chibi siblings

While waiting for Togame, Shichika trains in the garden, honing his skills, only to be surprised by Souda Emonzaemon. His master, the White Fox Hitei Hime, the benevolent one, wants to share intel on Shikizaki Kiki and the evil swords with them. This irks Togame, as she really didn’t want to visit the princess, her arch nemesis. She gets angry at Shichika for walking into the trap. The brat meets another brat.

Upon seeing her, the princess lets out an un-princess-like roar of laughter at Togame’s new do. Makes her look 20 years younger! But here’s the kicker: Togame digs her shame hole deeper by asking her about “Cheerio!” Idiot!  Thus begins the cat fight. Snarl!

The princess wants to expose Togame’s “real side” as a conniving bitch, out to use everyone she can get her hands on just to gain power through Kiki’s sword (and avenge her father). But Hitei Hime doesn’t Togame is Hida Takahito’s daughter. Or is she waiting for Togame to retrieve all the Deviant Blades before selling her off to the shogunate as the daughter of a traitor. But this much is true, they both despise the other.

The foxy Hite Hime

The foxy Hite Hime

A confused and alarmed Shichika finally finds his voice and asks where the mask-wearing ninja is. “In the attic,” her royal bitchiness replies, “His face makes me depressed.” To which Togame comments that she will never make Shichika do something so inane. Shichika’s expression to that reply is so priceless, that even the princess points it out, which gets a killer stare from Togame towards Shichika. Poor boy!

Back to the main reason for them being there: she wants to share information on the deviant sword. In truth, she wants to claim credit for their work, insisting that her ninja isn’t skilled enough for the job. Kiki the sword maker had a workshop at Lake Fuyou in Mount Shirei, which Houou had once mentioned to Togame as one of the locations the remaining swords could be at. But just like Mt. Odori, Lake Fuyou too is an uninhabitable disaster zone. This is where Biyorigou resides, probably protecting the land.

Deviant pistols

Deviant pistols

The pair sets off, with Emonzaemon as an “escort.” As they leave, Togame notices a decor on her shelf, which looks suspiciously like one of the deviant blades. It is the Jyu, designed as a pair of guns, but the princess tells them it is just an out-of-place decoration. Even with her denial, Shichika feels something is just not right with the ornament, but is called off by Togame before he can even say anything.

The audacity to be ashamed

The audacity to be ashamed

Of course, the lazy bum can’t even walk on her two feet. Shichika has to carry her, but she plays the propriety card with Emonzaemon there, only to have Shichika carry her like a baby later when Emonzaemon is not looking. The moment she climbs on, Emonzaemon catches her red-handed in action. She turns beet red. Togame tries to dissuade the ninja from following them, but really, he’s got nowhere else to be and no one else to watch, since Hite Himei’s arch enemy is right before him. They finally arrive at the uninhabitable junkyard, and the ninja finally leaves (!).

They get two seconds of alone time, but Shichika doesn’t get what she means. From afar, a figure approaches. It is a doll-faced robot, Biyorigou, walking through garbage. She’s the guardian of the lake, able to detect the slightest sound and movements. What’s more impressive is her ability to ascertain if something is a threat or not: rat not, human yes. The pair decides that they will have to disable her and then only look for the workshop and find clues of the elusive sword.

Shichika with the pretty lady

Shichika with the pretty lady

Shichika jumps into action, attacking the robot from behind, but the robot is on the defense immediately. Shichika realizes immediately that Biyorigou is Bitou Kanzashi (微刀, 釵).  “Kanzashi” (釵) means “ornate hairpin.” She is a four-armed, four-legged doll that not only functions on its own, but is armed with four swords with one extra one in its mouth. Its appearance changes according to the situation, becoming more menacing when it is threatened. She was made in the image of the woman Kirishiki once loved when he was young. Shichika manages to escape, and they find an inn to rest for the night and plan.

At the inn, Togame teaches the innkeeper to hide his precious plate in plain sight, by using it as the kitty’s watering bowl. Shichika notes that not only does the appearance of this deviant sword surprise Shichika (since he was expecting a hairpin), but the princess’ appearance is just as surprising too (blond hair, blue eyes just don’t scream Japanese).

“Her origins are unknown, much like mine,” replies Togame.

A person with an unknown origin became a princess? Maybe that’s why she’s excommunicated from the Shogun. She’s only interested in the deviant blades to rid the Shogun of his right hand, Togame, and secure her way back into the royal palace. OR is she somehow related to the sword maker? In that case, Hitei knew about Biyorigou 日和号 being Kanzashi.

So Togame puts her brains to use by coming up with a plan on the map of Lake Fuyou she drew. It seems Biyorigou has a set path she patrols in the junk haven everyday. Kiki’s workshop may be in the middle of the circle.

Plan A. They (I mean Shichika) dig a ravine for Biyorigou to fall in, but she simply avoids it. She continues on her path and stops to sunbathes. Just like his fight with Konayuki, Shichika can’t read Biyorigou’s moves either. Biyorigou has no visible vulnerable spots. They have to attack without damaging, trap without destroying.

Plan B. Togame figures out Biyorigou’s weakness. She makes Shichika memorize Biyorigou’s robotic, systematic and predictable moves. The next day, they force Biyorigou to defend herself. She defends and counterattacks with weather-based techniques: Tornado, Whirlwind, Storm, Squall against Shichika’s Kyotoryuu: Orchid and Pomegrate/Iris hybrid. Shichika was once much like Biyorigou, emotionless, thoughtless, moving on orders. She sees him as a human, but he sees her as a sword. Having a will on his own, becoming more human, makes him a better more attuned fighter. Before Shichika is able to take down Biyorigou, the robot turns into a helicopter. Togame is quick to point out that she knew this was going to happen. Her left eye turns a shade of dark purple with the cross in it. (Does it mean something?)

Star(?) in her eye

Star(?) in her eye

Biyorigou takes aim at Togame instead of flying away. Shichika immediately comes to her rescue and holds on long enough for Biyorigou’s battery to run out (as it is powered by solar energy). He catches her before she crashes to the ground, and sees a tear falling from her eye, just as it begins to rain. This is how the clueless duo obtained Kanzashi without destroying it. In the end, Shichika empathizes with Biyorigou, for after protecting its master’s abode for so long, this was its end.

Knight in scraps

Knight in scraps

The doll is sent back to Owari with its limbs removed, but the pair remain behind to search for Kiki’s workshop and maybe more clues to the remaining swords. Shichika finds a heavy chest, only to be told by Togame to throw the useless box away. Turns out, the chest houses gold bars.

Meanwhile, the departing Emonzaemon hijacks Umigame of Maniwani, the head of the Fish Squad, who is sent to retrieve the blade at Shinano. He tells Umigame that Entou Jyuu is no longer in Shinano. If he continues the journey, he will be killed. However, Umigame tells him he’s a disgrace to the name ninja. With that, the turtle tries to prove his worth and whips out his epee while breaking the ninja’s katana. Emouzaemon is part of the Aioi Corps, a ninja clan destroyed by the Maniwas 170 years ago. He is the sole inheritor of the Aioi Kenpo: Hairouken (Rear Trickery Fist). The turtle ninja is no match against the real ninja, except for maybe Houou.

Emonzaemon returns rather calmly to the princess after avenging his clan. There goes one more Maniwani. He puts her before vengeance, therefore he is unaffected. In any case, Hitei knew that Biyorigou was Bitou Kanzashi. She was just setting a trap for Togame. And maybe Shichika’s sixth sense about the swords is all hype, since he never once said anything about Jyu. In any case, Kanzashi is transferred to her quarters after it reaches Owari. Such is her power.

The cold bitch with a lifeless sword

The cold bitch with a lifeless sword

The secretive ninja informs his master that the bumbling duo will most likely head towards Tendou for Outou Nokogiri, the king of swords, based on the information obtained from Houou. The conniving bitch decides that she no longer needs Houou to be alive. Time to finish off the Maniwani. Maybe he’s too much of a threat to her with his alliance with Togame, even though he has persistently betrayed her in the past. Only the princess knows her reason.

Elsewhere, Houou gets the news of one more comrade going down. He’s sure it was the royal bitch’s handy work. It’s him, Pengin, and Oshidori left (wasn’t she killed by Shichika at Mt. Odori?). He will be joining Umigame soon.

September 2010, Episode 9: Outou Nokogiri – King Sword, Saw

Togame gets even more childish, if at all possible, with her treatment of Shichika (mainly due to jealousy) in this episode.

The pair reach the town of Dewa in Tendou at a shogi sanctuary. Fresh from winning a match against the 12th generation head of the Shinou Issou school and the owner of Outou Nokogiri, Kiguchi Zanki, Togame gloats, as she usually does. Zanki is told soon enough that she has to fight Shichika to keep her sword. But, as a stickler for the norm, Shichika’s unorthodox fighting style rubs her the wrong way: he wields no sword and wears no armor, and worse yet, his Kyotoutryuu style is an outright violation of fighting standards, using the human as the sword. So, Shichika is forced to conform to Zanki’s conditions: he has to put on protective gear (ie. wear clothes!) and hold a shinai (a bamboo wooden sword, even if it kills him).

But Zanki doesn’t want the match to be one-sided. To that end, she earns Shichika respect for her discipline and tenacity for the art. This, in turn, makes Togame very unpleasant to be around, to say the least. In any case, Togame does not know how to get around the dilemma of the match. Zanki’s shougi skills are only so-so. But that doesn’t speak of her swordmanship, which is something to watch for. Realizing her folly of unreasonableness later, Togame decides to mend things by flirting with Shichika. Given any “normal” guy, Togame would have been bitch-slapped into the 12th episode and then dumped on her ass. But, Shichika is no normal guy. He’s a clueless, naive and a very simple man, with emotions equivalent to a, well, sword.

Eventually, Zanki approaches them with a new proposal seeing that the match is biased towards Shichika who is not only weak (in her eyes), but has never wielded a sword. She offers to train him in kendo. Togame immediately agrees, not having the foresight that this will turn her into a green-eyed monster that grows colossally bigger as the days passes. Shichika, innocently, becomes excited for this training which makes her realize her mistake in accepting the offer. He even asks her to join him for his training, but she sarcastically replies that she will only be a distraction to him. “No, not really,” came his reply which irks her even more.

Training begins with the cleaning of the dojo. However, a slight posturizing during training/resting, which Togame happens to catch, makes her imagine the worse. The first day ends in a mix review for Shichika. He is glad that Zanki is his instructor, but he really sucks at this with his two left feet. First day ends with, what Togame sees as, a kiss. In truth, Zanki was just acting as an insect repellant to Shichika.

Tripping can be hazardous to health

Tripping can be hazardous to one's health

The next day during training, Shichika unused to his shirt, tears it. Zanki mends it, while Togame sees a bare-chested Shichika. Togame’s imagination runs amoke when Shichika returns to tell her he has a “rough day.”

Of course, Togame becomes even more insecure than ever. To act the demure part of the girlfriend, Togame decides to surprise Shichika with onigiri lunch, the size of of a football the next day. Shichika is told to bent lower, but the fumbling idiot ends up tripping on Zanki, just as Togame walks in on that scene. She runs away, crying hysterically, thinking she has lost her man to a simpleton like Zanki. This goes on for 10 more days…will Shichika live to tell the tale? Can he master the sword or be a slave to it? Unable to tolerate her childish antics anymore, he finally asks her if she’s PMS-ing.

Outou Nokogiri contains the least amount of, or perhaps none of, Kiki’s poison. Uncorrupted, it lends itself to being named the “King of Swords.” The traces of poison changes the wielder, as suggested by Zanki after inheriting it from the former head of Shinou Issou school, her grandfather. She is only the 8th generation of the owner of Outou. This school, however, forbids killings instead, going as far as to abstain from conflict, making the sword very appropriate for the school (!?). This is the total opposite of Kyotouryuu, which teaches to cut and kill like a sword.

In any case, Zanki admits that she is still an unskilled swordsman. In as such, she isn’t willing to part with Nokogiri yet, even though she is mindful of Togame’s reasoning that it could bring “peace” to the country if it was handed over. (But even Shichika knows it’s more for Togame’s promotion)

Zanki was a free-spirited young girl who played shougi instead of taking her succession seriously. That changed when she picked up Nokogiri and was empowered by it, thus becoming a better person. Of course, the Shinou Issou school will eventually cease to exist after her since there are no more students or descendants to speak of, much like Shichika ending the Kyotouryuu line (unless he pops out a few brats). Although, Shichika did become her first (and probably last) “talentless” student. That makes her just a tinge jealous of Togame and Shichika’s relationship, as she has never experienced something similar. But she is definitely more worldly and knowledgeable compared to Shichika who has traveled the nation. She points out to him that living by the sword can only teach a person a certain extent of life. After that, a person would seek other things to fill the gaps in their lives. He, however, disagrees. He is content with being a mere sword to Togame, without ever desiring power, fame or recognition.

After pondering, simmering and scheming by herself, Togame comes up with a plan to take down Zanki — to win by a fluke. Correct me if I’m wrong, how do you do that? But Shichika, the gentleman, doesn’t want to use underhanded tactics against Zanki. Is this a change of heart from him after his talk with Zanki? In any case, Togame throws a bigger hissy fit, that ends with her shutting him up by sharing their first kiss. Shichika you weakling!

This is how you shut them up

This is how you shut them up

Togame goes to Zanki the next day, to mess with her head before the match. It doesn’t matter if one opponent is more skilled than the other. When they both pick up the sword in the match, they become equals. In any case, Zanki stipulates that if she wins the match, they will never come for Nokogiri again. Agreed.

So begins the battle of wits and sword.

The match begins, but Zanki immediately corrects Shichika for holding the shinai wrongly. As both opponents watch for the other’s first move, Togame begins to call out shogi moves (of which she has bested Zanki in). This effectively distracts Zanki just as Shichika finds an opening, and “MEN!” head strikes Zanki. Zanki stops in shock, taking in the events that led to her lost. Shichika falls over, surprised at his fluke victory.

Zanki doesn’t complain about Togame’s foul play, but instead, graciously and uprightly hands over Nokogiri to Togame. A lost is a lost. Moreover, this is the land of shougi. Psychological warfare is to be expected. After playing 9 matches of shogi with Zanki, and reading 2000 of her moves, Zanki is an open book to Togame.

Back in Owari, Hite Hime actually compliments Togame’s prowess as a strategian. Of course, she bashes her after that, looking for weaknesses in Togame to eliminate her once and for all. Just maybe, Togame doesn’t have the full authority to annihilate her, which would explain why she is still standing after countless defeats from the brat. The princess does however hint to Emounzaemon that he will have to assassinate Togame one day, before she gets to the final sword, Entou Jyu, which they have in their possession.

Meanwhile, Houou tracks down Dokutou Mekki (Poison Sword, Gilt), sealed in the mountains. He is able to retrieve the sword after reattaching Kawauso’s arm onto himself. The sword has been well sealed, preventing its evil aura from seeping out. He momentarily basks in the glow of success after retrieving the poison sword, but he is quickly contaminated by the sheer amount of poison, doku, in the sword. Pengin, on the other hand, is concerned about Umigame’s killer. If it is not Shichika, then the Maniwa have another enemy to fend off.

Speaking of the devil, Emonzaemon shows up at their lair. As the Chinese proverb goes, 才说曹操,曹操就到 “if you speak of Cao Cao, Cao Cao will show up.” Cao Cao was a warlord and a central figure during the Three Kingdoms period, fighting for territory against Liu Bei and Sun Quan.

Oshidori quickly surmises that it was Emonzaemon who murdered Umigame and uses a smokescreen to allow Houou and Pengin to escape. She uses her Maniwa Ninpou: Eigouben, a close-range technique to attack with whips. And just like her dead comrades, she has a habit over-confidence in the midst of battle and foolishly tells her opponent the inner workings of her technique: Watch for the blade ends, as it will surely be a slow tortured death for Emonzaemon. Her technique and skill is second to Houo’s as she has a killer offense and defense mode. Emonzaemon counters with his Aioi Kenpou, which Oshidori quells with her whip before it even touches her. She smugly brushes him off, but is taken down with a pair of guns. Just like that, she falls, discontented, but finally joining her beloved Chou Chou. And then there were two.

As Togame and Shichika finally leave for Seitou Hakari in Oushi, she finally reveals the purposes of retrieving the swords.
1. Officially, it is to build a sword Buddha
2. Unofficially, it is to eliminate the swordsmen/owners of the deviant swords
3. Official Evil plot, is to gather Kiki’s swords
4. Unofficial evil plot, is yet to be divulged.

October 2010, Episode 10, Seitou Hakari – Truth Sword, Scales

The owner of Seitou Hakari (誠刀, 銓) is a young girl, Higaki Rinne, who has the ability to take on forms of other people’s memories. She has Konayuki’s stature and most physical traits, except her hair which mimics Nanami’s. Seitou Hakari is ironically a sword without a blade.

Something triggers Togame’s memories of her father and her hidden birthplace. It has been 10 years since she last visited her parents. Which brings to question why has her father not been mentioned in detailed all this time?

Meisai and Zanki have cameos in this episode.

November 2010, Episode 11, Dokutou Mekki – Poisonous Sword, Gild

Kiki makes a ghostly (re)appearance. Emonzaemon finally meets and engages the leader of the Maniwa Corps in battle. The souped up Houou also clashes with Shichika as they try to retrieve Dokutou Mekki from him. Dokutou Mekki (毒刀, 鍍) is a black, jagged-bladed katana decorated with iridescent designs. Houou, the leader of Maniwa Corps, is in possession of the poisonous sword.

It’s coming to a crashing end!

December 2010, Episode 12, Entou Jyu – Flame Sword, Gun

Someone gets shot. “Everything is your fault, Kyotouryuu,” Emonzaemon sneers. But Togame may have been kidnapped as Shichika storms the Shogun’s castle. However, the innocent Shichika is replaced by a ruthless and cold person, whose outward appearance has also changed. His eye colors have magically transformed, and he’s wearing more clothes than an eskimo. He is pitted against the new wielders of the retrieved swords at the castle, and of course Emonzaemon.

Entou Jyu (炎刀, 銃), is a pair of pistols. One is a blue revolver, while the other a red automatic gun.  They are both adorned with a long flowing mane with a bead on its end. Emonzaemon owns the pistols, or in this case, his master Hitei Hime owns it.

http://www.katanagatari.net/

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