Initial Thoughts: Katanagatari

Lately I’ve been catching up on a lot of shows that I was behind on. Namely Digimon and YuGiOh for the most part. Unfortunately since I am a good chunk of the way through both of them they don’t really qualify for an ‘initial thoughts’ post. Still I have recently started one series as of late, so because I want to continue these little personal view point sort of posts I’ll give my initial thoughts on Katanagatari.
I’ll say now that this will be different from how I wrote my initial thoughts on Voltron Force and won’t go too much into detail on a lot of things. I think though that once you see some of what I have to say then you might understand why I chose a bit of a different format for this one. It may not be as casual but i feel I touched on all of the points that were needed for this particular show’s beginning episodes.

We’ll start where we started last time, with the opening. Now obviously I don’t have much to say on it lyric wise as I don’t really speak Japanese but I can say that the pacing is really nice and the singer has an absolutely beautiful singing voice. Really this song does what it should do, it’s sounds wonderful and makes you excited to be watching the show. I have no complaints here.

Next up is the animation and art and oh boy is this a total 180 from Voltron Force’s animation. This is beautiful, just like the opening theme this style is easily one of the draws for this show and the biggest reason to watch this show in the highest quality that you can. Combining a simple design with vibrant colors and just a hint of that anime feel to remind you of what you’re watching. The traditional looking Japanese art style mixed with fluid animation is easily enough of a reason to look into this show and is quite frankly one of the biggest things that keep me coming back. I may not be fluent in the logistics of art but I know when something is beautiful and Katanagatari most certain is.

Now that we have the basics out of the way I’ll talk a bit on my thoughts on the plot. I’ll be keeping this section as spoiler free as I can as I know that not everyone will have seen this. This is probably where this show will lose most of it’s viewers that are either younger or not interested in anything outside of action. Yeah Katanagatari has action, but suffice to say it has a lot more down time to it within these first episodes. Most of it is devised of deep discussions between characters and predominately just exposition to be honest. It varies between very political to very goofy and really regardless of what’s being discussed it’s a given that it will be quick, concise and fairly witty. That’s the problem though, it’s too quick for most none English speaking readers and the comedy that is there is really subtle a bit culture locked. Pretty much if you aren’t caught up on your Japanese terminology and even history then you may end up misunderstanding most of the plot and dialogue.
Despite all of that the actually plot line is super basic, involving a young female strategist who gains the contract of a “swordsman” to help her hunt down twelve specially made swords that have a worth so high that anyone in possession of all of them would potentially become capable of overthrowing the countries government. Not sure how but hey the fact that I was able to get that much out of what was discussed is pretty good. The story following their travels month by month until the swords are collected. Ok, I said that this was basic but the problem I pointed out prior still stands and the complexity of some of the dialogue and underlying tones turns this otherwise basic plot into something that will fly right over the heads of most of it’s viewers.

Now these are just my initial thoughts so I have not seen all of Katanagatari but the opening couple of episodes, while a bit dialogue heavy, were undoubtedly entertaining and actually fun to watch. Like I said there’s subtly to the humor as well as a lot of the characters themselves and really that is something I haven’t seen in a while with the shows I’ve been watching. The style of animation gives the characters a unique form of expression that when uncovered by the viewer just opens up so many layers to these characters. On top of that the humor even goes a long way to showcase some of the interesting dynamics within the characters’ personalities such as the main female lead’s obsession with viewing the world as more of a book than as it truly is, and even the main male lead’s lack of personality becomes an interesting focus of dialogue and slight development. I remind you that these things are still only in the first two episodes giving me quite a bit of hope that the future of these characters becomes even more interesting as the story progresses.
As for the actual characters themselves well there’s really only two to discuss, Togame and Shichika.
First off Shichika, he is the main character within this story being the 7th of the Kyotōryū school of “swordsmanship”. Shichika is a very sheltered human being only ever knowing only two others, his father and his sister. Since he is this sheltered he actually has a bit of trouble distinguishing between other people, making it difficult to keep track of persons of interest or even Togame. It becomes very apparent that Shichika does not know much about the outside world at all, including it’s politics customs or even some of it’s needs and because of this he comes off as very stupid. Despite all of that I really like Shichika, when you get deeper into his character you see that he really is more, and somewhat less, than the obligatory muscle head. Their outlook on this character is quite interesting to be honest. By now you’ll notice the quotations over swordsman when I mention it with him. You see Shichika’s style of swordsmanship uses no sword but rather treats the body as his sword. This is actually a really interesting little plot detail and it’s something that I rather enjoyed seeing in a feudal-esqe style story.
Next we have Togame, who will undoubtedly come off as rather annoying to most of the viewers for this show. She really sticks out among the other characters and almost seems to be a character ahead of her time. She is still loud and a bit obnoxious though, still her comedic side isn’t as in your face or obvious as character’s that are usually of this type. She’s certainly a smart character but is easily tripped up by her own quirks and I like that, she’s flawed and it really gives layers to her character. there isn’t much else to say other than there is some kind of mystery behind her which is interesting, but as of now she acts as a pretty good guide and comedic character.

Overall I find Katanagatari to be quite an interesting show thus far. That being said it is still weighed down by the fact that it is almost too unique. As I said the art is beautiful and definitely a drawing point but the plot, dialogue, and the characters may turn a lot of casual watchers away. If you’re interested in lot of fighting and sword slinging and not a lot of plot or development then Katanagatari is not for you and while it may have plenty of beautiful fight scenes it is much more than a simple action show. If you do decide to watch though be sure be in for a bit of a cultural barrier, and if you aren’t familiar with anime or Japanese culture and history in general then you may want to stay away. Despite all of that if you like history in any format, subtle or dry humor, and interesting takes on character development then I’m sure you’ll find something in Katanagatari to enjoy.

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