The Beingness of a Weapon: Katanagatari 10

[Mazui]_Katanagatari_-_10_[FF137AC4].mkv_snapshot_06.04_[2010.10.18_20.31.52]

My apologies in advance if this post will seem rushed. Despite the high volume of posts this past week, I wrote only one within the last 45 days. I’ve been rather busy with my practical projects and my ability to watch backlogged shows is the first casualty, writing with intensity is the the second.

This is compounded by this episode, which is very very rich both in terms of narrative progression, providing a broader view of the story, and insight into the characters. I will choose the thing that I feel is the most important. But we can discuss other things in the comments.

With that, here is the big one:

Kyotoryuu is a deviant blade.

Each deviant blade has a great power, and a curse. In this case Yasuri Shichika is cursed by being unable to add variety to his arsenal of weapons.

Why?

He is the weapon.

Zanki Kiguchi points out to him the thing that makes his curse what it is: wielding weapons adds versatility to one’s fighting ability. Shichika is unable to use swords, thereby limiting his versatility in a very big way.

[Mazui]_Katanagatari_-_10_[FF137AC4].mkv_snapshot_16.59_[2010.10.18_20.36.22]

The consequences and/or dynamics of this extend further.

Each deviant blade seems sentient, as if it has a will. In most cases, the will is some kind of programming to make the user dependent on the blade, and effect some form of corruption. In one other case, the will is to defend something, as if the sword has some agency.

But not really, not until the Yasuri clan, and therefore Shichika.

Shichika and the Kyotoryuu style of fighting are, or at least seem to be, one and the same thing. He is a sword. However, he is fully human, and therefore possesses the will of a human being.

This perhaps is how he, as a deviant blade, is perfect: a progressive, learning weapon. It is arguable whether he actually learns new things, it would be a “no” if we limit the possibility of learning to fighting.

[Mazui]_Katanagatari_-_10_[FF137AC4].mkv_snapshot_20.48_[2010.10.18_20.37.59]

What Shichika has been learning is how to be human.

The questions here really, that the episode raises and perhaps doesn’t quite answer, is what is Shichika’s will? He surrenders his will to Togame, which would seem an abstinence of further choice. He commits to another person’s will, and becomes a consequence of that person’s choices.

A being of a weapon is the threat of violence. That’s what Shichika is.

Togame is the tool user, and she is the one who has a purpose. Togame is criticized to view life itself as a fight, and does not understand the pointlessness of fighting. (It also occurs to me that Togame’s realizations in this episode are important leaps forward for her and the story in general; I merely do not have the ability to expound on this at this time).

[Mazui]_Katanagatari_-_10_[FF137AC4].mkv_snapshot_11.06_[2010.10.18_20.32.53]

I would go further, to say that life itself is pointless, in broad terms. Fighting is only symptomatic of life’s meaninglessness, if one extends conflict and struggle also as fighting. But that’s perhaps outside of what Katanagatari is saying.

The episode presents a number of paradoxes I’m too besieged to enumerate here, but Shichika giving up will and purpose, acquires exactly that. Togame is merely the originator of the will and purpose, but Shichika chooses to own them.

This is where Shichika finds his human agency, his will and freedom. This, for all intents and purposes may perhaps be all the meaning he needs.

OH WAIT MANIWANI PENGHIN FFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
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9 Responses to The Beingness of a Weapon: Katanagatari 10

  1. kimaguresan says:

    This reminds me of a post I had in mind for this show. One I still think I want to write, but have to solidify my thoughts further. I think there’s a parallel to musical instruments when it comes to the blades and Shichika. Specifically the ability to learn and be unique and change. Shichika is more like a vocalist that has unique timbre that can adapt, imitate, and change at will depending on the situation. Whereas someone a trumpet player is confined to the qualities of the instrument.

    It’s not that someone playing an instrument can’t be unique and different and bring style to their craft, it’s more a matter of comparison. Vocalists will always be classified by voice type (soprano, tenor,etc), but no two are exactly the same. Whereas two trumpets will most always sound like a trumpet.

    So where I’m going is that Shichika is somewhat unique in his talents because he is the sword, the blade wielders are just wielding the weapons. Shichika is a unique snowflake, someone wielding a sword is just that, another trained wielder. Skills and talents behind the use of the sword is another thing, but in the end, you’re just wielding a blade.

    My disclaimer is that I’m behind in this show, and need to catch up. I base my theory mostly on episode 6’s events.

    I also am likely making no sense as it’s late, etc, but I thought I’d put this out there. Hooray for late night ramblings.

    • While I can’t really agree, I think you make an interesting thing here.

      The focus really is this:

      Sword as sentient, “deviant” (anthropomorphic objects)
      Shichika as weapon. “not quite human” (objectified person)

      Togame, despite her utilitarian relationship with Shichika, is doing much to make him more human. Shichika’s innocence (such irony), is also doing much to complicate Togame’s conflict about the Yasuri’s killing of her father.

      Ah! The power of love☆

  2. The deviant blade realization, or confirmation comes as no surprise to me. As you could start to see the basic concept of a deviant blade deviating more and more away from what you would think a traditional sword would look or act like. Episode nine was a very less than subtle hint at that.

    I think the real payoff for me may be the understanding and reasoning behind this whole process of creating deviant blades. At the beginning I thought it was a competition between the Kyotoryuu and the deviant blades. That concept has been completely thrown out the window by me. I think junction between where the other 12 blades ends & Kyotoryuu begins is where Shichika will find the answers to whatever it is specifically that’s bothering him.

    And….

    FFS NOOOOOOO! MANIWANI PENGUIN!!!1! WHY?! WHAT A CRUEL SHOW! The one smidgen of moe in this show & they had to do THAT.

    • I agree with your statements except for Maniwani Penguin being the one smidgen of moé in the show.

      Not to say he isn’t moé, well, he’s not anything now since he’s fucking dead, but he was moé when he was a living functional ninja (lol).

      For moé, just see this slideshow again.

  3. chan says:

    I truly believe that the realization that Shichika and his family were the last deviant swords was not a surprise, in fact I’m in agreement with you that Shichika and his family are the perfect swords. In that not only are they sentient but they can also reproduce, and bring about more deviant blades who may be stronger than the previous generation. This also explains why Shichika’s father was able to kill his mother, because he is sword a sword is merely a weapon whose master’s takes priority over its own. So when his father was ordered kill his mother he was striking as his master instructed.

    This also explains Nanami’s last words to Shichika and the real meaning behind them. Even though Nanami herself was also a sword she was Shichika’s caretaker and so, to Shichika she was his master. So when Shichika killed his father, the reason why he was able to do it, could have been because his father was not only trying to kill his older sister but also the one he recognized as his master, and so Shichika wanting to protect his master killed her attacker, which was his father. When she allowed Shichika to go with Togame she was effectively passing the ownership of Shichika to Togame. But even though a blade is passed from one owner to another the blade will still feel loyal to its previous owner, in this case Nanami, which is part of the reason why Shichika probably didn’t want to fight her.

    I also find it interesting that the people who seemed to have had the largest impact on Shichika are all females, as referenced to by the guru’s appearance.

    Why Maniwani Penguin WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!

    • Excellent point about reproduction. I wish I thought of that!

      Interesting theory on ownership as well. I wonder how the corruption works in the case of “owning” a Kyotoryuu “blade.” I suppose Nanami got pretty corrupted, but that has little to do with owning Shichika but was more about her own absurd powers.

      As for the gender thing, I’ll put the tradition of NisiOisiN writing into play: unlimited borderline harem works. (See: Bakemonogatari) The bland personality lead male works as a stand in for the viewer — only that in these works there is quite a bit done with the characterization, defying harem lead simplified tropes.

      At the risk of further simplification:

      Males: conflict/love interest/jealousy point relative to Shichika.
      Females: competition/love interest/jealousy point relative to Togame.

  4. lolikitsune says:

    Had lots of shits and giggles watching this episode. I do kind of want the Scales to not have a physical form anymore once they leave the holy man’s illusionary terrain. “Now you got a sword in your heart” would be so perfect.

    Also… Shichika being a sword Nono being a robot?

    I sort of expect this kind of absurdity in everything at this point.

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