I never saw that coming, and this I think is a good thing. Just when I thought that I got Katanagatari figured out, how linear the fetch quest seems – with the twist being the would-be final boss is actually the opponent in this episode. I thought Sabi Hakuhei would even win, and the finale would be a rematch with a chastised but improved Yasuri Shichika.
Shichirin was even being set up for a fall, with all his talk of pride as a sword and a swordsman, how he has this rather surprising ambition to be regarded as the best. The fight is set up to be a big deal, and hopefully well-animated. BOY WAS I WRONG OR WHAT? Sure it was a big deal. Sure it was an exciting, close fight that Shichika didn’t quite win but rather avoided losing. BUT IT STINKS THAT THEY DIDN’T SHOW IT. We got the equivalent of a narrated recap episode with ZERO FOOTAGE OF THE BATTLE. Togame and Shichika were just eating like pigs while talking about how the fight went down.
But that was just half of the surprise. The other half is the plot twist that revealed the super-b0rken h4xx0rz of the flagship loli (with all the charm of the sick moe persuasion) of the show: the elder sister Nanami. The 6th head of the Kyotoryuu did not train her not only because she was a woman, and had a weak body. She was a demon freak of fighting.
Similar to the first Maniwani Head that Shichika fought, who could mimic almost everything about a human being down to the clothes, Nanami can learn any martial arts technique if she observes it once. Worse, she can master the technique if she observes it twice. To add color to her character, she is given this angst of never knowing how it is to earn something in life (apparently, she’s also seems immune to dying lol).
Everything comes so easy. Nothing is ever in need of effort. Unsurprisingly, she is bored. Unsurprisingly, she is hinted at participating in the sword hunt. It won’t surprise me anymore if she ends up being the final boss – that Nanami will get most of the other swords, and for some reason refuse to give them to Shichika. Maybe the swords will poison her. After all, like in the case of Sabi Hakuhei as Togame tells it: the purer one is, the stronger the poison of the swords’ effect on the person.
Now sick moe onee-chan is pure, isn’t she? Or was; filled with nothing but concern for her brother until she showed a willingness to kill and even torture.
Compare this to the ‘purity’ in Shichika, who is naive in a way Nanami isn’t. Togame’s internal monologue at the beginning of the episode suggests an asexual distinction to the purity of Shichika. He has no problems killing a woman. In the battle with Meisai in the previous episode, Shichika wasn’t fighting a woman, as far as he’s concerned. He was fighting a worthy opponent. When he was victorious, he was joyful.
A sword’s purpose is to cut and to kill. There is joy when purpose and reality have unity. This is the truth of Shichika’s life. When my friend and co-blogger mechafetish were talking about him and episode 03, he called Shichika some kind of monster.
Now think about their father, the 6th Head of Kyotoryuu. Part of his reason for not training Nanami is because she is a woman. Shichika does not have this consideration, or at least has never shown it. Furthermore, she has fought Nanami to a draw, there is already a context for fighting. There is also a context for conflict: Apart from the angst of never having to exert effort and therefore never ever earning anything in life, not being chosen by her father despite her being eldest and despite her talent (or because of her talent), Nanami may have this chip on her shoulder.
She makes sense as the final boss don’t you think? But Katanagatari may surprise me yet again. It’s become quite unpredictable to me. That said, I HAVE NOT FORGIVEN IT FOR NOT ANIMATING ANYTHING (not a damn thing at all!) FROM SHICHIKA’S BATTLE WITH SABI.
Previous posts on Katanagatari here on WRL [->]