6 Reasons Why Katanagatari is Kind of Awesome

If the fifth episode was rather dull and felt cheap, this episode (six) fulfilled some of the expectations I had for the show as well as surprised me in good ways. I have not read the source material, but I will surmise that NisiOisiN is very clever with manipulating character and plot elements to come up with novel twists that keep the story interesting.

So here’s a list of what keeps me watching this show.

[Mazui]_Katanagatari_-_03_[27B74234].mkv_snapshot_04.28_[2010.03.13_05.49.49]

A casual narrative tone that makes it feel so easy

If there was one thing about Katanagatari that catches me off guard, and particularly during this episode, it’s how casual it is when it comes to what should have felt as dramatic or remarkably meaningful plot turns, and/or revelations. Everything in this episode moves very brisk and happens matter-of-factly, that it leaves me the impression that there is so much story in the material, and/or that NisiOisiN has me eating off the palm of his hand. It’s a pretty good feeling, to be played this way by an interesting work.

The cavalier attitude towards sad or tragic stories

From Ginkaku Uneri from episode 02 and Meisai Tsuruga from episode 03, to Itezora Konayuki in this episode; there are tragic or at least sad back stories to them. They are either doomed as if by fate, or in the case of Konayuki she is the last of her people… Katanagatari acts quite cavalier and even cheerful about these things, mainly through Shichika’s character progression. He is a sword, impartial but deadly.

In this episode Togame quizzes him whether he is ready to kill Konayuki despite her age and her circumstances. He says yes, but manages to spare her life. It’s all part of  his growing humanity, that Togame is investing herself in. This will be further tested next episode.

[Mazui]_Katanagatari_-_06_[2BDCCFE6].mkv_snapshot_14.15_[2010.06.08_17.02.15]

Playfulness with carrots that feed the database animals

In the previous episode, the antagonist of the month (Azekura Kanara) takes romantic interest towards Togame. This interest is based on how she reminds him of his younger sister. The imoto-as-romance-object is a fairly often fetishized in anime and manga. This episode, the form of the antagonist is that of an 11 year old girl – a legitimate loli character. Togame manufactures romantic subtext by acting jealous and insinuating Shichika is attracted to her. Lolita characters are routine subjects of fetishes.

The playfulness here isn’t the fact that there are fetishized elements. It’s how otherwise non-database/fetish elements and plot turns are converted almost as an afterthought, but I to me obviously otherwise. I suspect NisiOisiN knows which side his bread is buttered on.

The love story is no joke, but it is funny

As opposed to a slow build up filled with half-starts, the primary couple became such moments after their initial meeting. They grow into the relationship already as partners. It is interesting how Shichika made up his mind knowing Togame’s identity, interpreting her seeking him (despite how his father killed hers) as a grand act of pride-swallowing. Casually enough, he reveals this to her this episode. She finds it endearing, but doesn’t uncomplicate her desire to exact revenge on his family. This may complicate her relationship with Nanami.

Shichika’s innocence in all matters sexual allows Togame to indulge her own halting, and seemingly chaste acts of gratification. The net effect is a teasing presentation.

The Ninjas are a Lie

The Maniwa Clan were set up (by Togame) as the principal antagonists in the narrative. The story is set up as a straightforward series of fetch-quests involving battles with the ninjas who possess one of the each 12 deviant blades. Instead the Maniwani are mostly fodder for either Shichika, and Shichika’s eventual opponents. The ninjas, who are always portrayed to have some power, competence, and ability – with some effort to appear novel and clever, serve to make sure we understand how powerful Shichika’s  opponent actually is. Which leads us to…

[Mazui]_Katanagatari_-_06_[2BDCCFE6].mkv_snapshot_12.17_[2010.06.08_16.59.29] katanagatari 04 nanami praying over the maniwani graves

Nanami will be the next opponent

I predicted that she will be the final boss, but Katanagatari proves to be hard to predict yet again. Nanami, had she been male, would’ve been the 7th Head of the Kyotooryu Swordsmanship Style… perhaps. Her father saw something truly monstrous in her that convinced him that she shouldn’t be trained in the martial arts. Three dead Maniwani (the most in a single episode) proved to us how powerful she is, capable of duplicating any technique she sees once, perfecting it if she sees it another time.

She started collecting deviant blades on her own, and the plot contrivances deliciously set up the confrontation for next episode. I prefer this over the cheesy younger sister as final boss scenario.

Further Reading

Database what? A theory by Azuma Hiroki about how contemporary viewers and specifically otaku consume media

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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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16 Responses to 6 Reasons Why Katanagatari is Kind of Awesome

  1. deaky says:

    NisiOisiN’s dialogue wavers a lot in this one for me. At times, it’s fairly sharp and at others it drags on and is wholly uninteresting even when it parodies something. Katanagatari too often just feels more like the thing it’s trying to parody.

    But you’re right, it’s got something to it that keeps me watching.. somewhere between the better moments and artwork there is a plot waiting to be excavated that isn’t a shallow every-shounen parody.. hopefully it will happen.

    The only thing that I’ve written off is the lead characters. They’re horribly annoying to me, even beyond the Maniwani ninjas. The “romance” is an obvious parody flop, and Shichika is the least interesting character I’ve seen in a long time. If Togame didn’t have that “evil eye” or whatever it is, I’d have no interest in her character either.

    I’m hoping that’s the point, that in a meta way I’m supposed to care more about the ninjas and the other side-characters. My favorite character is Shichika’s sister, so if she’s gone in the next episode then my guess is that I’ll have to hope they replace her with a worthy plot or something.

    • What would you find uninteresting? The content? The content in the dialogue in this episode is rather plot-moving, as opposed to previous episodes like (02) wherein the couple make excursions to meta commentary. I figured that this kind of content would be more divisive.

      Maybe it’s because you don’t like the characters. If you’ve made up your mind about them I can see why the things they say to each other will become difficult to care about.

      Ultimately, what’s interesting is a subjective matter. I am fascinated by them in ways that are different from how I’m fascinated by other characters (in different works).

      Nanami will fight Shichika next, most likely. I think there will be some conflict with Togame that will be played up for fanservice and for laughs, among other things.

  2. Flags says:

    Thank you for putting into words the reasons why I’m watching this show in order. I was wondering!

  3. I’m coming fresh off this episode, which means I’m still dealing with the slight annoyance of its previews and “dangling carrots”, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love this show. The most important factor being its unpredictability. And then its story telling (mainly the dialogue). Action-wise it entertains, but doesn’t overwhelm me. It all feels well thought out and polished thoroughly. But the show also doesn’t make many strides to hold your hand.

    The pattern seems to be that you’ll understand what the overarching theme(s) of the episode is/are by the end, but it won’t be obvious about it. The pleasure for me comes in paying attention to the dialogue and events enough to get it before it becomes too apparent. And even when I say pattern, it doesn’t easily apply to everything so far. Episode 4’s blitzkrieg mind rape caught me completely off guard. As is the pacing of this show.

    Katanagatari has proven to me that it’s an impressive show. Now I’m just worried about how vicious the story really is in the end. The creative leadership behind this show has already shown us how terribly vicious they can be when trying to throw the viewers off guard. I just hope it leads to an equally stunning finale.

    Consequently, I was doing a blog exactly on this subject, but I think I’ll just direct people to this post. Lesson learned.

  4. I like how “Nanami will be the next opponent” is also a reason 😛 I absolutely agree that “sister as final boss” is a little cheesy, and that next episode is about as good a time as ever to have the siblings meet in the battlefield, although if Nanami gets taken out next episode I should be sorry we didn’t get to see more on her character. I think Katanagatari handles its characters in a rather interesting way – you can *almost* start to categorise them, until they surprise you, again and again. I think Nanami has a lot of juice in her that is still shrouded in thick enigma. Hopefully the next episode will give us a good swig of them 🙂

    (okay, maybe “juice” wasn’t the most tasteful metaphor to use…)

    • LOL I can’t help but want a Nanami vs. Maniwa Penguin showdown…

      Is there something wrong with me?

      I haven’t made up my mind as to how clever the twists NisiOisiN does with the standard ‘database’ characters, but I tend to think that he does a good job with them. The whole stew of contrivances piled on Konayuki…

      loli
      with tremendous power
      genki
      trickster
      but kinda retarded
      last of her kind
      furry
      possessed
      evil version, with fangs(?)
      tattoos
      hit with super move (for maximum discomfort while viewing)

      Look at that damn list! That’s a lot of moe triggers wouldn’t you say so?

  5. Jack says:

    Hey, thanks for reminding me that this show exists! It’s easy enough to forget with a month betwixt episodes.

    This episode turned out to be my favourite so far, perhaps solely based on the development of the main characters and the interactions between them.

    In the earlier episodes I had wondered “Why is Shichika such a thin character?” and I believe the show has answered my query rather well.

    • What exactly did you mean by ‘thin?’

      I saw him as the equivalent of shonen characters with that one supreme talent and the lack of wisdom. However, Shichika version lacks either the hot-bloodedness, hot-headedness, stupidity, and insecurity of the stock shonen character.

      Shichika is decisive.

      Now, his decision to be the sword of Togame, is now played with by the narrative; it’s treated as a lack of humanity. Shichika is more like the emotionless girl character sub-type (e.g. Nagato Yuki from Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu), the character that seems cold and is ‘thawed’ by the story; the robot/alien made human.

      • Jack says:

        I suppose I meant that in the first episode he just seemed devoid of character – he seemed to be simply doing what others wanted. Now that idea seems to be being played with to a certain degree.

        “Now, his decision to be the sword of Togame, is now played with by the narrative; it’s treated as a lack of humanity. Shichika is more like the emotionless girl character sub-type “

        That’s an excellent point, I hadn’t looked at things this way.
        I often don’t enjoy characters of that type, unless they are written very well.

        However, over the course of the series, I’ve grown to like Shichika more and more.

  6. adaywithoutme says:

    Uguu, I still haven’t seen any of this~

  7. Pingback: Patricide, Uxoricide, Fratricide, Sororicde: the Sad Family of the Yasuri (Katanagatari 07) | We Remember Love

  8. Psycho says:

    I’m disappointing when Shichika vs Sabi Hakuhei fighting scene replaced with Nanami stomp at thos “insect”. But it still fun for hearing “Nagisa” voice, torture Maniwa Ninja.

    Now Togame is gone too.

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