Unlike most shows airing in 2010 which aired weekly, Katanagatari aired monthly. 12 episodes of 50 minutes each were produced and broadcasted over the course of one whole year. The show is the second major Nishio Ishin work to be adapted into anime form following the footsteps of 2009’s Bakemongatari. Unlike its predecessor however, Katanagatari was animated by Studio White Fox and not Shaft.
The story takes place in an alternative universe version of historical Japan. It centers on Shichika Yasuri, who uses the “swordless style” Kyoto-ryu as his form of martial art. He resides peacefully with his sister on a secluded island until one day, a girl named Togame arrives seeking Shichika’s help. Her mission is to collect 12 master swords forced by the master swordsmith Kiki Shikizaki. Together, Shichika and Togame begin their journey to seek out the 12 swords while fighting against various opposing forces.
Katanagatari is Ishin’s take on the martial arts sub-genre but is not necessarily targeted towards the shounen demographic. While the fight scenes are few and far between, the actual sequences are very well animated (save for the troll instance). Most of the fights are short and to the point, avoiding much of the shounen-esque power up sequences. The mythos established by the show is also very fascinating especially the ninja clans based off of animals.
The major thing that stands out about the art style is that it’s very minimalistic. This is because most of the exposition is done through words and dialogue. Like Bakemongatari, the dialogue is very fast paced and dense. The two main characters keep the show interesting throughout. Much of the witty banter between Ararargi and Senjougahara is also present between Shichika and Togame.
Final Thoughts: 8/10
Bakemongatari proved that Nishio Ishin is one talented storyteller. Katanagatari simply reinforces this claim. The scripting is fantastic and the artwork is gorgeously minimalist. This creates the “picture book” feeling which interestingly enough fits the premise of the show quite well. While Katanagatari is often criticized for its formulaic structure, it remains a decent source of entertainment for those looking for a little action, adventure, and drama.