Katanagatari – 08
Not the most exciting episode by any stretch of the imagination. Most of the time was taken up with introducing that blonde Owari princess, Hitei, and further developing Shichika as a person rather than a sword.
So after a few unplanned detours, Togame and Shichika finally get to Owari; where Shichika immediately puts his foot in it when he insults Togame’s tastefully decorated home – which is oh so very Togame! While Togame goes off to check in with the Shogun, Shichika is left to wander the house, which in stark contrast to the exterior, is utterly barren inside. Shichika notes that Togame was really prepared for her long journey in search of the Deviant Blades, she’s obviously either put all her personal effects in storage or sold them off.
Togame and Shichika are then invited to visit with Hitei-hime where it becomes very apparent that these two women can not stand the sight of each other. It was quite amusing to see Hitei and Togame face off, slinging insults at each other with practised ease, while Shichika looked on in utter bemusement, before they got down to the real business of discussing the sword hunt. Hitei offers some information about the location of this months target – Bitou Kanzashi, and even gets her butler to guide the couple to the supposed location of Lake Fuyou.
I liked Togame’s show of embarrassment and Shichika’s look of “do you have a problem?” when butler man caught Shichika carrying Togame when she grew too tired to walk any further. Togame obviously doesn’t want any sign of weakness to make it back to Hitei’s ears; she’s pretty cute in this episode and Shichika is very playful, obviously enjoying winding her up.
So we find out that this weeks ‘sword’ is actually a mechanical doll called Biyorigou, which has been patrolling the Lake Fuyou area for decades as it’s the supposed site of Shikizaki Kiki’s workshop. The main point of this part of the episode is to highlight Togame’s intelligence and scheming ability. We already know she’s smart, but here we see her piece together a full picture of Biyorigou’s abilities, power-source and patrol path all through careful observation and tests. After she makes sure Shichika gets all the information straight in his head, the resulting battle against Biyorigou is pretty straightforward with Shichika winning easily once the doll exhausts its stored solar power.
The main thing of note during this battle is Shichika’s awakening to the fact he’s more than just a sword – he’s finally recognising his human feelings. At one stage Shichika says “I used to fight like that doll”, indicating that he acknowledges his mechanical, methodical fighting style at the beginning of the series where he just bulldozed his opponents with sheer skill and strength. Now Shichika seems to be enjoying his battles as well as his relationship with Togame; he’s certainly smiling and laughing much more now. I remember one of my primary complaints about Shichika at the start of the series being that he was very wooden and shallow, he’s certainly come on leaps and bounds since then! Still this is old ground now – Shichika has been developing his emotions as a person rather than a sword since the beginning – although its only now that he himself is actively acknowledging the change.
Of course no episode of Katanagatari is complete without the death of a Maniwa Ninja! This month is Umigame, the leader of the Fish Squad who bites the dust in a rather uninspired fight with Hitei’s butler Emonzaemon. Turns out Emonzaemon is also a ninja from a rival clan that the Maniwa wiped out over a century ago. Still Emonzaemon himself doesn’t seem to hold a grudge, but still carries out his task of eliminating Umigame with clinical efficiency. Emonzaemon has definitely got skills. Only three Maniwani remain, but I’m guessing they’re not going to go down as easy as the rest (hope they don’t butcher the penguin one, he’s adorable!).
At the end of the episode we see the deactivated doll Bitou Kanzashi is now under Hitei’s care. It’s also apparent that the ornamental guns she has on display are also one of the Deviant Blades. Just what Hitei is planning is up for debate. Hitei is clearly being set up as the main antagonist for the latter half of the series with Emonzaemon as her ‘sword’ to counter Togame’s sword, Shichika; the new OP heavily implies that two with all the Hitei & Emonzaemon Vs Togame & Shichika imagery.
Speaking of the new OP – I can’t stand the ALI PROJECT so I really don’t it. The animation is pretty nice, but godawful song. Think I’ll be muting that in future and just enjoy the pretty pictures!
There was no preview on my copy of episode 8, so not sure what’s in store for September’s episode. Hope its a bit more exciting than this one – was quite dull in the grand scheme of things.