Katanagatari – 10
This month’s sword is Seitou Hakari which is in the possession of a Holy Man named Higaki Rinne. In this episode Togame is forced to address the ghosts of her past, and Shichika is also brought face to face with his buried feelings of regret and guilt – it was an excellent episode. The time flew by despite this being a very dialogue heavy episode (even more so than normal) with very little action scenes – seems like Katanagatari is really gearing itself up for a great final two months.
So we get a lot more on Togame this month since we’re taken to Hyakkeijou in Oushuu, which is Togame’s hometown and the place where she witnessed her father’s execution at the hands of Shichika’s father and her home burn to the ground. Understandably this trauma has shaped Togame’s world view and she has also developed a mental block about her father’s final words, preferring to focus on his negative personality traits (which she herself arguably inherited!).
Higaki says that he has buried Seitou Hakari 30ft underground and sets Togame to dig the blade up – on her own. We know that Togame is physically weak, but she does not try to think up any of her usual schemes to try and get out of the back breaking labour since she is trying to avoid any further contact with Higaki (who has adopted her father’s personality). While Togame labours she has repeated flashbacks to her father’s final moments, which takes its toll on her mentally. The combination of physical and mental exhaustion strips back her usual defences and Togame is probably at her most vulnerable in this episode.
Seitou Hikari is an interesting sword, in that it is only a handle with absolutely no blade or sheath. The sword creates illusions with which it challenges those around it to take a good hard look at themselves – it’s a ‘sword that cuts oneself, tests oneself and knows oneself’. Arguably there’s nothing more difficult than overcoming your inner demons, so it’s no small feat that Togame got over that hurdle this episode when she accepted that her father truly loved her and that she acknowledges that she is now living for the sake of her father.
Togame’s whole past is affected by Seitou Hikari as her home was built over the place where Higaki buried the blade shortly after Shikizaki Kiki gifted it to him. The unique poison of the Deviant Blade shaped Togame’s father’s actions and thoughts and ultimately led to his death. It’s therefore quite fitting that it’s his daughter that overcomes the challenge the blade presents and takes possession of it.
It’s not just Togame who is forced to face up to her past though, Shichika is also challenged by Higaki while Togame devotes herself to digging. Seitou Hikari and Higaki make an interesting combination -where Seitou Hikari uncovers the hidden feeling in a person’s heart, Higaki describes himself as a mirror, in which the true feelings of an individual are reflected. The form and personality Higaki adopts for Shichika and Togame is the result of both of their inner issues. Higaki’s appearance and mannerisms are the result of Shichika’s feelings for the women he’s met on the sword hunt to date, where as his personality is directly lifted from Togame’s memory of her father.
The fact that Higaki is made up of elements of Nanami, Itezora Konayuki, Kiguchi Zanki and Tsuruga Meisai is very telling. Three of these women he lost to, and Tsuruga’s death was arguably unnecessary – Higaki forces Shichika to address the fact that during this Sword Hunt he has taken people’s lives, something which Shichika has probably been struggling with ever since he became fully aware of his human emotions.
Shichika is also presented with a flaw in his manner of fighting when he challenges Higaki – if the person flat out refuses to retaliate, the fight quickly reaches a stalemate, and if they put their entire strength into defence, Shichika’s 50:50 style of combat is unable to overcome the blocks. But what’s most telling in this exchange is that since there isn’t really anything on the line in this fight, Shichika doesn’t really pull out all the stops. When he’s forced to ask himself the reason why he fights, the answer he comes out with is “I fight for Togame. If it weren’t for Togame I wouldn’t fight at all!”
There’s no denying this is true. If Togame hadn’t of come into Shichika’s life, he’d still be living in exile alone with Nanami and he wouldn’t have had to kill so many people. However Shichika doesn’t see Togame’s influence as a bad thing, if anything Shichika is thankful to her for opening his eyes to the world – his current self is dramatically different to the Shichika we first encountered in episode 1 and through his experiences with Togame, he’s become a much better balanced individual.
Shichika relies on Togame for his reason to fight and she’s the only person left in the world that’s important to him now that Nanami is dead. Togame had now embraced her past and accepted her father’s influence on her, but she too is alone in the world and only has Shichika to rely on. Togame truly does care for Shichika as she takes solace in his presence throughout this episode when she’s being tested physically and mentally, and that old jealousy is easily evoked when Shichika mentions Zanki again – there is absolutely no doubt that these two are a very solid couple now.
Of course no episode of Katanagatari would be complete without a Maniwani death, and unfortunately this week it was the adorable penguin that got the short end of the stick. It was fairly predictable that Houou would be the last Maniwani standing, since he is the leader, has a Deviant Blade and seems to have history with Emonzaemon. Still Penguin Maniwani filled the important role of passing information onto Togame & Shichika about Houou being targeted so maybe there is another uneasy alliance on the cards?
Hitei and Emonzaemon appear to be confirmed as the final boss of the series. Hitei appears to be implying that she is a descendant of Shikizaki Kiki himself, which is why she’s so knowledgeable about the blades and their locations. That’s an interesting twist if it’s true; I had been wondering just why Hitei has been made out to be such a major character. However I wonder if she’s aware of the other major twist that came out this week – the Kyoutouryou sword style itself is one of Shikizaki’s Deviant Blades, and is in fact the Ultimate Perfected Deviant Blade! I really didn’t consider that possibility, but it would explain the ‘curse’ that Shichika has which causes him to get weaker if he wields a weapon.
So a very interesting episode all round. It was great to finally get some insight into Togame’s past and Shichika’s mentality, but Hitei’s intriguing statements will probably have more impact on the final plot – she really needs more development if she’s going to be a satisfying antagonist. Looking forward to next month!