Characters that made my year – Nanami Yasuri (12 Days of Christmas: Day 7)
So now we’re on to a character that had originally thought would play no further role after her initial introduction in episode one. Rather she went on to be one of the most memorable characters in the whole series in spite of limited screen time! On this seventh Day of Christmas, let us be scared witless by Nanami Yasuri from Katanagatari.
Katanagatari was full of twists, but none really topped the twist Shichika’s older sister Nanami was given. We first meet her on the island where the Yasuri family have been living in exile, and Nanami seems like your typical onee-san; quiet, sickly and protective of her younger brother. Once Shichika leaves the island with Togame I never expected to see Nanami again, and we don’t……until episode four when Katanagatari decides to troll the viewers – hard. We discover that Nanami is frighteningly strong and talented – such is her latent abilities that her father refused to train her out of fear of what she could become. Completely devoid of traditional martial arts training, Nanami is still able to learn a technique after seeing it once – upon seeing it twice she can master it. From living on the island all she was exposed to was snippets of Shichika’s training sessions, but even that makes her a better master of the Kyoutouryou style than him.
Unfortunately for Nanami (but fortunately for the world at large!) her body is riddled with illness, teetering on the brink of death daily – its only her iron will that keeps her breathing. So while Nanami is horrendously strong, she’s limited to short demonstrations of power, and due to her constant battle with crippling pain she wants nothing more than the embrace of death. Nanami was an endlessly fascinating character who went to extraordinary lengths to weaken her abilities enough to allow her younger brother to finally give her the respite she desired. Nanami’s influence on Shichika and the series in general, was felt all the way to the end.
The moment I’ve picked as Nanami’s best moment for me, comes in episode four. We were expecting Shichika’s showdown with Sabi Hakuhei, but instead got a Nanami centric episode where she fought off three Maniwa Ninja. The reveal that Shichika’s frail, sickly older sister is actually an incredibly strong and frightening fighter, had my jaw on the floor. Mai Nakahara’s vocal performance combined Nanami’s stoic expression and slasher smile was completely chilling. Nanami’s fight with Chou Chou Maniwa, and methodical explanation of why he stands no chance against her, before using his dead comrades and his own ninpou against him was amazing. Nanami became a firm favourite in that moment.