Katanagatari – Thru 7

This is a series that airs only one hour-long episode a month. These episodes chronicle the journeys and adventures of Togame, a spunky young military strategist “strategian” working for the Shogunate, and Shichika, a young swordsman who wields no sword, but whose body is the sword itself. Shichika is Togame’s muscle, as her mission is to collect twelve extremely powerful ‘deviant blades’, all in the possession of equally challenging adversaries. As they progress, so does their relationship.

This series features a huge amount of dialogue; mostly Togame and Shichika chatting about strategy or philosophy or flirting. The banter is quick-paced an witty in a similar fashion to that of the similarly-titled Bakemonogatari. There are some who are put off by shows that are too talky and without enough action, but I’m not among them.

The duels Shichika has with the sword bearers are usually preceded by long conversations, and the battles usually decided rather quickly. Sometimes the pre- and inter-battle discussions are so long-winded, this feels like a parody of typical shonen-style anime, but the talk is almost always intelligent, and the enemies are never transparently evil. In fact, more than one of Shichika and Togame’s foes are actually sympathetic, even pitiable.

Togame and Shichika have good chemistry, and they provide good comedy courtesy of Shichika’s hopeless ignorance of the world (when they first set out, he can’t even distinguish Togame from other people) and Togame always trying to stay one step ahead in their various debates.

I also like the simple but vivid character design, the equally vivid animation and editing, and realy enjoy the high-quality, original score, which in many instances lends gravitas to scenes of exposition or dialogue that would have far less impact otherwise. The month-long wait between episodes, while long, is welcome, almost mirroring the long distances the characters must travel around Japan in search of the swords. The first seven episodes have been very entertaining, and I eagerly await the eighth, out sometime this month. Rating: 4