There is no scheme that can stop Togame’s blood loss, and so she ends up passing away from Emonzaemon’s attack. After a year of so much idle banter, her final conversation with Shichika is the most poignant and revealing yet. She reproaches herself for using everyone she ever knew as a tool, and for living by calculation and for revenge alone. Meeting Shichika mellowed her out, however, just as it helped him grow into a real human being; ironic considering she used and referred to him as a tool almost the whole time.
Her final order to him is to forget about her and live on. He does not obey. This was a long death scene – more than fifteen minutes, It was quite moving; when Togame finally breathed her last, I am not ashamed to admit to welling up a bit. Togame deserved a scene of this length and breadth. After all, we’ve known her just as long as Shichika…a whole friggin’ year!
Hell hath no fury like a Shichika scorned…though when he storms Owari Castle and begins mowing effortlessly into its thousand-man garrison, he does so not to avenge Togame, but out of a desire to end his own life. Shichika’s eyes have become steelier, and his voice is much less wistful than we’re used to. He means business.
As the Princess meets with the shogun atop the castle, Emonzaemon interrupts and notifies her of the situation. The shogun’s band of eleven retainers take up the eleven deviant blades and occupy the eleven levels of the castle, with Emonzemon at the top as the Princess Hitei’s last defense. “This is the end for us both,” Hitei tells the shogun with a knowing smirk. She wonders if this was her ancestor Shikizaki Kiki’s plan all along: for Shichika to go berserk.
Twelve levels; twelve bosses, and surging battle music. The video game references are obvious, as Katanagatari has done it before, but this is a whole new level (no pun intended). Shichika is able to reuse all of the knowledge he attained fighting the deviant blades the first time around, only this time, he is allowed to shatter the swords. A great trip down memory lane ensues. Each battle is dealt with in a different way, but are all flawless victories. I appreciate the trouble taken to design a whole new group of eleven unique-looking opponents, who are all defeated in short order. The kid with the bladeless hilt was probably the most hilarious; and Shichika doesn’t kill her out of pity
Wanting to die, Shichika sought Emonzaemon, the only one he believed could kill him. He definitely puts up a strong fight, but no longer bound by any restrictions, and no longer prohibited from harming his body, Shichika is unstoppable. He defeats Emonzaemon and becomes the final completed blade, Kyotou Yasuri. Now at the top of the castle, Shichika takes one more life: that of the shogun who sent Togame on the mission in the first place. Hitei is spared.
What then? Well, it would seem Shichika could not disobey Togame, and keeps on living. He travels across Japan, making the map he promised to make with Togame, only instead accompanied by Princess Hitei. It turns out she didn’t hate or even dislike Togame. Her new haircut, outfit, and mannerisms in the epilogue suggest she had a lot more in common with her than not.
So there you have it: twelve months, twelve hours, twelve swords. It was quite a ride, which ended strong. I’ll admit I will miss the time when I could look forward to a new installment each month. While Shichika’s journey continues even without his beloved, petite, white-haired master, our ability to continue watching it unfold has come to a close. Rating: 4