A boy meets a girl, it’s the simpliest story in the world.
Katanagatari is the story of Yasuri Shichika, a swordless swordsman, and Togame, a tactician, and their journey to collect 12 blades, forged by a master swordsmith. Nisio Isin’s habits are very apparent in this series. And by that, I mean many characters are extremely strange (interesting), and there is a great deal of dialog. While the wit and banter is the main reason that I enjoy Nisio Isin’s works, I can’t say that it was pulled off too well in this anime. The original novel was written in 12 books, one of which was published a month. The anime tried to follow a similar format, and therefore had to fit an entire novel worth of exposition into a 45 minute episode. And I would consider this to be Whitefox’s biggest mistake.
For Bakemonogatari, another of Nisio Isin’s series, two books took an entirety of 15 episodes to be shown properly, and even then there are people who complain that it was too compressed. For Katanagatari, not only were there large amounts of the books cut out, many scenes felt dragged despite being compressed (even the fansub group was complaining about how there was too much talking to do). This was worsened by the fact that it felt like the voice actors were speaking quickly to fit everything in, rather than actually putting more effort into acting. Nanami, in particular, simply didn’t feel like a character who would rattle off her dialog like a monotone machine gun. Sadly, unlike bakemonogatari, there weren’t odd and interesting visuals to carry the scene along, and watching the episodes often felt tedious.
Whoever was in charge of storyboards changed it up for episode seven, which resulted in the above memorable scene. However, the stunning imagery isn’t really present in the other episodes. This REALLY made me wish that Shaft had done this series, but that’s just the shaft fangirl in me talking.
The music, on the other hand, was fantastic. There were some absolutely haunting pieces of BGM, and the ending song changed for every episode. I had come across many of the singers through doujin albums and such, so this was a nice surprise.
Now, for the story. Each episode is somewhat self contained, although obviously there is an underlying plot. The problem is, there were some plot threads which weren’t tied together all that nicely. I’m not sure if this was due to Nisio Isin (although looking at his some other work, I wouldn’t be surprised) or due to the time constraints on the part of Whitefox. Since it’s a Nisio Isin work after all, many of the plot twists, including the true goal of the swordsmith, seems like it’s trolling the reader/viewers. I’m sure that everyone who know about episode 4 felt trolled. In that regard, I truly applaud Whitefox for what they did to set up episode 4. That was a stroke of genius.
The story completely revolves itself around the characters. Since there are 12 swords, there are also 12 sword carriers, and coupled with the 12 Maniwa ninjas and other recurring characters, there is quite a large cast. Each is interesting in their own regard, but no one beats Hitei Hime. In my opinion, her character and Tomatsu Haruka’s acting completely stole the show. It was also very interesting to see the progression of Shichika’s character, and to see his relationship with Tomage change throughout.
Now, let’s see if Whitefox can pull off Steins;Gate…