(You might want to read up on the other Twelve Days of Anime posts around the aniblogosphere, including those from Aorii, 8C, prototype27, Scamp,schneider, the cast at Borderline Hikkikomori, TWWK, Landon, Janette, digiboy, CCY, and more!)
Ah, Katanagatari. What makes it so special?
For one, it’s by White Fox, with the only other work under their belt being Tears to Tiara. For one of their first shows, this show was great.
Two, it’s released once per month, so it leaves much more opportunity to
troll for viewers to speculate, to wait in anticipation.
But those aren’t the reasons why I’m writing.
You must have found out that recently, on the 10th of Dec, the final episode of Katanagatari aired. And this is what made me love this series. Since you can easily find Episode summaries from the tons of other aniblogs out there, I’ll skim through the details.
Following Togame’s death, Shichika seems to seek to avenge her, destroying all of the deviant blades. But it turns out that he came ‘to die’. Upon reaching the last level, instead of killing Hitei-hime, the woman who ordered the assassination of Togame, he kills the Owari Shogunate. Credits roll, and the epilogue shows Hitei-hime following Togame on his mission to map the whole of Japan and spread the incorrect usage of ‘Cheerio’.
At first , I felt disappointed. I think I would have liked Togame to live, and Hitei to die in some painful manner, with nothing but a trail of complete destruction left in its wake. But Togame’s death was necessary, and on retrospect, I couldn’t agree more.
Togame’s death is what made this episode what it was. Togame’s death symbolized many things : revelation of her true feelings, the subtle imagery with the snake, and it would lead to the eventual destruction of the deviant blades and the Owari Shogunate. By dying, she was freed of her own burdens. By dying, she freed Shichika, by dying, Katanagatari had depth.
I think I would have wanted to see that Katanagatari turns out to be a Spice-And-Wolfesque story, a story of how two strangers go on a strange, dramatic journey and end up falling in love. But what different would it make Katanagatari from the tonnes of other shows out there? Romance shows are all so similar – Katanagatari was deep. By killing the Owari Shogunate, the shackles binding Hitei-hime were broken. In fact, by dying, the show had what others lacked – character. A plot. A reason. A motive. Shichika doesn’t do what he did for no reason, he did it for Togame. The final completed deviant blade, slicing down enemies. By dying, Shichika was no longer bound to the ground.
Hitei-hime didn’t dislike Togame, but did what she did because she was bound – by the fact that only one may obtain that needed audience with the Shogunate, by the duty of carrying out her father’s mission to prevent the eventual destruction of Japan. After killing the shogunate, she’d resemble any other person- even resembles Togame , I might add- free from the moral prison she was locked in.
Even Katanagatari was freed from its own shackles, the shackles of the industry. Most romance plots have the same ending : they all live happily ever after. Yet Katanagatari is different- it smashes its romance, yet it makes it all the more memorable. It reduces its characters, from glorified , perfect beings, to humans.
But in my opinion, it changes them from one-dimensional to a full being, with purpose to live, with feelings, emotions, not living bound down by duties and obligations, and it makes it all the more beautiful. I think Hitei-hime even follows Shichika at the end to help fulfill Togame’s dream. Most shows would have continued portraying her as a villain to the end, with Shichika killing her, but no. All the characters have true depth.
Hitei was a good person after all.
You can probably tell by now that I don’t really know how to describe or explain why I like this show so much. I could read the novels, or try to write this post from scratch. I could even rewatch the episode again and again, trying to find out why I didn’t and did want Togame to die, and Hitei to live ; why I enjoyed it so much, and why it went the way it did.
However, by that point I would be already torn to pieces.