So there was a lot of talking and not much more action than the previous episode. Actually, because of Uneri Ginkaku’s Zerosen technique (a method of fighting that is faster than the speed of light, and therefore, unseen to the naked eye), I think we see even less action. Sorry Friends. But despite the lack of fighting that could be seen, I still liked this episode, and I still really like this series.
(Oh wait: There’s that guy who gets his arm snapped in two like a twig after trying to hijack Togame’s wardrobe. But I wouldn’t call that a proper fight.)
In this episode, Togame and Shichika arrive on the mainland and travel to Inaba. Their opponent is Uneri Ginkaku, a ronin who is lord of Gekoku Castle, and wielder of Zantou Namakura – one of the Deviant Swords best known for its sharpness. Togame hypothesizes that if used in battle against each other, Zantou Namakura would cut and defeat Zettou Kanna (which is known for its hardness) due to its being completed later. Ginkaku (who is the 10th generation descendent) inherited the sword along with the castle from his forefather, Uneri Kinkaku, who served under the Tottori feudal lord. After refusing to hand the sword over, Kinkaku used Zantou and killed over 10,000 soldiers that Shogun Kyuu had sent after him. Now Zantou is Ginkaku’s burden to bear, and due to its renown, he’s unsurprised when sought out by people such as Maniwa Shirasagi – one of the twelve heads of the Maniwa Corps. He’s best known for speaking in reverse.
I think if Shirasagi had survived any longer than he had, we would have wanted him dead. Thankfully, Ginkaku killed him first; just before the reverse talking out grew its quirkiness. It’s characters like this that keep the story surprising and interesting; forget having a ninja who keeps swords, ropes, and weapons hidden in the bowels of his body. Shirasagi speaks backwards! And stands on one foot… but that’s not nearly as interesting.
For the most part, I really like Ginkaku: He’s peaceful – unless you are after his sword and cross the threshold of his room, he’s incredibly skilled, and he’s fair. But despite his dignity and pride, you start to wonder if Zantou and Gekoku Castle had become burdens to him; he lived in a land uninhabited by anyone else, desolate beyond hope of restoration (you have to wonder where he got his groceries from). Seeing his home as it was before might have been the one thing he would willingly trade Zantou for. However, knowing that he had nothing to protect, he recognized that a samurai is strong only when he has something to protect. Shichika, in this case, has three things to protect: Togame, the swords, and himself. And all the while protecting his woman, Shichika still manages to use her as leverage to kick himself off of for his finishing move against Ginkaku. See: Togame can be useful in battle.
I don’t think Ginkaku was meant to be disliked; it’s just that he was an obstacle to Togame and Shichika’s goal, which meant he needed to be defeated. When they talk about his final words at the end of the episode, I realized that they didn’t habour any hatred for the man; if anything, I think they respected him. But the fact that Ginkaku’s last words were: “At last, deep sleep is allowed me”, makes us believe that not only did he not have anything to protect, but he had little left to live for.
I know it’s a bit tedious when Togame and Shichika walk through the desert talking about his should-be catchphrase, but I really enjoy their interaction. Their banter and the very essence of their relationship is so endearing. Not because it’s romantic – because we all know they’re not a romantic couple (we don’t even know if they really have feelings for each other) – but because it’s quirky. After a month of traveling together, Shichika is still working on being able to recognize and distinguish Togame from other women her size. Togame bosses Shichika around despite her not being too clever herself. Shichika isn’t all too clever either. They do have their moments of maturity, though, like when Shichika felt that because he couldn’t see Zantou’s movements with his own eyes while fighting Ginkaku, he didn’t deserve to see the blade after Ginkaku was defeated.
While I’m sincerely enjoying Katanagatari, I recognize that if they don’t develop some more of the characters, we’re going to get tired of them and fast. Action I’m not too worried about because this guy –> looks pretty formidable to me. …And pretty. Pretty and formidable. Rightly so that his catchphrase is: “I’ll have you fall for me.” I figure Shichika can’t go undefeated in every episode, or at the very least unscathed in battle, and perhaps Sabi Hakuhei will just be the one to do that. I’m also hoping that not every one of the Twelve Heads of Maniwani die easily as Koumori and Shirasagi.
Next episode: March 8th, 2010: Sentou Tsurugi.
Until then: Apparently you’re looking to get exiled!