Posted by psgels on 17 April 2010 with categories: Katanagatari

The big potential pitfall for this series was becoming too formulaic. You know, having every episode consist out of talking that leads up to a fight between Shichika and whoever holds the next of the twelve swords, in which we get to see the story of that swordsman examined. So what does this episode do? It just skips all of this in order to focus on something completely different. Nice. I love it when shows pull twists like that.

And on top of that, this episode was surprisingly intense. This episode completely reversed the parts of good and evil in this series. While Katanagatari wasn’t exactly a battle between good and evil to begin with, there always was a clear side of protagonists: Togame and Shichika, while the antagonists were also pretty well defined. This episode however… wow. Shichika’s sister is evil.

At first sight it seems a bit boring to have three random maniwani try to attack her, but this is really one of those cases in which the creators’ decision to go with double-length episodes pay off. If this had to be condensed into 20 minutes it would have just failed, but with forty minutes we really could get to know these guys beyond the shallow appearances that the maniwani had made thus far in this series. On top of that, Nanami’s monologues were really intense to watch in the way that she completely killed off the first people she was able to talk to since years, aside from her brother and Togame. It made for a very slow-paced episode though. This episode might actually have the most dialogue out of any Katanagatari episodes yet. Ah, those poor subbers.

Overall it was one of the best episodes so far, however it did seem that a part of the animators was on some sort of holiday or something. There was an unusual amount of still frames and extreme close-ups that were shot so that the creators wouldn’t have to animate the characters’ mouths. Thankfully it was nowhere near as bad as with Bakemonogatari, but it still stood out. With these series that show a lot of long monologues, it’s of course no problem if you cut away to a few photos and pictures to illustrate your point or show the surroundings, but there is a thing as overdoing it, and this episode felt to me like it was cutting a few too many corners.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

18 Responses

  1. m says:

    I’m still at a loss to explain what this show has done to my brain, because I was initially unimpressed by the visual style, but now find myself quite liking it. I don’t care for the male character designs all that much, but the backgrounds and the female designs are appealing. There’s a certain animated storybook quality to it. Every month I think, “Wow, this series looks better than I remembered.”

    I think Migiri is my favorite character. There isn’t much new about the gentle-voiced monster, but I still find her pretty funny. There’s also a certain amount of misdirection where the possibility of a cheesy intervention looms, only for another bout of sadistic invulnerability by our (my) heroine.

    Listening to the cannon fodder talk was really taxing though. It has the same effect on me as listening to Duane Gish.

    I didn’t think this episode was quite as slickly composed as the previous one, though. The previous episode was pretty polished while I thought this sagged a little. Though if one is to compare it to Bakemonogatari, it’s obvious this show benefits greatly from the absence of SHAFT.

  2. PL says:

    lol m, shaftbo would have made a mockery of this story. I’m very glad they went with a completely different studio, instead of just trying to latch on to the commercial success of bakemonogatari.
    I enjoyed this episode a lot; although I was kind of in a groove with the formula and wouldn’t have minded if all 12 eps had gone that route, this was a very interesting detour and leaves me wondering what subsequent episodes will choose to focus on.

  3. chounokoe says:

    I have to be one of the few people who does not enjoy this show that much, especially compared to the brilliantly executed Bakemonogatari (at least in terms of adaption).

    Most of the time I fail to see the reason for it to be anime at all, because characters are mostly not moving at all and the designs of the world, apart from some costume, is rather bland.
    Bakemonogatari had the same initial problems with it’s setting, but at least Shaft spiced it up.

    Still the positive fact remains that at least some of the useless chats of Shichika and Togame are shortened and I don’t have to work through 20-40 pages of recap each book.

    I still hope most Nishio critics are wrong and this wasn’t the strongest story in Katanagatari…but I fear it will be, because next episode we will return to the same formula as before.
    Yes the episode was good and I liked Nanami very much, I would feel kinda dissappointed if she really turned out to be the most interesting character in the story.

  4. nys says:

    I liked this episode. Until the end. I can never predict what I`m going to like. But, for once, I did not fall asleep during a Shichika and Togame chat because I was on the edge of my seat over what (evil things) Nanami was gonna do to the maniwani. We didn`t know anything about her skill before, but this episode introduced her again really well.

  5. K.K. says:

    Love how she automatically nicknames them “Maniwani” as well. Like brother like sister, I guess.

    Sabi Hakuhei really got shafted though. I kept expecting them to reveal that the next episode was going to be about him, since he’s supposed to be THE mega-baddy in the show. Still, that was one (probably) amazing fight, huh…?

  6. Bruce says:

    Haha, I like how they even animated parts of that fight in the previews. Very disappointed with the fact that we didn’t see that, but that made the ending conversation that much funnier.

    @chounokoe: IMO shaft did those things even worse, what with all the black/red screens, close-eye shots, and the parts where they were literally just show text on the screen.

  7. chounokoe says:

    @Bruce: Well I think that depends on what you’d expect from a visual presentation.
    For me there is not much there in Katanagatari to look at, most screens are almost stillframes for some minutes, they could as well have made it a Drama-CD with some illustrations.

    That’s the problem when a studio adapts something that largely consists of conversation. And Katanagatari’s visual novelity quickly wears off, as backgrounds are mostly rather bland and costumes…well they work for the first minutes.
    Bakemonogatari would have become boring quite quickly if characters would have just stood there and talked.

    I don’t know if you watch it with subtitles, but I think that’s still a little different, because there’s something else on screen you have to concentrate about.
    But well…maybe it’s only me.

  8. PL says:

    Personally, I find Katanagatari one of the most visually appealing things I’ve seen in ages. I love the backgrounds, character designs and costumes. Yeah, it’s a lot of dialogue, but it’s more enjoyable animated, and the fights are lots of fun to watch. But, I’ve been a pretty hardcore defender/fanboy of this series from episode 1 so I’m not objective, for sure. Then again, fans of bakemonogatari are unlikely to be objective either, because the art and style has been taken in a very different direction. This is one of the best things airing, though, and that’s an objective statement of fact ;P j/k

  9. chounokoe says:

    Haha, yeah it’s always difficult to set the fanboy google totally aside when talking about an anime. I think it’s impossible to ever be fully objective. XD
    Well I like Take’s art, so of course the character design and costumes are neat, but as with Bakemonogatari there is not that much background in the first place, because Nishio doesn’t go into that much detail concerning places.
    The amount of dialogue is okay and I think Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei will be even harder on the subbers as an anime (just finished reading the novel), but I think the content isn’t that interesting and it often shows that he just HAD to come up with something to fill those 200-300 pages. There’s just better works by him…Bakemonogatari was okay, Zaregoto seems to be great, but I haven’t read any real novels by him.

  10. Michael says:

    I continue to be pleased by the use of irony in this series. The creators/writer of the show really know how to take audience expectations and completely reverse. I almost never see this in a series. But this is the 2nd episode the creators have done this, the 1st being when Shichika showed absolutely no remorse killing his opponent in episode 3, when the entire episode was dedicated to fleshing out her sympathetic character. I will always like shows like this, that force you to reconsider right/wrong and completely and utterly surprise you.

  11. Nomus says:

    I have most complex feelings towards this series. It has a lot of unexpected turns and good dialogs, but how I hate main characters. Really, after 3rd ep I started to think that Shichika is just a merciless killer. But now it’s obvious, that all of their bloodline are insane maniacs, who were sent to that island for a good reason.

    And Togame is not much better. Slaughtering everyone with Shichika for her own revenge. I know, they betrayed her, but all the sword-owners they killed had some good reason in their life (in spite of that poisoning she’s been blabbering about). And she… At this point I can’t imagine her doing something good with those swords. And, in addition, she’s not the brightest one.

  12. Gunslinger says:

    Aaaaaaah , based on last episode’s preview i really wanted to see the hakuto hari fight. hope they fit it in another episode :(

  13. Matt says:

    ooh i liked this episode alot. I like the humanization of the maniwani characters. I find the sister to be scary. I have no clue but i feel like it might be brother versus sister at the end. I love the dialogue in this series, very enjoyable.

  14. PL says:

    All the stuff about ripping out his fingernails, and disciplining him for not collecting the swords fast enough WAS very creepy. You can tell she was warped really badly by her father not choosing to train her. It is interesting to me that despite having very little in the sense of an adult’s conscience, shichika has an essentially good nature while naname is obviously quite dark and twisted.

  15. tomtom says:

    I can’t understand so many people are indifferent towards this series. Witty, great art, long episodes. I actually like the simple plot in this series, it reminds me of those western and samurai movies in which the mental and perceptive side of the battles are the central story element.
    Its clear that Nanami at least as crazy in the head as her brother after this episode but on the other hand Im not so convinced she is pure evil (you cant really expect two siblings who spent their entire youth on an island training in solitude to develop a ‘normal’ grasp of morality after all).

  16. PhantomX says:

    PL, I don’t think she was warped by her father at all. It’s mostly a byproduct of her body being rattled with excruciating disease coupled with her natural instincts fighting off her death (which she used to wish for).

  17. Reltair says:

    Shichika’s sister really means serious business. I sense an impending fight between her brother and herself.

  18. Alec says:

    Nanami isnt evil… her methods are just twisted. I her bro is also like that… She a “dont u ******* mess with me, or ur gonna get IT” person xD…

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  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 09:02 PM)
    One-Punch Man’s pilot was almost adapted flawlessly. It straight up uses the manga panels as it’s main storyboard, but added just enough new touches to improve the action instead of ruining it. Now let’s see how they animate the mosquitos and all the lasers for the next episode.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 08:57 PM)
    And that’s why Madhouse is one of the few respectable studios left. I thought that they will be seriously diminished after Masao Maruyama took some of its key members and funded MAPPA, but One-Punch Man showed that they are still one of the best in the business.
  • k-off
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 08:51 PM)
    @Kaiser The anime industry isn’t advanced enough in CG to make it look good, is all it is.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 05:51 PM)
    @K-off: Your not wrong, it certainly looks poor but some of the old gonzo animated stuff was far more woeful looking. Stellvia, which was done by xebec was another example of old anime cgi which was quite ugly to look at. Just as I prefer traditional effects in film I also prefer traditional animation techniques to cg.
  • k-off
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 05:42 PM)
    Lately, the use of badly integrated cgi have been making my eyes sore,from the obviously cgi background characters in Asterisk to the overly fluid mech movements in Aldnoah. I still remember the shitty cgi piano hands in Kimi no Uso.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 12:04 AM)
    On the note of good balance between humor and drama- I think BoJack Horseman is an example of a show that executed that almost perfectly in both seasons. You are laughing one minute and amused by the hijinks and silliness and the next minute you are actually moved and shocked by the honest introspection. Too be honest BoJack is more a tragic character then a goofy one, and his struggles are deeper and more existential than they have any business being in a show with anthropomorphic animals.
  • Bam
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 11:56 PM)
    The changes in the setting actually made me more excited for season 3 then what I felt the past few weeks, since now the plot needs to move forward from the cliffhanger and hopefully this translates to more cohesion and refocusing on what mad the show great in the first place. I’m pretty sure S3 will also be a blend of episodic and arch story elements tho. Overall a few ups and downs but still a great show.
  • Bam
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 11:52 PM)
    The finale also had some of the most overall arch story elements featured in the season. Earth joining the Galactic Federation is a big deal story-wise from now on. Also the use of a cover of Johnny Cash’s “Hurt” (not the Nine Inch Nails one clearly) was a nice fitting yet surprising touch. The throwback to Mr. PB after the credits was a good idea, but felt flat in it’s actual execution.
  • Bam
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 11:49 PM)
    I thought R&M had a pretty good finale. The episode achieved what was missing from most of season 2, and that was a balance of randomness and meaningful bits. What made Rick Potion #9 and the previous season’s finale and general tone great was a sense of humor that was combined with more sincere drama and character developments; a sort of sweet melancholy.
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 09:51 PM)
    @K-off, not having too much trouble with the interface but I still cannot create categories.

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