Clocking in at 12 episodes of 50 minutes each, Katanagatari was definitely an interesting experiment of a series. At first sight it seems like a bit of a boring concept to base a series around a quest to gather a different superpowered sword every episode, in the middle of lots and lots of talking, but it’s got enough charms here.
I personally disliked Bakemonogatari, but Katanagatari finds a good balance between its dialogues. They’re interesting, varried and after a few episodes they become pretty able to carry the whole series. The dialogue does a good job at fleshing out the characters, and discussing what’s going on at the plot. The storyi itself is simple at first sight, but gets pretty detailed as it goes on, with quite a bit of historical significance, meshing in excellently with said dialogue.
Another thing that this series is really good at is its martial arts. The fights in this series are often short and to the point, but they’re often interesting looks at the applications of different fighting and weapon styles that together paint quite a complex exploration of martial arts.
There are some downsides to this, most of them having to do with the fact that this series can become a bit too shounen-ish for its own good. Fights are interesting to watch, but they’re also too unrealistic and too much based on logic and too little on physical flaws. It’s a good thing that this series doesn’t force its characters to play tic tac toe, because that would have kept them busy for an eternity.
That’s just a detail that is of course easy to ignore. What’s a bit less easy to ignore is that while most of the battles are down to earth and thought-provoking, there are these few battles that try to be epic and as a result go way too much in the Dragonball Z direction. Perhaps these battles aren’t incredibly long, but they do become rather uninspired with characters moving conveniently too fast for the naked eye to follow, eliminating any kind of strategy just for the sake of over the top fighting that’s done better in a ton of other series. Especially Emonzaemon is guilty of this, and he’s by far the least interesting characters of the series as well, and a very one-sided villain. That’s a big problem in the second half of the series because he features a lot there.
Togame and Shichika form a great led couple, though and the people they run into in every episode are varied and have great back-stories. When you want to watch this series, you really should take into account that relatively little happens in each episode, it’s a very slow paced series and the dialogues take up a HUGE focus of each episode. If you have the patience to appreciate this, then you’ll be rewarded with quite an enjoyable series.
|Storytelling:||9/10 – Great use of dialogue to flesh out the story and characters. Great portrayal of martial arts.|
|Characters:||8/10 – The main villains could have been better, but the rest of the characters are well fleshed out, with the main characters well developed.|
|Production-Values:||8/10 – The animation is never spectacular, but does what it needs to do to make this series very stylish.|
|Setting:||8/10 – 5Interesting back-story in Japan’s history. Martial arts are interesting but unrealistic.|