Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Katanagatari vol. 1 Blu-ray DVD combo Impression

Family heritage and duty lead to an epic animated journey.

Katanagatari from NIS America is one of the companies newer anime titles and the most unique. Its mixture of unique animation and art combines with a time and story that reminds of titles like Kenshin yet is so unique and exquisite. A truly enjoyable anime but not one for every fan so what’s to love? Let’s take a look.

Story – 1,000 katana; crafted by master blacksmith Shikizaki Kiki and a journey to collect them. The Shogun has enacted a policy known as Katana Hunting in order to obtain all 1,000 katana including the 12 powerful Klesha Bringers, the last 12 katana forged. The order for this collection was in fear of rebellion. The location of these 12 is only partially known and now Togame, a Shogunate official, seeks the blades with the help of Yasuri Shichika, the 7th generation Kyoto Ryu. With his older sister Nanami, Yasuri lives on an isolated island due to his father’s role in bringing down a rebellion but now a the request of this strange girl he is about to step foot off the island to obtain the 12 katana which his unique sword skills, where no sword is used, the blade is his body, are the only way to obtain the blades. Togame has her own agenda and she is forced to address her past dealings with the treacherous Maniwa Ningun, a group of 12 elite ninja on her road to collecting these 12 unique katana. The journey will be long and our travelers will change so let the battles begin.

This is just the beginning of the story as each encounter reveals more and more layers. Yasuri has an innocence and brutality that adds for humorous moments and it’s not always to read what Togame is thinking (writing a book of the journey, obsessed with catch phrases) and all the characters are like this. The Ningun range from formidable to pathetic and add spice to the journey which spans Japan and sees many varied battles. It’s a simple story of two travelers working to gather 12 katana and taking on the owners in grand battles. They must dodge the Ningun and manage to have a good amount of fun doing so. As unique as the art is so too is the story which is a nice trip back to a time long forgotten in Japan.

Animation and Art Style – Bright and vivid, this anime belongs framed and hung on fans walls; it’s that beautiful. From the opening animations it’s easy to see this is no normal anime with unique looks for characters that is anime but then again, it’s not. The use of dark eyes, not just pupils but all black or one color along with unique costumes brings a vibe of Metropolis or Astro Boy, a look and feel used in Cashern but not many other traditional anime, period. The feudal Japanese setting is also a site to behold showing off the various climates of the great nation, the regions and how varied they are. It’s a visual smorgasbord of all Japan has to offer and it animates beautifully where each battle and movement is like a planned choreographed dance and the awkward and funny moments really spring off the screen. It’s just plain beautiful to watch and admire in still motion.

Voice work and Music – The voice work is wholly Japanese but quite solid as Togame is serious and hilarious while Yasuri delivers himself well as a closed off country bumpkin. Each character is portrayed as they look to be expected but the score; well the score is quite delicious. The episodes are longer, almost 40 minutes in length and the conversations also quite drawn out at time leading to some very noticeable and epic tunes that the viewer can’t help but notice … and enjoy.

Miscellaneous – The animation and art style is so unique and beautiful, it really stands out among a fairly crowded anime market and the included art book is just a joy to read and display on bookcases across the otaku world. The original story, setting and art make this a unique package that anime fans owe it to themselves to watch.

Overall this first collection of Katanagatari is excellent. It’s both DVD and Blu-ray, has a gorgeous art book and episode guide and a package to match the beautiful animation and story enclosed. Really highly recommended and a great watch.

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