Katanagatari starts with stunning visuals of an assassination in a burning castle with a beautiful touch of traditional Japanese music. A very fascinating way to introduce the anime in my opinion. The art style of the anime is also very traditional folklore sort of with bold colors and lines. Katanagatari has a totally unique design while its Opening is a visual treat.
The anime hooks you since the very beginning. Togame, a strategist with a goal to acquire all the 12 legendary swords requests Shichika Yasuri, a unique sword fighter, to help her. Shichika lived all his life on an isolated island obviously having no contact with the outside world.
Shichika is emotionless while Togame is shown to be quite smart and ambitious women. Thus the adventurous journey of happiness, fun, and sadness of two totally polar opposite peoples begins.
One of the best thing about this anime is the characters. Each episode brings new, unique and creative characters. And these characters directly or indirectly help in the development of the main character. The characters like Maniwa ninjas, Princess Hitei, Emonzaemon are fascinating with their own unique traits and style.
After meeting with each new characters, there always occurs a subtle change in how Shichika has always been. The heavy and well-written dialogues between the characters are thought-provoking and beautiful.
In one of the episode when Meisai Tsuruga asks Shichika, “what do you fight for?”, it makes us question all the efforts and fightings we did and what was all of it for. Shichika is influenced by it and asks the same question to Emonzaemon later on the anime after losing everything he had which is a very heart touching moment. He had always been fighting for Togame while Togame for revenge. Everyone was fighting but not for themselves.
Shichika who had never hesitated killing someone or never thought for himself begins to evaluate things himself after meeting various characters on his journey. He grows the most in anime from an emotionless killer to a kind and loving person. Similarly, Togame goes through changes too although very subtle but certainly visible.
Togame has huge goals while Shichika has none. How will the story of these two misfits end? Will they succeed in their goals? Until the ending, we are certain that they will succeed since we are used to main characters winning.
But well, Katanagatari is not about the happy endings or success as shown in mainstream animes like Naruto or Tokyo ghoul. But rather, it’s a story of a journey which is more beautiful than the destination, a story of self-realization, a story of failure, a story of accepting those failures.
Katanagatari makes us realize that some things are just not meant for us and that is totally fine too. It’s not tragic or success of pillar, it’s just failure and which I think is very hard for us to digest. But I loved how this anime made us realize that not only the story of success but the story of failures can be epic too.
Overall the anime is beautiful with the unique art style and great music but what made it beautiful was how it dejected all the ideas we had about protagonists and success. After all, it's a great epic anime about failure.