Katanagatari, “Hakutō Hari”
Posted by Doug on April 29, 2010
Nanami’s back! Yay!…whoa, wait, what just happened?
Shichika and Togame get a letter of challenge from the wielder of Hakutō Hari (“Thin Sword, Needle”, the fourth of Shikizaki’s Deviant Blades), Sabi Hakuhei. Sabi was seen in earlier episodes pwning random noobs, but in this episode, he gets a worse fate than that of the two Maniwa Corps jobbers Shirasawi and Kuizame: he gets defeated off-screen. All we get to see is a destroyed Ganryū Island while Shichika and Togame eat dango while they pat each other on the back for their victory over Sabi. This was unexpected…unexpectedly lame.
(On a side note, the dialogue between the two of them, particularly the line about Miyamoto Musashi and Sasaki Kojirō’s famous duel taking place a hundred years prior, puts the story in the early 1700s.)
That’s right: the big battle of this episode isn’t Shichika versus Sabi for the Hakutō Hari, it’s three insect-themed members of the Maniwa Corps versus…Nanami. Yeah, Shichika’s older, ailing sister. I expected her to be pretty tough in a fight, but there’s a difference between “pretty tough” and “terrifyingly powerful, RUN WHILE YOU STILL CAN”. Nanami is the latter. I thought she’d be an interesting character to have in the mix, but now…she scares me.
Maniwa Corps: Insect Squad: Maniwa Kamakiri, Maniwa Chōchō, and Maniwa Mitsubashi
Three of the Maniwa Corps ninja travel to Shichika’s home island to take his sister, Nanami, hostage. Kamakiri (“Praying mantis”…kinda cool name…), Chōchō (“Butterfly”…not really that cool of a name…), and Mitsubashi (“Honey Bee”…are you shitting me? This guy’s name is Honey Bee? Dude probably got beat up in Ninja School all the time, with a name like that) hope to ransom Nanami off for the three Deviant Blades that Shichika and Togame have already acquired, but they did not realize that Nanami is not as defenseless as she looks. This trio, who call themselves the Insect Squad, actually aren’t totally crazy, murderous assholes; they’re actually portrayed a little sympathetically, which makes their ultimate fate a little sad.
Kamakiri voice actor is Yasumura Makoto, who has had a number of supporting roles in anime I haven’t seen. Chōchō’s VA is Sakaguchi Daisuke, who was Kazuto in World of Narue, among other roles. Miura Hiroaki did Mitsubashi’s voice, and had supporting roles in Please Teacher and Kamisama Kazoku.
After his brief but badass appearances in earlier episodes, I was expecting Sabi to be a real tough battle for Shichika–the guy reminded me of Sesshomaru, Inuyasha’s big brother, in a way–and maybe it was a tough battle, but we don’t get to see it. This, simply put, sucks. Why bother building this guy up if he’s just going to be offed off-screen? I’m enjoying Katanagatari a lot, but I’m not blind to its faults. Not showing the battle between Sabi and Shichika is the first glaring one.
There was one interesting bit, though: his revelation that Shichika’s Kyotō school of swordsmanship without a sword has some direct connection to the creator of the Deviant Blades, Shikizaki Kiki.
Sabi’s voice actor is Midorikawa Hikaru, who also voiced Heero Yuy in Gundam Wing, among other roles.