May 13, 2012

Phew. It felt like a long time watching Katanagatari. Even though the series has only 12 episodes and was shown way back in the year 2010, each episode is 50 minutes long and comes out only 1 episode per month! Even as I watched the series way after it ended and on a weekly basis, it still feels lengthy because I’m not really used to sitting down and watching animes that are more than 24 minutes per series. OVAs that usually last longer than that are just one shots so for a series to really have every episode spanning almost an hour, phew, that is quite a feat. And considering that I was expecting this to be a complicated series, I had this tendency to jot down the summary as I watch. Meaning, instead of watching the show finish, I would at certain points pause the episode and write it down so as not to lose the ‘freshness’ of what has happened (that’s why it’s so ‘neatly’ done for this blog). So I nearly spent almost 3 hours watching an episode for this series! Amazing or what?

Basically the premise is simple. Set in the Edo period, a woman who is a strategist teams up with guy who doesn’t use swords under the orders of the Shogunate to retrieve 12 of the greatest sword masterpieces created by the legendary swordsmith around the country. Sounds easy, right? Well, you’re going to face off with the owners of the swords who aren’t willing to let them go so what are the chances that they’ll give it up without a fight? Just because the Shogun says so? Screw him! And it gets a lot more complicated with all the drama, plots, twists and turns coming in as you continue your journey with them. You’ll also learn about the characters, their past and their relationships as you go along. This isn’t just an ordinary treasure hunt. Get ready and prepare yourselves for a long journey of discovery and adventure like no other.

Episode 1 – Zettou Kanna
In Oushuu, Hida Castle is under attack and on fire. Mutsue Yasuri, the 6th generation head of the Kyotouryuu (Swordless Technique) kills rebel leader Takahito Hida. When Shogun Yanari came into power and fearing the power of Mutsue, he banished him and his family to an uninhabited island that nobody has stepped foot on for 20 years. A woman, Togame is seen heading her way towards the island on a boat. Shichika Yasuri and sister Nanami are living alone on the island. Nanami feels he should give up his training since the technique will end in his generation but he is adamant to continue and practice his ultimate move seeing it’s the only thing left by his father. Shichika is on his way to collect water when he stumbles upon Togame. She is here to look for the Kyotouryuu head but was told Mutsue already died a year ago. However since her business is with the Kyotouryuu head, this means she has business with Shichika who is now the head and 7th generation. Observing Shichika’s strength, Togame introduces herself as the strategist for the Shogunate’s army general director. She wants to tests his Kyotouryuu and unsheathes her sword. Then she charges at him but trips on a rock and got knock out! Eh? Well, she’s a strategist, not a sword person.

Back in the hut, they talk about Kyotouryuu and Nanami suggests testing him again seeing she was lucky to trip over a rock because if her blade had reached Shichika’s body, she wouldn’t have escape with just a bump on her forehead. Togame takes her words as proof that he is Kyotouryuu’s head. Togame asks Shichika if he wants to rule the world. He straightaway answers no! But that lady keeps on blabbing long enough to realize he just turned her down! Well, he doesn’t understand what she’s saying. After all, they’re raised on an island and don’t interact with others. Togame wants Nanami to leave for her private talk with Shichika but he says it won’t work because firstly Kyotouryuu is inherited by blood so even if his father was around, he’ll still let them stay and secondly, he is bad at thinking. I guess there’s nothing more to say about that. Togame asks if they know about Kiki Shikizaki, a master swordsmith (again Shichika doesn’t know who the f*ck he is). It is believed that he made great swords and distributed 1000 of them to other countries and they receive an edge in combat on the battlefield. Nanami thinks some countries were big enough to hold an advantage in combat, they tried to amass more of his sword. Togame also mentions the truth for those myths. About 150 years ago, Shogun Kyuu was obsessed over those mystical weapons and almost achieved world unification by holding a majority of 507 swords. After that, he made a corrupt decree to collect all the swords with a reason to have all the swordsmen meet. Though he had 10,000 swords in his collection and managed to track down the location of the 1000 Shikizaki swords, he gave up. Because among the thousand, the final 12 were incredibly unique and it is said that 988 of the blades were used as mere practice to create these 12 Deviant Swords: Kanna, Namakura, Tsurugi, Hari, Yoroi, Kanazuchi, Bita, Kanzashi, Nokogiri, Hakari, Mekki and Juu. These swords evilness are incomparable to any other famous swords. It is said the Shogun sent an army to collect them but were wiped out by the power of a single sword. Thus Togame is here to have Shichika to gather the last 12 Shikizaki swords. Currently the current Shogunate is unstable and if the rebellion gets hold of these swords, you can tell what will happen to the Shogunate. A rebellion will start. Togame reveals half of the sword’s location and the rest are still under investigation. Togame is under orders from the Shogunate to do it skilfully, that’s where her strategies come in (yeah, she just created that title by herself). About hiring those to get the swords, money didn’t work because they hired ninjas but were betrayed. Not only they took the swords but the entire ninja village disappeared too! Hiring those that work with honour didn’t too. Hakuhei Sabi was the most loyal and strongest swordsman picked by the Shogunate but as a swordsman, he can’t resist the lure of possessing one of the Shikizaki swords and also ran off with it. But still that doesn’t mean Shichika would want to leave the island to go on a quest, right? She says there is only 1 reason left: Love. People who work for love can be trusted (Togame just admitted she has been betrayed before). Therefore she wants Shichika to fall in love with her! After that non-stop blabbing it was ‘refreshing’ there was a long pause of silence.

Several shurikens are flying in. Nanami pushes them out of harm’s way. Shichika is upset his dad’s hut is ruined and goes after the fleeing culprit. Judging from the shurikens, Togame recognizes it is from the Maniwa Ninja Corps, the ones who turned traitor after learning the value of the Shikizaki swords. There is only 1 right here since Maniwa dislike working in groups. But why he is here is still a mystery to her. Togame as a strategist couldn’t figure out how someone else knew where she was seeing she didn’t tell anyone or was sure she was being tailed till Nanami had to point out to her if she ferried herself all the way here. Yup, the boatman. Shichika catches up to the culprit Koumori Maniwa who is after Togame for her information instead of him. Shichika prepares to fight his first battle as Koumori pulls out Kanna from his throat! Shichika is worried about his body than the sword. Besides, he is disgusted it’s covered with his saliva. Maniwa tries to slice him but Shichika’s Chrysanthemum move catches it. Seeing he his move is busted, Koumori backs off. But Shichika felt something weird about Kanna because Chrysanthemum wasn’t a move to catch swords but break them. Koumori lets him know that Kanna is different as it can’t be bend or broken. Not even elephants trampling on it can break it, that’s why it’ll fetch a high price. Also why it’s unbreakable was probably Shikizaki dabbled with sorcery and alchemy. Still Shichika wants to break it but Togame (come tripping down again) warns him not to. She wants him to defeat Koumori without destroying the sword anyhow with a flashy move. Why? Because she is going to write a report on this. Let’s say it’s something for her future that will sell. But Koumori puts back Kanna in his throat. Then he unleashes a flurry of shurikens as distraction to kidnap Togame.

Togame is tied to a tree as Koumori mocks her of trying to think of ways to get out of this situation. He reveals he overheard her embarrassing “Fall for me” line and accidentally spat out those shurikens (so it wasn’t a surprise attack). Togame wants him to kill her but he won’t since he is sure she isn’t completely clueless about the location of the remaining swords. He offers her to betray the Shogunate and work for her but she refuses. Then his body starts contorting because he transforms into an exact duplicate of Togame! Including her clothes. He plans to sneak up on Shichika and kill him then perhaps transform into him and kill her. Originally he betrayed her for the money and wouldn’t have worked with her if she knew what kind of person she is. So that offer was so that he could betray her again. He tells her nobody in this world will stay by her side.

Koumori thinks his plan is going perfectly as he runs up to Shichika but was kicked in the waist! So much so he coughed out Kanna! Did he get found out? Actually Shichika couldn’t recognize human faces after living in isolation for so long and just kicked! So if it was the real Togame, she could’ve been killed! Koumori tells Shichika about Togame’s fishy story. Why is the Shogunate collecting the swords now? To prevent a rebellion sounds like a reason because the current Shogunate doesn’t hold the swords with the same reverence as Shogun Kyuu. This means collecting the swords is just for Togame to gain recognition and rise up the ranks to be the Shogun’s right hand man. Or woman rather. Since the Shogun is old and will be retiring, the next step is ruling the world. Shichika didn’t get all of that so Koumori reveals Togame is the daughter of the last rebellion, Hida. She watched her father killed before her eyes. She is willing to do anything for her ambitions even if that means asking her father’s enemies to collect the swords for revenge. Koumori than copycats Shichika’s form and picks up Kanna. He is confident they are now equal in terms of strength. Shichika deduces since Koumori only knows of Togame’s secret, he will finish him here. Koumori prepares to strike but Kanna slips off his hands. Shichika says that Kyotouryuu men don’t have any skill whatsoever with a sword. They’re not swordsmen who don’t use swords but swordsmen who can’t use swords. Calling his flashy move he just developed recently, Shichika Hachiretsu because the opponent takes 7 hits from it and in the blink of an eye gets split into 8 pieces, Shichika consecutively pounds Koumori with his fists like a fighting game combo!

Togame is in a pinch. While trying to untie herself, she somehow ended up in an upside-down position. How embarrassing. Shichika show her he got one of the swords and Togame felt like his words meant like he’ll be continuing it. He cuts her free and tells her he has finished Koumori off with his flashy move. Too bad she missed it. He mentions he did it for her and decided to do help her out. Not because of money or loyalty to the Shogunate. Yup, he has fallen for her. Before they both leave, Nanami approves of Shichika’s departure not because of Togame’s story or journey but rather Shichika has found a reason to leave the island and it’ll be a waste if he doesn’t put his 20 years of training and studying to use. Togame cautions it won’t be an easy journey since it’ll be filled with ‘demons and snakes’ so Nanami notes how caring she is. She has no worries entrusting him to her. Togame has Shichika swear to 4 oaths. 1) Protect the swords (obviously); 2) Protect her (it’ll be futile if she dies, right?); 3) Protect himself (who is going to collect the swords then since it’s their mission?); 4) Protect himself. Eh? What? This is one is more of her consideration for him. After swearing on them, Shichika reiterates he loves her so she has him love her as much as he wants. Do they even know what love means?

Episode 2 – Zantou Namakura
Did Togame get seasick from Shichika’s rowing or the violent waves? Arriving in Kyoto, Shichika is amazed with the number of people. Remember his problem of not recognizing faces? Yeah, he already mistook a girl for Togame because of her same height! Anyway so as not to arouse the suspicion of others that Togame is some dominatrix woman and throw rocks at them, she takes Shichika to a shop to get clothes but she bought all for herself. At night, they pass a couple of bandits. Unheeding her advice to sheath their sword, Shichika kicks and breaks them to protect Togame. He was going to finish them off if Togame had not stopped them that he just can’t slaughter anybody on the mainland. Despite its name which means blunt, it can cut through anything effortlessly. In an inn, Togame has Shichika smell her so that he could identify her scent so as not for him to mistakenly kill her as an assassin! She allows him to lick her but not bite? Then they talk about their next sword retrieval mission: Namakura at Gekoku Castle. The reason she chose this sword next is because its master is a swordsman. However he is a ronin named Ginkaku Uneri. Long ago when Shogun Kyuu ordered the hunt, the owner of Namakura was a samurai serving under a feudal lord named Kinkaku Uneri. However Kinkaku refused to hand over the sword and subsequently killed 10,000 soldiers of the soldier. So now, Uneri the 10th generation is its current owner. One of the heads of Maniwa, Shirasagi (what’s with him talking in reverse?), confronts Ginkaku to steal Namakura. However he was sliced in half! So much for his appearance. Now the tatami is tainted…

Shichika and Togame trek through the deserts of Inaba to the castle. Over the years, the desert has been eating the land up and became uninhabitable. So Ginkaku is the only one living like a feudal lord in his own castle. Togame mentions that every scout the Shogun sent there, none return. So it’s cut first, ask later. She also wants Shichika to come up with a catchphrase. Since she didn’t see his flashy move, she didn’t put it in her report. When she was writing it, she noticed something about Shichika: His weak personality! No matter how she worded her report, Koumori always stand out more than him. She is worried that Shichika has nothing stand out and will lose readers? Is this what it’s all about? She mentions Shirasagi’s reverse talk that made him interesting. Too bad she won’t hear that anymore. Back to the catchphrase, she mentions Hakuhei Sabi’s good catchphrase: “I’ll have you fallen for me”. Shichika would rather die than to have that. Well, he has a catchphrase he often says: “How troublesome”. Togame didn’t like it because it might affect his work in which he should be doing it enthusiastically. If he can’t come up with one, she already has written a few for him to choose. Well, let’s just say it makes Shichika wonder if she really uses her brain as a weapon. Plus, it makes it feel like as though he’s the bad guy. To Togame it does seem it will help improve her image if she demonstrates her ability to handle a tough nut. Because Togame is going to continue this conversation for the rest of the journey, I guess Shichika just picks the catchphrase “However, by that point you’ll have been torn into pieces”. Besides, Togame has her own catchphrase “Cheerio”. Well, she mistakenly thought that foreign farewell world was a popular phrase from Satsuma in Kyushu when the truth it’s supposed to be “Chesuto” (a cry to raise one’s spirits).

After walking so long, Togame is tired. Shichika thought it was the clothes she’s wearing. She reminds him that women have body parts that they need to keep fashionable. But for him, so long he doesn’t remove clothes from his lower part, he’ll be okay. Besides, he’s thankful for the hakama she bought him as he is able to move freely in it. You thought Togame’s tripping habit kicked up but she tripped on Shirasagi’s body in the sand. As stated, seems the 12 heads of Maniwa are competing against each other to find the Deviant Swords. Then appearing before them is the castle. It was camouflaged by a mirage in the air. Togame notes that Shirasagi’s death is a blessing because if he had stolen the sword, they came all the way for nothing. But Shichika cautions this had made the owner defensive and may have run away. Togame is confident he won’t leave the castle no matter the reason because he is bloody confident in his skills. But Togame is also happy to note that she can look forward to write a good report with this outcome.

As they head in, Shichika wonders why she is walking ahead first. She reminds him that she too can fight (I thought she was better off using her brain power?). She clears the air that they are not here to steal like thieves but follow proper government procedure. Opening the room door to where Ginkaku is sitting, Togame introduces herself and her intention for a fair trade of Namakura. Denying that the scum ninja was her associate, she is willing to pay and even help him get what he desires for the sword. However bored and sleepy Ginkaku has her come closer to talk since he considers rude for her to talk to a swordsman across the room. As she is about to take a step in, Shichika spots Ginkaku unsheathing his sword. He uses his Lily move to kick Togame back. Togame is apparently shocked at the mysterious pull back force and thought she was being abducted by aliens! Man, she has a wild imagination! Then she realizes when her front portion of her clothes ripped. Shichika recognizes that move as Iainuki (kneeling sword draw). Ginkaku notes that this is the first time his Zerosen technique failed with Namakura. Togame chides his despicable act but he notes that she was going to take it by force anyway. He also thinks she played cheat by bringing along this ‘big brother’ (see how Togame blow her top by saying which part of her face looked like his little sister). Namakura has being handed down by his forefathers and they would not hand it to the Shogunate. Simply giving it away would make him a laughing stock. Shichika feels that he is afraid to lose the sword since he will lose his speed of light move with Zerosen. Realizing that Shichika is also a swordsman, he challenges him to come and take it and no need for further talk. However Shichika wants to do a bit of strategizing with Togame first.

Outside the castle, seems Shichika was just checking if he would come after them. Apparently he didn’t and let them go. Plus, the moment Togame crossed the boundary into his room, she got attacked. This means he won’t attack as long as they don’t enter his room, his absolute territory and optimal place for him to ambush enemies. They need to find a way to drag him out. Shichika has a plan. First, Togame enters the room and falls prey to Zerosen’s cut. Since he can’t let the corpse be, he’ll have to drag it out and throw it into the desert just like Shirasagi. That’s when Shichika will attack him. But there’s one problem. Togame will be cut! That won’t do! So the other plan is to face him head on. He thinks just winning today isn’t good enough to win tomorrow’s battles. They can’t just win by luck like with Koumori. Togame feels she has no skills to back him up so Shichika says he wants her to do it because people with something to protect are strong. Ginkaku reflects how he became obsessed in protecting the sword when everyone has left. And he will continue to do it. As a swordsman, he needs something to protect or else he cannot fight.

The duo return to the room as Shichika gets ready to counter his Zerosen move with his Iris technique. He’s bending down like a start line run? When he makes his first move, Ginkaku predicts he’ll cut him on the third step. But when it’s done, seems he cut a phantom illusion. Taken off guard, Shichika kicked him with his Rose move. However Ginkaku notes that he could’ve finished him off with Rose but held back. Seems Shichika was overwhelmed by his sword pressure (due to lack of real battle experience). Since the same move won’t work again, Ginkaku uses Five Lives Attacks to cut and it doesn’t matter if he speeds up or slows down. Though Shichika dodged out of the room, the move also wounded Ginkaku’s arm. This was also the move that killed the Shogun’s soldiers. He explains this secret move combined with Namakura and the thing I understand that is the more it cuts, the faster it gets, thus faster than the speed of light. Togame thinks of letting him bleed to death but Shichika won’t allow that. He is impressed by him and will show him the full might of Kyotouryuu. Ginkaku asks if Togame could restore Inaba since she said she would do anything. She says it’s impossible since the Shogunate has deserted this place and no longer under his jurisdiction. Plus, reversing the dessert process is impossible. Ginkaku is relieved and feels it was right to cut her. About the pride thing he was talking about, he said that on a whim. It was just something he wanted to protect. In fact it’s the only thing left to protect. Preparing for the next move, Shichika gets ready into his Iris position and warns him that he’ll be in pieces. Shichika starts, Ginkaku draws his sword. The funny part was Shichika using Togame’s face as a spring board!!! Oh man!!! Shichika ends up on top of the ceiling seeing that Zerosen doesn’t cover every area. Why? He notices Ginkaku cannot draw his sword above his head. With that, Shichika uses his hidden art, Rakka Rouzeki (Scattered Blossoms) and lands a devastating drop kick on him.

In the aftermath, though they have Namakura in possession, Togame is understandably mad. First he thought Iris to Rose move would do the job so he really did that face platform move as insurance. She would’ve appreciated it if he had told her in the first place. Oh, and that people get stronger line thingy, he was just randomly saying things. Shichika learns from today’s battle that having something to protect doesn’t mean that one will become strong and that there are people who need something to protect in order to keep living. Shichika thinks Ginkaku’s final line was a cool catchphrase that brings out his character but Togame disagrees that it’s more of a final message, last words and will before his death since one is allowed to say it once in your lifetime. But sometimes last words can be more powerful than catchphrases. She doesn’t allow Shichika to come up with one and not even think about it. Ginkaku’s last words were “At last, deep sleep is allowed in me”.

Episode 3 – Sentou Tsurugi
The duo enter the autonomous region of Izumo to meet Meisai Tsuruga, the head of the Sanzu shrine and owner of the Tsurugi sword. Togame is confident she can walk 1000 steps up to the shrine since she already trekked through the desert. But after a few steps, she got tired and seeks Shichika’s help! Since carrying her on the back will be tad embarrassing, the strategist has Shichika carry her like a princess. Less embarrassing this way? I don’t know. Go figure. At the top, they meet Meisai. Inside the shrine, we learn Meisai was once part of the bandit but that was 7 years ago and she has left them ever since. Plus, this isn’t her real name and she just took after the previous priest of this temple as she has forgotten her own. Meisai can tell Togame is under orders from the Shogunate and must have an urgent business. She agrees with Togame’s request to speak with her privately. Meisai shows her around and that this place has 1000 armed shrine maidens spread out throughout the area. These maidens are unsettled as some of them have killed their parents, families or their entire clan. Meisai also knows she is here for her Tsurugi sword so Togame says they already have 2 of the Deviant Blades. Togame is aware of the circumstances the Sanzu shrine is in and is willing to let the Shogunate take care of the circumstances in exchange for her sword. Upon learning that Shichika is her sword and a Kyotouryuu, she is excited to pit the Kyotouryuu against her Sentouryuu (Thousand Blade Technique). She agrees to give her Tsurugi as long as she accepts a little condition.

Togame meets up with Shichika and tells him how the deal went. First they have to find the real Tsurugi among the 1000 identical swords (among them is the original and first Tsurugi sword). After they find the real sword, they have to fight her and win. If they lose, they have to give up Kanna and Namakura. Shichika feels it’s not fair since they only get 1 sword if they win but Meisai gets 2 swords if she gets victory. Somehow Shichika got entangled in Togame’s hair and he fell over her in an ambiguous position. Yeah, just watching the shadows from outside really makes it look ambiguous. Meisai’s bodyguards report back their observation on the duo to her. Meisai can tell they are not a couple or a master-servant relationship but are likely tied by fate. She guessed from Togame’s hair and actions that she has been through a lot of hardship and her brightly coloured clothes are so as not to forget herself. She also guesses that Togame is a daughter of a feudal lord and if there wasn’t any war, she could’ve been a princess of her own country. Next morning, Togame leaves to examine the Tsurugi swords and wants Shichika to stay put in the room and not wander. Inside the shrine, Togame looks through the swords and picks up one. Suddenly a maiden dashes forward and steals that sword, ready to cut Togame. However Meisai shields her with her own body. While the other maidens are evacuated, Meisai approaches closer to the maiden as she swings the sword in a panic state. Finally she breaks down so Meisai brings her out and tells Togame to continue with the inspection.

Meanwhile Kuizame of Maniwa has just arrived and kills all the boatpeople just to live up to expectations of being a murderer. Bored Shichika spots several maidens doing chores. When he goes help them, they shriek and run off in fear. He continues to complete the chores so the maidens quietly go back and help him. They thank him once they have finished and go off. Meisai’s bodyguards thank him. Shichika learns that the maidens were under the care of the previous priest. He mentions that he doesn’t feel that aura that Shikizaki swords have in their blades. When Meisai is being told of this, she decides to talk to him. Meisai answers his questions like this shrine is a refuge temple for the maidens. These girls were abused by men way past their limit till their mental health is destroyed and then they get abandoned. Thus their fear of Shichika and men alike (also the reason Togame doesn’t want him to wander). Meisai also reveals the reason she gave the maidens Tsurugi. It’s to use the poison of Shikizaki’s swords as medicine. If taking too much medicine becomes poisonous, the opposite can also be true. The swords serve to restore and sooth their broken mind. After all the Deviant Swords have power beyond human comprehension. Though the talisman over their faces are just ‘fake’ masks, the Tsurugi are their real heart and soul. That is why she cannot afford to give up Tsurugi nor lose to him because she needs to save as many women she can. Shichika likes the way Meisai thinks of using swords to save lives and it’s good that they’ll both give it all in their fight.

Meisai wonders if he is okay of robbing Tsurugi even if it will break the hearts of these maidens. Shichika can’t help it since his body and soul don’t move for anyone but Togame. Asking how many people he has killed, he replies 2 and both in connection of obtaining the Deviant Blades. As for Meisai, she has killed countless but remembers she killed 43 – her comrades. When asked about his reasons to fight, he replies it’s for Togame because he fell for her. Meisai notes that his sympathy and throwing-off-balance technique failed. Shichika then remembers he didn’t kill 2 but 3 people. The other person he killed was his father. They realize Kuizame hearing their conversation. He is of course here to take Tsurugi and is confident in his Uzugatana technique. Meisai offers to take care of this since she has a duty to protect the maidens. Plus, she knows about Kyotouryuu but he hasn’t seen her Sentouryuu. Meisai speeds up and once Kuizame lands, a sudden deep cut is seen across his chest! WOAH!!! After all that cocky and arrogant talk, that ninja just died like that?! He didn’t even see Sentouryuu coming. Shichika returns to Togame who is complaining she practically had been all over the shrine looking for him. He tells her the appearance of Maniwa and asserts the need to be next to her seeing they won’t know the next attack. However she disagrees and shows him the true Tsurugi sword. Explaining her choice to Meisai, she noticed the scars on the sheath and most likely makes it the oldest one. Meisai accepts her decision without any arguments.

Next day, Shichika and Meisai prepare to face off. Once the battle starts, Meisai tosses her Tsurugi at Shichika and flees. He chases after her to a little shrine. Then she u-turns and tries to strike him with her Ittou Ichimonji Kiri strike. Luckily Shichika dodges it. Again Meisai escapes into the woods. Deep in, Shichika sees lots of Tsurugi swords tied to the trees. He realizes the search for the original blade was just to bide time for this setup. A battlefield with 1000 swords. Meisai is confident that with Sentouryuu and Tsurugi combined, her Chikeikouka Sentou Meguri technique is invincible. She gives Shichika a chance to surrender.

Story time. Her father was a commander of a squad in Izumo’s defence corps and from young she was made to believe the invincibility of Sentouryuu as she was taught and inherited the technique. However when war came, the move was somewhat useless. Her father and his followers all perished leaving her the only survivor. She lost everything. Her family, her home, her beliefs. Before she realized it, she used Sentouryuu as a murder tool since Sentouryuu is an art of absolute self defence in which you don’t arm yourself. Tsurugi also follows this same principal. Soon she joined the bandits and the boss was the owner of Tsurugi. She rises through the ranks in no time and became bandit chief. She continued her life killing others. She had known about Sanzu shrine as a sanctuary for weak girls. She wondered why the Gods never helped her so she strangled the priest. But his last words were to forgive him for not being able to help her and also to forgive the girls as they have done no wrong. That’s when she realized and thought deeply the reason she fights and lives. Then she returns to the bandit’s hideout and slaughtered all her comrades and return to the shrine to inherit that priest’s dying wish. She has been fighting for those girls since. That’s why she can’t lose.

Since she truly believes Kyotouryuu cannot beat Sentouryuu, Shichika advises her that when laying traps, it is best not to set near your home (he learnt his first lesson while trying to trap a wild animal but Nanami got caught since it was set nearby). Shichika is confident to test and see if Kyotouryuu is really inferior. He dashes out of the woods and back to the inn they are staying. He knows this place does not have any traps set because Meisai had to look out for them both. Meisai doesn’t admit defeat but requests that if he does manage to take Tsurugi, she wants him to obtain a guarantee from the Shogunate of the future of those maidens and at least send someone who is kind and knows their way around people’s hearts to take care of them. It might sound that Meisai is contradicting herself by not admitting defeat but she figured it’s fine if she loses this fight. Her thought of using the poison of the swords to save the maidens but it didn’t work and ended up more poison than cure and she couldn’t part with the sword. That’s why she’s been waiting for someone like them to come and smash that pointless hope. She then pulls up Tsurugi from the ground and Shichika can tell this is the original one because he can feel its soul. He also says the swords choose their masters but do not choose who to slay. Tsurugi chose Meisai just like how Shichika chose Togame. Finally they both face off. Just when Togame arrives on scene (she totally missed the entire action. Now what is she going to write in her report?) but sees Meisai lifeless and Shichika’s fist covered in blood. Looks like Kuuchuu Ittou Okumoji Kiri was no match for Kyouka Suigetsu.

As Meisai’s bodyguards watch over Meisai’s body, Togame promises to obtain a guarantee for this shrine and its maidens’ safety from the Shogunate. Shichika and Togame leave so he wonders what will happen to the shrine since the maidens are now unarmed. Togame notes it will return to the way it was before the sword got involved. Then shouldn’t Meisai have done that from the beginning? Since she held one of the Deviant Blades, she would’ve been consumed by the poison of the Shikizaki swords. She couldn’t have been able to let go of it unless it was forcefully taken. Shichika wonders if Togame would give up Kanna and Namakura if he had lost. She couldn’t say and gave an excuse she was confident he would win. Shichika feels nostalgic for the shrine’s steps because he won’t get a chance to hold Togame like that anymore. She got embarrassed and was about to give him her Cheerio but tripped as they both tumble downwards. It’s a long way down…

Episode 4 – Hakutou Hari
Togame hurriedly returns to the inn they are temporarily staying. As usual, her usual complaints about her meeting with the messengers that the Shogunate sends. They are supposed to settle here for a while and wait reports on that Sabi guy but it seems Togame has already received a letter of challenge from the person himself. A duel for the Deviant Blades. That’s straight to the point alright. Shichika feels it’s ironic such a straight an old fashioned guy betrayed her and the Shogunate he was loyal to simply for the sword. After all, he was touched by the sword’s poison. Togame’s thoughts wandered as she thinks Shichika was able to kill a woman (Meisai) easily because he grew up on a deserted island and doesn’t know desire for women. If he doesn’t distinguish between men and women, why has this sword fallen for her? She is snapped out when Shichika asks about people leaking information that they have 3 of the Deviant Blades. They also talk about Sabi’s Deviant Blade, Hari. It is thin, frail and above all a beautiful sword. It’s going to be hard to get it without breaking it. But Togame doesn’t want him to be concern with the sword and concentrate fully on Sabi’s swordsmanship since he has the reputation of being Japan’s best. It is also said that he can cut the moon in half! However Shichika doesn’t want Togame praising other swords in front of him. He has his pride as Kyotouryuu. Shichika’s hold on Togame’s collar bone seems to be sending pain. Or is she feeling… After letting go, Shichika wonders if defeating Sabi would mean earning the title of Japan’s best. Since the fight will be on Ganryuu Island, Shichika wonders how Nanami is doing.

The Insect Squad comprising of Kamakiri, Chouchou and Mitsubashi, all heads of the Maniwa Ninja Corps are talking about the recent deaths of the other heads and how things are going down since their betrayal. If things go as it is, it will bring disgrace to their reputation. Their ultimate aim is to take down the head of Kyotouryuu and divide the Deviant Blades among themselves. They arrive on the uninhabited island where the Yasuri household resides. Their plan is to capture Nanami as bait. Kamakiri volunteers to do the job while the rest waits. He leaves them his red crystal orb and if anything happens, they’ll have to complete the task.

Kamakiri spies on Nanami collecting vegetables. She is lamenting how lonely she is when Kamakiri lunges at her with his claw technique, Tsume Awase. However the next thing he knows, he is chained to the tree, his claws and poison molar removed while he was out! I guess suicide is out, eh? She tells him about Koumori’s body buried nearby and gives him a choice: Keep quiet and die or talk and die. Oh sh*t. Is that even a choice? Though she doesn’t really mind which he picked, she would prefer the former since judging from the situation she has a good idea of what is going on and there isn’t much she needs to ask. Firstly with Maniwa coming to this island, she guessed that Shichika’s sword hunt is going well. Kamakiri says though he has never met her brother, she presumes that he must be stronger than her. However she wonders about that since it is about a year since she had a proper contest with Shichika. So the earlier move she used on him wasn’t really Kyotouryuu but a disarmament counter called Patrinia. She wonders how many of them are on the island so Kamakiri only mentions himself with the reason that they don’t have enough manpower to send more soldiers after a single girl. But she knows kidnapping her isn’t just the end of their plans and wouldn’t be surprised if there were more men. She guessed that it would be the same number of swords Shichika carries – three. She is straight in telling him that he should tell about his comrades’ skills and techniques to help her and NOT his situation. She adds that when Shichika was young, he has this habit of biting his nails despite her telling him to stop. To prevent him from doing so, she extracted all his fingernails. He never bit it ever since. However she wants to try the opposite for Kamakiri. Taking his claws and sticking it in his mouth, she wants him to bite. Kamakiri tries to stall for time so that he could surprise attack her with another Tsume Awase but she sealed his movements with her kimono. Then she stabs right through his mouth!!! His dying eyes reminded her of her father’s and how he decided to make Shichika the head of Kyotouryuu by passing this technique to his son and not her. It’s not because she’s a woman nor have a weak body. But rather he is unable to raise someone as exceptionally powerful like her. Meanwhile as Shichika rows to Ganryuu Island, he remembers fighting Nanami only once and lost. He wonders who is more powerful, Sabi or Nanami.

The orb breaks into half so Chouchou and Mitsubashi become alerted that something may have happen to Kamakiri. They’re trying to reason maybe the orb just broke! But they have to face up to reality. Chouchou thinks he’ll go next and wants Mitsubashi to stay behind and watch. He feels Mitsubashi should be the one surviving among the Insect Squad since he’s the youngest. Chouchou continues that after this mission, he is going to marry since in their business there’s no telling when they’ll fall. That lucky woman is Oshidori of the Bird Squad and one of the 12 heads of Maniwa. Chouchou thinks of taking a smoke but remembers Oshidori dislikes smoking he gives the cigarette packet to Mitsubashi for safekeeping. They both take a piece of the orb each and note that Insect Squad will always be together.

Seems Nanami could sense Chouchou’s presence seeing that he is alive and erasing his existence is not possible. Nanami learns of Kamakiri’s name and Chouchou learns that she killed him. He is not going to let her know anything more if Kamakiri himself didn’t tell her. He tells her his priority is to take her hostage so that they would diminish Shichika’s fighting spirit. Chouchou gets ready into a fighting stance that the Kyotouryuu and Maniwa founder once fought together. However Nanami isn’t taking any stance. She gives off a creepy smile and says she has never taken a stance in her life because she’s a deviant of Kyotouryuu. To her stances are useless and from his stance, she can tell his next move. And if she would give her own ‘stance’ a name, it would be Zero Dance: Fig Tree. They both lunge towards each other but Chouchou’s Ashigari (literally means light feet) allows him to swiftly evade Nanami’s attack. He explains the basics of this move that allows him to ignore gravity no matter how heavy an object is. Chouchou brags his amazing technique but what amazes Nanami is the time he spent perfecting the technique that was probably being handed down by generations. She also mentions about Tsume Awase and somewhat feels jealous. She’s sure that they could never understand the feelings of one who doesn’t know what it feels like to make an effort. As Chouchou starts off with Ashigari, he is surprised Nanami catches up with Ashigari! Impossible! Then she stabs him with her Dandelion move, which is an exact replica of Tsume Awase! Lamenting how jealous she is that they are able to put effort into everything she reveals that her power is said to be exceptional and deviant. Mutsue tried to contain it as a father and swordsman and never thought her Kyotouryuu. So how did she master it? She was always watching them train. She has this ability to remember a move after seeing once and master it after the second time. Observing and seeing is her training. She thanks him for showing everything and finishes him off.

Mitsubashi wanted to come out and help but felt torn if he should. Then he sees Nanami coughing and takes this opportunity to throw a Makibishi Shidan bullet into her back. There is poison but it’s not lethal. Mitsubashi introduces himself and their goals to collect the Deviant Blades. But personally he wants to kill her but will not because that will be satisfying his own vengeance. He will avenge his comrades’ death by collecting the swords. Nanami notes how talkative he is seeing that anyone would do so if they feel they have an advantage. He sticks another bullet into her chest just as precaution. Then as he approaches her and is about to finish her with his sword, Nanami escapes using Ashigari and throws back one of the bullets into Mitsubashi’s arm! She reveals she was never in pain and was all an act and have mastered his move (she did warn him about shooting the bullet the second time). She took out the bullet with Tsume Awase. Mitsubashi notes that he can’t die with his own poison but she says she laced it with Kamakiri’s poison. Nanami adds that poison no matter how little or lethal is nothing to her as it’s an everyday experience for her. No matter how excruciating or painful, her body just wouldn’t choose death. Rather it won’t allow her to die. Her parents were just stumped each time they see her in pain or close to death. Taking out the other bullet from her back with the claw, she continues her envy for others who can feel pain. She takes the sword and gives him a choice of his death: By poison or the sword. Oh, this is the first time she has seen someone using a sword. Mitsubashi wants to die by the sword since he can’t face his comrades in the next life if he dies by poison. He also has a favour and wants his body buried with his comrades.

Elsewhere we see Shichika and Togame enjoying a feast of dangos and red bean soup over Shichika’s victory by the skin of his teeth over Sabi! WTF?! WHAT THE?! Where the hell was the much anticipated awesome fight we’re supposed to see?! The one where by a passing shark was cut into half like a hot knife through butter, the one whereby the rocks of the mountain were like cutting through snow, the one whereby the ocean split into half! Where was all that I saw in the previous episode’s preview?! And here I was so expecting it and instead of the usual sword hunt, we had one focused on Nanami. Don’t we feel cheated? Yeah, the island is somewhat decimated too. They are talking about the cool and impressive moves Sabi made in the close battle and Togame’s strategy that also played a pivotal point. They also discuss his masterpiece technique called Hakutou Kaigan only made possible with the combination of Hari. So the rumour that he can also slash the sun in half isn’t such a farfetched idea? Togame feels Shichika can be proud he faced Sabi and won and now has the title of Japan’s best. However Shichika is bothered with Sabi’s last words. Something about Kyotouryuu was left behind by Shikizaki himself, Kiki’s bloodline and Sabi even calling himself as an incomplete failed creation. Togame believes that it’ll all become clear as they continue their journey. They are amazed that they are able to obtain Hari without even scratching it a bit. With their boosted morale, Togame decides to get the next sword at Satsuma. It will be Yoroi which boasts unparalleled absolute defence and the owner is the captain of a pirate ship. Shichika notes that Sabi wasn’t as strong as Nanami. Nanami is seen praying at the buried bodies of the Maniwa ninjas. A narration that they danced like a butterfly, stung like a bee and consumed like a praying mantis but died like bugs. Nanami notes how all that boasting hardly made those moves ultimate and it has a huge weak point. She feels she should go tell Shichika before he ends up in trouble and wonders if she should join the sword hunt.

Episode 5 – Zokutou Yoroi
Back in Owari, Princess Hitei receives message of Shichika and Togame’s progress from her subordinate Emonzaemon Souda. She is not happy she is made to wait. She further learns ever since they’ve defeated Sabi (the title of Japan’s strongest was bestowed to him by her), lots of challengers popped up to fight Shichika for the title, thus the delay (nobody beats Shichika of course). However it’s not like they’re stopping here anytime soon and are on a role to find the next sword. It’s understandable since Shogun Kyuu couldn’t even find one. They talk about Shichika as the sword himself and has never even been scratched once in every battle. Hitei is excited to see how things develop.

In Satsuma, a sword match in Obon is underway and being watched by the crowd including Shichika and Togame. Hey, is it legal for a guy to be totally concealed in tough shiny armour? The armour guy, Kanara Azekura, the captain of the Yoroi Pirates taunts his challenger for his consecutive victories as fluke. But he is not fazed and charges. However his sword broke in half upon contact with his armour. The winner is clear and this is the man will be Shichika’s next opponent. Shichika thought he wasn’t using a sword but Togame says the armour is actually, Yoroi, the Deviant Blade that was modelled after a western armour. The duo then decide to find a place to stay. They relax in a mixed hotspring famed at healing wounds. Togame admits that she was pretty worried if Shichika would be able to protect himself but after winning every duel without a scratch, she is pretty convinced. I guess soaking here is meaningless for him, eh? By obtaining Hari, now they can take their time collecting the other Deviant Blades and perhaps in a ‘dirty’ manner too. Then she also admits because she had been betrayed before and had failed twice, she has her doubts if Shichika would be loyal to her and run away after obtaining the swords. However she is convinced he wouldn’t. He thought it was cruel of her to think that way because after all, he had fallen for her in the first place. In fact, he has fallen in love more and more each day. Well, it just doesn’t show. I mean, a naked couple soaking together in the hotspring. Nothing much exciting happening, eh? She has him stand up to check his body. Ahem, ahem. But I guess her comment about his big muscular body was just a cover for something ;). See Shichika looking puzzled? I guess that’s the sign there isn’t that kind of flame we’d expect to see in their love.

Back in the inn, they get down to business by discussing about Yoroi. Though hard to tell from a distance, the joints of the various armour parts are made of sharp blades. Its primary purpose is defence instead of offense. Since Shichika still isn’t allowed to damage the sword, Togame has come up with various ways to get Yoroi. First option, they can sink the person down to the bottom of the sea and pick up the armour after he dies. Second choice, they can use something hot to roast the person inside. Shichika is appalled at her devilish ways but if they’re going to use backhanded methods, wouldn’t it be easier just to attack him when he’s not wearing the armour? It would be but Azekura never takes off his armour. At least not in front of everybody. Also nothing Azekura’s bigger body size than Shichika, he’ll have to come up with his own way to fight him since Togame isn’t a strategist in martial arts. Togame has Shichika step on her body and head to massage those tired bones and muscles. Yeah, feeling good, isn’t she? Oh, those ambiguous moans. Hope she doesn’t turn into a masochist.

They are interrupted when Azekura wishes to see them outside. He knows their background and mission to collect the swords very well and knows they are here to collect his. But he isn’t going to just hand it to them. He says to hurt others, one must be prepared to hurt oneself. So if he steals from others, he also must have the resolve to be stolen from. The same goes for killing. Togame thought he got his men surround the inn but Azekura only came alone. It doesn’t help when Shichika is spacing out. Has he been hearing what they said all the while? Anyway Azekura isn’t going to just give Yoroi to her because that will mean showing obedience to the Shogunate. Pirates have always been anti-establishment and anti-government, right? He asks what she would do if she manages to tear the armour off him. She replies she would return to Owari first and by boat since it is near the port. He lets her know that if she was successful, she can’t be confident that his men will just let her escape the area easily (Azekura is well known in this part). Togame is impressed he already has his plan laid out. He then challenges Shichika to a duel. He will order his crew and people to stay out of their fight. Of course he has a few terms. If you thought acknowledging pirate activities was his wish, well, you’re far off. He wants her to make him look good as all fights will be held at Obon because he forbids private fights. Fighting there would just mean business and having a fight with Japan’s strongest swordless swordsman (oh, the oxymoron) will rile up the audience. It may be turning Shichika into a piece of attraction but it’s the price to pay to get Yoroi. Togame says that if they beat him, in addition to obtaining Yoroi, they’ll get a safe passage back to Owari. Azekura is surprised that Togame is asking for his reward should they lose. I mean, she is saying that they will not win too? She was pretty confident he would ask for their Deviant Blades but to her utter shock, he wants her to be his woman!!! Yeah, he doesn’t need the other swords as Yoroi is more than enough. Looks like he has fallen for her. Now is this what you call love at first sight. Not like what Togame told Shichika to. Togame is left to reflect on Azekura’s words because he did mention if she loses, she’ll still benefit as he’ll take over Shichika’s job and help her out from the bottom of his heart. Oh Shichika, don’t you feel jealous? Does he know what jealous means?

Next morning, Shichika tries his Red Blossom and Green Willows move on Togame. The impact bypasses her body to break her mirror behind her back. I guess this is his armour piercing technique but Togame is shocked to learn that he uses it with his instincts to land the hit. So it’s by luck! And he hasn’t thought that far if it will kill her! I think Shichika may just know the meaning of jealousy because he teases Togame by pulling her obi, tripping her feet and pulling her hair! That’s bullying! He thought it was just calling even for hitting him each time. Sure it’s not jealousy? Yeah, Togame didn’t even have time to finish explaining if she has accepted Azekura’s proposal (she had already decided during the talk then). Even if she does sound confident and bragging, Shichika ‘bullies’ her. Shichika thought of this idea that Togame secretly cooperates with Azekura and his pirates while they continue collecting swords. Togame notes it wouldn’t work since a pirate like him would like to monopolize his women. Plus, he may see Shichika as an obstacle though he has desires to fight him as Japan’s strongest. As for Azekura’s love, she thinks there may be a catch. He is after all a pirate. Shichika is confused because he thought she’d trust him if he were to help her out of love. Togame couldn’t answer and calls Shichika childish. As for making Azekura his replacement, it all depends on the match. If Shichika dies, he dies. If not, perhaps he could go back to live with Nanami. But that is not what Shichika wants but if she says so… Suddenly Togame Cheerio him on his feet because of his weak resolve and is this how deep is his attachment to her. They are interrupted when they receive a letter.

Not from Azekura, but Houou of Maniwa (of the Bird Squad and the leader of the Maniwa heads). Togame isn’t really trusting this guy since she had to bow her head in shame to many since she got betrayed (ironically she trusted his letter to come and meet and talk). Houou is willing to cut off an arm just for her to listen! And he did so to prove his point! As Houou learns the demise of Insect Squad isn’t of their doing, he notes the leaders of their group have been halved in the short span of 6 months. He proposes a temporary truce and avoid fighting each other for the swords (it’s a 3 way battle between the duo, Maniwa and sword owners). Togame isn’t bent on this plan because they’re after the same goal. Though it’s true but Houou says their method is different as they would be happy to obtain 2 or 3 swords. He proposes they will search in the opposite order of what she is following. Given the lack of info, Togame feels it’s worthwhile to leave Maniwa at large for a while. If they do succeed in getting them, all she needs to do is steal it. Plus if negotiations break down, Houou will fight her here and now. Something both of them can’t afford. Togame reveals the name of the next Deviant Blade she plans to search: Kanazuchi. If Maniwa searches in other places, it should be no problem. So the alliance, or rather temporary truce is formed. In return, Houou tells her the other places of the other Deviant Blades: Mutsu’s Mountain of Spirits (Shireizan), Tendou in Dewa and Lake Fuyou in Edo. Togame is stunned when she learns Hitei has begun to move. Houou doesn’t exactly know what it is but whatever, he suggests her to deal with it quickly. He signs off by correcting her that her Cheerio catchphrase is wrong. Togame got so embarrassed that she ran up and down the mountain, here and there (even in denial)!!! This is the longest tantrum she has ever put up! And she thought by being some intellect strategist means she’s a smart woman, eh? Well, nobody’s perfect. She even wants Shichika to confirm that she’s correct but he too had known all along she was wrong! Oh, the embarrassment, the disgrace. How many bystanders have seen her saying that? Probably lots of them. She gets concern about Azekura’s thoughts of seeing her use Cheerio on him (for the record, she said this word very often ever since in Saitama). Yeah, he may think she’s an idiot. She lets out her final frustration by giving Shichika a Cheerio punch in his gut. In Azekura’s lair, he thinks back when he was young and was playing with his sister onboard a ship. Pirates attacked and killed everyone. He was the only survivor because they wanted a chore boy and made to polish Yoroi. Five years down the road, the drunk pirates suggest he put on the armour. They never lived to see the next day because Azekura never forgot his sister’s murder and kills them all. Watching Togame brings back unpleasant memories of his sister.

Next day at Obon as both warriors prepare to face off. Azekura suggests he surrender so that he could leave this arena unharmed. Shichika remembers Togame’s order not to kill or permanently incapacitate him, making his duty difficult. As the match starts, Shichika quickly uses Red Blossom and Green Willows. However his move had no effect. After all, Yoroi is a defence armour, right? So any offense will not get through. Azekura makes his move and all Shichika could do is dodge. Shichika is contemplating if he should concede victory since Azekura is more skilled as a sword however was snapped out by furious Togame. She is upset she never gave him permission to do so but win. She gives him her piece of mind and as far as she is concerned, a man who can’t show his face to a woman he has fallen for is worthless. There’s no way she would trust such a man. And what fun would there be in travelling with a guy if she couldn’t get into a hotspring with? If a technique of Kyotouryuu didn’t work, he still has other skills, right? If he doesn’t have armour, he has got a body her forged like steel for 20 years. If he had really fallen for her, then he’ll protect her with brute force! That really nails it. Shichika gets his confidence back and moves to his Lily stance. He realizes he was careless to lose sight of his simple nature and thought too much lately (he was bad in this, remember?). It’s Shichika’s turn to taunt and challenge Azekura to steal Togame. But that won’t be so easy because Yoroi is made for defence. Azekura unleashes his ultimate move, Touzoku Kamome (Blade Gulls) and charges at him. The impact was so great that he is pushed out of the ring. But Shichika manages to stop his charge. Then he holds him up with his bare hand. As Togame notes, even without his clever moves, he is strong enough with that tempered body and was relying too much on Kyotouryuu. Shichika thanks him for making him realize that though he may be a single sword, he is also a single human. As he tosses Azekura in the air, he warns him not to touch his woman! That’s the way it should be. Azekura is knocked out and the winner is clear.

As Togame and Shichika depart, they are being told by a crew member how Togame resembles Azekura’s dead sister. If she was alive, she would be the same age as her. As for Azekura, he wasn’t heavily injured and is back up to normal (I guess there’s a first time for everything. The first Deviant Sword master Shichika didn’t kill). Though it will take some time for him to show himself in front of others after hiding behind his armour all this time. Shichika notices he didn’t come to see her off but Togame feels it is better this way so as not to give a rejected man false hopes. As for why Shichika knew her Cheerio was wrong, he heard it from his dad but since Togame was saying it so boldly, he thought he remembered it wrongly. Togame gives him a Cheerio punch and looks like she’s sticking with it. But little do they know, Azekura has set the direction of the boat to the cold lands of Ezo has revenge for his rejection.

Episode 6 – Soutou Kanazuchi
The complex geographical location of Ezo and harsh environment has made it unsuitable for living. Shichika carries Togame on his back as they trek up the snowy Mt Odori to see the Itezora clan. Togame’s hair is frozen and hard as ice! Yeah, she’s complaining that she’ll die in this cold! Shichika teases that as a strategist, her ‘schemes’ are just guesses since she has not much detail on this clan. So cold that Togame couldn’t pull off her Cheerio punch. Hitei discusses with Emonzaemon about Togame who probable knew that she is making a move and thus she went straight to Ezo. Hitei mentions Ezo is designated a disaster area not because of the mountain but rather its inhabitants who are also the owners of Kanazuchi. Togame feels that if she dies, she wants Shichika to carry on using her Cheerio catchphrase as his! Now way! Shichika couldn’t believe she’ll die. Besides, he can’t do anything without her. She disagrees as she has taught him everything she can. She reflects her meaningless life because being with him made her realize true happiness is to be a mother and bore and child. She’s talking about this kind of things? Suddenly Shichika collapses. His body feels weird. He can’t move. Looks like frostbite got his legs. He is going to sleep so Togame tries to slap him awake. They are saved by a little girl, Konayuki Itezora who carries them away in her arms with ease.

Meanwhile Houou meets up with the remaining heads of Maniwa: Oshidori, Umigame, Kawauso, Pengin and the shapeless (more like invisible) Kyouken. Houou reports his alliance and the demise of the other heads. Oshidori thinks they should search in other locations than those Houou mentioned but Pengin says the sword in Shireizan is no longer there as somebody came, laid waste to the place in half an hour and took the sword. Houou thinks Kyouken should make her move but she is no longer around. They think she is after Shichika and Togame so Houou and Kawauso go after her or else the alliance will fall apart. True enough, Kyouken is racing to Ezo to avenge her fallen comrades.

Togame and Shichika are recuperating in Konayuki’s cave. Shichika is impressed of her strength. She has to or else how would she survive in this harsh winter. Togame wants her to be their guide for her clan but she mentions Itezora clan has recently been wiped out by an avalanche and she’s the only survivor. As for Kanazuchi, Konayuki make it sound like she knows it but apparently she doesn’t. Well, she’s a child after all. She thinks the mayor’s eldest son might possess it because he is the only one with a sword. She offers to go get it for them since she knows the village like the back of her hand. Despite her loss, Konayuki seems so cheery like nothing happened. Shichika wonders if she’s being nice since she is lonely but Togame wonders why he recognizes the pain of others and if he could fight Konayuki when it comes down to it. He thinks it will be easy. Konayuki is seen crying at the avalanche grave. As Togame and Shichika huddle closely, she still pesters him about the wrong usage of her Cheerio. She then has him tell her other thinks that he know that she doesn’t. He surprises her with the information that he killed his father and knew that she is the daughter of the rebellion leader Hida (he got this bit from Koumori). Then she was about to say something embarrassing so she tries hiding it by pinching his cheeks. Then she gives him new orders never to reveal those facts to others except her. Shichika surprises her with another question of what she plans to do after getting all the Deviant Blades. What will she do with him. She couldn’t answer him not as an excuse but rather because she wants to concentrate on getting the swords. But it seems Shichika had fallen asleep! And that lengthy from-the-heart speech was for nothing? Well, he was pretending to be asleep.

Konayuki returns and rudely wakes the duo up by pushing them off the hammock! She shows them Kanazuchi but Togame is puzzled and doesn’t think this is it. However Konayuki is pretty sure it is since the documents she read from it ascertains the sword. Shichika wants to have a look at the sword so she tosses it to him. As it lands on the ground, it creates a large crater! Shichika find it hard to lift it but affirms this is the real Kanazuchi. Togame remembers that Kanazuchi is the heaviest Deviant Blade created and the strength of the Itezora clan only makes them able to wield it. Which means… See how Konayuki flings the sword around with ease!!! However she is modest with her strength because among her clan, she is the weakest and always comes up last! Oh dear. However she can’t just give it to them because the document said those who wish to take Kanazuchi must challenge it to a duel. So Shichika prepares to take on Konayuki in the snow. He tries hard not to injure her because they need her to carry it down the mountain. As Shichika pulls off his Kyotouryuu move after move, Konayuki is agile and cheery, like as though she’s having fun. Shichika evades her move in the air but she surprises him by changing the sword’s direction. Upon contact, Shichika’s bone breaks! Togame stops the fight and thus this is the first defeat Shichika experienced ever since their journey.

Kyouken has arrived on Ezo and can’t wait to make this the grave of a certain pair. Houou and Kawauso are also hurrying as they talk about Kyouken’s fickle behaviour. Houou mentions about Kyouken’s ability to jump into minds because a long time ago, an individual named Kyouken died. However that technique is only limited to females. Needing to prevent the worst case scenario whereby Kyouken dies and the alliance is ceased, Houou thinks Kawauso may need to die. He has no qualms because after all his life being a ninja, that’s the only thing he hasn’t experienced. WTF?!

Back in the cave, Konayuki apologizes to Shichika because she never thought he was this weak! Insult? To make it up, she goes out to hunt rabbits. Togame also feels guilty that this is her fault. She thinks he is having a grudge that since now he is a broken sword, she will consider him useless. However he is fine with it. He feels he lost because he underestimated Konayuki but is also unsure if he could win even if he was prepared. It’s her swift decision that saved him because he could’ve been killed if the fight continued. He laments he failed to protect himself but Togame continues to apologize that she miscalculated and doesn’t intend to consider this as his disloyalty. Though it’ll be a month before Shichika’s arm heals for their rematch, Togame thinks Konayuki has been lying about them being worthy. Her loneliness drove her to want to make them stay longer as company. Konayuki is at the grave and ‘talks’ to her clan and knows it is bad to lie and will apologize to them later. But she wants their company a little longer since she is lonely. Point to ponder: If Itezora was such strong people, how did a mere avalanche killed them all?

Shichika and Togame thought they heard a commotion outside the cave but to their surprise see Konayuki subduing Kyouken with Kanazuchi! Kyouken is still bent on carrying out her revenge but Togame points out she is no condition to kill her with that injury. Since Shichika points out that he too lost to Konayuki, Kyouken thanks her and touches Konayuki’s hand. This has Kyouken transfer her soul into Konayuki’s body as her original body turns into dust. Kyouken is happy to receive this strong body as she swings Kanazuchi around with ease. Togame understands how she has lived for so long and that she’ a resident mind. Shichika gets Togame permission to kill her. Seems Kyouken not only can take over minds but their memories as well. She sees devastating visions of Itezora clan’s wipe-out. She attacks Shichika and lets him know that in addition to taking over memories, she inherits them and is confident with 2000 bodies inside of her, she has many years of experience and skills compared to him. However Shichika feels something and decides to confirm something. Using his Plum move, he successfully lands a blow on her. It’s because her movements are now easy to read. Konayuki was tough because she was an amateur but Kyouken is an experienced assassin. As Kyouken approaches Togame, Togame orders Shichika to kill her brutally if she ever gets taken over. She lets Kyouken know her hostage strategy will be futile because her body strength is on par with a sliding paper door and could even lose to a rabbit! Woah! She confidently admits it. Kyouken readies to defeat Shichika with her Twin Dog Blade by holding the other tip of Kanazuchi. Togame understands why this sword is called a pair because there is no obvious top and one can use either end freely. Shichika lands several blows on Kyouken with his Falling Blossoms Scattered Leaves move to kill Kyouken. Shichika’s theory worked because he only attacked Kyouken’s tattoos and since it vanished, it means Kyouken is dead while Konayuki is still alive albeit unconscious. Togame notes this is the first time he made his own decision not to kill his opponent. Though Kyotouryuu is a single sword, he is also human. She thought of waking his human side and make him find his resolve as a human and not a sword or else he won’t be able to overcome obstacles. She thought she had done everything in the last 2 months was merely to dull his blade. After all, she doesn’t know how to handle this sword although she is his owner.

Houou and Kawauso appear before them and looks like their worst case scenario is confirmed. Not only Kyouken is dead but Togame’s trust in them has eroded as she has called off the truce. Houou explains they are here to stop Kyouken who moved on her own accord and would like to take responsibility this time. Kawauso offers to use his Record Tracer technique (something similar to Kyouken’s ability but only with inanimate objects), which is useful in gathering the swords. Since Togame still refuses to trust them, Houou has no choice but to slice off Kawauso’s head!!! A Maniwa head, losing his head. Haha! Togame is appalled by his actions as the head of the Maniwa but he mentions the group doesn’t need one because a ninja merely lives and dies. He hopes she will overlook this minor violation for their alliance since with only 4 heads left, they pose no threat to her. And if she still refuses, he will fight them now. Togame swiftly agrees and wants him to get out of her sight as soon as possible. Houou lets her now that Shireizan’s sword owner has changed owner and that she has to do deal with it quick and is heading towards Shikoku.

Konayuki manages to bring the sword down to the shore and load it on the boat. She apologizes for lying but the rest are okay with it. Konayuki promises to bring the sword to Owari and her new home will be at Sanzu shrine since her ancestors were originally from Izumo. Once more, Konayuki thanks them for playing with her because she really had fun. Shichika and Togame sails to Shikoku and Togame misheard Shichika had a change of heart and has a thing for little girls! Why should he turn into a lolicon when he has a beautiful lady like her (perasan!)?! What Shichika actually said was the feeling of regret. Though he defeated Kyouken, his lost to Konayuki still stands but Togame brushes it off as an amateur fluke and that loss doesn’t count. He shouldn’t worry about it. And as for the change of heart, Shichika says it is impossible because he is her sword. But if he insists of concluding her fight with Konayuki, at least do it after they’ve collected the Deviant Blades. Emonzaemon is on the same boat eavesdropping their conversation.

Episode 7 – Akutou Bita
Flashback sees how Nanami slaughtered all the guardians at Shireizan at Mutsu. She felt sorry for Bita being treated like a deity because it’s being placed in a little protected altar. Breaking the shrine with ease and taking the small and light Deviant Blade, she has this evil smirk to do something evil! Because she is unable to recognize humans, she sees them as weeds. And when a ‘weed’ touches her feet, she ‘tramples’ it to a bloody death! She thinks of waiting at some obvious place in hopes of meeting Shichika. While slashing her way through the holy monks (it’s like they just flew to her to die!) Nanami remembers the haunting words of her dead parents that she’s a failure in life and should have died. But Nanami isn’t bothered so much so she can even scare away the ghost of her parents! After all, they’re just her memories. Is it?

At the Seiryouin Gokenji Temple in Tosa, Shichika prepares to face off with Nanami! Seems Emonzaemon had led the duo here to face Nanami. He is staying to watch to witness up close to see what kind of sword she is carrying. Nanami wants Shichika to fight her seriously to the death since his stalling has got the ‘spectators’ bored and started chatting. Shichika doesn’t want to hurt her so Nanami thinks he has gotten soft. She wonders whose fault it was. The Deviant Blade owners or Togame. It would be easier if she handed over the sword, right? Well, she considers herself a sword and went through the trouble of obtaining a Deviant Blade because she thought he needed a reason to fight. So if he wants it, then fight her. She believes their father didn’t bring him up to prioritise his owner over his sister. No choice, Togame starts the match. As Shichika charges, Nanami evades every hit with no sweat. Then she tells him about her eyes which are able to absorb the skills of everyone. When Shichika unleashes his ultimate Hachiretsu move, he is thrown up to the ceiling. He wonders how she pulled this move off since her arms are thin and small. She reminds her about Konayuki’s brute strength. Togame realizes that she was the one responsible for destroying the Itezora clan (now their demise makes sense) and has obtained the strength of a full Itezora adult. Shichika is upset because of her destruction of the village (why on Earth would she do that?), Konayuki is all alone. She mocks him that as a sword, does he wish to choose who he cuts? She felt she has made a mistake to entrust Shichika to Togame. However Togame says it is up to her how she uses her sword. Nanami relates how she felt lots of enemies on her way here and has absorbed all their abilities. She also came here to tell him the weakness of his Hachiretsu. Because seeing he had become a coward, she changed her mind and is glad the opponents he faced are weak. She feels he isn’t worthy enough to fight her. Shichika dives at her but she uses a combination of Red Poppy and Daphne striking technique to pin him down. She mentions she could’ve killed him 272 times before he hit the ground. But he feels it is impossible to pull such insane move because of her weak and fragile body. Nanami strops her top kimono and shows them Bita embedded right in her chest! The embedded lightning-charged dagger forcibly heals her body’s weaknesses so she now has no blind spots or weaknesses. She goes away and tells him to come back once he has improved.

Flashback about a month ago. Togame and Shichika wanted to head back to Owari but decided to head to Shireizan to find the culprit. Upon landing at Tosa, they meet Emonzaemon who tells them the culprit is currently occupying Gokenji and she is Nanami (they showed a visual of her killing all the monks and the ‘big boss’ like a video game!). Emonzaemon also reported this to Hitei about Nanami’s slaughtering. She is surprised that Nanami could do that even without a Deviant Blade. This miscalculation involving Kyotouryuu doesn’t look good since Emonzaemon’s analysis had him conclude he is no match for her. But they can’t turn a blind eye since she has Bita. So she throws a question to him what would he do if he was forced to face her. He would stall for time to let Hitei escape. Meanwhile Houou also gets word about Nanami’s doing from Pengin’s info. Seeing they can’t risk anymore lost of heads (mind the pun), he hopes the strategist will take care of her.

Togame tries to talk to Nanami about handing over Bita without a fight but Nanami feels it is unfair to bear a grudge towards her because she entrusted Shichika to her. She never thought Togame would treat him so humanely. She feels back on the island he was a sharp sword but a rusty one now. Togame doesn’t like her saying horrible things about breaking him but on the contrary Nanami notes that Togame also have undertake lots of horrible killing in her journey. Looks like a fight is unavoidable. Togame goes back to give Shichika a Cheerio kick for lazing around for days! Actually he is depressed. Seriously. Viewing this as troublesome, she has him lie on her lap and re-educates him. The reason why he never told her that Nanami was stronger than her was because she wanted to be her sword. He was afraid she might choose Nanami instead of him. She chides him for the thousands of defeat she faced but unlike him she didn’t sit around and do nothing. In the end, she came out tops. Shichika still feels embarrassed about his loss to Nanami so Togame slaps him (without the Cheerio) but loses her footing. Still she doesn’t like his disgraceful depression and hesitation. She asks him if she would fight Nanami again. I guess the tears in her eyes settles it. With motivation, he confidently says he will. With that, Togame will lay out her plan and first they have to start by examining Hachiretsu’s weakness.

As observed by Togame, Hachiretsu isn’t really a hybrid of 7 techniques at once but rather a combination of one technique in succession after another. She points out the fourth technique, Ryuuroku Kako has a major flaw and cannot be used in the combo. She even acts it out to let him see how it fails badly! I thought she was doing a weird dance. Anyway that armour piercing technique may nullify an opponent’s defence but its movements needed to perform it makes it obvious to opponents and easy to defeat once they know. Nanami deliberately did a hybrid move to hint him and went soft on him. That’s why she probably let him go and expected him to improve before their rematch. As for her eyes, Togame also have a plan for that. Shichika thanks her at the end. Togame notes that it is up to him now to settle things but can’t help wonder why Nanami is taking a roundabout way and forcing her brother into a duel that he can’t win. She believes there is something amiss with her excuse of no reason to fight. Nanami looks up at the moon and wants Shichika to hurry in the rematch and kill her like how he did with their father.

Shichika trains hard to find a combination that works or at least minimizes the gaps in his techniques. As mentioned by Togame he can make 5040 possible combinations with all his 7 techniques! And if he uses Ryuuroku Kako first, he can reduce it to 720! Good luck trying out all. Togame talks to Nanami and the former tells her about Shichika wondering a sword needing to own a Sword. Nanami feels he has gotten over his depression since he can come up with such a cheek remark. She also tells her the reason why her father was exiled. In addition to avoid Kyotouryuu fighting against the Shogun, seems Mutsue was accused of killing his own wife. The real truth is shrouded in darkness. Since Nanami’s mom belonged to 1 of the 6 Sengoku feudal lord families, Tetsubi, Mutsue should’ve been executed but seeing he was a hero, he was let off leniently. So what is she trying to tell Togame? It’s alright for the Yasuri members to kill each other. Nanami looks forward to see Togame’s plan in work and is confident whatever her schemes, she will not get past her eyes. But Togame is also confident she can evade her eyes and beat her. But Togame says the rematch will not be in the dojo but in front of the Buddha statue.

Before the rematch starts, Shichika gives her a final chance to hand over Bita. Rejected! Then she thanks him for killing Mutsue but at the same time felt bitter because she wanted daddy to kill her since there is no point of her living. So he wants her to kill her for real. She wants Togame to start the match but she feels this is the last time they may get to speak to each other. Nanami thinks her strategy involves stalling for time. In Togame’s heart, she begins her countdown. Suddenly all the lights went out. So this pitch dark is how Shichika will avoid her eyes. Yeah, be amazed by Togame’s precision in making all 300 candles burn out at the same time! Shichika lands his improvised ultimate technique, Hachiretsu Kai right in Nanami’s chest. Togame lights up her lamp to see Nanami motionless on the floor. Shichika takes out Bita from her chest and tosses it to Togame. However Nanami is still alive. With her body back to her fragile state, looks like they need to call a doctor.

Nanami then gets up (she has a gaping hole in her chest! Like a Hollow!). She thinks she was naïve. She reveals Bita was just regulating her strength, dulling it by rejuvenating her life force. As for her eyes, it was just an excuse because she was trying to become weaker by using the strength of others and live a little longer. Now she wants Shichika to kill her. Togame tries to tell her there is no more meaning for them to fight but Nanami cuts off Togame’s hair! Wow. New short haircut look! So shock that she drops her lamp as the fire spreads through the temple. Shichika is super upset and can’t forgive her. Nanami uses this to mock him and increase his rage meter. As both siblings duke it out in an aerial battle faster than the naked eye could catch, Shichika in tears lands Hachiretsu Kai through her chest. Nanami narrates her body wasn’t able to withstand her full strength, that’s why she’s copying techniques to become weaker. She is glad that he killed her and praises him for a kill well done. As Nanami lies lifeless in Shichika’s arms, Togame reiterates Kyotouryuu isn’t a style that doesn’t use swords but rather a style that absolutely cannot use them.

In the aftermath, the duo talk about how Nanami wanted to be killed instead of some farfetched reason to drag Shichika involved or such. She was so powerful that her body wasn’t made to fight. So much a prodigy that her body was weak. Does this even make sense? Shichika feels she wanted to be killed by Mutsue and Togame notes she loved her father as much as he did. Taking a ship back to Owari, Shichika gets permission to touch her hair. He notes they both have no families now but she reminds him that they have each other. She gets embarrassed by his smirk and starts using her Cheerio.

Episode 8 – Bitou Kanzashi
Togame and Shichika arrive back in Owari. Shichika starts laughing at a flashy house like as though its owner is an obsessed attention seeker. Well, it’s Togame’s house actually. She’s not going to let that one pass… He is made to sit and watch the house (an excuse for him to get use to it) while she goes to the castle. As Shichika explores the rooms, he finds it empty. Then he practices outside the yard but is visited by Emonzaemon. He is here to get him because Hitei wanted to pass some info about the Deviant Blades. But it seems when Togame returns, Shichika gets an earful for accepting Emonzaemon’s invitation because if he didn’t come, she could’ve used it as an excuse to go home and not meet Hitei. As the duo meet Hitei, the princess starts laughing her heart out and teases Togame over her new haircut. Once that is done, both women confront each other head to head (literally) and start their b*tchy challenge of trampling each other while remaining invincible. Both refuse to give up. Both feeling confident. I’m sure Shichika must be confused seeing all that. However he is surprised to learn that it’s just a greeting! As they get down to business, Shichika wonders about Emonzaemon. Hitei points he is in the attic because his face makes her down and has him wear a mask. Anyway Hitei has information not on the Deviant Blades but rather Shikizaki. It seems there is a Shikizaki workshop at Lake Fuyou. It is said there is something called Biyorigou roaming the lake protecting something, most likely the workshop. As they leave, Togame notices a pair of weird guns at her place though Hitei dismisses it as decoration. Togame offers to throw it into Lake Fuyou but that wasn’t necessary. Shichika can’t help stare at Hitei on his way out and was yelled by Togame. Meanwhile the remaining Maniwa heads have a discussion and Umigame is to collect a Deviant Blade at Shinano though there is not much information on it.

Emonzaemon leads the duo to Lake Fuyou. Togame is in a dilemma whether to be carried by Shichika since her feet are sore and she can’t risk being seen. After much pestering, she agrees only to have Emonzaemon look back. She gets all red when he grins. I guess it’s back to walking, eh? So once they arrive, Emonzaemon leaves. Togame is glad now it’s the 2 of them but Shichika is slow to understand its meaning, infuriating her. Well, Lake Fuyou seems to be a giant dumpsite. Is this the ‘lake’? As they trek through the wasteland, they see a mechanical doll with multiple limbs, each with a sword. That is Biyorigou. As observed, if you want to live here, you better not make any movements or sound in front of this doll. See how the mouse stopped in its tracks when Biyorigou appear right before it? Though Togame doesn’t have time to settle with Biyorigou, finding Shikizaki’s workshop would help them a lot for the remaining swords. That’s mean they’ll have to defeat Biyorigou. But in order to come up with a plan to defeat it, she must know how it works. Shichika tries to sneak up behind but Biyorigou spots him and starts swinging its sword. Shichika manages to evade but he realizes that the doll itself is the Deviant Blade. That’s right, this is Kanzashi.

Umigame runs into Emonzaemon on his way. The latter knows about his search for a Deviant Blade at Shinano. Umigame is surprised he even know which sword was there (Juu). Was there. He warns if he gets any closer to it, he will learn its historical truth, something an underdog like him can’t handle. Anyway Emonzaemon is going to kill him now. Umigame tries to stall by giving excuses. When Emonzaemon is in a close range, Umigame unsheathes his western sword and breaks his Japanese sword upon a mere touch. Emonzaemon tosses away his swords and tells him he was once a former ninja. From Aioi Corps to be exact. However that clan has been destroyed 170 years ago by Maniwa. Emonzaemon uses his Aioi Kenpo called Hairouken to move so fast and appear behind Umigame, making him sweat in his pants. Then he uses Shinobazuhou Ikasazukorosazu move to kill Umigame. Later Pengin reports the death of Umigame and Houou feels this could only be the doing of Hitei’s subordinate.

Shichika and Togame are staying for the night at an inn. They talk about the different designs of the Deviant Blade and it’s like Shikizaki had too much freedom in designing them. Then Shichika asks about Hitei’s origins and why they don’t get along well. Well, she is just like Togame in the sense their origins are unknown and perhaps they just don’t like each other. Togame starts thinking that Shichika likes Hitei and pours water over his head. However he admits he is interested in Hitei because she is Togame’s enemy so it’s natural he must know her. I guess that reason is good enough. Meanwhile Emonzaemon reports to Hitei about his accomplishment. About Shichika’s sense of swords, Hitei wonders if that is true because he didn’t sense hers (the gun). She feels she wants to play around with him a little more since she’s bored. Back to Shichika and Togame, the former wonders if Hitei knows Biyorigou is a Deviant Blade. Togame suspects she does and didn’t tell them at first probably she thought it would be interesting to see her get torn apart without realizing it. But why is she helping her still? To steal all the credits at the end or waiting for her to fail. Togame also feels she is the same and gives out a creepy laughter. Anyhow, they need to concentrate on what’s at hand first.

Next day, cheeky Shichika moves around to ‘disrupt’ Togame’s note-taking task since she is using his body as a shield from the sun. Biyorigou passes by but Togame doesn’t want Shichika to fight it since their plan is to find the workshop first. Back at the inn, seems Togame has been sketching a map of the place. Shichika notices curvy lines within the map and tickles Togame for answers! This is actually Biyorigou’s path. Shichika thought Biyorigou walks randomly and stops from time to time to ‘sunbath’. Judging from it, she thinks the workshop is somewhere in the middle. So the plan is to dig a big hole in its path. As the duo wait, Biyorigou walks into the trap and starts falling in. However one of its legs quickly plants itself firmly inside the ground and propels itself over the hole. Plan failed. Oh, it stops to sunbath again. On the way back, Shichika is blabbing how his Kyotouryuu is meant to fight human opponents. So fighting dolls whose movements he can’t read is futile. It’s just like fighting with Konayuki. Togame takes it as a sign he plans to rely on her scheme again. But when he mentions her plan just failed, she turns a little crazy (including the laughter). She assures him that she will defeat anyone or anything in any situation with her schemes alone. He doesn’t need to worry and will educate him. She won’t let him sleep all night. Eh? Because tomorrow’s the showdown.

Next day, Shichika fights Biyorigou while Togame watches and places her trust in him. Shichika remembers Togame’s ‘tutoring’ last night that he is only allowed to use strike moves and not hit its head or chest to force it to defend itself and keeping it unharmed. Togame’s observation on the doll’s design outside also means that she has an idea of how it works on the inside. Yeah, very accurate. Because of that, Shichika is able to evade Biyorigou’s extra and hidden surprise swords (especially the one from the mouth). After all, in this way a doll is much more predictable than a human, right? So Shichika stayed up all night to memorize Biyorigou’s movements. Both sides pull off combo techniques and it feels like Shichika’s plants moves versus Biyorigou’s storm-like techniques. Shichika remembers how his dad told him that they are both swords. And swords must remain sharp all the time. Now he understands what it means. As a sword, he doesn’t need to have emotion, think or have any sense of justice. He felt he was like Biyorigou not long ago. Not doing anything except being commanded to hunt swords. That’s why he could kill without a second thought but as a sword without a will of his own, he wasn’t able to defeat Nanami. Biyorigou is just following the commands of Shikizaki he gave hundreds of years ago like he was. He was fighting like Biyorigou then and didn’t find it fun. Ironically, though Shichika couldn’t see Biyorigou as anything more than a sword, the doll sees him as a human. Biyorigou drops it swords and uses its legs like a helicopter propeller, causing huge wind (as predicted by Togame). It even targets Togame but Shichika was fast enough to carry her away in his arms. At the same time, Shichika also mentions he believes in Togame and that he obeyed her out of his own free will. Even if his body is broken, he will still protect her. Not because she ordered him but because he decided from the bottom of his heart as a human. He may be a sword but he also has a human soul. When it’s time to settle it, Biyorigou loses power since it has run out of fuel while Shichika kept it occupied. Shichika rushes to grab Biyorigou before it slams into the ground but to his surprise finds it very light. He thought he saw the doll shed a tear. But could it be the rain? Back at the inn as they pack Biyorigou, Togame deduces it recharges its ‘fuel’ via sunbathing. That is how it is able to go on operating for hundreds of years even after its creator’s demise. So the question was who would run out of energy win: Shichika or Biyorigou. Shichika thought it was fate that she was sure his body would outlast but she says that fate is something one decides oneself. That’s why she believed in him. Shichika somewhat feels sorry for the doll but Togame thinks he shouldn’t empathize with it since it is one of the Deviant Blades. But she feels she has no right to say that since Shichika is also a sword. Then she wants him to say that believe-in-you phrase again but he is rather reluctant.

Hitei receives Biyorigou as she mentions Kanzashi was modelled after a woman Shikizaki loved when he was young. She notes Togame and Shichika aren’t coming back to Owari since they are staying behind at the lake to look for more clues. She wonders if the workshop would have any information so Emonzaemon says that Houou told her about the location of a sword in Tendou and perhaps to ascertain that fact. Hitei want Emonzaemon to assassinate Houou. Meanwhile Shichika is made to dig to find the workshop. That’s lots of holes he’s dug… He finds a heavy chest but Togame doesn’t want him fooling around and continues his digging. He throws it away and it seems there are lots of gold in it. Oh, wasted chance… I guess this isn’t their fate, eh?

Episode 9 – Outou Nokogiri
In Dewa Tendou Shougi town, Togame beats Zanki Kiguchi (the 12th generation and head of the Shinou Issou School) in shogi so the latter must face Shichika in a duel for the Deviant Blade, Nokogiri. However Kiguchi chides Shichika for making an insult to fight a sword duel without a sword. No choice, Shichika picks up one but was blown away when the match starts. I guess he really can’t use any sword. Later Shichika apologizes for wasting Togame’s effort but as she explains, Nokogiri is the only one of the Deviant Blades without the Shikizaki poison. That’s why it’s king. Shichika gets a Cheerio in his gut when he praises the opponent he lost to (about her sharp aura and all). He asks if she has any plans she can come up with. She notes all her previous plans relied on his strength and it would be useless if he is now considered weak. About Kiguchi’s shogi skills, she would’ve been truly formidable if she didn’t devote herself to the path of the sword. Recently she had just become the head of her family and would probably be around Shichika’s age. The talk shifts to Shichika noting he knows Togame is younger than him but gets a Cheerio in his chin since she thought it made her look like a child. She teases him he may like her new hairstyle and teases him with it. Then Kiguchi enters to see them in an ambiguous position. She feels the earlier fight was not fair as she never knew Shichika was that weak (hey! That’s an insult!). She proposes he studies directly under her tutelage and face her in a rematch once he is strong enough. Meanwhile the remaining Maniwa heads are in a cave and before them is Mekki, brimming with evil aura. Houou attached his left arm with Kawauso and could feel the aura. It’s not that the sword was preserved or sealed thus keeping it from rusting, but because of the environment its ominous aura was kept from leaking out. Houou warns Oshidori never to draw this sword.

Shichika talks as though he is looking forward to train with a sword, something his dad or Nanami would never do. Togame feels irritated like as though he is complaining but with a smile on his face. Apparently she is jealous since another woman is involved. She notes her ordinary methods can’t work on Kiguchi seeing she is too uptight and honest (it shows the kind of woman Togame is, eh?). In a way it makes her inhuman and the reason why her dojo no longer has students. Besides, her name Zanki means “Slay your heart’s demon with your heart”. Next morning as Shichika makes his way to the dojo, Togame doesn’t want to tag along seeing she’ll be a burden. He goes off and Togame becomes pissed because he accepted her reason without a fight! Women. Can’t understand them. Shichika is made to clean the dojo and to use formalities. Later as Togame decides to visit the dojo thinking Shichika may be lonely on his first training. From her position, she sees Shichika and Kiguchi kissing each other! Kiguchi spots Togame running away but doesn’t know why. Actually, Kiguchi was trying to take a bug off Shichika’s head. Since she doesn’t preach killing, she lets it free. Togame is going crazy about what she saw though she is still in denial about this is not her business. Oh yes. It is very much her business. When proper sword training starts, we see Shichika sucks so much that he couldn’t even hold the sword properly (keeps slipping off his hands) and his stance… It looked bloody odd. I thought he had constipation… Worrywart Togame waits for Shichika’s return and when he does, she pretends to be asleep. Shichika mentions how he likes the training though Kiguchi’s method is strict. Now Togame’s jealous tone kicks in. She can’t help say about his turnaround for a person who hates and couldn’t use swords. Shichika mentions about Togame’s presence today but she denies and says he must’ve mistaken her for someone else.

Shichika continues his training. Each time Togame peeks, she sees them in a bloody ambiguous position! Going crazy by the second? One evening when Shichika returns and his usual praises about the Shinou Issou School. Togame seems down and lets him know about dinner. Seeing that she was waiting for him to return, he mentions he already had dinner with Kiguchi. Togame snaps and throws a tantrum that he got too close to that woman to even have dinner with her. I guess Shichika must have learnt how to deal with her by now. He says Kiguchi’s food was frugal that he didn’t feel full so he prepares to have a second round dinner with Togame. As they start, Togame brings up the topic of his training (she should have known better). Since he went on singing praises, she gets pissed off. See how rough she is eating? On another training day, Kiguchi tries to correct Shichika’s position but he trips and fell on her. As usual Togame saw everything the wrong way. I guess this is her limit because this time tears start flowing out from her eyes. On the 10th day, Shichika seems happy before going off to his training. Gloomy Togame notes he must be loving it but the actual fact he says there is no improvement! Togame ‘understood’ why he didn’t improve. To make things worse, he says going to the dojo is fun and despite how badly he is doing, moving his body feels great. Oh sh*t. I wonder if this is the most painful Cheerio he got.

Kiguchi feels there must be something wrong with her method since Shichika isn’t improving. Maybe it’s because he’s her first student. She dismisses the fact she is different from other Deviant Blade owners he met. She knows of Togame’s mission but still couldn’t let go of Nokogiri because it represents her dojo and identity. She reveals Nokogiri wasn’t in her school’s hands during Kyuu’s hunt and only came into their possession during the 8th head. Besides, the inheritance of her school is not by blood so the previous heads are not related to her. Because she’s an amateur and rejected the way of the sword while devoting her life to shogi, her behaviour has caused many fights between herself and the previous head. When her grandpa died, she had to leave behind her shogi life and inheriting a dojo with no students is the least thing she would want to do. But when she held Nokogiri, she felt something overwhelming through her body. It may be this sword that she may have become a more upright person. Even grandpa noted he felt reborn when he took up Nokogiri. Then mentioning about the love life, each time she looks at Shichika and Togame, she can’t stop that feeling which she threw away welling inside her. Shichika feels there is nothing wrong being a sword but what can swords accomplish at this age? She is certain this school will die along with her and that clinging on to this tradition since she’ll be the last generation may just be lingering affection. Shichika somewhat understands her feelings. He thinks her school is a way of life instead of death but she notes that she only wields that way of life only in name. Because even if Nokogiri is just a wooden sword, it can still smash your head, break bones, crush organs at the very impact. Only difference is that it cannot cut. In reality it deals death as much as any other.

Hitei is talking to herself. Pretty much badmouthing a certain unpleasant woman and no matter how many times Hitei is defeated, she’ll rise up to her current position and thinks all that strategist can do is just come up with schemes. Elsewhere, Houou is explaining how Mekki’s focus is on its poison and starts laughing at the irony of things. Togame has collected 8 of the Deviant Blades while Maniwa has whittled to a pathetic state and only securing 1 of the swords. He won’t say they are equal but will view Mekki as a bargaining tool. Houou hasn’t completely master Kawauso’s technique yet so he has not many details on the other swords. As they prepare to leave to Shinano where Umigame died, Emonzaemon is waiting outside for them but the Maniwa heads throw a smoke bomb as cover. However Oshidori stays back while the rest escapes. Emonzaemon feels unsatisfied with her as his opponent as he had come to assassinate Houou. He knew they were having Mekki beforehand and not because he overheard their conversation. She had a gut feeling that he was the one who killed Umigame. Oshidori starts attacking with her Eigouben (Infinite Whips), stealing his swords. Emonzaemon counters it Hairouken but is surprised it did not work against her. Oshidori is confident her whip works as an offence and defensive barrier and as she is about to strike him, Emonzaemon pulls out Juu and fires several shots into her. She lies dying in her final breath thinking about Chouchou as Emonzaemon notes how she did well in carrying out her duties and is more honourable than himself who has abandoned the ninja ways.

Happy Shichika returns with yet another satisfied look on his face, learning something new. Yeah, another Cheerio kick to his face. He isn’t happy of her constant attacks lately (he’s too dense to realize a woman’s feelings). She chides him for putting too much effort in the training and have no more pride as Kyotouryuu. Well it was her idea, right? Plus, he admits that he is getting along fine with Kiguchi. Well, they have lots in common. Both recently became heads of their forgotten schools. Togame couldn’t take this anymore (what’s with that “Kiiii!!!” phrase?!) so she turns into her devil self. Yes, she has already come up with a scheme. Reminding him about his first defeat to Konayuki, so what is her plan this time? He’s going to win by fluke! What?! After all that cool and potential talking, all she came out with is just a fluke? No wonder Shichika is shocked. Shichika would love to avoid using dirty tricks to fight Kiguchi but teary Togame is appalled that he may have fallen for her! It’s that tantrum mode again. She points out she knows about his ‘training’ at the dojo and can’t stand his erratic nature anymore. Shichika still couldn’t figure out what’s wrong with her since he’s been doing what she told him for the last 10 days. Then when he thinks that something bad might happen, Togame starts apologizing profusely that it may be her fault for sending him away training and thus drove him away from her. She got the wrong idea when he said their talk is already over. Now panicky as ever because she has lots of things she wants to talk to him, she returns to her normal self when Shichika mentions the talk was referring to her schemes. Seeing her schemes rely on the premise he is a complete amateur, he can’t be called so now since he trained directly under Kiguchi. She apologizes for her mistake and kisses him on the lips! She may have got the wrong idea again. Shocking! So shock that Shichika forgot everything.

Kiguchi is still against Shichika fighting against her since he is not up to her level but Togame manages to convince her that no matter the skill difference, once you take up the sword and face each other, you are all equals. Kiguchi agrees with a condition that if she wins, Togame must completely give up on Nokogiri. They start off with a best out of 9 shogi matches. Though Togame lost the 9th match, she still won overall 5-4. Before the sword match with Shichika starts, Shichika wants to give his thanks to Kiguchi. Lots of ambiguous lines here… He’s saying she thought him a lot and though a terrible student, he felt it was a good experience. Likewise Kiguchi has learnt more from the experience and though she has no qualifications to teach, she apologizes for not providing better results in the end. She wants him to slay his heart’s demon with his heart. It’s amazing Togame didn’t even flinch during all that. Anyway, Shichika is holding the sword the wrong way… Did he really learn? As the match starts, neither made the first move. Suddenly Togame starts saying shogi move co-ordinations.  This catches Kiguchi off-guard as she instinctively reply with her own shogi co-ordinations. She realizes she is being thrown off her concentration and the reason she lost the 9th game was so that she could make the first move. Noting Shichika doesn’t know how to play shogi (the reason he is ‘unaffected’), Kiguchi tries hard to stop thinking but can’t. Suddenly Shichika lands a blow on her head before pathetically tripping (including a pathetic scream). And thus Shichika won the match in an undramatic and anti-climatic fashion.

Shichika later understood Togame’s psychological warfare tactic, something he feels he is weak at. But she tells him to keep his focus on battles which is his domain of experience. But even if Togame intervened during the match, shouldn’t it be foul play considering Kiguchi’s strict nature? Of course it is but the one who was foul was the referee, right? Besides, in this holy town of shogi, nobody would call a foul on the game. Shichika remembers Togame’s incredible move in the shogi rematch in which she won in just 42 moves. Likewise when Kiguchi battled him using his proper Kyotouryuu, he instantly defeated her barely only using Hyakka Ryouran. She apologized for her rudeness in treating someone with his skills as an amateur. Though she feels it’s like a curse for someone to become weak after wielding a sword, she hands over Nokogiri since she is no longer qualified to hold the sword. On the contrary, she also has obtained enough strength from it. She hopes they will visit again and fight. Till then, she will watch over this school’s legacy. She signs off with a lame pun about legacy and herself as a poster girl (“Kanban” = legacy; “Kanban Musume” = poster girl). Hahaha… And what’s with that cutesy smile we never expect to see on that serious face???!!! It’s like she just came from a maid café… Shichika and Togame discuss about Maniwa and won’t be surprise if they have gotten hold of a Deviant Blade now, though she is still not impressed with them. She then ponders why Kyuu wasn’t able to obtain Nokogiri seeing it is a sword without poison and only used as training. The sword hunt’s official purpose was to build the Sword Buddha but its hidden purpose was to eliminate all swordsmen and collect all the Deviant Blades. Was there another deeper and hidden meaning to his failure? Togame feels he shouldn’t be bothered by this and forget about this. But how can he forget something he heard just like that? Well, she ‘threatens’ that she has a way to make him really forget. Oh, look at those luscious lips… Shichika’s face turns red like a tomato!

I guess this is the most comical episode ever, the episode with the most tantrums thrown by Togame, the most envy displayed by her and the ‘steamiest’ one. Yeah, a little fanservice positions and the kiss… Oh, now I understand about the concept of slaying demons in your heart. Once you get rid of the evil intent inside, you won’t kill or hurt. That is the main principle the school stands by. Maybe that’s why she has zero students. Yeah, everybody these days are bloodthirsty.

Episode 10 – Seitou Hakari
While digging, Togame remembers the horrifying day when her father was killed by Mutsue. So shocked that Shichika may have thought she just died. This strange occurrence started 3 days ago when they arrived at Hyakkeijou in Oushuu, Togame’s hometown that she has not returned since she left. This was the place all Hida’s followers were executed though it is a barren and empty land void of any life. Togame could still feel the effects of her trauma. Shichika thinks they should head to the nearest town to find Hakari’s owner, a holy man named Rinne Higaki. But she notes Rinne is here but just hidden from them. Suddenly a spunky little girl appears before them and claims she is Rinne. Soon she turns into Hida (but the form now is like a mirage projection). She knows Togame is here for Hakari and agrees to give it to her. Only thing is, it is buried 30 metres beneath where she is standing and she must do the task all by herself. Then she disappears. Ever since, she has her traumatic visions. Though gloomy and weakened, she still picks herself up to dig. Shichika thinks she should rest and couldn’t watch her being like that. It’s like as though she isn’t the sly schemer he knew and is being cornered. She tells him off not to watch then.

After she leaves, Shichika is suddenly transported to a jungle-like area and confronts Rinne (in girl form). He wants to know why he buried the sword. She felt it was a hassle and plain rude to throw it away since she got it from her friend. Shikizaki himself. So how old is she? 350 years?! Shichika has this feeling he has seen her before so she tells him it’s because of how he’s seeing her. It’s the projection of his memory. People look past her own existence and see a perception of their own memories. Even with her around, they don’t exist. That is what a holy man means. She continues by giving a fairytale example of the magic mirror in Snow White, the mirror that always named the most beautiful person other than the evil queen herself. Shichika doesn’t believe since mirrors don’t talk! But the point is, it’s not the mirror’s answering but rather the queen’s true feelings responding to her vanity. In short, a holy man doesn’t do and can’t do anything. So it’s humans who actually carry out the task. Then she transforms into all the female Deviant Blade owners Shichika has met. Three of them whom he has lost to at first. She knows he is feeling regret and guilt. Looking at his own memories is recognizing the parts he doesn’t want to face. People change their memories to suit what they’re most comfortable with. However when you face the holy man, you have to face your darkest memories, like it or not.

Meanwhile Houou and Pengin are making their way to Oushuu. Pengin wonders who Emonzaemon is and if Houou knows him since he sounded he knows him from long ago. Though Houou knows he serves Hitei, he can’t be that person since he died a long time ago. Plus, he was a respected and a ninja with pride. Of course there aren’t many ninjas that hold such pride today, including them. If they manage to negotiate and get all Deviant Blades from Togame, he thinks of retiring from active duty to bear responsible for losing 10 of the Maniwa heads. He will leave it to the next generation to lead and he indicates Pengin because well, there won’t be anyone left after Houou is gone. They make their haste so as not for Emonzaemon to catch up and attack them.

As Shichika watches Togame dig, Rinne pays the bored guy a visit. He suddenly changes into Kiguchi. He is taken back to the time whereby it is a day after he won Nokogiri. Shichika and Kiguchi fought a hand to hand combat and Shichika thought he had her cornered with his Bellflower move. But she surprised him with a few moves of her own and broke out of his grasp. The only thing was she was at her limit and admitted her lost. Then they talk about their different school concept which probably made Kyotouryuu weaker if wielded a sword, therefore in her eyes it was like a curse. Suddenly the scene changes to Nanami. She is saying she is a sword and this is what happens when a sword tries to use a sword. Shichika is overcome with fear till she disappears. Back in reality, he understood the curse of Kyotouryuu being a sword that couldn’t use a sword. Then he asks about Rinne’s arrogant personality seeing that she comes from his perception and memories. Well, it’s Togame’s since they both saw her at the same time. He wonders if Togame also had something she is weak at so Rinne replies everyone has something difficult to deal with or they don’t want to remember. Later as he massages Togame’s aching muscles, that personality stems from her dad (which includes forcing her to do manual labour). Before he died, he said something important to her which she is surprised she had forgotten. Then they huddle close together.

Hitei is discussing with Emonzaemon that Togame must be in Oushuu by now. She also notes his failure in assassinating Houou. He mentions if Togame gets Hakari, the final stage for all Shikizaki’s Deviant Blades to be assembled. However Hitei doesn’t want him to make it sound like she is a descendent of Shikizaki or kept track of each sword and stayed a step ahead of that unpleasant woman to collect them. Which of course she isn’t (at least to her). She orders Emonzaemon to look into the relationship of Shichika and Togame in relation to Hyakkeijou because when they were here 10 days ago and being told about Hakari’s location and owner, they seemingly acted strange.

Shichika tells Togame what he learnt from Rinne and also his advice to her of facing the part she’s avoiding or else she’ll never remember. Shichika feels he has to fight Rinne though he couldn’t find a reason. She allows him (it’d be good experience to go head on with a holy man…) and if he ever finds that reason, do tell her. Shichika soon faces off with Rinne who is letting him know that she is weak, like as though it’s an excuse to lose. But on the contrary it’s a fact that he can’t win against anyone weaker than him. So as they start the fight, Rinne is able to avoid all his moves with grace and ease. Shichika realizes she isn’t fighting and has no intention of doing so. As Togame digs, she remembers her dad telling her he has failed. Mentioning history is about proof that humans lived to their fullest and should look the way it should be. However he spent too much time correcting those errors and now his role is over. Then he hid her in a room and believes she will not die according to the history he imagined. According to the samurai code, he should have killed her but couldn’t do it. Then Mutsue enters and gives him his death sentence.

Rinne analyzes their fighting strength and that Shichika’s ranks much higher than hers. But his strength is split into offense and defence and if she concentrates all her strength into defence, his attacks will not penetrate. Then she tells Hakari’s focus is an absolute defence and is the truest Deviant Blade. Shichika didn’t like her making him remember memories he’d rather avoid. She says it’s fun harassing people (?!). She continues that Togame said this fight would be good experience for him but she thinks getting any would be futile and he will only end up being unhappy. He may be fighting for close to a year but hasn’t learnt anything. Togame too takes fighting too far. It’s like the concept of life itself is a fight for her. Though Shichika said he fell for her, it doesn’t seem like feelings of love to Rinne’s point of view. It’s more like he sympathized with her. She may not know Togame’s real objective but she feels she is not something worth sacrificing for. Seeing Shichika had killed several people and robbing them from their greatest purpose – life itself (OMG! She said that line “People die when they are killed”. Duh…), from her perspective they both lack resolve. Hakari means ‘scales’ and he needs to consider what he’s doing and how it relates to everything around him. She wants him to tell this to Togame, speaking of which she is taking a break in the hole. Get it? Shichika rushes to Togame but along the way he sees visions of Konayuki when she first broke his arm and Meisai who questioned his purpose to fight. Shichika realizes that he fights for Togame. Screw love or anything else. If it weren’t for her, he wouldn’t be fighting at all. Shichika finds Togame collapsed in the hole but she regains consciousness albeit weak. She asks about his fight with Rinne, which isn’t really much of a fight since she was just running away. He thinks he couldn’t win since his opponent abandoned the fight seeing a fight is an agreement between 2 parties. However she feels there is a big flaw in that strategy and has a scheme to take advantage and defeat her. Suddenly it hit her. She continues digging and finds Hakari, a hilt. Picking it up, Togame sees a vision of her father who then hugs her. She remembers his final words: “I love you”. This brings tears to her eyes.

Rinne congratulates them for finding Hakari faster than she had thought. She wonders if she had kept an offensive mindset while digging, would she have thought that hilt was Hakari. Togame replies Hakari is a sword upon which you weigh yourself, a sword that doesn’t cut people but cuts oneself, test oneself and knows oneself. That’s why it is bladeless and thus swordless. Besides, Japanese swords aren’t preserved by being buried but there is no problem if it is bladeless. Rinne asks about ‘that man’ so Togame reveals it to be her father though she won’t say his name. Wondering if she’s hostile to him, Togame says it’s the opposite and lives for him. As for Shichika not having another go at Rinne, if he had used all his combat strength on defence, Rinne wouldn’t even have to fight. So basically by abandoning offense, even without winning the result will be effectively victory. Togame has always thought that the essence of a sword is in its blade, to cut and doesn’t break easily. But without a blade, you don’t even need a sheath to protect it. If you hold it with resolve, all you need are its hilt and guard to be able to face yourself. So I guess all those painful memories is part of the process of learning themselves more and dealing with their inner demons, eh?

As reward for figuring this out, Togame asks about Shikizaki. Rinne’s reply is that he is somewhat of a denying guy. He somewhat saw the profoundness of himself in Rinne and eventually denied what he didn’t want to face and left. Not before giving Hakari to him. Rinne didn’t want to be poisoned and buried it instantly. Yeah, it was buried a long time ago. As the ages past, a castle was built on it, burnt down and the land turned into an execution ground. Togame realized since Hida Castle was built on Hakari, that’s how her father saw the distortion of history and to correct it, went against the Owari Shogunate and made the ultimate sacrifice, even putting all his friends and family on the line for the sake of history. Rinne lets Togame know something she hasn’t realized all this while. After Shikizaki crafted the 12 Deviant Blades, he went on to forge his final and ultimate completed Deviant Blade called Kyotou Yasuri. Rinne points to Shichika as a Deviant Blade. Not him exactly, but Kyotouryuu itself is a Deviant Blade. They remember and understand now what Sabi told them. But they misheard the part about bloodline, which should be swordline (both pronounced as “kettou”). Togame also realizes that Shikizaki and Kyotouryuu’s founder are from the same generation and there is a possibility they are connected. She also understands Rinne’s strategy of forcing a match into a draw by neither winning or losing for the sake of her objective. But that’s not quite right. Rinne mentions the need to throw away objectives for the sake of your true objective. However Togame can throw everything away except her objective. Noting the stubborn type she is, she could probably live the way she is by forcing her way through. Rinne has her say her father’s last words. As Shichika and Togame walk away, Rinne and the jungle area disappear, returning the land back into a barren space.

Shichika doesn’t feel very much like a Deviant Blade so Togame reminds him that it is Kyotouryuu which is the completed Deviant Blade. This means everybody in his family and generation are one. She starts acting on the lookout because she has that feeling that holy man will appear anything and anywhere, somebody she doesn’t want to meet ever again. Seems their journey has taken them back to Dewa so Shichika thinks of passing through this shogi town again. Togame’s jealousy streak is kicking up again (yeah, we haven’t seen that in this episode) and feels he wants to see Kiguchi. Needing to head back to Owari quick, they can’t pass through here. Shichika then tells her his reason for his fight with Rinne: He is fighting for her sake. This made her embarrassed at first but soon jumps straight to him and wanted to kiss him! However he avoids the last bit because he saw someone lying on the ground. It is Pengin and there is a deep sword cut over his body. He is barely breathing and pleads to them to save Houou.

Episode 11 – Dokutou Mekki
Hundreds of years ago, Shikizaki is watching the eventual founder of Kyotouryuu, Kazune Yasuri practising his sword skills. But he mocks him that he has no talent, his form and lack of intent to kill among others. Shikizaki mentions about his path from perfection to completion. Though Kazune may be an amateur and practising hard, at the rate he is going the war is going to end. However Kazune couldn’t care less about the world and is only interested in honing his skills. Shikizaki admires that in him and also mentions he too has no interest in the world affairs and that he is fighting for history. Introducing himself as a swordsmith and have to fight for results, even though the closer he gets, it still isn’t enough and thinks it’s the problem with the raw materials. So what does he have to do with all this? He is going to take all of Kazune’s passionate effort and make it blossom into flowers. Whether or not the roots will grow will be entirely up to him.

Togame and Shichika are taking a break with the former reflecting their incredible feat of collecting 10 Deviant Blades within 10 months. She thinks it’s due to her strategies and superior intellect! Perasan! Shichika even has a comeback line to say that she actually took them by force. Well, figuring out how to use her sword is part of her strategies so as long as he stays as her sword, everything will be fine. She allows him to play with her hair but he says there’s nothing much to play… Meanwhile Hitei has come to know of Togame’s real identity and she’s not too amused. But whether she knows her or not, Hitei notes she hates her from the bottom of her heart and intends to crush her anyway.

At Oushuu in Dewa, Houou and Pengin come into Emonzaemon. The latter is going to kill them and the way he talks makes Houou feel like as though they knew each other from a long time. Houou is unfazed with his threats and refused to believe he was that person and have changed. Handing Mekki to Pengin, Houou and Emonzaemon trade blows using their pure skill and discipline of the body instead of specialized weapons. Pengin shouts for Houou to use a special move but Emonzaemon also knows that move. Only difference he calls it by another name. Praising Houou as an excellent ninja, even if he is the only Maniwa survivor, he still views their group as a threat and can’t lose to him. That’s because he is him. Admitting he died once but it was mentally rather than physically. His current master denied him that death so he serves her loyally and follows all her orders. Houou replies over Emonzaemon’s remark that he is him. If that is so, he may not beat him but also will not lose to him. A draw? On par? Pengin seeing Houou in trouble tosses Mekki to him. But that proves to be a big mistake because once Houou grabs it, the evil aura of the sword possesses him as he becomes violent enough to slash Emonzaemon. Then he turns to Pengin and slashes him like a crazy blood thirsty killer. So that is how Shichika and Togame found Pengin lying on the ground. The duo change their plans and nurse him at a nearby inn. They hear everything how Houou has gone crazy and is on his way to Iga. Seeing Mekki is in his possession, they need to track him fast and this saves her time to come up with tricky negotiation schemes. But Shichika still doesn’t trust that guy and thinks it’s a trap. Togame explains Pengin’s ninpou and respect is the most feared after Houou in Maniwa. But Shichika still thinks they need to deal with Pengin seeing he is the enemy. Even so, Togame doesn’t like mindless killing and would prefer him to stay alive and consider this as a debt for Maniwa. Something that they could use once the sword hunt is over.

The duo are preparing to head to the New Maniwa village probably in Iga since this is where the Shogunate originally kept its secret service headquarters. Noting the places they’ve visited during the sword hunt, it seems they have almost covered entire Japan! Togame suggests revisiting certain areas so that she could make a living drawing and selling maps! Yeah, she is pretty confident with her drawing skills. But Shichika reminds her they still need to find the last blade. She has a pretty good idea of its location and owner: Hitei. She concludes that Hitei has been proactive about this sword collection and it wouldn’t be strange if she kept one for herself. Plus, with Emonzaemon going around killing Maniwa members, it is logical to assume she holds Juu. The reason she never told them was if she kept a Deviant Blade in reserve, she still has a hand in negotiating with them. Besides, she too may want to take the credit and above all, destroy Togame. Either way, if Hitei is their final opponent, it will be business as usual for Togame. She wonders if Shichika would continue to stay by her side once the hunt is over, seeing she had no right hand man or confidante for a long period unlike Hitei. All those she met were just obstacles and that’s why she trusted no one, destroyed all personal relations she made. She still needs his power despite Maniwa and Sabi gone. The sword hunt may be out but her own fight isn’t. She feels at peace whenever she’s with him and wants him to be her trusted partner. But he cautions his father killed hers. She couldn’t mind because that grudge died when Mutsue was killed, all the more by the hands of his own son. So she has no grudge against Shichika whatsoever. Since Shichika has nowhere to return and Nanami dead, he sees no reason not to unless she doesn’t want him anymore. Besides, he fell for her, remember?

Pengin wakes up from a nightmare while chasing Houou who proclaims himself as Shikizaki. He is surprised to see himself alive and in good condition because from what he heard from Koumori, Togame is rotten to the core and expected at least broken legs so he will not run. Maybe it’s her sword that changed her? Or did he just hear it wrongly from that bias guy? As he is about to leave, Emonzaemon comes into the room. Nevertheless he is going to finish Pengin with Juu straightaway seeing the ninpou he has. However all the shots he fired missed. Is he such a bad shot? Actually Pengin’s ninpou, Unmei Kuzushi (Fate Ruin) makes the bullet dodge themselves. Some may call it luck. No matter how strong the projectiles, it won’t hit him. So to say he’s not invincible if it won’t be a projectile? However Pengin has other skills too and throws a gradually accelerating bouncing ball called Juukyuu. Eventually he can’t dodge it forever and will get hit. Emonzaemon questions if the world will continue to love him hundreds of years in the future like now. Then he fires random shots and one of them hit Juukyuu and explodes, injuring Pengin. I’m not sure what he meant that if the love fate had for Pengin lasted forever, the bullets would have rebounded towards Emonzaemon instead. He concludes his luck did not last hundreds of years into the future at all. Allowing Pengin to have his final words, he begs for his life but he finds it pathetic and fires the gun in his mouth!!! Very heartless shooting a kid. But can you say that when he firmly views him and his ninja as enemies instead of a child that many would easily feel pity for?

Several days later, Togame and Shichika arrive at Iga but see the place decimated and everyone dead. Then they spot Houou and talk in a way that Mekki is fake. Though they didn’t believe this is Shikizaki possessing Houou’s body at first, they soon realize this is true because Houou never jokes. Shikizaki mentions his ability to move from one place to another and finally managed to get a convenient body. Togame thinks Mekki’s focus is like a preserved records of his memories but Shikizaki says it’s like a dose of deadly poison. Noting Houou’s ability to steal parts from various people (this includes their behaviour as well) and use it to lengthen his lifespan, it wouldn’t be a surprise that he got taken over in the end. It’s like he brought it upon himself. Togame could see through Shikizaki’s plan of calling them here. She knows he left Pengin on the ground as his messenger. It was all part of his foresight. You see, Shikizaki is a soothsayer and so is his entire family. Yeah, Shichika thought he just got lucky with that prediction. If you find that hard to believe, then think about this. How in the world was he able to create the Deviant Blades? Yup. He borrowed production techniques he learnt by looking into the future via reverse importing. So while the blades may seem to defy the law of physics, it is so because of the era they are in and that they are just regular Japanese swords exploiting the physics and psychology. So why does a family of soothsayers create those swords instead of giving the best hints about the future as they should? To alter history. Or as he puts it in a better term: To falsify. Well, they wanted to overthrow the original Shogunate in the original history. He adds that the Itezora clan, Maniwa and even Togame never existed in the original history. She realizes her father gave his life for the sake of restoring history Shikizaki altered back to its original state. So what about Kyotouryuu? Well, he’s different. It is a sword he created. The completed Deviant Blade, Kyotou Yasuri as mentioned by Rinne. Kazune, whom Shikizaki considers as his closest friend and someone obsessed with swords rather than the world, didn’t reach his completed state but the foundations he laid weren’t wasted. Now Shichika has succeeded in producing the sword that he is. So thanks to Kazune, forging of the Deviant Blades is now completed. So yeah, Shikizaki is like Shichika’s father, eh? Togame mentions of never expecting to meet the creator at the end. She has met so many people on her journey and even a holy man, she was expecting to meet a ghost! Noting the boring developments it has become, she won’t even mention his name in her reports. Isn’t that falsifying history too? Shikizaki gets into a stance which he came up for 150 years and cannot be dodged. Since negotiations have failed, Togame orders Shichika to attack and plunder! As the fight starts, Shikizaki doesn’t want his ultimate blade to disappoint him. Shikizaki seems to be perfectly dodging every move and though he pulls off his ultimate technique, in the end Shichika manages to dodge it all in mid-air and uses his Hachiretsu Kai right in his gut killing him. That’s it? Shikizaki notes that move isn’t bad and dies smiling. The effects of the evil blade wear off.

As the duo walk off, they wonder if it was really Shikizaki back then or just Houou gone insane. Shichika notes Pengin as the last one left but Togame thinks he’s dead by now seeing the Shogunate has branded Maniwa as traitors and with Emonzaemon on the job, I guess their fate is sealed and Togame can’t do anything to oppose it. Does she sound like she’s sympathizing with them? Well, after watching the carnage of their village, she can’t say she didn’t feel for them. Not just them but everyone they’ve met on their travels. She came to realize how narrow-sighted she was and knew nothing. Shichika’s reply? “This isn’t like you…”. The duo are just several steps away from returning to Owari. Togame wants Shichika to hold her hands before they walk down the steps. She notes how their journey in the past year changed them and it made her experience several firsts. Suddenly Emonzaemon pops up and looks like they have to forgo walking down hand in hand. Togame realizes Hitei has made her first move and predicted they will be passing here. Emonzaemon congratulates her for being a step closer to her ambition but she doesn’t recall having one. Then he notes it may be revenge then seeing she is the former Lord of Oushuu’s daughter and her real name is Princess Yousha. He pulls out Juu and fires a couple of bullets into Togame. Oh sh*t!!! This can’t be!!! Shocked Shichika starts to snap. Wow. Have we seen him with this rage before?

Episode 12 – Entou Juu
Emonzaemon explains because Togame is the daughter of the rebellion leader Hida, he has to complete his job. He also blames Shichika for the battle between Hitei and Togame to end this way. Seeing he has no more reason to fight Shichika, Emonzaemon says he purposely missed Togame’s vital organs so Shichika could hear her last words. Holding a weakened Togame in her arms, an emotionally charged Shichika starts asking her questions that she coolly has answers for. He couldn’t care less about the swords but she realizes how Juu works because she is feeling her inner organs churning up. She is trying to come up with counter strategies but her head is blank. In short, they lost. She wants Shichika to go spread her “Cheerio” around the country (is she joking at a time like this?!). This is as far she can go but Shichika won’t accept this because without her, he can’t do anything. Togame starts recounting her lonely 20 years but in the single year with him, he thought her a lot. She realized, discovered, understood, laughed, smiled, had fun and was so happy with so many things that she lost count. But in the end, she couldn’t change and this is a fitting way to die. Shichika can’t accept all this and reminds her about their plan to travel the country and draw a map. She replies it was all a lie. After the sword hunt, she planned to kill him. Everything was just a tool for her schemes, even her heart. The part that trusted him was just another pawn to her. So what are feelings to her, the feelings he gained for the past year? They’re all pawns. Shichika would’ve killed himself even if she told him to but she says even if words were lies, feelings weren’t. In the end she was the one who got hurt the most. If that weren’t the case, she wouldn’t have schemed. The point of her life, her doing? Even so, she is happy to die in the middle of the road because this way she doesn’t have to kill him and can finally lay down all her burdens. Her final order is to forget everything about her and what has happened and live as he wishes. The contract ends in her death and can stop falling for her. That’s not possible because Shichika really loves being with her. So what is he supposed to do now? She may be selfish and egocentric, thinking nothing but revenge with death only a cure for her stupidity and using him as a tool. But even so, would he mind if she fell for him? Those were Togame’s last words.

Hitei is having an audience with Yanari and is claiming the credit for obtaining all the 12 Deviant Blades. She thought she requested for a private audience but Yanari says they are his trusted subjects and have worked under the Shogun for generations so they are like part of his body. Hitei thinks for him to say this kind of thing, he must be of low calibre. Yanari allows Hitei to speak so she mentions that she is a descendant of Shikizaki. He wants to see evidence so she replies it is foolish to simply rely on physical evidence while making a decision. Letting her continue, she reveals her ancestors as soothsayers rather than swordsmiths to falsify history for the sake of Japan. That’s why the Deviant Blades were forged. Asking if Yanari had ever turned his attention to other countries, she reveals that hundreds of years in the future, Japan will be attacked by foreign nations and perish. This was predicted by the family’s founder several thousand years ago. Their conversation is interrupted when Emonzaemon reports Shichika intruding the castle. Yanari doesn’t think to highly of an insignificant intruder but Hitei knows it’s the end for both of them. Shichika is not to be taken lightly because he was the one who collected 11 of the 12 Deviant Blades so even if there over 1000 guards in this castle, nothing will be able to stop him accept his master, the strategist. Unfortunately as Hitei puts it, she died while collecting the swords. So it’s like he’s going berserk after losing his master. But this may be a blessing and a curse for them because he is necessary to ensure the success of their goals seeing Kyotouryuu, the completed Deviant Blade is part of Shikizaki’s plan. Needing to stop Shichika’s killing spree, Hitei suggests the use of Yanari’s 11 retainers and Emonzaemon, each armed with a Deviant Blade to put the finishing touches on this history.

Shichika is at the castle gates and he doesn’t look like he’s here for negotiation. See how he dispatches all the guards with ease?! Don’t play play! Suddenly he hears the voice of Emonzaemon. He is using his ventriloquism ninpou via crow to tell him that he has withdrawn the guards since the fight is pointless and knows he is here for revenge. He wants him to head straight into the castle whereby he and Hitei are waiting. But Shichika knows he is wrong because he isn’t here for revenge. He came here to die. So let the battle begin!

Versus Hannyamaru with Kanna
Inside the first room, Shichika faces off with his first opponent. Hannyamaru charges but Shichika uses his Chrysanthemum move to catch the sword and breaks it!!! Woah! The unbreakable Kanna is now broken!!! That’s because there is no reason for him to hold back anymore. With a single punch, Hannyamaru is defeated! Astounding!

Versus Furachi Oniyadori with Namakura
The monk guy believes Shichika won’t see his strike coming seeing he has never seen Ginkaku’s slash. However when Furachi strikes, Shichika holds Namakura with his both his fists with a nameless Kyotouryuu move! Then he breaks Namakura while mocking his move was just mediocre! Superb!

Versus Akatsuki Tomoe with Tsurugi
In a room filled with thousands of swords, Shichika dashes through breaking each one of them before landing a fatal blow right in Akatsuki’s chest! Amazing! The reason he hesitated against Meisai was because he couldn’t come to terms with her personality.

Versus Matsuaki Fugi with Hari
Shichika stops his attack with just 2 of his fingers!!! And then breaking it with just a snap!!! He lets Matsuaki learn a thing or two because if he doesn’t swing in a perfect arc, the fragile sword will shatter. His fight was Sabi was a close one because he wasn’t allowed to break Hari and thus his options are limited. So what are his now? No need to even guess. Yeah, another dead body for the count. Awesome!

Versus Kairo Iga with Yoroi
Kairo charges straight when Shichika steps into the room and is bloody confident with his impenetrable defence. However Shichika knows Yoroi’s attributes that transfers any outside shock away from the user by being in contact with the ground. So if he attacks him in mid-air where he isn’t touching the ground or walls, the shock can’t go anywhere and instead the owner receives all the shock. Yeah, it’s a bloody death for that guy in the armour with Shichika’s single powerful punch.

Versus Bofura Maniwa with Kanazuchi
He is of the Maniwa Ninja Corps lineage and is using his ninpou to negate its weight. But what happens if you take that away? What’s the point of this sword then? Yeah, it’s weight is its lethal focus. Shichika throws Kanazuchi back at him at breaks both the sword and user together!!! He mocks him there isn’t a weaker Maniwa than him! Cool! Way to go!

Versus Uron with Bita
Uron thinks he has become an immortal warrior with Bita stuck to his chest. Shichika says just because he can’t die if he kills him, it doesn’t mean he can’t die if he keeps killing him. Using a variety of mixed Kyotouryuu moves and striking in rapid succession, Uron dies 272 times and this breaks Bita!!! Marvellous!!!

Versus Ou Haiga with Kanzashi
It’s 2 versus 1 but in an instant Shichika strikes them away with Hachiretsu revamp! Shichika was able to defeat them easily because Ou was in the way which prevents Biyorigou from showing its full strength. Haha. Doll malfunction…

Versus Kokubo Sumigaoka with Nokogiri
Kokubo is ranting about this meaningless fight, the cruel calmness of the sword and letting Shichika go. Since the latter says nothing, he will grant his death in 1 blow. Shichika shuts him up by replying “Your words are nothing but talk. They don’t move me at all”. He also breaks Nokogiri with a strike to his neck. OMG! See how it contorted the other way!!! Speechless!

Versus Kousha Saraba with Hakari
Kousha laments the sword is useless to her and can’t do anything. Shichika suggest throwing it at him in which she does. He deflects it with his knee to send the hilt back hitting her forehead and knocks her out! I don’t know if her head was hard because Hakari breaks but Kousha was just unconscious! Comical!

Versus Bangai Rogiri with Mekki
How do you deal with a guy who is possessed with an evil sword and going crazy? For Shichika, he releases the guy with a chopping kick right in the head. Thank goodness he hasn’t got a thick skull. Yeah, Mekki cracks too. Magnificent!

Versus Emonzaemon with Juu
Hitei teases that he was rather fast in arriving here. She thinks this is the true strength of Kyotouryuu since he is allowed to destroy the swords now. If he manages to defeat Emonzaemon, he can meet her upstairs at the castle’s keep. If he defeats him. She orders Emonzaemon to kill Shichika but Emonzaemon wonders if Shikizaki’s plan will never come be realized if he kills Shichika. Hitei enjoys seeing Shikizaki’s completed plan as much as his plans destroyed. Either way, she is confident Emonzaemon will show her either one. After leaving, Emonzaemon feels the irony of facing off with Shichika like this. Like a puppet, he only fights for Hitei but the thought of fighting for Shikizaki’s sake is somewhat unpleasant. Shichika disagrees and says he learnt after Togame’s death, it is pointless to fight for both humans and swords. At first he obeyed Togame’s orders without any resolution and after that obeyed her for her sake after finding resolve. If one has to think about it, then one shouldn’t be fighting in the first place. After all, Togame was thinking about herself and selfish. Even so, that’s why he fell for her. Thinking back with all the times with Togame (and her countless expressions!), the match begins. Shichika adds he has been fighting for himself and reveals the reason for invading this castle is to die. Shichika couldn’t think of anyone who could kill him since he was the one who killed Togame. Even if Togame ordered him to live, he doesn’t have any duty to oblige that order anymore. After breaking Emonzaemon’s swords, he pulls out Juu. He starts firing while Shichika is moving at lightning speed. So how did he dodge so many bullets? Well, he didn’t. Shichika resolved to take them all to his body at the start! Remember one of Togame’s orders to protect himself? He no longer has a duty to obey that. I guess that is his true power seeing he no longer has an obligation to protect the Deviant Blades too. So now do you believe his resolve to die? The fight continues at lightning speed so much so you can’t see a damn thing. But the room is scarred and destroyed with their blood tainting every inch and nook! With both sides taking tremendous amount of damage, it ends with Shichika using his Hachiretsu Kai move to kill Emonzaemon and break Juu.

Yanari is panicking upon what is happening as Hitei assures that their wish will come true when Shichika comes upstairs. Shichika throws her Emonzaemon’s mask and relays to her his last words, “Princess, please forgive me for dying for your sake”. Well, she finds that annoying. As promised, Hitei allows him to kill her but he has only strength to kill one more person. Yanari fears for his life and wants Hitei to save him. You think a princess like her has combat abilities? Hitei says he needs to die or else this won’t end. Telling him about Yanari Shogunate that will last a thousand years was a lie just to speak to him since the collapse of Owari Shogunate was Shikizaki’s original plan. It was supposed to be a different Shogunate and Shogun house originally but after preventing them from taking power, Yanari took over the country in a similar manner and built peace across the country. Perhaps it was history self-correcting itself she wonders. She reveals her wish to kill him and that wish will now be fulfilled. Shichika agrees because Togame wasted her entire life because of him. Though she may have reaped what she sow, killing him won’t lift her burden nor make him feel better but Shichika must make an example of him. Shichika tells Hitei a message from Togame to thank her for everything though Hitei denies it. He asks if Hitei likes Togame deep down in her heart but she replies it is more like she didn’t dislike her. Yanari is trying to worm his way out but Shichika kills him with his ultimate Cheerio move that splits the castle in half! Possibly splitting the ground too!

We see the aftermath of places Shichika and Togame visited to collect the Deviant Blades. Some decimated and those with life such as Konayuki living happily at Sanzu Temple and Kiguchi having several students of her own. As narrated, whether it was fortunate or not, history wasn’t falsified as Yanari’s son and direct descendant succeeded the throne as the 9th Shogun. Shikizaki’s descendant’s attempt to alter history, reform the world and destroy history ended in failure. We see Shichika touring Japan and trying to make a map. Yeah, Japan is big alright. We also see Hitei following him (she cut her hair too?). Well, well. She’s a spunky girl now, eh? She mentions how everything started with Kyuu and ended with Togame/Yousha. To Shichika, altering history is like a fairytale and if her predictions of foreign countries destroying Japan do come true, he’ll leave it to warriors of that time to defend. Hitei feels Japan in hundreds of years won’t let itself ruin so easily even if falsification isn’t probably and perhaps a little altering would. Shichika continues his journey but after that nobody heard of him anymore. He may have died or completed the map and sailed to another country but even with everything over despite the historical plan connecting and swords failed, he was there definitely there and lived.

Live by the sword, die by the sword…
Just wow. Sort of lost for words after everything has ended. I mean, it really felt like a long period of time has passed while watching this though I must admit the duration was long enough to make me feel uncomfortable in certain parts of the body after sitting down too long. But this has nothing to do with the story and series actually. Overall, this is quite a compelling and fascinating story if you can get pass the falsifying history part. It may sound farfetched but that is what everything from the swords and the characters boil down and revolves around. I had mixed feelings at the end of the series. It was sad to see Shichika living and journeying alone because I would really have preferred him and Togame to stay together even after everything had ended. However her death was necessary to complete to final Deviant Blade because grief is what makes Shichika the strongest sword ever. The most amusing aspect of this series is definitely the interaction between Shichika and Togame. You’ll never tire of their antics though there are serious times but this is usually left as explanation to viewers on the events and such. Otherwise the duo are quite a comical bunch if I must say. In almost every episode there is a short stretch dedicated in seeing them both together whether it’s spending ‘lovely’ time together or discussing about their next plan-cum-scheme.

You can see Shichika’s change in character as the series progresses. From someone who just obeys Togame and feels nothing as a sword to her, gradually he learns to be more human and you could say that at certain points he even gets cheeky with Togame. Initially he always put up this carefree and happy-go-lucky expression and you don’t see much change in his looks till Togame dies. For once he looked very desperate and cried his heart out. Over the journey he gained more of a human heart and soul rather in addition to increasing his skills. He learns to distinguish human life and not to simply kill and disregard life. Because of travelling for a long time, he also learnt to make cheeky remarks with Togame and also get back at her. See how much a person can change within a year? With him still living in the end, does this prove that only family members of Kyotouryuu can kill each other and since he is the only one left, the only way to die is a natural death, right? Togame is the more lively one of the comical pair. You should hear some of the words she says in her lines. Pretty amusing though quite true. I won’t say that she is silly even if she claims herself as intelligent being a strategist. But sometimes I feel that she is too smart for her own good that it makes her look silly. Initially she has this habit of tripping so I thought this was going to be a running gag throughout the series but I guess not. She also has this inclination to expect the reply of others. But when the other person says something different, it will take Togame a while to realize it because she’ll continue speaking like the person has answered to her expectations. For instance Azekura’s reply on wanting her to be his woman. Togame was replying as though he still wanted the Deviant Blades instead. Togame may have claimed that she used Shichika and everyone else as a tool and everything they had been through was just an act. As much as I want to believe this, I feel that during her journey with Shichika, she indeed experienced lots of things with him so I don’t think she is lying or just acting during those times. Even if those words were painful truths in the end, she didn’t want to hold back Shichika and those words were meant to set him free and on his own. You’ll never recognize the true meaning and value of something till you start losing them. Note, Togame looks better with her hair cut short. I don’t know, it doesn’t feel messy and all over the place :). And oh, looks like her Cheerio catchphrase didn’t catch on :). Also, about Togame’s after-sword-hunt ambition, I thought she wanted to write a biography but changed it to mapping the country? I guess your ambitions do change along the way and with her brains I’m sure it’s not hard for her to do just about anything. I mean look how she mastered shogi after a few observations, something that shogi players would have taken years to become masters. There are so many things that Togame is capable of partly because of her personality of not wanting to be betrayed again and thus not wanting to lose. But it doesn’t matter now since she is no longer around :'(.

Even if I do know that in the end they both certainly have feelings for each other but I can’t help wonder if they really do know the meaning of love. That’s because if you notice that the things they do together aren’t what we would believe couples in the modern era would do. Maybe their meaning and definition of love differs and even the era they are in, love values are much different than today. Just take a look at all the lovely moments when they duo are close together. Leave aside their scheming talk while at it, even by hugging close and having physical contact (no sex, mind you), I just don’t feel the flame and impact of their love. It just feels Togame is doing this so that Shichika would get use to her. Look at this from another point. In today’s world, you can never be too careful so even if he’s a sword, he’s still a guy and ‘capable’ of what guys can do. She only sees him as her sword so she believes she doesn’t need to be cautious or alarmed even though he is a man. Unless you’re head over heels crazy over guy, shouldn’t any woman be a little cautious whenever a guy gets this close to you? This may be debatable if Shichika should get turned on each time he is close to Togame. Especially that one scene he was bathing with her naked in the hotspring. They weren’t shy. They weren’t embarrassed. His male horniness hormones weren’t kicking in. Maybe living on an island alone with his sister did stem all the worldly desires. Of course when they do get jealous about the other, it felt like it’s because the other is supposed to be her/his thing rather than an object of affection or love. On the subject of fanservice, I guess I could say I notice a few but are usually on Togame. But they aren’t that obvious and nothing that will really distract you.

I don’t know about Hitei. The way she portrays herself it seems like she is an obnoxious person but a cool one. Maybe it’s true that she’s a descendent of Shikizaki so she also can see the future and thus not surprise with whatever turns out and plays it cool. Just like what her name means, she loves to deny lots of things (ironically, Yousha means approve – something Togame usually permits Shichika for whatever things). For what I’m not sure. Is it her true past and history? She and Togame may be what you call in modern times, ‘frenemies’. Maybe it’s the way they speak to each other. Maybe when they say they didn’t like each other, they do mean the opposite. Because Hitei wasn’t such a bad person in the end, financing Shichika on his mapping journey whenever she can. So perhaps, they don’t really hate each other. Something I feel it’s like a married couple living together for decades. You get the idea, right? And if her goal was to kill Yanari, couldn’t she have ordered Emonzaemon to do so at the start seeing that guy is totally loyal to her? Oh, I forgot she wanted to see the completion of the final Deviant Blade. I am still confused with Nanami’s dilemma to either die or live. Because of her supernatural strength, she can’t die easily so she has always been searching for a way to die. Then when it’s time for her brother to grant her that wish, it’s like she all that she did was to delay her death as she wanted to live longer. So which is which? I guess even as normal humans, it’s basic instinct that you will be afraid when death comes knocking at your door. I mean if Nanami wanted to die, she could’ve not fight back and let everyone kill her, especially the guardians at Shireizan. Yes, she won’t die but can’t she let them slice of her head, then? Don’t tell me she’s like a cockroach and won’t die that way too? And what is it about Shichika’s death move on her makes it special that is the only way that could make her kick the bucket?

The Maniwa Ninja Corps, I thought they were just slaughter boys of the series. I mean, there are 12 heads and all of them died. Besides Koumori and Houou, the rest were like easy pickings. Some not even enough time to show their true potential. Which makes them somewhat a comical bunch wearing animal clothes (each either representing a type of beast, bird, insect or fish). They came, they appear, they die. True that Houou says that ninjas just live and die but seriously even if Maniwa had 100 heads, I am guessing that a big majority of them will meet a similar fate. It makes you wonder if they were such a great ninja group in the first place. Perhaps they are no match for the Deviant Blades or their owners that contributed to their demise. But when Emonzaemon went on a massacre spree of the ninjas, it feels too easy that they have died. Oshidori and Pengin may have put up a little resistance but in the end the fight was short as their lives. Speaking of Emonzaemon, if he had gone on a Maniwa massacre spree from the start, Shichika and Togame it would save them lots of trouble from bumping into them, right? Besides, the way things are he certainly seems to know the group and Houou well enough.

I can’t say that the fights are totally awesome but each of them is satisfying enough to captivate your attention. My only gripe is that the fights do not last long and just for several minutes. As we know the drama and talking parts takes up most of the screen time in this anime and even during the duels, we have the characters talking and explaining so if you are looking to be amazed by the sword battles, please do not place your hopes high. But I guess this is much better than a match lasting for several episodes and dragging along with it the drama, suspense and whatever flashbacks. My other complain is the no-show fight of Sabi! I was really expecting to see Shichika’s fight with the greatest swordsman and in my opinion it will be the most exciting one because well, swordsmen fight with their swords and not their mouths, right? Yeah, so I was really anticipating lots of action even if they were going to be exaggerative. But we don’t get to see even a bit of it and that is a major disappointment. I thought they might show this part if they ever make and release and OVA but so far the story has ended ever since and nothing more. What a major letdown. Before the fight with Sabi, the first few episodes show very short snippets of him going around and doing his amazing thing with Hari (usually keeping thugs at bay). So amazing that our eyes can’t even catch them. Thus it was pretty normal for me to expect that something great is going building up for this ultimate showdown. Sabi’s supposed episode as early as the fourth episode felt like an early final and when they replaced it with the Insect Squad’s ambush on Nanami, I just thought there was something wrong and couldn’t help wondering over the period of that episode when will I get to see those juicy action bits.

The final fight in which Shichika faces off with the 11 retainers is so fast that it feels comical in its own way. Everyone was like so confident and cocky that they’ve got a Deviant Blade and felt so invincible. Yeah, they didn’t know Shichika went through tougher circumstances to obtain those swords so they don’t really understand how it works or its value unlike Shichika who underwent lots of sh*t just to make sure that sword stays in one piece. That’s why the retainers are easily defeated and some even killed for their own good. But to think that Togame and Shichika spent nearly a year slogging to get all the swords and then suddenly he breaks them all in the end. It’s like all their efforts were wasted but if you look at the bigger picture it’s to complete the final blade. Speaking of Shikizaki’s true role as a soothsayer, if he did see everything that has taken place from the forging of the 12 Deviant Blades to the completion of the final one in Shichika for the sake of Japan and prevent the country to fall into foreign hands, I guess he didn’t see one prediction coming: His falsification will fail. So yet again in the bigger picture, going through all that trouble with the formation of Kyotouryuu right down to the seventh generation after hundreds of years, was it all for nought eventually? Maybe that is what being a soothsayer is all about. You see the future and try to change it even if it won’t work. So why was Hida trying to revert Japan back to its original history then? Would he have not started the rebellion if he knew Japan would perish in the future?

As for the drawing and art of this series, I can say that they aren’t your typical wide-eyed Japanese characters. In fact the drawings here are quite cartoonish and if not for the dialogue, you may have doubts if this was a Japanese production. But it won’t take you long because of the deep Japanese historical setting and by right only a Japanese production studio would rightly do so. I don’t want to go so far to say that the faces of the characters closely resemble Powerpuff Girls but if you notice that many of the characters have different eye designs and tones drawn to them. Sometimes it makes them look creepy. But not as scary when Shichika became the completed Deviant Blade. Okay, maybe it’s not that scary but there is a certain different feel in his eyes. I guess the production also tries to vary the different designs of the swords. I won’t say that they are looking anything unique as there are other animes with much more creative sword designs (I have to admit Bleach is one of them) but at least not every sword is your conventional sword. We have a mechanical doll serving as one and a blade that is just the hilt with no offensive power. It’s also nice to know that each has a different focus and method of use. However as mentioned the fights are short so this means you won’t see them in use for a long duration. In a way this is a good point because you won’t easily get bored with the sword. I mean, once you know how it works and its usage, it’ll be less interesting if they keep using the same moves. So like Shichika’s flower themed moves, I actually can’t tell most of them apart and it’s like he’s just chopping or kicking from a different stance. Haha, maybe I need to watch closely more of his moves to differentiate it like how Shichika couldn’t once differentiate another human being.

Yukari Tamura (Sakura in Da Capo series, Yamada in B Gata H Kei) as the voice of Togame definitely suits the character and all her moods. Her trademark squeaky voice is there be it during scheming points, comical scenes and yes, jealous parts. She really makes the character feel so alive even if the character herself sees herself as dead and no hope. Yoshimasa Hosoya (Arata Wataya in Chihayafuru) as Shichika also does well in his character. Also Haruka Tomatsu (Lala in To Love-Ru) did a perfect job in voicing a proud and conceited Hitei. Masako Ikeda (Maetel in Galaxy Express 999) as the narrator sounds not only passionate in narrating the opening and closing lines but sometimes the way she narrates things, it’s like as though it sounds like a joke. Why not, since the main pair do look like a manzai comedy duo at times. Other casts include Ryotaru Okiayu (Byakuya in Bleach), Mai Nakahara as Nanami (Juvia in Fairy Tail), Rikiya Koyama as Emonzaemon (Kogarashi in Kamen No Maid Guy), Ryou Hirohashi as Pengin (Kyou in Clannad), Shizuka Itou as Kiguchi (Hinagiku in Hayate No Gotoku), Rina Hidaka as Konayuki (Airi in Ro-Kyu-Bu), Atsuko Yuya as Meisai (Yukino in Yakitate! Japan), Miyako Itou as Rinne (Beckham in Penguin No Mondai) and Aya Endou as Biyorigou (Filicia in Sora No Woto). There are 2 opening pieces for this series with Meiya Kadenrou by Minami Kuribayashi as the first one and Katana To Saya by Ali Project as the second theme (yeah, their naughty gothic style is still there). There are different ending themes for each of the episode, some sung by the seiyuus of the series and other from other singers. The ending credits animation may be the same (a still picture of Togame and Shichika sitting together on a rock with their backs facing us) but if you look closely, the flowers and plants of each animation are different. They may also show something related to that episode like the snowman Konayuki made or the time Togame got her hair cut. Some of the background music are weird. For instance during the comical scenes of Togame, well, they sound really comical. For Hitei’s scene, the music feels like a sultry slow jazz. Then for the exciting battle theme, it felt like a Japanese guy trying to do a Tarzan. OooOOOooOOOo…

Another aspect of this series is about what makes history as it is. It is no doubt that somebody once said that only winners write the history and thus imprinting a certain stereotype of truths and facts on future generations. I suppose everyone has a role to play in history no matter how insignificant they are. Everyone has their own history to tell. Big or small, exciting or boring, common or unique. That’s why I thought everybody in this series should be killed off (well it didn’t but a many of the main characters did die), it all has something to do with the contribution of making history. Whether it’s for themselves or something else, each are trying to write their own history with the things that they are doing justified with their own beliefs and perhaps inspire some sort of hope. Anyway history isn’t one of my favourite subjects so trying to talk about it makes my head turn. So it has been seemingly a long journey and every journey alike has to come an end eventually. Just like this seemingly long blog. Yeah, I even thought at this rate it would never end. Goodnight and Cheerio! Heh, that’s how you should use that catchphrase :).

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