“Katanagatari” vol. 1 (NIS America) – Visually, “Katanagatari” is one of the prettiest and most interesting series out there
Maybe it gets toned down later, but in the first episode and a half, they just never shut up. And since it’s not dubbed, so much dialogue makes for a lot of subtitle reading, which means you miss some of the action (or you miss the subtitles if you’re trying to watch the action).
And, unfortunately, my first impression isn’t terribly favorable because I finally just gave up. And that’s too bad, because I really can’t say enough of just how awesome this series looks.
A bit of a recap: Yasuri Shichika is the last in the line of masters of the Kyoto Ryu, a powerful fighting technique. He and his sister live on a deserted island. Their father died a year earlier.
A young woman, Togame, shows up on the island to try and convince him to help her find 12 super powerful and mystical katana forged by Shizizaki Kiki decades earlier. She says the shogun is afraid they’ll be used to carry out a revolt.
She had previously dispatched 12 ninjas to find them, but they betrayed her, and
Of course, one of those ninjas, Maniwa Komori, shows up on the island, and Shichika gets to have his first real fight. If the ninja will ever stop talking. Shichika even comments about how much this ninja and Togame talk, but he’s not much better.
It doesn’t help that Komori has an extremely annoying voice.
But, oh, the art direction.
It may sound funny, but the detailed, watercolor-washed backgrounds remind me of the old “Winnie the Pooh” cartoons,
And the character designs use a minimalist approach to linework, yet it’s perfectly expressive. The opening title sequence is stunning.
As usual in its deluxe sets, NIS America has included a handy book with character art, poetry and episode synopses. It also includes a series of art pieces to accompany each episode that would make great prints worth framing.
So it’s too bad the show is difficult to watch in other ways. It’s a waste of some real artistry.