My viewing of anime has been lacking recently, whether it be due to time constraints or general lack of interest in new series. I had a few non-redeye plane trips with nothing else to do, so I actually got some time to finish watching Katanagatari.
The original reason this anime caught my eye was that it is based off a light novel written by the author of Bakemonogatari. The story revolves around two main characters: the head of a sword style that doesn’t use swords and a girl trying to collect 12 legendary swords. The plot isn’t particularly deep or thought provoking, but that’s not he point. The way they deliver the story works and it is paced reasonably well.
Whenever you have some quest to gather a bunch of parts, it has to be a manageable goal. This can’t be Inuyasha where some power orb shatters and breaks into a million pieces, resulting in hundreds of episodes of collecting. Katanagatari has 12 swords and 12 episodes. They collect one sword in each episode (mostly) and don’t drag things on. Each episode you get to meet the original owner of each sword and they spend half the episode setting up that character’s personality and background. Meanwhile, you get to see development of the main two characters, how their outlooks on life change, and how their relationship gets closer.
When it comes to artstyles, I tend to like the two extreme ends of the spectrum. One is the shiny, stereotypical anime look where all the girls have shiny colorful hair and big eyes. The other is when the characters are clearly “drawn”, with jaggedly drawn lines and they almost look like paper cut-outs (e.g. Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei). I really dislike the “realistic” anime style that tends to be in those serious, award-winning or slice-of-life animes (Spirited Away, Girl Who Lept Through Time, Summer Wars, etc). I want my anime to be about as far from real life as possible. Katanagatari has the style where the backgrounds are realistic but the characters themselves look goofy and unreal.
The fight scenes are good. The 12 swords are interesting and unique. The series is extremely dialogue heavy, but I tend to like that about anime. The ending is a bit confusing but I think I was generally pleased by it. Overall, a good experience.