After a five-month break, we’re finally reunited with the cast of Katanagatari for the release of Volume 3. With six swords left to claim, Shichika and Togame are running out of time to complete their quest. How far will they get this time? Let’s find out!
This volume of Katanagatari contains Volumes 7-9 of the Japanese releases. Of the three, the first instalment (Volume 7) is the most exciting, bringing a long-awaited showdown to the table. While Shichika and Togame were on their sword hunt, Shichika’s sister Nanami grew annoyed at her brother’s slow progress and left home to obtain some of the swords herself.
After claiming Akuto the Eel for herself, Nanami crosses paths with Shichika and challenges him to a duel where the winner takes all. The thought of fighting his beloved sister haunts Shichika, but not just because he doesn’t want to harm her. He reveals to Togame that Nanami is stronger than he is and can perform any move from simply observing it once. If there is any battle Shichika is likely to lose, it’s this one!
Meanwhile, in Volume 8 our protagonist is chasing after Bito the Sundial, which initially sounds like a simple task. That is until our duo find that the sword has been built into a mechanical doll! To make matters worse, the doll inhabits an abandoned lake filled with trash, which makes for uneven ground for Shichika to fight on. This poses a challenge unlike anything our heroes have faced so far.
In Volume 9 the goal is to obtain Oto the Cured, a sword that isn’t known for being home to a supernatural power like the other 11 swords – yet seems to elevate the strength of those who use it. In an unusual twist of fate, the sword’s current owner is not out to kill Shichika and Togame. Instead, wielder Zanki Kiguchi is willing to turn over the weapon if Shichika can beat her in a fair kendo match. The problem is that Shichika’s bloodline ensures that those of the Kyotoryu teachings (the school his father ran) are swords themselves and unable to use a weapon. Unable to even hold a sword without smacking himself in the head with it, Shichika is going to need a lot of good luck if he hopes to defeat Zanki.
Like the previous omnibus release, this collection of Katanagatari is a varied selection of stories. There is a nice contrast between the serious showdown between Nanami and Shichika in Volume 7 and the much friendlier fight with Zanki in Volume 9. These light novels have always jumped around quite a lot in tone, but I think this book is where NISIOISIN has managed to hit on a perfect balance.
The thing I enjoyed most this time around was undoubtedly the face-off between Nanami and Shichika, although that’s something the series has been building up to for quite some time now. It shows just how much Shichika has changed by being beside Togame and how his experiences off the island have shaped him.
If anything, all three of these volumes revolve around Shichika’s development and ability to think differently. He used to only see himself as a sword, someone to be used and to follow orders. Now he’s begun to put forward his ideas for fighting their enemies and certainly in the battle against Nanami, only he truly knows how to handle her.
These three volumes are some of my favourites in the series so far and they showcase NISIOISIN’s talents. I think it’s fair to say that Katanagatari was rough around the edges in the first three volumes, but throughout the last six books the author has pinned down what works. What started as a more serious story has started to lean more into comedy, which I always felt worked better.
This omnibus release of Katanagatari comes to the West thanks to Vertical and continues to be translated by Sam Bett. As with the previous two volumes, this edition includes in-depth translation notes in the footer of the majority of pages. The translation reads well and is problem-free.
Overall, this instalment of Katanagatari delivers a thrilling and fascinating read. As we approach the final volume of the light novel series, the story is beginning to come together in an unforgettable way. It has been a long journey, but I’m looking forward to seeing how NISIOISIN brings Shichika and Togema’s sword tale to its conclusion.