Archive for the 'Katana' Category

09
May
08

And Now for Something Completely Different…

In my last post I did a little gushing about how black blades are the greatest thing since sliced bread, all that and a bag of chips, etc. etc. etc. Well, I came across this interesting blade from the Anime series Bleach, and decided, to be fair, to blog about a sword from the complete opposite end of the spectrum. I give you:

Rukia Kukichi’s Zanpakuto “Sode no Shirayuki”

(Sleeved White Snow)

Rukia Sleeved White Snow Sword

[view full size]

Now this sword, is a Zanpakutō, or soul cutting sword, and each is imbued with a sentient spirit that helps it’s wielder to battle otherworldy foes. This particular Zanpakuto is wielded by the co-protagonist Rukia Kukichi, who is herself a soul reaper. When it’s sentient spirit is activated, the sword becomes completely snow white, with a characteristic long white ribbon, and gains awesome power.

As swords go, this is almost as far as you can get from the sinister black swords I usually blog about. The sword itself is not particularly remarkable, it is a fairly standard katana, save for the extended white grip, and corresponding snow white saya and ribbon, which also happens to sport a kawaii little silver smiley…

Not particularly menacing… However in the series, it is just as lethal as any other… So don’t hate it because it’s white… and it’s got a ribbon… and a smiley… and it’s all Kawaii… errm… *cough*

I can feel my testosterone ebbing away with every additional word. So I’ll be ending this post here… I’m thinking I’m gonna have to blog about something particularly wicked next time around…
Rukia Kukichi Zanpakuto “Sleeved White Snow” – [True Swords]

07
May
08

Why I Love Dark Blades…

OK, so In reality there aren’t many specific reasons why I like black weapons, suffice to say they look cooler. Here’s an example:

Wire Wrapped Sword – Black Blade

Wire Wrapped Sword - Black Blade

[view full size]

OK now clearly, in contrast to the rather nebulous description, the only thing that is wire wrapped on this sword is the grip. Not the entire sword. I wish folks would pay attention to how they named these things. But I digress.

So here’s the thing. This sword, or at least some of the elements of it’s basic design, are fairly standard. The blade follows what could be described as a straight saber design. It is a single edged sword of medium length, with a prominent fuller, and a fairly rounded transition to the point.

Except is has Japanese fittings. The entire hilt, small, multi-faceted guard, wire wrapped handle, butt cap, etc. is of Japanese design, almost creating a fusion of European and Japanese design influences. Though the Japanese cues definitely stand out.

Of course the kanji on the blade is kind of a dead giveaway to it’s japanese heritage. Ironically this is what an early Ninjato might have looked like, though for some reason, in this one instance where it might have made sense, the designers did not see fit to capitalize upon that fact. Go figure.

Anyway, had this been finished in the standard, regular, highly polished steel, I might not have given it a second glance. Seriously. There is a sea of shiny steel out there, and picking out one distinctive piece out of that is becoming harder and harder. The dark ones, on the other hand… Well… They are already quite distinctive. And easy to pick out. And sinister. And just look… meaner… And I like black. Cause black makes things look cooler. Seriously.

Did I mention I like black?

Black Sword – Wire wrapped grip – [True Swords]

12
Mar
08

Jedi… Or Samurai… Why not Both?

I came across an old favorite of mine not too long ago… A fusion of old and new. Actually of Old and really, really old, but I think you’ll understand once you see what I’m talking about:

Samurai 3000 Katana

Samurai 3000 Katana
[view full size]

Now If you look closely, you might see why I’m calling this a new old design. On the one hand, you have an acceptable facsimile of a Japanese Katana blade (I say “acceptable” facsimile because it has been violated in a couple of ways I’ll mention here in a bit), and on the other hand we have what looks, for all intents and purposes, like the handle of a light saber… Futuristic? Or retro-futuristic… I can’t decide…

Now this particular variant caught my eye because of the black treatment that the blade received, and because of the interesting aesthetic of the blade. As you can see, unlike the traditional sharp, straight, angled point that a traditional Katana possesses, this has a much smother, curving transition to the point. This design would make for easier thrusting, however this design would also make the point weaker than the traditional sharp chisel like profile of the traditional Katana. But from an aesthetic standpoint, I like it. It looks pretty sweet!

Moving down, we see two additional blade modifications. First, the bottom quarter of the blade is serrated. I suppose it could be a useful change, given that that particular section of a sword is rarely used for much other than deliberate cutting strokes. Serrations might make it more effective… Maybe… Meh…

However right next to that we have the dreaded faux fuller, or blood grooves, in this case a set of three or elongated slots cut out of the blade. *shiver* I can understand the aesthetic sales value of this particular kind if blade defacement. It supposed to make it look cooler, and more futuristic. But all I see when I look at those things are unnecessary structural weakness… *sigh*

Anyway getting past the ugliness, we have a very interesting hilt design, consisting of a melding of Star Wars light saber style motifs with some other traditional touches mixed in. a very interesting combination. The guard is perhaps my favorite part of the hilt. The rest, while cool, I could do without. Or perhaps with some major simplification.

Now obviously this is not intended to be a battle worthy sword, as the hilt is made from a metal casting, however I got one of these before they came out with the black blade version, and two things struck me immediately.

The first, was that the grip was too ridiculously uncomfortable to be used in any meaningful way, and that, for all their impressive abilities, it would appear that Jedi knights were extremely poor designers when it came to ergonomics. 😛 I mean seriously. did you ever really take a good look at Lukes light saber grip? Absolutely horrible ergonomics!

What is even sadder is that the Sith had a much better grasp of ergonomics than the Jedi. Look at Darth Mauls dual saber, compared to what the Jedi were using (except for Mace Windu, who had perhaps the most awesome light saber in the entire Jedi Council) that was actually a great light saber design. And then there was Count Dookus elegantly curved saber grip… Sheer genius… I could go on, but I think you get the point… And, as usual, I digress… Massively…

Anyway, here, in the galaxy we call home, the second, more important thing I noticed about this sword, was how incredibly well balanced the sword was. I’d almost say it was perfect. Even better than some of the high quality battle ready Katanas I’ve hefted, which was a pleasant, but bittersweet surprise, as I don’t trust it enough (or am not brave enough) to subject it to any cutting tests… A real shame…

But for those of you who would like to see what it’s like to grip the hilt of a Jedi weapon, and actually able to cut something (if you dare), this sword would be a good ticket for that particular flavor of torture… Except without a zero weight energy blade, of course…

Check back in a few decades… I might be able to blog about them then…

Samurai 3000 Katana – [Realm Collections]

01
Feb
08

Enter the Ninja… Again…

Dunno if it’s obvious from my posts or not, but I have a thing for Ninja weapons… 🙂 Actually to be honest, It’s just not ninja weapons, but the all of the interesting medieval analogs of modern day covert and highly specialized weaponry that people came up with back in the day. That and I also have a thing for dark weapons. So with that in mind, the reasons why this particular weapon caught my eye might appear to be obvious:

Musashi Hand Honed Black Ninja Sword

Musashi Black Ninja Sword
[view full size]

But they are not. For the observationally impaired among you, yes. It’s black, and it’s a ninja sword. (It’s Da Bomb Diggity!!) But that is not the only reason this weapon is the topic of today’s post. Nope, it’s not. What else? Well, for one thing, unlike most of the weapons I blog about, this one is actually functional. Don’t know if it’s good enough to be considered “Battle ready” (yes, there’s a difference) but this usually means that this would take abuse the likes of which the others would simply have given up the ghost under.

However, there are a couple of more subtle features that this sword has that are interesting and unique. Like the saya (scabbard). If you look at the picture, it looks like there is a hole at the base of the sheath. Now traditionally, a Ninja’s saya was designed so that it could be used as a breathing tube while underwater. If that is what this is, it’s actually a unique implementation of that functionality, as most designs I see today simply make a completely hollow saya and put a removable plug or cap on the far end.

And perhaps the most interesting design feature of this sword is the blade. If you were paying attention during the Shinobigatana 101 class I lectured you on many posts ago, you would remember that one of the trademark features of common ninjaken was it’s straight blade. Now to be perfectly honest, there are older Ninja swords that did, in fact, look like katanas, with curved blades, and everything.

However for our intents and purposes we can ignore the earlier, borrowed, ninja sword designs and focus on the later, redesigned and more tactically appropriate weapons of the medieval shinobi warrior, currently recognized as Ninjaken. I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

And back to the blade of the dark beauty before us. 😉 This Ninjato does have a straight blade, however the observant among you will have noticed that there is actually a taper to the width of the blade from the hilt to the point. The blade is actually narrower at the tip than at the hilt! Whoa.

Now for a Japanese sword, this taper is an atypical design feature. The blade of your average Ninjato, indeed, even your average Japanese Katana, usually maintains an almost consistent width from the hilt to the point. This helps keep the point of percussion (AKA the sweet spot) towards the tip of the sword, where the most damage can be done. Tapering the blade in this fashion would move the sweet spot further down the blade towards the hilt. Now in a Katana, this would make no sense, as you would effectively be moving the weight of the sword down, and away from the top of the blade, where it would do the most good.

However narrowing the tip of a blade also has the effect of reducing the weight at the tip of the blade, and in the shorter Ninja sword, this would mean a much faster, much more controllable sword. This added agility would come at the cost of your ability to make shearing cuts, however most Japanese blade arts are heavily biased towards thrusts and slashing cuts, not shearing or chopping cuts, so this disadvantage would not crippling by any means. Especially for a ninja.

In fact, given that Ninjas would be going for a speedy assassinations, or infiltration, or whatever, and trying to avoid direct confrontation with opponents wielding larger, heavier Katanas, the narrower, faster sword might be a very useful modification. Show up, fast draw, fast kill, get the heck outta Dodge. I kinda look at the difference between a shinobigatana, thusly modified, and a large katana as similar to the difference between a light, Japanese tuner car and American muscle car. Except they are both Japanese.

No, I meant the swords, not the cars… OK, Hardy, har, har. Very funny. Whatever, smarty pants…

Musashi Hand Honed Black Ninja Sword – [Medieval Weapon Art]

08
Jan
08

A realistic anime sword…

If you’re a regular at this blog, you’ve probably all heard me poke fun at various anime swords at one point or another, usually due to unrealistic sizes, or features, or functionality, etc., regardless of their cool factor. However today, I thought I’d review an anime based sword that has a decidedly down to earth bent to it’s design:

Urahara Kisuke Zanpakuto
Urahara Kisuke Zanpakuto
[view full size]

Now this sword is from the Anime Bleach, and is a Zanpakuto, or “soul slaying” sword. The Zanpakuto swords of bleach are unique because each sword actually possesses a sentient spirit. An interesting twist to be sure, but not what we are here to talk about today.

I posted this sword because, for once, it is actually a sword I might have blogged about even if it wasn’t an anime reproduction. The reason for this is two fold. First off, while this sword looks Japanese on the surface, it actually incorporates some design features that are not seen in traditional Japanese sword designs.

First off, and one of my favorite features, is the cool black blade, with the black coat on the edge ground out to where the hamon should be. This is interesting because although the blade of this sword has a mild curve that might indicate a differential temper, I was unable to detect an actual hamon. I’d be willing to bet there was none. Also, you will notice that the edge is ground straight across to the end of the straight section of the blade, but not up to the tip of the sword, which is atypical of Japanese design.

Another interesting feature not present in Japanese swords is the presence of a ricasso, or unsharpened section of the blade, just above the hilt. The edges of the ricasso is actually sheathed in a metal shell, and runs straight into the grip without the benefit of a guard, which is also very atypical of japanese design.

The grip is equally anomalous, in the sense that while it employs the traditional Japanese rayskin wrapped wood handle, pinned to a full tang blade, it is covered by a leather wrap, instead of the traditional Japanese cord wrap. The pommel is also not of a traditional Japanese design, having a ridged cap and a tassel, instead of an oval cap with a flat bottom, which in fact, makes it look more Chinese in aesthetic than Japanese.

Overall, an interesting hybrid sword design I thought was worth a post… 🙂

Urahara Kisuke Zanpakuto – [True Swords]

02
Jan
08

A Very Special Antique Katana for the New Year

A while back I found a picture of very ornate and painstakingly designed /created /decorated Katana on My Confined Space, a picture blog that I harass frequently:

Antique Katana

Antique Katana
[view full size]

[view super size]

Now normally this kind of sword is not my thing. But this one is too much a work of art for me to ignore. On many levels. And I thought this would be appropriate for the first weapon post of the year. There are so many unique and amazing points of fine aesthetic detail that went into the making of this sword, I really don’t think I can cover them all in a single post. So I’m just going to let you ogle the pic.

Aww, who am I kidding. I have to at least draw your attention to some of the less obvious traits of interest. Like the shape and the detail of the tsuba, or guard. While this sword conforms to traditional Japanese design, the guard carries a rather distinctive Chinese flair to it’s design, which makes this weapon all the more intriguing. The traditional ray skin grip with the brass overlay, tassels and fittings are excellently done. And though you can see one regular bamboo pin for the blade, it appears as though there were, at some point, two white pins, possibly of ivory, of which one is left. A very nice touch.

The details of the engravings on the butt cap and the tip of the saya or scabbard are extraordinary, as are the brass rings and purple ribbons to which the braided cord used to wear the sword is attached. Even the fittings to which the purple ribbons are attached to the saya are amazing. Not only are they beautiful, but they appear to also be hinged!! Mechanics and aesthetics in harmony. What more could one ask for?

Obviously, I can’t say much more about it than what we can all see in the picture, but I can say this. If a picture is a thousand words, this one is easily worth a cool million…

31
Dec
07

A Demon Slaying Katana

Welcome traveler. You’re on a demon killing mission. You must go it alone, and you can carry one, and only one, demon slaying weapon with you at any time. You have the option of:

  1. Salt
  2. Eggs
  3. Silver
  4. Garlic
  5. Vinegar
  6. Demon Slayer Katana

HOW CHOOSE YOU?

OK, that was a trick question. If you chose any of the above options, you have already failed. You quest was to fight your own inner demons. And you have just succumbed to them. Unless, of course, you happen to be a mythical creature yourself. In which case you may have killed yourself. But I Digress.

The most important thing to remember is this. Choosing option 6 would have let you look cool. Even while losing your battle against your inner demons:

Demon Slayer Fantasy Katana

Demon Slayer Fantasy Katana

[view full size]

I thought this sword was interesting just because it had a few features I don’t see every day. Obviously, being a black blade got it some serious attention. But it also has character. Like look at the blade. I like th narrow blade profile, and the cut outs in the center are an interesting touch. I usually don’t like that particular form of aesthetic modeling due to structural integrity issues, but it does impart an interesting look to the blade.

The hilt is also interesting, featuring a round, samurai style guard, capped with a unique v shaped shoe, meant to fit a v shaped depression in the scabbard. The grip is a simple cylindrical black wrapped affair, finished off on the butt end by a rather pointy looking cap. the scabbard is ecually simple, employing a details end cap as well as similarly engraved scabbard opening trim to finish off the effect.

Overall a pretty cool sword. Even if it won’t help you fight your inner demons…

Demon Slayer Fantasy Katana – [True Swords]




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