Archive for the 'Sword' Category

11
Nov
08

“One Piece” can not be this cheap…

For those of you who may not know what I am talking about, I am referring to the “One Piece”, a priceless treasure, sought by Luffy and his Straw Hat pirates, in the Anime of the same name. And yes, there’s a good reason why I brought this up.

I came across a sword that is supposed to be a replica of a One Piece sword. I don’t know which, as I have only followed a few episodes of the anime. However this sword struck me as being rather… Cheap.

One Piece Anime Replica Sword

One Piece Anime Replica Sword

[click image to view full size]

On the surface this sword seems to conform to most of the basics I look for in a good sword, Full tang, simple clean lines, black blade, etc. It’s just… Meh.

It’s basically a cutlass, in black steel, with a simple black steel guard, and a set of silver finished wood scales set against a full tang, and wrapped with red cord. Perhaps one of the most simple sword designs ever.

And yet, I come away feeling cheated. Maybe it’s the fact that the blade seems really flimsy. Or that the red cord wrapping looks like it would come loose if you even looked at it funny. Or the fact that I can’t see how the scales are attached to the tang.

All things that make me worry. And also a testament to it’s ultra cheap construction. Probably not a particularly good grade of steel, and I doubt it is very well put together. It’s a great design in theory, but I think it’s cheapness might have just overwhelmed the draw of it’s aesthetics…

It may very well be possible that I am wrong, and this is not a replica of a “One Piece” sword. In which case, please hit me up in the comments and let me know what it is actually a replica of.

The site I found it on advertises it as a “One Anime Replica Sword – Full Tang Ninja Scimitar” I’m not going to go into the vagaries of why the phrase Ninja Scimitar makes my hackles stand on end, suffice to say that if it is in fact a One Piece replica, I must say, it’s very unworthy of Luffy and his gang.

So here’s another wall hanger for your collection. You know, if you’re into that kind of thing…

One Piece Replica Sword – [True Swords]

30
Oct
08

Cool Replicas – Part 6: Zar’roc

Happy Halloween!!! I thought I’d end the week, and my short miniseries on well constructed replicas, with a look at an excellent fan made replica weapon sent in by reader Hector E. None other than Zar’roc from the book turned movie, Eragon:

Zarroc

Zar'roc

[click image to view full size]

Some of you may remember a prior post, many moons ago on another version of Zar’roc, which had a beautiful blade, but a hilt that could, at best, be described as “toylike”. Hector was kind enough to point me to a site sporting a much more accurate, custom made version.

Zarroc

Zar'roc

[click image to view full size]

As you can see, this ain’t no kids toy. In fact, this replica has been approved by Christopher Paolini, the author of the book Eragon, upon which the movie is based. And I can see why.

Zarroc - Hilt Side

Zar'roc - Hilt Side

[click image to view full size]

If you are a fan of the book, you will notice that, in contrast to the other Zar’roc replica, this one actually has a red pommel, instead of the blue one, which, while movie accurate, is not at all true to the book.

Ok, so it’s not quite a ruby, but at the very least it is red, instead of a blue sapphire, which is a significant improvement over the movie replica. I really don’t see why the movie makers decided to take that particular kind or artistic liberty with the design, as it seems to be a trivial and unnecessary change, but I’m not a movie maker either…

Zarroc - Red Ruby Pommel

Zar'roc - Red Ruby Pommel

[click image to view full size]

But there are other changes. In the book, not only did Zar’roc carry a large, tear shaped red ruby in it’s pommel, but it also sported a silver wire wrapped grip. The movie version is wrapped in black leather. The Silver wire grip is yet another feature faithfully reproduced in this replica.

Down to the guard, oh, my… what a guard it is! A beautiful organic sliver of steel tipped with a pair of downward pointing, claw like ends. Quite the menacing piece of steel.

Zarroc - Hilt

Zar'roc - Hilt

[click image to view full size]

And then we come to the glorious red blade. Almost a candy apple red, with a short inverted spade shaped ricasso, that flows into a beautiful slim, straight, double edged sword, it’s quite the looker.

Zarroc - Ricasso

Zar'roc - Ricasso

[click image to view full size]

All of this crimson steel, eventually angles it’s way inwards to a rather keen looking, narrow wedge shaped point, at the business end of the weapon. And boy does it mean business:

Zarroc - Crimson Sword Point

Zar'roc - Crimson Sword Point

[click image to view full size]

Now this is what I call a replica. Making the vision of the original artist become reality. Absolutely all kinds of sweetness incarnate. In fact, this sword almost looks good enough to eat…

You know, drizzle a little more caramel on that blade, and… Nom… 🙂

Zar’roc – [Shur’tugal]

28
Oct
08

Cool Replicas – Part 5: Himura Kenshins’ Sakabato

Another day, another cool sword. Today, a sword suggested by reader Heero, the Sakabato (Reverse bladed Sword) of Himura Kenshin, key protagonist of the manga and anime series Rurouni Kenshin.

Himura Kenshin, was formerly a highly skilled assassin, called “Hitokiri Battōsai”. Hitokiri literally translates to “manslayer”. And while “Battōsai” has no direct meaning, there is a Japanese art called “Battōjutsu” which teaches the correct technique for drawing, cutting with, and sheathing a sword, much like Iaidō.

However while Iaidō deals primarily with the process of correctly drawing, cutting and sheathing techniques, Battōjutsu takes it a step further and teaches techniques for *multiple cuts* before resheathing. So together, the name “Hitokiri Battōsai” is perhaps one of the most ominous combinations you could ever have.

And the name was not undeserved. During his time as an assassin, Himura Kenshin he was considered an unbeatable warrior, killing many, many people, until one day he decides that he has done enough killing.

He becomes a rurouni, a renegade former assassin, who wanders the countryside helping people in trouble, to atone for his murderous past. Hence the name: Rurouni Kenshin. Once a rurouni, Kenshin meets a renowned Japanese swords smith called Arai Shakku, who has also decided to start making weapons for protection rather than killing, and it is he who gives the Sakabato to Kenshin.

I thought it was a cool, if a little cliched, story. The sword, however differentiates this from similar stories. I present Himura Kenshins Sakabato:

Himura Kenshins Sakabato

Himura Kenshins Sakabato

[click image to view full size]

From the intro pic, you can see that this is a beautiful, though not particularly noteworthy sword, except for one thing. The edge is on the inside of the curve of the blade, as opposed to the outside. This is a symbolic feature, intended to externally show that it’s wielder is a pacifist, and that the sword is not intended for lethal combat.

However the Sakabato poses a rather interesting structural question. The curve on a katana is a result of differential heat treatment, that makes the front edge of the blade hard, but leaves the spine flexible. During the tempering process, the front edge expands, while the spine does not, which results in the signature curve.

Thus a traditionally heat treated Sakabato is technically a rather complex feat. Since only the heat treated edge of a blade will expand, a sword would never curve in the direction of the edge, only away from it. So the only way a sakabato could be traditionally be made would be to forge an exaggerated reverse curve into the blade, *before* heat treating.

The curve would have to be enough to not only compensate for the resulting straightening that would occur during the heat treatment of the edge, but also still have enough curve left over for it to retain it’s signature Katana curve. It would take a very experienced smith to know exactly how much curve to forge into the blade.

Perhaps that was the point. Perhaps successfully pulling off a Sakabato was the signature of a master swordsmith, and made it the ultimate pacifists weapon. Hmm. That’s cool an all, but I could think of better solutions. Like don’t use a sword at all, just use something else. Like a Louisville slugger. Maybe in steel.

But that’s just my practical side speaking.

Anyway, cool plot lines and metallurgical complexities aside, this replica is actually one of the nicer ones I’ve seen in a long while. From the simple black circular tsuba, to the gold accent on the pommel, it is a very accurate, and very well put together, sword.

With quality fittings, real ray skin and cord wrapped tsuka, full tang carbon steel blade with dual mekugi, this is not only very well crafted, but a beautiful and sturdy design, intended to be dismantled and maintained in the traditional fashion:

Sakabato - Tsuka

Sakabato - Tsuka

[click image to view full size]

But while modern metallurgy might allow us to get away with a reverse bladed sword, without any of the mechanical hassles that would be associated with traditional metal working, I still would not advise any careless swinging of such a weapon. You never know, reverse blades may still have anomalous physical properties…

It might cut a hole in the fabric of space and time, and the tip may slice through, come out the other side and whack you in the back of the head. No, seriously, you gotta be careful with these kinds of things. Trust me, I’m a Balrog, I would know.

Hey, don’t roll your eyes at me, I’m just saying… K, fine. Suit yourself. Just make sure you bequeath your Sakabato to me in your will…

Yeah, It’s Phyreblade. P-H-Y-R…

What?

Himura Kenshins Sakabato – [True Swords]

26
Oct
08

Cool Replicas – Part 4: Sandai Kitetstu

Today, we continue my temporary departure from the usual practice of lamenting the tendency for mediocrity that is often displayed by the collectors cultery industry, (wow that was a mouthful!!) to look at another rather nicely reproduced anime weapon.

Sandai Kitetsu - Third Generation Demon Splitter

Sandai Kitetsu - Third Generation Demon Splitter

[Click to view full size]

This is the Sandai Kitetsu, third Generation Demon splitter, and one of the swords wielded by the sword happy protagonist Roronoa Zolo (AKA Zoro) from the anime One Piece. I can only assume he got that name because the creators of the series thought it would be fitting, given his skill with the sword, to name him after the legendary Zorro.

You know. The legendary Mexican sword freedom fighter with the gay *cough* blade… Gay, in this instance, meaning lively, quick, flashy, etc… Yeah. Just thought I’d clarify. Oh, no, no, no, you’re welcome. Things have certainly changed a lot since the 1980s. But I digress…

Anyway, this Zoro is a pirate. Though he was formerly a bounty hunter, and is an honorable man, with exceptional sword fighting skills, who just happened to fall into an unfortunate situation. He generally carries three swords with him.

However this one I found particularly interesting because, first and foremost, it has a black blade (of course!). But it also just so happens to be a Kitetsu, a cursed blade, that is said will eventually bring a horrible death to it’s wielder. Though you can kind of tell, just by looking at it, it’s a rather mean sword. With a mind of it’s own. Zoro, however, does not seem to mind. My kind of guy… 🙂

Physically, this sword is actually of a fairly standard design, no really unique features, beyond the black on stainless steel blade. However it’s real beauty lies in the details:

Sandai Kitetsu - Tsuba

Sandai Kitetsu - Tsuba

[click image to view full size]

You can see from the detail of the tsuba, the quality of the fit and finish on this sword is very good. Certainly better than some I have seen that cost a lot more. And then theres the Tsuka:

Sandai Kitetsu - Tsuka

Sandai Kitetsu - Tsuka/Saya

[click image to view full size]

An interesting variation of the standard design. Instead of the fully cord wrapped grip, we have a grip that is covered, top and bottom, the same way the saya is, with what appears to be a laquered wood sections. In the middle we have the traditional black cord over rayskin wrapping, with metal bands transitioning between the two.

Another interesting departure from the norm is the design of the kashira, sporting a loop set into the traditional pommel cap. It is depicted similarly in the anime and is certainly an unusual feature. The saya is also fairly simple, the standard black lacquer, adorned with one metal band at the opening, and two more, each a little ways from each end. The tip is also is capped in ornate metal.

Sandai Kitetsu - Demon Splitter Extraordinaire

Sandai Kitetsu - Demon Splitter Extraordinaire

[Click image to view full size]

Overall, this is actually a well done replica. Certainly it does not have the quality or strength of a hand made, sword by any means, so I wouldn’t go sword fighting with it, but for a mass produced replica weapon, it is actually very nicely put together. This one made my white list simply for it’s clean lines, and fairly close attention to detail.

My verdict?

Win.

Just can’t say no to a cursed black sword… 🙂

Roronoa Zolos’ Sandai Kitetsu – [True Swords]

Roronoa Zolos’ Sandai Kitetsu – [Kingdom of Swords]

Roronoa Zolos’ Sandai Kitetsu – [Swords Swords]

23
Oct
08

Cool Replicas – Part 3: The Kusanagi Grass Cutter.

Welcome to the latest entry in my “Cool Replicas” series. Today, I’ll be talking about an interesting anime sword which I like for quite a few of reasons, the most cool (imho) being that the name of this sword actually has a history in Japanese culture. Kinda like the British Excalibur… More on that later.

For now, let me introduce you to a unique shikomizue from the Naruto anime series (one of my favorites) wielded by Sasuke Uchiha, a highly talented young ninja, who later on becomes so entirely corrupted by his need for power that, much like young Anakin Skywalker, he succumbs to the dark side.

This is his signature weapon after his definitive turn to evil; The Kusanagi Grass Cutter sword.

Sasukes Kusanagi Grass Cutter

Sasukes Kusanagi Grass Cutter

[click image to view full size]

Now if you’ve read enough of my posts, you’ll immediately spot two things that I like. Want to take a stab at guessing what they are? Sure, go right ahead. I’ll wait… 🙂

LOL yep. The astute among you might have picked up on my shikomizue reference before, and you would be right. This is very similar in design to staff sword, saya and tsuki designed to look like a single piece of wood when closed. One of my very favorite designs.

The second? OK. For those not so familiar with my taste in weapons, I’ll be nice and give you a hint:

Sasukes Kusanagi Grass Cutter - *BLADE* and saya...

Sasukes Kusanagi Grass Cutter - *BLADE* and saya...

[click image to view full size]

Ok, if you didn’t pick up on it that time, you phail. The blade is the other thing I like on this. Why? BECAUSE IT’S BLACK!!!! Ha! OK. Now that we’ve gotten those little details out of the way, a little more about the sword. One of the first things I noticed was that the saya and tsuki were rectangular in cross section, which is an unusual trait.

Below you can see the detail of the black and white rectangular saya, sporting Sasuke Uchihas clan crest, (the fan in red), and more importantly, the point of the blade, an interesting hybrid between the traditional sweeping Japanese katana point style and the straight cut, sharply angled points we see on modernized/westernized ninjaken today.

Kusanagi Grass Cutter - Saya, Point

Kusanagi Grass Cutter - Saya, Point

[click image to view full size]

Now the great thing about a weapon like this is that it’s pretty hard to mess up, replica wise. Unless the components are really dirt cheap, and it is poorly put together, it is perhaps one of the simplest designs to replicate. All in all, I like this design. Thought it could stand to be a little darker… 🙂

BUT, interestingly enough, I did find another version of this sword, a much darker version, which proved to be not so accurate, though, to their credit, they did not try to pass it off as Sasukes sword, even though it is clearly a blatant rip off:

Kusanagi Grass Cutter - Anime Rip Off

Kusanagi Grass Cutter - Anime Rip Off

[click image to view full size]

Not so great. But now for some trivia. This particular design (in black) did not come out of nowhere. If you are one of the many who only watch anime on the cartoon channel here in the US, and don’t really know where they come from (besides from Japan, obviously) you may not realize that a great many of the popular anime series started of as Manga, or Japanese comics.

In fact most of the popular ones running now, like Naruto and Bleach, both got thier starts as Japanese comic books, and went almost immediately to TV syndication, so that the TV episodes aired almost as soon as a comic story line arc was complete. (Sometimes sooner, which often causes frequent non-storyline related filler arcs, much to my, and many others, chagrin).

Anyway the reason I brought this up is that there is a discrepancy between the Anime version and the Manga version of The Kusanagi sword. The versions we see above are actually the Manga version of the sword. The version that first appears in the Anime is a straight shikomizue (no curve) with a black saya and tsuki (no white lines), and a polished steel blade, quite similar to the black one above (except straight).

OK, so enough with the Anime trivia, on to Japanese folk history. The name of this sword is actually the name of a legendary sword in Japanese culture. The name “Kusanagi Grass Cutter” is actually a Japanese/English mix of the traditional name Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi, which literally translates to “Grass cutter sword”.

There is actually a very cool story associated with this legendary sword, I was going to go into, but I won’t bore you with it, this post has gotten too long already. However If you want more details you can click here: Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi

As you can probably imagine, my ideal Kusanagi sword would be a black saya, black tsuki shikomizue, with a straight, black, westernized tanto point blade… mmm… a totally black sword… wait… I think I’m drooling… OK I’m done. I need to get a bib for these kinds of posts… 🙂

*Edit*

An astute reader, Zharkman, was kind enough to point out that my assumption about the last, black sheathed sword being a rip off of Sasukes Kusanagi is actually false, and that it actually came from the anime D. Gray-Man. I went back and looked it up, and lo and behold, I goofed!

The last sword is actually a replica of Mugen, the signature shirasaya of the D. Gray-Man protagonist Yu Kanda. And in that capacity it is actually an excellent likeness. This is what I get for making unfounded assumptions. And for not keeping up on my anime… There are just too many of them… Dagnabbit!

Sasukes Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi (Naruto) – [Kingdom of Swords]

Sasukes Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi (Naruto) – [Swords, Swords]

Yu Kandas’ Mugen Sword (From D. Gray-Man) – [True Swords]

21
Oct
08

Cool Replicas – Part 2: Benihime

Welcome to the next installment of my miniseries about second gen replicas that are think are improvements of ones I have already posted about. Today we take a look at yet another Zanpakuto from the anime Bleach, Specifically that of Kisuke Urahara. This is another great weapon found by Mozza (thanks again!) called Benihime – The Crimson Princess:

Kisuke Uraharas Zanpakuto - Benihime Shikai

Kisuke Urahara's Zanpakuto - Benihime (Crimson Princess) Shikai

This sword is the Shikai form of Kisukes Zanpakuto Benihime (Crimson Princess), which is a sword cane with a curved handle in its unawakened form. In an earlier post, I had talked a little bit about how I thought this particular design actually had a lot of good practical design point.

I won’t go over its detailed physical attributes again, but I will point out that the other sword was not so much a sucky sword as much as it was not as detailed, accurate and meticulously finished as this one. In this design, you can see a lot more effort has been put into giving it more depth and character.

In this one the canted pommel is much more prominently featured, as is the unusual ricasso. The little triangles attached to the ricasso actually hang from a tassel in the anime, but I suppose it’s a minor detail that is not of much structural significance.

It is difficult to tell from this pic whether this shares the same full tang construction of the first Benihime I posted about, but if it does not it would be an inferior design, though it would make for an interesting contrast. Shame that the pictures are not particularly clear about how well put together this weapon is at a physical level.

If I were a betting creature, I would guess this build is structurally of lesser quality than the other. Which makes this kind of a bittersweet weapon to post about, since even though the it is a much more “accurate” reproduction compared to the other, the other one appeared to be constructed in a way that would still make a superior weapon.

So while It’s aesthetically clearly superior, and gets a good grade on accuracy, fit and finish, the practicality and the durability of it’s construction may leave something to be desired.

Why does it seem like there is always a trade off somewhere… ?

Kisuke Urahara’s Zanpakuto: Benihime Shikai – [Anime Castle]

19
Oct
08

Cool Replicas – Part 1: Zabimaru

The regular readers on this here blog thingy will know that one of my pet peeves is cheap, poor, inaccurate and otherwise needlessly mediocre reproductions of cool weapons that could very easily have been made to much more closely mimic the weapons they were inspired by.

Now I realize that cost is always a factor. And that many repro houses are simply out to make a quick buck off a blockbuster movie, anime or video game, but sometimes I think the lengths to which they go to save said buck makes no sense. A typical example was the first reproduction of the Zanapkuto Zabimaru from the Anime Bleach.

If you will remember, I was clearly not pleased with what they did to it. However I was pleasantly surprised to find another version of it that was a much better match to the anime weapon. And since I also had a couple of readers send me links to improved versions of weapons I had griped about in the past, I thought I’d make a little mini series of posts related to them.

So welcome to the first in the series: Cool Replicas – Part 1: Zabimaru

Renji Abarais Zanpakuto - Zabimaru

Renji Abarai's Zanpakuto - Zabimaru

[click on image to view full size]

Now THIS is a reproduction. This, my friends, is a solid steel version of Zabimaru, replete with all of the original evil spikes, points, and other bladed wickedness that Zabimaru tends to sport.

As you can see from the pic, this version is not a dumbed down version of the blade, as the other one was, and actually does a very good job of reproducing a design that would admittedly be very difficult to manufacture cheaply.

The pic below is of the hilt of Zabimaru, and it’s a good indicator of the quality of the build on this blade. You can see that there is a lot of attention to detail, and a lot of work went into the fit and finish of this replica.

Zabimaru - Hilt

Zabimaru - Hilt

[click on image to view full size]

However the most telling feature is how they captured one of the more difficult to replicate aspects of Zabimaru’s design: The blade spikes. In the Anime, Zabimaru is actually a sectioned blade, and each section is able to move independently, like a blade whip.

Each spike actually coincided with the transition between one segment of blade to the next, and created a very prominent ridge to visually make this distinction. Now the reality of it is that making a real sectioned blade would be almost impossible to manufacture at any kind of reasonable price point in real life.

The way the last repro I looked at handled it was to use a single piece of metal, and just carve out sections of the blade to form little bumps where the spikes were supposed to be… Yes, bumps. (BUMPS?!?! THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO BE SPIKES!!! YOU HEATHENOUS WRETCHES!!!) OK, ok, just calm down… Whoosaaah… *sigh*

Zabimaru - Good Blade Spikes

Zabimaru - What Blade spikes are SUPPOSED to look like...

[click image to view full size]

Ok… So anyway, as opposed to what the last HACKS and CHARLATANS did, the pic above shows what those designers should have done. The smart thing. The good thing. The kind of thing that brings glory and honor to evil spiked weapons everywhere… 🙂 Add steel blade spikes to either side Zabimarus’ blade to replicate the ridges and spikes of the anime version! These guys are geniuses!

So overall, I’d have to say I’m pretty impressed with this rendition of Zabimaru. And work like this this clearly demonstrates something that I, and many blade enthusiasts like me, have said all along. There is really no need to go the dirt cheap route with a replica blade. Most folks will pay a little more for a well constructed replica, so there is a good business case for making high quality reproduction blades.

Zabimaru - A Replica with Soul...

Zabimaru - A Replica with Soul...

[click image to view full size]

All it takes is for a designer who is interested in quality, as opposed to just churning out trash. And if this replica is any indication, it means there actually exist living, breathing, thinking, non bean counter controlled replica houses who are just as interested in accuracy and quality as in making a buck.

It warms the glowing embers of my heart I tell ya. And that ain’t an easy thing to do…

Zabimaru – [Swords Swords]




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