A visual guide to the katanas featured in The Sword of Kaigen.
With 2019 coming to a close, I realized that I’ve actually written far more Theonite-related content for other people’s blogs than my own. This isn’t something I regret; I don’t believe I’ve ever mistaken myself for a blogger or led anyone else to do so.
However, I do want all of these posts to be easy to find, here on this site where people are most likely to be searching for them. So, what I’m going to do over the remainder of 2019 is post introductory samples of all my guest posts, one at a time. These samples should be just long enough to give you an idea of whether you’re interested in clicking through to the full post on the host’s blog.
The content is easy to find, the hosts still get the traffic, everybody wins!
The following is the second of seven guest posts I wrote for The Sword of Kaigen Blog Tour, hosted by Karina at Afire Pages from 11/11 – 11/29/19. This one, hosted by Novels & Waffles, includes my own digital artwork of the katanas in The Sword of Kaigen, as well as a brief explanation of their names and symbolic significance. It was written to supplement the “Find your Kaigenese Katana” Personality Quiz.
The Swords of Kaigen
“A warrior’s soul isn’t made of ice or metal. It is his soul.”
– Matsuda Takeru, The Sword of Kaigen
In The Sword of Kaigen, every weapon reflects something about its wielder’s personality. The following is a visual guide and introduction to the seven named swords that feature in the story. I did do the visuals myself, so excuse the shoddy Photoshop work.
TAKENAGI 竹薙 – THE BAMBOO CUTTER
(Designed by ancient Kuruma smiths, wielded by the Yukino patriarch, Yukino Dai)
Slighter and lighter than most katanas, Takenagi is built for speed, with a guard of silver bamboo leaves. Its name is a callback to the legendary Japanese sword, Kusanagi (incidentally, the name of the titular peninsula in The Sword of Kaigen). Kusanagi translates to ‘Grass Cutter’ while Takenagi translates to ‘Bamboo Cutter.’ This pairs with wielder Yukino Dai’s nickname, the Lightning Swordsman, suggesting a tree split by a silver lightning strike.
A wielder of Takenagi should be precise, level-headed, and above all, fast.
KUROKOURI 黒氷 – BLACK ICE
(Forged by ancient Kotetsu smiths, wielded by several Matsuda patriarchs, including Matsuda Susumu)
Kurokouri is over three hundred years old, so little is known about its creators. It was named during a time when the reigning emperor had claimed the color black as a symbol of divine right to rule, so it is possible that the name Black Ice is a sign of the Matsuda family’s right to rule over Takayubi. Heavier than other Kotetsu-forged swords, Kurokouri requires considerable strength to wield. While its last wielder in The Sword of Kaigen, Matsuda Susumu, is a cruel man of little talent, Black Ice has made its way into the hands of a younger and worthier swordsman by the Theonite Series.
A wielder of Kurokouri must be resolute and physically indomitable.
ANRYUU 安流 – THE RIPTIDE
(Forged by ancient Ishino smiths for Tsusano ‘The Giant’ Raiden, wielded by all subsequent Tsusano patriarchs, including Tsusano Koya and Tsusano Kazu)
Also called the Undertow or the Stormblade, Sinker of Ships, Anryuu is so large that it can only be carried across a grown man’s back. Legend justifies its size by claiming that it was forged for the mythical giant, Tsusano Raiden, who was said to stand two stories tall. Where a heavy sword of normal size, like Kurokouri, requires a wielder of surpassing human strength, Anryuu demands supernatural strength. The secret to wielding it lies in the Tsusano bloodline and the unique relationship between their willpower and the blood running through their veins.
A wielder of Anryuu must have not only great physical strength but great strength of will.
NAGIMARU なぎ丸 & NAMIMARU なみ丸 – GOD SWORD & GODDESS SWORD
(Forged by Kotetsu Katashi and Matsuda Takashi, wielded by Matsuda Takashi)
The ambidextrous and massively powerful Matsuda Takashi wields the katana, Nagimaru, in his right hand and the wakizashi, Namimaru, in his left. The fish that form the guards of both weapons are a notable design choice, considering the time in which Takashi commissioned and assisted in forging them. While it is not unusual for the local religion to depict God, Nagi, and Goddess, Nami, as fish, the Matsuda family typically favors serpent and dragon imagery. The fish, in this case, are a nod to the lowborn fisherwoman, Chiba Setsuko, who Takashi was secretly courting at the time.
To wield Nagimaru and Namimaru simultaneously, one must have Takashi’s power, aggression, and versatility.