Sometimes anime and manga create their own worlds, and sometimes they hearken back to real things, including those from Japan’s past. The bishonen franchise Touken Ranbu anthropomorphizes famous old Japanese swords as beautiful young men, and this has gotten many fans interested in the original swords.
In fact, two swords referenced in the franchise — Onikirimaru (a.k.a Higekiri) and Usumidori (a.k.a Hizamaru)— are currently on display in Kyoto. The Mainichi, which calls itself “Japan’s National Daily Since 1922,” is reporting on the swords. But instead of the headline tying it to anything historical, the headline reads, “Legendary swords tied to popular online game ‘Touken Ranbu’ on special display in Kyoto.” In other words, it’s the popular bishonen angle that the newspaper expects to get more people interested rather than the historical meaning of these swords.
That doesn’t mean people aren’t interested in the historical meanings. The swords are what’s known as “bother blades” and were allegedly made by a descendant of Emperor Seiwa. The blade on Onikirimaru is about 33 inches long, and the blade on Usumidori is about 34 and a half inches long.
Old stories report that Onikirimaru was wielded by samurai Watanabe no Tsuna to slice off an oni’s arm. Lore tells us that Usumidori belonged to Minamoto no Yoshitsune, an important military commander who lived about a thousand years ago.
The article noted that these two swords have gotten more popular thanks to Touken Ranbu. The swords are in Kyoto thanks to the Kyoto City Tourism Association, and will be on-display in the city until September 12.
Google Play gave this description of Touken Ranbu ONLINE Pocket:
“Revisionists seeking to change history have begun to attack the past.
The ‘Saniwa’, who has been given the task of protecting the history, heads back in time with “Touken Danshi”, the fabled swords that have taken the forms of powerful warrior.”
Source: The Mainichi
Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin, plus its sequel, Manga Art for Everyone, and the first-of-its-kind manga chalk book Chalk Art Manga, both illustrated by professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.