Posts Tagged ‘Ninjaken’

Back to Basics…

Friday, July 17th, 2009

It’s been a while since i’ve posted anything about a simple sword, so when I ran across this one, it said to me: “Phyre… It is time.”

Death Talon Ryu Ninja Katana

Death Talon Ryu Ninja Katana

This is the Death Talon Katana. Really nothing fancy. All understated, a few nice simple styling cues. Otherwise all business. And that’s what I like about it.

The blade is your regular Japanese Katana fare, long, curved, single edged, with a rather unusually smooth curve to the kissaki. AND, unlike many of the other abominations I’ve blogged about in the past, this one has a nice, simple fuller. No pointless cutouts, no cross drilling, no slots, just a nice, well designed blade.

The habaki, and tsuba are both finished in flat black, the small tsuba sporting a single, simple, upward curving black talon. My kind of simplicity in design. The tsuka is equally simply finished, with a simple black cord wrap. Interestingly, the grip does not carry the traditional Japanese tsuka-maki, or grip cross wrapping, opting instead for a simple spiral cord wrap. But it fits the simplicity of the swords design well. The pommel of the sword is capped with an equally flat black kashira.

Death Talon Ryu Ninja Katana - Sword Detail

Death Talon Ryu Ninja Katana - Sword Detail

The top and the bottom of the Satin black saya are also simply decorated with an open delta, and the saya itself is attached to a Blade style back carry strap system. Pretty cool. Even the name, while a bit ambitious, is not actually misleading either. A ninja, might, in fact use a Katana like this.

All in all, a simple, no muss, no fuss, no nonsense design.

Me llikey.

Death Talon Ryu Ninja Katana – [True Swords]

Retro Active Futurism.

Friday, June 26th, 2009

I sometimes wonder what the term “futuristic” really means. Especially from an aesthetic standpoint. What, exactly, are the design criteria for making “Futuristic” weapons? I can see, functionality wise, how you could come up with a futuristic weapon. Basically, you devise some device whose functionality cannot presently be duplicated with even our most advanced technologies, and Voila! Futuristics galore.

But from an aesthetic standpoint, designing something to look futuristic seems a little… Difficult. I mean think about it. In order to design something really futuristic, we’d have to know what kind of aesthetic style people of the future might use. And who really know what that might be? Will plaid come back into style? Will giant shark fins reappear on cars? Will Leisure suits become hip again? Will black become the new black? All very weighty philosophical questions.

But in the absence of hard answers, of course, people improvise. In other words: They guess. Sometimes badly. Really, really badly. Case in point. The rather funky, (and, personally irritating, on many levels) sword below:

Futuristic Ninja Sword

Futuristic Ninja Sword

Yessirree. A so called “Futuristic” ninja sword…  *cough* Man… There are sooo many things wrong with that phrase. For instance, what makes anyone think a ninja from the future would even use a sword? Apart from die hard traditionalists, who would, in essence, not even be truly following the original spirit of the art, any real shadow warrior would be using light sabers, blasters, and antigrav, exploding, autonomous, homing shuriken. But those will be the topic of another post. Probably a good 30 or 40 years from now. Check back with me then.

For now, I’ll just rip on the sword. Just a little. Yeah. Gimme a sec, I’m gotta stretch a little bit. Don’t want to over exert my rant engine…

OK, I’m all warmed up. Let’s start with that blasted hilt. Which looks oddly enough, like a knock off of a rip off of a replica Hibben thrower hilt. Or something like that. Sans the little finger cut out, which looks cool, but probably isn’t particularly ergonomic. I’m gonna ignore the complete lack of a guard, since I already have lots to complain about, and one of you smarty pants is prolly gonna start some nasal diatribe about how there might be an “energy force field” for a guard and whatnot.

So I’m gonna jump straight down the blades throat instead.

One of my pet peeves are slotted blades. IMHO, they weaken the blade, and don’t really look all that great anyway. But of course, for reasons that escape me entirely, there are an inordinate amont of “futuristic” swords that have -slotted- blades. Why?!? Is there some unknown law of the universe that I am, wholly unaware of that dictates that slots be applied to “Futurize” a sword? Can someone throw me a bone here? Pass me a universal Universal Law translator or something? I just don’t get it. Which isn’t saying much, but still.

And then there’s the tip. Long, narrow and tapering. Ah. futuristic no? Cool? Maybe. If looks were everything. But… NO. It is absolutely NOT the tip any self respecting Shinobi warrior would use. There is a reason why ninjaken, and Japanese katanas in general, have such and abrupt point. That point style are strong. They are good for thrusts. They won’t break off if you try to stab through a car door.

<ahem>

Not that there are any good reasons to attempt to run a car door through with a sword, but the point is, those kinds of tips, the abrupt, chisel like, tanto/ninjato tips, can do it fairly easily. Provided the you’re not a wimp. Then there’s just no point in even trying, is there. Hey don’t get mad, I’m just saying. Ok, ok, fine. Look, my point is, in comparison to a real ninja swords tip, this tip = FAIL!

What more can I say. It almost seems to me like futuristic weapon design frequently consists of elements that generally appear less functional  and more primitive than thier modern day coutnerparts, somehow enhanced by SCIENCE!!!

Yeah… More like “blinded by science” I say. That’s the only explanation I can come up with for these acts of sacrilege…

Futuristic Jurassic Ninja Sword – [True Swords]

Cool Replicas – Part 3: The Kusanagi Grass Cutter.

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

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) – [SouthWest Blades]

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

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

Cool Replicas – Part 2: Benihime

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

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]

A rather wicked bowie…

Monday, July 7th, 2008

A while back while doing some research on a little project, (the results of which you may get to see here at some point in the future) I ran across a wicked looking little sword:

Viper Night Bowie

Viper Night Bowie

[view full size]

Now you may notice, if you go to the site I found this sweet looking sword on, (link at the bottom of the page) that it is called a “Black Ronin Full Tang Ninja Sword”. I chose to use the Viper Bowie because frankly there are too many Black Ronin weapons floating about, and also because this swords design, beyond anything more than being fairly straight, actually has more in common with a bowie than it does a ninjato.

However, as swords go, this one combines a rather unusual number of bowie-like design elements, such as a false edge on the spine that seems to run into a long clip-like point, opposite a blade with an almost imperceptible belly. Definitely Bowie inspired. Beyond that you have a serrated section below the straight edge that runs into thee short cut our ricasso, and into the small finger guard.

Behind the false rear edge on the spine of the blade we see a set of cut outs, much like those on the survival knives I blogged about a while ago, that runs into a small raised section that looks almost like a thumb rest with a grip slots cut into the surface. The blade itself has been rather heinously violated by a set of three slots set between the serrated section of the blade and just below the cut outs in the spine.

If you look at the profile of the blade, you can see that it is actually at it’s narrowest just above the slot area, and gets wider before and after, which, to me, makes the placement, and even the existence of those slots all the more mind boggling.

Black Viper Bowie

Why remove more material so close to one of the weakest parts of the blade? Maybe they like seeing swords bend/snap in half at inopportune moments, impaling the users big toe with a wayward slab of sharp black steel? Looking at some of these designs, I can help but ask…

Yet another interesting design cue was the black cord wrapped grip, which, in addition to having a nice gradual swell towards the open pommel, is actually biased forward a little, kinda like how a kukri is designed. I can imagine this providing a great grip for the weapon. This weapon seems to have been designed for more for heavy duty chopping, rough cutting and thrusting duty than anything else. Definitely not a Ninjato inspired sword.

But Ninjato or Bowie, between the flat black finish, and it’s wicked, no nonsense design, this sword by any other name is still freakin’ sweet…

Viper Night Bowie – [Swords 24]

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