Cheerio! It feels like it's been a while, but episode four of Katanagatari is upon us to continue its overly-verbose tale of powerful swords and the collection thereof.
With three swords in the bag, it's time for Shichika Yasuri to make a bid for blade number four, which is currently in the hands of one Sabi Hakuhei - Supposedly Japan's strongest swordsman. If that sounds like we're all set for an epic battle between an ultra-strong swordsman and Kyotouryuu expert, then.... well, tough luck, because we don't get to see any of it.
The reason for this is that there's something far more interesting going on alongside Togame and Shichika's quest this time around, which comes in the form of yet more employees of the Maniwa Corps, and more precisely their "insect squad", which takes floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee to a whole new level. The trio of ninjas which make up this squad have been tasked with stopping Shichika's progress by kidnapping his sister Nanami and using her as a hostage - A sound plan on the surface, and a gloriously simple one at that.
However, this plan has been drafted without any knowledge of Nanami's own abilities, and so as their confrontation with her begins so we gain a first-hand demonstration of just what she's capable of - Never mind the sweet and mild-mannered girl we saw back in episode one, Nanami seems to be shooting for the top of the "yandere" league once she's confronted with any sort of hostile danger. I won't spoil things any more than that, but needless to say she makes for a more impressive foe than first meets the eye.
Of course, despite all of this fighting and use of ninja techniques, Katanagatari's real focus continues to be on its dialogue, which can make for an overly elongated affair at times, with far too much use of monologue and dialogue where actions would speak louder than words. Then again, on the other hand Nisio Isin's writing continues to be delightful on occasion, so for all of that verbal diarrhoea we do get some genuinely excellent and hugely funny moments, coupled with the kind of nice little plot twists that manage to make things most entertaining indeed.
This does however confirm my suspicions that Katanagatari would probably work better as a more traditional anime series with twenty-minute episodes rather than the format it makes use of here - Despite those great moments they're simply too few and far between much of the time, leaving you looking at your watch occasionally wondering when the next "good bit" is likely to come along. Luckily the best bits are most certainly worth waiting for, and this episode as a whole was oddly fascinating on account of Nanami's turn as nothing short of some kind of demonic big sister, but those dialogue-induced frustrations do continue to take the sheen of some of this series better points, particularly when it teases us about a major fight by simply chatting about it for five minutes over some dumplings.