Although we missed out on the meat of Shichika Yasuri's fight with Sabi Hakuhei last episode, we were at least treated to the arguably far more fascinating revelations surrounding the abilities of his sister Nanami, which was more than entertaining enough in its own right. For this fifth instalment of Katanagatari however, we return our focus well and truly to Shichika and Togame's journey.
With four swords under their belt and Japan's strongest swordsman defeated, Togame and her human weapon are beginning to find that their reputation precedes them; right from the off we see a woman named Princess Hitei who already has prior knowledge of Togame plotting something, and as she arrives with Shichika in Satsuma so Togame also finds that her next target is already aware of their presence.
The target in question is Azekura Kanara, the captain of the Yoroi Pirates (who are actual pirates, not some kind of sports team in case you're wondering) who holds Kiki Shikizaki's defensive blade which isn't actually a sword at all, but rather a powerful suit of armour. With no access to its occupant, this certainly looks likely to be a fight that will test Shichika to his limits, and things take an interesting turn as Kanara approaches Togame with a deal at which she finds herself at its heart.
Rather than concentrating on swords and fighting, a large portion of this episode deals with the relationship between Togame and Shichika, as they both dance around one another in their own unique ways without ever actually admitting that they've grown closer to one another during the course of their journey. So, we see Togame flirting blatantly with her companion and getting nowhere, while Shichika exhibits obvious moments of jealousy without even realising it, which takes us through to an ending where Shichika goes beyond merely relying on his Kyotouryuu techniques after being spurred on by Togame.
Unfortunately, none of this saves this particular instalment of Katanagatari from being by far the dullest yet - Even though I'm used to this show being dialogue-heavy by this juncture, said dialogue lacked any kind of sharpness here most of the time (aside from a couple of decent comedic moments), and the character development I just spoke of is predictable and half-hearted rather than giving us anything of interest. With no action, excitement or genuine intrigue to fall back on, Katanagatari is little more than an empty shell when the impact of its spoken words fails, and sadly that's exactly what's happened here. I want to like this series in so many ways, but when it puts together efforts like this one I'm left with the taste of disappointment in my mouth.