Swords are the extension of a warriors personality, purpose and soul. It is the tool that can be used beyond the imagination as it leaves your mind to give it purpose and the sky's the limit.
It has the power to convince or to threaten, the power to build or destroy and the power to save or kill.
It's supposed to be a sacred art that only a very few can master and in capable hands, they can carve their
way to their ultimate goal or hail destruction upon the world.
So, what are swords in general and why does anime use them so much?
First let's talk about...
In human history, conquerings and battles were decided with masses of soldiers who ran into each other and eventually got to stab one another. Blood would be shed, lives would be sacrificed and territory would either be lost or won.
But, as armies became more modern in both their tactics and weaponry with weapons capable of killing from a distance, the sword quickly became obsolete. I mean, of course, it HAD to become obsolete as there's no way in hell that you could send a swordsman to fight against people who can kill from a distance. That's just stupid.
But, the Art of the Sword never died, as it was still the perfect weapon to kill somebody in close-range-combat and silently if need be. Not only were the Ninjas/assassins (as we know them of. Ninjas has been in fugal Japan for a while now) then born but affection towards swords became more and more popularised in our modern time for various of reasons.
Wielding a sword demands a great amount of focus and responsibilty, if done and executed correctly. And of course, it shows great amounts of skill.
Hell, even owning a sword demands a huge amounts of responsibilty and discipline as taking care of one might not be easy.
Anyways, today, it is seen as a great achievement to fully wield a deadly weapon such as a sword as it displays
serenity, responsibility and discipline. (but please wave your sword in a safe enviroment. That's even more responsible)
The different types of Swords
The one sword that every anime-viewer should at least know of, the Katana is the prime weapon of the Japanese culture. Long, sleek and slightly curved, this sword has only one sharp edge as it has only one goal in mind when used in battle:
And it will kill fast and efficently as it was designed to cut through bone and flesh (a proficent user could potentially cut the entire body if cut diagonally from the shoulder) with ease. It's light in weight and even though
the metal is strong and sturdy enough, it's not really meant to be a dualing-type of sword. The user has to reflect
the swords purpose and kill swiftly and with one blow if possible. Also, even though the sword can cut through bone, it can easily break from anything other than cutting humans, like trees or stones. So next time you see that in anime, you'll know that instead of a stone breaking in two, it'll be the sword.
Otherwise, the Katana houses a guard (most have guards) and the handle are often made out of ray-skin to allow the user a firm and solid grip. If not used or transported, the Katana usually stands out in the open on a stand with the scabbard underneath as a Katana isn't just a weapon.
A beautiful Katana is a piece of art. And it could stand ready if someone breaks into your house XD
Foils and Rapiers were long, slender bladed swords designed to empathize thrust and stabbing and
were one of a very few civilian swords ever devised. Appearing first in the 16th century,
these swords were primarily used for dueling, a popular “fad” of these times and for several centuries after.
On contrary to popular belief, a Rapiers weight leaned more towards the heavy side and were therefore much slower compared to the swords used in sport-fencing.
Otherwise, the Rapier houses a guard (that mostly surrounds the hand) and its handle would most likely be of wood, as it connects you diectly with the sword. If not used, it should always stay in its scabbard and displayed with it on, as the guard itself takes a considerable amount of effort to construct and design (refer to pic1)
Two Handed Swords
Two handed swords or Great swords were a specialized weapon up to 6' long that were especially popular in the 1500s to 1600s. The precise military role of these swords is a matter of debate for scholars, though many tend to believe that they were primarily used in 1 on 1 duels and single combat, yet no doubt were also quite useful to 'shock troops' in the front lines to cleave a path through the enemy.
Wielding such a weapon would require great strength and lots of room to swing, which makes sense since it can get 2 frikkin' metres long!
A Two Handed Sword comes with a traditional guard and should be stored in either your armory or in your basement.
(Technically, Heathcliff's sword from Sword Art Online should be classified as a Two Handed/Longsword since its weight and length would suggest so)
Short Swords usually have a total length of around 2' (which of course for a sword, is relatively - short)
and historically were almost always used with a shield in the other one hand. Favored especially by the Roman Army (but also by the Greeks and Spartans and other ancient world warriors)
With a wide variety and designs, a Short Sword is by far the most versitale of all the previous weapons (maybe not against the Katana) as its greatest advantage is that it only requires one hand, making you capable of choosing either a shield, dual-wield with another Short Sword or even keep having one sword to make it easier to move around.
This, like the Two Handed Sword, is a weapon of war and is to be stored somewhere other than your dinner table XD
Now, there are a few swords that are neither a Longsword, Rapier or such. These are really simply called Swords. The Dark Repulser from Sword Art Online would be a great example of one, as it is neither too long nor too short, too light nor too heavy and can be used with one hand or two!
So, why in anime?
Mostly, it's kinda obvious. To make it interesting, add a depth of skill to the characters and provide you with two points in one: Adding a fight-scene, which is a feast for the eyes which then adds length to the runtime.
But, there are also special cases that require a sword towards its plot. Maybe its like the Holy Sword Excalibur? Maybe it has some kind of background to the plot itself or maybe its a one-of-a-kind sword?
But yeah, simply said, a sword is there to add length to an anime and show off cool stuff. And again, it's not as simple as that...
I mean, it would have gone much much faster to use a pistol to kill off your enemies but the fight-scene that would be induced would be boring as hell: Everyone is stuck behind cover...
Of course, in anime, there are a bunch of swords that can't even be used as a regular sword. They are either too complicated, too huge or simply not a sword at all but claims to be one XD
Maybe a good reason why anime uses swords is that it really is cool as hell!
And remember this: Is the Sword mightier than the Pen?
Now, this Card is a part of my own series where I put up more anime-related posts such as discussing, analyzing and showing you parts of Anime that makes an Anime an Anime! Every topic from the technical aspects, core elements and even entire shows are collected there so make sure you check out and follow "Why anime?" collection for more posts about and around anime! :D
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'til next time!