The Anime Katana reviewed below is a pretty typical example of what you can expect from replica swords at this price point.
Review by Dan Dacombe, Manitoba, Canada
Based on Kazue Katō’s 8-years-and-counting supernatural manga series, the Blue Exorcist anime is one of the most well-known anime to North American audiences – in no small part due to merchandising. Comic shops and geek stores across the continent are full of Blue Exorcist gear – shirts, posters, and (unsurprisingly) replicas of the main character’s distinctive katana. You may have seen someone walking around wearing a shirt with a pointy-eared teenager on it and wondered – what’s this anime about, anyways?
Blue Exorcist follows the story of Okumura Rin, a Japanese teenager who happens to be the son of the Devil. Rin is unaware of this until he turns 15 and his powers awaken – faced with the option of becoming a powerful tool in the hands of Satan or being killed by the forces of good, Rin chooses a third option – becoming an Exorcist and using his powers to fight back against Hell. His twin brother Yukio, who did not inherit any abilities from his demonic dad, is Rin’s teacher and partner in their attempt to commit patricide on an infernal scale.
It may sound cliché, but Blue Exorcist is one example of what can make anime so wildly entertaining in the West – it’s chock full of all the usual good stuff (epic battles, supernatural horror, comedic timing, a determinator of a main character, etc) and also aspects that to English-speaking audiences seem hilarious, yet apt (“Combat Bible Verses,” anyone?). The series was well received by critics and this year – in a surprising move surely due to the anime’s international popularity – is getting a season 2 in 2017, 6 full years after the first season aired. Even for casual anime fans, it’s worth a watch
Rin’s personal blade is the Kurikara, a demon-slaying sword that resembles a katana with a Jian-like guard. When he was born, Rin’s powers (resembling blue flames) were sealed within the sword in an attempt to let him live as a normal human being. That attempt failed, and now Rin lives as a partial-demon while the sword holds the majority of his powers. When needed, the Rin may draw the sword and transform, unleashing his full might against an enemy – but should the sword fall into the wrong hands, they would be able to use Rin’s own power against him.
The sword we received from Trueswords.com is a carbon steel replica of the Kurikara, and is sold as the Exorcist Anime Katana. In this review we will take a look at how it holds up for the price, and if it could potentially be used as an actual cutting sword… while being careful of the blue flames, of course.
The Exorcist Anime Katana came as usual by courier, and double boxed in thick cardboard. It actually arrived a bit before I was aware it had been shipped, to my great surprise. Fedex really doesn’t screw around!
There was no damage to the box, and everything looked ship-shape. I opened it up to see if it was still fresh.
In a move that is… I’m going to say slightly unusual for $30 anime katana, the Exorcist sword is sold with what is advertised as a “carbon steel” blade. For the price I can only imagine that it would be 1045 steel – anything higher would be more expensive – and almost certainly not tempered. However – stainless steel would make a lot of sense for the price too. I decided to take things a step further and run a couple of tests.
First I checked to see if the sword was magnetic, which it was – eliminating some types of stainless steel. My understanding is that the 400 series is still magnetic, which included the common 440 stainless steel you see in wallhangers and knives all over the world. I wet a square of paper and left it on the blade overnight and in the morning… no rust occurred. Unfortunately, this means that the steel used was 440 stainless – not carbon. So whatever else we find with this sword, it should definitely not be cut with.
The hamon is wire brushed, which is something you can see on even midrange katana from time to time. At the very least it’s even and does not detract from the look.
The tip doesn’t really resemble a real kissaki, but we’re not going to expect miracles for $30.
Overall, the blade does not detract from the overall package at all. For the price it isn’t bad, even if it is stainless.
The fittings are where this anime sword really shines, and what make it stand out from other wallhangers.
Instead of a tsuba, the sword has a silver guard that is closer to the guard of a Chinese Jian. The habaki and fuchikashira are made of the same material, giving the sword a very distinctive look.
I don’t know if it would be possible, but a skilled customizer might be able to swap these fittings out to a functional blade. That alone is worth the price of the sword, though it would be a shame to break this down – even if it is a display piece.
The tsuka is wrapped with synthetic blue ito over a wooden core.
As you can see from the pictures, there are no visible mekugi on the handle. There is also no discernable way to take the handle apart, which makes determining the construction method (and tang for that matter) difficult.
Based on what I can see, I very much doubt that there is a full tang under this hood, which fits the expectations at this price point. Like we said before – this sword should not be cut with.
The blue/silver design continues to the saya, and honestly it’s very striking.
The wood from the saya feels solid and the sword does not slide out of the saya when turned upside down.
The metal fittings are solidly affixed and show no signs of coming loose.
I am VERY reluctant to seriously dry handle this sword unsheathed in any sort of environment, especially indoors – and it’s winter, so I can hardly take it outside.
I will say that when you remove it from the saya it feels roughly the weight and heft of a light katana, and has enough realism that you feel more or less like you are holding a real sword. The type of steel and the almost-certainly-non-functional tang make it faaaar too risky to try and cut with this – so leave it on the wall, yeah?
Well it may not be functional (and for $30 what else could you really expect?), but the Exorcist Anime Katana is darn pretty.
There is no real reason, as a sword collector, to purchase a non-functional blade. Most collectors just wouldn’t see the point. BUT – for an anime fan, especially a fan of this popular show, the small investment of money may be worth it.
It really begs the question; why collect swords in the first place? Sure, there are martial artists and backyard cutters among us, but no one in the modern world is buying a sword because they are going to need it desperately in their day-to-day. No – we collect swords because it’s cool. And if someone gets enjoyment out of having this $30 wallhanger in their collection, should they be judged?
As an avid watcher of anime, I’m pleased to hang this on my wall – although I’m going to double check which sword I grab when I go outside for cutting practice this spring…
I hope this review of the Blue Exorcist Anime Katana has been helpful. To return to Anime Swords from Blue Exorcist Anime Katana, click here