Tales of Sword and Samurai
This Edition of the Bento Buffet we celebrate the sword and the samurai. Anime is filled with strong sword warriors. There is the wandering samurai Himura Kenshin from Rouruni Kenshin, the valiant death god Ichigo Kurosaki from Bleach, the pirate Roronoa Zoro from One Piece, gamer Kirito from Sword Art Online and Guts from Berserk to name a few. Each a hero or anti-hero in his own right that fight according to his own code, be it the code of the samurai, a code of justice or a code of loyalty.
We will take a look at different types of swords, share some samurai lore and even look at a samurai-inspired anime music video. Take up your swords, nakama, as we take our swords on an epic anime journey. Itadakimasu!
One of the best anime this season is Hinamatsuri. In Episode 3 of Hinamatsuri Anzu stole our hearts as she started a life as one of the city’s homeless people. She learned how to scavenge for food and learned the ‘protocol’ of being in a homeless community from a kindly honourable old hobo and his friends. We also had a funny moment with Hitomi when her homeroom teacher discovered he bartending! In Episode 4 Hina gets kicked out of Nitta’s house because she wrecked his apartment when she tried to clean it for him as a surprise. She ends up at Anzu’s place in the squatter community. Nitta learns in this episode that people will shun you away when you chase away a child that is under your care. Episode 3 and for is brilliant and a lot more happened but we do not want to spoil it for those who still want to watch the series. Hinamatsuri is a magical slice of life story that happens to have a hint of science fiction, there is a little magic in the anime for everyone.
If our samurai-themed Bento made you hungry for more samurai anime then you are in for a treat because in July a new anime, Angolmois – Genkou Kassenki, will be released. It is based on a historical seinen manga by Nanahiko Takagi and is about a small band of samurai facing off against a vast amount of foreign warriors during the Mongol invasion of Japan in 1274 ACE.
The anime stars: Yuuki Ono, Lynn, Rikiya Koyama, Kenji Nomura, Shiro Saito, Shun Horie, Ryota Takeuchi, Yūsuke Kobayashi, Hidekatsu Shibata and Tatsuhisa Suzuki. Takayuki Kuriyama (Re:CREATORS) is directing the anime, and Shogo Yasukawa (Chivalry of a Failed Knight) is in charge of series scripts. Masayori Komine (DRAMAtical Murder) is both character designer and chief animation director. Kumiko Habara (Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal II) is serving as assistant director. Straightener will perform the opening theme song and SHE’S will perform the ending theme for the anime.
In February we teased about a new anime called Cells at Work! The anime explores the daily lives of cells within the human body. The anime’s tagline – “This is your story. A story inside your body.”
The main cast for the anime thus far includes Tomoaki Maeno (Starmyu), Kana Hanazawa (Psycho-Pass), Kikuko Inoue (Code Geass), Daisuke Ono (Attack on Titan) and Maria Naganawa (Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid).
Four new cast members were announced during this month: Yuichi Nakamura (Macross Frontier), Ayako Kawasumi (Fate/stay night), Aya Endo (Macross Frontier) and Hiroyuki Yoshino (Yowamushi Pedal)
It has also been announced that the anime’s opening theme song will be performed by four of the anime’s main cast: Kana Hanazawa, Tomoaki Maeno , Daisuke Ono , and Kikuko Inoue.
The main staff for the anime includes Kenichi Suzuki (Drifters) in the director’s seat, Yuko Kakihara (, Persona 4 The Animation) as series composition writer, Kenichi Suzuki & Yuko Kakihara working on the screenplay and Takahiko Yoshida (Yowamushi Pedal) as character designer. The anime premieres on July 7th.
As the average human body contains trillions of cells, each with its own function, some fighting allergies, some helping you heal when you scrape a knee or something and so forth it will be interesting to see how the anime will express the happenings of the human body.
Are you hungry for more Dragon Ball and going crazy because the Dragon Ball Super movie is only coming in December? We may have good news for you, Goku and the gang is returning this July, but it will not be Dragon Ball Super. The Super Dragon Ball Heroes: Universe Mission is the fifth instalment in the Dragon Ball franchise, and the anime is mainly promotional; for the Dragon Ball Heroes video game and will cover the Prison Planet Saga Arc of the game.
The story is explained as follows: “Trunks returns from the future to train with Goku and Vegeta. However, he abruptly vanishes. The mystery man “Fu” suddenly appears, telling them Trunks has been locked up on the “Prison Planet”, a mysterious facility in an unknown location between universes. The group searches for the Dragon Balls to free Trunks, but an unending super battle awaits them! Will Goku and the others manage to rescue Trunks and escape the Prison Planet?”
During the month cast members, visuals and character introductions appear on the official website of the original mecha anime, Planet With. The anime is set to premiere on July 8th and the cast of the anime includes Rikiya Koyama, Kenji Nomura, Motomu Kiyokawa, Norio Wakamoto, Atsushi Abe, Sayaka Harada, Shiori Izawa, Saori Goto, Yuichiro Umehara, Hitomi Ohwada, Mai Fuchigami, Shinsuke Sugawara, Shizuka Ishigami and Kazuyuki Okitsu.
The website describes the anime’s story:
“I’m an ally to people I want to ally with. That’s all!”
“Sōya Kuroi lives a peaceful life despite having no memories of his past. But one day, his city is suddenly attacked by a giant machine known as a “Nebula Weapon.” Along with the cat-like Sensei and the gothic lolita girl Ginko, he is dragged into the fight, but he ends up the enemy of seven heroes who are working to protect the city. What is Sōya’s reason for fighting that is locked deep in his memories?”
Youhei Suzuki (Sword Oratoria) is in the director’s seat and Satoshi Mizukami is helming the series composition as well as storyboards and script. Kazunori Iwakura (Rune Soldier) is working on character design and Yoshitsune Izuna (Gad Guard) and Yasuyoshi Uetsu ( Triage X) are the mechanical designers.
Today we look at sword myths and swords trivia in Japan. Many of us are familiar with anime that deals with samurai and swords like Samurai Deeper Kyo, Ninja Scrolls, Rurouni Kenshin and Samurai Champloo.
In old times, in Japan, swords were very precious and could cost as much as a farm, and were registered. These registries detailed the make, history and design of almost every sword in Japan. Swords were even praised in song, stories, as well as myths and swordsmanship, was a Philosophy, art and science. Sword makers were treated like rock idols!
A name that many will recognize from anime is Masamune. He was a famous sword craftsman from the 14th century and his swords cost a small fortune. They were known for their quality and effectiveness and even reputed to cut through copper pipes! There is even a myth that a samurai once cut a man in half with a Masamune sword. The man seems okay afterwards, there was no blood and the man walked around for a few hours until he fell to the ground into two pieces.
People were very superstitious about these swords! And Japanese folklore covers a lot of these legends.
There are various types of Japanese swords, here are a few examples:
Chokutō ( “straight sword”): It is a single straight-edged sword that was produced without differential hardening and folding before the 10th century.
Tsurugi or Ken (“sword”): Which is a straight two-edged sword, also produced before the 10th century, and it may also be without differential folding or hardening.
Tachi (“big sword”): More curved and longer than its descendant, the katana, its curvature centered from the middle towards the tang, and often including the tang. It was worn suspended, the edge downward. It was quite popular before the 15th century.
Kodachi (“small big sword”): A shorter version of the tachi, but used similarly, from before the 13th century.
Ōdachi ( “big big sword”)/ Nodachi ( “big field sword”): A very large tachi, some in excess of 100 cm, popular in the late 14th century.
Katana ( “sword”): A general term for the traditional sword with a curved blade longer than 60 cm, worn with the edge upwards in the sash. It was the sword of the samurai class of the Edo period (the 1600s to late 19th century).
Word of the month: Banzai
Banzai is a Japanese battle cry, also used by samurai. It is interesting to note that it is also a form of greeting used to the Japanese Emperor! Quite fitting for a ruler of warriors! Loosely translated Banzai means ‘’10,000 Years” or “Long Life”.
In anime, we often see a character drinking a bowl of sake. Some characters that may come to mind is Tsunade-sama from Naruto (who is very bad at drinking), Gintoki Sakata from Gintama (that is, when he is not drinking his signature strawberry milk drink), the shinigami Shunsui Kyōraku from Bleach (even known to offer sake to his enemies while fighting) and the dimensional witch Yūko Ichihara from the anime xxxHolic, who loves drinking the beverage while watching the moon on her porch.
Sake means any alcoholic beverages in general in Japan but especially to the Western world, it also refers to a Japanese rice wine, which is made during a brewing process by using fermented rice and water. In the process, the starches are converted into sugar, which then is converted into alcohol. The whole process involves the grounding, washing, and steaming of rice. Some of the steamed rice is used to make koji (the yeast derived from rice). Then the koji is mixed with the remaining steamed rice and water, which then is allowed to ferment. Even more koji and rice are added to the mix and then it is filtered and bottled. The alcohol content of sake usually ranges from 14% to 16% except for ‘genshu’ sake in which the alcohol content range from 18% to 20%. In Japanese sake is actually referred to as ‘nihonshu’ and sake brewers are known as tōji.
The historic origins of this alcoholic beverage are a bit of a mystery since there is some dispute about it. In a 3rd-century text, the Book of Wei in the Records of the Three Kingdoms, Japanese drinking and dancing is mentioned. Alcoholic beverages are also mentioned in the Konjiki (712 AD), which was the first written history of Japan.
Sake was part of Samurai rituals too. There was a samurai ritual called Bushi-nin, where the warriors had a glass of sake, the national drink together before battle. As part of the ritual, they promised each other to either be victorious or to die an honourable death. The Samurai seized to exist in the 1800s but in the time of the Second World War this old tradition was revived by kamikaze pilots, they had their own bushi-nin before crashing their planes into American ships.
Many people think that this beverage is only served hot but actually it depends on the type of sake. It can be served chilled (reishu), at room temperature ((jōon or hiya) or heated (atsukan). It all depends on its quality, the season or drinker’s preference! High-grade sake is actually not served hot as it will lose its flavours and aroma, while the beverage is served warm as a winter drink. Low-quality sake is actually heated to mask its flavour, same with old sake. So if you drink your ‘rice beverage’ cold and your friends look at you weirdly, you can tell them that you are drinking it right as well!
Did you know that sake, like wine, can be paired with different food? Here is a video that teaches us more on sake and food pairing.
Rurouni Kenshin certainly came a long way, didn’t it? It started as a manga from 1994 to 1999, then the anime series from 1996 – 1998, the anime films that followed as well as the first live-action movie in 2012. Himura Kenshin, the main character, certainly is one of the most ‘flesh’-ed out characters in anime and those of us that followed him for years feel like part of the story. But who is Himura Kenshin really?
Those familiar with the Rurouni Kenshin anime knows that Himura Kenshin is known as the legendary hitokiri of the Meiji Revolution. His original name was Shinta. He was known as Himura the Battōsai. He is a samurai, who wandered Japan, seeking redemption carrying a sakabatō (reverse bladed sword) and living by the vow to never kill again (due to his past as an assassin in the Tokugawa war). In the anime, he arrives in Tokyo and takes up residence at the Kamiya dojo, where his vow is tested time and again as he fights for peace in Japan.
In the anime, he is usually seen as a care-free swordsman and seems to be simpleminded (which hardened fanatiks know he is not). He does chores around the Kamiya dojo (like cooking, cleaning, laundry because he sees it as a way to repay Kaoru for allowing him to stay at her family dojo. Kenshin celebrates his birthday on June 20th
Kenshin shares his birthday with Lunch from Dragon Ball, her birthday is on the 17th of June.
Our AMV this month features the anime Afro Samurai and the song is When They Come For Me by Linkin Park.
The Afro Samurai 5-episode miniseries anime, based on the manga of the same name follows the life of the Afro Samurai who, when he was a child, witnessed his father’s murder at the hand of a gunslinger named Justice. As an adult Afro sets off to kill Justice and so avenge his father’s death. It is interesting to know that the anime’s trailer reached Samuel L. Jackson, which then started a creative collaboration between himself, Takashi Okazaki and Gonzo and this is the origin of the Afro Samurai series as we now know it. Samuel L. Jackson’s voice as Afro Samurai is unforgettable.
Linkin Park, hailing from Agoura Hills in California needs no introduction, it is one of the most popular bands in the world. They formed in 1996 and rose to fame with their debut album, Hybrid Theory (2000). They have elements of rock, nu metal and rap metal in their music. Their albums include Meteora, Minutes to Midnight, A Thousand Suns, Living Things, The Hunting Party and One More Light.
Here is our AMV for This Month! Enjoy!!!!
Thank you for all who participated in last month’s epic challenge where we all watched Blade and Soul together. This month’s anime challenge is the anime Hakuouki Reimeiroku. Hakuouki Reimeiroku Is the third in a series of a three season anime, but it is a prequel to the first two seasons. The whole series consists of Hakuōki, Hakuōki: Hekketsuroku (second season) anime and Hakuōki: Reimeiroku ( third season and prequel). For Hakuōki Reimeiroku, the opening theme was “Reimei” by Maon Kurosaki and the ending theme was “Hana no Atosaki” by Mao.
The anime takes us to the year 1863, Japan is victim to violent waves of street clashes and murder and the Tokugawa Shogunate sends the Roshigumi, a new force of masterless samurai to aid the Aizu forces in Kyoto. This new ‘police’ force is split between two opposing factions, respectively led by Serizawa Kamo and Isami Kondo. A man named Ryunosuke Ibuki, forced to be a slave by blood debt hates the samurai and what they stand for and hopes that there will be a chance for both himself and Japan if Kondo can beat the rabid Serizawa.
This month our Anime Meetup will visit ancient Japan when the Samurai was the master and lord of the land. On June 23rd we will be previewing classic samurai anime series including Blade of the Immortal, Berserk, Rurouni Kenshin, Ninja Scrolls to name a few and a special not to be missed screening of Batman Ninja.
The event will be from 12:00 to 21:00 and will be held at Cool Runnings, Centurion (120 Ivan Str, Hennops Park Centurion, Gauteng · Pretoria). Entrance is free and there are tons of food specials to enjoy at Cool Runnings. You are welcome to bring a friend or two and emerge yourself in experiencing the world of ancient Japan and the samurai. Be sure to visit the meetup group or our FB Event Page for more detail.