Katanas Are Just Better

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I can tell you with no ego, this is my finest sword. If on your journey, you should encounter God, God will be cut.
Hattori Hanzô, Kill Bill

Japan is the country of origin of a large number of games, movies, TV shows, myths, and legends. Rule of Cool says swords are cooler than guns and tends to also hold the katana to be the coolest sword.

Of course, in real life, a katana isn't inherently better than any other type of bladed weapon. Different areas of the world developed and used different weapons to fit their unique situations, and for the most part, they were all pretty balanced compared to each other. A katana in fiction (and on film, Every Japanese Sword Is a Katana) can slice through anything as if it were butter. Further, merely wielding a katana makes one a superhuman fighter. A skilled fictional katana wielder can slice bullets in mid air, chop gun barrels off and even slice other swords not as cool as the katana off at the hilt. The katana wielder him/herself will also be considerably more agile and skilled than any other weapon wielder. If on the enemy side, expect a katana wielder to at least be an Elite Mook, if not a Big Bad or The Dragon.

Since fencing with katanas will usually be depicted as being an "honorable" manner of fighting, it will in most cases be implied if not stated outright that using firearms is despicable, cowardly or somehow "low". At the same time, fencing won't be depicted as "low" compared to hand-to-hand combat, nor will it be "low" for a katana wielder to attack people armed with less effective melee weapons, like knives or farming implements.

Wooden Katanas Are Even Better is a Sub-Trope. We also have a Useful Notes page on Swords; add further details of Real Life swords and katanas there. Those wielding a katana may Swipe Their Blades Off.

Examples of Katanas Are Just Better include:


Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Yoh from "Shaman King" is a good example of this trope. Even if he is using the sword of his 600 year old spirit, Amidamaru, it's still him using it. It tends to grow in size when he uses his Over Soul's second version. HE's also usually the winner. Unless he doesn't wanna be. Such a lazy boy. This Over Soul also tends to be able to change its shape with...Yoh's mind...right.
    • Matamune is a Badass cat. He's the first katana that Yoh uses as a guardian spirit. Good pussy cat. Kill the Oni.
  • Assassin from Fate/stay night is a pretty cool guy, he uses a katana (nodachi, really) and isn't afraid of anything. The long range of his weapon, excellent skills, and a nigh-undodgeable ultimate technique make him a very difficult recurring opponent to the Western swordswoman protagonist, Saber. This technique isn't even really a special, unique skill like the other Servants have - He's just that good.
    • The difference in the swords is actually commented upon by Assassin. Saber uses a heavy western sword useful for chopping, blocking and endurance fighting. Assassin's nodachi is a good sword, but it's a lot lighter and more suited for quick kills because it's not strong enough to block. When he stops parrying and actually blocks an attack to get into a better position, his sword gets bent slightly and he ends up losing the fight because it creates a gap in his ultimate technique. The weapons screen also notes that his sword isn't useful for actual battle, but since he's such a badass he can do it anyway.
      • Swords bending during the fight was a very common thing. Historical records are chock full of mentions of mutually agreed timeouts during the battle to right up the bent and replace the broken swords and other weapons, regardless of location: these happened in Japan, in Europe, in Middle East, even in China and India.
  • Sort of present in One Piece. Many of the series' prominent swordsmen (Zoro, Tashigi, and Ryuuma) wield katana or similar swords. However, the greatest swordsman in the world uses what seems to be an enormous Grossemesser or Dao.
  • Aya, the primary protagonist of Weiss Kreuz, uses a katana as his weapon of choice even against enemies wielding guns, and pulls off a couple of Diagonal Cuts throughout the original series. On the other hand, the trope is also subverted several times throughout the series:
    • In the Radio Drama Endless Rain, several characters discuss the idea that Katanas Are Just Better, with one of them remarking that the katana is just a weapon like any other and, all things being equal, he'd just as soon have a gun. In another scene, Aya, wielding a katana, is defeated effortlessly by another character who wields only a paper fan.
    • After a katana vs. katana battle by at the conclusion of another Radio Drama, Dramatic Precious, Aya finally defeats his former swordmaster by shooting him with the gun he carries as a backup weapon.
    • And in the manga sequel Weiss Side B, Aya is provided with his pick from another character's collection of katanas before going into battle, and takes all of them, correctly expecting all of them to break before the fight is over. One of them is broken by Chloe's rose.
  • Code Geass has Humongous Mecha wielding katana with superheated chainsaw blades. Their superiority comes from the fact that they're one of the two types of powered melee weapons in the show's universe, with The Empire preferring to use vibro-swords as introduced on the Lancelot Super Prototype. Turning it up a few notches, Kyoshiro Tohdoh, CG's Manly Japanese Guy has a Chainsaw Katana with rockets on it. To make it hit harder, of course. And change directions, letting him hit you, even if you dodge. And a rocket powered spike thing on the bottom of the handle, just in case you can dodge that, too.
  • Cowboy Bebop's Vicious, in a world where most characters are gunmen or martial artists, uses a katana as his weapon of choice. And he is damn good with it, good enough to match his rival, The Gunslinger Spike Spiegel, in no fewer than two one-on-one duels. It helps that he was probably hopped up on Red Eye.
  • As is Ginji Matsuzaki from Black Lagoon, an underboss of the Washimine Group who takes a shirasaya katana to a mess of gunslinging yakuza goons and performs feats like slicing bullets in half and slicing one cocky yakuza's gun (and his hands!) to pieces. He's even Badass enough to take on Revy herself on equal footing in a one-on-one battle to the death, even though he ultimately throws the fight and loses.
  • Lowe Gear in Gundam SEED Astray prefers the Humongous Mecha-sized katana Gerbera Straight to the Beam Swords his mecha comes with. Partially justified in that Beam Swords are rather power-intensive and the mobile suits of the Cosmic Era typically use finite batteries rather than nuclear reactors as in past series (not that this helps Lowe, as his fighting style tends to drain Red Frame's battery very fast).
  • Played very straight in Astray R, where the Gerbera Straight is portrayed as being much, much better than the Western-style swords used by the GINN and CGUE mobile suits. Moreover, in what may be the ultimate example of this trope, Old Master Un No uses his normal, human-scale katana to do a Clean Cut on a mobile suit's beam rifle, twice.
  • Subverted in Gundam 00: Graham Aker's Humongous Mecha uses a solid katana when he tries to finish off the 00 Raiser with an overhead swing, but Setsuna just grabs the blade with the 00's hands and shatters the sword by bending it backwards.
  • Subverted in Turn a Gundam, whose eventual villain Gym Ghingham carries a katana and insists he is a samurai. At the end of the series Gym tosses a spare sword to the protagonist, Loran, and challenges him to a duel. Loran, having basically no sword fighting knowledge, just swings madly. Gym's katana quickly snaps and he loses.
  • Justified in Lupin III; Goemon's katana is made from a specialized metal hard enough to cleave steel. In the manga, it's meteoric iron; in the anime, it's an unearthly metal or alloy. Subverted in that there are rare objects and materials in the series that are not affected by the sword or actually break it.
  • For a series about disgraced samurai-turned-assassin, Lone Wolf and Cub sure averts the heck out of this one: the protagonist doesn't use a regular katana in the first place, he is just as likely to skewer his opponents with one of many spears concealed in his son's cart, and Guns. Are. Better. Period.
  • Used interestingly in Busou Renkin. The Sword Samurai X Busou Renkin is noted to be abnormally fast and accurate, but is otherwise played as the equal counterpart to the main character's European-super-lancey-thing Busou Renkin, itself excelling in overpowering the opposition. It doesn't necessarily help matters that the character holding the sword had previously been training in kendo, and a bokken is very different in weight to a katana. It's also totally useless against European Victor's axe-type Busou Renkin, Fatal Attraction.
  • Averted ironically in Vagabond -- Miyamoto Musashi's victories are not due to the superiority of any weapon he uses, but through his skills and strength. Multiple swords break throughout the story. Various characters comment on how by their time firearms have surpassed swords on the battlefield. The only two times where a gun vs. sword encounter is shown, the swordsman's win has nothing to do with the sword. (The first has the gunner being caught by another swordsman after shooting a young Musashi in the leg, the second has grown-up Musashi closing the distance so quickly—despite standing right in front of the wielder—that the other guy simply tossed it aside, claiming that he didn't even know how to use it and that it was probably inoperable anyway.)
  • Ryou Asakura from Suzumiya Haruhi no Seitenkan has this as his Weapon of Choice when he attacks Kyonko.
  • Creed from Black Cat used to wield a katana he called "Kotetsu." Later, although still in the form of a katana, it becomes a blade formed from Creed's Chi. Still, his Kotetsu gets broken by a gunshot.
  • The majority of zanpakuto in Bleach take the form of a katana in their default form (although there are obviously several exceptions, such as Ichigo's BFS), but they usually change into something else in their released state (Ikkaku's sword becomes a three-sectioned spear and Iba's becomes a falchion).
    • As a matter of fact, Ichigo's BFS at present is an "always in its released state" version. When he originally gained Shinigami powers, his sword took the form of a really huge katana.
    • Subverted in the fight between Shunsui and Starrk during the recent arc. Although Starrk begins combat with a Katana, he abandons it after releasing in favor of a pair of cero guns. Shunsui's attempts to take the offensive against him afterward are thwarted by his inability to get inside the range of Starrk's guns with his sword attacks, and he doesn't succeed in landing a blow against him until he's distracted by his fight with two other captain-level opponents.
    • Kenpachi's zanpakuto is always a katana and quite possibly the most dangerous non-bankai zanpakuto in existence.
      • Non-released, maybe, but definitely not non-bankai. Several Shikai are shown to be far more dangerous than Kenpachi's blunt sword.
      • Kenpachi's zanpakuto is blunt, it's him being so Badass that allows him to slice buildings (or hollows, or people) in half. Bet he could do it with a randomly chosen stick.
  • Dragon Ball has Yajirobe, a rotund samurai uses a katana. His one main moment of fame was using his sword in a surprise attack on Oozaru Vegeta, which revealed that Yajirobe's katana was the only thing that could penetrate Vegeta's armour and actually hurt him.
    • In his first appearance, he effortlessly slices one of Piccolo Daimao's offspring to pieces. At the time the Daimao's offspring were feared and considered extremely powerful, capable of killing seasoned martial artists without breaking a sweat.
    • Janemba (one of the more monstrous nutcases from the many DBZ films) uses some kind of sword against Super Saiyan 3 Goku - at that point one of the strongest non-fused character in the series - and severly injures him. The sword seems to be based on the Western variety.
  • In Saiyuki Gaiden, Tenpou Gensui is a soldier who fights with a katana, interesting because as a god and an agent of Heaven, he's not permitted to take a life (even the gunslingers in his group of soldiers only have stunguns), although when he throws all rules out the window, he's shown to be pretty damn good with it. Also interestingly, katanas are rare in the Saiyuki universe (other than the cannon fodder opponents at the end of Gaiden, Tenpou is the only character shown using one), possibly because it's set in China rather than Japan. His reincarnation, Cho Hakkai, uses no weapon and is, instead, a gifted martial artist and manipulator of chi.
  • Averted in Princess Mononoke where the katana-armed samurai prove to be no match for Ashitaka, who wields a straight, chinese-pattern sword as befits the last prince of a precursor culture.
  • Averted in the The Twelve Kingdoms where the commonly used sword is the Jian sword, as seen with Yoko.
  • Averted in OVA Yakumo Tatsu, where Kuraki has inherited the family's ancient japanese ceremonial sword: a chinese Jian sword.
  • In Mai-HiME Destiny, Shizuru uses one with expert skill to disable a gang of gun-wielding Yakuza Mooks.
  • Averted in Escaflowne. Whatever Van carries is not a katana. In fact, it looks like a tachi blade with a European bastard sword mounting.
  • Discussed early in Bakuman。, as Moritaka and Akito discuss what to have in their manga. Akito helpfully points out that many of the most successful manga that are currently running (some of which already cited here) use katana in them, be they the main focal point of the overall story (as is the case with Bleach) or not (as in One Piece).
  • Kamui Den: Averted. While there's plenty of fancy swordwork in the series, characters with access to firearms make good use of them.
  • The Sacred Blacksmith runs wild with this trope in the first episode. Luke Ainsworth uses a katana to cleave clean through a giant claymore, with the show's heroine spending the rest of the episode fawning over the exotic super-blade that chops through everything other swords can't. Then said katana breaks when blocking ice. So... yeah.
  • Played straight and subverted in Chrome Shelled Regios. Almost every single character used a weapon other than a katana, and they aren't really being shown as inferior to those that do use katanas. However, the protagonist, Layfon Alseif, who has been using a standard sword the entirety of the series, gets his greatest Crowning Moment of Awesome after fusing two different kinds of Infinity Plus One Swords together. Partially justified in that all of his training focused on katana-using, and it was just a personal vow of repentance that kept him from using it the whole time.
  • Interestingly, averted in Blade of the Immortal—many fighters in the series use katanas, but the major characters generally use other weapons: Anotsu uses a Chinese sword and axe; Makie uses a double-bladed pike; Rin uses throwing knives; Manji uses a wide array of weird-looking blades; Shira uses the sharpened end of his own armbones; et cetera.
  • Samurai 7; samurai armed with katana are able to take on powered armor, cyborgs, and more. One enemy samurai turns to using a BFG; he is looked down upon for it, as are the former samurai cyborg bandits, who have given up their bodies and, according to Kambei, their honor as well. He insults them, doubting they were ever samurai.
  • In Soul Eater, Tsubaki has a katana as one of her several forms; Mifune had many katanas; Ragnarok has recently been shown in a katana form, a departure from his usual shape as a decidedly Western sword design.
    • Becomes a subversion when you remember Excalibur surpasses all of them.
  • Cypha of Huckebein from Magical War Chronicles Lyrical Nanoha Force. Naturally, she faces the Sword Knight Signum on her first appearance.
    • Cypha averts the "just better" part of the trope, however. She's actually a rather sub-par swordswoman (at least in comparison to Signum) while her divider is in its katana form, and Signum rather soundly kicks her ass in the first half of the fight. Then Cypha turns her katana into a pair of BFSs which make her immune to magic, and down goes the Blazing General.
  • Averted in Demonbane. Bring all the katanas you want, you're still getting fought to a tie by an unarmed butler.
  • Subverted in Fullmetal Alchemist. Dorchette (the dog-chimera) wields a katana and gets beaten every time. By unarmed opponents. Also, the best swordsman in the series, Führer King Bradley, wields Western-style straight-blade sabers.
  • Played straight in the fifth Kara no Kyoukai: movie. When Shiki gets her hands on a katana, she becomes exponentially more proficient and deadly.
  • In the Digimon Next manga, near the end, there is a battle between the gun-wielding RiseGreymon and the katana-wielding Zanbamon. RiseGreymon takes a few potshots at his enemy, only for him to deflect the shots and give us a quote that damn well embodies this trope:

Zanbamon: The gun is mightier than the sword, but the katana surpasses the gun.

  • In the manga Katana, though the protagonist is descended from a long line of Japanese swordsmiths, and can see the spirit of any sword, he doesn't want anything to do with them. Later it's played straight when he's introduced to a collector of Japanese swords, and the strongest sword spirit is a katana.
  • Zoids Generations has Liger Blue Souga, a lion mecha that wields a katana with its mouth.
  • Kamina of Gurren Lagann steals a katana from the village chief in Episode One, and promptly brandishes it at a giant freaking robot. Averted, though, as he never actually wins a fight with the thing.
    • Kamina's katana is probably the longest one ever depicted, compared to the wielder's size. In episode 3 he spends 10–15 seconds drawing his katana at a pretty okay speed, despite the scabbard only being a meter long, yet somehow, he can have a 6 meter long katana inside that scabbard.
  • Averted in Sword of the Stranger: towards the end of his fight with Luo-Lang, the point of Nanashi's katana breaks off. Luo-Lang and Nanashi drop their swords in their fight, and end up with each other's weapon. Nanashi kills Luo-Lang with his own dao.
  • Saitou Hajime of Rurouni Kenshin preferred the katana above all other types of swords, even going so far as to seek out and receive permission to use one when all the other police officers authorized to carry swords used western blades. One major factor in this decision is that his Signature Move is intended to be used with a katana rather than a blade of a different design - the one time he tries to do it with a Sword Cane, the blade breaks.


Card Games[edit | hide]

  • Averted, interestingly enough, in Magic's Japanese-themed Kamigawa block, which takes advantage of the possibilities for exotic weapons when it comes to its equipment cards. There are two specific legendary rare weapons (three if you insist on counting Oathkeeper as two swords, but really only two cards) plus the generic No-Dachi, but no straight-up plain katanas, and the strongest equipment card by general consensus is actually a legendary jitte (sword-catcher).
  • Lampooned in the non-collectible card game Lets Kill. One of the weapons available to the serial-killer players is a 'Cool Oriental Sword', whose flavor text cited all the work the smith put into forging it just so 'you can play this card and Whack (kill) a couple of other cards.'


Comics[edit | hide]

  • In an early issue of his first ongoing run, Wolverine states that "in the hands of a master, there is no deadlier single-combat weapon in the world, in all history...than the Dai-Katana, the Japanese samurai sword." One of his villains, Silver Samurai, proves this a few pages later, deflecting bullets from a semi-automatic gun.
    • This was probably more because of Silver Samurai's mutant power of channeling energy through melee weapons he wields than from the katana itself.
      • That would help keep the bullets from shattering the katanas, but the fact that he can intercept the bullets at all is solidly this trope (or maybe a subtrope along the lines of "people who use katanas are just more skilled").
    • The Muramasa Blade is a katana occasionally used by Wolverine (and others in related stories), and is one of the few weapons that is stated to be capable of killing him on its own, without otherwise negating his healing abilities. This weapon was used to kill Sabretooth. Thus, while not necessarily stronger than adamantium (itself Unobtainium), it is still better. Of course, this being the Marvel Universe, there are many Western-style weapons that are superior to it, including Thor's Mjolnir, Namor's Trident, and of course Hulk's fist.
  • The DC heroine named Katana wields a magical katana called "Soultaker". It cuts through just about anything. It completely resists melting. And yes, she can deflect bullets with it. But it also has a curse: Those killed by the sword may have their soul taken into the world within it, and can subsequently be summoned to do the wielder's bidding. And it makes an evil person who holds it even more malevolent.
  • Groo the Wanderer fights with two katanas, one in each hand. A "swords origin story" in the Epic run established that his skill in combat is due to them. The first time he uses them, he is stunned by how well they work.
  • Deadpool frequently uses and is often seen Dual-Wielding katanas, and kills a ton of people with them.
    • It's not clear whether this has anything to with the katanas, though.
    • In the movie-verse it most certainly is. To the point he has katanas surgically grafted to his arms, looking like Baraka more than anything.
    • Of couse he does use guns more.
    • In Marvel vs. Capcom 3 Deadpool can fight his equivalent, Dante. In other words Dante, a character made in Japan, will use his claymore against Deadpool, a character made in America, who use two katanas.
  • Green Arrow recently took up the katana under Judd Winick's authorship. By all accounts, he's fairly good with it, although this is more out of a tremendous amount of life-or-death training than the weapon itself.
    • Many Green Arrow fans find the use of a katana instead a more theme-appropriate longsword somewhat pandering.
  • Toyota, the female ninja mercenary in Y: The Last Man, displays open pleasure whenever someone challenges her to a sword fight, as her previous (male) sparring partners were all killed in the gendercide. However she prudently vanishes when her sword is shot in half by one revolver-wielding opponent.
  • Zealot of the Wildstorm Universe uses a Kherubim warsword that can absorb large amounts of energy and is sharp enough to cut atoms (makes you wonder what it is made of, a super-sized neutron or something?) It is, incidentally, often drawn as a katana.
  • Knives Chau's father uses a katana in Scott Pilgrim, at one point even slicing clean through a street car!
  • In Lucifer, the god Kagutsuchi wields the "three-named sword," the slightest nick from which kills instantly.
  • Justified in the Taskmaster mini-series, where Taskmaster states that he began using a katana so he could duplicate the moves (his power) of Silver Samurai.
  • The appropriately named Captain Katana from Empowered had his arms and legs replaced with 'em. He also has a magical one stuck in his head.
  • Miho in Sin City often uses a katana in concert with a wakizashi.
  • Averted hard in Jennifer Blood Issue 4, in which the eponymous antiheroine easily dispatches three ninja by shooting them. She does ultimately decapitate the ninja leader with her own katana, and even says that she was impressed that it could take a person's head off with a single blow, but she still says that it's silly to use one in an age of automatic firearms.
  • Michonne's main combat attribute in The Walking Dead is slicing zombies' heads off with her katana.


Film[edit | hide]

  • The Last Samurai is based on the Satsuma Rebellion against the Meiji regime in 19th century Japan, at a time when the rapid modernisation of the country had just begun. The "honorable" rebels are depicted as wearing anachronistic armor and using "honorable" weapons such as katanas. Their opposition fights in the "despicable" Western style, with rifles, field artillery, machine guns and "barbarian" uniforms.
    • In the first battle, the rebels win a smash victory against the poorly-prepared loyalist army. One particular samurai cuts through an enemy's rifle to kill the man behind it.
    • Subverted in the first battle, however, by Algren, who seems to be defeated and is about to have his head cut off by a katana-wielding samurai, only to turn the tables with his cavalry saber and a spear-tipped banner pole.
    • Averted in the final battle, where the traditionalists make a good showing of bravery, but succumb to the superior firepower of the loyalists. The historical rebels actually used a good deal of Western tactics, but did die in an old-fashioned cavalry charge after their ammo ran out.
  • In Kill Bill, The Bride and several of her adversaries wield katanas crafted by Hattori Hanzo, the greatest swordsmith to ever live. The Bride's sword in particular is said to be his finest work. But the film also averts the katana's overpowering superiority: The Bride is helpless against the only two characters who have her at gunpoint, and she gets beaten up with a meteor hammer for a little while.
  • In Pulp Fiction, Butch Coolidge, Bruce Willis' character, chooses a katana over a variety of other weapons (including a small chainsaw) to rescue Marsellus Wallace, the guy that previously wanted him dead, from the rapist hillbillies currently working him over. To be fair, it is kind of hard to sneak up on someone with a chainsaw... Plus the 'weapons' he picked up before the chainsaw was a claw hammer and a wooden baseball bat, so really he picked the only item designed to actually kill people.
  • Subversion: In Dead Man's Shoes, wielding a katana doesn't do the Anti-Hero's prey much good at all. It pretty much highlights the way the villains do everything they think Badass gangsters should, while their opponent is a no-nonsense Combat Pragmatist.
  • In The Matrix Reloaded, Morpheus wields a katana for an extended period of time and causes a car to flip over by slicing its tires as it passes. However, overall katana are not given a great deal more weight than other weapons. In the stairway fight, Neo actually spends the most time wielding a European longsword.
  • The Kevin Costner flick The Bodyguard uses this trope. Costner demonstrates the implausible sharpness of the katana by tossing a silk cloth into the air... which lands on the katana blade and is cut in half just from its own weight. This scene is probably taken from an apocryphal story celebrating the sharpness of Damascus steel.
  • Older Than They Think? In the 1974 Hammer Horror Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter, the titular character carries a katana as well as a cavalry saber, and at one point kills three bravos who try to pick a fight with him in two quick slashes. However, since it's still an Unbuilt Trope, it turns out not to be the ultimate vampire-killing weapon.
  • The original Highlander finds an unlikely way to arm their eponymous highlander, MacLeod, with a katana, receiving it from his world-traveling master. The sword is actually a proto-katana, having been created about five hundred years before katanas as we knew them were even invented. Various spin-offs generally carry on the custom of giving their hero a katana. Ironically, the sequel's villain is named General Katana, but does not wield a katana.
  • In the new Star Trek movie, there's a scene where Sulu fights Romulans with a folding sword that looks a lot like a katana, though it could also be a saber. He describes his combat training as "fencing."
  • In the 2009 Wolverine movie, Deadpool jokes with his colleagues that his katana are far more "memorable" than guns. He is shown to be capable of parrying fully automatic fire from multiple opponents with them, occasionally deflecting bullets at enemies. The blades, of course, are completely undamaged.
  • Played straight and subverted in Three Hundred, where the finest troops in the Persian army duel-wield katanas for some reason, but they prove useless against the Spartans.
  • Averted in Akira Kurosawa's Ran during the castle siege/slaughter which is the movie centerpiece. Hidetora's sword breaks when repulsing an attacker, which, when he wants to Do The Honorable Thing and commit seppuku amidst the carnage, leaves him with no recourse. The experience (along with the first half of the movie) turns the powerful warlord helpless and leaves him crazy.
  • Subverted in Seven Samurai. All the samurai who die are picked off by muskets, as there is very little they can do about them. The peasants also have a large collection of katanas from samurai they have killed in their sleep. Kikuchiro anticipates that his swords will probably break during the battle, so he collects a supply up back-ups. Most of the sword-wielding bandits are killed by the peasants, who wield little more than sharpened bamboo spears.
  • In Ninja in the Dragon's Den, a Chinese sorcerer proves completely immune to a Chinese sabre, but a katana neatly slices his leg off. However, the katana only defeats the sorcerer because it's foreign, and therefore not affected by Chinese magic.
  • Subverted in G.I. Joe the Rise of Cobra. Snake Eyes is very good with his katana... until Storm Shadow breaks it. Then Snake Eyes pulls out the Bladed Dual Tonfas and wins.
  • The Western Red Sun is about a samurai (played by Toshiro Mifune) trying to retrieve a gold katana, meant as a gift to the US President from Japan, that was stolen by the leader of a band of train robbers. He teams up with an outlaw (played by Charles Bronson) to get it back.
  • In the epic swordfight in the James Bond film Die Another Day, at one point Gustav Graves gets hold of a katana and promptly chops James Bond's sabre in half with a single blow. Curiously, they both pass up katanas in favor of broadswords for the final duel.
  • The Movie version of Dead or Alive shows the katana's sharpness when it slices a kimono discarded by Kasumi just by it landing on the blade!


Literature[edit | hide]

  • A western example, the swords of Grayson in the Honor Harrington series are katanas with a western hilt put on them and a sharpened stretch along the back of the blade. Amusingly justified with the idea that the forty-third century settlers who created them had no IDEA how to actually design a sword, so they cribbed their blueprint from a Kurosawa film. These are also the only swords ever displayed in the series, and they're used only in traditional duels - never against modern weaponry.
  • The preferred weapons of master swordsmen in The Wheel of Time have katana-like blades, but with western hilts.
  • Eric Lustbader's Nicholas Linnear novels (The Ninja, The Miko, and White Ninja) tend to use katanas. A lot. At one stage the protagonist cautions his Love Interest against touching the blade of a katana because if she did it would sever her finger. Lustbader goes on to suggest that a bigger katana is even better: Iss-hogai, Linnear's weapon, is a dai-katana, or literally "big katana".
  • Niko, the Badass Normal of Rob Thurman's Cal Leandros series, is proficient with a variety of edged weapons, but his favorite is the katana. Interestingly, his brother Cal fares as least as well or better when he just shoots monsters with a gun.
  • The hero of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Hunters Of The Red Moon is abducted by aliens and ends up being chosen for a Most Dangerous Game-type reality show. He is given the choice of a wide range of hand-held weapons from across the galaxy and is happy to spot a Japanese katana which he uses to be one of the rare survivors of the game.
  • In The Dresden Files book Summer Knight, the Winter Knight, Lloyd Slate, uses "a Japanese sword without enough class to be an actual katana." The trope is averted with the Knights of the Cross. Each of the three wields a sword with a nail from the Crucifixion worked into the hilt. One is a longsword, one is a cavalry saber, and one is a katana.
  • Averted in a Dirk Pitt novel when he is forced into a duel with a Japanese antagonist who fancies himself a samurai warrior. Pitt, who had fencing experience, chooses to fight with a sabre instead of a katana and eventually wins the duel. The antagonist had to get in close in order to make a lethal slicing blow with the katana while Pitt instead uses the point of the sabre to inflict minor wounds and keep him at a distance.
    • This would work poorly in real life, however—a common kenjutsu tactic is aggressively beating a threatening blade out of its line, opening up a clear path to cut the opponent.
  • Surprisingly subverted in Snow Crash. Although the katana-wielding Hiro turns out to be an amazing swordsman even outside of the Metaverse, it's the Big Bad's glass daggers with their monomolecular edges that do all the improbable cutting. Hiro also makes a point to compensate for the fact that his sword won't slice clean through bone like in the movies.
  • As a fanboy of ancient cultures, Valerian Mengsk in the StarCraft Dark Templar Saga novels has quite a collection of ancient weapons. In itself, perhaps not so strange. But he's also a master swordsman who regularly practices with his trusty katana.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe:
    • In The Thrawn Trilogy, part of the A fleet of two hundred dreadnoughts called the Dark Force was also called the Katana fleet after its flagship. However, the Katana Fleet was a dismal failure in the eyes of the Republic, having lost the entire thing.
    • The Jedi used katana before lightsabers were invented. They were even used sometimes afterwards, but to a much lesser extent than the Sith used their broadswords after they had lightsabers.
  • In David Weber's first Safehold book, Off Armageddon's Reef, Nimue Alban manufactures a katana and wakazashi for her "Merlin" persona specifically because there is no specific counterpart in Safehold society and her intent is to give Merlin as exotic an image as possible. Also a factor is they're the blades used in the only sword style Nimue ever studied.
  • Subverted hard in the Discworld book "Interesting Times".
  • Both played straight and subverted in The Golden Age series by John C. Wright, as a katana is used to finish off an enemy after he has been hit with hard radiation, nanotech poison and disruptive supergravity. On the other hand, said katana is only still a sword in the loosest sense, being stuffed so full of hyper-tech that it almost bursts at the seams. Poked fun at by the protagonist, who at one point internally ridicules the soldier for still "carrying a sharp bit of metal made for poking people."
  • In the Zombie Survival Guide, the author states that a katana works best when trying to behead a zombie. Where did he get this idea from? A "lost" scroll about a samurai who chopped the head off a zombie with one, though the weapon's aptitude for beheadings is well documented historically.
  • In the middle section of Princess of Wands the heroine uses a magically-imbued katana against the demon in the middle section of Princess of Wands. The sword is later seen (but not used) in the last part of the book.
  • Yakuma in Can YOU Survive the Zombie Apocalypse? uses a pair of katanas as her main weapon.
  • In Rick Cook's Limbo System, Dr. Takiuji practices with one—and uses it to impressive effect later in the novel.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • The Xena: Warrior Princess finale took place in Japan, and featured numerous references to the superiority of the Katana, even depicting Xena's sword being sliced in half by a katana. After her first experience with the katana (seen via flashback) warlord Xena had only one thing to say:

Xena: Oooh Gimme, Gimme!

    • In addition to Xena's initial love of the sword while she was a warlord, she used a katana again upon her second trip to Japan (the non flashback material of the finale), to fight and kill Yodoshi, the Lord of The Darkland.
  • The Highlander TV series carries on the film's tradition of arming its Scottish Highlander main character with a katana as his default weapon, justified as well by the sword' sentimental importance. Duncan was versed in a variety of weapons, however, and would occasionally wield other weapons—one episode had him refreshing his memory with a rapier and dagger when preparing to fight a duelist on equal terms—and sometimes switched back to his old Scottish claymore when things get very personal. In one notable episode, Duncan is able to quickly dispatch a foe after they swap weapons—while Duncan was proficient in his opponent's weapon, his enemy was totally unfamiliar with the katana.
  • Kamen Rider Ryuki starts off with a katana in his blank form. Subverted when it easily snaps against the very first Monster of the Week, only to be replaced by a Chinese saber which easily minces the same monster while deflecting all its attacks.
    • It's worth noting that for a Japanese franchise, the only notable use of katana was in Kamen Rider Hibiki, culturally steeped to the point of being a Widget Rider series. And even then it was just a handful of times in the series (combined with Blazing Sword) and part of The Movie.
  • Super Sentai gets to use more katana, due to Rangers being more weapon-savvy than Riders. In particular, Ninja Sentai Kakuranger, Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger, DekaMaster from Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger, and Samurai Sentai Shinkenger. Other seasons (in fact, other Toku as well) sometimes employ kendo technique to non-katana swords. The Megazord is also not a katana.
  • Garo's hero carries an Applied Phlebotinum katana (technically a chokuto) and weilds it with Implausible Fencing Powers, and yet still subverts this trope. The katana is the sword's weaker form as it powers up into a claymore when slaying monsters. He also fares terribly when pitted agaisnt a gunman and only survives in his armored, claymore-weidling form as it is bulletproof.
  • The CSI: Miami episode "Die By the Sword" features the sekiru (Yakuza with the serial numbers filed off) wielding katana that can cut a person in half, literally. I smell a MythBusters episode...
  • The CSI: NY episode "Corporate Warriors" features a businessman beheaded by a katana-wielding rival from his firm. Also inserted are obligatory scenes of Mac Taylor looking sexy while testing said katana, or a replica of it.
  • Deadliest Warrior averts this. The katana is not granted any more special powers than it demonstrates during testing, and many western swords are shown to be just as lethal. Testing suggested that the katana could slash straight through more than one unarmored body in a single swing, but could not slash through chainmail.
  • R. Lee Ermey on Lock And Load tested a katana against a traditional European longsword. He determined the katana was better at both slashing and penetrating armor, but not to a mystical degree.
  • MythBusters averted this trope when testing if one sword can slice through another. The katana got bent sideways by a Scottish Claymore.
  • In The Outer Limits episode "Mindreacher", a woman is attacked by a monster in a dream. After she realizes she's in a dream, she wills a katana into her hand and kills the monster.
  • In the Doctor Who episode "The Girl Who Waited", Amy wields a katana and a staff against the Handbots after the Doctor abandoned her for 36 years.
  • Played straight in the Criminal Minds episode "True Night" where a young writer/artist is able to single handedly kill off the gang that victimized him and his pregnant fiancee 6 months prior, resulting in her death. He wields a katana in each hand both while committing the real life murders and in the psychotic breaks he has as a comic book anti-hero. He is able to cleanly cut the arm off of one of the gang members - all this despite them being armed, sadistic street thugs and him being a presumably untrained, slightly built, traumatized artist in his mid-twenties.

Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • In earlier editions, katanas were pretty much the ultimate one-handed weapon by a fair margin, and a solid contender as one of the best two-handed weapons.
    • Third edition toned katanas back, determining that a genuine katana was merely a masterwork bastard sword under another name. Presumably, a cheap knock-off would be only a regular bastard sword.
    • Fourth edition weapons are more formulaic and balanced in design. Using examples from the existing weapons table, a flavorful yet fair 4E katana shouldn't be hard to improvise... a bastard sword with a lower proficiency bonus and the high crit property, for example.
    • Pathfinder has katanas with the damage of a longsword, the handedness versatility of a bastard sword, and the crit range of a scimitar. Wakizashi however, are superior in every way to short swords beyond costing 25 GP more (for comparison making any weapon magic costs 300+2000 GP), having a higher critical range, weighing less, can do piercing or slashing damage (the default shortsword is, oddly, only a piercing weapon).
  • D20 Modern has the katana as the best sword in the core rules, but it requires the Exotic Weapons Proficiency feat to use.
  • Very much used in the Old World of Darkness, where statistically the katana was undoubtedly the best weapon you could use. However, this changed over time. In the Revised (third) edition of the old WoD, all swords have the same stats. In the new World of Darkness, katana have the same stats as all other swords, but extremely expensive "genuine" katana are more durable.
  • Played straight to the point of parody in Dudes of Legend, which lets you give special abilities to katanas, like "Armor Ain't Got Shit Against This Blade".
  • In the Stick Guy Role Playing Game, most equipment provides either a + 1 or + 2 bonus on a roll. Katanas ALWAYS provide a + 3, whether the situation makes the use of a katana logical or not.
  • Shadowrun 4th edition takes this trope in a weird direction, with the katana being better than the generic sword, as good as the mono-filament sword, but worse than the combat axe.
  • The Final Fantasy Role Playing Game neatly averts this issue: katanas and single handed swords match each other stat for stat, the only differences being price (katanas are more expensive, owning to their more complicated method of creation) and weapon abilities, and even then one doesn't top the other. Katanas are, however, necessary for the Samurai job to use its full abilities, though that is more a function of the Samurai job than of the katana itself. The strongest weapons in terms of pure statistical power are, fittingly enough, the weapons most likely to be swung with the most strength behind them: the greatswords and polearms (spears, lances, etc).
  • In GURPS 3rd Edition, a katana wielded two-handed did more damage and was better at defending than any comparable western blade. After many "Magical Sword of Ethnic Badassery" jokes, the katana was rendered slightly inferior to comparable western swords, since it does an equal amount of slashing damage and less stabbing damage.
    • It is noted, however, that katanas commonly carry the Fine modifier, adding 1 to both damage stats.
  • Averted in Feng Shui, which lumps katanas and every other sword you can wield under the category of "sword", which along with spears do the most damage out of all melee weapons of the game, particularly when you take one as a Signature Weapon. Feng Shui being Feng Shui though, that just means that you get to use said katana to rock all over the opposition without having to worry about stealing the other characters' thunder.
  • Used and (partially) subverted in Legend of the Five Rings. In fact, the book lists half a dozen weapons as "the only truly honorable ones for Samurai". In due fairness, however, it then proceeds to list exceptions by clan, and the katana is not an all-purpose superweapon in this game (heavy weapons are more useful against opponents with carapace, bows can be devastating if used right, etc.). Nearly all of the powerful magical weapons in the setting are katanas, though.
  • The Riddle of Steel, a highly intricate game with a largely accurate depiction of historical European martial arts, added Eastern swords and Kenjutsu to its repetoire in one of its supplemental books. Katanas are quite weak against plate armor and require some work to set up their best moves due to a poor reach, but their proficiency contains several excellent maneuvers with which to accomplish this and if you DO land its draw cut on an unarmored or poorly armored part of your opponent? He's probably a goner.
  • In Chaosium's Basic Role Playing system, a multi-genre game based on the rules used in Call of Cthulhu (tabletop game) and RuneQuest among others, the Katana does the same amount of damage as a bastard sword ... but it has a higher "base" value, meaning that people who train in the use of a Katana start out with a higher chance to hit—and it can be used one handed by weaker and less dextrous fighters, as well!
  • Anima: Beyond Fantasy makes not just the katana, but all Japanese weapons superior to western counterparts. They all have a higher presence(coolness factor basically) than western weapons.
    • Mechanically, however, it's not really any different from a longsword in combat and its higher presence score only means that it's very slightly more resistant to being—for example—magically transmuted into a rubber chicken. It's also slightly less durable physically.

Toys[edit | hide]

  • Invoked in Bionicle. Lewa's swords are called "Air Katana", despite not reembling katana in the slightest.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • As demonstrated, Conker selects the katana from a wall of BF Gs to kill the alien at the end of the game.
  • Metal Gear Solid:
    • The "ninja" characters all wield a vibrating "High Frequency blade" that looks like a katana. These high-tech blades can deflect bullets and slice through steel like butter. Since these ninjas are all cyborgs or wearing Powered Armor that grants them super strength and reflexes, and their swords are presumably made of Applied Phlebotinum, the trope is somewhat justified.
    • The ex-President of the United States wields, along with tentacles, a pair of Phlebotinum swords reminiscent of katana.
    • Judging from this trailer, Metal Gear Solid: Rising looks set to feature this. The protagonist is the new Cyborg Ninja, and katanas upgraded with cutting edge technology are a staple of the Legacy Character.
  • In the FPS Combat Arms, the ninjato, while technically not a katana, (but close enough) is one of the most effective melee games in the game, being able to kill at a farther range. Considered to be a Game Breaker for this reason and for the fact that it can can only be bought with NX points, which can only be obtained with real money.
  • In Kirby Super Star, the Katana found in The Great Cave Offensive is the most valuable item in the game (990,000 G to be exact).
  • In Ninja Blade, one of the three weapons available to you is a katana. Also the eponymous Ninja Blade is also a katana. A katana with a blade made of the protagonist's own blood.
  • In Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn, there's a sword called the Wo Dao that looks remarkably like a katana.
    • The Wo Dao's been in a few other Fire Emblem games as well. Ironically its stats in Radiant Dawn are pretty much its worst showing. Usually it's slightly weaker or equal in Might to a Killing Edge, with slightly higher crit rate.
  • Chrono Trigger: Crono, the main character, wields a katana as his weapon, and his ultimate weapon, the Rainbow Sword, is the most powerful PC weapon in the game. However, the random damage multipliers of Lucca's Wondershot can sometimes best it.) Note that Chrono lives in a European-esque ye olde medieval kingdom.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics: The thief and standard knight classes are comparatively easy to acquire and have fairly mundane abilities: The knight breaks armor, and the thief steals things. Their Japanese equivalents, the ninja and samurai classes respectively, are both much harder to acquire and have mystical abilities: The samurai is capable of drawing upon his or her 'sword spirits' to unleash Ki Attacks, and the ninja can turn invisible as a counter technique.
    • Final Fantasy Tactics A2 doesn't have Katanas as a stronger weapon type in general (although the Hyakushiki-masamune is tied with the Tournesol for the best Attack, not counting the Sequencer), but the skills learned from them, most notably Dual Wield, are much more powerful. And by extension, the katana-wielding Paravir is easily the most physically powerful close range class. Ninjas less so, but they have the best speed growths of any hume class (they are both Glass Cannon classes, though).
    • Although the Samurai and Ninja are very powerful classes, that can overpower the rest when properly utilized, katanas and ninja swords are atrociously weak. The game's Infinity+1 Sword (the Javelin II) is a polearm, and Knight Swords and Fell Swords are stronger and more versatile than even the highest-level katana.
    • In the first game (in the original PSX version), the top of the heap was the Knight Sword. Either that, or a Monk using bare fists.
  • Balanced by Brave Fencer Musashi's titular hero who wielded both a katana and a large, double-sided sword. Technically the double-sided sword was more powerful, to the point of being the only weapon that could damage certain bosses.
    • The double-edged sword was also statistically superior. In fact, the only drawback of the huge weapon was that it was huge, and therefore took a lot longer to swing than the katana. Comparatively, the katana didn't do much damage, but could it could be swung three times in the time it took to swing the huge sword. Once the player learns combos that combine the power of both swords, mooks just don't match up.
  • In the Devil May Cry series, Dante, the main character, wields as his primary weapons a broadsword and twin pistols. He amasses numerous other weapons, both melee and firearms, in each game. His brother and Worthy Opponent, Vergil, uses a katana and has eschewed firearms as being beneath him. Although Vergil has definite Magnificent Bastard overtones, Dante is by far the more stylish of the pair. When Dante does get his hands on a katana, incidentally his brother's old "Yamato", he is less competent with it than with any of the other weapons, demonstrated as a tiny moveset.
    • Nero's Devil Trigger spirit uses a version of Vergil's with considerable reach and grants moves superior to those Nero can do without it.
    • Heck, Yamato itself is a plot device in the fourth game. It's just that awesome. Not to mention a whole lot of people are 'handed' the sword throughout the course of the series and get a taste of its awesomeness.
  • Averted and used in different Castlevania games. For example, in Curse of Darkness, the nodachi (A larger cousin of the katana) is both slightly more powerful and much faster than the comparable Western sword, the Zweihänder, while in Dawn of Sorrow, the katanas are actually among the weaker weapons, with what advantage they have being entirely in attack speed.
    • They are actually overall slower than longswords even in Dawn due to the gaping lag time following each swing. Katanas only hit sooner because Soma uses them in a quickdraw style. You can cancel out of the lag with a backstep, though.
    • This is also because the Katana is a weapon type. It is one of the weaker weapons of that type, but with souls, can be upgraded. Even at the highest stage, the katana-esque weapon is one of the less useful ones compared to the highest stages of say the great sword (Claimh Solais), normal sword (the intense multi-hit wind attacking Valmanway) or the spear (Gunger).
  • Romancing SaGa: There is only one technique only limited to the Katana; Gust Blade. It involves dashing past the opponent while cutting them and then they fly up into the air; The Surge (Stronger Version of it); Surging Headwind incorporated Ice into the attack; sadly this attack eats up a lot of Battle Points (Points required to use techniques).
  • Tales of Phantasia is mostly based on Norse Mythology. So it's no surprise that the best weapons for the protagonist are based in Norse and Arthurian myth, with the katana trailing far behind.
    • If you visit Japoni at the earliest opportunity, the Muramasa is the best slash weapon for a while. Just not forever.
  • Blazing Warriors (also known as Mystaria) on the Sega Saturn reversed the rule; the "Western" characters were good guys with better powers and weapons, and with the exception of a couple of ninja allies, the "Eastern" characters were evil and with lesser but still respectable powers.
  • Record of Lodoss War, an anime influenced almost entirely by Dungeons & Dragons and other Western role-playing tropes, featured no Eastern swords at all, but the Dreamcast game based on it includes a folded-steel "Oriental Sword", which has an absolutely absurd critical-hit rate and deals eight times normal damage on a critical strike (the average weapon's critical deals double damage or less). Needless to say, that makes it one of the game's best weapons, especially when you can customize a weapon to give it a 100% critical chance.
  • Grand Theft Auto Vice City: Chainsaw Good, because it can kill in one hit. But Katanas Are Just Better because Tommy can run with them and still kill in one hit.
  • There are two katanas in Drakengard, Nobuyoshi and Takamasa, and they both do good damage, have decent range, and have useful magic attacks, qualifying them as among the best weapons in the game. They are outclassed by certain other swords though.
  • In Civilization III, most civilizations build the "knight," an armored soldier on horseback. The Japanese build "samurai," foot soldiers in kimono, with identical speed and defense and no need for horses.
    • Said Samurai also have a higher attack stat than most other Medieval-era units, able to outmatch the Knight, Swordsman, and even the WAR ELEPHANT in combat. The samurai makes the Medieval era the best time to be a Japan player, for their speed and power in combat is unmatched until you hit the Rennaisance, at which point they start getting fazed out by Muskets and Cavalry.
    • In Civilization IV, the samurai remains as a unique unit for the Japanese but it replaces macemen. It has the ability to deal damage before the enemy gets to attack, in a similar way to archers.
      • This is arguably logical, though, since historically samurai were archers in the battlefield, the sword being a weapon of secondary resort.
        • Tertiary, actually. The order of favored arms for a battlefield era samurai would have gone from bow, then to spear/polearm, then to sword.
    • In "Civilization V", the Samurai is still japanese unique unit, replacing western longswordsman. Has more combat strength than its counterpart and generates more points for great generals, but its main advantage, Bushido, is shared by every other japanese unit.
  • In Dead Rising the player can find both Katanas and western-style swords and battle-axes. This is partially subverted because the character swings the western sword horizontally, wounding several zombies at once, while he swings the katana overhand and usually gets hit from the sides. Though the mini-chainsaw destroys both of them.
  • Daikatana. Not only a powerful melee weapon in its own right, but it has random powers of time-travel.
    • Daikatana does manage to subvert the Rule of Cool trope at least though, because, well, it's Daikatana.
    • The trope is hilariously (and frustratingly) inverted when grates that can be knocked open with a mere pistol cannot be opened with the most powerful sword in history.
  • In Fable, a katana is more powerful than any other melee weapon of the same material.
    • One-handed weapons anyway. The greatsword does more damage, has greater range, and can hit multiple enemies with one swing, but it moves much slower.
    • The sequel completely reversed this, making the Katana class the weakest melee weapons in the game (and the fastest).
      • Although the katana among the legendary weapons does more damage than any other one-handed melee weapon.
  • In No More Heroes, Travis' best Energy Weapon is a beam katana, stronger than all others, never running out of energy with the right upgrade, and somehow curved despite being a beam of light emitted from a single point. It also has the ability to split into three blades to hit a wider arc during one of his Finishing Moves.
    • All of Travis' weapons are called beam katanas, though admittedly the Mk. III is the only one that resembles the name. Also, the Mk. II is more powerful than the Mk. III. The game is close to the ultimate example of this trope given you play a loser who becomes an assassin simply because he won a beam katana. The game especially reinforces how great katanas are given the diversity and craziness of your opponents weapons.
    • Shinobu uses a classical katana in both games. She definitely plays the trope straight in the first where she is frequently considered one of the hardest fights if you don't know how to handle her.
  • In Princess Maker 2 katanas are better than Mithril swords!
  • In Rogue (at least some versions, such as iRogue for Palm), the katana is the most powerful stock weapon available and is essentially a necessity in the deeper dungeons. The easiest way to get one is with a "create object" scroll, as actual katanas on the dungeon floor are very rare.
  • Katanas appear in the Elder Scrolls series. Whether the trope is played straight or averted depends on the game;
    • Morrowind plays this trope straight, as the strongest sword one can find in the game is a Daedric Dai-katana. There is also a magical artifact called Goldbrand, which is a one-handed Katana.
    • Oblivion also plays this straight. Akaviri katanas are lighter and do more damage than regular steel swords, making them the best lower tier swords. It does get outclassed quickly. But Goldbrand makes another appearance as one of the strongest one-handed weapons.
    • Subverted in Skyrim. Katanas do make an appearance, but are not among the best swords in the game. The normal variant, Blades Sword, can be acquired early during the main quest. It’s a one handed sword about as strong as other mid-game weapons. There is also an artifact called Ebony Blade, which is a weak two-handed katana that must be upgraded by killing your own friends with it. But even after that, its stats are not that great.
      • Played straight in Dragonbane, an Akaviri katana which is the best weapon against dragons (+40 damage); it only has a decend base damage, though (14, on par with glass swords, while the daedric sword has 16)
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade - Requiem, the katana is the best melee weapon in the game, which is saying something, since guns do just about squat against other vampires. Unfortunately, you only get it right before the penultimate boss.
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, the katana, while faster, is not as good as the bush hook, a modified gardening tool used like a polearm. The PC's own claws are also superior if your Protean is high enough.
    • However, the Special Katana owned by a certain sect of psychotic vampires has the rare ability to pierce the defensive ability of Vampires and other Supernatural Enemies. Making it possibly the most effective weapon for almost everyone thanks to it's combination of range, speed, damage, and armor piercing properties.
  • The Infinity+1 Sword in Super Robot Wars Original Generation is a katana for Humongous Mecha called the Shishioh Blade. It's not the most powerful weapon in the game, but it's the most generally useful melee weapon since it deals as much damage as many Limit Breaks yet has no energy or morale requirements. Averted in Original Generation 2, however, with the similar but more powerful Boosted Hammer and G-Impact Stake. Also oddly averted in Sanger Zonvolt's BFS-wielding endgame mech, whose katana shapeshifts into a massive effing broadsword for the more powerful attacks.
  • The Katana in La-Mulana deals good damage, is about as fast as the whip, and has a very effective hit area. Unless you figure out how to completely power up the whip, you'll be using the katana as your main weapon (with some Axe thrown in for overhead enemies) once you get it..
  • In Nethack, while the Katana is certainly the strongest vanilla longsword, the Artifact katana Snickersnee is outclassed by more impressive traditional longswords like Fire and Ice Brand, as well as the special longsword Excalibur, as it only offers bonuses to hit and minor damage, as opposed to automatic improved searching and level drain resistance like Excalibur, or the double damage against non-resistant enemies like Fire and Ice Brand. However, the Samurai quest Artifact, the Tsurugi of Muramasa, is indeed a fearsome weapon that can bisect non-gigantic creatures, it's only drawback being that it is a two-handed weapon (specifically, a broadsword-type).
  • In Dungeon Crawl the Katana was a decent weapon, but not the best even in its class (double swords being a better 1-handed long blade, demon whips/scourges and demon tridents/trishulas best 1-handers, ...). However, due to this very trope katanas were removed as ordinary item, leaving just a mediocre fixed artefact.
  • In the original Gameboy SaGa games (Final Fantasy Legend) katanas (and knives) are Agility-based weapons and European swords are Strength-based. While the Agility-based weapons sort of win out because they increase Agility and thus your chances of hitting faster late-game opponents, the European sword Excalibur ("XCalibur") is the only weapon in the game that will never break.
    • In the third game which follows a more traditional inventory system, the Excalibur is simply the strongest "Mystic Weapon", with the katana Masamune in second place.
  • In Shadow the Hedgehog, you can find "samurai swords" in special weapon boxes. Although they are close-range melee weapons as compared to the guns, they are still extremely powerful and can destroy almost any robot or thing with one swing, as well as shoot out shockwaves. I suppose the writers thought "Shadow with guns is cool, but not cool enough. Let's add a katana!"
  • In Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, the Empire of the Rising Sun's basic infantry normally uses laser rifles...but activating their secondary ability causes them to ignite laser katanas and charge the nearest enemy infantry for an instant kill. The Empire's Shogun Executioner has three lightning katanas that don't just slice through tanks (literally), but can create base-destroying earthquakes.
  • In the roguelike game Liberal Crime Squad, this trope is subverted by the identical damage and accuracy of the katana/wazikashi combo and European fantasy sword, both of which have lower damage values than the weakest firearm (a .22 revolver). It is saved from complete uselessness by the game treating all combat as point blank.
  • Played straight in Mega Man X 6 where Zero's Z-saber becomes shaped like a katana post-resurrection. Later inverted with the same character in Mega Man Zero: the katana shape remains the same until halfway through the series.
  • Sorta subverted in the MMO Ragnarok Online where the basic Katana has the lowest base attack and weapon level of it's weapon class(unless you use the card system to power it up a certain way then it becomes formable) however some other swords of Japanese origin are quite powerful weapons.
  • Jin Uzuki of Xenosaga II and III wields a katana forty-seven thousand years in the future, when everyone else is using massively tech-y weapons. And he's effective.
  • Citan Uzuki of Spiritual Predecessor Xenogears was capable of taking down mech-scale enemies with his katana. Then again, this was Citan. Jin can slice Mechs and aliens in half with one slash. And his own mech is equipped with a BFS version of a katana too.
    • It's worth noting that despite being a swordmaster, Citan chooses to spend half the game fighting with his fists specifically because using his katana would be overkill. He only brings it out when things start to really get serious.
  • Yoshimitsu out of the Tekken games is for some reason allowed to bring a katana to a fistfight. Naturally, he's got a lot of manoeuvres that you can't block with your bare arms. Realistic in a way—a katana really would be better in most situations to a bare hand, that's why people like weapons.
  • Katana, wakizashi, and nodachi are secret weapons in Mount & Blade. Subverted because comparable buyable weapons are statistically better, and can even have positive modifiers, which the secret weapons can't have, due to being unbuyable.
  • Left 4 Dead 2 features melee weapons including the katana, which slices zombies up quite well. It might seem odd at first to find katanas all over the Deep South, but they're probably one of the most common swords around thanks to their popularity as bric-a-brac. On the other hand, the characters don't know what to make of all the cricket bats they find.
  • Wet: Rubi combines this trope with Guns Akimbo to devastating effect.
  • A Justified Trope whenever it crops up in the Silent Hill series—katanas, where present, are generally among the best melee weapons in the game. They're also one of the few melee weapons appearing in the series that were actually intended to be weapons, rather than just being a random object you could conceivably hit or stab someone with.
  • Wario Ware has the twins Kat and Ana, who wield katanas.
  • In the Fallout 3 add-on Mothership Zeta, you can find a katana that belongs to a samurai that was kidnapped by the aliens. You can be nice and give it back. Or you can keep it. It is easily in the top-tier of melee weapons in terms of damage, only falling behind for lack of perks boosting its power.
    • Fallout: New Vegas brings back the Katana and it is still regarded as the king of normal melee weapons as it have a double critical rate and can be upgraded for durability.
  • Averted in City of Heroes: the katana is slightly faster to use, while the broadsword does slightly more damage. The two powersets are generally considered equally powerful.
  • Deus Ex Invisible War made a katana out of the original game's Dragon's Tooth Jian.
  • Averted in Monster Hunter; the Tachi, the token Japanese sword, generally does less damage over time than an equivalent greatsword. However, it is a lot easier to learn when fighting solo. That, and its appearance ("just like a giant katana!"), make it the weapon of choice for newbies, who often end up causing trouble for their teammates due to the weapon's propensity for friendly fire.
  • In Baldur's Gate 2 katanas are one-handed and deal d10 damage, as much as a two-handed sword. The first game also has Celestial Fury, a +3 sword acquirable with minimal effort which stuns opponents, sometimes deals bonus damage, and can shoot lightning. Averted in the expansion where the best katana available is +4, as opposed to the other +5 single-handed swords, and has less impressive abilities.
  • It's a hard-to-find secret weapon, available at the very end of Action Doom 2 Urban Brawl. It's powerful enough to slice every Mook in half with one swing. There's also a bonus level where you have nothing but an infinitely durable katana and have to defend yourself against waves of enemies (and it's still Nintendo Hard).
  • Team Fortress 2 has a katana that can be used by the Soldier and Demoman. Killing an enemy with it heals you fully, but when you pull it out in combat, you can't switch weapons until you've killed an enemy with it, leaving you vulnerable to your enemies' guns. It can also kill other katana users in one hit.
  • In Maple Story, the Red Katana weapon is regarded as one of the fastest weapons in the game.
  • Rune Factory: Frontier has katanas classified as double-handed weapons. They have a slightly better range than other Two-handed swords, and they can stun enemies.
  • Teddy of EarthBound Zero is the only one able to equip the Katana, the game's most powerful weapon. The Japanese version of the game even goes to the lengths to call it "KATANA" in English, all-caps, in a sort of roundabout Gratuitous English.
  • Both Neverwinter Nights games have katanas, but they are just as powerful as other swords in their tier. However, possibly a nod to Baldur's Gate, a certain katana called Divine Fury does electrical damage. The names of the special katana also tend to be a bit cooler and more exotic than the other special weapons, i.e. "Divine Fury, Kaga-To, Naught Katana, Enchanted Papyrus Blade, Shishi-O, Master Li's Way, and of course, the Sword Saint Legacy.
  • Parodied in Dungeons of Dredmor - The description of the Katana claims "All the best stuff is made in Japan" but there are better swords for raw damage. The Katana is still the best one you can craft and the hardest for enemies to dodge, however, so it's good for some characters.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Ronin Galaxy: The main character uses a samurai's traditional katana-wakazashi combo, despite the setting being in the future where guns are still widespread. This is justified by the swords having a function that can allow them to deflect incoming blows automatically, with a margin of error...
  • Backward Compatible cites this very site and page in a strip about Left 4 Dead 2, but then suggests that a swung guitar is even better.
  • In Harkovast, a battle is looking dire for one side until an ally shows up and defeats the enemy with little effort. Of course, unlike the other combatants that were losing their lives on the battlefield, he wields a katana!
  • Quite a few Azurites in Order of the Stick fight with katanas (justified, Azure City is the Stick-verse's Wutai). Subverted by Belkar and Nale, who've both fought with katanas they stole from Azurites, but who switch to their Weapons of choice at the first opportunity.

Nale: I prefer longswords, actually.

  • Electric Wonderland has two characters with katanas: NJ (who doesn't use his that often) and Natasha Wing (whose katana doubles as a Laser Sword).
  • In a flashback scene in Everyday Heroes, Jane's mother (a former ninja) protests that Jane is old enough to get a katana for Christmas (which is the cue for a shout-out to A Christmas Story).
  • In Plus EV here.
  • Boxer Hockey: Daisuke, who is Japanese, defends his honor with a Katana, when he was promised a win (with pay) by Skip, and lost the game.
  • In Homestuck, several characters use swords regularly and all use katanas.
    • Subverted later though. Jack's own sword, despite being a katana when Jade prototyped the crow, is more of a generic sword shape than anything else, and he beats Bro by killing him with his own sword. Dave's higher end weapons and most commonly seen weapon are based on European swords too.
  • Averted in this Vagabond Starlight strip, where a beam weapon is better than a katana.

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Weapon of choice of the strongest in Greek Ninja. Played straight.
  • Subverted in Survival of the Fittest; while people have been assigned katana as weapons before, the people with katana are not shown as any more skilled than anyone else for the most part, and rarely accomplish much. In fact, the person assigned a katana in V1 was quickly killed off in their debut thread, and to add insult to injury their killer discarded the sword as useless. Adam Dodd would later use the weapon near the end of V1 to pin his nemesis Cody Jenson to a tree before carving the word "rapist" into his chest, a reference to one of the acts that drove Cody over the Moral Event Horizon.
  • Parodied by SCP-572 of the SCP Foundation; it's a poor-quality katana intended exclusively for display, but anybody who holds it becomes convinced of its balance and cutting power, as well as their own invincibility. They attempt the feats commonly seen of this trope (such as cutting a car in half) with predictable results.
  • Both parodied and played straight in zOMG. In the introductory comic, the guard's weapons all shatter on the hides of the Animated. When a heroic looking guard steps in to save the day with his katana, the other guards express awe at the sheer awesomeness of his weapon... only for them to scream in horror as his Katana is shattered and he gets attacked by Animated Buzzsaws. Despite this, the Mantis Ring generates a G'hi Katana that actually can harm the Animated. Even then, the Katana isn't the most powerful weapon, as the Hack and Slash rings (which summon cutlasses) deal more damage in exchange for speed and energy consumption.
  • Main character Snowball from Bunny Kill has a katana as his trademark weapon. But he uses many more weapons in the series.
  • Sapphire: Especially when it's the detonator for a bunch of exploding throwing stars.
  • Things Mr. Welch Is No Longer Allowed to Do In An RPG has numerous katana jokes, none of them flattering.

87. There is no such thing as a dwarven katana.
1408. Even if the rules allow it, I cannot fence with a katana.

  • Subverted in this Vocaloid Miku Miku Dance video.
  • Phelous and President Baugh both have fake katanas with varying degrees of realism between the two.
  • Post-Mission That Dude in the Suede.
  • Zig zagged in Mall Fight. Eric uses the Masamune, a sword that can cut through anything in the omniverse, but gives it to his nine year old girlfriend so he can use the Black Blade, an expy of Stormbringer. As of the latest reboot, though, Word of God is that he is duel wielding them both. Played straight with Tox, however, whose ultimate weapon, Epsilon, is a katana.
  • So popular in the Whateley Universe that when sensei Tolman sees that Bladedancer wields a jian, she makes note of it. Swordmaiden wields a katana, as well as a couple other types of sword, and her own manifested-matter sword.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • In the Transformers Generation 1 episode "The Burden Hardest to Bear", a Japanese man is able to use a katana to hurt a Matrix-powered Scourge.
  • Averted in Samurai Jack. The titular character has a magic katana, but the Scotsman has a magic claymore which is just as powerful...and bigger.
  • Ulrich Stern from Code Lyoko is certainly victim from this trope. The Lyoko forms are hypothesized to be created from the subconscious of the virtualized persons... and seeing himself as The Hero, his avatar is quite naturally a Samurai with a katana. Since this is a virtual world, he can get away with things like Reflecting Laser, Throwing Your Sword Always Works or Sword Dragging.
    • But in "A Bad Turn", he uses an authentic katana in the real world with just as much skill.
  • On Frisky Dingo, Killface's plan to recover his son Simon from Torpedo Vegas while wading through the sewers under Vegas's hideout is laughably over-the-top, and involves witty catchphrases, throwing stars and Xander/Barnaby's ludicrous distraction technique (he's already completely naked anyway, and in Killface's imagination, his job is get the attention of a guard, rub his nipples and yell, "OH ME SO HORNY! YOU DISTRACTED? YOU LIKE TEABAG, CHINATOWN?!"). But the trope comes into play when Killface muses that the final showdown with Vegas will be an epic battle, "probably with katanas!".
    • Of course, while he slices Vegas in two in his imagination, they're captured before even getting out of the sewer.
  • Averted in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Although the Kyoshi Warriors do carry Katanas, they are only shown using them once, and even then they aren't much help (Azula even jumps in the air and smacks it out of Suki's hand when she tries to stab her with it). Chinese weapons, such as the Dao (curved sword) and the Jian (straight sword) are portrayed a bit more positively, but in general pretty much all weapons are shown as being inferior to bending, which isn't surprising since a sword isn't much match for a fireball. This doesn't stop Zuko from using both, however.
    • Although, weapons used in conjunction with bending, have shown to be particularly effective, but these weapons are often ones reflective of the actual bending art, for instance the Battle fan's in Aang's case.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2003 makes it pretty clear that the skill of the wielder is more important than the blade itself, and a Simple Staff or a pair of sai are just as good. However, that doesn't stop Leonardo's swords from cutting through robots and metal garage doors like a chainsaw through butter. With katanas he made himself.[1]
  • In an episode of the Justice League, Hawkgirl was briefly fighting against a Samurai wielding a katana. This trope is averted hard, because Hawk Girl was able to hit the sword with her mace hard enough to snap it in half.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Isao Machii, the man called the "modern Samurai", has been recorded on camera cutting a BB pellet in midair with his katana. Fired at speeds officially faster than the eye can follow. In a separate challenge(@6:55), he cuts an iron pipe in half.
  • Much is often made of the "katanas" carried by Japanese soldiers during the Second World War. These were known as Shin Gunto, and were mass-produced officers' blades used from 1934 to the end of WWII. Previously the Japanese military utilized the kyu gunto, which resembled a Western cavalry saber. However, nationalists demanded that a more "native" sword be carried, so a design closely patterned on the tachi was adopted. While some Type 94 Shin Gunto used traditionally made blades (particularly in the hands of officers from the old samurai families, who would place their family sword's blade into the regulation hilt), the Type 95 and 98 versions all used a blade that was essentially a piece of machined steel with an edge ground onto it. The swords ultimately made it easy to spot officers in large groups of soldiers and singled them out as targets. The swords were also highly prized as war trophies by American soldiers, fetching up to $150.
  • A notable aversion is the Defense of the Great Wall during the Second Sino-Japanese War. In spite of inferior equipment and numbers, Chinese soldiers managed to extract heavy casualties on the invading Japanese army using, among other light weapons, traditional Chinese swords such as the dao and dadao. These swords were accounted to be superior to the katana for use by untrained peasants against infantry and mounted soldiers.
  • Katanas are quite popular among criminals in countries such as the United Kingdom and Malaysia, where firearms are harder or more expensive to purchase. Cheap katanas have become quite common due to their popularity as a collector's item, so many of them naturally find their way into the hands of unscrupulous people who are prepared to use them. The UK even bans the selling of all mass-produced curved swords due to their use in violent crime.
  • The MythBusters showed whether or not a katana could actually decapitate a sheep in one swing. {Warning: Possible icky video.} This isn't particularly surprising, since the victim is stationary and braced to get the maximum effect from the swing.
  • There is a minor internet meme of a Japanese-made President Obama action figure posed with two katanas. Further pictures reveal that the toy doesn't come with katanas, but does have hands that can hold about just about any scale weapons you might have lying around.
  • Need to stop a burglar in a hurry? Just unleash a Bankai on that mofo and call it a day.
  • The History Channel show Lock and Load has R. Lee Ermey attempting to determine whether the katana or the longsword is "better." The test, determined by damage to a metal breastplate by an untrained user, concluded katanas to be the overall better weapon. The methods and materials the katana was made of, of course, make the test more than a little dubious.
  • On Weapon Masters, in a comparison between a traditional katana and a sword made of modern alloys by Chad Houseknecht (albeit in the same shape so it could be used by a Japanese sword expert in tests the same way), both swords performed equally well.
  • One Japanese-based cutlery smith, KAI Industries (who release their kitchen knives under the brand name "Shun"), uses this trope in advertising their wares, claiming that usage of katana forging techniques makes their knives the best in the world. Professional chefs aren't fooled, however, and do not generally rate their knives particularly high.
  • On a German TV show, the katana is shown to be just another sword with all the accompanying limitations. The blades are forged by Stefan Roth, a smith known for both European and Japanese styled blades.
  • Even in Japan when these swords were being used, this trope was averted. Bigger weapons with longer reach such as the yari (spear), the Naginata (a spear with a much bigger blade on it), Kyudo or Yumi (long bows), Dachi (a much bigger, heavier sword) or the Tanegashima (matchlock gun) were more often used as primary weapon, since the reach and/or weight are far more important on open battlefields than speed. The Katana was the side arm, used if the primary weapon broke or if fighting in close quarters.
  • "Tanto" tip knives rose in popularity around the 2000s. A notable user is the modern German Defense Force's KM2000. Averted by the Japanese SDF who use a European style blade.
  1. in a barn, with a pile of scraps