Image source: ufotable on Twitter

The characters in Touken Ranbu are based on real historical Japanese weapons. Let’s have a look at some of the one from the new series, shall we?

Katsugeki/Touken Ranbu is a series that takes place in the far future in the year 2205. In order to protect history from the nefarious forces of the Time Retrograde Army, the spirits of various famous blades are summoned in humanoid form, called “Touken Danshi,” and travel back in time and prevent changes to the timeline—a task that carries with it its own risks.

In Katsugeki/Touken Ranbu, Preventing Changes in Time Can Be Just as Dangerous as Causing Them

The series follows the format of the game where, under the command of their master, the various Touken Danshi are organized into teams of six to carry out their missions. In Katsugeki/Touken Ranbu, the first five episodes have been following the activities of Team 2, while episodes six and seven have moved the focus over to Team 1. Each team contains famous blades from Japanese history. Here is a breakdown of the real blades that the characters are based on.


Team 2

Image source: ufotable on Twitter

Izuminokami Kanesada

The name “Kanesada” is not actually a title given to a specific sword, but the name of a series of blacksmith’s shops that were active from the Muromachi period (1336-1573) to the end of the Edo period (1603-1868). Of the Kanesada blacksmiths, two were given the title of “Izuminokami.” This title was passed down from generation to generation. The blades these individuals forged were called “Izuminokami Kanesada.”

The vice-commander of the Shinsengumi, Hijikata Toshizō, was said to own an 11th or 12th generation two foot eight inch Izuminokami Kanesada forged by a Kanesada blacksmith that was located in Aizu, known as Aizu Kanesada. The character in Touken Ranbu is the Izuminokami Kanesada that was owned by Hijikata Toshizō.


Image source: ufotable on Twitter

Horikawa Kunihiro

Like Izuminokami Kanesada, Horikawa Kunihiro is the name of a blacksmith. The swords he forged with his apprentices are known as “Horikawamono” ([Blades] of Horikawa). Also, like Izuminokami Kanesada, Hijikata Toshizō was said to own a Horikawa Kunihiro Wakizashi. However, due to the scarcity and subsequent increased value of Horikawa Kunihiro blades at the time, there speculation as to the authenticity of the blade that Hijikata owned. Records of Hijikata’s ownership itself only remain in letters written by the Shinsengumi commander, Kondō Isami. Even in the original Touken Ranbu game, Horikawa Kunihiro comments on whether he is actually a true Kunihiro, but states that the fact that he partnered with Izuminokami Kanesada is undisputed.


Image source: ufotable on Twitter

Mutsunokami Yoshiyuki

Mutsunokami Yoshiyuki is the name of a blacksmith born in 1650. All blades forged by him were given the name, “Mutsunokami Yoshiyuki.” One such blade was owned by the famous ronin and revolutionary leader, Sakamoto Ryōma. It is believed that he was given the blade that was a family heirloom by his elder brother. Apparently, Ryōma held the sword in high esteem and often wrote about it in his letters.

The character also wields a Smith & Wesson Model No. 2 Army revolver, a gun it is believed that Ryōma himself owned. Sakamoto Ryōma is also known to have stated that “a sword is useless against a gun,” an opinion that Mutsunokami Yoshiyuki also shares.

The real life sword is currently owned by the Kyoto National Museum.


Image source: ufotable on Twitter

Yagen Toshiro

A tantō forged by the blacksmith, Awataguchi Yoshimitsu. He is also known as “Yagendoshi Yoshimitsu.” It is said that when the daimyo, Hatakeyama Masanaga attempted suicide by seppuku, the blade would not pierce his stomach. Angered after multiple failed attempts, he threw the blade aside where it went clear through a medicinal mortar (a “Yagen” in Japanese). This incident gave birth to the legend that the blade would pierce a Yagen, but not its master, leading to its name.

The blade eventually found its way into the hands of Oda Nobunaga. The blade is said to have been lost in the fires of Honnō-ji during the Honnō-ji Incident along with Nobunaga himself.


Image source: ufotable on Twitter

Tonbokiri

One of three legendary Japanese spears. Tonbokiri was forged by the blacksmith, Sengo Muramasa—Yes, THAT Muramasa. It was famously wielded by the samurai, Honda Tadakatsu. Legend has it that when the spear was held in the battlefield, a dragonfly (“Tonbo” in Japanese) landed on it and was sliced in two, giving the spear its name, Tonbokiri (“Dragonfly cutter”).

Tonbokiri is currently privately owned by a family living in the Shizuoka prefecture, but put on public display once in a while. (Hat tip to D_sensei_desu)


Image source: ufotable on Twitter

Tsurumaru Kuninaga

A blade forged by the blacksmith, Gojo Kuninaga. It is unknown where the name “Tsurumaru” comes from. The sword is said to have had numerous owners and has apparently traveled from person to person through history. Tsurumaru Kuninaga was eventually presented as a gift to Emperor Meiji in 1901 and is currently in possession of the current Emperor of Japan.


Team 1

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Mikazuki Munechika

A blade forged during the Heian period (around 1000 years ago) by the blacksmith, Sanjo Kokaji Munechika, the founder of the Sanjo school of blacksmiths. Mikazuki Munechika is one of the five legendary swords in Japan and is regarded as the most beautiful among them. It is also considered the oldest sword to have the distinct Japanese katana features. It is for this reason that the character in the anime refers to himself as an “old man.” Much of the blade’s history is lost, but among its known owners are Nene, wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Tokugawa Hidetada, and Yamanaka Yukimori.

Currently, the blade is designated as a national treasure and is owned by the Tokyo National Museum.

In the Touken Ranbu game, Mikazuki Munechika is considered one of the best Touken Danshi and a must-have for any player.


Image source: ufotable on Twitter

Yamambagiri Kunihiro

Like the blade, Horikawa Kunihiro, Yamambagiri Kunihiro was forged by the blacksmith, Horikawa Kunihiro. The blade was created at the request of the warlord, Nagao Akinaga as a replica of the mystic blade, Yamambagiri. Yamambagiri Kunihiro is considered the greatest work of Horikawa Kunihiro.

Yamambagiri Kunihiro is currently privately owned.


Image source: ufotable on Twitter

Honebami Toshiro

A blade forged by the blacksmith, Awataguchi Yoshimitsu. Originally a spear-like Naginata, the blade was shortened and made into a Wakizashi. The sword earned its name from the legend that simply pretending to swing it at someone would shatter their bones, killing them (“Honehami” essentially translates to “Bone eater”).

The blade is currently in possession of the Kyoto National Museum.


Image source: ufotable on Twitter

Higekiri

There are various hypothesizes as to the creator of Higekiri as written in various documents. However, as the documents in question contain accounts that do not match historical records, no theory has yet been accepted as fact.

The sword earned its name when it was tested on a criminal. The sword cut off the criminal’s beard as well as his head, earning the sword the name, “Higekiri” (Beard cutter).

In the image above, Higekiri is the one wearing a white coat and wielding a red sword.

Hizamaru

It is said that the forging of both Higekiri and Hizamaru were requested of a foreign blacksmith, though as stated above, the documents that describe this do not appear based on real historical accounts. Regardless, the two blades, are regarded as brother blades.

The sword earned its name when it was tested on a criminal. The sword cut through both of the criminal’s knees, earning the sword the name, “Hizamaru” (as “hiza” means knee in Japanese). However, the sword was renamed multiple times afterwards.

In the image above, Hizamaru is the one wearing a black coat and wielding a green sword.


Image source: ufotable on Twitter

Odenta Mitsuyo

One of the five legendary swords on Japan. Forged in the Heian period (around 1000 years ago) by the Miike school blacksmith, Miike Denta Mitsuyo. The sword is said to have mystic properties that banish spirits that cause sickness. It is said that leaving the sword at one’s bedside will cure them of illness. The sword is also said to possess such powerful spiritual energies that birds and other small animals will not approach it. Historically, there have been rumors that birds will avoid warehouses where the sword is stored and any birds that land on such warehouses will die. Legend has it that when the blade was tested on piled corpses, it cut through two corpses and stopped at the spine of the third. The blade is shorter and thicker than standard blades of its time.

Odenta Mitsuyo is currently in possession of the Maeda Ikutokukai, an organization that preserves artifacts that belonged to the Maeda clan.


Currently, only two teams have been featured in Katsugeki/Touken Ranbu. However, the game allows for up to four teams, which means that it’s not out of the realm of possibility that we’ll be seeing more Touken Danshi further down the road in the series. Considering how gorgeous and action of the series looks, I wouldn’t mind seeing another twelve Touken Danshi showing up for a huge battle.

Katsugeki/Touken Ranbu can be viewed with English subtitles on Amazon Anime Strike, Crunchyroll, and Hulu. It’s also available on AnimeLab in AU/NZ and on ANIPLUS Asia on TV in Southeast Asia.

Comments (3)
  1. Nice summary of info for each blade!
    Just wanted to add that Tonbokiri is privately owned, but is on public display once in a while.

    • Thank you for the nice comment!
      And thank you for the information. I’ll update the article accordingly.

  2. I’m surprised Ashikaga Yoshiteru wasn’t listed among Mikazuki’s known masters as Yoshiteru was said to be Mikazuki’s most prominent one.

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