Certainly, it is not hot news that Japan has a very rich and prolific history as a country and society. From the Ancient Japanese mythology and Jômon period to nowadays, the history of the Land of the Rising Sun has been prolific enough as to be subject of study around the globe, but also to become a recurring topic for movies, animation, manga comics and video games. One of the latest and definitely popular example: the Japanese swords or katana stories.
Based on real life warriors' stories, their swords have became characters with appearance, resemblance and even personality linked to their owners stories, as well as their stamp on Japanese history: Touken Ranbu!
Photo : Photozou.jpThe name can be divided in two parts: “touken” and “ranbu”. Literally, 刀剣 “touken” means sword, dagger, knife or bayonet. On the other hand, 乱舞 “ranbu” literally means “boisterous dance”. Analysing deeper the kanji or ideogram used for the name, it can also be interpreted as a “circle” and “war” between Japanese swords.
Essentially, the game is a consecutive number of battles between the different swords (historical katanas) that the player achieves by wining battles, enemy's swords and monsters. The more battles the player wins, more drops achieves, and some of these drops might include epic and legendary swords, and famous personalities' katanas.
Photo : Photozou.jpBeginning with mythological and ancient swords and characters, whose existence has not been entirely proved, the game offers a travel through Japanese history. Within these historical remarkable and well-known people there are several swords related to Japanese important celebrities. For example: Sakamoto Ryoma (坂本 龍馬), a well-known swordsman as well as a prominent figure in the movement to overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate during the Bakumatsu in Japanese Edo Period. Also several renamed Shinsengumi personalities' swords from the same historical period such as Hijikata Toshizô (土方歳三), Okita Sôji (沖田 総司). Also, Sendai's founder Date Masamune (伊達政宗).
Photo : Photozou.jpSwords patterns are related to their historical origins as well as to their creators, owners and warriors they are linked with. The characters have common nature and personality with their owners, creators and swordsman stories.
Starting as an on-line free game, and with a little bit of help of marketing strategies and excellent character designs, it has become a sensation and breaking phenomenon. On-line game, merchandising and goods, art books, anthologies, cosplays and even mobile version for cellphones coming soon. There even was a temporary store settled in Akihabara during 2015 summer, for buying exclusive goods and merchandising (fabric posters, mobile accessories, food and sweets). Also, during 2015 summer there was a temporary Touken Ranbu Cafe, where costumers could enjoy chatting about their common hobby while tasting coffee, sweets and other drinks customized with characters of the game.
Touken Ranbu fever has barely started and it is revealing itself as an authentic recipe for success. Although it is true that it is not the first product based on historical topics and characters, it is undoubtedly genuine as a commercial idea and presentation. Besides, without question it is an original idea for moving all the general public closer to Japanese history and in particular to swords history and historical events where these were involved in, for different historical periods and eras.
Without any doubt, it is an excellent way of initiating yourself in Japanese history and swords. You can enjoy yourself and learn about Japanese history, culture, tradition and swords. If you are interested in Japanese swords and history do not doubt it and let the games begin!