Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Toji no Miko; a new anime with some legit swordsmanship


Toji no Miko
Image from

Toji no Miko ("Katana Maidens" as it is being called in English, or more literally "sword wielding shrine maidens") is a new anime that began airing of January of 2018.
The anime is about a group of high school-ish age girls who use traditional Japanese swords along with their innate spiritual powers to fight other-worldly monsters. The story feels very similar to Bleach (2004-2012, Studio Pierrot) with the use of special spirit body forms or Touken Ranbu (2017) as there is a heavy character identification with their swords and emphasis on historical swords that have a lot detailed information that seems like fan-service for people with a niche interest in swords.

In an early scene in the anime the girls present their IDs when travelling which seems to be a standard photo ID but with a miniature version of a "torokusho" which is the real-world paperwork in Japan which certifies a traditional sword and licenses its ownership and travel.

The action in this anime is interesting as they make references to numerous details of obscure kenjutsu techniques. The supernatural aspects of the anime introduce many of animation sparing tropes of action anime; characters teleporting around, conveying how impressive someone is their descriptions and reactions of other characters rather than nuanced demonstrations, slashing through trees/boulders/concrete/giant monsters etc. This are lazy points which were seen in sword anime like Rurouni Kenshin, Bleach and others.
This anime does make an interesting show of knowledge relating to kenjutsu in the first episode as they identify characters using unusual stances and techniques. Now that eight episodes have been released this has not proven to be a consistent feature of the program as the show shifts toward story-arc building and supernatural battles.

There are many references to kobudou (traditional martial arts) in this first episode.
Stylistically they are a good choice for visual media as the stances look unusual and give the many characters unique personalities.

The onken stance is a variation of the wakigamae with bent knees where someone hides the sword behind their body.

Here is an unusual technique using the tsuka (sword handle) to block a thrust.
The Taisha style is currently only taught at one dojo in Kumamoto but I do not know of them using any such technique but the Taisha style is full of close combat techniques that involve holding the sword with one hand while using a free hand for jabs and grabs.
The arm spreading feint attack looked unusual here, I have never seen that before an it would have been easy for audiences to miss, seems like a shame to just use it a momentary thing that becomes a throw-away ploy without any comment.

This maneuver where she moves to the side of the iai user is an interesting use of both hands. This also looks like something from kobudou, like another Taisha technique.

This anime is from Studio Gokumi which produces girls anime, several of which are highly action-oriented. 
The production companies involved in Toji no Miko include Genko which is a production company behind Sword Art Online and many other anime that feature strong female characters (Ikkitousen, High School DxD) as well as some really great works that are not action-oriented such as Tokyo Godfathers and Azumanga Daioh.

Toji no Miko is now only 8 episodes into a 24 episode season, so I will be watching to see if it has anymore interesting content. Now the market seems very favorable for anime that takes a serious approach to swords and swordsmanship with the success of the Touken Ranbu series and the way that series has been bringing young women out to sword exhibitions across Japan.


Automesse 2016 Highlights


After the 2018 Automesse car show in Osaka we are looking back into the Kansai Culture archives to highlight some of the interesting photos from the the 2016 show.

A van filled with lights and speakers

High-end car seats.

A recurring feature of Automesse.

This costume looks like a perforated BINGO card.

Her hair style looks like a 1940's pinup girl.

Live performers at the Hino booth doing a gymnastic show.

An impressive show at the Hino booth.

Interesting racing game rigs at the PlayStation booth.

An all-terrain vehicle with an exhaust snorkle for river crossings.

Interesting paint and decals.

Shredded tires in the shape of a lion at the Toyo booth.

I like the lens flare from the photographer across the way.
86 booth babe seems to be covering up a tattoo?

VIP magazine always has the sexiest models

Interesting motor scooters with high-backed seats.

Dekotora - Decorated Trucks.

Dekotora covered with lights and art.

Interesting bodywork


Hatsune Miku from Goodsmile Racing.


Gonta-ya models compete for the skimpiest costumes.