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Wednesday, September 15, 2021

"Generic Anime Swordman" in Nintendo Switch Anime-Style Action Games

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Nintendo listed ten “anime-style” games... how many feature generic anime swordsmen?

Over on the GameFAQs board for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (also known as SmashFAQs), there is a lot of talk about the “generic anime swordsman.” (This is also inclusive of swordswomen such as Lucina, Pyra, and Mythra.) The idea is that the existing roster is flooded with these Japanese sword-wielding characters, and many people's future requests are also in the same archetype. There are actual gameplay implications for having so many disjointed hitboxes to contend with, so it's not a mere question of aesthetic. Apparently, any humanoid (Meta Knight seems exempt, despite literally featuring in an anime where he used a sword) with a sword who was developed from Japan is generic, so don't think too hard on that. (I'll think hard for you in this article.)

At the end of August, Nintendo published a news item that went out on their website and the Nintendo Switch News service: Jump (dramatically) into anime-style action! This listed ten supposedly anime-style, recent-ish Nintendo Switch games that Nintendo felt like promoting. I figured it could be fun researching the games and seeing if they have any generic anime swordsmen.

Note that I only have actual first-claw knowledge of three of the games on the list... and then I have to research all of the other ones. I'm trying to avoid giving you spoilers on any of these.


The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles


The main characters are from Japan, though it takes place before anime existed. One of the main characters, Kazuma Asogi, walks around with a sword that even has a name—Karuma. Karuma has been passed down through generations of the Asogi clan and apparently is a vessel for Kazuma's soul, and Kazuma uses the sword at least twice for slashing things. The most main character, Ryunosuke Naruhodo, later walks around all over London with Karuma, getting weird stares from the population. He's not the slashing kind of guy though.

Kazuma Asogi Karuma samurai sword slash The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles gallery artwork
Kazuma Asogi is our first generic anime swordsman of the article.


There is also much commentary on the black Japanese university uniforms that Kazuma and Ryunosuke wear, which makes them look very generic-looking (and also menacing to the British). I'd say it's fair to characterise both Kazuma and Ryunosuke as generic anime swordsmen; Kazuma moreso.

No More Heroes 3


The No More Heroes franchise is about Travis Touchdown, a man who literally wishes he was a generic anime swordsman, since he ordered his first Beam Katana, the Blood Berry, off the Internet (and it's his main mode of attacking things) and he is described as an Otaku assassin. I am more than willing to grant him that wish. In No More Heroes 2, he had a direct foil in the form of a true generic Japanese swordsman, too, strengthening Travis's own claim to the title.

Travis Touchdown Beam Katana No More Heroes III 3
Despite it being a beam katana and not a solid katana, I still think it counts as a generic anime sword.


Persona 5 Strikers


Joker is already in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (though Persona 5 itself is not on the Nintendo Switch), and he's already described as a generic anime swordsman by SmashFAQs users. Joker uses a dagger and not a traditional Japanese sword, but it's close enough that I'd call it a sword (a dagger is really just a shorter sword), and thus Joker is a swordsman.

Joker dagger sword Persona 5 Strikers
The difference between a dagger and a sword is just a matter of him getting even closer-ranged than before.


Besides Joker's dagger, he uses a gun and his Personas attack things too. But his combos and basic attacks are dagger slashes and stabs, and his dagger is core to his character.

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin


Your main character is customisable, and the art style is very anime-esque. They start equipped with a sword. By definition, your main character is a generic anime swordsman (and silent as well), though they can also equip hammers, bows, gunlances, and hunting horns. Still, they'll have some kind of sword (Great Sword or Sword & Shield) to slash with, because monsters have weaknesses to slashing, piercing, or blunt weaponry, and you can have three weapons to swap between in battle. You'll want one weapon to cover all your bases.

Azure Serpentblade Great Sword character model Monster Hunter Stories 2 save data
Ludwig there (but this is a commentary on the Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin protagonist, not of me!) is holding an Azure Serpentblade.
This is a type of Great Sword. He can switch between swords and other weapon types, but swords will be used if playing properly.


Shin Megami Tensei III Nocturne HD Remaster


Shin Megami Tensei is definitely anime-ish, and the demonic silent main protagonist of the third game can gain and equip new skills with the Magatamas. One of those skills is called Chaos Blade... but even with that, I wouldn't consider that to be swordmanning. There are sword-wielding enemies (and you can convince some to be allies), but... they're less humanoid and more creepy demons. The game's combat is more about demon manipulation than anything else.

I would say that the generic anime swordsman isn't a trope in Shin Megami Tensei III.

NEO: The World Ends with You


While NEO: The World Ends with You has a very anime aesthetic and takes place in a fictional version of Japan, the sword part is quite lacking. Some of the Psych abilities in TWEWY involve slashing with spectral swords or blades, but this isn't the kind of game where you walk around with a sword. It's set in modern times, after all. The characters would rather walk around with clothing pins and look fashionable in non-retro ways like walking around with swords.

Ys IX: Monstrum Nox


Adol Christin, the main character, is literally a swordsman and is referred to as such, with his inventory consisting of swords. Ys is pretty anime-ish... and there literally was a Ys OVA series. Adol isn't anything special design-wise, either. Ys IX: Monstrum Nox fits the list of anime-style action games with a generic anime swordsman.

Ys IX Monstrum Nox Adol Christin equip Short Sword
Adol getting cursed and becoming a Monstrum doesn't change his core identity as a generic anime swordsman.
(He's still wielding swords afterwards anyway.)


The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV


It's another Falcom game! Large portions of the cast apparently wield some kind of sword, including Rean Schwarzer, the main protagonist. He wields a tachi (a kind of Japanese sword) and is an expert at slashing things—he has learned from the Eight Leaves One Blade school of swordsmanship. The Trails series also has a very anime art style, so I would venture to say this game/series is filled with generic anime swordsmen. Just look below:

Trailers of Cold Steel IV cast weapons out anime swordsman
There's all kinds of generic anime weaponry represented here, swords included.
(Rean Schwarzer is the guy in the centre.)


Trials of Mana


The “Mana Sword” is a pivotal plot item. But swords aren't just a plot point—Duran, one of the playable characters, wields a sword and shield and is notable for his skill with a blade. The game is inspired by and drawn by anime art. He's clearly a generic anime swordsman.

Trials of Mana Switch Duran generic anime swordsman
Duran is pretty much introduced as a generic anime swordsman!


Astral Chain


I don't know why Astral Chain is even on the list in the first place. There are lots of other games Nintendo could've chosen to promote that are more worthy (and more anime), but oh well. The player character has access to five types of armoured weapon suits named Legions to fight off creepy chimera invaders, and the very first one is called the Sword Legion. But it's not like a mecha you jump into (well, some Legions are that, but not Sword). They're attached to your character by a chain. Your player character can attack with a police baton/gun, but it's the Legion that will probably do the hard work in actual combat. Since it's not you but your summonable (for a limited time) teammate, I would say Sword Legion does not constitute a generic anime swordsman, so Astral Chain is without that trope.

That's seven generic anime swordsmen games to three games without them. “Anime-style action” seems to mostly be Japanese roleplaying games, but not exclusively. There's a couple of action games and one very non-action game with no actual physical combat... though lots of fighting based on testimony, logic, and evidence!


Technically, this article is a listicle, so Ludwig should feel bad about writing it. He probably got some things wrong in his research, so feel free to correct him in the comments section. Ludwig also wants you to know that he doesn't share the same world views as SmashFAQs memesters. While Ludwig strongly recommends The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles to everyone reading this, you are free to recommend something from the list (or not on it) back to the author.

1 comment :

  1. And with a little bit of luck, every single one of those generic fighters will end up in smash!

    I also don’t get why NEO the world ends with you is on this list. I know your not into the game,But I think games set in real/modern places are cool. Part of the reason why I love earthbound. I’m almost sick of the medicinal style square enix is obsessed with. Another reason to love chronotrigger

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