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The Katana is a type of Dark Instrument in Ōkami: Yami no Taiyou, wielded by Yamigami in her missions. These blades, despite sharing the same name and general appearance with their mundane counterparts, are vastly different in capabilities and power.
Katana share the general appearance of a nihontō, with length varying around 0.9-1.1m, each having a slightly curved, slender single-edged blade, measuring about 0.7-0.9m in length and about 4cm in width, which at the base is a tsuka and tsuba. The tsuka are mostly about 20cm in length, enough to support double-handed use, though Yamigami often wield it telepathically in her wolf form, and single-handed in her human form due to her Iaido sword fighting technique. Each katana also has an unique accompanying saya that the blade is stored in when not in use. The detailed appearance of each katana varies from blade to blade.
Yamigami holds a katana in its saya in her left hand, the edge of the blade facing upward. In combat (when she is not in need of a stealthy approach to her victim), first she swipes the saya (with the blade still inside) twice, the second swing ending in a stance that is ready for unsheathing a blade. With her right hand, Yamigami holds the katana and delivers a vicious slash in the shape of a semi-circular arc, capable of dealing fatal damage and a high critical and shield-breaking rate. The katana also has a unique blocking and parrying animation: for blocking, Yamagami will hold the blade by both hands and raise it diagonally before her to defend from a strike; a parrying animation includes her wielding the katana by her right hand raised to her left side, diagonally blocking, followed by a body spin that sends the blade cutting through the enemy that is stunned from the interrupted attack prior. For graphical description of the block and parry animations, refer to Raiden's own moves in Metal Gear Rising: Revenegeance.
When Yamigami uses a katana for a stealthy encounter, she does not wield the weapon with the Iaido style, but instead often unsheathe the blade before striking a silent, critical strike. When stalking directly behind a victim, issuing a stealth kill will have Yamigami silently but quickly unsheathing a katana, holding it in a ready stance for a second, then delivering a fatal downward slash that renders the victim precisely in half. The slash was extremely precise, quick and powerful that the victim will continue to do what they are doing for a few seconds (without feeling the slash or any pain whatsoever) before falling into two halves.
Additionally, when Yamigami needs to deal a stealthy but gruesome assassination in order to gather public interest in what that is considered "paranormal activity", she will use a different assault technique. This ability is not a direct assault, so she can hide in the safe darkness of the higher roof beams or behind a partition, and can still deal the killing strike. This technique is called Judgement Cut, involving Yamigami channeling an unusually high amount of negative energy into her katana, then hold the sheathed blade in a slashing pose, then quickly unsheathe the blade, dealing an invisibly fast slash at the air before her, and if needed, several more of these slashes at what seems like nothingness. Meanwhile, the targeted victim will be quickly and fatally assaulted by dimensional representations of Yamigami's slashes. After the attack, the target will fall into pieces, certainly gathering public attention the next morning.
When using a katana in her wolf form, Yamigami has much simpler techniques than when she is her human self. The katana held telepathically above her back will be swiped and unsheathed into a quick slash, exactly the same as her standard non-stealthy attack, but is extended with a downward slash, then a body spin, blade held out, effectively forming a 360° slash, the finishing hit of a 5-hit combo.
The katana has four variations:
- Masamune: A mundane katana stolen from an aristocrat of Sei'an City. It is not imbued with any magical powers when brought back to Yamigami's hideout. The Masamune is a blade with an intricate tsuka inlaid with gold and a golden cap on the pommel, with a octagonal golden tsuba. Its saya is made of traditional lacquered wood, with golden braces binding the two halves together. The Masamune has no additional effects when used.
- Enkōjin: A newly-forged katana Yamagami bought for ¥50.000 from the Weapon Dealer of Sei'an City, when she is under the disguise of a samurai. When brought back to Yamagami's hideout, it is imbued with the spirit of fire, Danchien, and becomes a destructive blade. The Enkōjin is a katana whose blade glows a constant eerie crimson, which occasionally pulses with a metaphysical wave of fire. Its tsuka is made of simple, black charred wood, while its tsuba is a circular brass tsuba, with engravings of fire on it. Its saya is also made of the black and charred wood that forms the tsuka. In use, wherever the blade cuts, a burning wound (for living creatures) will spread forth at an alarming rate, while for non-living things, the entire target will be set alight, making this katana not a very suitable weapon for assassination, but rather torture inquiries. In combat, the Enkōjin is a good weapon to be used, due to its high damage output, but the burning wound the blade spreads tend to make a target flee while screaming in agony, gathering unneeded attention while the target itself is harder to be killed.
- Hyōryūshō: A katana Yamigami requested to be forged by a renowned Oina blacksmith (under the disguise of a request from a landlord in the southern lands). When the weapon is completed, Yamigami brought it to her hideout in the Kamui region and buried it in snow in a yard open to the sky, while she constantly chanted incantations before the snow mound for several days. The blade has a pristine white tsuka, with oval sapphire jewels inlaid. The blade of the katana is a light blue color, while its tsuba is made of crystal in a shape of a six-armed hexagonal snowflake. Hyōryūshō's saya is made of traditional black lacquered wood, with a blue sageo attached and crystal braces at the ends of the sheath. When used on living targets, the Hyōryūshō leaves a wave of ice creeping from the cutting wound, numbing away the pain in order to keep a target silent in assassination missions. This katana is also a very good combat blade, being able to freeze most targets in place, and create defensive ice barriers against enemy assault.
- Yamato: The katana Yamigami obtained from the defeat of the top-ranking demonic bounty hunter Onryō-rei, pursuing Yamigami for what she has done. Upon his defeat, Yamigami takes away the dark-element katana and claimed it for her own. Yamato is a katana with an ornate oval bronze tsuba, and the tsuka-ito is braided from black and white threads. The blade features several intricate ornaments, most notable is a relief of a dragon at the endpoint of the hilt. The saya is black, made of traditional lacquered wood, and features several metallic ornaments as braces on its far end, and also has a yellow sageo on the other end. The Yamato when used creates very little sound, because the blade's vibration has been absorbed by the darkness within it, resulting in extreme precision in its slashes. When slashing a living target, a surging wave of darkness will creep forward onto the surrounding flesh from the wound, paralyzing and causing the flesh of the area to rot. The more damage Yamato deals to a target, the more helpless they become.
- Yamato is the only katana with magical properties that is not imbued with magic upon being obtained.