For centuries, Japan has been associated with a warrior culture, due to the influence of the samurai and their code of bushido. Japanese weaponry is known all over the world, and weapons like the katana and shuriken have been immortalised in popular culture.
The Otaku Armoury is a segment that puts the spotlight on pop culture weapons inspired by Japanese culture. For the first edition of the Otaku Armoury, I’m investigating Vergil’s Yamato from the Devil May Cry franchise. Sleek, deadly and elegant, Vergil’s signature blade is one of the most powerful weapons in the gaming universe.
Yamato resembles a traditional katana crafted with various details. The Tsuka (handle) features gold wrapping with black ornaments, while the Tsuba (guard) varies between an oval and octagonal shape. The top and bottom of the hilt is decorated with rings, inside of which are clustered circles and triangular patterns. The scabbard is made from lacquered wood and it comes with a dark blue sageo (cord) that attaches the katana to the waist.
The sword once belonged to Vergil’s father, Sparda, who used it to seal off the world of demons from the world of humans. Eventually, it was passed down to Vergil, but instead of using Yamato for good, he wielded it to increase his own power. Vergil’s first attempt at seizing control of Sparda’s power failed and he fell into the Underworld, where he was found by the Demon King, Mundus, who enslaved and transformed him into the stoic Nelo Angelo.
Much later, a shattered Yamato was recovered by The Order of the Sword, a holy group that worshipped Sparda. The Order planned to rebuild the blade so they could open a portal to the demon world and present itself as a saviour to the masses. However, Yamato was reclaimed by Vergil’s son, Nero, who used the sword to thwart the Order’s plans.
Years later, Vergil returned to take back Yamato, almost killing Nero in the process. Vergil stabbed himself with Yamato, separating his human side from his demon side. His demonic half, Urizen, went on to become the new King of the Underworld, while V, Vergil’s human half, teamed up with Dante and Nero to stop him. At the end of Devil May Cry 5, Vergil regained his full strength, fully establishing himself as Yamato’s true wielder and reconciling with his family.
Forged to kill
Infused with demonic energy, Yamato is much sharper than any normal sword. When wielding it, Vergil has been able to cut through the fabric of space. He also uses a manoeuvre called Judgement Cut, where he swings the sword so fast that Yamato creates a distortion in space and slices a target multiple times.
The blade can be utilised as a separation tool, as demonstrated when Sparda wielded Yamato to cut off the connection between the demon and human worlds. The ability extends to living beings as well, as shown from Vergil splitting the two sides of his personality.
Very few weapons can match Yamato’s power. The only known weapons to date are Dante’s Rebellion and the Sword of Sparda. However, the power of the blade seems to be linked to its user as well. When Vergil was weakened in Devil May Cry 3, Yamato failed to cut through a rudimentary rocket launcher.
Yamato is a physical representation of Vergil’s dedication to tradition and honour. He shares many characteristics of a samurai and you can find out more by reading my article on The Comic Vault.