The Otaku Armoury

The Otaku Armoury: Samurai Jack’s Katana

The Otaku Armoury focuses on pop culture weapons that have been inspired by Japanese culture. Perhaps the most famous Japanese weapon is the katana, and it’s been used in various films, comics, cartoons and games. One of the most powerful Japanese swords in the history of pop culture is Samurai Jack’s katana.

Divine purpose

Jack’s katana was forged for a single purpose: to kill the demonic Aku, the main villain of the series. When Aku invaded the domain of the Emperor, he overwhelmed the kingdom. Seeking balance, the gods Odin, Ra and Vishnu created the sword out of the Emperor’s spirit.

The katana came into Jack’s possession and he used it to strike against Aku. As a weapon of pure magic, the katana could cause severe harm to Aku and stop him from regenerating. Before Jack could land the killing blow, Aku cast the samurai into a dark future, where the demon ruled over the land. Jack made it his mission to stop Aku and return to the past.

Jack’s sword has the ability to cut through any normal substance, providing that there is enough force behind the strike. Due to its mystical origin, the katana is unbreakable. Jack has used it to block a variety of attacks which could have easily shattered a normal sword. Interestingly, the katana doesn’t require extensive maintenance either. Unlike regular swords that need regular upkeep, Jack’s blade always remains spotless and sharp.

“This blade was forged from the righteous energy within three. It possesses the power to destroy this evil force. But be warned, this evil is not of the human world. It has magic beyond your understanding. Trust not what you see, but what you feel.” – Odin, Ra and Vishnu

A weapon of worthiness

What I find fascinating about the katana is how its strength is linked to the worthiness of the wielder. In Jack’s hands, it becomes a weapon of protection, but it is useless when wielded by evil beings. For example, Aku attempted to use the blade to kill Jack, but was unable to do so. The sword caused no physical harm, demonstrating that it can only be used for good.

Another key aspect of the katana is that it must be wielded by someone who is pure of heart. Although Jack has proven himself worthy, there have been times when he’s lost the blade. This occurred when Aku destroyed the last time portal, stopping Jack from returning home. During the fight, Aku transformed three innocent rams into monsters. Overcome by rage, Jack slaughtered the rams, only to feel deep regret for his actions.  Sensing his unworthiness, the katana left his hands.

Jack went on a journey to master his rage, which culminated in him vanquishing his darker impulses. Odin, Ra and Vishnu returned the sword to him and infused it with Jack’s righteous spirit, making it even more powerful.  

Jack’s relationship with his katana mirrors the relationship Thor, the Norse God of Thunder, has with his hammer, Mjolnir. Odin was involved in the creation of both and they were forged from tremendous magic. The katana and the hammer are both linked to worthiness, with Jack and Thor having to pass tests to become the true owners of their respective weapons.

The journey that Jack goes on with the katana makes Samurai Jack an entertaining and emotionally driven show. What other weapons would you like to see covered in The Otaku Armoury?

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