I was living a normal, happy life, and then my friend was like, "hey, I'm gonna make you watch Toustage Kyoden" and I was like "??? okay" and then two hours later I was ordering a Souza plush because life comes at you fast and I'm a full-blown parody of myself, I guess.
In my defense, he was discounted to like 400¥ because nobody has taste.
In my not-defense, I had known him for all of two hours and I already knew I was being sniped with laser precision. Like, have you ever encountered a character in a piece of media and thought, "oh my god, this is the kind of self-indulgent OC I would make if I were less self-conscious"? Because that's what Souza was for me.
There he is, the puppetmaster who cursed my dick
If you have made better life choices than me, you may be going, okay, wait, what the fuck is he talking about? This is the wrong thing to ask, because then I will tell you.
Touken Ranbu is a web game-cum-multimedia giant about gijinkas of historical swords. They're all pretty men. It's one of those anime franchises. I guess the important thing to know is that they're not just like, "human AU" versions of the swords; they are the actual swords, given human form by plot magic. Okay? Okay.
So this sword is forged by Saemonzaburo in 1334. Over the course of its existence, it gets:
Which is to say that Souza Samonji, the Touken Ranbu character, has a massive complex about his being a possession meant to be owned or a trophy to be claimed but never used. He calls himself a caged bird and treats the saniwa (that is, the player) with intense distrust; even after he's had his character development field trip, he's more resigned to his fate as a possession of than fond of or respecting the saniwa. He has a massive black mark on his chest to reflect the engraving in the actual sword's blade, a chip on his shoulder about Nobunaga, and a bad reaction to fire.
He's mean. He's passive aggressive.
He is my trophy wife.
He would hate me for calling him that. That is part of why I keep calling him that.
"He's got sleepy eyes. I feel like I could put any character who looks like they need a nap in front of you and you'd go 'that one's mine'."
-The Boyfriend when I showed him Souza, calling me out in front of god and everyone
I love his stupid complicated hair. I love his edgy heterochromia. I love his trauma. I love his conflicting emotions about the saniwa. I love that everything from his kiwame field trip to the end of Kyoden has him resigned to the fact that he feels he can't escape Nobunaga's shadow. I love his relationship with his brothers in a pure and iyashi-kei kind of way.
I resent his recollection with Taikou entirely because it canonizes that Souza doesn't paint his nails.
I love that all of his lines seem to be aware that he's five minutes away from being bad ended by a mob saniwa.
... what, just me?
I downloaded and started playing Touken Ranbu -Pocket- for him. Do you know how great love has to be for me to play a glorified powerpoint of a game 7 years after release? Pretty damn.
But alas: he's damn pretty, so I have no escape.
(He was, of course, the first sword I ever kiwame'd, and is my forever-attendant.)
Souza has major canonical relationships with two groups of swords:
▶ The swords owned by Oda Nobunaga: Heshikiri Hasebe, Fudou Yukimitsu, and Yagen Toushirou. They all have trouble reconciling their wildly differing opinions of what kind of person Oda Nobunaga was; this tension is one of the dramatic throughlines of the first Touken Ranbu stageplay, and (sans Fudou) also the back half of the second episode of one of the anime, Touken Ranbu Hanamaru.
Souza is such bitter divorcees with Hasebe. Like, so, so divorced. It's amazing. He punches Hasebe in the face in the stageplay. I could watch it on loop. In fact, I will.
▶ The other Samonji swords: Kousetsu Samonji, Sayo Samonji, and Taikou Samonji. Though Souza is extremely passive-aggressively rude to almost everybody else, he's notably softer and gentler with his brothers. A lot of depictions of Souza, Sayo, and Kousetsu play up the fact that all three of them have quite tragic histories as swords with a penchant for morbidity and a collectively blunted emotional affect, but they genuinely care for each other and find peace with one another.
Taikou, as a later arrival to the game, has gotten less focus than the other three Samonji blades, but his energetic, positive attitude is a stark contrast to his brothers, all of whom are massive sadsacks, and I love him for it. I hope to see more of him interacting with Souza in future adaptations, especially because Taikou's namesake, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, also owned Souza for a while!
Because Touken Ranbu's approach to canon is that whatever happens in a given player's citadel is canon to them, and the relationships between swords are often malleable, I have a few thoughts on other swords that I like that I think would be interesting to put him against. "Why these swords", you ask? Well, the answer is simple: I like them, and I don't need any more excuse.
▶ First is with Nakigitsune, who spent hundreds of years functionally as an art piece rather than a sword for battle, and instead of being bitter simply became very bad at interacting with others, though he unlike Souza may or may not have any history of battle use to resent the loss of.
▶ Second is with Shinano Toushirou, also a former possession of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and who has a complex about wanting to be treasured and beloved by his owner, which would get along with Souza's complex like how puppies get along with wood chippers. I think that would be fun.
I love this passive-aggressive bitchy flamingo.
These "spot the difference" puzzles are getting way too hard.