As with my posts covering the earlier parts, this is an extremely rough English translation of part of the blog series Yanagita Rikao's Sengoku Basara Science Laboratory (Yanagita Rikao Sengoku Basara Kagaku Kenkyuujo). The series is intended to promote August's Sengoku Basara HD Collection. Please click the link below to see the original article, which is accompanied by illustrations and promotional videos.
Part 8: The secret of the jointed sword, which gouges flesh with a slicing sound!? Takenaka Hanbee
A jointed sword. From these words alone, it's not possible to visualise the katana's appearance. Although many blog visitors will already know, I'll describe it.
It's usually rod-shaped, like a Japanese katana. However, when Hanbee (presumably) manipulates it in some way, the blade becomes around 3m long, splitting into 7 or 8 parts connected by some kind of string. It can cut an enemy's katana so perhaps it uses flexible wire rather than actual string. But what amazing technology, having a thing like that back in the Sengoku period! In any case, Hanbee fights by swinging this jointed sword like a whip.
How on earth does that work? Thinking about it, there could be a wire which is fixed to the tip of the blade, passing from the tip to the second and subsequent blades through holes in the centre. Normally - when it's shaped like a sword - the wire is wound up tightly inside the handle. I theorised that when it's in whip form, that wire comes loose and unwinds.
However, if its structure is as simple as that, when it's wielded the centrifugal force would probably cause the split pieces of the blade to clump together at the tip. For each respective blade to stay in its own position, there ought to be a stopper at every one of those points. When the weapon is collapsed, I imagine that the stopper passes through the holes in each part of the blade. It would have to open like an automatic umbrella after passing through the last hole and use a hook to grip onto grooves carved at the hole's exit...and so on.
So, what about when you return it to its original form? Um, uhh... this is even more difficult. If I think hard about it, what if the wire was actually hollow, like macaroni, and within it was run another, thinner wire. The hook could be released by pulling on that thin wire; or something like that.
In any case, I think that the jointed sword would have a complicated design along these lines. It wouldn't do to be renowned as the greatest strategist in the Warring States without being able to use your head to unravel this weapon's structure.
Chilling killing power
It's frightening to even imagine to attack power of the result of that technology, the jointed sword. The reason for this is that when the sword is separated, every individual blade is shaped like an arrow fletching. This means that the back of each blade makes a very sharp angle. What happens if you use this to cut? When Hanbee wields the jointed sword, the weapon curves with the tip to the rear. Swinging a weighted object connected by wire like this would naturally accelerate the jointed sword's lethal power.
If you maintained this form while advancing on the enemy, the body of the enemy soldier would be repeatedly stabbed by the sharp trailing edge of the weapon, rather than merely being cut by the blade. In doing this it would gouge deep into your flesh with a chopping sound! If you're unlucky, there'd be the continuous sound of slicing: chop, chop, chop! That's definitely not how you'd want to be defeated.
People flying at 200km/h
Fortunately, the tragic eyes of the enemy soldiers wouldn't meet. Perhaps by virtue of wearing strong armour, as with the other warlords, they'd be flamboyantly tossed into the air. It was also mentioned in the studies of Date Masamune and Chousokabe Motochika, but I want to raise the issue of the flying enemy soldiers here too. The reason is that the way they're scattered is incredible!
Most magnificent is the unique technique 'Inochi Taeru Youni'. Hanbee swings the jointed sword at a dizzying pace while running at full pelt. Whether they were holding a shield or riding a horse, the enemies are instantly launched right off the screen like golf balls.
The initial velocity of a 'driver shot' in golf can exceed 200km/h, even for an amateur. I'll assume that the enemy soldiers are flying at a similar speed. To do this with the jointed sword is already a supernatural phenomenon, because when it hits the enemy soldier's body, it's only using one of the individual blades. Divided into eight, each single blade which makes up the jointed sword will be around 100g. In contrast, the weight of the enemy soldier in full armour is approximately 100kg. The fact that they are able to launch objects weighing a thousand times more than they do at a speed of 200km/h requires that the each blade is moving a thousand times faster than 200km/h: that's 200,000km/h, or Mach 163!
This means that Hanbee is swinging the jointed sword, 3m in length, at a pace of 2,500 times per second. So long as enough enemies are clumped together, Hanbee is able to defeat 2,500 enemies per second. The largest armed conflict in the whole of Japanese history, the Battle of Sekigahara, was fought between the Eastern Army's 90,000 troops and the 80,000 troops of the West. If Hanbee had gone to the front lines at Sekigahara, the Eastern Army would have been wiped out within 36 seconds.
Takenaka Hanbee is far too strong to be left as a strategist. If he hadn't been a genius tactician, if he had only been fighting in the field... the Toyotomi era may have bloomed with gorgeous flowers.
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