The Masamune (正宗, Masamune?) is Sephiroth's weapon in his various appearances in the Final Fantasy series. It is his version of the Masamune, a katana that has recurred since the original Final Fantasy.
- 1 Design
- 2 Appearances
- 3 Non-Final Fantasy guest appearances
- 4 Merchandise and replicas
- 5 Gallery
- 6 Etymology and symbolism
- 7 References
The Masamune is designed as a Japanese odachi blade. The design and color of the tsuba (guard) and tsuka (hilt) have varied, alternating between blue and gold and entirely black (even red in the original game). The blade's exact length varies, usually measuring at least as long as Sephiroth is tall or slightly longer, which would make it approximately six-to-eight feet long. The angle of the curve of the blade also varies, but it is never entirely straight. The handle is more than long enough to accommodate both hands, but Sephiroth can carry it in one thanks to his unbelievable strength. It has a rectangular tsuba, which is gold-colored in most appearances.
The Japanese (odachi, 野太刀:のだち?), on which the appearance of the Masamune is based, is a large two-handed Japanese long-sword carried by foot soldiers as a weapon against cavalry soldiers. They were generally used on open battlefields as the weapon's length made their use indoors or close quarters difficult. During times of peace the sword was worn slung across the back as a symbol of status as it required considerably more strength and skill to wield than a conventional katana. Although odachi are designed to slash, Sephiroth's infamous method of killing his targets is impalement.
Said to be the only one capable of effectively using it, Sephiroth wields the Masamune as his personal weapon, but its origins are never stated. During the Nibelheim Incident Tifa Lockhart momentarily, and unsuccessfully, wields Sephiroth's Masamune against him.
While initially a physical blade, after his transference into the Lifestream Sephiroth can manifest the blade at will, as he leaves the sword impaled in his victims and still has it whenever he is encountered.
During the brief time Sephiroth is in the player's party, the Masamune has six Materia slots in three linked pairs, zero Materia growth, a 255 Hit rate, and 99 Attack power. It has a 100% critical hit rate. In his victory pose, Sephiroth swings the Masamune in front of him twice, flips it over in his hand, and slides it curve-up against his waist so the hilt rests at his side and the blade faces up at an angle behind him.
Sephiroth mentions he used the Masamune to kill Cloud's mother during one of his taunts. Cloud remembers Sephiroth grasping the Masamune when he declared himself an Ancient and the planet as his birthright, Tifa taking the Masamune from where it stood next to her father's corpse as she attempted to kill Sephiroth and then Sephiroth once again wielding the blade as he talked to his "mother". When Sephiroth shapeshifts Marco, a Sephiroth-clone, into himself, he uses the blade to destroy the bridge Avalanche was standing on, knocking them down. He uses the Masamune to repel Cloud's attack, sending him tumbling to the lower levels of the Shinra Building. Marco under Sephiroth's control wields the Masamune to kill President Shinra and stab Barret Wallace, and fend off nearby Whispers before transforming into Jenova Dreamweaver.
He ultimately uses the Masamune to cut open an entrance to the "singularity" and wields it as the final boss, performing powerful melee attacks and energy slashes as well as using it as a conduit for Heartless Angel. After Cloud refuses to join him, Sephiroth overpowers and disarm Cloud of his sword. Whenever Sephiroth wields the Masamune, the blade glows purple.
Sephiroth manifests the Masamune into his hand upon his transformation from Kadaj. Wielding the blade against Cloud and his new Fusion Swords, Sephiroth demonstrates the blade's power by slicing through several metal structures, pillars and concrete wreckage. Maintaining the upper hand throughout the battle, repeatedly repelling Cloud, Sephiroth eventually pushes him on the defensive and impales him on the shoulder. He is defeated when Cloud, bolstered by Sephiroth's threat to take the most precious thing in his life, executes his new "Omnislash Version 5", destroying Sephiroth and reverting him to Kadaj, who dies.
The movie's revised version, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete, adds an auditory characteristic to the blade, which now hums in a similar manner to crystal when struck by wind. After kicking Cloud through debris (instead of to a wall), Sephiroth parries Cloud's Omnislash with the Masamune, and the scene where Sephiroth stabs Cloud in the shoulder during their fight is reedited to mimic Cloud's original impalement by the Masamune during the Nibelheim Incident, which he executes just as Cloud is about to complete his Omnislash. Sephiroth also uses a version of Octaslash, executing swift eight attacks, six of which break Cloud's defense, severely injuring him before flinging him back to the ground. Sephiroth clashes with Cloud for one last time after the latter is reinvigorated by Zack's encouragement from the lifestream, and blocks one of Cloud's attacks before succumbing to a prolonged version of Omnislash Version 5.
Sephiroth, with the Masamune, has cameo appearances where he supports the forces of the Shinra Electric Power Company in their battle against the terrorist group Avalanche.
The Masamune appears in Sephiroth's hands whenever he fights, and in his boss appearances. It is not seen on Sephiroth's person during instances where he is not battling.
During a Virtual Reality System training, Sephiroth displays his extraordinary swordsmanship by easily repelling the assaults of his 1st Class SOLDIER friends, Angeal and Genesis, in spite of the pair attacking him at the same time. Overwhelming Genesis even with his Rapier powered by magic, Sephiroth demonstrates the blade's power by cutting through Genesis's fireballs and cleaving the Sister Ray's barrel into segments. When Zack is pitted against Sephiroth in a data simulation, he uses the Masamune to easily defeat Zack and break his sword, and would have killed him had Angeal not blocked his attack.
Sephiroth uses his Masamune to kill Ifrit in a single blow after saving Zack from the summon's surprise attack. He also dispatches a group of Genesis Copies and monsters. He eventually wields the Masamune against Zack in his boss fight during the Nibelheim Incident, using it to perform his signature Octaslash and Draw Slash and to summon four large materia. After he defeats Zack and is stabbed by Cloud, Sephiroth blocks Cloud's attack using the Masamune and repels him back into Jenova's Chamber and impales and lifts him off the ground. Cloud uses the Masamune as a lever to hurl Sephiroth into the lifestream below the reactor.
Three of the combat simulations of Sephiroth in Hojo's Laboratory, Experiment No. 107, Experiment No. 108, and Experiment No. 124 wields a copy of the Masamune: Experiment No. 107 only uses it for combos and lacks Sephiroth's Draw Slash and Octaslash, using mainly magical spells, while Experiment No. 108 retains them. Experiment No. 124 not only has both Octaslash and Draw Slash, but also has a new attack called Quadruple Slash.
In the anime OVA covering the Nibelheim Incident, Zack's Final Stand and the events in-between, Sephiroth massacres townspeople with the Masamune before making his way to the Nibel Reactor. Tifa's brief wielding of the blade after having watched her father die is also shown. Sephiroth uses the Masamune to defeat Zack wielding the Buster Sword, and disarms and impales Cloud after being injured by him. Cloud still has the Masamune impaled on him when Sephiroth falls to the lifestream.
Masamune is Sephiroth's 35 CP weapon. It grants an extra use of Octaslash and an additional stack of Jenova when breaking target or hitting a broken target, increases BRV potency and the maximum stacks of Jenova by 1, and raises maximum Bravery and Attack based on number of Jenova stacks.
Sephiroth's 15 CP weapon is called Masamune Blade, which is similar in appearance. Masamune Blade increases the Bravery potency of Sephiroth's first command, Fervent Blow.
Since the Masamune is Sephiroth's iconic weapon, its non-specific appearances are related with Sephiroth's appearances in other games, like Dissidia Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest & Final Fantasy in Itadaki Street Special and Ehrgeiz: God Bless the Ring. In Dissidia the majority of Sephiroth's attacks employ the Masamune, with him using it either for energy-empowered strikes, energy blades or swift sword slashes. In Dissidia Final Fantasy NT the Masamune remains as Sephiroth's first weapon, though he can also equip other weapons that are similar yet different than the Masamune.
Non-Final Fantasy guest appearances
The Masamune is a 2-handed sword within the Forsaken Dungeon that provides 98 Weapon Atk, 8 Durability, +7 Magic Atk, -3 Speed, and -2 Consumption Rate. Only Masuda Koji can equip it. Sephiroth can wield the Masamune during Arcade Mode.
Kingdom Hearts series
Sephiroth summons the Masamune as he acts as Cloud Strife's personified darkness. While frequently engaging Cloud in battle, Sephiroth also battles Sora first as a trial in the Colosseum and then on his own interest. In both encounters Sephiroth wields the Masamune in his off hand, following the trend of the principle Final Fantasy cast seeming to give Sora various handicaps in their battles.
In Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories and its remake, Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories, the One-Winged Angel Keyblade is modeled after Sephiroth's Masamune.
The Masamune appeared as part of the Final Fantasy collaboration.
Masamune is Sephiroth's weapon of choice. Unlike most appearances, he wields it in a reverse grip as he often does when not in use, and uses it for many of his attacks, uniquely attacking with the pommel for his neutral normal combo. His forward air normal attack allows him to stick the sword into walls and use it as leverage to jump further. Unlike other swords, Masamune has two sweet spots depending on the type of attack Sephiroth uses. When swung, it is strongest in the center. For stabbing attacks, it is strongest at the tip. Due to the sword's length, Sephiroth has the longest consistent melee range in the game thus far.
Masamune is patterned after its common appearance in the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII in Sephiroth's 1P, 3P and 7P colors, but changes color to its original design from Final Fantasy VII in his 2P, 5P and 8P variations, and black in his 4P color to resemble its appearance other games such as Dissidia and Crisis Core.
Merchandise and replicas
Sephiroth's Play Arts action figures come with a Masamune.
Etymology and symbolism
Masamune Okazaki, a legendary Japanese blacksmith of the Kamakura Era employed under the Kamakura Shogunate. He was famous for his forging process of soshu kitae and nijuba, the strongest method for the body of katana, layering different consistencies of carbon steel for tensile composition and in such a way they were forged twice, and cultivating the aesthetics of katana through having refined and merged traits of quality with those of beauty.The Masamune is named after
His works were often compared to those of Muramasa, and sometimes mistaken for the other in fiction or fantasy novels, though always the better of the two. According to legend, the two swordsmiths set a sword of their making into a nearby stream as contest to see who made the better sword, with Masamune's blade said to have ignored all things that came near it. Though Muramasa belittled Masamune, a monk came to be the final judge and praised Masamune's swords for having benevolence, cutting only what it was meant to cut while Muramasa's cared little for what it cut. From this tale, Masamunes are said to be the marks of an internal peaceful and calm warrior, the opposite of Muramasas who were deemed bloodthirsty and cursed blades.
Sephiroth's design was inspired by the legendary samurai swordsman Sasaki Kojiro. In turn, Cloud Strife is based on his more prodigious rival, Musashi Miyamoto. Sasaki is said to have wielded a notably long nodachi, allegedly created by Bizen Osafune Nagamitsu.
While a Masamune would seem historically inaccurate for a character based on Sasaki Kojiro, the traits of its appearance and identity as a weapon for Sephiroth tie into various influences of Japanese culture. Within Japanese martial arts fiction, it is a common archetype to portray stronger adversaries with seemingly greater attributes than the challenging protagonist. The perversion of something sacred to be used for evil has its roots in Buddhism and Japanese philosophy. Kojiro and Musashi have had a long tradition of being portrayed in premodern popular culture, including the earliest forms of manga and urban legends.
Within the art of Japanese sword-making, kenso is aesthetic appreciation revolving around the divination of surface patterns and physical attributes of finished swords to uncover the kind of spirit that a katana has when made. While many individual schools of katana-making have their own lexicon and defining attributes, there also exists a commonly shared ground of divination aesthetics. Masamune's attributes of kenso are said to be extremely powerful, and his swords gained the reputation of being sacred. One kenso trait of his swords is the folding fan shapes within its patterns, or ogiba. While the folding fan is considered an auspicious symbol of high class and great luck, it also relates to the invigoration of the spirit and closeness to the heavens, as the folding fan is said to be used as a divine receptor to channel the kami of Shinto faith into the being of a person during seances and kagura (dance to pacify deities) performances. The divination of kenso was also done to ensure a weapon matches its wielder, so the katana would share the same spirit as its owner. It could be argued that this explains Sephiroth's use of the weapon, significant of his perversion into madness and godhood, as this signifies that he may be "channeled" by Jenova, or the other way around.