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.
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. 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.
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 manifests the Masamune into his hand upon his transformation from Kadaj. Wielding the blade against Cloud Strife and his new Fusion Swords, Sephiroth demonstrates the blade's power by slicing through several metal structures, pillars and concrete wreckage.
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. 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.
Appearing in Sephiroth's hands in all battle encounters, the Masamune is not seen on Sephiroth's person during instances where he is not battling.
Sephiroth displays his extraordinary swordsmanship with the katana by easily repelling the assaults of his only 1st Class SOLDIER friends, Angeal and Genesis, in spite of the pair attacking him at the same time. He demonstrates the blade's power by cleaving the Sister Ray's barrel into segments as he assails Genesis in the Virtual Reality System and overwhelms him even with Genesis's Rapier powered by magic.
A Sephiroth clone is available to combat in Hojo's Laboratory, Experiment No. 124, which wields a copy of the Masamune.
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.
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.
Non-Final Fantasy guest appearancesEdit
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 seriesEdit
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 alleviances 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.
Sephiroth's Play Arts action figures come with a Masamune.
Etymology and symbolismEdit
Masamune Okazaki, a legendary Japanese blacksmiths 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, 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. From this tale, Masamunes are said to be the marks of an internal peaceful and calm warrior, the opposite of Muramasas.
According to development notes by character designer and creator Tetsuya Nomura, 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. Especially the 1990s anime, manga, and video games had a trend to showcase the impermanence of definite right and wrong, including how the hallowed and deified could go down an evil route. 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 lexicons and defining attributes, there also exists a commonly shared ground of divination aesthetics in the nation of Japan. 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.
- 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.
- Man at Arms have created a real life version of the Masamune. Compared to the Buster Sword, the Masamune is supposedly easier to handle in real life.
- Although odachi are designed to slash, Sephiroth's infamous method of killing his targets is impalement.