Zanmato (斬魔刀, Zanmatō?, lit. Demon-cutting Sword) is a recurring ability in the series, and is the trademark attack of the summon Yojimbo. It performs similarly to the trademark attack of the summon Odin, Zantetsuken, in that it inflicts Instant Death to all enemies. The prime difference between Zanmato and Zantetsuken, however, is that while Zantetsuken will never work on the majority of bosses, Zanmato can work on anything in the games it appears in (with few exceptions).
Zanmato is Yojimbo's strongest attack, which will instantly KO any enemy or boss. If used on Yunalesca or Braska's Final Aeon, they will move onto their next form, unless they are already at their final form, in which case Zanmato will kill them. Yojimbo will use Zanmato when he nods upon receiving his payment.
There are several factors that decide the attack Yojimbo will execute:
- The base motivation (BM) according to how much he has been paid. The lowest base motivation is 0 if he is paid 1–3 gil and the highest is 112 if he is paid at least 536,870,912 gil. It is much lower in the NTSC version, with the lowest being 0 and the highest being 56. The formula being:
- for HD/PAL F = 4, for NTSC F = 2.
- The compatibility parameter of Yojimbo to Yuna. It starts at 128 in the International, PAL and HD remaster versions, and at 50 in the original Japanese and NTSC versions. It caps at 255. It increases by 1 or 3 if Yojimbo uses Wakizashi against single or multiple enemies respectively, and by 4 if Yojimbo uses Zanmato. It decreases by 20 if he is paid 0 gil; by 10 if he is KO'd during battle; by 3 if he is dismissed immediately after being summoned; and by 1 if he uses Daigoro. It remains unchanged if he uses Kozuka. This compatibility parameter is then divided by 10 in the International, PAL, and HD remaster versions, and by 30 in the original Japanese and NTSC versions. (CP)
- The Zanmato resistance of the enemy. A hidden variable applies depending on the choice Yuna made at Yojimbo's Chamber of the Fayth; asking to be trained as a summoner means that Yojimbo's motivation to use Zanmato will increase if Yuna hands over a greater proportion of her gil per turn; asking for the power to defeat fiends increases the likelihood of a Zanmato against random encounters, and asking for the power to defeat the most powerful of enemies slightly reduces the likelihood of a Zanmato against Zanmato Level 1 fiends, while treating Level 4–6 fiends as the same with the same penalty to motivation. If the first or second choice is made, it is either 1, 0.5, 0.33, 0.25, 0.20, or 0.16 for Zanmato levels 1 to 6, respectively. If choice three is made, it is 0.8 for Zanmato level 1 to 3; and 0.4 for Zanmato level 4 to 6. (ZF)
- Additionally, if choice one is made, another factor is considered. It is (0.75 * ((amount paid * 0.50)/total gil))). Otherwise, it is 1 (CF).
- Whether his Overdrive gauge is full when he was paid to attack. If it is full, an additional 20 points are added to his overall motivation in the International, PAL, and HD remaster versions, while only 2 are added in the original Japanese and NTSC versions, otherwise, it is 0. (OF)
- A random factor is added to motivation. It is any number from 0 to 63.
Considering the formula and the random factor above, if Yojimbo's overall motivation is 80 or greater, he will use Zanmato. To get the probability of Yojimbo using Zanmato, take the formula shown above (exclude the random factor) and use:
In short, ensuring that Yojimbo is properly treated and paid right will guarantee that he will use Zanmato in due time; him sending Daigoro is a sign of poor standing, while seeing him use Wakizashi means that one is on the right path.
Zanmato is also used as an enemy ability by both Yojimbo and Dark Yojimbo when their Overdrive meters are full. When used by the regular Yojimbo, it will inflict 9,999 damage to the entire party, which can be avoided by sacrificing an aeon or by having Auto-Life on the party, or simply having 10,000 or more HP. When used by Dark Yojimbo, Zanmato will inflict 99,999 damage to the party as well as remove Auto-Life. To avoid this, the player can summon an aeon with high defense and use Shield to potentially reduce the damage to around 50,000.
Zanmato is an ability associated with Yojimbo, first appearing as his ultimate attack during his boss fight in Kugane Castle. Yojimbo's employer, Kageyama, tosses gold koban into the arena, which Yojimbo's dog Daigoro will attempt to pick up. The damage dealt by Zanmato is based on how many piles of gold the players allowed Daigoro to collect, with the attack instantly killing the party if he collected all of them.
Yojimbo also uses a variation of the ability during the Kugane Ohashi trial. This version of the attack reduces the entire party's HP to 1.
The Zanbatō is a weapon supposedly made to cut down a horse and its rider in one swing.