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Goin’ Japanesque!

Collect Handsome Guy Swords? “Token Ranbu -ONLINE-,” the Hottest Game Now!

Stop the Alteration of History!

Screenshot by the Writer

The browser game called “Touken Ranbu – ONLINE-” has caught on among Japanese anime and manga fans consisted largely of females. For the backbone story of the game launched by DMM Games and Nitroplus, “Token Danshi (sword guys),” who are notable Japanese swords personified into human male characters, time travel back to the past and fight against the forces who intend to distort the authentic course of history. Such a story line should surely grab the heart of history and Japanese sword fans.

Players assume the role of a “Saniwa” sage, and collect and train sword guys to fight the enemies.

Screenshot by the Writer

The swords featured on the game so far include 7 kinds: short sword, Wakisashi (side sword),  Uchigatana (horseman’s long sword), Tachi sword, Large Tachi, spear and Naginata (halberd).

Each of them has its own specific strength as follows:
 – Short Sword / Wakisashi: allows extra mobility and scouting ability.
 – Uchigatana: allows steady performance on any map.
 – Tachi: allows extra striking power.
 – Naginata / Large Tachi: allows extra melee range.
 – Spear: Disables enemy defense.

You need to come up with a good strategy and select the best members and choice of equipment according to the battle stage.


A Social Phenomenon

The game enjoyed an explosive popularity right after it was launched in January, 2015, and was soon piggybacked by successive launching of related figure dolls and other items. Only within half a year after the launch, the game was adapted into two different types of plays and is now going to be adapted into two separate anime films after the fall of 2016.

But this is not yet the whole scope of the phenomenon. There have also been exhibitions of the swords featured in the game and many other game-related events and campaigns held around the country. The game has become such an enormous phenomenon, bringing great impacts both online and offline.


Attractive Characters and Their Designs

Screenshot by the Writer

As you progress through the game, you come across many new “Token Danshi,” or sword guys. Each of them has his own very unique personality and in-game status. Although it is quite challenging to collect all of them, there are still additions of new sword guys continuously coming into the game.

Shokudaikiri Mitsutada (燭台切光忠), Screenshot by the Writer

Masamune Date (伊達政宗),

The personality and character of each sword guy is based on the legend associated with an actual historically noted Japanese sword and the episode of the sword’s owner.

To take an example, “Shokudaikiri Mitsutada,” the guy wearing an eye patch in the photo, is a character whose name comes from the sword owned by Masamune Date, the famous war lord from the Sengoku Period (around 16th century). Masamune Date was a warlord who lost sight in one of his eyes due to a sickness he suffered in his childhood and was later nicknamed “Dokugan Ryu (One Eyed Dragon).” The game character succeeds such a physical trait of Masamune.

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Yamatonokami Yasusada (大和守安定), Screenshot by the Writer

Haori Over-garment Worn by Shinsengumi Members,

Yamatonokami Yasusada (upper photo) was the name of the sword owned by Soji Okita, one of the members of Shisengumi, the policing group formed by samurais in the late Edo Period. The members of Shinsengumi wore haori, a traditional Japanese over-garment, as their specially tailored uniform (below: the Shinsengumi uniform), and this sword guy in the game also wears this uniform.

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These are just a few typical examples which visually showcase the connection between the characters and the actual historical facts but if you take close look at each character, you will find many other interesting things about the game characters based on actual historical facts and legends.


In March, 2016, the smartphone app version of “Token Ranbu -Online-” was also launched and now you can casually enjoy the game wherever you are. It was announced that the smartphone version had surpassed 1.5 million downloads already in August, 2016 and has never yet lost its momentum ever since. We can surely expect more to come from the game series, so keep your eye on it! Official Website

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About the author

I am an otaku that likes rare and unusual things. My hobbies are martial arts and touring historical sites, shrines and temples! These days, I want to learn more and more about the world. I am currently studying Ancient Western History.

View all articles by Momoi