How pop culture will get us all killed. (Part 4)
While watching a recent episode of everyone’s favorite zombie show, (with the exception of George Romero and my friends at DeadMen Talking), Michonne was caught in the middle of a hallway when a zombie suddenly burst out of a room. She swiped at it with her Katana and the zombie was quickly dispatched. Michonne didn’t pay it a second thought. She didn’t even break her stride. One clean swipe and done.
Many zombie enthusiasts are proponents of bladed weapons, going so far as to state that they offer a better chance of survival during Z-day. And the granddaddy of all blades is the Katana; legendary sword of the Samurai. The Katana is known for its blade strength, razor sharpness and is distinguished by a single–edged curved blade and long grip handle. This handle is specifically designed to be held with both hands due to the Katana’s length (generally around 24 inches long, with some older known Katanas in existence being upwards of 27-28 inches long).
While there is no denying the deadliness of the Katana in the hands of someone who has been properly trained in its use, maintenance and has spent years honing those skills… it is nowhere near as deadly, or even useful, in the hands of Joe zombie-survivor. And that is where the problem lies. Pop culture has made it seem like anyone can just grab the thing and swing it around with the effectiveness of a Samurai, when in reality they’d only end up with a broken sword and soiled underwear.
First of all, while the Katana is used for close combat, it is not actually useful in a closed combat situation. The sword is simply too long to use with any real effectiveness in hallways, small rooms, etc. The blade is only useful to someone who knows how to swing it. Its unique handle style makes it difficult to even grip comfortably, (if you have not held a Katana, go grab one and take a swing). The blade itself is high maintenance and requires a lot of attention in order to keep it from getting dull, rusted and to maintain its strength.
Not only is using a Katana something that requires training and skill, but its difficult to even find one that has the high standards that the sword is known for. Most of us have seen them in head shops, fantasy stores and cheap five and dime trinket stores. But those aren’t real. A lot of the Katanas in museums aren’t real; they are replicas. And while they might be better than those swap shop blades, it probably isn’t by much.
At the end of the day, while Katanas are very cool looking and equally deadly in the hands of a trained martial artist, the average person has a better chance of surviving with a plain old machete. I’d rather be alive than sexy.
What do you guys think? Is the Katana the best sword for the apocalypse?
I just wanted to take a second and thank my friends Ben “Rambo” Morgan and Zombi Gunslingr for their help with this article. Check out their podcast Zombie Ryu if you get a chance on TalkShoe.com!
Contributing author Alfredo Torres is an adjunct professor of communications at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA where he wrote his master’s thesis on the metaphoric representation of zombies in the films of George Romero.