Zanmato (斬魔刀, Zanmatō?) 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 in the game, except during the battle with Sin's head. 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. The indication of Yojimbo using Zanmato is him nodding upon receiving the money payment.
There are several factors that decide what attack Yojimbo will execute. They are as follows:
- 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 and 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'ed 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 4 in the International, PAL and HD remaster versions of the game 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 or not his overdrive gauge was full when he was paid to attack. If it is full, an additional 20 points will be added to his overall motivation in the International, PAL and HD remaster versions while only 2 will be 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. In order for Yojimbo to use it, his Overdrive meter must be full. At this point, 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, however, it 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.
The Zanbatō is a weapon supposedly made to cut down a horse and its rider in one swing.