othersidhe said: Is that why in the anime ‘Bleach’ all the guards in the palace have a long, two-pronged staff instead of using their individualized swords?

It could be, but I’d actually guess that it was a design decision made for stylistic purposes of visually distinguishing them from the other characters in the anime. Similar to how the Emperor’s Imperial Guard dressed in red and carried force pikes in Star Wars, even though we never saw them in actual combat.

Both the spear and the naginata are traditional weapons in Japan that were used by both the Samurai and their soldiers. Spears generally saw more combat than the katana itself because they were more durable and cheaper to produce due to Japan’s limited iron deposits, but that’s probably not relevant to how the katana or any weapon is being used in Bleach. It’s important to remember that when dealing with most Japanese anime, we’re looking at the idealized version of the katana in their religion and culture much like the singular important swords of European myth like Durendal and Exacaliber. Realistic combat tactics just aren’t relevant.

It could be that guards in the Emperor’s palace did traditionally carry spears, but I don’t know. Sorry.