Although anime is filled with a myriad of extremely powerful characters who play their cards on the basis of their respective power systems of their universes, there have also been countless anime swordsmen who excel in their swordsmanship, i.e. the art of slashing and slaying their enemies.
They are so skilled that they may or may not even have to possess powerful and glass cannon magic abilities of any sort as all they need is just their sword and the enemy to take down.
Such characters portray large amounts of skill and confidence and due to this, it is natural that comparison between them will arise. This list will contain the best swordsmen in anime but note that we will not rank characters according to strength but their portrayal of swordsmanship and skill of wielding a blade. Let’s get the list started.
Spoiler Warning: Minor spoilers for many shows are going to be discussed below, so take caution before proceeding to read!
Anime: One Piece
We are starting out our list of top anime swordsmen (based on their swordsmanship) with the first mate of the ambitious Pirate King aspirant Luffy, Zoro. Ok, allow us to get this straight, in terms of strength Zoro would have hogged the limelight in this list. But we have seen very less in terms of his swordsmanship when compared to the others we have included here.
Ambitious to become the strongest swordsman in the One Piece universe, Zoro has set out on a journey alongside Luffy to see to it that they both achieve their goals.
His style is pretty unique; using not only a two sword style but also a three sword style, with the third sword gripped within his teeth. This allows him to use deadly techniques which has proven to be powerful countless times.
However, he uses one shot techniques such as Ashura with which he swings the blades so fast that enemies can see multiple swords, which takes away the fun of witnessing an actual swordfight.
He also uses legendary swords as for equipment. He wields the Shusui and Enma, the latter of which was wielded by the legendary Kozuki Oden. A cursed blade which demands masterful skill which can effortlessly cut huge rock hills. He has defeated people like Ryuma from whom he inherited Shusui and has also survived a fight against Dracule Mihawk, the current strongest swordsman in One Piece and lived to tell the tale.
19. Dracule Mihawk
Anime: One Piece
One of the former Seven Warlords of the Sea in the world of One Piece, Dracule Mihawk is one of those anime swordsmen who needs no introduction. Although having been defeated and humiliated Zoro badly, he agreed on training him during the two year time skip after the horrors of the Sabaody Archipelago arc.
Mihawk’s swordsmanship is extremely versatile; he can use the “Strong Blade” swordsmanship to create enormously powerful compressed air slashes capable of destroying gigantic ships and enormous icebergs from great distances, and the “Gentle Blade” swordsmanship to deflect bullets with masterful and graceful precision. He can also cut through steel with great ease and precision.
He was a fierce rival to the red haired Shanks, one of the four emperors and used to battle him on a regular basis until the latter lost his arm. His swordsmanship is said to even surpass that of Shanks.
However, just like Zoro, his swordsmanship skills are based more on strenght and one shot hits, which makes us rank him lower than the other characters in this list of best anime sword fighters based on swordsmanship.
18. Reinhardt Van Astrea
Belonging from the universe of Re:Zero, Reinhardt Van Astrea is the Sword Saint of the kingdom of Lugunica. The title of Sword Saint is given to the strongest swordsman of an era and his strength proves it.
Although wearing the mantle of Sword Saint and arguably the strongest character of Re:Zero, this list of anime swordsmen only talks about the skill of wielding a sword and hence he is at a lower rank. But this does not mean that he has nothing to proof.
At the beginning of the series, Reinhardt’s first enemy was the Bowel Hunter Elsa, who was proving to be a pain to the main character Subaru and his company.
Reinhardt wields the Dragon Sword which can only be unsheathed when the opponent is worthy but it was not the case with Elsa, so he decided to use a wooden sword and just by using that he was able to block and harm Elsa and her lighting fast attacks. Elsa was so overwhelmed that she had to retreat.
Although it is not shown in the anime, some more fun facts about Reinhardt is that he is not allowed to freely travel between kingdom’s as long as every kingdom approves of that and also his possess an absurd amount of divine protections to make him overpowered but he does his part of swordsmanship and fans should patiently wait for the next season for more Reinhardt action (whenever it drops).
17. Killer Bee
Anime: Naruto Shippuden
Our beloved Jinchuriki of the eight tails and rapper Killer Bee comes next on the list of best swordsmen in anime. He is the younger brother of the fourth Raikage and possesses the spirit of the 8 tails Gyuki within him.
Although his passion and ambitions lie within the art of rhyming words and throwing gang signs, his skill as a Jinchuriki in being able to control the tailed beast’s power is immaculate. Keeping aside his ability of Chakra release, he is also a master of Swordsmanship.
He wields seven blades at the same time using his body parts and joints and portrays the finesse while fighting Taka, the rogue Shinobi group leaded by a newly powered Sasuke who had awakened his Mangekyo Sharingan after learning about his older brother Itachi’s past.
Although attacking Killer Bee at the same time, he was able to fend of against Sasuke’s group pretty easily while making up new rap lines for his song. Sasuke himself is very skilled at the use of his blade but Killer Bee was able to defeat them all singlehandedly and only lost when Sasuke decided to use Amaterasu on his tailed beast form.
16. Yasuri Shichika
Yasuri Shichika from Katanagatari also dons one of the most unique styles of anime swordsmanship. It is so unique that he does not even need a sword! HE HIMSELF IS THE SWORD!
For more context, he is the leader of the Kyotouryuu, a school of swordless swordsman. The name directly translates to “Imaginary Sword Technique” and such is the way of the school: where one uses their limbs as weapons rather than actual swords.
The Yasuri family has always been unable to handle real swords but that does not mean that they cannot practice their own style of Swordsmanship. With the help of Kyotoryu, he can replicate any movements that can be done using a real weapon and has no qualms while displaying their finesse.
Due to Shikizaki Kiki’s involvement with the occult and the hereditary curse on the Yasuri family, the martial art also entails considerable mental preparation.
The mind, emotions, and morals of a Kyotoryu user don’t work like those of a person; instead, they live, think, and feel like a weapon. The special moves that a Kyotoryu practitioner uses are named after different flowers that all pertain to different counter and attack techniques. The idea of not using a sword to learn swordsmanship deserves a lot of praise for it’s unique practice and disciplined approach to learning.
Due to this, he earns a place in our list of best anime swordsmen, despite not wielding a sword!
Anime: Vinland Saga
The next character in our list of best anime swordsmen is the antagonist of Vinland Saga’s prologue, Askeladd. By profession he was a half Welsh half Danish, leading a group of mercenaries. He was hired to kill Thors, the protagonist Thorfinn’s father which acts as the inciting incident of Vinland Saga.
He was a master swordsman from a very young age. He was able to defend his mother when he was 11 from his father Olaf who was trying to assault her. Askeladd was able to hold up against Thors for sometime even though what happened later was the result of a dirty trick.
Thorfinn’s main goal was to take revenge for his father by killing Askeladd and the latter used to give him fighting opportunities by doing odd jobs of killing enemy camp leaders. This turned Thorfinn into a relentless monster who would not give up on such chances but still was not able to defeat Askeladd in a proper fight despite Thorfinn’s immense growth as a warrior, showcasing some good anime swordsmanship in the process.
Anime: Akame ga Kill!
The titular deuteragonist alongside Tatsumi, Akame is certainly one of those anime swordsmen to be reckoned with. The current leader of the covert division Night Raid, she is often considered to be the strongest member of the division.
She can easily dispatch even the most powerful foes. Her hellish assassination training has given her combat abilities on par with those as powerful as that of the General rank within the Empire’s military levels. Just check her fight with Esdeath if you doubt her skills as a swordfighter.
She carries a sword known as the Teigu, One Cut Killer: Murasame, which is coated in an incredibly lethal poison that has no antidote and may instantly kill those who are cut by it. She formerly had the Kiku-Ichimonji Shingu.
She is demonstrated to be an expert swordswoman who would have murdered Tatsumi if it weren’t for the statue that fellow villagers gifted him before setting out on his adventure. Despite having a lethal weapon, she has established she is someone who is amongst the best when it comes to anime swordsmanship.
She is revealed to depend on more than just her teigu. She is a strong and proficient fighter with amazing speed and reflexes who is also experienced in hand-to-hand fighting. She can evade and counterattack with lethal effects. Additionally, she fights with almost no lethal intent, making it impossible for the opposition to detect her. Her proficiency with her katana and her swordsmanship are outstanding.
13. King Bradley
Anime: Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood
King Fuhrer Bradley is one of the primary antagonists of Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood and also served as one the seven Homunculi each pertaining to one of the seven deadly sins. He was chosen to be Wrath and he displayed he was one of the best anime swordsmen around.
Due to him becoming a Homunculus, he gained superstrength and super fast reflexes which helped him fight and defeat countless enemies but his level of swordsmanship exceptionally unmatched.
Wrath appears to have an insanely high level of skill in the art of swordsmanship among all the characters, capable of fighting both the second Greed and Fu simultaneously with only two daggers and easily defeating the first Greed.
Not only that but he was able to defeat colonel Roy Mustang and later Scar, while being injured, showcasing his exquisite anime swordsmanship! He also has exceptional knowledge and power of strategizing, as he was able to destroy a Briggs tank with the help of just a sword and a hand grenade.
12. Yoriichi Tsugikuni
Anime: Demon Slayer
One of the most legendary Demon Slayers to ever exist, Yoriichi Tsugikuni is name that everyone fears and respects. He is the strongest Demon Slayer to ever exist and the inventor of the Breathing techniques. Despite born with overwhelming abilities and overflowing natural talent, his swordsmanship was at a completely different level.
The first time he picked up a sword, he defeated a trained swordsman with ease. His actions were faster than what a human eye can process normally and his swordsmanship was so tremendous that he was made a six handed doll wielding katanas that would attempt to replicate Yoriichi’s skills for practice but even that failed to satisfy him.
His sword fighting skills overwhelmed Muzan and had the potential to defeat his brother Michikatsu, who was the strongest of the current era, justifying his inclusion in this list of best anime swordsmen!
During his time, the Sengoku period was also known as the Golden Age of Demon Slayers.
Yoriichi’s technique of Sun Breathing was inherited by the Kamado family as the Hinokami Kagura. While fighting the Demon King Mujan Kibutsuji, he was able to deduce that Muzan’s weaknesses were his 12 organs and to counter that, he created a brand new technique in order to overwhelm him.
11. Genryusai Shigekuni Yamamoto (with both hands)
The former captain commander of the Gotei 13 and one of the strongest characters of Bleach, Yamamoto is definitely a part of the best swordsmen in all of anime due to his immense skill and centuries of experience.
He would have ranked higher if we were judging his skill on the basis of overall strength but that does not mean that he lacks anywhere.
Yamamoto is the strongest shinigami to ever exist in the soul society as there has been no one at his level, thus proving his position in the office for a thousand years. Over two millennia of battle experience, he his at a point where he can cut anyone cleanly with a single strike with his sword.
He fought against two of the oldest serving captains of the soul society, Shunsui Kyoraku and Jushiro Ukitake that too simultaneously and emerged without any form of injury. He uses techniques like Hitotsume: Nadegiri which is a fast and powerful killing stroke which is so fast that enemies are not aware of their death until its taken place and Onibi which is a powerful thrusting attack capable of killing large enemies.
Even in his last fight he gave it his all by portraying his true power and a person such as him must always be respected no matter what.
10. Gintoki Sakata
We are starting the top 10 in our list of best anime swordsmen with the lovable president of the Odd Jobs for free company Yorozuya, Gintoki.
He portrays an extremely laid back attitude in the fore front but as fans know, he is as skilled as they come in anime swordsmanship due to his participation in the Joui war in the past. He was also known as the White Yaksha due to his swordsmanship, demonic appearance and silver hair.
Although he now carries a wooden sword, Gintoki, a veteran of the Joui War, has accomplished a great deal in the past. He was known as “Shiroyasha” or “White Demon” because of his diverse set of skills and formidable swordplay.
Gintoki has slain several high-ranking opponents, including legendary ones like Enma and Ogre, and he has vanquished powerful Amanto, demonstrating his ability to alter the course of any battle. He has the strength and swordsmanship to overcome opponents who are regarded as the best in their class.
He also stands out since numerous enemies have noted that he learned how to use a sword on his own. Although Gintoki’s swordplay appears crude, it is far from impure. His one-handed use of even full-length katanas results in rather wide yet swift cuts.
His battle in the Kabukichou Four Devas arc is a testament to his swordsmanship skills and he rightly grabs a spot in the top 10 our list of our best swordsmen in anime.
Several renowned Gintama anime swordsmen, like Yagyuu Binbokusai, have complemented his level of proficiency. Gintoki is skilled in the use of a variety of weaponry, including naginatas, kunais, senbon, and explosives, possibly as a result of his samurai training and experience in war.
One of the greatest antagonists in anime/manga history, the White Falcon is in no way lacking skill in swordsmanship. A natural born charismatic leader and an ambitious individual, Griffith has proved his fighting skills from time to time.
Griffith has always been a magnificent swordsman. He can dispatch enemies with a single stab with his sword, capable of effortlessly puncturing vitals if he so desires. He also displays skillful parrying abilities if contested against great swords.
During the Defense of Vritannis, he eliminates Emperor Ganishka’s imperial guard in rapid succession with his sabre alone. Griffith’s cutting power is also impressive. As a human, he was able to sever Zodd’s arm in a pincer movement alongside Guts.
This made him the second man in 300 years to wound him. Also a master of basic hand to hand combat, he is a full package, making him come in at number 9 in our list of best anime swordsmen!
Anime: Fate: Zero
The beloved servant used by the Emiya family by two generations, the blonde haired Saber is a reincarnation of the legendary King Arthur who commanded the Knights of the Roundtable. She has seen her fair share of Holy Wars in her lifetime and boasts swordsmanship skills which makes her one of the best anime swordsmen (or women).
A member of the Saber class, she is considered to be the strongest servant of the said class. Her overall attributes are very high and her skill with the sword is impeccable. In Fate:Zero she served under Kiritsugu Emiya, where she participated in the Fourth Holy Grail War.
Although possessing extreme power and skill, her status was infact weaker than normal due to Emiya not being able to supply her with enough mana. Despite such shortcoming, she can withstand and manage herself in any form of battle.
Her sword Excalibur was powerful enough to destroy powerful beings and alongside her finesse, she was unstoppable. In the Fourth Holy Grail War, she able to hold her self against Berserker and Lancer without much difficulty.
She also has strong feats under the service of Shirou Emiya in the Fifth Holy Grail War but the trend of receiving less mana from her master continued. In fact she is weaker under Emiya Shirou but she was still able to hold up against Assassin in her supposed weaker form. Her mastery in sword is respectable and praise worthy.
The legendary Black Swordsman of the dark and gruesome world of Berserk, the protagonist Guts is one of the most iconic anime swordsmen who epitomizes strength and the art of battle in war. He might have lived a through a harsh life and seen his share of hardship but this has also let him hone his skills as a warrior and as a swordsman.
Wielding the iconic Dragon Slayer, he dominates his opponents. Guts has been using enormous swords since he was six years of age, which has resulted in his extraordinary strength and skill with the blade.
Guts is especially deft and agile in the heat of battle, able to avoid and parry even the fastest attacks despite his Herculean bulk. Guts effortlessly slices through both human and demon kind with the aid of this massive blade.
While one could argue that Griffith had more finesse with the sword, Guts did manage to defeat him in a sword fight making him rank above the character in this list of strongest swordsmen in anime!
Alongside his extreme resilience and toughness due to immense suffering, Guts is a warrior who will remain on the battlefield fighting while others will perish. His indomitable will and extreme toughness makes him stand out as one of the most legendary warriors in Anime history.
The protagonist of Dororo, Hyakkimaru lived through one of the saddest backstories ever imagined where he never even felt his own body due to his body parts being taken away by demons. His long and painful journey of finding the demons who took his body parts and killing them to retrieve them back made him grow as a powerful fighter.
Hyakkimaru is not one of your standard anime swordsmen, and doesn’t display the usual anime swordsmanship, as his body is fully prosthetic due to his body parts missing, his main sword is underneath his right prosthetic arm which he removes to reveal it.
However, he had studied swordsmanship as a child. He can comfortably wield his swords and quickly dispatch enemies, as well as break weapons such as swords, spears, and arrows into pieces that cut through armour.
He easily defeated his brother Tahomaru by slashing his right eye without injuring himself and leaving a scar on Tahomaru. Also, his demonic strength after the sadistic sacrifice during his birth grants him exceptional agility with which he was able to retrieve everything by slaying the demons and also other skilled fighters.
5. Afro Samurai
Anime: Afro Samurai
Finally we move on to the top 5 in our list of best anime swordsmen, and making this position his own is the protagonist of Afro Samurai, Afro.
Afro is a phenomenally skilled swordsman who developed into a ruthless murderer who would kill everyone to become the ‘number one’. His father was beheaded in front of him when he was a little child. Due to that horrible occurrence, the innocent little child became obsessed with avenging himself.
His battles with his opponents often featured some of the best anime swordsmanship!
He is master swordsman who is skilled at swordsmanship. Afro is a very talented swordsman capable of deflecting crossbow bolts, shattering bullets, and performing fatal sword blows. As instructed by his Sword Master who was rumored to own the number two headband, Afro can utilize his subconscious mind to develop whole new combat methods in the middle of a battle.
He could also fight well during an aerial duel with the Afro Droid. He is quite powerful, able to neatly slice through criminals and warriors or stab a person’s throat with his sword sheath. As for his equipment, he uses the Rokutaro, which was previously used by his father.
Afro was able to take down his mentor Sword Master and Shichigoro, the owner of the Number two headband. He has defeated strong enemies throughout his lifetime and career of being a ruthless warrior.
4. Jin and Mugen
Anime: Samurai Champloo
Here at number five we have both Jin and Mugen, the two protagonists from Samurai Champloo who cannot be left out from a list pertaining to swordsmanship. Though their styles are completely opposite, their swordsmanship is almost at the same proficiency and the list wouldn’t be doing justice if they were to be ranked separately.
Starting off with Jin, he is one of the two bodyguards of Fuu alongside Mugen. He has a strong history in Kenjutsu where he went as far as killing his own master in self defense. His stoic demeanor is reflected in his Swordsmanship where he relies heavily on orthodox Kenjutsu moves and very high technical proficiency.
His use of Mujushin Kenjutsu has been proved very effective as he was able to stand up against Mugen, Sara and even lived to tell the tale of fighting against the legendary Kariya Kagetoki, arguably the strongest fighter in the story who even applauded his attempt of going up against him.
On the other hand his partner Mugen is completely opposite to demeanor as well as fighting style. This individual is care free, rude and even vulgar whose fighting style consists of martial arts and erratic movements. Unlike Jin, Mugen focuses on improvisation on the spot and mixes various types of Martial Arts to make himself highly unpredictable.
He also holds a specially made sword, which he conceals in a sheathe across his back. The sheathe is concealed to make his normal-sized blade appear to be the length of a nodachi, and the bottom end of the sheathe conceals a tanto that he only uses as a trump card. These two talented individuals have unique fighting styles with their sword and complement each other.
3. Nanashi and Luo Lang
Anime: Sword of the Stranger
Nanashi is a wandering Ronin who has promised himself to keep his katana sheathed no matter what. The protagonist of the movie Sword of the Stranger, he is hired to safely escort an orphan and his dog in exchange for payment. Luo Lang on the other hand is the second in command of the Ming Group who were chasing the orphan.
Both of them are skilled swordsman and portray masterful swordsmanship.
During the adventure, Nanashi reveals that he used to be mercenary for hire and served under different master, fighting in many wars. At some point he was appointed to fight under the then Shogun Itadori but couldn’t bring himself up to do it when asked to execute children. He then left and retired from his job as a killer. Luo Lang on the other hand is a gifted swordsman and pleases himself by fighting strong opponents so that he can grow his skills.
Once again, it would be hard to separate these two anime characters when it comes to their swordsmanship. Their skills were on complete display as they encountered, not once, but twice in the movie. The duel between these two people is one of the best swordfights in anime and is enough to justify their inclusion at number 3 in our list of best anime swordsmen who have displayed amazing swordsmanship.
2. Himura Kenshin
Anime: Rurouni Kenshin
Himura Kenshin is the main protagonist of Rurouni Kenshin who spent a decade travelling around as a wandering and masterless Samurai searching for personal enlightenment, or simply a Rurouni. After gaining a lot of experience through years of training and wandering, he is considered to be a formidable foe in all of the story displaying professional levels of swordsmanship.
Despite his unimposing look in every way, Kenshin is arguably one of the series’ most formidable fighters, only topped by his master Hiko Seijuro XIII.
During the revolution, his talent was critical in bringing the fighting to a close and ushering in the Meji period. He is a living legend recognised across Japan for his incredible swordsmanship, capable of effortlessly cutting through steel. Kenshin’s talents as an expert allowed him to become an elite assassin at the age of 14 after inheriting the Hiten Mitsurugi-ryu sword technique.
His technique revolves around his ability to move at godspeed, striking and moving at such incredible and abrupt rates that he frequently outpaces the human eye and even dodges gatling gun fire. His main fighting technique is the Battojutsu, and his mastery of this talent, as well as his reputation for slaying his opponents in a single strike, earned him the title, the Battosai.
He is also adept in Dual handed sword techniques if it were ever required. Kenshin is one of the few characters who has studied the blade for many years in a world which recognizes strength with not magic power but raw skill, but while explaining his abilities, we did mention that his skill can be toppled by only his master, who takes the number one spot at this list.
1. Hiko Seijuro
Anime: Rurouni Kenshin
Finally at the top we have the one who taught the art of swordsmanship to our second place holder Kenshin, Hiko Seijuro from Rurouni Kenshin. The Kenjutsu master is also the twelfth successor of the legendary Hiten Mitsurugi-Ryu technique who passed on his knowledge to Kenshin.
Hiko is the series’ most powerful fighter, far outclassing all other characters. While Kenshin appeared to be on par in raw speed with his master during his second training, Hiko in actuality substantially suppressed his true capabilities behind his heavy cloak, which weighed a whopping 90 Kilograms.
The only time he is seen without the cloak in the series is when he removes it in preparation to murder Kenshin during their second training session. Despite this handicap, Kenshin only manages to graze one of Hiko’s bracers when he attacks him with his “entire body and soul” at one point by devoting all of his focus until he falls and passes out.
Hiko has learned the Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu to perfection, being able to wield and perform all of its techniques, talents, and methods to the fullest, focusing his destructive strength while reducing his susceptibility to counterattacks. he is proficient in a variety of attack methods and stances, including thrusting, backhanded, underhand, as well as able wielding his sword in either hand with equal efficiency or just as seamlessly switch between them all.
Only because of his masterful teaching and training, Kenshin was able to properly revert from a blood lusty assassin into a proper fighter. Hiko’s strength and expertise transform the distance measured from his sword’s reach and length from himself into a barrier-like zone that any seasoned fighter would be wise enough to perceive and avoid.
Bonus: Musashi Miyamoto (Vagabond manga only)
Although our list is full of swordsmen from anime, it is nigh impossible to finish off the list without mentioning the true strongest swordsman of Japan who existed in real life, Musashi Miyamoto. His story has inspired many and has been converted in the form of many stories. He has also written a book himself called “The Book of Five Rings”.
His father taught him how to handle the Jutte at an early age, which aided him in developing the two sword method. Musashi’s sword-skill is distinctive due to his odd motions and lack of style. This is because he spent the most of his life in the forest, having been labelled as a demon child by his town for his degrading and cruel character.
He developed the Niten Ichi-Ryu two sword technique by holding a katana on the aggressive right hand and a Wakizashi on the defensive left hand. He pondered why Japanese swordsmen only use one sword during battle. He used both swords well against Tsujikaze Khei/Shishido Baiken.
During his time as a Ronin, he has battled with strong swordsman like the famous Sasaki Kojiro, Denshichiro Yoshioka and fighting against 70 people at the same time. His battles have proved him to be a formidable opponent who relies on his raw skill and the way of the nature as his style.
The sheer amount of skilled swordsman in Anime and Manga displaying their swordsmanship is commendable we must give credit where it’s du. Also the unique approaches to swordsmanship portrayed by these characters really makes everyone a formidable foe and a skilled fighter. Are there any more swordsman who should have been placed here on the list?
Do let us know in the comments below.
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