Japan is a country with a long-standing tradition in swordsmanship, which stems from the feudal shogunates where the samurai most often used swords to fight their opponents. Now, while swords aren’t always a heavily used trope in anime, there are a lot of series that actually focus on sword fighting, and in this article, we have decided to compose a list of the 20 best anime swordsmen of all time.
20. Levi Ackerman
Franchise: Attack on Titan
Captain of the Survey Corps, Levi Ackerman is regarded as “humanity’s strongest soldier” due to his great skills in killing titans. He is a stoic person although he can be in a bad mood at times, and has a strong obsession with cleanliness, however, all this is valued and put up with by his partner, Lucero, a girl who throughout the story shows the unconditional love she feels for him, seriously trusting the relationship between Levi and Erwin (her father).
Before joining the Corps, he was a notorious delinquent in the Underground city. His exact age is unknown, but the author claimed that he was around 30 years old. Later, he finds out that he is part of the Ackerman clan from his maternal family, just like Mikasa. Said clan is of oriental origin and is remembered for being the only ones whose memories were not erased by King Fritz; and not wanting to submit to his will, they were persecuted to near extinction, and declared a “by-product of titan science”.
19. King Artoria Pendragon
Artoria Pendragon is the legendary king of knights who ruled the battlefields in the Age of Legends. In her lifetime she commanded the Knights of the Round Table, the greatest knights who ever lived and heroes later sung of in legends. When summoned as servants, each would boast of undeniable glory and strength, but even among them, Artoria stands at the top.
Although Mordred is a top-notch Servant and possesses powers worthy of the Sabre class, Mordred’s overall attributes are inferior compared to her father’s. The difference between the two is so great that Gawain claims he would usually defeat Mordred without breaking a sweat, even at night when he is three times weaker than at noon, a state in which he is considered by some to be the equal of King Arthur.
18. Erza Scarlet
Franchise: Fairy Tail
Her swordsmanship skills are of the highest caliber, allowing her to effectively use the weapons provided by his magic. Her skill is enough to be able to slice through Aria’s presumably intangible airspaces, and to deflect hundreds of Evergreen needles with relative ease using swords with hands and feet, and even with the strength of the swords they can also cut through metal with just the air pressure in the oscillations.
In contrast to her slim and feminine figure, she possesses a great deal of physical strength, as she has been seen many times being able to lift and drag a large number of objects that exceed her size and weight, this stems from her habit of carrying a large bag. amount of luggage. She was also able to send Midnight flying into a wall with just a flick of her wrist.
17. Himura Kenshin
Franchise: Rurouni Kenshin
Kenshin is a samurai. Having become a vagabond with the advent of the Meiji era, he wanders aimlessly in the country. He always wears a saber, which often gets him in trouble with the authorities (wearing a saber was banned in 1870). His saber is reverse-bladed (sakabato), so he cannot kill anyone in combat.
Nothing would prevent him from turning the blade over in order to use his sword, but he forbids himself to do so. After completing the Meiji Era Restoration and murdering for it, he swore to defend all the people he could, and that was never to kill again. After helping Kaoru save the reputation of his kendō dōjō, he agrees to stay with her for a while, not as a Battōsai, but as a simple wanderer.
Franchise: Demon Slayer
Kokushibo was an extremely powerful swordsman, considered the strongest of the Twelve Moon Demons and the second strongest Demon in the series, after Muzan Kibutsuji. As one of the oldest demons in the series, he has fought numerous demon hunters and gained immense experience and knowledge in combat.
He was able to easily decipher the methods and skills of at least two Pillars and crush them in battle. As a breath user, he possessed high levels of strength and reflexes, which were further enhanced by his Demon physiology. General abilities and skills allowed Kokushibo to defeat the two Pillars with minimal effort and then fight on par with Gyomei, who was considered the most powerful Demon Slayer in the Corps.
Claire is the main heroine of the Claymore manga. His childhood, like that of many claymores, was very traumatic. She was held hostage by a Yoma, who kept her alive to avoid suspicion. After the death of her oppressor at the hands of Therese, she follows the claymore who had saved her. They ended up befriending despite the initial reluctance of the claymore. At the end of the hunt, Claire saw with her own eyes her mentor die, beheaded by Priscilla during her exaltation.
Having miraculously survived the events, she then finds Louvre and bringing him the head of ex-Number 1, implores him to make her Claymore, embedding Therese’s remains within her. Claire being the first half-claymore, she is therefore considered weaker and given the number 47. After long wanderings, she took the young Raki under her wing, repeating the same pattern as in her youth. The two more or less ended up developing deeper feelings.
Franchise: Akame ga Kill!
Akame is a member of the Night Raid. She grew up in an elite assassin unit created by the government to serve their causes. When she was a child, she was separated from her little sister to train them apart from each other.
After many missions, she meets Najenda. Akame asserts her beliefs by joining Night Raid, after Najenda convinces her. A true expert in the art of sword handling, she is the most powerful of the group, and her talent is matched only by her appetite. She rarely lets her feelings get the better of her, especially in a fight. She wields an imperial katana-shaped weapon, Murasame, which curses the blood of her victim, condemning her to certain death.
13. Obanai Iguro
Franchise: Demon Slayer
Iguro is able to bend his sword at all possible angles, although his sword is exactly the same as that of other people. His sword can slide into small slits like a snake. Obanai, who was always partially blind in his right eye, developed a fighting technique using his Kaburamaru snake. Kaburamaru is able to read enemy attacks and transmit this information to Obanai.
This technique is shown in full when Obanai is completely blind due to Muzan, but can still fight as if nothing had happened. During the battle with Muzan, after being instructed by Gyomei, Obanai was able to gain access to the Transparent World. Obanai was able to continue the fight the longest, despite many injuries. Even after Muzan’s prolonged attacks, Obanai still had the strength to jump above a multi-story building and recover from Muzan’s piercing wall and slamming.
12. Roronoa Zoro
Franchise: One Piece
Zoro is an exceptional swordsman who didn’t wait to be in the Straw Hat Pirates to build a solid reputation. He is indeed, at the beginning of the series, the famous Pirate Hunter of East Blue, already feared and respected. To quote Supernova crew members on The Sabaody Archipelago, he’s not the kind of person to be under someone’s orders. To quote the Water 7 and Zambai workers, he has the strength to be a captain.
Zoro is a follower of a style of kendô that he himself created and baptized Santoryû. Few people misunderstand his abilities, because, unlike Luffy or Sanji, he inspires fear from the start with his cold air and his hard gaze and is, according to Ryuma the zombie samurai, like a wild beast. Brook qualifies him alongside Ryuma as having Power of Destruction.
Zoro, who is undeniably one of the most powerful characters revealed so far, owes his strength to his training and willpower alone, while the other big names in the series generally rely on a Devil Fruit. He even received a proposal to be part of Baroque Works which he refused.
Guts is presented from the outset as a ruthless war lunatic. This is a character marked by his ruthless childhood and the ambient violence in which he lived and continues to live. For him, mercenary and combat are an integral part of his being and he considers himself incapable of doing anything else. Guts possesses an inexorable anger and rage, rage that he tries to bury deep in his heart so as not to harm those around him but which ends up bursting out at times.
He is a very solitary character due to the tragic circumstances of his existence. After the Falcon Band’s victory in the Hundred Years’ War, he deliberately distanced himself from the only comrades he ever had. Despite his departure, Guts fails to find his own way.
When Puck decides to follow him, despite threatening to kill him or claiming he didn’t really want to save him, he ends up tolerating his presence. Once joined by others, he finds some solace in them after the events of the Eclipse, regaining the friendship and camaraderie that Griffith had torn from him.
10. Yoriichi Tsugikuni
Franchise: Demon Slayer
Yoriichi is the most powerful known character in the history of the series and the most powerful swordsman and Demon Hunter, born with the Demon Slayer Mark and the Transparent World. As a kid not trained in sword skills, he was able to defeat a trained sword instructor and was called a miracle.
After training as a Demon Hunter, Yoriichi was able to defeat several Demons. He single-handedly managed to corner Muzan Kibutsuji and left him on the brink of death until he managed to escape. Muzan considered Yoriichi to be a real monster. Shortly before his death, at the age of 85, he fought with his older twin brother Kokushibo, who had turned into a demon.
Despite his extreme age and apparent blindness, he quickly gained the upper hand in battle in one move, even cutting his brother’s throat before he died on his feet. Kokushibo himself admits that if Yoriichi had fired a second blow before dying, he would have killed him, commenting that Yoriichi’s strength had not yet been matched.
Franchise: One Piece
Shanks is the first Emperor to appear in history and the Great Pirate Leader of the Red. He is a man of medium height with a scar on his left eye, missing left arm, and red hair, which is why he is nicknamed “the Red”. He is carefree, friendly, respectful, and devoted to his friends; the only thing he does not tolerate is that one is disrespectful or threatened with the latter.
The author stated that in delineating the calm and cold personality of Shanks he would have been inspired by himself. He is the first character to reveal the use of Ambition, with which he proves capable of even damaging the surrounding environment, and is also known for his great swordsman skills, such as allowing him to face Dracule Mihawk on equal terms, his good friend and rival.
8. Sōsuke Aizen
Sōsuke Aizen is the former captain of the 5th Division of the Gotei 13. He later left the Soul Society with his followers Gin Ichimaru and Kaname Tōsen. His lieutenant was Momo Hinamori. He was previously a lieutenant in the 5th Division under Shinji Hirako. After Aizen waged war against the Soul Society with an army of Arrancar, he was defeated by Ichigo Kurosaki and sealed by Kisuke Urahara and then imprisoned for his crimes.
According to Kisuke Urahara, since mastering the hogyoku, Aizen has become less cautious in combat, as Aizen would not have allowed Urahara to use the level 90 kidō before mastering the hogyoku. Aizen admits that his new powers allow him to let go of his guard. As a result of this new power, Aizen developed arrogant and cocky behavior that often no longer thought of his attacks or defenses, or even bothered to find out the effects of his opponents and his own attacks, as before.
When he was released from Muken, he returned to his calm and relaxed personality, brushing aside Shunsui Kyōraku’s praise for his present abilities, and changing his mind. He even agreed to fight Yhwach and help Ichigo before returning to Muken. He disagrees with Yhwax’s philosophy of combining the three planes of existence to remove the fear of death and believes that humans would never have the courage to take action against such a threat in Yhwax’s world.
7. Byakuya Kuchiki
Byakuya is a member of the Kuchiki clan and grew up in the villa of the same name in Seireitei. He spent countless hours training, preparing to take over the leadership of the Kuchiki family. Yoruichi Shihōin often visited Kuchiki Manor to play tag with Byakuya. On one such occasion, about 110 years ago, she was introduced to a training Byakuya by her grandfather, Ginrei Kuchiki.
After seeing Yoruichi, he attacked and insulted her. Yoruichi teased him jokingly, complaining about her greeting after coming all the way to see him. Byakuya, expressing her displeasure at seeing her, declared that he would become the leader of the Kuchiki clan soon enough, so he had no time to waste with her.
6. Shinji Hirako
Shinji Hirako is the first Vizored to approach Ichigo. He is extroverted and looks like a great seducer. Basically, he gives Ichigo the explanations that Hiyori doesn’t and cuts the arguments short. He was the captain of the 5th division 110 years ago and Aizen was his vice-captain. His shikai resembles Aizen’s, allowing him to fully control his opponent’s nervous system by literally reversing all perception.
He will fight Aizen in the false Karakura in order to avenge Hiyori, seriously injured by Gin on Aizen’s order, but will be defeated by him. Subsequently, Hirako regained his position as captain of the fifth division.
5. Dracule Mihawk
Franchise: One Piece
Dracule Mihawk, nicknamed “Hawkeye” due to his intimidating gaze, is universally believed to be the best swordsman in the world. He is a lean-bodied man with a thin beard and mustache; temperamentally he is solitary, taciturn, with an austere and proud bearing and a strong sense of honor.
His weapon is a gigantic black sword, called the Black Sword, belonging to the category of the supreme Wazamono, the best in the world: with it, he can deflect bullets and cut entire galleons into two parts, as he did with the fifty ships of the Creek fleet.
4. Kisuke Urahara
Kisuke Urahara is a mysterious character. He got himself exiled from Soul Society and owns a shop selling items from it, which he runs thanks to two children, Jinta Hanakari and Ururu Tsumigaya, as well as a man named Tsukibashi Tessai (Former leader of the Necromancers – Kido Captain). Urahara is a longtime friend of Yoruichi.
Urahara is eternally banished from Soul Society, because he endangered it with his experiments, but also because Soul Society’s decisions on how to handle the results of his experiments are not to his liking. Note that he also helped the current Vizoreds not to become Hollows, which is the main reason for his exile.
3. Shunsui Kyōraku
Shunsui Sakuranosuke Jirō Kyōraku is the captain of the 1st Division and Captain-Commander of the Gotei 13. His lieutenants are his niece, Nanao Ise and Genshirō Okikiba. He is the former captain of the 8th Division. Shunsui is a peace-loving man who will always try to talk his way out of battles, though he does not wish to insult opponents by refusing to fight.
Though Shunsui tries to talk his way out of a fight, he will fight when the situation demands it, such as in his battle with Coyote Starrk. When Starrk asked that they only pretend to fight, he declined the offer, though noted that he prefers to do the same. Shunsui maintains a level of honor and integrity when engaging in battle. He refuses to fight with children or even in the presence of a child.
He also dislikes taking the life of innocent people, as he left Chad alive when Nanao offered to kill him. He always maintains a veil of respect for his opponent, is polite in combat situations, and prefers to fight one on one. When fighting powerful opponents, like Starrk or Aizen, Shunsui rarely loses his cool, going as far as to make small talk and joke around with his opponents.
Despite being one of the strongest and oldest captains, Shunsui retains a level of humility and is not overly arrogant about his strength, acknowledging that Tōshirō Hitsugaya has the potential to become stronger than himself given enough time. However, Shunsui also harbors a deep sense of guilt over the misfortune that has afflicted those close to him, such as the death of his brother and the execution of Nanao’s mother, and considers it a burden too heavy for him to carry alone.
Yhwach, often referred to simply as “Your Majesty” by his subordinates, is the father of the Quincy and the Emperor of Wandenreich with the designation “A” – “The Almighty”. He is the son of the Soul King. Yhwach is a self-proclaimed lover of peace who hates conflict and believes that painful battles should be over as soon as possible.
He holds the first generation of Gotei 13 in high respect, as they were Shinigami who could sow fear into his heart. He particularly admired Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto, whom he called a demon because he treated his subordinates like waste ashes. Yhwach despises values like justice and honor, which is why he hates how the Gotei 13 has become “weak” in the 1000 years of his absence.
After absorbing Mimihagi’s powers, Yhwach gains a black pattern of eyes running down the left side of his face and onto his chest, and his left eye becomes inverted in coloration. After completely absorbing the Soul King, Yhwach gains a dark mask of eyes covering the upper half of his face and begins constantly oozing darkness. Later on, darkness begins flowing from and covering his entire body, leaving only his hands, feet, knees, and part of his face and chest visible.
1. Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto
Shigekuni Yamamoto Genryūsai is the captain of the First Division and therefore Commander General of Gotei 13. He appears as a bald elderly man with a long mustache, eyebrows and beard; in spite of his venerable age, he has a strong and muscular physique marked by numerous scars, testimony of the countless battles in which he participated.
He has a fierce and determined temperament and firmly believes that the law must be respected at any cost. He founded the Shinigami Academy and personally taught the fighting arts to Shunsui Kyōraku and Jūshirō Ukitake, whom he regards almost as his own children.