There are a lot of TV shows out there and in this golden age of TV streaming, the choices have never been greater. So how do you cut through the noise and find the “Best of” for any chosen topic? Well, we’re here to help celebrate and shine a spotlight on some of the latest, greatest and unforgettable shows through the years.
For our ongoing series of articles depicting the best anime, our attention this time turns to samurai. From supernatural slashers and rhythm-based action, there’s a good choice to whet your appetite.
Of course, if we’ve missed any of your favorites, feel free to comment below and we’ll get them added on!
Samurai Champloo tackles the samurai concept from a more hip hop and groovy angle. It features well-rounded characters, engaging and well-animated fight scenes, and an exhilarating soundtrack. It’s an anime best known for its fights and one that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Our tale takes place in a small tea house environment full of shady samurai and individuals. One day, a samurai named Mugen picks a fight with an unwilling ronin named Jin. Their fight leads to the tea shop’s destruction, and the local magistrate’s son’s death. The two samurai get captured and are sentenced to execution.
Lucky for them, Fuu, a waitress from the tea shop, save and hires them as her bodyguards. Despite losing her shop, Fuu requests the two to help her find a specific warrior who smells of sunflowers. Although they’re hesitant to assist Fuu, Jin and Mugen accept her offer and tag along.
This quest will lead Fuu, Jin, and Mugen down the action and comedy-centric road. Although Jin and Mugen will continuously get into heated arguments and fight each other, they’ll eventually learn to appreciate each other’s company. This is a phenomenal and funky Samurai anime that is well worth your time.
Blade of the Immortal
This anime starts slow but manages to turn into a splendid product by the end. Our tale follows the samurai Manji who must murder 1000 evil perpetrators to reattain his ability to die naturally. Manji is a wise-cracking individual who is sure to get a laugh off of you.
Manji’s flippant behavior isn’t all he has to offer, though. His character also takes on a more mentor role, thanks to the inclusion of a 16-year-old girl named Rin Asano. The chemistry between these two characters is stellar and heartwarming. They both strive for some type of vengeance, and this serves as the theme that binds them.
The voice actors and actresses do a stellar job at portraying the characters in this show. Everyone captures a great deal of energy and excitement for their roles. The animation is a bit hit-and-miss, though. There are times when action scenes look spectacular. However, there are instances where the animation quality dips, making characters appear off-putting and weird.
Nonetheless, Blade of the Immortal delivers with its characters and feudal Japanese setting. If you’re looking for a samurai anime that reaps in history and action, check it out!
Hyouge Mono is a peculiar but brilliant samurai anime. This anime focuses more on the beauty of its world and its characters’ intrigue surrounding it. It’s different from most samurai series that shove duels and bouts at the forefront.
The anime suffers from slow pacing, though. It takes time to develop and characterize its characters. It wants viewers to engage with the ideas it presents, and conjure up individualized interpretations of the aesthetic-driven concepts it tackles. It’s not an anime everyone can hop into, as it’s mostly targeted toward a specific audience who adores more historic and philosophy-driven narratives.
That’s not to say that the characters in this show are one-dimensional and boring. The characters in this anime are full of life. They are featured in many humorous scenes. The anime gradually develops their characters over time. This anime simply wants you to engage with the principles it presents and conjure up your own interpretation.
This anime won’t appeal to samurai fans who prefer stories with less speaking and more action. It’s a series that tailors toward a crowd who adores anime with more thought-provoking elements.
Ruroni Kenshin is a classic samurai anime. This anime is praised for its handling of samurai, swordsmanship, and mature topics. Ruroni Kenshin offers brutal and exhilarating fights. While some character attacks appear supernatural, most of the combat in this show is grounded in realism.
Our tale follows a former murderer named Hitokiri Battousai, who wishes to start a new life. Everywhere he goes, he hears people gossiping about his actions, painting him as an outlaw. Hitokiri decides to take on a new alias, Kenshin Himura to attain some semblance of peace.
As Kenshin, he vows to never kill again and to help people instead. Before Kenshin can start his newfound journey, he runs into a girl named Kaoru Kamiya. Kenshin finds out someone is using his former name and is terrorizing people. He asks Kaoru if he can crash at her place and pledges to protect everyone from harm.
This anime follows Kenshin’s quest to uphold his promise to Kaoru while trying to find the person responsible for stealing his former alias and hurting others. Ruroni Kenshin features a great mix of lighthearted comedy and serious action. It’s a great way to break free of the show’s serious tone, while also giving slice-of-life fans something to invest in.
Sword of the Stranger
In a world full of reboots, remakes, and retellings, the idea of original and unique works feels like a needle in a haystack. Sword of the Stranger is one of those rare original animations that stands out from its manga to anime adaptation counterparts, thanks to its clever writing, art style, and soundtrack.
Sword of the Stranger takes place during Japan’s Sengoku period and follows an orphan boy named Kotarou and his pet dog Tobimaru. They spend their time stealing from unsuspecting citizens and conversing with each other. However, their peaceful and depressing livelihood is halted when Kotarou finds out that he’s being hunted by assassins for his petty crimes.
While on the run, they meet a ronin named Nanashi, who resides in a small temple. Unfortunately, Koutarou has received some battle wounds while Tobimaru suffers poison damage. Although Nanashi doesn’t want to help them further, Kotarou bribes him to become their bodyguard until Tobimaru’s healed from the poison, and they reach their destination.
Therefore, the anime follows Nanashi, Kotarou, and Tobimaru’s journey through a perilous world, where a deadly swordsman is on their trail looking to capture Kotarou to fulfill his master’s request and prophecy. Koutarou and Nanashi are enjoyable protagonists that are given a great deal of depth in the film.
While some fans may find Koutarou’s mannerisms annoying, the anime does a wonderful job explaining his backstory about how he became the way he is in the film. The same bodes well for Nanashi, who gets a bit more screen time than Koutarou. This anime’s feudal Japanese setting also makes everything feel more grounded in realism, too.
If you’re looking for a great representation of Japanese history, then Sword of the Strange has you covered.
Anime fans that enjoy characters who resolve their issues through words, may not find Brave 10 appealing. This is an action-centric samurai anime where words won’t sway the tide of a battle. You can expect numerous gruesome fights between heroes and villains in this adrenaline-pumping show.
In this anime, a priestess named Isanami is forced to watch menacing ninjas burn her temple to ashes and slaughter her people while fleeing into a forest. She stumbles upon Saizou Kirigakure, a ninja from a neighboring school. They travel to Ueda Castle to ask Yukimura Sanada for assistance, and we learn that Isanami possesses a devastating power, encouraging Sanada to gather ten warriors to her side.
Therefore, our tale follows Saizou and Isanami’s terrifying and dangerous quest to locate brave warriors that will serve as Yukimura’s proud bodyguards. This anime does a phenomenal job at building tension in its fights and emotionally-driven segments. Fans will find its visuals appealing and our heroes engaging. The anime spends some time giving these characters fleshed-out backgrounds to help you empathize with them.
If you’re looking for a splendid samurai adventure anime with a likable cast, check out Brave 10.
It’d be foolish to question the popularity Demon Slayer has achieved for itself over the years. With its mouth-watering visuals, over-the-top action scenes, and memorable characters, who could blame fans for pouring their heart and soul into supporting this work and its author, Koyoharu Gotoge? Like My Hero Academia and Naruto, it is a series that will leave a lasting impression on you.
Demon Slayer takes place in a traditional Japanese setting, allowing fans to immerse themselves in that time period’s culture and landscape. While it offers a more fictional twist with superpowers and samurai fighting demons, Japanese culture enthusiasts will appreciate the realistic nods stored within its environments and swordplay.
On the flip side, this series features enough super-powered and brutal action scenes that will entertain hardcore audiences. Upon returning home, Tanjiro Kamado discovers that demons have slaughtered his family. He learns that his sister has become a demonic being despite having survived the attack. Tanjiro joins the Demon Slayer Corps to protect his sister and slay every demon that stands in his way.
With its mix of dark fantasy and Japanese culture, Demon Slayer is a splendid supernatural samurai anime with content that will leave you speechless and excited for more.
Gintama is one of the most comedic samurai-themed anime around. It strikes a remarkable balance between comedy and seriousness. With its quirky characters, laughable visual gags, parodies, and surprising dramatic content, Gintama is sure to delight any viewer, regardless if they’re an anime fan.
It’s worth noting that Gintama likes to parody realistic topics and people, too. Like South Park, nothing is off the table with Gintama’s parodies of wrath. Essentially, the series falls more in line with a sitcom at times. It likes to transform mundane scenarios into something overly bizarre and wacky.
The story follows Sakata Gintoki, a careless samurai who runs the Yorozuya, a business where he tackles small quests for cash. Along the way, he makes new friends, some with supernatural abilities. Together, they embark on various quests involving aliens, gang members, fugitives, and others.
With its mix of hysterical gags and dramatic storytelling, it’s a series fans will enjoy.
Samurai 7 is based on a classic Japanese film called Seven Samurai by Akira Kurosawa. While it features some nods to that film, Samurai 7 maintains an original feel to it. With its easy-to-follow storyline, well-developed and likable characters, and beautiful visuals, this is a worthy samurai anime to put on any fan’s watchlist.
Samurai 7 takes place in a distant future where a war between samurai and those who mechanized their bodies occurred. The aftermath of this war brought peace, but not entirely. This world’s mechanized bandits (The Nouseri), are still causing a ruckus in nearby villages. Enter Kanna Village, an area known for facing mass starvation and abductions at the hands of the Nobuseri.
These saddening events encourage the residents of Kanna Village to hire samurai to protect them. To satisfy their needs, the village’s water priestess, Kirara, her sister, Komachi, and another villager named Rikichi, set off to find samurai willing to support them. Through endless obstacles and problematic encounters, fans can expect a brutal war between these noble samurai and the treacherous bandits.
Each samurai comes with a different personality and set of skills. While all of them think and act differently, they all displayed this semblance of nobility and heroism. The villains they come across are just as engaging and brilliantly written. The visuals in this show will make you quiver in excitement while it soundtrack will have your heart racing. If you’re looking for a heroic samurai anime, give Samurai 7 a shot.
Dororo is a story about an abandoned, limbless boy named Hyakkimaru who receives prosthetics and weapons to survive. We follow him through his journey of growth and bloodlust as he desires to wipe out every demon that stands in his way.
Upon meeting Dororo, he embarks on a dangerous journey in this world dominated by monstrous creatures. By murdering these beings, Hyakkimaru gains a piece of his humanity back. Dororo features dark tones and doesn’t shy away from showing heavy amounts of bloodshed.
In addition to exploring Hyakkimaru’s lust for revenge, this series evokes the feeling of exploration. It does so by engrossing viewers with its beautiful landscapes and stellar action scenes. However, the best aspects of Dororo stem from Hyakkimaru’s internal journey. As the series progresses, you’ll notice Hyakkimaru adopt more human-like qualities and mannerisms.
This alone makes the adventure feel worthwhile as you’ll feel attracted by how Hyakkimaru reacts to his environment with each episode. While the series follows your usual “monster of the week” formula, it implements it in a unique and strategic way. If you’re looking for a samurai anime with a wonderful atmosphere and storyline, check out Dororo.
So, there we have it, our picks for the best anime through the years about samurai!
What do you think of our picks? Do you agree? Are there any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments below!