Best Manga About Samurai | TheReviewGeek Recommends

Best Manga About Samurai

Although many people cherish watching anime, they often forget that most anime serve as adaptations of the original source material. While there are some instances where the anime is better than the manga, those instances are few and far between. With the amount of manga released on a daily basis, it could be hard to cut through all those books to 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 manga through the years. For our ongoing series of articles depicting the best manga, our attention this time turns to those with a samurai focus. From gritty and realistic worlds to comical scenarios, 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!

Vagabond — Takehiko Inoue

Vagabond is a phenomenal action manga with a samurai theme. It follows Musashi, a samurai blamed for murdering someone despite assisting a nation in defeating an evil clan. Now on the run for a crime, he didn’t commit, Musashi must conquer many external and internal conflicts to prove his innocence. This story’s hailed as one of Takehiko Inoue’s best works.

The manga looks jaw-droppingly realistic from its character to its background designs. Imoue uses a combination of delicate linework and bold, dynamic panels to create imagery that’s visually striking and immersive. His manga captures this universe’s beauty and black aesthetic well. The characters are well-developed and written.

Many readers will empathize with Musashi and develop a strong connection with him. The manga’s supporting cast also receives enough depth to make readers care about them, too. For those who crave a mature story with great action and characterization, check this out.

Lone Wolf & Cub — Kazuo Koike

Lone Wolf & Cub is a classic samurai manga that left a lasting impact on readers. The narrative’s about Ogami Itto, a former executioner for the shogunate who sets out on a journey of revenge with his son, Daigoro. Along the way, they encounter various enemies and allies, each with their own agendas and motives.

This manga has a memorable cast, masterful storytelling, and large scope. It explores themes like duty, honor, and fatherhood. The relationship between Ogami and Daigoro serves as the heart of this tale. The manga’s depiction of their deep love and loyalty to each other is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. Lone Wolf & Cub’s artwork is stunning.

Goseki Kojima, the story’s artist, applies linework that is highly detailed and realistic. The samurai battles look astonishing, and the samurai inserted in these scenarios utilize great techniques and strategies that’ll satisfy many. For those looking for a classic samurai manga with impressive artwork and characters, Lone Wolf & Cub shouldn’t disappoint.

Gintama — Hideaki Sorachi

Blade of the Immortal — Hiroaki Samura

Blade of the Immortal is a fun samurai manga following a warrior named Manhi. He must murder 1,000 perpetrators to retain his ability to die of natural causes. He’s a wise-cracking individual who’ll make readers laugh. On the other hand, Magi knows when to act serious, especially when he’s mentoring his 16-year-old companion Rin.

What sets this apart from other samurai manga is its unique blend of historical fiction, mysticism, and violence. It explores complex themes like the nature of death and the cost of revenge. This makes for a deeply engaging and thought-provoking read. Despite being immortal, Manji struggles with the weight of his past sins and the realization that everyone he meets will die.

Hiroaki Samura’s gritty and detailed linework captures the harsh realities of this story’s setting. The fights are brutal and bloody, with an emphasis on skill and technique. The manga’s use of shadows and contract makes for a moody and atmospheric read, adding to the story’s ominous tone. For those looking for a deep and brutal manga to read with a samurai theme, Blade of the Immortal should be on your list.

Ruroni Kenshin — Nobuhiro Watsuki

Ruroni Kenshin is a dark and compelling samurai manga. The author shows a deep understanding of the story’s setting and has his protagonist compete in realistic and captivating bouts that’ll leave you speechless. Our story follows Hitokiri, a former murderer who now goes by Homura Kenshin. He wants to rid himself of his evil ways.

Kenshin vows never to murder anyone again and chooses to save people instead. He befriends a female named Kaoru. She informs him about an assailant who has taken his name and is committing heinous killings. We’ll examine Kenshina and his friends as he hopes to uncover who the fake Hitokiri is. Despite offering some lighthearted comedy, Ruroni Kenshin’s at its best when it’s serious.

Kenshin and Kaoru have great chemistry and receive great development throughout the story. The antagonists they’ll meet along the way have compelling backgrounds and excellent fighting abilities. Although the story’s author has run into some real-world troubles, Ruroni Kenshin is a work everyone should consider reading.

Katanagatari — Isin Nisio

Katanagatri is a thrilling manga series about a swordsman named Shichika Yasuri as he embarks on a journey to collect twelve legendary swords. The manga is set in a fantastical world, where samurai warriors are revered and swords hold immense power. What sets Katanagatari apart is its unique blend of action-packed battles, intricate character development, and an alternate reality.

The intense bloody battles include multiple sword-wielding samurai, each with unique fighting styles that make for thrilling one-on-one duels. The fights in Katanagatari are extremely well-choreographed. The manga spends some time fleshing out its cast and giving them detailed and nuanced backstories. This adds depth to the tale and makes the characters feel more relatable.

The world offers a unique blend of Japanese history and fantasy elements, creating a setting that is familial and fictitious. The altern reality allows for a wide range of imaginative and creative story beats. The storytelling can feel predictable and repetitious, but if you can overlook Katanagatari’s faults, you’re in for a fine time.

Shigurui — Norio Nanjou

Shiguruir is a fun samurai manga following two swordsmen named Gennosuke Fujiki and Seigen Irako. They’re competing in a martial arts competition to see who is the ultimate samurai. It’s set in the Edo period of Japan, a time known for its strict social hierarchy and brutal martial arts. Norio Nanjou offers a dark and gritty portrayal of this world and its characters.

The manga is an intuitive and unflinching look at the world of samurai warriors, where death and brutality are commonplace. The manga is illustrated in a hyper-realistic style that captures the violence and beauty of sword fighting. Takayuki Yamaguchi, the story’s artist, captures the precise movements of the swordsmen in battle.

Fujiki and Seigen are complex characters and highly skilled swordsmen. You’ll learn more about these characters’ backgrounds and motivations over time. They both have flaws, which makes their journeys feel more tragic and compelling. For those looking for an action-packed samurai manga with disturbing imagery and thrilling storytelling, check out Shigurui.

House of Five Leaves — Natsume Ono

What would happen if a masterless samurai got involved with a sinister group of kidnappers? This is the scenario Natsume Ono presents to readers through the House of Five Leaves plot. This manga takes place in Edo-era Hapan, a time of great upheaval and social change. This is a character-driven tale with historical accuracy and stunning artwork.

The manga is primarily a character study, exploring the minds and motivations of its main characters in great detail. Masa, the protagonist of this tale, is complex and nuanced. He has his own set of struggles he’ll need to contend to. The members of the House of Five Leaves group have distinct personalities and motivations.

House of Five Leaves’ artwork can look jarring at first. Natsume’s art style is unique and stylized making characters look beautiful in specific scenes. Her use of color and composition add to the overall mood and atmosphere of the story, creating a sense of melancholy and introspection.

Ōoku: The Inner Chambers — Fumi Yoshinaga

Ooku: The Inner Chambers takes place in a world where a strange disease called Redface Pox spread across the land of Japan. 80 years fly by and the male population has declined. Women dominate this world and have taken man-oriented roles. What sets this apart from other works is its thought-provoking take on gender roles, power dynamics, and political intrigue.

The manga offers a wonderful look at a society where traditional gender roles are inverted. Women hold political and social power, so men are marginalized and forced to navigate a society that places little value on their contributions. Fumi Yoshinaga excellently shows how gender roles impact societal structures and relationships, making this an engaging work for anyone interested in gender studies.

The Inner Chambers delivers a fascinating look at how power is wielded, negotiated, and threatened in a society that emphasizes the importance of female unity. This exploration of power dynamics creates an essence of tension and suspense that makes Ooku: The Inner Chambers a thrilling read for samurai fanatics.

Samurai Executioner — Kazuo Koike

Kazuo Koike is back with another stellar manga that’s worth your time. Samurai Executioner will captivate you with its storytelling and unique artwork. It revolves around the life of Yamada Asaemon, a skilled samurai executioner who is tasked with carrying out executions in the Edo period of Japan. The manga has a wonderful blend of thrilling action, intense drama, and historical accuracy.

One of its defining strengths lies in its complex and well-developed cast. Yamada is a compelling protagonist whose moral compass is frequently tested as she carries out his duty as an executioner in a society where capital discipline is seen as necessary for maintaining balance. He’ll meet multiple people with distinct motivations and backstories.

Goseki Kojima’s art style perfectly captures the mood and atmosphere of Edo-era Japan. From intricate character designs to the luscious backgrounds, you’ll be bewildered by this story’s nice illustrations. Some characters may look a bit distorted and strange, but mostly, everything looks splendid to the eyes. If you loved Kazuo Koike’s other work, give this a shot.

So, there we have it, our picks for the best manga 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!

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