Action is by far the most popular genre in manga. There’s as much variety of stories and action sequences out there as there are stars in the arctic sky. Some stories feature high-tech laser beams, while others utilize powerful punches. However, there is one weapon that can easily be found in almost every action manga, and that is a sword - especially Japanese katana.
Interestingly enough, most sword fights in manga happen between a swordsman and non-swordsman, such as is the case with most fights in Demon Slayer. There are also cases where it starts out as a sword fight between two swordsmen, but ends up being a completely different kind of fight at the end, such as with most fights in Bleach.
With that being said, the following are some of the best sword fights between two swordsmen who use katana. Some of them have been properly animated, while others surprisingly haven't. But all of them are brutal and dazzling at the same time. Here are the five best sword fights in manga!
5. Zoro vs Zombie Ryuuma from One Piece
Other than Zoro, there aren’t many proper swordsmen in One Piece. That's why Zoro doesn't really have many chances to seriously fight an actual bonafide swordsman, but then the Thriller Bark Arc happens and he finally finds a worthy opponent in the form of the legendary samurai from the Wano Country - Ryuuma. Granted, Ryuuma is already a zombie made by the power of Gecko Moria at this point, but he is still an incredibly powerful samurai nonetheless.
The most notable thing about this fight is the impact created by the clash of their swords. Every slash and thrust feels heavy and destructive. Eiichiro Oda also takes the full advantage of this being a super powered sword fight by making the characters easily destroy walls and slash open the roof of a castle in order to make the fight so much more entertaining.
The highlight of the fight is definitely Zoro's final slash on Ryuuma's abdomen that suddenly bursts into flame and quickly engulfs his body in a dazzling blue fire. That is without a doubt one of the most epic ways to end a swordfight.
4. Kenshin Himura vs Makoto Shishio from Rurouni Kenshin
Rurouni Kenshin is well known for its characters' unique fighting techniques. This climactic fight between the main character, Kenshin, and the main villain, Shishio, is the pinnacle of that concept. Here we have two characters with a motivation and moral compass that are polar opposites of each other, and yet they both display over-the-top techniques and elegant swordsmanship at the same time.
It’s a clash between Shishio, with his blazing swords and exploding gloves, against Kenshin, with his lightning-quick slashes and a move that can cut nine different spots at the same time. When all of those absurd techniques collide at once, the readers won't have any choice but to feel thrilled and entertained!
Even more so than the strange techniques, the one element that will keep the reader's eye glued to the page is the characters themselves. Both of them are so different and interesting, and the way the fight ends in a chaotic torrent of fire is what makes this fight so iconic in the shounen world.
3. Kokushibou vs Three Hashira from Kimetsu no Yaiba (Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba)
Countless shounen manga have used "nakama power" as a reason for unbreakable plot armor, but that is not the case with Demon Slayer. More often than not, the demons that they are facing are frighteningly powerful and it actually takes a carefully coordinated attack from multiple fighters to bring them down. And when it comes to sword fighting in the series, this final fight is the embodiment of that principle.
Kokushibou is the Upper Rank 1 demon and the brother of the strongest demon slayer in history. It takes a simultaneous full-powered attack of the wind Hashira, the mist Hashira, and the stone Hashira, along with a half-demon demon slayer just to keep up with Kokushibou's Moon Breathing sword style.
The fight at times looks so elegant and dazzling, while at other times, it looks so brutal and hopeless. There is no denying the desperation and determination of the demon slayers as they try to find the key to defeat Kokushibou, even if it means sacrificing their lives in the process. This fight will grab the readers by the throat and won't let go until everything is resolved.
2. Anotsu Kagehisa vs Habaki Kagimura from Mugen no Juunin (Blade of The Immortal)
Every panel in a manga should be used to move the story forwards. That's why every character's words, movements, and expressions should be able to tell a story that can easily grab the reader's attention. That is precisely what this fight between the leaders of two opposing and yet similarly sinful factions manages to achieve.
There are actually three distinct fights that happen simultaneously at this particular moment: Manji versus an armored giant armed with two slabs of steel, Makie versus a group of elite yet desperate samurai, and finally Kagehisa versus Kagimura. The other two fights offer some of the best action sequences in the series, but the fight between Kagehisa and Kagimura is where the main story happens.
The fight between these two ruthless men transforms as the story moves forward. It starts with a graceful display of swordplay amidst rows of Torii gates on a cliff. Then it moves into a brutal collision underneath the cliff while both parties lose something important to them. And finally, a serene showdown in the middle of a field covered with snow with both men on the brink of death. It is truly masterful storytelling in the form of thrilling action sequences.
1. Musashi Miyamoto vs Seijuro Yoshioka from Vagabond
Takehiko Inoue is the master at drawing dynamic and fluid movement, and that is the exact skill needed in order to properly depict a realistic samurai manga like Vagabond. This fight between Miyamoto Musashi and Seijuro Yoshioka is a masterclass in expressing the graceful yet lethal movements of a samurai.
This duel happens in a field on the outskirts of the town. There's nobody there but these two men who are ready to put their lives on the line to find out who's the better samurai between them. This is not a fight between good and evil - both Musashi and Seijuro are good and charismatic people who won't hurt anybody without any valid reason to do so. Yet they are also prideful samurai who live by the path of the sword. Kill and be killed is simply a byproduct of their ambition to be the best at what they do.
So, in order to properly showcase the deathly dance between these two fighters, Takehiko Inoue chose to use wide panels to depict most of the fighting scenes. The blurry motion and the heavy clashes of the swords are depicted in such a way that you can see both characters moving through the static images. Every second is somehow extended to infinity, yet everything seems to end in an instant. This duel between these two swordsmen is the pinnacle of sword fighting in manga.
This list is a combination of old and new series, proving that great sword fights exist throughout different generations of manga. If you haven't seen any of the fights on this list, then you should give them a try. Because other than the amazing fights, every manga on this list also has a great story to tell. You won't regret reading any of them.
That being said, this is far from an extensive list. So if you know any other sword fights that deserve to be on this list, then don't hesitate to share your thoughts in the comment section below.