As manga readers, we have been spoiled by so many awesome and iconic swordsmen throughout the years. Be they historical samurai like Musashi from Vagabond, modern day samurai like Zoro from One Piece, or even western knights like Guts from Berserk, there are so many great swordsmen to choose from. Needless to say, countless lists and articles have also been made about them, covering almost every topic under the sun.
It’s time for other swordsmen to finally be given the chance to take the spotlight. So we decided to go with a niche category, which is the non-human swordsmen. To make it more interesting, we’ve tried to include as many different kinds of non-humans as possible. With that in mind, here are 5 of the finest non-human swordsmen that you can find in manga.
5. Norachiyo from Nekogahara (Nekogahara: Stray Cat Samurai) - Anthropomorphic Cat
Norachiyo is a masterless samurai who lives in an alternate medieval Japan where cats can act, talk, and think like human beings. Sort of like the medieval version of Beastars, but with cats only. In this period of time, however, cats who don't belong to anyplace or to anybody are called Strays. And despite being a highly skilled and feared samurai, Norachiyo has unfortunately become a stray.
Norachiyo lost his master in the last civil war. Nevertheless, he still keeps his cat bell, the mark of a kept cat, tied neatly onto the hilt of his katana. The other souvenir of war that he got is the big scar on his right eye. But make no mistake, because one eye is all he needs in order to properly split an enemy in two with his unnaturally long katana. Nowadays, however, Norachiyo has only one purpose left in his life, and that is to reach the place where he is supposed to die. For this purpose, he won’t hesitate to cut down every cat that dares to stand in his way.
4. Kawamatsu from One Piece - Kappa/Fish-man
Kawamatsu is one of the samurai of the legendary Nine Red Scabbards, Kozuki Oden’s closest retainers. His appearance is quite similar to a Kappa, a creature from Japanese folklore, but he is actually a Fish-man who was stranded in Wano Country decades ago.
When Kawamatsu was small, Oden saved him, along with Inuarashi and Nekomamushi, from being stoned to death by the local people. Oden gave him shelter, food, and also trained him to become a fine samurai, worthy of being a member of the Red Scabbards.
Like most samurai in Wano, Kawamatsu fights by using a single katana. It goes without saying that his skill as a samurai is top notch, however, what makes Kawamatsu even more dangerous is the fact that as a fish-man his innate strength is ten times more than a normal human. That is why Kin’emon, along with other members of the Red Scabbard, state that Kawamatsu is worth 100 men in battle.
3. Sechs from Gunnm (Battle Angel Alita) - Cyborg
Sechs is one of the Tuned AR Series 2, which are 12 androids created using Alita’s combat data. However, rather than being called AR-6, she named herself as Sechs instead. It’s her way of giving a true identity for herself, because she refuses to live just as a replica of Alita.
Compared to the rest of the ARs, Sechs is easily the most battle-crazed one. After all, when she found out about the fact that the organization that created the ARs was destroyed and there were only ten ARs left, Sechs began to hunt every single one of them. Because of that, there are only three ARs left now, including her.
Thanks to those gruesome battles, Sechs managed to create her own unique version of the Panzer Kunst combat style, designed specifically to fight against fellow ARs, and Alita. Not only that, but she also uses a custom twin-bladed staff with blades that are made out of crystalized titanium, which make them practically indestructible. Add her powerful cyborg body into the mix, and you get one of the most dangerous swordsmen on this list.
2. Blood from Saihate no Paladin (The Faraway Paladin) - Undead
From the futuristic world of sentient cyborgs, we go to the supernatural world of the undead. The top candidate for this category is none other than the foster father of William the Faraway Paladin, a laid-back Undead named Blood.
Blood, along with Mary and Gus, used to be the heroes who defended humanity against the terror of the High King. They managed to seal the High King, but unfortunately, all of them are forced to make a contract with the God of Undeath, Stagnate, in order to protect that seal for eternity. As a result, Gus was turned into a Specter, Mary became a Mummy, and Blood has to live as a massive skeleton.
Blood was known as the strongest swordsman in his era, with a fearsome moniker of “The War Ogre”. Ironically, now that he has a massive, full skeletal body, that moniker is even truer than before. After all, a single swing of his broad sword is enough to crush numerous enemies at the same time.
1. Zodd from Berserk - Demon
Now that we have anthropomorphic cat, fish-man, cyborg, and undead on the list, it’s time to talk about the demon swordsman, which is none other than the terrifying Nosferatu Zodd, the God of Battlefields.
As his moniker suggests, Zodd thrives on battlefields. The thrill of fighting and pushing his life to the limit is pretty much the only way he can enjoy his life. For that purpose, he utilized his powerful and immortal body, along with his brutal sword techniques, to decimate every opponent that had the misfortune of entering his line of sight. As a result, Zodd has pretty much claimed the crown as the strongest swordsman in the world for about 300 years now.
Interestingly enough, that is also the source of his misery. You see, there’s nothing in this world that Zodd wants other than to fight against a strong opponent. Somebody that could threaten his life, or at least give him a hard time. Unfortunately for him, he can count with one hand the amount of people who could actually do that. That is why there are times when Zodd himself laments his misfortune of having such a strong body. So yes, Saitama is not the only one who has problems with being too strong.
The world of manga has no shortage of amazing swordsmen. However, most of them are pretty much just human characters. That is why unique swordsmen, such as the ones mentioned on this list, are important in order to keep this type of character fresh and interesting to read. So hopefully we’ll see more like them in the future.
Do you know any other non-human swordsmen that deserve to be on this list? Let us know in the comment section below.