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The Katana is an essential element of Japanese history. Even though we have more modern weapons now, katanas still draw many fans due to its exquisite appearance and how it is used in an exciting and realistic way seen in anime. No doubt, the popularity of katanas will not be dwindling anytime soon. If you are in search of an amazing katana anime, here is a great list for you:
10. Afro Samurai
- Episodes: 5
- Aired: Jan. 2007 – Feb. 2007
In the world of Afro Samurai, the Number 1 headband will be worn by the best fighter. The only way to obtain the headband is to defeat the current wearer. However, only the Number 2 headband wearer can challenge the Number 1 headband wearer. On the other hand, anyone can challenge the Number 2 headband wearer. The story follows Afro, who seeks revenge after his father, who wore the Number 1 headband, was murdered by a villain named Justice who wore the Number 2 headband.
Afro Samurai is a very straightforward and action-packed anime. As there are only 5 episodes,not many details were explored in the series. It can be a good anime for one who only seeks to watch many katana fighting scenes and do not care much for plot. In this series, you can watch the main protagonist, Afro, go against fighters who are mostly non-humans, such as robots and humanoids! The katana fight scenes can be pretty gory, but that is to be expected from slicing people or other creatures up!
- Episodes: 50
- Aired: Oct. 2005- Sep. 2006
Saya Otonashi is an anaemic amnesiac who lives a happy life with her family. However, one day, she is attacked by a Chiropteran which is a creature that feeds on the blood of the living. Saya learns that she is the only one who can defeat the blood-sucking Chiropterans as her blood causes the bodies of the creatures to crystallize and break into pieces. Thereafter, she embarks on a journey and wields a special katana to get rid of the Chiropterans.
This story is not about a world of samurai. It is about a highschool girl wielding a katana, defeating blood-sucking vampires! If you think an anime series featuring a cute female lead with a katana to be cool, then you are totally right. While the anime takes on a darker and more serious tone, it still has room for some comedy.
8. Saraiya Goyou (House of Five Leaves)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Apr. 2010 – Jul. 2010
Akitsu Masanosuke is a masterless samurai. Despite being a skilled swordsman, his meek and naïve personality causes him to be let go by the people who hire him. One day, he meets Yaichi, who is the leader of the gang in “Five Leaves”. Even though Akitsu is hesitant and worried about the gang’s activities, he feels like there is more than meets the eye. As he is desperate for a job, he agrees to work as a bodyguard for Yaichi.
If you are looking for a katana anime which features many katana fight scenes, then this is not an anime for you. Unlike many other anime in the katana and fighting genre, Saraiya Goyou is not a story about the main protagonist trying to be the best swordsman there is. It is simply a story revolving around a swordsman who just wants to earn a living by being a bodyguard.
7. Akame ga Kill!
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: Jul. 2014 – Dec. 2014
Tatsumi is a naïve swordsman who travels to the capital to earn money so that he can help his poor village. Unfortunately, when he reaches the capital, he realizes how corrupted it is after he goes through a series of unfortunate events from meeting people with ill intentions. Through a series of twists, Tatsumi decides to join Night Raid, which is a group of assassins who intend to overthrow the government.
In Akame ga Kill, each member of the Night Raid carries different types of weapons which may not necessarily be a sword. However, rest assure that you will be seeing katanas being used a lot in this series, as katanas are the main weapon of choice for the protagonist, Tatsumi, and the deuteragonist, Akame. Thus, you will be seeing characters wielding katanas who fight against other characters using different forms of weapons!
6. Stranger: Mukou Hadan (Sword of the Stranger)
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: Sep. 2007
The story is set in the Sengoku period in Japan. Nanashi is a wandering samurai who saves a young boy, Kotarou, and his dog, Tobimaru. The young boy has no family and is pursued by an organization from China. One of the pursuers is a man named Rarou, who has blue eyes and blonde hair. Unlike the other pursuers, Rarou has different intentions in his pursuit, as he only aims to fight the strong.
This anime features beautifully fluid animation as the fight scenes are to die for. The fight choreography is well thought out instead of a typical “one-slash-and-die” style of fighting between samurai. Besides that, if you are a dog lover, there is a dog as a sidekick which may be a factor that entices you into watching this series!
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: 2010 – Dec. 2010
Unlike other swordsmen, Yasuri Shichika fights without using a sword. He lives with his sister, Nanami, on an isolated island called Fushou Island. One day, he encounters the ambitious strategist, Togame, who aims to collect the 12 legendary swords created by the masterful swordsmith, Shikizaki Kiki. Togame enlists the help of Shichika, so they can go on a journey together to find the 12 swords.
The very definition of a swordsman is a man who fights with a sword, so how could it be possible that a swordsman fights without a sword? That is for you to find out in this series. Each of the 12 swords have their own unique abilities, thus the viewers anticipating what kind of power the next sword possesses!
4. Samurai Champloo
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: May 2004 – Mar. 2005
Fuu Kasumi is a waitress in a tea shop. When she accidentally spills a drink on a customer, she then experiences the receiving end of incessant harassment by a group of samurai. Mugen saves her with his fighting skills that resemble breakdancing. Unluckily, Mugen picks a fight with Jin, a samurai who uses a traditional style of swordfighting. During the fight, the local magistrate’s son is accidentally killed so the Mugen and Jin are set to be executed. Fortunately, Mugen and Jin are saved by Fuu, who then enlists their help to find a certain samurai who smells like sunflowers.
The word Champloo actually comes from the Okinawan word “chanpuru”, which means “blend”. In this anime, you can expect a mixture of themes, most notably, the combination of funky hip hop motifs with traditional swordfighting! Even the music features a blend of traditional and modern music, which gives a more stylistic feel to the fight scenes.
- Episodes: 266
- Aired: Oct. 2004 – Mar. 2012
Kurosaki Ichigo is a 15-year-old high school student who has the ability to see ghosts and spirits in which he meets a shinigami named Rukia Kuchiki. When Rukia sustains a serious injury due to protecting Ichigo from an attack by a Hollow, she realizes that she is unable to defeat it. Hence, she transfers her shinigami powers to Ichigo to defeat the Hollow. Ichigo then becomes a Shinigami who wields a large Zanpakuto sword.
Zanpakuto is a type of katana that is the main weapon of various parties, including the shinigami. The size of the katana reflects the spiritual power of the wielder but, nonetheless, there are more important attributes than the size itself. The katana also varies in shape, appearance, and abilities. To learn more about the katana and enjoy watching swordfights with supernatural beings, you should watch this series!
2. Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Kenkaku Romantan (Rurouni Kenshin)
- Episodes: 94
- Aired: Jan. 2996 – Sep. 1998
It is the Meiji era which is a time of peace, and there are individuals who are not satisfied with the era changing and want to bring back violence and war. Himura Kenshin is a wandering swordsman who bears an X-shaped scar on his cheek. He has a gentle and meek personality now, but he used to be a pretty badass assassin known as Hitokiri Battousai. He vows not to kill another person again, so he now wields a sakabato which is a reverse-blade katana.
if Kenshin is really sincere in not killing anyone anymore, why doesn’t he just wield a katana that is blunt on both edges? That’s because he does need it for certain situations such as cutting cannonballs or pottery. Warning: The series may inspire you to imitate the power moves used by the swordsmen, which can be pretty embarrassing in real life.
- Episodes: 201
- Aired: Apr. 2006 – Mar. 2010
Humanity has been attacked by aliens known as Amanto, and the samurai join the fight against the them. Upon realizing the aliens’ power, the Shogun betrays the samurai, which leads to the aliens taking over feudal Japan. Swords are also prohibited from being carried in public. The story focuses on Gintoki Sakata, an eccentric samurai with a penchant for swords. He takes on odd jobs in order to pay his rent and other needs.
This is a samurai series that is filled with creative parodies which include popular shonen series such as Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece. As katana are banned in the world of Gintama, Gintoki mainly uses a wooden katana known as bokuto. The fight scenes are still pretty exciting to watch, but the main appeal of Gintama lies in its comedy which does not cease in quality despite the many episodes.
Katana anime are series which delve into the world of art and metal, usually involving samurai of course, but because they are majestic in ways unimaginable, katanas will forever be about of life, history, and anime.
We would like to make a special mention of Kozure Okami (Lone Wolf and Cub), which is an old yet gold series that features high historical accuracy. Thus, it would be an appropriate series for history buffs! If you have any more series to add to this list, do leave a comment below to share it with fellow readers!