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Two images that often come to mind when thinking of anime are swords and daggers. As such, it is common that the next image is one of either a samurai or a ninja. Both of which are pretty awesome and quite constant in anime considering the cultural and historical roots such figures hold to Japan. However, this list is an ode to those who stick to the shadows, to those who you use stealth and precision, to those who blend into their environment (well those who should do such things but end up quite often out in the open in a full-fledged battle). Yes, here you will see to the top 10 ninjas of the male sex exposed in broad daylight!
10. Kenji Fujikido from Ninja Slayer The Animation
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Apr. 2015 – Oct. 2015
In this anime, we’re thrown into a world where technology is ever present to the point that it’s practically its own god. However, in this age, certain ninja souls that were locked away have been unleashed upon society. These ninja souls can basically possess a human and then go on all-out rampages. Well, it so happens that because of such ninja possessions, Kenji Fujikido’s wife and child are killed. Due to this tragedy, a desire for vengeance against ninjas takes root in Kenji’s heart, which just happens to be the exact desire of the soul belonging to the ninja Naraku. Thus, the two combine and create a grim reaper for ninjas. The more their mental states resonate, the more powerful they become. In the end, they possess supernatural strength, speed, and reflexes; as well as incredible proficiency with shurikens. With such power they slay a ton of ninjas in sometimes wacky and sometimes epic battles.
9. Aoshi from Rurouni Kenshin
- Episodes: 94
- Aired: Jan 1996 – Sep. 1998
Rurouni Kenshin follows the adventures of Kenshin Himura, a famed samurai during the Imperial Revolution, who suddenly disappeared after the war. Now, 10 years after the war, Kenshin has changed to a reverse blade, vowing never to kill again, and wanders the land helping people wherever he can. His goal is to make atonement for all the lives he has taken and to ensure the peace of the newly formed democracy.
One of the opponents consistently testing Kenshin and his ideals is Shinomori Aoshi. Aoshi became the leader of the Oniwabanshū group at an extremely young age and has incredible abilities. When him and Kenshin first face off, Aoshi only uses one kodachi, allowing him to strike quicker than Kenshin, and interjects martial arts to physically batter those who rely solely on the sword. However, upon being defeated, he abandons his emotions, utilizes two kodachi and develops lightning quick techniques that are capable of taking down Kashiwazaki Nenji, one of the strongest ninja in the Oniwabanshū.
8. Sonic from One Punch Man
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Oct. 2015 – Dec. 2015
One Punch Man hit us in the face and knocked us all out with its knack for tearing apart heroic tropes and yet building an entire, fascinating world around heroes. How was it so successful in doing this? The answer primarily lies in the duo of Saitama, who’s become so bored because he can beat anything with one punch, and Genos, whose long-winded style of talking counters his protagonist-like good looks.
Well, in this action comedy, there happens a certain ninja villain that goes by the name Sonic. As his name suggests, his specialty lies in his speed and he is able to make quick work of most opponents. Though his skills are quite admirable, it’s his personality that really makes him such a fun character to watch. His number one goal is to fight strong opponents and becomes extremely excited when someone proves themselves capable of standing their ground against him. Adding to this battle junky’s enjoyable quirks is that he will do just about anything to initiate a fight, such as collapsing buildings and endangering ordinary people. However, there seems to be one particular and humanizing prick in this villain’s side. His disdain for heroes comes more from a belief system that heroes can’t truly protect anything. It’s an interesting perspective and one that holds more bitterness than anything else.
7. Jubei Kibagami from Juubee Ninpuuchou Ninja Scroll
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: Jun. 1993
One of the oldest and one of the best, Ninja Scroll came out in 1993 and defined for many just how dark and gory an animated series can get. Following Jubei Kibagami as he teams up with Kagero to investigate the group of ninjas known as the Devils of Kimon, Ninja Scroll has plenty of action and blood to offer.
Now Jubei first comes off as a person who could not care less about anyone else. He’s just wandering and doing what he needs to do to get by. Yet, somehow this seemingly disinterested ninja has a plethora of skills that mark him as one of the best swordsman in Japan. From the get go he’s able to take down a man capable of making his body as hard as stone. Then he simply continues to hack enemies apart for most of the movie no matter what skills and techniques are thrown at him. Clearly, first impressions can’t tell an entire story, and Jubei’s story is one as interlinked with his past as much as it is with his future.
6. Thobari Durandal Kumohira from Nabari no Ou
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Apr. 2008 – Sep. 2008
Miharu is a rather silent and at time mischievous 14-year-old boy. To most people that’s all they will ever see or understand. However, Miharu is the bearer of the almighty Shinrabaoshou, a powerful technique that many ninja clans desire in order to rule the area of Nabari. Well, part of the reason Miharu is so apathetic and silent is that he doesn’t want anything to do with his own power or any ninja clans. Despite his resilience, fate has other things in store for Miharu as those desiring his power relentlessly pursue him.
One of the people aiding Miharu in this world is Thobari Durandal Kumohira, Miharu’s English teacher, who happens to be part of the Banten clan. Now, Thobari is actually one of the few, as well as the most outspoken,ninja of the Banten clan to advocate for the permanent seal of the Shinra Banshou. Pushing his resolve towards such a stance is his desire to protect those around him as well as all life in general. He is one of the few to actually be against killing, which Kouichi, another member of the Banten clan, views as a massive hindrance. Nonetheless, Thobari proves himself on a continuous basis able to hold his own in hand-to-hand combat. He also proves to be extremely useful due to his specialization in Seal Cancel Techniques.
5. Saizou Kirigakura from Brave 10
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jan. 2012 – Mar. 2012
Saizou Kirigakura is a masterless ninja from the Iga school, who happens to save a young priestess of Izumo, Isanami. Despite his rather cold and brash demeanor, Saizou decides to make sure the young woman doesn’t find herself impaled on any enemy’s sword and accompanies her to Ueda Castle, where she plans to as Yukimura Sanada for help. There, both Saizou and Isanami find themselves enlisted in one of Yukimura’s grand plans.
From our very first encounter with Saizou, we get a taste of his brutal skills. He is quick mentally and physically and extremely talented with his weapons. Being of the Iga school, Saizou’s fighting style is focused around an array of weapons and the bending of light to create illusions. Almost always strapped to his back is his primary weapon, the Mari Blade, which he has complete mastery over and can spin to high enough speeds to reflect projectiles thrown at him. He also has hidden blades, explosives, and knives (which he can make disappear by bending light). Between his natural skills and large arsenal of sharp objects, very few forces won’t be decimated by this ninja.
4. Rekka Hanabishi from Rekka no Honoo (Flame of Recca)
- Episodes: 42
- Aired: Jul. 1997 – Jul. 1998
Let’s meet Rekka Hanabishi who is so infatuated with being a ninja/fighter that he declared if anyone could beat him in a ight, then he’d be his/her servant. No surprise then that he has undergone quite the number of fights, and so has developed some fighting skills over the years. However, this is all still set in a rather ordinary life. However, upon meeting Yanagi Sakoshita, Rekka discovers that he is the last living member of an ancient and powerful clan of ninjas.
Rekka, due to his boisterous and reckless attitude, had quite a few impressive physical attributes before finding out he was a godly ninja. His reflexes, endurance, and strength have always been above average. He is also quite capable of thinking on his feet, as we watch him on numerous occasions mixing his knowledge of fireworks with his fighting. Nonetheless, Rekka was able to become a beast, and such a memorable beast of a ninja, because of his ability to call upon the eight flame dragons, which are the spirits of the past Hokages of his clan. Each dragon has numerous abilities of its own that greatly increase Rekka’s capabilities.
3. Hyouma Muroga from Basilisk
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: Apr. 2005 – Sep. 2005
Let’s go back to Japan during the beginning of the 17th century when two warring ninja clans go head-to-head in order to decide who will be the next shogun. It’s a bloody and action packed ride that has a few political flips to keep your attention for the entirety of its 24-episode run.
On the Kouga Clan side, there is a warrior ninja known as Hyouma. Perhaps more samurai-like in his demeanor, which is only accentuated by the fact that he is blind, Hyouma is a character you keep your eyes on the entire time. He is Gennosuke’s master, which puts enough credit to his name and abilities alone, as Gennosuke is considered one of the strongest. Then there’s the fact that between his lack of sight and years of experience, he’s capable of detecting the exact number of opponents from a massive distance. Finally, he does have the Dojutsu ability (essentially able to force the enemy to kill him/herself), but to a slightly lesser extent than Gennosuke. In many ways, he is the strongest all-around ninja in this anime with a mixture of abilities to hinder and defeat the enemy.
2. Black Star from Soul Eater
- Episodes: 51
- Aired: Apr. 2008 - Mar. 2009
Soul Eater sends viewers into a world of Shinigami, witches, magic, literal human weapons, and so much more. Primarily focused on the exploits of three Shinigami and their partners, this anime showcases plenty of deadly fights along with several substantial character arcs. Now one Shinigami who gets quite a lot of attention, or more appropriately, demands a lot of attention, is the ninja Black Star who is accompanied by his partner Tsubaki.
Black Star has incredible mastery over several different weapons. He can use katanas, kunais, and other weaponry with great skill in combat. He’s also extremely fast and hard headed in numerous ways, which has allowed him to take down incredibly strong opponents, and maybe a couple allies along the way. Though clearly skilled, it’s at times difficult to view Black Star as a master ninja. In fact, many times he will find the enemy quite unaware and then charge in with a warcry, thus alerting the enemy. Not the most stealthy of tactics, but perhaps for the best, as Black Star wouldn’t get as much satisfaction from a silent kill, and a single-strike takedown definitely wouldn’t be as fascinating to watch. This star wants to surpass god and so his skills must always be on display.
1. Naruto from Naruto
- Episodes: 220
- Aired: Oct. 2002 – Feb. 2007
Is there really anything that needs to be said about Naruto? Honestly, the Naruto universe provides a number of ninja who could have made their way onto this list. Most of those would have also been manning the number one spot, such as Itachi, Killer Bee, Sasuke, Kakashi, Pain, and a host of other badass ninja. In fact, keeping it to one character per show, was mainly so Naruto wouldn’t dominate this list.
Anyways, despite there being a ton of amazing characters in this anime, Naruto is the face of the anime. In many ways, he might be the most unrealistic ninja by donning bright orange clothes and always screaming his head off, and yet he the best. Not only does his character advance tremendously between Naruto and Naruto Shipudden, but he offers some of the most spectacular fight scenes in anime. This is possible thanks to, obviously, the animation, but also the amount of power Naruto wields. He essentially has unlimited Chakra due to being the reincarnation of Asura and can basically make Rasengan rain down on a city if he so chooses to. He also has the Nine-Tails chakra, which has given him an edge in most battles, from the time he squared off against Haku to taking down the goddess Kaguya. His nine-tail mode is also one of the most visually appealing exciting parts of the show. Who wasn’t loving Naruto face off against Sasuke at the or when he turned into a four-tail fox against Orochimaru?
You can’t really beat Naruto when it comes to ninjas. The show has been on since _____, and has built such an intricate and complex universe that it’s practically impossible to compare character development and abilities.
It’s hard not to like the way ninja and anime mix. Ninja techniques provide animators with the opportunity to create stylized battles that will take your breath away. Plus, ninjas generally look pretty awesome, even when completely covered from head to toe. This mix definitely leads to visual masterpieces that hold a ton of action. With all that said, were there any ninja dudes out there that you think deserve a spot on this list?