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There are few tools whose use is less important to the development of Human History than the sword.
Used for millennia in Europe, North Africa and Asia, the sword, though now obsolete as a weapon is an crucial part of history and folk-lore for cultures all around the world.
In Japan, the sword has even a greater significance, and of course that means there’s no shortage of incredibly powerful and memorable swordsmen (and women) from series all through anime history.
10. Levi (Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin))
So much about swordsmanship and martial arts in general, is about the perfect strike. The right amount of force, at just the right time that can be delivered because you’ve put yourself in the right position, in the right stance.
When you think of great swordfights, you think of a flurry of steel, hacks and slashes, perfectly timed and to strike the enemy, and protect yourself. You don’t think of, necessarily, the type of fighting done in Attack on Titan, the masterful single strike.
But when you think of it, the enemies of Attack on Titan, may be more fearful then a human opponent wielding a blade. Furthermore, the characters in Attack on Titan have to rely on only their human ability, no supernatural magic or power.
For this, we have to rank Levi into our top 10. No one can master the difficult 3-D maneuver gear, putting themselves in the perfect position for a perfect strike on the huge, monstrous Titans, quite like Levi.
9. Gintoki Sakata (Gintama)
Gintoki of Gintama defeats most of his enemies not with some type of magic or ultra-powerful weapon, but with a bokutou, a wooden Katana.
Despite this, Gintoki is an insanely powerful swordsman, and while he’s used a normal katana, he prefers to use the wooden one to avoid needless loss of life. Gintama’s style is all his own, he doesn’t really use anything passed down to him, but has basically perfected his own style of swordsmanship over time, and boosts tremendous strength and endurance.
8. King Bradley (Fullmetal Alchemist)
King Bradley took down a tank with just a sword, that shows you how amazingly strong he is. Bradley is strong enough to turn-around entire battles just from his skill and power.
King Bradley is one of the most powerful characters in the Full Metal Alchemist universe and for good reason. His sheer dominance, the fear he inspires in his opponents, and his ability to turn around entire conflicts and intimidate entire armies earns him a spot on this list.
7. Ryuko Matoi & Satsuki Kiryuin (Kill la Kill)
We had to pair some characters because of their relative equal footing, and their shared awesomeness. Ryuko and Satsuki are here for shall we say, related reasons.
They’re on this list for their power, force of will, and their ability with two awesome weapons, Ryuko wielding a scissor blade, and Satsuki with her katana-style ‘Bakuzan.’ The hero/antagonist pair of Kill La Kill go at it in some of the most memorable anime clashes in recent years, most of the times blade to blade.
They’re two equally inspiring warriors, capable of demonstrating leadership through unsurpassed skill in a fight.
Moreover, what makes then fun to watch is their total desire to beat and best one another in combat.
6. Inuyasha & Sesshomaru (Inuyasha)
The feuding brothers from Inuyasha, both do some serious damage with some deadly weapons. Fighting demons-galore in a mythical version of Feudal Japan, both wield awesome power and awesome ability with swords.
Often getting new mythical and magical blades that are on pace with their internal development as characters, as well as power, they both represent that a fighter’s strength most come from within themselves.
Warriors can’t just be good fighters; they must be at peace with themselves and have connections to the world around them and relationships with the people that live in it.
After some major character development, the initially strong but very flawed pair of brothers becomes super-powerful, and even more skilled with their various blades.
5. Erza Scarlet (Fairy Tail)
Erza has done some seriously impressive things in Fairy Tail.
She’s cut through metal with just air pressure from her sword, was able to trounce 100 powerful monsters at once despite being injured, and defeats some of the most powerful characters in the Fairy Tail universe.
Her signature‘re-quip’ style allows her to use different arms and armaments seemingly at will, and her mastery with a diverse amount of swords, armor and fighting styles, all used to deadly effect, makes her one of the best swordsmen, or swordswomen in anime history.
4. Guts (Berserk)
Remember that time when Guts fought off one hundred enemy soldiers practically single-handed?
Guts boasts ridiculous strength, wielding a sword that’s less like a sword and more like a human-sized ultra-sharp slab of iron. Often it’s only enemies twice his size that just force him to make a modest effort in a fight, he’s that dominant.
Guts is the perfect swordsmen for the brutal world of Berserk, hacking apart enemies like they’re mincemeat. Guts is Definitely a guy you want on your side in a fight.
3. Zoro Roronoa (One Piece)
One Piece fans might think this controversial since the greatest swordsmen in the universe is Zoro’s rival, Mihawk.
However, Mihawk has now had a hand in training Zoro, and believes Zoro to become his successor and an even greater fighter than him. We take Mihawk’s word for it, and we think that Zoro is going to overtake Mihawk for the title of the greatest swordsmen in the One Piece universe.
Formidable even before the time skip, Zoro has gotten immensely powerful after Mihawk’s training, easily dispatching some of the most powerful enemies around. His 3-sword style is extremely powerful, and his later sword style of Kyutoryu, a spirit-based power which renders him so powerful it’s as if he’s wielding 9 swords at once.
2. Hiei (Yu Yu Hakusho)
Hiei once sliced his enemy 16 times in the blink of an eye, Hiei often rushes into battles not so much with strategy, but sheer force of will and brute strength used to overpower his opponents
His extreme speed can outwit other opponents, leaving him almost impossible to hit. His Sword of the Darkness Flame power is one of the coolest ever seen in anime, Hiei channels a dragon-power into his sword and is so powerful that Hiei almost finds it cheap, and only uses it twice.
1. Kenshin Himura (Ruroni Kenshin)
What list of great swordsmen would be complete without Kenshin Himura. Kenshin is a legendary character, probably one of the most famous in the anime world.
He is to swordsmen in anime what Amuro Ray is to mecha pilots. He deserves every bit of the fame. Kenshin is another of those characters that gets by on raw-skill.
The absolute master of Battojutsu, unsheathing your sword in a way to perform a masterful strike, Kenshin is the absolute best fighter of his universe. Kenshin is a practitioner of Hiten Mitsurugi-Ryu style, which takes near super-human speed, reflexes, control and power to master.
Kenshin possesses the mental and physical excellence to use such a dominant style; he’s so quick he often moves quicker than the human eye can track.
There you have it, there’s our top 10 swordsmen and women in anime.
There are so many great characters and strong fighters who use a sword, so be sure to let us know in the comments below if we missed any of your favorites!
Do you think we have the most powerful fighters on here?
Have someone you think can mop the floor with our selections?
Be sure to say so in the comments below! We want to hear your feedback.