Best samurai anime of all time — series and movies 2022

Whether you wish to know about Japanese folktales or enjoy some intense sword fighting, nothing is better for it than samurai anime. So here are the best samurai anime which you must not skip

Samurais are a major part of Japanese history and culture. They are known worldwide and among anime for being very skilled, devoted, and honorable. Watching a samurai anime keeps the viewer very entertained and gives them a lot of knowledge about Japanese culture. Although there are many good samurai anime, there are only a few masterpieces that can be called the best samurai anime of all time. We’ve listed them out for you in this top list so you can easily make choices among the best of the best.

Nevertheless, Samurai anime focuses on paying tribute to the samurai legends which lived in Japan ages ago. They were famous for their skills which brought terror to their enemies. It is truly a joy to know about these legends in the 21st century, thanks to the best samurai anime.

If you love samurai anime, then there are probably much more anime of different genres that you will enjoy watching such as best comedy anime, and then see this list of anime boys with long hair to find out if your favorite character is also here.

1. Rurouni Kenshin

Credit: Studio Gallop / Studio Deen

The list starts with the best samurai anime ever made, Rurouni Kenshin. There is hardly anyone who would disagree from this anime is number one. Rurouni Kenshin is an anime which released in 1996. Since then, many anime have been released but none of them could come even close to the level of Rurouni Kenshin.

The story is set in Japan in the year 1878 and follows the story of a legendary samurai, Himura Kenshin. Himura Kenshin is a famous assassin who decides to leave his murderous past. He starts wandering around the country with the hope to wash off his sins by helping the innocent ones in need. As he starts to lead a new life, enemies from his past begin to come back and put him in danger. Himura must protect himself from his enemies while also keeping his hands clean. Himura Kenshin is one of the most loved samurai characters because of his pure heart and devotion to protecting the innocent.

2. Gintama

Credit: Sunrise

This list wouldn’t have been complete without one of the best samurai series to be ever made, Gintama. Gintama is a series that provides a variety of genres. Apart from being a samurai series, it is also a comedy and sci-fi series. Gintama is a worldwide famous animated series and has a huge fanbase. The anime’s theme is also amazing, as it’s focused on rebellion against the government, power, and most importantly, friendship.

Gintama is set in the Edo period but in an alternative world where samurai Gintoki Sakata is supposed to protect the world from invading aliens. The samurai in Japan have lost their powers so Gintoki is contacted for fighting against the aliens. Gintama is filled with a lot of action and comedy, so it keeps the fans entertained throughout. The animation is so good it makes the battles look ten times better. It is a long series with 375 episodes and multiple movies but each of them is worth watching.

3. Afro Samurai

Credit: Gonzo

If you still haven’t watched Afro Samurai, then you’re lucky because watching this anime is so thrilling and fun, that one would want to watch it all over again. This anime is unique because there are some supernatural factors added into its story and that’s what makes it so good.

The anime is set in the future of Japan where there are two important components, headband 1 and headband 2. Headband 1 makes the user a demi-god, while headband 2 users can challenge him for its title.

The anime follows the story of a famous hero known as Afro. He has only one purpose in life and that is to take revenge on the person who killed his father so he could get the Number 1 headband. He wants to challenge that person but for that, he must take the dangerous path of first getting the headband 2.

4. Samurai Champloo

Credit: Manglobe

There are hardly any anime fans who haven’t heard of this masterpiece, Samurai Champloo. This anime is a mix of action, hip-hop music, comedy, and characters that are worth loving. The anime is produced by the creative mind of, Shinichirō Watanabe, who’s also the creator of Cowboy Bebop. The animation is spectacular and perfectly portrays the dramatic moments and action in the series.

The first episode starts by showing a young girl named Fuu who works at her aunt’s restaurant. The restaurant gets burnt in the episode’s end. However, Fuu decides to help the culprit’s which are two samurais avoid their execution and in return, they help her find her father. The anime follows the adventure of the two samurais Jinn and Mugen along with Fuu who try to find her father.

5. Basilisk: Kouga Ninpou Chou

Credit: Gonzo

Finally, this beautiful romantic samurai series gets the spotlight. Basilisk is one of the few samurai series which have romance added to it. It has a storyline similar to Romeo and Juliet, where a prince and princess are falling in love but they belong to families which have a rivalry between them.

The story is set in the year AD 1614. In this anime, everyone is bloodthirsty, so they don’t mind killing tons of people. There are two rivalry ninja clans, Kouga and Iga. The two clans have to engage in a bloody battle against each other so they can get the control and support of the government for a thousand years. It is a battle for power. Basilisk is an anime that portrays the history, politics, rivalry, disputes, and a young booming love among all of it. It is a samurai anime like none other and has an outstanding storyline.

6. Sword of the Stranger

Credit: Bones

Sword of the Stranger is a samurai movie released in 2007. The movie took the breath away of its viewers due to its remarkable animation style and storyline. Each detail of the fighting scenes is drawn to perfection, from its blade swooshing to blood splashing, everything is on point. It has even won an international animation award.

The movie revolves around an orphan named Kotarou and his companion dog, Tobimaru. Kotaru and Tobimaru have a difficult life as they have to steal for their survival. To make things worse, assassins from China’s Ming Dynasty are after them to murder them. Luckily, they meet a ronin named Nanashi who decides to help them get away from the assassins. Nananshi then becomes their bodyguard and as the story progresses, Kotarou learns why the Ming Dynasty is after them.

7. Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings

Credit: Production I.G

There is no samurai anime with a better mix of historical culture and modernity than Samurai Kings. The anime is adapted from a video game called “Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes”, which makes it look even cooler. The fights have both samurai and superpowers in them which makes the fight scenes look more interesting, intense, and unpredictable.

The plot is set in an era of war where Japan has to fight against the Devil King for protection. Two mysterious yet strong warlords, Sanada, and Date who were former rivals, ally with generals under their guidance to defeat the Devil King. The anime follows the adventure of these two working together to get back their land.

8. Shigurui: Death Frenzy

Credit: Madhouse

Shigurui is an anime which is well, just like as the name suggests. It is filled with dark moments, sadness, blood, and a lot of death. Lighthearted people should avoid watching it because the anime gets darker each episode. However, if you love samurai anime then Shigurui must not be missed out on. The anime is filled with violence and each character experiences despair for a long time. Nevertheless, the anime keeps getting interesting after each episode.

The plot is set in the year 1629, in a time when students fight against each other with real swords. The anime starts with a tournament of two people, a blind man named Irako Seigen, and Fujiki Gennosuke who has only one arm. These two have to fight against each other until one of them dies.

The anime is linked with many historical facts and with a lot of gore. However, you have the heart to watch it, then you will understand a whole different and realistic side of samurais.

9. House Of Five Leaves

Credit: Manglobe

House of Five Leaves sets itself apart from other samurai anime because of its unique artwork and compelling storyline. However, there are way too many mixed reviews about this anime because some hate its art style while some cannot get over its beauty. It will take you a few episodes to decide in which category you belong.

The anime follows the story of Masanosuke Akitsu, who is a wandering samurai who realizes his nature is too soft for him to be a fighter. Due to that, he is called a ronin, which means a samurai with no master.

Things change for Akitsu when he is offered a job as a bodyguard for a group of bandits. He is unable to refuse the offer and joins them. Akitsu feels surprised and confused that a man as strong as Yaichi would need a man like Akitsu to be his samurai. However, as the story progresses, Akitsu realizes Yaichi asked him to be his bodyguard not for protection but his company. Akitsu soon begins to learn more about samurai and understands that there is more to samurai than just fighting.

10. Brave 10

Credits: Manglobe

Brave 10 is a ninja and samurai anime mixed with the fantasy genre. It altogether comprises action, fun, and themes that the audience can relate to in real life. Throughout the story, very intriguing rivals and friends are introduced which makes the anime more enjoyable. As the anime progresses, the story becomes more interesting with twists and turns.

The story starts with Isanami, a priestess whose temple and people inside it are burnt in front of her by a group of ninjas. Isanami escapes to the forest where she meets a man named Saizo. He is a ninja from Iga school. Together, they travel to Ueda Castle to seek help from Yukimura Sanada. However, a mysterious power is revealed from Isanami. Sanada decides to help her by getting ten warriors to fight by her side. Each of the warriors has unique powers and skills who try their best to fight against the evil forces who are after Isanami’s powers.

11. Dororo

Credit: MAPPA

Produced by one of the top animation studios, MAPPA, Dororo is an anime that is so heart touching, it is sure to make the viewer cry. The anime has a beautiful storyline, outstanding characters, dialogues, animations, and simply unforgettable action scenes.

The anime revolves around a boy named Hyakkimaru who was born without limbs, eyes, nose, or skin. His condition is due to his father, Lord Daigo Kagemitsu, who made a treaty with 12 demons in which he sacrificed his child in return for his lands being prospered. When Hyakkimaru grows up he has a prosthetic body given to him by a doctor, and also swords attached to his body. He sets on a journey alongside an orphan named Dororo to fight demons to gain back his body. Seems a little familiar to another famous anime, right?

12. Samurai 7

Credit: Gonzo

This is anime series adapted from the classic movie Seven Samurai. Samurai 7 is a samurai series with a mix of mecha into it. The story is set in an alternative world of feudal Japan. The story is filled with brutality, revenge, and blood.

The anime is set in an era where Samurai have become stronger by mechanizing their bodies and have become bandits so they can steal women and food. In the Kanna village, people want to protect themselves from these thieves but are unable to afford them. Hence, they set out on a journey to find samurais who would be willing to help them. Luckily, seven bandits are found who are willing to protect the village. Each of the seven samurais has their skills and is pretty badass. Mechanized samurais may sound a bit offsetting to some people at first but the story and action are exceptionally good.

13. Blade of the Immortal

Credit: Liden Films

Does the anime’s title sound a bit too dramatic? You should hear about its manga title which is “The Inhabitant of Infinity”. Blade of the Immortal has a great plot and mixes the supernatural with samurai history. The anime is not focused on immortality, but rather focuses on its consequences. Although the title may make you think it’s the other way around. Although the animation is minimalistic, it keeps the dark setting of the anime and gives a 90s vibe.

The protagonist of this series is Manji, a man cursed with what many people may want, immortality”. Manji is a man who has promised to slay a thousand evil men to get forgiveness in exchange for the good people he slaughtered. His reason behind this is so he could finally gain peace and die.

14. Mushibugyou

Credit: Seven Arcs Pictures

If you hate insects, you might not enjoy Mushibugyou. This is an anime series where humans are threatened by giant insects that have brought chaos to Edo Japan. The Mushibugyou Protect Office is the ones who try to put an end to them. They request help from a famous samurai but since he is injured he sends his son Jinbei instead. Although he is rather clumsy, he has the determination to fight and is skilled.

Although the plot might sound a bit cliché, it is very engaging and interesting once you start watching it.  Especially, Jinbei is a character one would fall in love with, he’s super brave and willing to go to any extent for his loved ones.

15. Kurozuka

Credit: Madhouse

Fans have mixed reviews about Kurozaka, but the animation is wonderful since it is animated by Madhouse. Moreover, the storyline is unique and very interesting. Some viewers love the plot while some hate it. So, it depends on you. It’s a samurai anime with the addition of romance and supernatural to it.

The protagonist is Kurozaka, a young man who loses against his brother in a duel, his brother was the first shogun of Japan and he gets killed. Afterward, he escapes to the mountains where he meets a girl named Kuromitsu and they both fall in love with each other. Soon, he realizes that his lover has a dark secret. While everyone believes Kurozaka had suicided, he becomes immortal and lives through centuries in Japan. 

16. Ninja Scroll

Credit: Madhouse

Ninja Scroll is an animated movie released in 1993 and it had become so famous it went on to have its own franchise. It was the first samurai anime for many anime fans from the 90s. It was released at a time when the legendary anime, Neon Genesis Evangelion also came out. The anime is full of crazy fighting scenes which were very well animated because the studio was Madhouse. It perfectly gives off the medieval Japan vibe because of its setting, animation style, and music.

The anime follows the story of Kibagami Jubei. Kibagami had to reluctantly kill his comrades and afterward, he becomes a ronin who travels around the country as an assassin. While he’s on his journey, he has to fight against evil ninjas called “Devils of Kimon” who want to take control of Japan. It is now up to Kibagami to stop them.

17. Drifters

Credit: Hoods Drifters Studio

If you’re interested in history and wars, Drifters would be the ideal anime to watch. Drifters is an anime that has many badass characters and all of them are famous people from history. Every character holds the significance of its in real life which is what made the anime so popular. Although it has only 12 episodes, it still has the point story and action. The manga is so famous that it has sold millions of copies worldwide

 Drifters is an isekai plus samurai anime. Each character belongs to a different time in history and after they die they are brought into a new world which is in the midst of war. The main characters of this anime are Shimazu Toyohisa, Nasu Suketaka, and Oda Nobunaga which are all very known figures from history so if you know about them, you’ll be prepared for the action which is to come. The “good” characters are “Drifters” while the bad ones are “the ends”. A war to take control is between them, it is a death game, and only the strongest ones standing will achieve victory.

18. Hakuouki

Credit: Studio Deen

Hakuouki is one of the samurai anime which is loved by almost every viewer. The anime series has super cool fighting scenes and is animated from a video game. If you ask any fan about Hakuouki, one thing they’ll always say is “every minute of it is worth watching”.

Hakuouki is set in 1864 Japan and follows the story of Chizuru Yukimura, a young girl who starts the journey of finding her father. However, during her journey, she gets attacked by a group of samurai and a man who seems almost inhuman. Although she gets saved by a mysterious man belonging to a group called Shinsengumi, she gets taken to their base to collect information from her regarding her encounter with the group. After the group talks to Chizuru, it is discovered that Shisengumi is also looking for Chizuru’s father due to some other reasons. Chizuru’s journey to find her father begins once again alongside this new mysterious group.

19. Peace Maker Kurogane

Credit: Gonzo

Peace Maker Kurogane was released in 2003 and became very popular in Japan and worldwide. The story is set in the 19th century and showcases many of the social and political changes which Japan went through during this era. The popularity of the series led to it having many spin-offs, movies, and sequels afterward.

The protagonist of this anime is Tetsunosuke Ichimura who experiences his parents being murdered in front of him. After that, he vows to take revenge and joins the Shinsengumi group. He finds out to achieve his goal he must deal with the horrible people working in the government and would have to get his hands dirty. The anime has lots of historical facts, actions, while also showing how brutal and unfair is the world.

20. Angolmois: Record Of Mongol Invasion

Credit: NAZ

The title of this anime will probably give you an idea of what this anime is about. The word “Mongol” is an anagram of the word “Mongolian” which links about Genghis Khan. If you want to know about Mongolian history entertainingly, this anime is the one for you. It shows the invasion of Mongolians in Japan in the 12th century.

The anime is set in the year 1274 when a group of prisoners is sent to the Tsushima Land to help the first line of defense in the Mongol invasion. The anime perfectly shows how brutal war can be so Angolmois will take you back to the 12th century and allow you to experience ancient history.

We hope you enjoyed this list full of samurai and history. If you’re looking for more action, give a read to our list of best shounen anime, or if you want to see a romance that would make your heart melt, then read the list of the best romance anime.