Japan's Anime/Manga Fans Tell Goo Site Who Their Favorite Sword Slingers Are.
by Michelle "Ms. Geek" Klein-Hass
The Katana, the sword that has become the most recognizeable icon of Japan, is the weapon of choice of many Anime heroes and villains. Series like Bleach, Ruroni Kenshin, Samurai Champloo and Afro Samurai focus like a laser on these edgy weapons and their masterful wielders.
The Japanese website Goo asked its participants whose swordsmanship reigns supreme, and they came up with a top 10. The results might be surprising, especially with the omissions.
9.) Okita Sogo and Gintoki Sakata, Gintama (Tie)
Samurai fighting aliens creates the backbone of what is now one of the most popular anime and manga series. This is not an overheated chambara drama, however: it's a comedy that blasts through the fourth wall as effortlessly as Deadpool does.
Here's a sample of Sakata-san's leet sword skills:
8.) Hiei, Yu Yu Hakusho
The internecine warfare between tribes of demons forms the story for Yu Yu Hakusho, one of the most successful manga series in Japan. Hiei is a real demon with a sword, as you can see in this climactic battle.
7.) Makoto Shishio, Ruroni Kenshin
Call him Hitokiri Battousai, call him Kenshin Himura, call him Samurai X, even, but he's not the only sword-wielding badass in Ruroni Kenshin. Makoto Shishio apparently also impresses with his swordsmanship skills. Makoto Shishio is Hitokiri Battousai's successor in the assassin guild. And a worthy successor to be sure.
6.) Musashi Miyamoto, Vagabond
From fantasy to history, Musashi Miyamoto was a real historical figure. His book, The Book Of Five Rings, survives to this day, and is consulted by both military and business minds as a manual of strategy and tactics. Vagabond is a fictionalized tale of the real historical figure and his many epic battles. In terms of martial arts history Musashi-sensei is perhaps one of the greatest swordsmen in recorded history, maybe the greatest. This is also different in that there has never been a Vagabond anime, at least not yet. So we will have to content ourselves with cool sumi-e art from the manga.
5.) Inuyasha, Inuyasha
Our favorite bishounen dog demon, Inuyasha, wields a magical weapon that's vaguely sword-like. The bladed weapon also has characteristics of the Western heavy sword called the Cutlass, and the Japanese pole arm weapon the Naginata. And, since this is a series very strong on the supernatural, it's got a whole lot of magic in it. Here's some examples of what Inuyasha can do with it:
4.) Seijuro Hiko, Ruroni Kenshin
Every sword master needs a teacher, and Hiko-sensei was Kenshin's teacher. Their relationship began a lot like an adoptive father caring for his adoptive son, and became more complex and a bit twisted as Kenshin grew up. Perhaps the strongest swordsman of the story, the Ruroni Kenshin manga-ka, Nobuhiro Watsuki, was concerned that Hiko-sensei would be too overpowering of a character, and used his presence sparingly. This AMV features their battles against each other.
3.) Roranoa Zoro, One Piece
Perhaps the only non-Japanese character on this list, Roranoa Zoro's prime ambition is to become the greatest swordsman in the world. He is known to fight with three swords: one in each hand and one in his mouth. Here he is, fighting Mihawk, the one that was considered the greatest swordsman in the world.
2.) Kenshin Himura, Ruroni Kenshin
And here he is, the beloved swordsman who embraced pacifism and won a million otaku hearts. What can you say about this beautiful and tortured individual that hasn't been said? Assassin, defender of the weak, with a tragic love life, his story has made it not only into an epic manga series, and an anime series, but a series of anime movies, and a series of live action movies. Here's what AnimeFightsHD thought were the 10 greatest fights in the anime series, and a reminder that even though Kenshin's were the most spectacular, there were others who fought quite well, including those who didn't even use swords.
1,) Goemon, Lupin The Third
I'm not going to argue with the #1 here. Goemon Ishikawa the 13th, cutter of worthless objects and destroyer of worlds, is pretty darn amazing. He can not only deflect bullets with his sword, he can slice and dice them. He has so much control over his sword he can cut the pants off of a group of police and embarrass the heck out of them. He can barely tolerate Lupin, but somehow he sticks around as a partner in his irresistible capers. Here's an AMV which sums up his awesomeness.
However, there are so many cool swordsmen and swordswomen who are missing from this list that I was a bit aghast at the omissions. Wait, where's Afro, the BMF who is gunning to be the wearer of the Ichiban bandana? Just take a look at his final fight with the teddy-bear headed Jinno, who proves that he's not in any way cuddly...
And what about Jin and Mugen from Samurai Champloo? Jin, the ultra-refined masterless samurai; and Mugen, whose name means "no limits" and fights with not only Kendo skills but Chinese Gungfu, Okinawa weapons style, and breakdancing? I mean, come on, folks, that's an epic oversight.
And what about Revolutionary Girl Utena? Perhaps there might be the tiniest amount of sexism here, as she's female. But man, can she fight...the Three Musketeers have nothing on her.
Bleach quite literally has a cast full of badasses, When you have a manga based on a society of Soul Reapers, and there are evil spirits everywhere that need to be dealt with, you tend to have a lot of fighting going on. This is a compilation of the top 5 fights according to YouTuber Jury Quinto. This is a long video so you might want to come back to it later.
Of course, if you have some other suggestions for this list, drop me a line or hit me up on Facebook. And don't forget to practice...