Anime Underground

The Best Samurai Anime of All Time 

Ranker Anime
Originally by
Updated May 11, 2020 34.5k votes 10.1k voters 787.4k views 29 items

List Rules Vote for your favorite samurai anime- don't downvote something if you haven't seen it!


It's hard not to love an anime with epic sword fights and Edo period ideals. Here is Ranker's list of the best samurai anime of all time, as voted on by fans of the genre. With so much great samurai anime out there, it's hard to say what the best one is. If you're more interested in some good old fashioned shootin', then you'll want to check out these top western anime series instead. People often cite Shiniciro Watanabe's Samurai Champloo as the greatest samurari anime, but there are plenty of other greats, such as Samurai X, Afro Samurai and Ninja Scroll. We've included the first episode of each show when available, so check out a few you haven't seen before if you're looking for a new anime to watch.

If you add a new show to the list, make sure it falls under the specific "samurai" genre. Shows like Bleach may have swordplay, but you wouldn't consider it to be a true samurai series.


Samurai Champloo is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Samurai Anime of All Time
Photo: Metaweb (FB)/Fair use

Samurai Champloo is a Japanese anime series developed by Manglobe. It featured a production team led by director Shinichirō Watanabe, character designer Kazuto Nakazawa and mechanical designer Mahiro Maeda. Samurai Champloo was Watanabe's first directorial effort for an anime television series after the critically acclaimed Cowboy Bebop. It was broadcast in Japan on Fuji TV on May 20, 2004 and ran for twenty-six episodes until its conclusion on March 19, 2005. Samurai Champloo is set in an alternate version of Edo-era Japan with an anachronistic, predominantly hip-hop, setting. It follows Mugen, an impudent and freedom-loving vagrant swordsman; Jin, a composed and stoic rōnin; and Fuu, a ...more on Wikipedia

Is this the best?

More Samurai Champloo 

The Best Anime Like 'Natsume's Book of Friends' #47 of 736 The Best Anime Series of All Time #212 of 485 The Greatest Animated Series Ever Made

Ranker Video
Video: YouTube

Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Swordsman Romantic Story, also known as Rurouni Kenshin and Samurai X, is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Nobuhiro Watsuki. The story begins during the 11th year of the Meiji period in Japan and follows a a person from the Bakumatsu, named Himura Kenshin. After his work against the bakufu, Hitokiri Battosai disappears to become Himura Kenshin: a wandering samurai who protects the people of Japan with a vow of never to take another life. ...more on Wikipedia

Is this the best?

More Rurouni Kenshin 

#63 of 736 The Best Anime Series of All Time #2 of 144 The Best Old School Anime From 1999 and Before #441 of 663 The Best Cartoons of All Time

Ranker Video
Video: YouTube

Afro Samurai is a Japanese seinen dōjinshi manga series written and illustrated by manga artist Takashi Okazaki. it follows the life of Afro Samurai who witnessed his father Rokutaro (owner of the No. 1 headband) being killed by a male gunslinger named Justice (owner of the No. 2 headband) while he was a child. As an adult, Afro sets off to kill Justice and avenge his father. The Afro Samurai dōjinshi was adapted into an anime miniseries by Gonzo in 2007, along with the television film sequel Afro Samurai: Resurrection in 2009. ...more on Wikipedia

Is this the best?

More Afro Samurai 

#250 of 485 The Greatest Animated Series Ever Made #130 of 736 The Best Anime Series of All Time #26 of 203 The Best Grown-Up Anime of All Time

snakeyes711 added
Ranker Video
Video: YouTube

Sword of the Stranger is a 2007 Japanese anime film directed by Masahiro Andō and produced by animation studio Bones. The film follows Kotaro, a young boy who is hunted by a group of swordsmen from Ming Dynasty China for mysterious reasons. Among the group is a fearsome Western fighter named Luo-Lang, whose only desire is to find a worthy opponent. Kotaro and his dog meet "Nanashi", a nameless ronin who is haunted by memories of his past which have led him to avoid drawing his sword ever again. When the Ming clash with a Sengoku-era feudal lord, a proud general, and monks torn between faith and survival, the reason behind the Ming group's pursuit tests the bond between Kotaro and Nanashi. ...more on Wikipedia

Is this the best?

More Sword of the Stranger 

#543 of 568 The Best Animated Films Ever #53 of 69 The Best Anime With Adult Protagonists #12 of 15 The 15 Best Anime Films That Aren’t Studio Ghibli