Swordplay can add some serious visual panache to any anime. Though the medium allows for a wide variety of mythical and imaginative weapons, swords seem to be the tried and true instruments of animated destruction.
There are plenty of noteworthy swords in anime, but the greatest blades are obviously the ones with legendary backstories. While the Tessaiga can kill 100 demons at once, it's the myths surrounding the sword that distinguish it from the bargain-bin sabers.
A blade should be judged by its appearance, its destructive capabilities, and by the fortitude of its wielder, and the very best swords will brandish all three.
Zangetsu - Bleach
Zangetsu is Ichigo's Zanpakuto, a weapon with powers that vary depending on the contents of the user's soul. Their primary function is to help Shinigami bring stray souls to the afterlife.
Zangetsu is the first Zanpakuto in the Bleach universe to take on a human form. Specifically, his form represents Ichigo's hidden, darker thoughts and emotions.
Tessaiga & Tensaiga - Inuyasha
The tessaiga was originally created using one of Inuyasha's father's fangs alongside its sister sword, the tensaiga. Inuyasha inherited the sword from his father, while his brother Sesshomaru inherited the tensaiga.
Inuyasha's grisly blade is capable of slaying 100 yokai (demons) at once. At its most powerful, it's able to send whatever it touches to Hell.
By contrast, the tensaiga can restore life, making it just as impressive if not more so—but because the tessaiga is considered more powerful, Sesshoumaru feels slighted by their father, and deeply resents his brother Inuyasha.
Elucidator and Dark Repulsor - Sword Art Online
An anime called Sword Art Online is pretty much obligated to have a few cool swords, and thankfully it doesn't disappoint.
Kirito dual-wields the Elucidator and Dark Repulser within the MMORPG he's trapped inside. He got the Elucidator, a black sword with significant heft, from a monster drop.
The Dark Repulser, which was forged by Lisbeth out of a Crystallite Ingot, is equally powerful. It's also noteworthy for being one of the only things Kirito owns that isn't black.
Wadō Ichimonji - One Piece
Wadō Ichimonji is one of the 33 greatest swords in the world of One Piece. It's tough enough to withstand Dracule Mihawk's Yoru, which is capable of making mincemeat of ships and icebergs.
Because it's so powerful, its owner, Roronoa Zoro, is constantly working to protect it from thieves who either want it for themselves or hate the idea of a pirate owning it.
To Zoro, the Wadō Ichimonji is important not just for its immense power, but because it belonged to his childhood friend, Kuina.