Few weapons are as romantic or mystical as the sword. In the real world, we’ve left our pointy metal sticks behind in favor of much more efficient firearms. In the world of anime, the sword lives on as a weapon that’s relevant in every time period, in every world, and in every dimension. There is no shortage of anime characters who wield a blade, but not that many could be called the best.
We’ve put together a list of what we think are the 10 strongest sword users in anime. Obviously, it’s hard to compare sword skill and power between different universes, but we’ve tried to at least pick characters that are unrivaled masters of the sword within their own worlds.
10. Himura Kenshin – Rurouni Kenshin
On this list of insane, superhuman sword masters, Himura Kenshin might feel like the odd one out. The thing is, without Kenshin, there’s a good chance that characters that swing around swords might not be nearly as popular today if it wasn’t for Rurouni Kenshin.
A historical anime with a bit of creative fantasy license, Himura is the most unassuming character. That’s on purpose since he’s leaving behind his life as a “thousand manslayer.” Kenshin is so committed to not killing anymore that he uses a sakabatoo or “reverse blade sword.” Basically, the cutting edge of the sword is at the back, and the leading edge is blunt. This allows Kenshin to defend himself with little risk of killing anyone. However, even a blunt steel katana is going to HURT.
Kenshin is one of the strongest sword wielders in the show. In fact, the only sword user who seems to be better than Kenshin is the master who trained him in the first place. Kenshin definitely crosses over into superhuman territory since he can move faster than the eye can see and even cut through steel. Clearly, this isn’t supposed to be an accurate historical documentary or anything like that.
The best part about Kenshin is how everyone underestimates him because of the goofball act – but make no mistake, he’s a stone-cold killer, and walking away from that is hard.
9. Afro – Afro Samurai
Afro had to watch his father die as a child, and his sword skills have been fuelled by pure revenge ever since. He’s on a quest to become number one by literally killing the guy who’s ranked as number one.
Wielding his father’s sword, Afro exhibits some truly insane sword skills. He’s so strong that he can cut through enemy bodies in a single stroke. Afro is so fast that bullets are no match for him. Other projectiles like crossbow bolts or arrows are similarly no more than an annoyance. His brutal, merciless sword style and absolute unrelenting spirit lead him to the path of literally being number one in his world.
8. Ryuuko Matoi – Kill La Kill
Is Ryuuko a sword user? The main character from the excellent Kill La Kill actually wields half of a giant pair of scissors, so maybe it’s debatable. However, she wields this sword-sized scissor blade like a sword – so in our book, it should count.
Ryuuko is looking for the other scissor blade, the one used to murder her father. Her search for it leads her to Honnoji Academy and to a sentient school uniform that supercharges her physical abilities – something she’ll absolutely need to survive the army of similarly empowered enemy students. However, even before she dons the superhero duds, Ryuuko fends off low-level enhanced enemies just by herself, so she’s already far stronger than an ordinary human from the get-go.
The power of her infinitely sharp scissor backed by immense inhuman strength means she can cleanly cut entire buildings in two. With her power constantly claiming throughout the run of the show, it’s not unfair to say that she eventually reaches sword godhood.
7. Saber – Fate Stay/ stay night and More
The Fate franchise needs a little explanation before we can get into what a badass Saber is. In this world, there are “holy grail wars” fought among powerful mages, usually on two different teams. Each mage taking part in the war summon a historical warrior, and each warrior falls into a class such as an archer or saber. So “Saber” isn’t actually this character’s name, but her class. The specific Saber in question here is Artoria Pendragon.
That’s right, this is actually Arthur Pendragon or King Arthur. It turns out that the mythical king was actually more of a queen!
Saber is summoned by different masters in the different Fate series, and her absolute level of power is linked to the power of the summoner to some extent. That being said, she’s generally the most formidable sword user in every iteration. The Saber class is considered the strongest, and Artoria is the strongest Saber. However, she needs an immense amount of magical power from her masters, many of whom can’t provide her enough to power up all the way, at least not at first.
With the magical power of a dragon and an unmatched sword skill, she’s the answer to what would happen if a freaking dragon was also really good at stabbing stuff.
6. Akame – Akame Ga Kill
Akame of the Demon Sword Murasame was trained as an assassin from a young age and served her kingdom without hesitation for years. After discovering that the king and his government are deeply corrupt, she defects to a revolutionary group and joins a special assassination unit within it.
Akame is a master swordsman with any sword, but her particular sword is a rare imperial armed with a special power. In this case, the sword named Murasame will kill anyone who even gets a little nick from it.
That means anyone fighting against her has to have absolutely perfect defense, and Akame only has to be lucky once during a battle to end it. Murasame’s trump card can be activated when the sword’s user cut themselves with it. Instead of killing the user, the curse in the blade super-charges their combat ability for a while, although it certainly doesn’t look too comfortable when it happens.
Combining the one-cut death curse and Akame’s extremely efficient and skilled combat style, and she definitely deserves to be on a list of the strongest sword users in anime.
5. Guts – Berserk
- Year: 1997
- Where to buy: Amazon
The infamous Black Swordsman may only be human, but he can stand toe-to-toe with real monsters, to the point where it’s not clear whether he’s become one of them. Even as a young warrior, Guts was already known for amazing strength since he was a boy handling a sword for a large, full-grown man. By the time Guts is fully grown, he’s wielding what someone once referred to as “a Buick of a sword.”
Yes, it feels almost wrong to call his humongous wedge or flat iron a sword, but if you swing it hard enough, it will cut through virtually anything.
While Guts starts out fighting humans, some of them quite formidable, eventually his enemies go far beyond the realm of humanity, with supernatural opponents that relentlessly pursue him thanks to a bitter betrayal by one of the few people he respected.
Guts isn’t just formidable because he wields massively oversized swords – he’s also fast and agile in a way you’d think was impossible given the mass that’s being shifted around. Guts is no dummy either, being a genius fighter unburdened by the need to fight fair. When he’s matched in sheer power, it’s his underhanded tactics that make him one of the strongest swordsmen and an iconic anti-hero.
4. Levi Ackerman – Attack on Titan
We were a little skeptical about including Levi on this list. Not because he isn’t an insane combatant, but because we were a little unsure if the soldiers from Attack on Titan are really sword fighters in the traditional sense.
If you haven’t seen the show (you really should), you may not know that swords are only a small part of their fighting style. Levi is part of a combat force that fights against giants. The only way to kill them is by slicing a very specific spot on the back of their necks.
The only way for human-sized people to fight up that high is to use “vertical maneuvering gear.” So it’s not just swords that matter, but their ability to use them in 3D space.
As you can imagine, only the most elite troops can pull this off, and Levi is the best among them. His reputation for mastery of the maneuver gear is so high that he’s thought to be equal to a brigade all by himself.
While a small guy, Levi is all muscle and very strong. His speed is also beyond even the elite titans’ ability to keep up with. What makes him the strongest swordsman in the show, however, is his ability to make split-second decisions and the devil’s own luck that it’s almost always the right tactic.
3. Yami Sukehiro – Black Clover
The captain of the misfit magic knight squad, the Black Bulls, is quite possibly the best swordsman in the entire show. Even without his dark magic powers, he’d be on this list just thanks to the way he wields a sword.
Combined with his magic and supremely enhanced physical abilities, he’s an utter monster. So it’s a good thing he’s one of the good guys! If he really lets loose, he can actually use his magic-infused sword to literally slice through space itself. He’s also very easy to anger, and his blade doesn’t hesitate – one wrong word from an enemy and that katana is going places, all of them uncomfortable for the other guy.
2. King Bradley – Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood
Spoiler alert for those who haven’t seen the FMA shows yet, skip this one and return later. Still here? OK, King Bradley isn’t just the leader of a nation, he’s a superhuman constructed being known as a “homunculus.” Depending on which version of the story you watch, Bradley is either Pride or Wrath. His creator is also different in the alternate versions of the FMA story, but whichever Bradley we’re talking about, he’s a demigod of the sword.
Bradley is a complicated character and is actually quite likable, but he’s a creature of pure fury and range on the inside. His fighting style is brutal, with no holds barred. Bradley has superhuman strength, speed, and reflexes. Yet, he doesn’t use wild brute strength. It’s his devotion to the technique that makes him a precise and efficient sword fighter. One of his unique powers, “Ultimate Eye,” is perfect for someone using a blade – it gives Bradley an almost omniscient awareness of his surroundings, allowing for virtually perfect defense.
Bradley is formidable enough when using one sword, but a lifetime of training allows him to wield as many as five blades. Bradley has proven time and again that he’s the strongest blade user in the world of FMA. He’s even gone up against two of the other top blade in FMA at the same time and still won. Oh, and Bradley has taken out a freaking TANK using nothing more than a sword and a hand grenade.
1. Genryuusai Yamamoto – Bleach
Oh boy, old man Yamamoto is a doozy. We’re sure there are plenty of people who’ll disagree with many of the choices we made for this list, but Genryuusai is inarguably the strongest sword user we have ever seen in an anime. Bleach is filled to the brim with bonkers numbers of insanely powerful supernatural sword users, and Yamamoto stands above them all.
Yamamoto is the top death reaper in Soul Society – that’s the name of the afterlife within the show. He’s over 2,100 years old and looks like a frail, grizzled old man. Don’t let that fool you; he’s like the One Punch Man of swords. When he unleashes his spiritual power, his mere presence is enough to crush lesser opponents. He’s taken on two other legendary captains at the same time and walked away without a scratch.
As an extension of his soul, Yamamoto’s Zanpakuto is just as scary. His millennia of combat experience makes it virtually impossible to outwit Yamamoto in a battle. His sword is an ancient fire-type weapon that holds the most offensive attack power of any Zanpakuto in Soul Society. In its ultimate form, it’s so hot that it literally cuts things out of existence. Yeah, you win, Mr. Yamamoto.
Cut! That’s a Wrap
How much do you agree with my picks for the strongest sword user in anime? Do you think other characters should be here? Do any of these not deserve a spot? Sound off in the comments below.