20 Best Samurai Characters in Anime (Guys + Girls)This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
If you’re a true anime lover, chances are that you’ve also had a phase (or a lifestyle) of fanboying over samurai.
I don’t know why, but there’s just something about a straw-hat wearing wanderer wielding a katana that just ticks all the boxes in my head.
And when it comes to samurai in anime, there are quite a few to choose from – ranging from the traditional bushido warrior, all the way to magical sword-wielding war lords.
No matter what kind of character you’re looking for, this ranking will pay homage to these warriors as we check out some of the most notable samurai characters that anime has offered us.
20. Atomic Samurai
Anime: One Punch Man
I want to start off with Atomic Samurai, simply because we’ve seen so little of him.
He’s largely a side character with huge potential in terms of badassery. And he seems to be pretty tight with Bang, as these two seasoned veterans talk about the newer generations and their aptitude for the battlefield.
Atomic Samurai does state how he has some quite powerful disciples, and then showcases his own skill by slicing and dicing a monster in thin air.
A lot could be done with this badass. And I just really hope he gets the screen time that he deserves.
19. Yami Sukehiro
Anime: Black Clover
Maybe this is just me, but I don’t usually imagine samurai as giant muscular men with anger issues and a strict bathroom schedule.
Luckily, Yami does offer us more than just that – as his skill with the blade is second to none in the universe of Black Clover.
Even though his charisma stat is severely lacking, he’s among the strongest captains in the kingdom. And his ability to consistently get stronger is nothing short of amazing.
And if you don’t think he qualifies for a samurai because of his looks, just take a look at him when he was younger.
The thorn queen knew what she was doing when she chose this prick.
As far as tragic backstories go, it would be really difficult to top Hyakkimaru – unless your name is Guts or something.
Having most of his body given to the demons, it took years for Hyakkimaru to just learn how to move around properly.
But once he learned that, oh boy.
He used his prosthetic sword arms to go out and slay every demon that robbed him of a normal life. And most of the time he’s pretty calm and collected. But he has definitely been close to completely snapping on more than a few occasions.
17. Giyuu Tomioka
Anime: Demon Slayer
One would think that I’d pick one of the protagonists of this show, since they’re all skilled fighters with the sword.
But I think Giyuu trumps them all – even with such limited screen time.
The dude is the closest to the ideal samurai in my mind, as he seems to always be looking at the bigger picture. And he’s always following his gut to help humanity.
His introduction sent shivers down my spine. And I would be lying if I said that he wasn’t the husbando of the show.
Anime: Naruto: Shippuden
For an anime that’s all about ninjas, you would really think samurais would show up more frequently given how much everyone loves samurai vs ninja showdowns.
However, Mifune is the only named character that can truly fit the title of samurai.
Besides doing typical samurai stuff like cutting the tip of a candle without extinguishing the flame, he also serves as the voice of reason during the final arc of the show.
He’s very straightforward, and the dude is way more powerful than some would give him credit for.
I mean, he did manage to go toe-to-toe with Hanzo, which is quite the feat.
Anime: Samurai Champloo
Mugen is as unorthodox as one can get when it comes to being an actual samurai.
Sure, he’s an excellent wielder of the blade. But his motives and fighting style are far less than traditional.
The dude cares for himself and just wants to have some fun while, his signature fighting style looks like an improvised hip hop routine.
But to give credit where credit is due, he’s absolutely fearless and has looked death in the eyes multiple times (with a smile on his face).
He might get a few weird looks at the samurai reunion. But no one would ever dare to square up against him.
Anime: House of Five Leaves
If you miss the days when samurai were incredibly mysterious men who only occasionally drew their sword, then Yaishi should be right up your alley.
The dude barely ever fights – but rather uses his words and connections to get his way.
And yet there’s something so peculiar about him.
Finding out who this mysterious man is, seems to be the main driver of the story. And I honestly applaud the creators for making it so enticing.
So even though he would get his butt whooped by any other person on this list, I still think he deserves a mention based on aesthetic and intrigue.
Anime: Sword of the Stranger
I’m a sucker for the “I can never wield a sword again” archetype.
And Nanashi is a prime example as to why.
Although he initially comes off as a grizzly hardened warrior, we soon get to see a softer side of him.
He fights honorably to protect the two sources of innocence in this world: children and puppies.
Each of his fights is S-class when it comes to cinematography and animation. So if you haven’t watched this movie for whatever reason, I would strongly advise you to give it a shot.
Anime: That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime
Benimaru is definitely a bit less traditional when it comes to samurai, being that he looks like a sexy devil and all.
But I think he still fits the bill.
He’s a powerful and incredibly skilled commander that would lay down his life to protect his master.
He can also be quite the troublemaker at times, but it’s obvious that his heart is always in the right place.
Plus, what’s cooler than a samurai who can also wield magic and looks like a final boss in Sekiro?
11. Kambei Shimada
Anime: Samurai 7
Kambei has such a strong sensei presence, it’s unbelievable. He’s a war-toughened veteran who lost some of his humanity on the battlefield.
And he’s usually very quiet and observant, serving as both the group’s leader and tactician.
But he can mercilessly strike a foe down if the situation calls for it – and his approval is the biggest honor you can really get as a samurai.
The dude was perfectly written for his role. And I find it hard to imagine the Samurai 7 without such a strong and memorable leader.
Anime: Afro Samurai
To me, Afro’s story is one of the most compelling revenge plots I’ve seen in anime.
After seeing his father die in front of his very eyes, and then subsequently losing most of his friends, Afro simply ran out of smiles and optimism.
He’s this brooding badass who wanders the land in search for his father’s killer.
And he’s not a monster, but he will cut you down without a second thought if you get in his way.
Afro really makes you remember that being a samurai wasn’t all that fun and games throughout history.
9. Kenshin Himura
Anime: Rurouni Kenshin
Kenshin is one of the GOATs when it comes to anime samurai.
He has a very compelling backstory, and that oh so amazing “don’t make me draw my sword” ideology that I mentioned earlier.
He doesn’t even have to draw his sword most of the time, funnily enough. Because he’s so skillful that he can just beat you down using the scabbard.
Most of the time he’s way more nonchalant and goofy than a lot of the characters on this list. But when he gets serious, even just a stern look feels like it could cut through flesh.
8. Masamune Date
Anime: Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings
Admittedly I’m a sucker for a good hype train.
And nothing gets me rolling faster than a cool nickname and/or fighting style.
In terms of nicknames, it’s hard to beat something as classic as “the one-eyed dragon”. And the fact that Masamune also wields six swords only further cements my interest in the chaos he’s going to cause.
Masamune is very boastful and rarely backs down from a challenge, believing himself to be the strongest there is.
You can’t really blame him, though. I would believe the same thing if I was capable of doing the same stuff as him.
7. Zoro Roronoa
Anime: One Piece
Speaking of multi-sword wielders, we have to pay homage to another OG when it comes to samurai badassery.
Among the very wide (and often weird) One Piece cast, Zoro stands out as a beacon of edginess and coolness.
He’s more serious and stern than most other Straw Hats. And every battle feels amiss if we don’t have our favorite swordsman on the scene.
The “nothing happened” scene showcased just how much Zoro was willing to bear if it meant helping out his team. And if you don’t want to consider him a samurai, I think you’re doing the entire genre a huge disservice.
6. Gintoki Sakata
We’ve had a few odd-balls when it comes to samurai on this list. But none come close to Gintoki in terms of personality.
From the fact that he’s a freelance swordsman, to his extremely laid back attitude, he definitely sticks out when you imagine the usual stoic hero.
However, he does have his badass moments here and there where he can really showcase just how skillful he truly is.
You might even get a tragic flashback if you’re lucky.
Now he might not be the most stereotypical bushido warrior. But you have to admit that it’s very difficult to dislike the guy.
5. Goemon Ishikawa XIII
Anime: Lupin III
A master thief plus samurai combo is something that you never realized you wanted, until you finally see him.
With Lupin being, well, Lupin, Goemon is portrayed as a contrasting character that wants to get the job done – and keep at least some of his morals checked.
If his tsundere relationship with Lupin doesn’t suit you fancy, you can always look towards his bromance with Jigen. It’s just as interesting.
As a warrior, Geomon needs no introduction. As he can literally bring a sword to a gun fight and walk out victorious.
Anime: Samurai Champloo
Although I’ve mentioned Mugen already, I have to give Jin a bit more spotlight. As he stays truer to the samurai formula.
He’s a very serious and mysterious dude, whose skill with the blade is feared throughout the land.
Unlike Mugen, Jin became one with his sword through years of professional training. And his goal in life is a bit grander than to just live another day and have fun.
Being that he’s a bit more traditional and serious, he gets overlooked quite often by the anime community.
But when it comes to being a samurai, he’s among the very best.
Anime: Shaman King
It has been so long since I’ve watched Shaman King that I nearly forgot about this gem of a show.
But with the 2021 reboot, I was reminded of both the show and this lovable badass ghost samurai.
Amidamaru is really well balanced in my opinion. He’s very funny and likable when the combat has died down, but can also bring some serious badass moments when it’s time to d-d-duel.
As the story usually goes, his backstory is nothing less than tragic – and his morals are iron-clad.
2. Nobunaga Hazama
Anime: Hunter x Hunter
It truly is a shame that the Phantom Troupe didn’t get more screen time in the show.
Characters like Nobunaga held so much potential.
Even though his Nen wasn’t anything flashy or out of this world, he posed an incredible threat to the gang.
His bromance with Uvogin really fleshed him out as a character, and his willingness to accept Gon simply because he reminded him of said buddy was oddly precious.
God knows that Hunter x Hunter is amazing at writing morally gray characters. So getting more of this samurai is a must!
1. Tsukikage Ran
Anime: Carried by the Wind: Tsukikage Ran
In case you thought I forgot about the female samurai, you were wrong.
However, there’s a reason why Tsukikage is the only one on here – as most of the time female samurai characters are exaggerated and played off for laughs and fan service.
Not Tsukikage though!
She’s a rough and tough samurai who can kick your butt without relying on random superpowers or plot amour.
Plus she’s an excellent warrior that really makes you question why females were not historically allowed to become samurai.
In other words, she’s the Mulan of anime. And I love it.