10 best samurai anime

Savannah Howard
The best samurai anime of all time, including Dororo, Sword of a stranger and ShiguruiCrunchyroll

The best samurai anime are ones that translate the history and culture of the Japanese warriors to the screen in an authentic yet entertaining way. From Samurai 7 to Rurouni Kenshin, here are the top 10 best samurai anime.

There are few historical figures in Japan as recognizable the samurai. Inspiring Japanese art and literature for over 1000-years, the enduring legacy of the warrior class has continued to modern day in some of the most popular films and TV series of all time.

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Ahead of the release of Kingdom season 5, it’s time to forget about American classics like The Last Samurai and 47 Ronin, and take a look at some of the best samurai anime ever produced.

From epic TV series to feature films, here is a list of our top 10 samurai anime.

10 best samurai anime to watch

Classic samurai anime have once again soared in popularity. And it’s no wonder. With their epic fight sequences and dark, gritty emotional scenes, audiences around the world can’t help but be fascinated by this important slice of Japanese history.

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10. Samurai 7

Based on the 1954 film Seven Samurai, this 2004 anime series only has one season, and that’s all you need.

Set in a futuristic world, in a village named Kanna that’s terrorised by former Nobuseri bandits, our story begins when an elder of the village decides that they must hire samurai to protect them. But the village has a problem. Due to the corrupt Emperor, they have no money.

Over the series’ 26 episodes, the seven samurai train the villagers how to defend themselves. And once they successfully defeated the bandits, the samurai then rise up against the Emperor to restore order to their world.

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Available to watch on: Crunchyroll, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video

9. Mugen no Juunin

Also known as Blade of the Immortal, the 2019 anime adaptation of the Mugen no Juunin manga has earned its spot as number 9 on our list.

The plot follows Manji, an incredible warrior in feudal Japan, cursed with immortality by a nun called Yaobikuni. To atone for his sins and end this curse once and for all, Manji vows to Yaonikuni that he will kill one thousand evil men.

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Shortly after, he meets 16-year-old Rin who asks Manji avenge his parents, which begins an epic saga of bloodshed, redemption, battles and revenge.

Available to watch on: Amazon Prime Video

8. Shigurui: Death Frenzy

This 2007 series starts off with a tournament like no other, where a one armed samurai is forced to face off against a blind one. However, things are not as they seem.

As the two fight, the series takes us through the history of the warriors and the brutality of their lives based on true events and real people in 17th-century feudal Japan. Discover their similarities and differences which led them to this moment, and watch the epic battle unfold.

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Based on the first chapter of Norio Nanjo’s Suruga-jō Gozen Jiai, this anime is filled with graphic violence and, therefore, not suitable for kids.

Available to watch on: Crunchyroll and Funimation

7. Sengoku Basara

Also known as Samurai Kings, this 2009 anime manages to combine superpowers with samurai to provide a popular mix of modern and old.

Based on a Capcom’s original video games, which spawned a media franchise including three anime TV series, a film, manga, stage plays and even a live action show. This anime is definitely one to watch.

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Over two seasons, you can immerse yourself into the video games like never before and follow all your favorite heroes as they battle to take down the Demon King and take back the land that belongs to them.

Available to watch on: Funimation

6. Basilisk: Kouga Ninpou chou

Also known as The Kouga Ninja Scrolls, this love story has often been likened to Romeo and Juliet.

Set in the late 16th-century and told from the perspective of a prince and princess from rival ninja clans, this popular anime begins in the middle of a bitter blood feud. Filled with epic undercover battles between the two families watch as their heirs fall in love while their world is on the cusp of falling apart.

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Make sure you don’t mistake this 2005 series for the 2018 series Basilisk: the Ouka Ninja Scrolls, or else you’ll be in for a very different experience.

Available to watch on: Crunchyroll

5. Drifters

Just like all the other anime so far on this list, Drifters begins in 1600 and the fate of Japan is in jeopardy.

The plot revolves around Shimazu Toyohisa, a samurai who has been transported into a world filled with heroes and villains from the past. Can he defeat them?

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This dark historical anime is definitely one to watch. Brimming with likeable characters, fantastic fight scenes and a even a little bit of humor, fans of the genre will not be disappointed.

Available to watch on: Funimation

4. Rurouni Kenshin

It’s no surprise that Rurouni Kenshin had to appear on this list sooner or later. This classic anime began in 1996 and spanned 95 episodes – so it’ll keep you gripped for a while.

Arguably one of the most famous samurai-themed anime of all time, the story follows former assassin Kenshin Himura as he tries to turn his life around.

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Unlike most shonen stories, our protagonist in Rurouni Kenshin is trying to find peace within himself. And therefore, it provides a raw and relatable look at what it really meant to be a samurai in Ancient Japan.

Available to watch on: Crunchyroll

3. Yasuke

Did you know that this historical fantasy series is based on a real-life historical figure? Set in an alternative version of 16th-century feudal Japan, this anime series looks at the life of the first African samurai – Yasuke.

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Years after the historical sources of his life end, we revisit Yasuke as he tries to put his past as a legendary ronin behind him. However, it’s not as easy as that. Over six episodes, we watch as he puts his sword-skills to the test by protecting a sick girl with magical powers and comes to term with his past.

Available to watch on: Netflix

2. Dororo

This deeply moving anime is another well-known entry on this list.

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Produced by studio of the moment MAPPA in 2019 and based on the 1969 series of the same name, this adaptation follows the life of a young ronin, a child Dororo, and the multiple demons they face across Japan.

Set in the Sengoku-era, this epic adventure and emotional tale covers themes of greed, revenge and friendship. Filled with horrifying demons and loveable characters, Dororo is a must-watch for all anime fans.

Available to watch on: Amazon Prime Video

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1. Sword of the Stranger

Produced by Bones and released by Shochiku, Sword of the Stranger is an award-winning 2007 action film set in Japan’s Sengoku-period.

Follow the adventures of a young orphan Kotarou and his dog as they steal from unsuspecting villagers to survive. However, his life takes a dramatic turn when he finds himself being hunted down by assassins sent by China’s Ming Dynasty.

Fortunately, a samurai named Nanashi cones to their refuge and reluctantly becomes Kotarou’s bodyguard. The three set out on a perilous journey that promises to captivate you from start to end.

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Available to watch on: Funimation and ITVX

So there you have it! Our list of the 10 best samurai anime of all time, including beloved films and TV series. Did any of your favorites make it?

How to watch Crunchyroll from outside your location in 2023

Crunchyroll is the world’s best hub for streaming anime, whether it’s One PieceAttack on Titan, or Jujutsu Kaisen – and thanks to ExpressVPN, you can access the platform’s full library even if you’re outside the US.

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If you’re abroad, here’s what you need to do to access Crunchyroll’s full selection – and it really is this simple:

  1. Sign up for ExpressVPN, which has ultra-fast servers and offers a secure, private connection wherever you are in the world
  2.  Connect to a location anywhere in the US; Express VPN allows you to choose from 24 different spots, from New Jersey to Santa Monica
  3.  Visit Crunchyroll online and start streaming all of your favorite animes – and perhaps some you’ve never watched

Accessing Crunchyroll’s US roster makes a difference; for example, Hong Kong users only have access to less than 100 titles, while the US has nearly 1,000 movies and TV shows.

You can also stream anime on Crunchyroll for free with an ad-supported plan, or you can pay for a subscription – there’s even a 14-day free trial if you can’t quite make up your mind.

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While you’re here, why not check out some of our other anime coverage below?

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About The Author

Savannah Howard is an Anime Writer at Dexerto. She loves dystopian thrillers, sci-fi and action series. You can email her here: savannah.howard@dexerto.com