Action and adventure are often part and parcel of the Shonen genre, among many others. With this comes the introduction of various fighting styles and weapons.
Be it magic or even simple physical power, the battles are always something fans look forward to. However, when it comes to two people fighting in close quarters with shiny and sharp swords, they almost definitely go feral.
I don’t know what it is about them, but seeing the weapon become like an extended organ, and one slight mistake resulting in death exhilarates the audience.
Be it old fashioned samurai-style or the different variations of modern techniques, with the perfect background music accompanying it, any well-executed sword fight will gather a large audience.
The quick slice and sheath as a leaf falls into two halves, or stopping the blade with just the tip, all of these moments, despite being cliche, are something that gets our hearts racing.
From Ichigo’s sword with various forms to Tanjirou’s gentle sword, every anime focusing on it has seen great popularity.
Due to this, there is no shortage of incredible sword fights, but only a few stand above the rest.
[Disclaimer – Spoilers ahead]
20Mitsunari Vs. Masamune – ‘Sengoku Basara’
One never knew sword fights could be this dazzling.
With Mitsunari upset over the death of Hideyoshi and Ieyasu’s alliance with Masamune, the battle between them was a spectacular one to witness.
The madness contained within Sengoku Basara was brought to the fore as the fighters wielded six swords to create giant energy glyphs equal to nuclear blasts.
19 Shiro vs. Archer – ‘Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works’
Shiro and Archer’s battle is one of the show’s highlights. Wielding dual matching blades, both of them clash against each other.
With the ability to recreate broken weapons, Shiro manages to push Archer back, despite the latter being more skilled.
Adding a dramatic touch, the background music seems to work as a motivating factor for Shiro as he steels himself and gets serious.
With swords and magic flying all around, this battle is one to remember.
18Kirito vs. Heathcliff – ‘Sword Art Online’
While it may be a battle within a game, the swordplay felt more real than ever.
To free all the players’ consciousness, Kirito had a one on one fight against Heathcliff, the game’s creator.
The latter easily dispatched his attacks with his overpowered skills, but just as it was all going to end, Asuna sacrificed herself, and the power of love and sword, of course, allowed him to win.
17Jubei Vs. Mujuro – ‘Ninja Scroll’
A swordfight to the death definitely has a place on this list.
Taking inspiration from other incredible sword styles such as Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon, Jubei and blind samurai Mujuro battle against each other.
Despite his clear disadvantage in terms of sight, Mujuro keeps pace with his opponent and even manages to blind him by reflecting light off his sword.
While the fight is not exactly fair due to Kagero’s interference, this action sequence is highly rated.
16Teresa Vs. Priscilla, Irene, Sophia, And Noel – ‘Claymore’
This sword fight goes beyond what is humanly possible.
Both the sides fight with such speed that our eyes barely manage to make out the moves.
As they clash, even the bridge they are on starts to break into pieces.
While the animation is fluid, the techniques mesh into each other, which results in the viewer having no idea what’s going on.
Despite that, their nonchalant and superhuman way of fighting is enough to capture our attention.
15Inuyasha Vs. Sesshomaru – ‘Inuyasha’
As expected from a show based around two legendary swords, Inuyasha is home to a great number of fights.
However, the one that is most praised is the one between Inuyasha and Sesshomaru during the Final Act.
Falling into Naraku’s trap, both the brothers fight each other and gain an edge over the other.
As Inuyasha becomes a full demon, he somehow regains his senses, and with the help of his Tessaiga, clashes against Sesshomaru.
Due to the latter having a piece of Kanna’s mirror, their abilities are equally matched, and the fight ends with them using a backlash wave against each other.
14Sasuke Vs. Killer Bee – ‘Naruto Shippūden’
Quite surprisingly, within its long run of 10+ years, few master swordsmen are seen in Naruto.
Well, on second thought, not that surprising considering the show focuses more on chakra and jutsus, but truly, the number of sword users can be counted on one hand.
The first character that comes to mind is Sasuke, who is quickly followed by Killer Bee. With two master swordsmen clashing, the battle was expectedly spectacular.
Sasuke’s Chidori blade and the six-sword style technique of Bee clashed again and again and shocked the fans on every level.
For the first time, the Uchiha prodigy seemed to have found his match, and similarly, the Jinchuriki also felt threatened enough to transform into its eight tails form.
The battle between them was incredible, and definitely, one that the audience would remember even after the series ended.
13Guts vs. Griffith – ‘Berserk’
Despite not being as flashy as other battles in this list, the symbolism behind the fight between Guts and Griffith raises its significance.
Being the very first exchange of these fated foes, this clash packed an emotional punch.
The contrast between Guts’ brute style and Griffith’s smooth sword style made quite an impact on the fans.
Especially when the series ended, and they looked back upon this fight, the opposite outcomes showed how far these characters had come.
Guts’ raw technique had been improved through numerous battles, while Griffith stayed the same.
This simple battle between them was meant for the fans to look back upon their life journey, and it is mainly due to this reason that it is ranked on this list.
12Satsuki Vs. Ryuko – ‘Kill La Kill’
Despite being shunned by many due to its over-sexualization of characters, the richness of its plot and animation is indisputable.
In fact, the fight between Satsuki and Ryuko in just the third episode managed to snatch the 13th place on this list.
As they began to clash, Ryuko was at a disadvantage due to not being able to convert Senketsu, which Satsuki took advantage of and activated Junketsu.
In the end, this flashy and momentous sword battle came to a draw. What makes this scene a heart-stopper is that when rewatching it, you realize that Satsuki is guiding her opponent to make her a better warrior.
This small yet important detail adds to the overall picture.
11Nanashi Vs. Luo-Lang – ‘Sword Of The Stranger’
The fight between Nanashi and Luo-Lang takes the cake for being one of the most intense battles ever.
They both face off on the roof of a collapsing building, and with their beautifully animated moves and background music, it feels as if we are really experiencing it.
As Nanashi and Luo-Lang counter and evade one another, their surroundings crumble to dust, yet they don’t stop. This thrilling sword fight between them is placed 10th on this list.
10Mika Vs. Moon Demon Company – ‘Seraph Of The End’
This particular sequence has both action and emotion packed into it.
Like most fights, the fluidity of the movements and techniques is well animated; however, what makes it stand out is that one can see how far can Mika go just to save his family.
Despite fighting for his life, he does not kill anyone and sticks to his morals.
9Afro Vs. Jinno – ‘Afro Samurai’
It takes a lot to defeat your best friend, who has given in to his rage and desire for revenge. The fight between Afro and Jinno was both thrilling and heartbreaking to watch.
After the former went down the dark path, Jinno, who was a swordmaster fighting for honor, had to stop him.
When he lost his mask and started using a single sword, the battle took a sharp turn as both started fighting more fiercely than ever before.
What made this scene even more impactful was the iconic background music.
While Afro had the high ground in the end, this tragic yet spectacular show of swordsmanship has been ingrained in our minds.
8Saber Vs. Assassin – ‘Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works’
Two equally impressive sword styles make their debut in this fight. As Saber is on her way to save her master, she is stopped by Assassin.
As they both clash, the latter’s katana and concealed sword techniques manage to gain the upper hand over the knight.
Regardless of the fight’s short duration, the main highlight was the collision of the different styles against one another.
7Yato Vs. Rabo – ‘Noragami’
All Yato ever wanted was to be remembered and have his own shrine made, and just when he found someone who managed to do both, she was threatened by another God.
Rule number one of any anime is never to hurt the protagonist’s girl or risk him going apeshit. This is exactly what happened when Rabo threatened and hurt Hiyori.
With his blue eyes flashing, Yato showed no mercy as he lashed out with his sword. His battle style could be described as beautiful but deadly.
Within moments, he overpowered his opponent and showed just exactly why he was the God of Calamity.
6Zoro Vs. Ryuma – ‘One Piece’
As one of the few anime that has defined a generation, its battles have always garnered attention.
When talking about the best sword fights, there is no way we can leave out the three-sword style user – Zoro.
While he constantly provided us with spectacular battles, his duel against Ryuma was the one that blew our minds.
Despite the latter having more experience, Zoro used two swords to match his each attack and even countered with a more powerful one.
With various skills on display, this match between a dead swordmaster and a live one definitely deserves its place on this list.
5Char vs. Amuro – ‘Gundam’
When thinking of a swordfight, one would imagine two people wearing traditional wear (Old samurai clothes, perhaps) and fighting like their lives depend on it.
However, Gundam defies all expectations and presents the audience with something they never knew they needed, i.e., people fighting in spacesuits.
The epic fight between Amuro and Char balances itself perfectly so that it’s not too strange, or common and just interesting enough.
The rivalry between these two builds up throughout the show, and the final battle is unforgettable.
As they leave the safety of their robots and fight each other, the scene of them bouncing through the rubble in zero gravity is why this sword fight is at the top of our list.
4Jin Vs. Mugen – ‘Samurai Champloo’
Samurai Champloo is filled with eccentric characters with sword styles unique to their personality.
Mugen’s energetic fighting style, as opposed to Jin’s smooth, calm, and traditional one, leads to their frequent clashes.
From their very first encounter, swords are drawn as they try to best each other.
What makes this fight different from the ones above is that both Jin and Mugen use the stationary objects around them along with their swords.
Be it throwing pots and dishes at one another, or even setting the whole place on fire, the surroundings play an active role.
This, along with the hip-hop sword style contrasting with the traditional one, make the fights between them addicting to watch.
3Kenshin Vs. Shishio – ‘Rurouni Kenshin’
Rurouni Kenshin is one of the original animes focusing on swordsmanship, and its influence is easily seen in the later shows.
Man Hunter Kenshin is the best swordsman in the series who uses a special reverse-edged sword to avoid hurting anyone.
However, when the situation demands, he defeats even the toughest of opponents and displays the superiority of his skill.
Kenshin facing off against Shishio’s mercilessness and flaming sword forms a direct contrast between their fighting styles and ideologies.
While the former only uses his blade’s dull side, the latter burns and breaks down his body (literally) to fight.
With both of them fatally injured, the stakes have never been higher.
It is this thrill of seeing two men fight for their lives and convictions that the fans crave.
2Gintoki Vs. Takasugi – ‘Gintama’
Gintama is one of the highest-rated shows, and while its parody genre repels a few, a huge fan base has been built around it.
Like any avid watcher of this series would say, Gintama’s comedic scenes are just the set up for the more powerful moments.
Behind his carefree face, Gintoki’s past is devastating and haunts him to this day.
As he faces his former friend and biggest opponent, Takasugi, years of bottled feelings are let out, and a bloody sword battle commences.
True to his nickname ‘White Demon,’ Gintoki shows extraordinary sword skills that both reflect his past as well as the new changes in his life.
On the other hand, Takasugi’s self-sacrificial nature presents itself as he evenly matches his opponent.
This fight carries with it tragic undertones, as the old friends turned enemies fight each other to the death.
1Ichigo Vs. Byakuya – ‘Bleach’
Ichigo and Byakuya’s face-off is the best anime sword fight. During the Ryoka Invasion arc’s conclusion, Ichigo confronts the captain and unleashes his newly learned Bankai.
As their battle continues, his rash and hot-headed, and Byakuya’s stoic and gentle fighting style forms a spectacular scene.
Ichigo’s Zangetsu and Byakuya’s sakura like Bankai reveal has the audience gasping, which only increases as the former manifests his inner hollow.
With a similarly mind-blowing ending, this fight will be ingrained into the fan’s minds for years to come.