Best 10 Samurai Manga
Are you curious about Samurai manga or just want to know the best to read?
For so long, we have been intrigued by the idea of a samurai going through thick and thin to hone his skills and achieve his goals. The Bushido warrior code has always been something of interest to the anime community. It gives insight into the feudal system of classical Japan during the Edo and Meiji periods.
When you hear samurai manga, you are probably already thinking of swordfights, ponytails, and kimono-wearing characters. That is quite correct, as these features show bravery, discipline, and the possession of warrior spirit.
Manga authors are using this genre to spread Japanese culture to the world. As you might already know, Samurai manga is all about swordsmen, a disciplined lifestyle, bushido, and a warrior spirit. It will open your mind to new ways of thinking.
Over the years, there have been hundreds, if not thousands, of samurai manga. Picking out the best samurai manga to read might be a daunting task for you. However, we have gone through the pain to curate the best Samurai manga on the planet for you.
Below are the top 10 samurai manga available and I hope you enjoy them.
Vagabond indeed deserves to claim the number one spot. It is praised by everyone who has ever read it, even though it never got an anime adaptation. Written by Takehiko Inoue, Vagabond has the best representation of samurai and can be easily read by the general public, not just Samurai manga fans.
This specific samurai manga stands tall above other mangas in the same genre. This is because of its scenery, characters, and even fight scenes. The panels are beautifully and uniquely drawn, making it easy to follow the story. Takehiko’s unique art style made Vagabond resonate with both Samurai manga lovers and others.
The manga was set in the Edo period in Japan. It is about a legendary swordsman in history known as Musashi Miyamoto. This manga series will take you through the character development of the protagonist, from an amateur to a renowned swordsman.
If you are in it for the thrills of combat and fight scenes, then Vagabond will not disappoint. It is filled with real-looking and artistic fight scenes, with heads flying and blood spilling. It’s almost a 10 out of 10 for me, and I highly recommend you read it.
2. Rurouni Kenshin
Rurouni Kenshin is a top contender with Vagabond, almost at the same level as it. I chose to put vagabond above it because of its unique art style and appeal to the manga reading community.
However, Rurouni Kenshin is able to hold its own with its story. The manga stood out because of the well-planned character development carried out by Nobuhiro Watsuki in this masterpiece. Amidst the various reasons why manga readers will choose Rouroni Kenshin to read, one of the major ones is the ability of the author to create timeless characters.
It is unlike many other Samurai mangas where the main character gets developed but the side characters are put less thought into. In this work of art called Rurouni Kenshin, every single character was developed alongside the story. Each of them had their own dreams and goals, making it a well-rounded series.
On the whole list, it is arguably the most successful series outside of just manga. It has gotten loads of adaptations, such as anime series, films, movies, live actions, stage performances, etc. Due to this fact, some people choose it over Vagabond as the number one Samurai manga. But hey, everybody has their reasons, right?
The story takes place during the Meiji era when modernization was coming to Japan and guns were rapidly becoming a thing, replacing swords. The theme of this story can be said to be redemption. After living as an infamous assassin, Kenshin Himura has decided to live the rest of his life as a wandering samurai, helping people.
Rurouni Kenshin is a samurai manga series that has a good story, character development, and great art. You will not regret reading it.
If you have only seen clips of Gintama anime somewhere online, then you would be wondering why its manga is placed among Samurai mangas. Unlike other mangas in this list, Gintama takes a detour from gory stories and brings some comedic relief.
Written by Hideaki Sorachi, Gintama paints a samurai world that is hilarious but unique. This is achieved by the combination of historical and science fiction. The manga series is well known for excellently parodying other manga. Although comedy seems to be its main theme, things get heated up occasionally, and some other scenes can bring you to tears.
Gintama portrays a Japan that has been invaded by aliens called Amanto. The samurai seemed to be inferior to these creatures and had to give up their swords in search of a means of survival. This includes the main character, Sakata Gintoki, trying to survive by doing odd jobs.
While portraying the Samurai lifestyle, Gintama did it in a different way. The comedy in the series is what attracts many people to it. The series is an interesting and adventurous one. I’m sure it will make you laugh and cry several times.
4. Lone Wolf & Cub
Want something more impactful? Then this is it. Lone Wolf and Cub was written in 1970 by Goseki Hajima and Kazuo Koike. The story has indeed stood the test of time because it is unique and relatable.
The series is known to be complex, with multilayered but relatable characters. Like other mangas on this list, Lone Wolf & Cub has a unique art style and vividly portrays the fight scenes. It gives off a more mature vibe than the other Samurai mangas.
The main character, Itto Ogami, is a samurai who worked as the chief executioner for the Shogunate. However, he was framed, which led to the soiling of his name and the deaths of his family, except one of his sons.
This puts him on the path of revenge while taking care of his young son. Throughout the story, both of them do any job available as long as it gets them closer to their goal of revenge. You can already see where the name comes from, a lone wolf is the main character, and the cub is his son.
Lone wolf & cub has done well outside just being a manga. It has several adaptations such as television series, films, and plays. If you want to read a samurai manga with a mature and impactful theme, then this is the one.
5. Blade Of The Immortal
As the name suggests, this manga is all about an immortal samurai. How do you think that will play out? What do you think the narrative will be? This manga is a must-read if you are a bit curious about the above questions.
This manga tells the story of a Samurai, Manji, who was famous for killing a hundred innocent people. Before he could die, he was cursed with eternal life by a hundred-year-old nun called Yaobikuni. To break this curse of immortality and atone for his sins, Manji vowed to kill a thousand evil men. Hence this manga series is about his journey to fulfill that quest.
Blade of the Immortal is filled with blood and violence. Hence, if you enjoy the dark samurai manga series, this is for you.
6. House of Five Leaves
Set during the Edo period, this manga tells the story of forgiveness. It was written by Natsume Ono in 2004 and stands out due to its very unconventional art style.
The story revolves around a ronin known as Masanosuke Akitsu. He started working as the bodyguard to the leader of a shady gang. Along the line, he started questioning and regretting his decision. However, before he knew it, he was already feeling a sense of family among them.
This manga series did not go big on action or bloody scenes like the rest. However, the author pulls you through an emotional journey with many sincere characters. It is one of those mangas that uplift your spirit after reading.
Looking for a manga without a filter? Then go with Shigurui.
Written by Takayuki Yamaguchi in 2003, Shigurui is one of the best mangas to portray the brutality of the life of a samurai. It shows you the bloody fights and ruthless nature of the Edo period in its entirety. Its intensity did not take away from character development. Just like it did for me, I’m certain that you will be blown away by the impressive art of this manga.
The story is about two disabled swordsmen (one is blind and the other has one arm) who are to fight to the death. These men have deep hatred against each other and are possibly willing to die in the match. The series is all about the journey that has brought them to that point.
Shigurui is a manga that uplifts the human physique. Therefore it has a lot of detailed muscle drawings just like Jojo or Baki. It really does give off masculinity vibes in addition to jaw-dropping exciting fight scenes.
Who do you think will win among the two disabled swordsmen? Well, you can only know by reading it.
This manga is one that takes into consideration the dynamics of gender roles in society. It got a spot on our list due to its unique narrative and reflection of our environment. It especially challenges the role of men during the Edo period of Japan.
In the plot, Edo Japan is ravaged by an unknown disease and this killed almost all men although women were immune to it. Several decades after the plague, society changed drastically. Most top and notable positions are now held by women; shogun, war general, etc.
This story is about how the most handsome men now serve as the consorts of the Shogun. The roles become reversed. What used to be a man’s world is now totally dominated by women. This manga will broaden your views on gender roles and is a delight to read.
9. Afro Samurai
Being a short manga series, Afro Samurai is the best if you are looking for a samurai manga to binge. It only has two volumes and is action-packed with a fast-paced story.
The story is about a samurai named Afro, who is seeking revenge for his father’s death. This meant he had to challenge the best in the land, otherwise known as Number 1. However, only Number 2 can challenge Number 1. Afro went ahead to claim the number 2 spot just to achieve that goal.
This manga is filled with action-packed scenes, fast-paced fights, bloodshed, and some gory acts. Prepare your mind for that.
10. Samurai Champloo
The tale of Mugen and Jin is told to us by Samurai Champloo. Jin is a quiet yet deadly samurai, while Mugen is a vicious mercenary. The three set off on an adventure after rescuing a waitress named Fuu from a bunch of thugs. They are searching for an enigmatic samurai. It is not an easy path for them. It is rife with danger. Will the three be successful in locating the samurai they seek?
Samurai Champloo has also gotten adaptations such as television series.
Samurai manga is indeed a genre to enjoy due to its many life and history lessons. In addition, it keeps you glued to your seat or bed (wherever you’re reading from) with its action, fights, bloodshed, and interesting story. I hope you get to enjoy all the manga on the list.