The Top 5 Strongest Swordsmen: Ruroni Kenshin

Kenshin (left) and his Battosai form (right)
Kenshin (left) and his Battosai form (right)

What is Ruroni Kenshin?

Welcome to our latest anime countdown; a ranking of the top warriors within the Ruroni Kenshin universe. This anime, sometimes called Samurai X, features a red-haired swordsman, Kenshin, who seeks to atone for his past sins as an assassin called "Battosai the Man-Slayer". Haunted by the murders he committed years ago, Kenshin now wields a reverse-blade sword (capable of striking foes with a blunt edge to prevent them from dying), and wanders Japan, protecting innocent lives as penance. Throughout his travels, he encounters a variety of characters, and many powerful swordfighters. Kenshin also struggles to contain the murderer within himself, and repress his natural talent at killing. Good luck with that, Kenshin, but we're here to examine the six best fighters seen in the series, and what makes them so powerful!
Warning: spoilers ahead.

Saito's Gotetsu stance
Saito's Gotetsu stance

5. Hajime Saito

First, we have the brutal anti-hero, Hajime Saito, who fights for the harsh justice of "aku soku zan" (slay evil immediately). Saito begrudingly works alongside Kenshin to thwart the efforts of rebels, and the two are aquainted from Kenshin's days as Battosai. Saito wields a katana and the techniques of the real-life Shinsengumi. He had a brutal battle with Kenshin in the anime, and both fighters barely walked away alive. This swordsman's favorite move is a thrust called the Gotetsu; Saito has mastered various forms of this attack.. Additionaly, he's skilled in hand-to-hand combat, easily defeating Kenshin's brawling friend, Sanosuke,

Best part about Saito? He was an actual historical figure with impressive sword skills.

Aoshi Shinomori
Aoshi Shinomori

4. Aoshi Shinomori

Fourth place goes to the reserved Aoshi Shinomori. As the leader of a group called the Oniwabanshu, Aoshi notably excels in defensive swordfighting, moving fluidly across a battlefield. Later, he trains himself to wield two kodachi swords at once, increasing his already formidable offensive potential. Aoshi has a compassionate heart buried beneath his cold exterior, but can be misled. At the end of the day, he proves a steadfast ally to Kenshin. Impressively, Aoshi is the only character of four (the others being Kenshin, Saito, and Sanosuke) who battled the evil Shishio and wasn't knocked out. Plus, he once defeated Sanosuke in a single blow. I'll admit Sano loses many of his fights, but no one else ever stopped him with just one attack; clearly, you don't mess with Aoshi.

Makoto Shishio
Makoto Shishio

3. Makoto Shishio

Next, we have the diabolical Makoto Shishio. Shishio replaced Kenshin as an assassin after Kenshin became disillusioned with murdering. Betrayed by his own government, Shishio survived an assassination attempt - but his body was heavily mutilated. This helped influence his beliefs in social Darwinism; only the strong deserve to survive. Eventually, he crosses blades with Kenshin in a climatic battle. Fans like to dispute who the stronger of the two really is; both are certainly powerful swordsmen. Shishio possesses one of the sharpest minds of any character in the series; once he's seen an attack, he instantly understands its weaknesses and can exploit them. Shishio's biggest weakness is time - he can only safely battle for fifteen minutes before his body temperature rises to dangerous levels. You gotta give this guy credit - he fought, and mostly defeated, four main characters in a row (though all of them had been previously injured). Still, perhaps there are stronger assassins around..

Kenshin Himura
Kenshin Himura

Kenshin Vs Shishio

This clash is a topic fiercely debated, but in my humble opinion, Kenshin seems far superior. Both swordsmen possess analytical minds, and it's true Shishio knocked Kenshin out. But that was only because our ginger hero had just fought two incredibly talented warriors, obtaining injuries in the skirmishes. Additionally, Shishio 'cheated' multiple times in their battle, like when he cut through his own girlfriend's body to land a sneak attack on Kenshin. You're going to regret that on Valentine's, Shishio.

2. Kenshin Himura

Yep, our red-headed protagonist earns second place. Kenshin's small height and thin build make him physically weaker than some characters, but his legendary speed and incredible technique more than make up for it. As the series progresses, Kenshin completes his training of the Hiten Mitsurugi sword style, and masters the ultimate sword technique, an inhumanly quick sword draw. He also learns an attack that somehow strikes nine targets at once. Kenshin wields the reverse-blade sword, designed to spare opponents' lives. If he used a regular weapon, he'd end many of the fights he enters far sooner; instead of hitting foes, his attacks would rip through their bodies. But his days as a man-slayer are over, and the fact that he can beat talented swordsmen who don't handicap themselves demonstrates his amazing power.

Still, I'm afraid you're not quite number one, Kenshin..

Honorable Mentions

Reasons not included
Amakusa Shōgo
Powerful wielder of the same sword style Kenshin uses.
Not in most of the series, and considered to be a "filler" character.
Seta Sōjirō
Incredibly fast.
Relies completely on speed. Also lacks experience.
Uonuma Usui
Effectively wields a spear and shield despite being blind.
Simply not as skilled as other combatants. Plus, he's technically not a swordsman.
Udo Jin'e
Ruthless swordsman who can magically paralyze opponents.
Strong-spirited foes can break his magic spell.
More powerful warriors from the series who almost made the cut.
Hiko Seijuro XIII
Hiko Seijuro XIII

1. Hiko Seijuro XIII

First place has to go to Kenshin's teacher, the thirteenth student of the Hiten Mitsurugi style. Hiko matches Kenshin in speed and technique, but far surpasses him in physical power. He's is an interesting mentor to our protagonist; he always lends a hand, but is sarcastic and verbally abusive the whole time. Student and mentor separated in the past when Kenshin wanted to use his skills to end a war; Hiko protested, believing that Hiten Mitsurugi followers should be free from idealogies or loyalties. Despite their previous disagreement, Kenshin readily admits Hiko's skills are "undoubtedly the best". In fact, the creator of the show had trouble incorporating Hiko into the plot, stating that Hiko is strong enough to solve Kenshin's problems easily. He isn't bloodthirsty, but unlike his disciple, he's willing to kill when necessary, adding an extra deadly edge to the character. Lazy, antisocial, and blunt, Hiko appears rough around the edges, but is the most talented fighter of the series.

Your Favorite

Which fighter do you prefer?

  • Hiko Seijuro.
  • Kenshin Himura.
  • Makoto Shishio.
  • Aoshi Shinomori.
  • Hajime Saito.
See results without voting


Kenshin's adventures are a few decades old by now, but there's still a lot of fun to be had with them. If you're looking for an anime with both silliness and drama, realism and fantasy, give Roruni Kenshin a try. The English dub of the show is surprisingly good, too.

I'll see you at our next countdown, and remember, despite what anime teaches you, stabbing your girlfriend through the heart will not make her love you.

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Comments 1 comment

Asif Istiaque Ahmad 2 months ago

I totally agree with you regarding the ranking of the 5 strongest Swordsmen of Rurouni Kenshin. The most surprising thing is that I also think of the same reasons of not including the honorable mentions in the list of top 5.

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