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Top 5 Strongest Swordsmen in Ruroni Kenshin

Updated on March 24, 2017
Kenshin and his Battosai form
Kenshin and his Battosai form

Ruroni Kenshin

Ruroni Kenshin, sometimes called Samurai X, chronicles the tale of a red-haired swordsman, Kenshin, who seeks to atone for his past sins as an assassin dubbed "Battosai the Man-Slayer". Haunted by the murders of war 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 for his past.

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.

Well, 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, the brutal anti-hero, Hajime Saito, who fights for the harsh justice of "aku soku zan", slay evil immediately. Saito begrudgingly works alongside Kenshin to thwart the efforts of rebels, and the two are acquainted from Kenshin's days as Battosai.

Saito's strengths:

  • Expet swordsman and skilled martial artist
  • Signature attack is a powerful thrust called the Gotetsu
  • Ruthless and cunning strategist


Saito wields a katana and the techniques of the real-life Shinsengumi. He had a brutal battle with Kenshin where both fighters barely walked away alive, although this clash took place before Kenshin's re-training.

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

Aoshi Shinomori
Aoshi Shinomori

4. Aoshi Shinomori

The reserved Aoshi Shinomori leads a group called the Oniwabanshu, Aoshi excels in defensive swordfighting, moving fluidly across a battlefield with a technique called Kaiten Kenbu. He has a compassionate heart buried beneath his cold exterior, but can be misguided with his intentions. At the end of the day, he proves a steadfast ally to Kenshin.

Aoshi's strengths:

  • Lethal with either one or two blades, utilizes a defensive style
  • Nearly bested Kenshin both prior to and after Kenshin's retraining
  • Brandishes several unique techniques, including one thats hits six times at once (don't question it, it's anime)


Impressively, Aoshi is the only of four (the others being Kenshin, Saito, and Sanosuke) who battled the fearsome Shishio and wasn't knocked out at any point.

Plus, he once defeated Sanosuke in a single blow. Sano loses many of his fights, granted, but he's always able to endure a long beatdown before falling - except against Aoshi.

Makoto Shishio
Makoto Shishio

3. Makoto Shishio

The diabolical Makoto 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.

Shishio's strengths:

  • Once he's seen an attack once, he can develop ways to counter it
  • All-around incredible swordsman
  • "Cheats" to grantee victory (utilizes gunpowder, throws innocents in front of himself to block hits, etc.)


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'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, in my mind, Kenshin emerges victorious.

It's true Shishio knocked Kenshin out. But that was only because our ginger hero had previously fought (and beaten) two 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. Plus, Kenshin landed five hits at one point that would have surely torn Shishio apart had he been wielding a normal blade.

Seriously, you're going to regret that on Valentine's, Shishio.

2. Kenshin Himura

Protagonist Kenshin takes today's silver medal. His small height and thin build make him physically weaker than some characters, but his legendary speed and technique more than compensate.

As the series progresses, Kenshin completes his training of the Hiten Mitsurugi sword style, further advancing his already monstrous skill.

Kenshin's strengths:

  • Lightning-fast, and able to quickly analyze opponents
  • Masters the ultimate attack of the Hiten Mitsurugi style
  • Manages to pull off the ponytail surprisingly well


Kenshin wields the reverse-blade sword, designed to spare opponents' lives; if he used a regular weapon, his adversaries would quickly perish. Though his days as a man-slayer are over, the fact that he can still beat talented swordsmen who don't handicap themselves demonstrates his amazing talent with a sword.

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

Honorable Mentions

Swordsman
Abilities
Reasons not included
Amakusa Shōgo
Powerful wielder of the same sword style Kenshin uses.
Status as a filler character.
Seta Sōjirō
Incredibly fast.
Relies completely on speed and lacks experience.
Uonuma Usui
Effectively wields a spear and shield despite being blind.
Simply not quite skilled enough.
Udo Jin'e
Ruthless swordsman who can magically paralyze opponents.
Strong-spirited foes can break his magic spell.
More impressive fighters
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 lends a hand when needed, but is sarcastic and verbally while doing so.

Hiko's strengths:

  • Amazingly talented (has never lost a real fight in the series)
  • Like Kenshin, has mastered the Hiten Mitsurugi style and all its techniques
  • Bigger build lends power to his form, and he'll kill when necessary


Despite their differences in philosophies, 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. .

Lazy, antisocial, and blunt, Hiko appears rough around the edges, but wields the most lethal blade of all.

Your Favorite

Which fighter do you prefer?

See results

Legacy

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 that blends realism and fantasy, give Roruni Kenshin a try. The English dub 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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    • profile image

      Asif Istiaque Ahmad 9 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.

    • profile image

      Anonymous 3 months ago

      Where is Shogo Amakusa??

    • profile image

      Luke 2 months ago

      Nice list, good written as well, but I'd rank Saito higher than Aoshi. Perhaps even above Shoshio..

    • Jeremy Gill profile image
      Author

      Jeremy Gill 2 months ago from Louisiana

      @Luke

      I respect your view; we can agree to disagree. Saito gets loads more screen-time than Aoshi, causing many fans to favor him. However, in my opinion, Aoshi both did better against Kenshin and took out Sanosuke much faster than Saito.

    • profile image

      Luke 2 months ago

      @Jeremy Gill

      We could surely agree to disagree, but please allow me to highlight certain points.

      I the 2 battles where Kenshin fought Aoshi, the former came out twice on top (although with a very small margin), whereas the battles between Kenshin and Saito had no winner (even during the Bakumatsu). Saito was even toying around with Kenshin at first when they met in the Doyo. However, I do have to admit that Kenshin had not mastered the Amakakeru Ryu No Hirameki when he fought Saito. On the other hand, he was able to beat Aoshi the first time as well, without having learned the final technique.

      It was stated by Watsuki himself that, if Kenshin and Saito were to have a rematch, Saito would win. But if Kenshin had something to fight for/protect (let's say he'd have to protect Kaoru), he'd win the fight. I think it just shows the determination/inner strength of Saito and his 'Aku Soku Zan'. I feel like Aoshi is missing this kind of 'inner convinction'.

      You correctly indicate in your text that Aoshi was the only one out of 4 not being knocked out by Shishio. However, I feel like you're missing a critical point here. Saito (besides having severly injured legs) was trying to actually kill Shishio (and would have succeeded if not for the hachigane), whereas Aoshi was only stalling the fight, buying time for Kenshin to recover. Furthermore, Shishio possesses the unique ability to neutralize any attack he's seen before, making it even thougher for Saito due to his inflexible Gatotsu-technique.

      I'm also not a big fan of the reasoning that, if a beats b and b beats c, automatically a is stonger than c. With that being said, I honestly think that we'd have to look at every character seperatly and making top 5's or 10's is very difficult. Seta could for example potentially win from every character in a fight, due to his (theoretical) universal superiority in speed.

      To conclude, I think Aoshi is a very lethal fighter. He's very smart, fast and combines great techniques with kenpo. He'd be a very though opponent for Saito, no doubt about it. However, I really believe that Saito is his superior in almost every aspect, having much more experience, battle-awareness and being more ruthless. However, as I've stated before, the key element which would make Saito victorious in almmost every batle is his strong conviction, that of 'Aku Soku Zan'.

    • Jeremy Gill profile image
      Author

      Jeremy Gill 2 months ago from Louisiana

      @Luke

      Thanks for your well-thought out and polite response. I can tell you definitely know a lot about this series!

      Here's my thinking: Perhaps Saito is stronger than Aoshi during Aoshi's first fight with Kenshin, but Aoshi definitely seems stronger after he masters his two blades.

      Kenshin and Saito's clash had no conclusion, true, but Kenshin landed a blow to Saito's neck at one point that, had Kenshin been wielding a normal sword like Saito was, would have decapitated him, making me think that Kenshin's skill at the point (prior to his re-training) is superior to Saito.

      With Shishio, it's true that Saito's attack would have killed him were it not for his hidden head-guard, but this was a surprise attack, and little reflection of superior skill. Even Saito's ultimate hidden form of the Gotetsu (something Shishio hadn't seen before) was countered effortlessly.

      Aoshi (who also was injured, like Saito, from before the contest) not only lasted longer, but recognized that his best chance was to stall for time rather than attack an opponent he could not beat.

      In short, Aoshi had to fight (and almost won against) Kenshin at his peak, something Saito never did, utilized a superior strategy against Shishio, and took out Sano faster than Saito ever did.

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