Top 5 Strongest Swordsmen in Rurouni Kenshin
Rurouni 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.
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.
- Expet swordsman and skilled martial artist
- Signature attack is a powerful thrust called the Gatotsu
- 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.
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.
- 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.
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.
- 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..
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. See below for a quick analysis of his abilities compared to Shishio's.
As the series progresses, Kenshin completes his training of the Hiten Mitsurugi sword style, further advancing his already monstrous skill.
- 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..
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.
Powerful wielder of the same sword style Kenshin uses.
Status as a filler character.
Relies completely on speed and lacks experience.
Effectively wields a spear and shield despite being blind.
Simply not quite skilled enough.
Ruthless swordsman who can magically (well, with ki) paralyze opponents.
Strong-spirited foes can break his spell.
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.
- 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.
Which fighter do you prefer?
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.
Questions & Answers
Are the Kenshin live-action movies good?
Yes. They're not perfect (some actor choices are puzzling), but they nailed Kenshin's depiction and the action scenes. The latter two in the trio of films are particularly worthwhile.
Of course, since they're in Japanese, don't watch them if you're opposed to subtitled movies.
© 2015 Jeremy Gill