List of Anime Shows with Japanese Warriors and Assassins

Although these different types of warriors no longer exist in modern Japan, they continue to live on in legends, myths, and even anime shows – a staple of Japanese pop culture. The techniques, beliefs, and weapons of these ancient warriors are often used as inspirations for the development of anime characters.

An Overview of Japanese Warriors and Assassins

The most iconic figures of Japan recognized across the globe today are the ninjas and samurais – two types of Japanese warriors who played various roles during the feudal period. Both of these warriors were skilled in combat but had far more differences between them.

For one, samurais followed a strict set of rules about the proper way of living their lives, while ninjas barely had any doctrines to follow other than mastering the art of stealth. In that sense, ninjas were seen to be dishonorable mercenaries that better fit the role of an assassin than a warrior.

Other lesser known but equally important figures that fall under the category of Japanese warriors include:

Baron Raimund von Stillfried [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Yamabushi refers to ascetic hermits who live in the mountains and follow the doctrines of Shugendo, a syncretic religion that combines elements from Shinto, Taoism, and Buddhism. Japanese history shows that the spiritual practices of the yamabushi were closely intertwined with samurai weaponry. Furthermore, it is believed that yamabushis were blessed with supernatural powers.

  • Ashigaru

Ashigaru, which means “light foot” in English, served as foot soldiers under the command of the samurai warrior class. Their common weapons of choice included swords, spears, and bows.

  • Onna-Bugeisha

Contrary to popular belief, Japanese warriors were not limited to the male gender. Onna-Bugeisha is the term used to refer to female warriors who fought alongside samurai warriors. These women were from the Japanese nobility and were trained during the feudal period to protect their respective households using various weapons.

  • Ronin

Ronin refers to masterless samurai warriors. The term translates to mean “wandering man” in English. According to the samurai’s way of life, any warrior that loses his master must commit a ritual suicide. As such, ronins were seen as shameful beings who were not strong enough to honor their code.

  • Sohei

Sohei were basically Buddhist monk warriors who played important roles during the medieval and feudal times of Japan. They were in charge of protecting their respective lands and scaring off rivals of the Buddhist school.

List of Japanese Assassin Anime Series

Many anime shows draw on Japanese history to create interesting storylines and characters.

Although ninjas were the only ones that were actually considered by the community to be assassins during ancient times, samurais and other Japanese warriors are also often depicted as hired mercenaries in anime.

Of course, there are also many other series that offer a more modern version of the assassin, equipped with technology and a gun in hand. Nonetheless, all of these anime tv shows pay tribute to Japan’s ancient warriors either by honoring their code of ethics or by using them as role models.

Based on the recommendation of each anime news site available on the internet, the list of the top anime series and movies that revolve around the concept of assassination, among other things, is as follows:

  • Hunter X Hunter

Hunter X Hunter, as its name suggests, is about individuals referred to as hunters who are paid to perform various tasks such as looking for ancient treasures and stopping criminals. The main character of the show is Gon Freecss, a determined 12-year old boy who wants nothing less than to become the best hunter in the world.

Throughout his training, Gon acquires an interesting set of friends which includes Kurapika, a vengeful individual, Leorio, an enthusiastic man training to be a doctor, and Killua, a former assassin with a mysterious life.

Genres and Themes: Supernatural, Adventure, Action

Aired: October 2, 2011 to September 24, 2014

Number of Episode/s: 148

Rating: 9.2 out of 10

  • Akuma no Riddle

Akuma no Riddle is set in an elite, all-girls boarding school known as the Myoujou Academy. Tokaku Azuma enters as a new transfer student and is put in Class Black, which is made up of eleven other students.

Each student in Class Black, including Tokaku, is actually an assassin who wants to kill Haru Ichinose, a kind student from the same class. All of them have one chance to make their move. Whoever succeeds in killing Haru will be granted anything they want, while expulsion awaits those who fail.

Amidst her stay in the school, Tokaku decides to be friend Haru and protect her from all the other assassins.

Genres and Themes: School, Action

Aired: April 4, 2014 to June 20, 2014

Number of Episode/s: 12

Rating: 6.8 out of 10

  • Ansatsu Kyoushitsu (Assassination Classroom)

    By Yūsei Matsui, Shueisha, Lerche [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Ansatsu Kyoushitsu, or Assassination Classroom, follows the story of a group of students from Kunugigaoka Middle School’s class 3-E.

After a monster called Koro-sensei cuts down the moon to create a permanent crescent shape, these misfits refine their assassination skills to stop Koro-sensei from doing the same thing to planet Earth.

Throughout the show, the students of Class 3-E learn to stand for what is right, overcome their problems in life, and realize their respective potentials.

Genres and Themes: School, Comedy, Action

Aired: January 10, 2015 to June 20, 2015

Number of Episode/s: 22

Rating: 8.2 out of 10

  • Akame ga Kill!

Akame ga Kill! depicts a period of ruin, strife, and poverty that had resulted from Prime Minister Honest’s abuse of the young emperor’s lack of experience.

An uprising known as the Revolutionary Army has gathered a group of assassins, collectively referred to as the Night Raid, to kill anyone who tries to stop them from overthrowing the greedy prime minister.

Night Raid’s newest assassin is a naïve boy called Tatsumi who grew up in an impoverished village and joined the group in the hope of saving his hometown. The show revolves around Tatsumi’s journey with Night Raid and his struggles with values, morals, and truth.

Genres and Themes: Fantasy, Adventure, Action

Aired: July 7, 2014 to December 15, 2014

Number of Episode/s: 24

Rating: 7.8 out of 10

  • Mirai Nikki (The Future Diary)

Mirai Nikki, or The Future Diary, follows the life of a lonely student named Yukiteru Amano who has two imaginary friends known as Deus Ex Machina and Murmur who he respectively considers to be the god of time and space and a servant of the god.

One day, Deus Ex Machina reveals that he is not imaginary and gives Yukiteru a diary which is filled with detailed entries about the future. Eleven other individuals also have similar diaries and they must all kill each other until one remains standing. Whoever the winner is will take the place of Deus Ex Machina.

Genres and Themes: Mystery, Thriller, Supernatural, Psychological, Action

Aired: October 9, 2011 to April 15, 2012

Number of Episode/s: 26

Rating: 8 out of 10

  • Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom

Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom features a mysterious corporation known as Inferno which is responsible for a big percentage of the countless assassinations happening in America. The organization has an invincible human weapon referred to as Phantom.

One of Phantom’s murders is witnessed by a Japanese tourist who tries to escape but is inevitably captured by Phantom, who is revealed to be a girl named Ein, the leader of the assassination company.

The tourist is brainwashed and becomes a puppet of Inferno under the name Zwei. With no memories of his life, Zwei constantly finds himself on the edge of death, searching for answers and the truth.

Genres and Themes: Thriller, Drama, Action

Aired: April 3, 2009 to September 25, 2009

Number of Episode/s: 26

Rating: 8.2 out of 10

  • Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Kenkaku Romantan (Samurai X)

Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Kenkaku Romantan or Samurai X follows the story of Hitokiri Battousai, a legendary assassin who suddenly disappeared during the peak of the revolution. Ten years since the end of the bloody era, war veterans still tremble at the mention of his name.

Unknown to them, this assassin, as a form of repentance, now lives a new life as Kenshin Himura, a cheerful, strong-willed swordsman wandering from town to town. He vows to never kill another soul and live his life protecting weak and abused people.

Genres and Themes: Samurai, Historical, Romance, Comedy, Adventure, Action

Aired: January 10, 1996 to September 8, 1998

Number of Episode/s: 94

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

  • Log Horizon

Log Horizon makes use of a video game known as Elder Tale to make the lives of thirty thousand gamers a bit more complicated. After the installation of the game’s latest update, these gamers are sucked into the virtual world with no way to get out.

Among these individuals is a veteran gamer named Shiroe who initially showcases the same confusion as the others but immediately regains control of his emotions.

Shiroe explores his new reality and establishes a form of peace and stability over the virtual world. Throughout his journey, he crosses path with old friend Naotsugu and an assassin named Akatsuki.

Genres and Themes: Fantasy, Adventure, Magic, Game, Action

Aired: October 5, 2013 to March 22, 2014

Number of Episode/s: 25

Rating: 8.1 out of 10

  • Golgo 13

Golgo 13 is about a mysterious man bearing the same name, among many other aliases. No one knows his true identity but everybody is aware of his legendary skills as an assassin.

Equipped with a custom-made M16, Golgo 13 will basically work for anyone who can afford his rate. Whatever the mission may be, he is known for always being able to successfully complete it from start to finish.

Being the world’s greatest weapon, he also serves as the world’s greatest threat, feared by all.

Genres and Themes: Thriller, Drama, Adventure, Action

Aired: April 12, 2008 to March 28, 2009

Number of Episode/s: 50

Rating: 7.6 out of 10

  • Darker than Black

Darker than Black is a sci-fi thriller that subtly tackles issues about justice, politics, and war.

The show features two gates that appeared ten years ago in South America and Japan respectively referred to as Heaven’s Gate and Hell’s Gate. Along with these gates, beings known as Contractors also emerged who are basically former humans who gave up their humanity in exchange for supernatural powers.

These contractors are responsible for taking care of various tasks ordered by the mysterious Syndicate as well as for uncovering the truth behind the purpose of the gates.

Genres and Themes: Mystery, Supernatural, Sci-Fi, Action

Aired: April 6, 2007 to September 28, 2007

Number of Episode/s: 25

Rating: 8.25 out of 10

  • Canaan

Canaan revolves around Japanese photographer Oosawa Maria, her partner Mino, and Maria’s old friend Canaan.

Searching for important stories to cover in China, Maria and Mino come across a local festival where a series of strange events happen. As they investigate the occurrences, both of them find themselves caught in a heated fight between a mysterious woman and equally strange masked men.

Canaan appears just in time to save Maria from being caught in the battle and the three of them soon discover a devastating plan involving a deadly virus which somehow connects to Canaan’s past.

Genres and Themes: Action

Aired: July 4, 2009 to September 26, 2009

Number of Episode/s: 13

Rating: 7.4 out of 10

  • Noir

Noir follows the story of two girls named Mireille Bouquet and Kirika. Mireille is an incredibly skilled assassin based in France. One day, receives an email from Kirika. Intrigued, Mireille meets up with Kirika who tells her of how she has no memory of her life and can effortlessly kill a person without feeling any remorse.

Both of them realize that their lives are somehow connected and set out on a journey across the globe to search for answers.

Genres and Themes: Drama, Mystery, Action

Aired: April 6, 2001 to September 28, 2001

Number of Episode/s: 26

Rating: 7.4 out of 10

  • Baccano!

Baccano! narrates different events that seem to share no connection with each other in terms of season (that is, spring, summer, winter, and fall), place, and era. However, all of these are actually part of a larger story revolving around the concepts of immortality, survival, and alchemy.

Genres and Themes: Supernatural, Historical, Mystery, Comedy, Action

Aired: July 27, 2007 to November 2, 2007

Number of Episode/s: 13

Rating: 8.5 out of 10