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BELAY THAT!: Top 10 Villainous Swordsmen in Anime, Manga, and Games


Let’s face it. I work much better in a top 10 format during the work week. The long in-depth post about the anime/manga that I feel is underrated, the Mythology Snob review of SMITE, and the 10 hearts drink recipe will be coming soon. But for now, let’s talk about one of my favorite things: Bad Guys.

What do you have in media without a villain? You have little conflict and in some cases, little investment and little interest. So, as part of my appreciation for villains of all shapes, sizes, genders, orientations, and backgrounds, once a week I will have a villains countdown. However, I will base this entirely around the weapon that they use, or lack thereof, (I plan on doing a “Top 10 Sissy Villains” countdown sometime, too.).

So why swords? Well, generally, with the exception of tales that take place in ancient times, it’s the good guys that use swords where the bad guys use something more vicious, like an axe or a club.It takes discipline to wield a sword, and these gentlemen and gentleladies are certainly up to the task.

The rules for this countdown are that the character MUST be a villain, so sadly, as much as I LOVE Loghain MacTir from Dragon Age Origins, he will not be on this list because he is more of an anti-hero and snark knight once you redeem him. Only irredeemable villains for this list! Once again, it must be from a game that I have played, a manga that I have read, or an anime that I have watched, and only one per series. Special consideration will be given to villains who exhibit a certain amount of flair and uniqueness when using their trademark weapon, because, after all, this isn’t about swords, this is the men and monsters that wield them.

10:Pyramid Head- Silent Hill 2

It’s a KNIFE you say? It doesn’t COUNT you say? Well…that’s why Pyramid Head is only Number 10 on this list. I wasn’t entirely sure if his gigantic knife counted as a sword, but considering that it is the size of two men put together, I’m going to say it does. The other reason why Pyramid Head is so low is that, although absolutely horrifying, monstrous, and violent, he has little to no development. He’s just that huge scary triangle-headed man that rapes monsters and tries to punish James. Another reason is that he is the only character on this list from a horror game, so he HAS to be made to be scary. None of the other gents on this list HAD to be scary. And by whatever deity you believe in, he is STILL scary, even after all these years. A soulless, mindless beast, Pyramid Head is the most fitting personification of the concept of pain that I have ever seen.

9: Cervantes de Leon- Soul Calibur series

WHAT?! Not Nightmare? You got that right. No Nightmare. Why? Because he’s simply an eeeeeevil version of Siegfried, who is a good guy. Real bad guys don’t copy good guys. Real bad guys have GUN SWORDS. Cervantes is a ghost zombie pirate with two swords and is a force to be reckoned with in the hands of a skilled player. As I stated, his swords aren’t just swords, they aren’t just fragments of the Soul Edge, they are SWORDS…with GUNS ON THEM. That is immensely fantastic. Also, I always have liked pirates, so I had to put a pirate somewhere on this list, and Cervantes seemed like the perfect choice. So why is he placed so low if he is so awesome? Well, he’s really not overly creative with his weapons and Soul Calibur is taking a turn for the worst with the latest installment. Still, he needs to be here, because I said so. Also, just to note, I named my cat after this guy. Yep.

8: Yakushiji Tenzen- Basilisk

As much as I absolutely LOATHE this character for the complete and total monster that he is, I can’t deny Tenzen’s skill with a sword, nor his resilience. Seriously! Almost nothing can kill this guy! Not to mention, he kills off several of the coolest characters in the series, including a limbless ninja who also wields a sword. Tenzen is complex in that he isn’t simply a man of action, he’s also a behind the scenes sort of guy, plotting and twisting the battle between the Kouga and the Iga to his advantage so he can gain power. He is also one of few on this list that have no redeeming or good qualities whatsoever, which, in a series of ambiguous anti-heroes, hideously ugly heroic characters, and jerkasses, labels him the strongest contender for “villain”. So, while he is a rapist, a murderer, and a schemer, those things only serve to make him a great villain. The fact that I hate him as much as I do is an ode to just how twisted and evil he is. And on this countdown, being THAT evil grants you a spot on my list.

7: Aatrox, The Darkin Blade: League of Legends

As much as I wanted to put a character from SMITE on here, none of the gods are really completely evil. Even LOKI has some redeemable qualities. However, there is someone who I can consider quite evil in League of Legends and he happens to wield a sword. Granted, Aatrox sounds like a pretty good guy at first, inspiring the losing side of a fight in battle to gain the advantage. However, it’s what he does AFTERWARDS that firmly cements him as villainous. You see, Aatrox likes blood, and death, and killing a lot. So what does he do once the side that he was inspiring wins a battle? Convinces them to go on massacres, killing just about everything in sight. Interestingly, unlike many other blood and death-obsessed madmen, Aatrox is very poetic and insightful, and refers to battles as his “masterpieces”, speaking of them with great pride. His eloquence only serves to enhance his evil-doings. Even NOXUS, the most warlike city-state, hates this guy. That says something. Too bad he plays like crap.

6:Ares- God of War

As much as I bashed these games in one of my posts, you’d be surprised to see this character here. However, I pointedly said that I enjoyed the first game, and particularly enjoyed it because of this character. To put it simply, Ares is an evil, EVIL bastard of the “blood knight” variety, quite similar to the aforementioned Aatrox, actually, just far less culturally refined and more sadistic. What else would you expect from the God of War? One of the few surprisingly accurately portrayed characters in the game, Ares not only delights in causing death and chaos, but he also enjoys manipulating others to serve his goals. Let’s not forget that, although Kratos is an absolute monster, it was Ares that made him that way. I could blame this guy for the rest of the games sucking if I wanted to, but instead I’ll focus on how fantastic of a final boss he was and how wonderful his representation was. He makes the perfect villain for the game and is no slouch with the ridiculously oversized sword he wields.

5:Vicious- Cowboy Bebop

What can I say? In a world where everything is guns and high tech spaceships, it takes a lot of nards to fight with a sword. Not to mention, this man was originally a good guy, but completely snapped and fell down the slippery slope to villainy after his rival, Spike, the protagonist, began an affair with his wife. Cheating and betrayal are hard-hitting events in a person’s life, and in some cases can completely change who the person once was, which is the case with Vicious. Still, this guy wins major points just for using a katana in an age where guns are the most commonly used weapon. He is also completely remorseless and cold, and unlike some other villains on this list, never smiles, not even when he is fighting Spike. Still, he remains determined to get at his former friend and stops at nothing to see him suffer for all the pain that he caused him. A great villain fitting one of the greatest anime of all time.

4: Zant- The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

As much as I adore Ganondorf and his manly, evil, dastardly charms, I had to place Zant here instead of him for the sheer fact that Zant is an absolutely INSANE fighter. Whereas Ganondorf, Girahim, and Demise are relatively disciplined in their fighting, Zant attacks you in a tantrum of a whirling dervish. I’m not the biggest fan of Twilight Princess and Wind Waker is my favorite Zelda game, so this is certainly surprising to see out of me. Again, the reason is because of creativity and the sheer unexpectedness of the fight with Zant. A mysterious character turned absolutely berserk, this ruthless ruler provides a fantastic challenge to go up against. I find that many people point at Girahim as being the turning point for Zelda games in terms of unique bosses, but for me, it was Zant that started this trend and he certainly deserves a spot on this list.

3: Blight- Okami

Why is this guy so high? Do you even HAVE to ask? Okami is one of the most beautiful and immersive games I have ever played, and Blight is one of the most memorable and interesting swordsmen that I have been introduced to. To be specific, Blight isn’t a him…Blight is an “it”. Specifically he is a possessed suit of armor made into a pincushion by a series of blades and emitting a poisonous cloud from his…lack of body. And just what is possessing Blight? Why, it’s Goldnail, the sword he wields. Said sword saw so much blood, death, and destruction as it was passed from master to master that it eventually gained sentience and a thirst for the red stuff. This boss is my favorite in the game, second only to the fantastic battle with Yami. Also of note is his location. Blight has somehow shrunk himself down, entered the body of the Emperor, and now is causing him to spew poison, causing villagers to get sick and die. Imagine finding out that something like THAT was living inside of you. Yuck.

2: Urushido Koshichiro- The Yagyu Ninja Scrolls

Wow. Just…just wow. Forget blind swordsmen that might be evil for a second, and think about how insanely difficult it must be to learn how to use a sword with only one arm. This man is an absolute powerhouse, and a surprisingly well characterized villain. Many of the villains in this little known Masaki Segawa series simply have the traits of being evil and laughing a lot, but Koshichiro has depth. He isn’t just an evil man, he’s a poetic individual, seen to clasp a cherry tree branch in his teeth before he murders someone. He also wants to constantly test his skills in battle, and when given the chance to fight the protagonist, Jubei, he is practically frothing at the mouth at the opportunity. In a “roaring rampage of revenge” tale, it is very rare for the villains to be interesting, but this character always had me constantly wondering what he was up to and what he would do next. They could have just left him as a ruthless one-armed man, but the writers chose to make what would turn out to be a better villain than the main villain of the story. A great overlooked villain, from a great overlooked manga series.

And the number 1 villainous sword wielder, without a doubt, is…

1: Kurogasa/Jin-e Udo- Rurouni Kenshin and Rurouni Kenshin Restoration

When I think “bad guy with a sword”, Jin-e is the first character I think of. This is somewhat of an odd choice for Number One considering that far more popular villain, Shishio, also wields a sword. Still, I found Shishio to be dull and uninspiring compared to the sheer madness that is Kurogasa. Rurouni Kenshin was one of the first anime I ever watched, and oddly enough, I find the “goofy” first part to be my favorite. This is mostly due to the fact that everything is happy go lucky, and all of a sudden a nightmarish man in a hat, skin tight bodysuit, and robe wearing a grin that could make the Titans piss themselves shows up. It was at this point where I knew that this series was going to turn into something fantastic. Just when I thought that this combative sadomasochist couldn’t get more bizarre and memorable, Restoration comes around and adds even MORE layers and traits to Jin-e. No longer simply satisfied over being a demon with a sword, Jin-e fights by jamming the ends of his swords THROUGH holes in his hands and slashing violently at opponents even more effortlessly. The new series also provides more glimpses into the past and what caused him to go mad and embrace the life of a serial killer. A fantastic, remorseless, creative, and entertaining monster of a man, Jin-e more than deserves this spot.


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