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Anime Ninja: The Four Best Shinobi You Should Know!

Sophia WasylinkoSophia Wasylinko
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April 25, 2024
A white haired anime ninja with a black mask, one blue eye and one red eye and a red scarf.

Ninjas are some of the most iconic characters in anime, manga, and video games. From unique fighting styles to gripping backstories, they have adoring fans who reread or rewatch their adventures, cosplay as them, or even try to learn their moves. They even have anime ninja that many people admire!

It can be challenging to pick a favorite shinobi, especially in shows with many unique characters. Well, let us help you make a decision. Here are the four best anime ninjas you should know about!

What is anime? 

Anime (Japanese animation) has been around for over 100 years, though it initially faced problems because of overseas competition and government censorship. Starting in the 1940s, anime received more funding and support. Powerhouse studios were soon founded, and classics like Dragon Ball, Sailor Moon, and One Piece were created.

Most anime is based on manga (Japanese comics). Popular genres include action, romance, isekai (set in an alternate world), and magical girl. While it’s better to watch the shows in the original Japanese, there are also excellent English dubs like those for Cowboy Bebop and Death Note

A manga panel featuring anime ninja.
Manga are Japanese comics! Image via Mr Wallpaper

We’ve chosen characters from both popular series and lesser-known ones. Some of these shows are aimed at younger viewers, while others are for mature audiences. All four have fantastic action, emotional scenes, and epic characters like these anime ninjas.

Naruto (Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden) 

Let’s start with a beloved anime protagonist. Naruto Uzumaki has one dream: to become the Hokage of the Hidden Leaf Village. He faces many obstacles, but he continues to believe in himself and inspire others to become the strongest shinobi they can be.

Naruto Uzumaki from "Naruto". He is an anime ninja with yellow hair.
Naruto is one of the most famous ninjas in the world! Image via HD Wallpapers

The villagers shunned the orphaned Naruto because of the Nine-tailed Fox Kurama sealed inside him. He pushes ahead with his training to prove them wrong, taking on everyone from his childhood rival to S-tier criminals.

Naruto has several signature moves. In the first episode, he teaches himself the forbidden Shadow Clone Jutsu. He also develops Rasengan and the infamous Sekushii Jutsu. Combined with his Ninja Way, it’s no surprise that Naruto is the Hidden Leaf Village’s best shinobi.

Gennosuke Kouga (Basilisk) 

Next is Gennosuke Kouga, the male protagonist of the most violent series on this list. Heir to the Kouga clan, he is one of 20 ninjas chosen to fight to the death for the Tokugawa Shogunate.  

Gennosuke Kouga from Basilisk. He has wild long black hair and heavy eyebrows.
Gennosuke is a skilled swordsman. Image via YouTube/SolitaryGamer2

Gennosuke is an idealist who doesn’t hold a grudge but instead looks to the future. Before Basilik’s main events, he was engaged to the Iga clan’s daughter, Oboro, whom he genuinely loves. (He even plays the flute for her in the anime.) We won’t tell you how the story ends, but you’ll need tissues ready.

However, Gennosuke is also ready to defend the Kouga clan’s honor. Skilled with swords, he also uses his family’s ability, Dōjutsu, to hypnotize opponents into turning on themselves. Torn between love and loyalty, Gennosuke’s story will have viewers hooked until the nail-biting finale.

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Tengen Uzui (Demon Slayer) 

Demon Slayer has many fearsome fighters, and Tengen Uzui is at the top. A Sound Hashira of the Demon Slayer Corps, he is harsh and arrogant towards his inferiors. However, he can also be kind and feel remorse over past actions.

Tengen Uzui from Demon Slayer. He wear a lot of jewelry, painted nails and a red bubble mark over his left eye.
Tengen is incredibly fast and strong. Image via Kimetsu no Yaiba Wiki

Tengen became a skilled shinobi after intense training that killed most of his siblings. Later, he left his clan to live more peacefully with his family. He also taught subordinates to value their lives and those of innocents over completing their missions.

Fast, stealthy, and strong in mind and body, Tengen is a beast. His technique, Musical Score, combined with Sound Breathing, lets him read opponents’ moves like sheet music. Tengen is also a master swordsman, especially with his signature Nichirin Cleavers. He earns his reputation as one of the mightiest Demon Slayers.

Gabimaru the Hollow (Hell’s Paradise) 

Our final anime ninja is Gabimaru from Hell’s Paradise. A ruthless shinobi sentenced to be executed, he’s given a chance to be pardoned by competing to find the Elixir of Life on Kotaku. 

Gabimaru the Hollow from "Hell's Paradise". He has short white hair and wears a black mask over his face.
Gabimaru was a strong ninja from a very young age. Image via Den of Geek

Gabimaru’s harsh training earns him the nickname “the Hollow” and a monstrous reputation. However, once he marries the Village Chief’s daughter, Yui, he wants to lead a life free of bloodshed. This desire inspires him to go on the expedition, even if it means death. 

Besides knowing taijutsu (martial arts-inspired fighting), Gabimaru can summon fire using techniques like Hibōshi and Hi no Hashi. His body can also withstand damage and deal it out in spades. Gabimaru’s fiery abilities contrast with his icy interior, which thaws as the series progresses.

Why are these anime ninja iconic? 

Each anime ninja goes on his own journey. For Naruto, it’s growing up to protect the Hidden Leaf Village. For Gabimaru, it’s reclaiming and holding onto his humanity. Though some are vicious warriors, all ninjas are easy to root for.

A cyberpunk ninja looking over a purple cityscape.
What other anime ninja re you a fan of? Image via Shutterstock

Whether it’s an inherited ability like Dōjutsu or cool weapons like the Nichirin Cleavers, all four shinobi have unique moves and skills. Their respective series goes all out in the fight scenes.

Finally, every ninja has captured viewers’ hearts. Naruto inspires kids to embark on their Ninja Way. Tengen wins people over with unique abilities and tough love. Finally, Gabimaru’s and Gennosuke’s growth and increasingly violent battles keep viewers spellbound. While different, they’re all characters that audiences care about. Which is your favorite anime ninja on this list? Were there others we should have included? Tell us in the comments.

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