Anime is still a niche among the mainstream spaces of content consumption. Disney and other animation houses might have been able to bring animated movies to adults, but there’s still a gap between audiences and anime. Major samurai animated movies and TV shows are anime that do not get as much mainstream attention as other American animated content does.
Due to getting ignored by a large majority, a lot of film gems in anime are left to be explored. Anime is a Japanese form of animated style that brings the elements of art with storytelling in a vast world. The genre of anime content is so diverse there is something for everyone to watch. This particular article has suggestions regarding the themes of Samurai action and Japanese culture.
Samurai 7 – 2004
A 2004 anime series highly inspired by the 1954 movie Seven Samurai. Directed by Toshifumi Takizawa, the series captures the story of villagers looking to protect their land and life’s accumulation from bandits who are too eager to raid during harvest season. In an alternative Japan where the feudal system still rules, the villagers now look towards Samurai from the city to aid their security in exchange for rice and other food.
Since there is no money involved as payment, the only options that agree to help are some down-on-luck unfortunate Samurai. The story goes on around this plot for 26 episodes with characters that will make you laugh and take your breath away in the next second.
Available on: Netflix, Hulu.
Ninja Scroll – 2003
The 2003 series is another remake of the first 1993 movie directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri with the same storyline and characters. Based mainly around Jubei, a masterless swordsman who is an undefeated ninja traveling the geography of Japan fighting for anyone who would pay him enough or drive him to a cause.
But trouble arises when the government and people in higher positions are threatened with conspiracies and planned attacks to hide their big secret plan to overthrow the government. Along with Kagero, a woman he rescues, Jubei is once again left to fight the big fight. A tale of heroic courage that will have you glued to your screen until you finish the entire thing. And on top of that, supernatural elements that you will not see coming. Trigger warnings for sexual assault. Ninja Scroll was also a pioneer that brought anime-style content to mainstream adult media.
Available on: Amazon, Hulu.
Otogi Zoshi – 2004
You might know the trope of ‘girl dresses up as a man to accomplish the fate no one thought a woman could have’ from Disney’s Mulan, but that is not the only fictional world where it happened. Otogi Zoshi is the story of the city of Heian, riddled with an epidemic and famine, where all hope is lost. However, The Emperor assigns Minamoto No Raiko to go in search of magatama, a sacred gem that has the power to bring peace to the land.
However, things take a turn for the worse when Raiko gets sick with the prevalent epidemic and is unable to continue with the job. This is when Hikaru No Kimi, the last daughter of Minamoto, volunteers to go as a replacement, albeit disguised as a man. Thus, starts the adventurous part of the series.
What initially only comes as historical fiction with elements of the supernatural, becomes much more when Hikaru moves forward in her journey to retrieve the magatama.
Available on: Amazon
Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings – 2014
There is an endless struggle and dispute for the monopoly of power in the land. Alliances are made and broken, the conflict and war seem endless. Amid these battles, the former lord of Owari, the Sixth Heavenly Devil King called Oda Nobunaga seems too close to taking it all for himself. When a general by the name of Date Masamune, also known as the One-Eyed Dragon, comes to defeat Oda Nobunaga. The rest is too spoilery, go watch.
Available on: Amazon
Blade of the Immortal
The curse of immortality might not be something you are worried about now, but you might be after watching this. After being cursed with eternal life, a master swordsman lives his life in monotonous gloom. Until he goes back to the powerful witch and asks to be made mortal again, but there is a cost to everything. He is tasked with killing 1000 evil men as a way to atone for his sins and gain his mortal life back. What ensues is unlikely friendships and misfits working together in a world not too kind. The 2017 live-action adaptation by the same name is a good watch too, available on Netflix.
Available on: Amazon
These were all the samurai animated movies and shows, packed with high-stakes plots and complex characters that you can get started with. If you are a person new to anime, this will also help you get used to that new content and animation form.