Growing up, we’ll have been to a stage where being a martial artist or a shinobi ninja in particular sounded too fascinating to be real. The enigmatic and skilled warriors of Japanese folklore have long captured the imagination of fans and as much as they crave it the ninja anime shows try to make up for it.
These shows provide a diverse range of ninja-themed stories to satisfy the cravings of viewers who are ready for stealthy, action-packed adventures. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best ninja anime that have left fans mesmerized with their tales of espionage, combat, and ninja clans. So, without further ado, let’s get started.
10. Brave 10
Brave 10 takes place during the Warring States period, a year before the Battle of Sekigahara. Isanami, a young priestess, is forced to watch as a group of evil ninjas burn her temple to the ground and slaughter the people within, leaving her no choice but to flee into the forest to escape the same fate.
By chance, she stumbles upon Saizou Kirigakure, a masterless ninja from the Iga school. The two travel to war-laden lands in search of ten brave warriors whose combined strength will allow them to alter the course of history! The historical setting and supporting cast of Brave 10 is sure to please the fans.
Katanagatari is a highly stylized anime by White Fox that exhibits a fluid and dynamic art style. Set in Edo-period Japan, this ninja anime series tells the story of Yasuri Shichika, the son of an exiled war hero and seventh head of the Kyotouryuu (bare-handed) school of fighting.
Living out his banishment on the island of Fushou, an ambitious strategist named Togame tracks Shichika down and persuades him to accompany her on a mission to find the Deviant Blades – twelve mystically-crafted “katana” that take distinctly different forms and have their own specific abilities.
8. Jubei-chan: The Ninja Girl
Jubei-chan’s success recipe can be found in its clumsy magical heroine who’s one of the coolest yet cutest female ninjas ever seen in anime. Through its outlandish premise, the series chronicles Jiyu Nanohana, an ordinary schoolgirl who comes to know that she’s the next heir to Jubei Yagyu’s powers.
With the help of the “Lovely Eyepatch”, Jiyu transforms into the legendary swordsman whenever she needs to use his awesome fighting ability. Now, using her newfound ability, Jiyu must fight off a rival clan that is intent on conquering Yagyu and defeating his latest incarnation.
7. Laughing Under The Clouds
An exception to the shojo genre, Laughing Under The Clouds is a supernatural ninja anime that’s filled with moments of violence, death, and betrayal. Set in the feudal Japan era when swords became outlawed, the government built a secluded prison to combat the rising violence.
The Kumo brothers are assigned the job of delivering criminals to this secluded prison and everything seems to go well until they learn about the legend of the Orochi’s vessel, a human host possessed by a demon serpent from ancient times, and only they can destroy it once and for all.
6. Sengoku Basara
Historically rich action-packed ninja anime series Sengoku Basara derives its source material from a popular video game which is loosely based on real events of the titular Sengoku period in the history of feudal Japan where many generals fought in an endless struggle for national power and unification.
However, one man proved to be too big of a threat: the “Demon King of Owari”, Nobunaga Oda. With Oda’s forces closing in on their respective territories, two arch enemies Masamune and Yukimura begin to form an unlikely alliance to take down the threatening usurpator in a political warfare.
5. Flame Of Recca
Classic 90s anime by Studio Pierrot, Flame of Recca deploys a strategy-based combat in its original ninja story and follows the titular protagonist Recca who is a self-proclaimed modern-day ninja and often picks fights with others in an attempt to boast his bold claim.
Then one day, Rekka stumbles upon a mystical girl and their meeting sets off a chain of events, which culminate in a shocking discovery that – Rekka is the last surviving member of a legendary ninja clan and is a chosen one to wield the power to control fire.
4. Hell’s Paradise
Hell’s Paradise is a horror-fantasy adventure series set in the Edo period of Japan. Produced by Studio Mappa and acclaimed as one of the best modern shonen manga turned ninja anime of the new generation, the series stars an elite shinobi assassin named Gabimaru the Hollow.
After being captured during a mission, Gabimaru is sentenced to death but nothing seems to kill him. Seeing his absolute resolve, the Shogunate offers him the chance to be pardoned of all crimes if he finds the elixir of life on an island where heaven and hell are just a whisker away.
Basilisk is a top-tier historical manga and anime franchise that’s known for its martial arts elements, particularly the ninja culture. Set in 16th-century Japan, the story focuses on the rivalry between two ninja clans, Iga and Kouga as they’re dragged into another bitter war to determine the next shogunate.
However, the feud doesn’t stop the heirs of their respective clans, Gennosuke Kouga and Oboro Iga from falling in love. Torn between their love for each other and duty to their clans, the pair must ultimately decide the fate of their clans in an action-packed romantic saga.
2. Ninja Scroll
Ninja Scroll is one of the best action-adventure ninja anime films that follows the story of Jubei who is tempted to kill his own clan members full of great ninja warriors. After this incident, he becomes a hired assassin traveling from one village to another in search of work.
During this journey, he comes to know about a certain Demonic Ninja Organization, Devils of Kimon who plans on taking the Japanese Government’s powers. As a responsible civilian and an honored ninja, Jubei tries to stop them with the help of a Shogun spy, Dakuan.
The early 2000s is termed as the best phase of the shonen genre and half of its credit goes to Naruto. As an anime employing martial arts as a central theme, it popularized the ninja culture all over the world in such a way that the anime’s hand-to-hand fights are yet to be replicated with the same perfection.
Produced by Studio Pierrot, the story sees Naruto Uzumaki’s journey to becoming the Hokage and being recognized by his fellow villagers! Full-fledged battles, well-crafted characters, and compelling villains, Naruto has it all to become a shonen staple for just about any newcomer.