Anime contains some of the most intricate, inspiring, and interesting weapon designs of any visual medium. From swords of legend to powerful magical tomes, anime has given us some undeniably cool weapons. Some, however, are greater than others.
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So, which weapon is the coolest? It’s similar to debating the strongest anime characters of all time, as there is no “right” answer. But there are certainly some that outrank others.
The following list includes a variety of weapon types from numerous anime. From swords to scythes and beyond, we’ve tried to ensure that the list isn’t dominated by any particular weapon type. But let’s face facts: there are a lot of cool swords, so they will make at least a few appearances on this list.
To decide how cool a weapon is, we’ve tried to consider several factors. Utility, power, aesthetics, and the surrounding lore all played a part in which weapons make the list. A weapon that has a perfect balance of all of these things will rank higher.
Ogre Arm – Black Rock Shooter
In the category of silly melee weapons, there’s nothing quite as impractical or stylish as oversized gauntlets. From the Black Rock Shooter franchise, we’ve seen a few different iterations of the character Strength’s signature weapon: huge metal gauntlets, wielded in both hands.
Why is this gauntlet pair called the Ogre Arm? It’s not exactly clear. Black Rock Shooter isn’t the most detailed story in any of its various incarnations. But they’re big fists, and although there are many other versions of this same concept in both anime and video games, this is one of the best renderings of this idea. It adequately complements the rest of the character’s elaborate design.
In Black Rock Shooter, Strength is a character that represents a raw force of nature, shown visually by these goliath fists that she uses to punch, grab and swipe at her foes. It’s difficult to deny the appeal of such a hilariously obtuse weapon. It’s the sort of kit that can’t really exist in real life, due to the various physical limitations of our world and human strength. So, seeing it wielded so effortlessly by Strength is satisfying to say the least, earning it a spot at the bottom of the list.
The Dominator – Psycho-Pass
If there’s one particularly ‘cyberpunk’ weapon that deserves a mention on this list, it’s The Dominator from the acclaimed Gen Urobichi-directed, sci-fi crime thriller Psycho-Pass. The Dominator is a weapon that’s both conceptually horrifying and distressingly flashy.
This weapon, issued to Public Safety Bureau officers, is a kind of dystopian amalgamation of a transforming neon-infused gun and a system that assesses the threat level and mental stability of whoever it’s aimed at. It only becomes operable when the threat reaches a certain threshold.
You can see how this kind of weapon system contains a lot of social commentary embedded within it. The Dominator raises some interesting thematic ideas that the anime often probes.
Outside of its important thematic resonance, however, is a weapon that is also straightforwardly cool. It’s excessively stylish in the way it switches between its various modes, which gives the animators plenty of opportunities to show off just how meticulously designed this high-tech firearm is.
Dragon Slayer – Berserk
It’s a universally recognizable truth that big swords are cool. One might even argue that bigger equals cooler when it comes to blades. And although this can sometimes reach a point of diminishing returns, the classic dark fantasy manga Berserk by the great Kentaro Miura is a series that understood just how big to go with its swords.
The Dragon Slayer is a hefty, sharp, intimidating weapon that is notably ‘tempered’ by the souls of astral beings that it has slain. It’s one of the few weapons in the Berserk world that can even harm astral beings, which certainly adds some points to its cool factor. The truly best detail of the Dragon Slayer, however, is how effortlessly Guts wields it. It’s a weapon that utterly suits him and forms an iconic element of this equally iconic series.
Mobile Suit Gundam RX78-2 – Mobile Suit Gundam (1978)
There’s a lot of iconic things about the original Mobile Suit Gundam anime. As well as being a hugely influential piece of sci-fi animation, it also gave birth to one of the most iconic ‘weapons’ of the entire medium: the Gundam. To say that this particular mech is iconic is in itself a huge understatement. There’s a reason why this is the Gundam you’re most likely to see if you have no interest in the series. In many ways, the RX78 is a mascot of the entire Gundam brand.
As a weapon, it’s an intricate bipedal mech that even has its own set of ranged and melee weapons to wield. As well as being notably huge in both height and weight, the original Gundam manages to retain a lot of mobility and articulation that make it agile despite its size. If you were in an interplanetary conflict, you’d definitely want one of these on your side.
Yoru – One Piece
As we’ve already mentioned one cool sword, we’d be remiss to not mention a sword so iconic that it is beloved, despite only appearing in a meagre few episodes across the 25-year-old series, One Piece. Wielded by none other than Dracule Mihawk, the sword ‘Yoru’ has a particularly imposing design with a unique cross shape. But this is just one of the reasons it ranks on this list.
The sword is renowned in the world of One Piece for its immaculate craftsmanship, noted to be one of only twelve ‘Supreme Swords.’ It is forged out of only the strongest metals, and when wielded by a swordsman as experienced and skilled as Mihawk, it’s quite a remarkable blade to witness in action. It can even cut through whole ships with relative ease. Many fans of One Piece are gleefully awaiting the day that we can see it in action again.
Excalibur – Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works
When it comes to fictional swords, it’s easy to think of Excalibur, the sword of Arthurian legend. Thankfully, the world of anime has its own version: the one wielded by the Fate franchise’s Artoria. Artoria – also known as Saber – appears in many of the Fate series’ installments as a ‘Saber’ class combatant participating in the Holy Grail War.
Much like in the various literature the character is based on, Artoria (essentially a gender-bent version of King Arthur) wields Excalibur, Excalibur is a powerful sword that not only looks incredibly stylish with a regal, symmetrical design, but also serves as a conduit for Artoria’s powerful magic abilities. Her energy is channeled into the blade itself.
As a sword, it’s as primed to slice as any other sword on this list, if not even more so. As a weapon, it’s beyond iconic, bridging a strange gap between anime and the legends that define our culture.
The Gates Of Bablyon – Fate/Zero
Perhaps this entry on the list may appear like cheating, because if we’re being honest, this should probably count as multiple weapons. But the sheer quantity of weapons that accompany Gilgamesh’s iconic Noble Phantasm spell isn’t even its most enthralling feature. This magic produced by the mythical hero allows him to draw from a seemingly infinite resource of magically imbued weapons, summoning them instantaneously.
Within the Fate universe, Gilgamesh’s Noble Phantasm is one of the most powerful abilities. Once you see in action, you’ll surely agree: this is a truly awe-inspiring weapon.
The Spear Of Longinus – Evangelion
It’s well known that lances, spears and polearms offer a significant advantage over other melee weapons like swords or axes due to their reach. This particular polearm, however, is more than just a weapon. In Evangelion, it’s an ancient artifact intended to keep gods at bay. Although we never really see it wielded as a weapon in the show’s original run, it certainly is one, keeping the god-like being Lillith incapacitated.
The Spear of Longinus has a truly sublime design. This two-pronged spear/lance looks as if it’s constructed from two red threads neatly intertwined together. There’s something mesmerizing about the lance which helps sell the mystery of the artifact, which is often shown throughout the series embedded in Lillith’s torso. This perpetually reminds us of the angelic threat in a way that can only be described as ‘ominous.’
Killer Queen – Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure
It feels a little strange to call one of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure’s stand abilities a weapon, because in many ways it’s a lot more than a weapon. It’s also a character in its own right. But when we considered the nature of the top ranking weapon on this list, it became clear Killer Queen had to be included. This is a ‘stand’ (a kind of psychic entity) from Part 4 of the iconic series that really lives up to its name.
With the ability to transmute anything into a bomb, the conflict against Killer Queen in Diamond Is Unbreakable becomes riotously entertaining. In addition to it just being fun to see what might become a bomb next and how this might be used, it forms an interesting foil to the ability of Josuke. He can ‘repair anything’ with his stand, Crazy Diamond. What results is a battle for the ages that is made all the more exciting thanks to this ludicrous ability.
Soul – Soul Eater
Any of the weapons mentioned previously on this list could make a good choice for the number one spot, but none of them are a human being that can transform into a sentient scythe. If that sounds like fun and you’ve never seen the classic anime Soul Eater, you should check it out. It’s all about humans who turn into weapons and their wielders training to become experts in Soul Harvesting under the tutelage of the God of Death.
By the end of Soul Eater, Soul Evans (yes, his name is actually Soul) has become a true instrument of Death in both a figurative and literal sense. Although Soul might not be the most powerful weapon on this list, he gets major cool points by literally turning into a scythe to be wielded by his partner, Maka. Beyond just being a scythe, however, Soul can also tap into some innovative abilities, such as inflicting madness on others, changing the size and shape of his blade, and dealing extra damage against demons.
The design of Soul in both scythe and human form is immaculately constructed, with plenty of details shared between the two. Soul has an endearingly edgy attitude that is also reflected in his scythe design. The coolest thing about Soul, however, is that he’s a scythe: a weapon type that would easily be considered amongst the most stylish of all weapons. With all these reasons considered, Soul is a strong contender for the top spot on this list. Flashy, a bit impractical, and some degree of deadly, he’s an iconic anime weapon.