Sometimes, The best weapon of an anime hero may not be the strongest: they are the ones who can respond. Sentient weapon partners come in many different forms. From objects that can speak or even form psychic bonds with humans, to humans that can shapeshift for their partners to use, their friendship is a rare and powerful one.
No matter what form they take, their endearing (or terrifying) qualities remain consistent. Typically, they resonate very closely with their wielder and offer advice, support, and even occasional teasing during battle. Some weapons only want to control their wielder, such as Anubis in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, but these counterparts want to grow stronger alongside their wielder.
10 Shinki – Noragami
In Noragami, even the most powerful gods need weapons called shinki to destroy ayakashi, creatures that are invisible to humans and corrupt anything they touch. These lost souls of the dead form a bond with the god who finds them by being given a mark and a name. A deity can have many shinki, like Bishamon and her powerful clans, or just one, like Yato and Yukine.
A shinki’s form depends on the god they serve; for example, Mayu is a dagger in Yato’s hand and a pipe in Tenjin’s hand. If a shinki forms a particularly intense bond with their deity, they can evolve into a Hafuri Vessel and gain a new weapon form by risking their lives to protect their comrades. As seen with Takemikazuchi’s many failed attempts to push Kiun into a stronger form, this is a divine transformation that cannot be forced.
9 Zanpakutou – Bleach
Unless your name is Kenpachi Zaraki, no Shinigami can hope to get far in Soul Society without going through all the appropriate levels of bonding with their sword. The further they traveled, the clearer their ability to recognize weapons became. This both makes the zanpakutou spirit stronger in battle and harder to tame.
Born from the soul of the Reaper, the zanpakutou can reflect its owner’s personality and desires, but it possesses a strong will. Through meditation, training, and combat experience, Soul Reapers learn their zanpakutou name and can manifest it in the physical world. Together they become stronger, culminating in their ability to use Bankai, the pair’s ultimate technique.
8 Samehada – Naruto
All Seven Swordsmen of Mist Village are famous for their strange blades and deadly swordplay. However, Kisame’s sword Samehada is even more special among them, and that goes beyond just how it is the strongest of the seven swords. The sword has a will of its own and stabs the hands of any “unworthy” wielder who touches the hilt.
As a chakra-feeding sword, Samehada chooses its wielder based on chakra preferences and how easily the wielder can feed it in battle. It is very picky and chooses on a whim: it switched allegiance from Kisame to Killer Bee after finding Bee’s chakra delicious. However, it seems loyal, or at least affectionate, actually crying when Kisame was killed.
Touga’s 7 Swords – Inuyasha
Forged from the fangs of the Great Dog Demon Touga, he left each of his sons a sword in hopes of guiding them through life. Unfortunately, half-brothers Inuyasha and Sesshomaru spent a lot of time fighting over the sword in one of the best sibling rivalries in anime before realizing their father’s intentions. Luckily, Tessaiga and Tenseiga can help with that.
The two swords were once one blade, and although one sword possessed destructive powers and the other healing abilities, both had subtle but clear sentience. They can ask to be let out and implicitly choose who gets to keep them. They can also nudge the user in the right direction, such as Tenseiga pushing Sesshoumaru to save his life.
6 Senketsu – Kill La Kill
A suit might be one of the strangest weapons in anime. Senketsu is an extremely powerful Kamui, one of two creations of Isshin, Ryuko’s father. The other is the more imperfect Junketsu, who while powerful, not only cannot speak like Senketsu, but also draws more blood from Satsuki and must be locked up when not in use to keep him from going on a rampage.
Senketsu is always loyal to Ryuko, doing everything he can to protect her from harm, to the point of sacrificing himself for her sake. He firmly resists being taken advantage of by others and only allows Ryuko to unleash her true power. She is also the only one who can hear his voice, the voice he uses to help and advise her as best he can.
5 In Action – Chainsaw Man
Even if Denji has nothing and no one else, he still has Pochita. After feeding the Devil her blood to save his life, Pochita became his inseparable companion, providing him comfort and friendship as well as helping fight other Devils. When Denji was murdered, the tiny Chainsaw Demon made the ultimate sacrifice by fusing with his body to revive him.
Now, Pochita exists as Denji’s heart, allowing him to transform into a vicious Devil by pulling the string protruding from his chest (formerly Pochita’s tail). Pochita’s consciousness somehow still exists inside Denji, and even if he doesn’t speak often, when he does, it’s clear that Denji’s health is a very high priority. He told Denji that he wanted to achieve Denji’s dream with him and gave him subconscious warnings in his dreams.
4 Cursed Gears – Owari no Seraph
Sometimes, the weapon and its partner flash at once, as if they were meant for each other. The demons sealed in the Imperial Japanese Demon Army’s prescribed equipment in Owari no Seraph thought little of that idea. They are born from passionate desire and to use them, recruits must rise above desire.
To possess the Cursed Gear, Yuu and his friends must face the demons within them, which take the form of their loved ones and will possess their bodies if they falter. Once in control of the weapons, they maintained contact with the demons within, asking them to lend them more strength in battle. Using the Cursed Gear is the only way humans can gain an advantage over vampires in battle.
3 Imagine Blade – Black Cat
Villains are not exempt from forming bonds with sentient weapons. In the case of Black Cat’s Creed Diskenth, he’d be better off never picking up the Imagine Blade, but good luck convincing him of that. It is a sword of life energy that Creed manifests through pure ki, and the more Creed’s emotions rise, the more powerful it evolves.
Imagine Blade doesn’t say it, but it doesn’t need to. Its grimace increases as Creed levels up enough to make it clear that it is just as useless as him, biting Creed’s opponents and spitting their attacks at them, in between hitting them with attacks dire. All that power comes at a price, however: it connects directly to Creed’s mind, and if it is destroyed, Creed goes with it.
2 Shishou – Reincarnated into a sword
Usually, the sentient weapon is the main hero’s counterpart, and in this case, their story is just a side story if it gets any attention at all. However, as the name suggests, Reincarnated as a Sword turns that idea on its head as an ordinary man dies and is reincarnated as a magical sword in a fantasy world.
Fran and Shishou meet by chance but immediately become inseparable friends. With Shishou’s help, Fran escapes slavery and embarks on her own journey, refusing to let go of her giant sword no matter what. Shishou becomes a replacement for Fran’s murdered parents, providing for her (his cooking isn’t as good as some other anime chefs, but he tries) and protecting her every bit magic in his body – or blade, as it were.
1 Demon Weapon – Soul Eater
Descendants of witches’ experiments centuries ago, Demon Weapons have the genetic ability to turn their bodies into weapons. They range from common weapons such as swords, guns, and scythes to difficult or impossible objects to use such as guillotines and lanterns. The partnership between meister and weapon is central to the entire Soul Eater story.
Compatibility with each other’s souls is necessary to form a partnership, and the bond must be nurtured for them to grow even stronger. Soul Resonance not only enhances the couple’s abilities, but also allows partners to communicate telepathically when their souls are in harmony. In particular, weapons are trained to always protect their meister, even at the cost of their own lives, but meisters are not willing to sacrifice their beloved companions: look at Maka and Soul as their fight against Crona goes south.
The friendship between the human user and the living weapon is one of the most unique and strong friendships in anime. Both partners grow and become stronger through the unique bond they share, and in most cases, each partner is incomplete without the other, proving the concept concept of how unique and interesting it is sentient weapons in anime may have been.