I enjoyed Rurouni Kenshin, but I hated the art style. On the other hand, Blade of the Immortal is perfect and I can't wait to see the live action film.

Blade is what made me respect Hiroaki Samura who has since become one of my favorite mangaka. The artwork is brilliant and gripping.

Still, doe not fit into the genre of samurai manga so much as a battle manga with a samurai skin. It is noted particularly for its anachronism and historical-fantasy elements.

Vagabond is much more a samurai manga in that it deals with realistic settings, ideas, and themes appropriate to samurai as a category. In terms of story development, nothing really comes close to Vagabond and Blade of the Immortal.

Those two are really the critical darlings of the genre.

Blade does deal with things like the end of the samurai era and serving appropriate masters, but does not touch as deeply on important samurai aspects like Zen, self-identity, and the multifaceted nature of honor.

Satsuma Samurai