The Ten Best Fighting Anime, Ranked
ARE YOU READY TO RUMMMMMMMMMBLEEEEEEEEEE????
Sometimes I want to watch something which makes me feel like my eyes got punched in the face. The eye face? The cornea? IDK man, I’m not a doctor.
Usually, I can always count on John Wick to do that for me. But since the fourth is (allegedly) the last one, I have to seek out other sources of art that will give my eye a black eye of its own.
And so I turn my eyes to anime, where they are rewarded with glorious pain. But which anime is gonna haymaker you the hardest? Well, I ranked them so you don’t have to find out for yourself. Unless you want to, you little masochist. I won’t stop you.
15. Kill La Kill
Kill La Kill is the greatest ecchi anime ever made. What’s ecchi mean? Basically it’s hentai-lite. But don’t let that turn you off (or on), this series has some of the finest fight scenes that anime has to offer. The entire series is just one big battle! A young girl named Ryuko Matoi travels to a city-state run by an authoritarian high school in order to take revenge on the person who killed her father. And she does it all while wearing a sailor suit that gets more powerful the more revealing it gets. It’s basically a series about scantily clad women in super powered clothes fighting each other with swords made out of the blades of a giant pair of scissors. What’s not to love?
Pokémon is certainly the most profitable (and the most morally complicated) fighting anime ever made. It’s basically glorified dog fighting. And boy is it GLORIOUS. Ash Ketchum wants to be the greatest Pokémon trainer ever, so he makes it his mission to capture powerful Pokémon in order to beat the daylights out of every sweet little caterpie he sees. BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT WINNERS DO.
13. Neon Genesis Evangelion
Neon Genesis Evangelion is so much more than a fighting anime. It’s science fiction, religious parable, and an end of the world scenario all in one. A young boy named Shinji is forced to pilot a giant biomechanical mecha monster in order to protect the planet from extraterrestrial beings known as “angels”. The angels come in all sorts of mind bending, dimension-altering sizes, but the best fight in the series (and perhaps in all of anime) takes place in the very end. I won’t spoil it, but one of Shinji’s comrades has to fight a group of monsters eerily similar to the mech suit she is piloting.
12. Avatar: The Last Airbender
Most people would say that Avatar: The Last Airbender isn’t technically an anime because it wasn’t made in Japan, but I technically don’t care. Avatar: The Last Airbender has some of the most breathtaking fight scenes in all of anime history. And they were all based around REAL WORLD MARTIAL ARTS. What’s the story? Long ago, the four nations lived together in harmony. Then everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked…. if you don’t live under a rock you know the rest.
11. Samurai Champloo
Samurai Champloo is my personal favorite, and features some of the most beautiful and deadly fights ever made. Director Shinichirō Watanabe pioneered the effortless-yet-dangerous fight scene in Cowboy Bebop, and then perfected it in Samurai Champloo. The series takes place in an anachronistic Edo-period Japan, where two wandering warriors scrape out a living by killing people using two distinctly different fighting styles. Eventually they meet, and find the only person they can’t kill: each other. After being arrested for causing chaos, the two are saved from execution by a young girl. In return for her help, the girl asks them to go on a quest to find the “Samurai Who Smells of Sunflowers”.
Fate/Zero follows seven spirits who are summoned by seven mages in a battle to claim the Holy Grail. And battle they do. This series features some of the most beautifully animated combat sequences in existence. The one-on-one fights are a slick and brutal visual feast. People throw invisible swords at each other and speed up their own heart rates with magic. One dude even tries to seduce you mid-fight with the help of a magical mole under his eye. Kinky.
Spoiler alert: the anime Big Three are gonna be on this list. Why? Because at their cores, they are all quintessentially fighting anime. That’s THE THING that propels the action forward: clobberin’ people!
And who’s doing the clobbering in Bleach? A young man named Ichigo Kurosaki, who is chosen to become a ghostly Soul Reaper by a mysterious order. And who’s getting clobbered? When the series begins, it’s the Hollows, freaky lost souls that have been corrupted. But eventually, divisions occur within the ranks of the Soul Society, and Ichigo has to Ichi-go toe to toe with some of the most powerful beings in existence. And he does it sword first.
8. Hunter X Hunter
Hunter x Hunter follows a sweet little boy named Gon Freecss as he becomes a hunter/pro adventurer who fights criminals and uncovers treasure. You know, shonen stuff. He eventually strikes up a friendship with the slightly sociopathic Killua, and the two embark on a wild quest. Don’t let their youthful faces fool you. This series takes an unforgettably dark turn, with dark and violent fights to match.
7. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
In a world where people are able use the art of alchemy to perform acts of magic, two brothers commit the ultimate alchemical sin and attempt to bring their mother back from the dead in fan-favorite Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. One is left without an arm and leg. The other has his soul imprisoned in a walking suit of armor. The two brothers embark on a quest to find their missing limbs and end up uncovering a government conspiracy that threatens the world! It’s not strictly a fighting anime, but FAB it has some of the best fights in the genre, hands down.
6. My Hero Academia
This world is just like Harry Potter! Except more imaginative and less problematic!
In My Hero Academia, most of the world’s population is able to use superpowers called “Quirks.” Those with powerful enough abilities go to a school where they learn how to better control their latent abilities and become heroes. My Hero Academia follows a boy named Midoriya, who doesn’t have a Quirk whatsoever. But after a chance encounter with a legendary hero, he inherits one of the most powerful Quirks of all. He’s gonna need it, because the super-villains are coming. And they won’t hesitate to punch your eyes. Literally.
5. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure
Poses! Classic rock references! Homoeroticism! Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure has it all. This series is about a family of hyper buffs who spend generations fighting an equally buff force of evil. Jojo is a masterclass in style over substance, while still having enough substance for a satisfying emotional core. It’s fun, over the top, and gloriously melodramatic. And the fight scenes? To die for.
4. Hajime No Ippo
For all the fighting anime purists out there, THIS is the show you wanna watch. Hajime No Ippo is a show about a high school kid named Makunouchi Ippo, who is constantly getting his ass grassed by bullies. One day, he is saved from a particularly violent group of kids by a professional boxer. Impressed with Ippo’s fighting spirit, the pro boxer invites Ippo to visit his gym and encourages him to pursue the sport. Ippo does, and he embarks on a quest to become an all-time great boxing champ.
3. One Piece
We can’t make this list without including One Piece. The fight sequences are out of this world. If you don’t know this anime, I’ll be sure to mail a DVD box set to whatever rock you’re living under. One Piece is about a plucky young kid named Luffy who dreams of finding the world’s most fabulous treasure and declaring himself the Pirate King. Fat chance, right? Well, lucky for him, he accidentally ate a mysterious Devil Fruit which allows him to bend his body like rubber. Doesn’t sound all that intimidating, but Luffy soon figures out how to use his abilities to devastating effect. The problem? Luffy’s not the only pirate gunning for the treasure, and those pirates have Devil Fruit powers of their own.
C’mon. C’MONNNNN. Naruto has some of the most ICONIC fight sequences in history. Listen, I get it. It can be a slog. A grind. The filler episodes alone are enough to make you want to introduce your chest to the business end of a kunai. But when the fights are good, they are STAGGERING.
This show is about a world where nations battle each other using ninjas. And these ninjas are able to utilize a biological energy source called chakra to basically do NINJA MAGIC. Summon giant snakes! Turn their hands into lightening swords! Control people by using their shadows! It’s one of the most popular fighting anime in the world for a reason. Keep telling yourself that to keep your spirits up whenever Naruto starts screaming about becoming “the greatest hokage” into his ramen.
1. Dragon Ball Z
I mean, what did you expect? Dragon Ball Z is THE fighting anime. Without this seminal masterpiece, the fighting anime genre wouldn’t exist as we know it. Again, I’ll mail the Sparknotes to whatever rock you live under if you don’t know it.
Dragon Ball Z is about a young alien man named Goku and his friends, who all protect his planet from extraterrestrial threats. The series wrote the book on how to make a fighting series, as Goku trains harder and harder to beat increasingly difficult enemies in order to become the strongest being in existence to protect what he loves. That’s essentially the plot of every anime on this list, and this one originated it. Gotta give credit where credit is due.
What’s your favorite fighting anime? Let us know in the comments!
(Featured image: David Production)
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