Jojo from Jojo's Bizarre Adventure being a fasion icon

The Best Fighting Anime, Ranked


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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.

20. Baki The Grappler

Baki and his mom standing in a hallway
(TMS Entertainment)

Baki The Grappler puts the “t” in “fighting”, and by “t” I mean TESTOSTERONE. This show has to be one of the most brolic and brutal anime ever put out into the world. The story follows a slab of meat named Baki, who strives to follow in his father’s footsteps and become the world’s strongest martial artist. But not because he loves his father … nope. It’s because his father is EVIL and Baki’s the only man who has a CHANCE of kicking his ass.

19. One Punch Man

Saitama defeats Boros in 'One Punch Man'

One Punch Man is the story of a man who trained SO HARD that he can win ANY FIGHT with ONE PUNCH. Sounds like it would be kind of a boring anime, no? WELL LET ME ONE-PUNCH YOUR DOUBTS AWAY. One Punch Man is a show about a guy who achieves what every fighting anime character dreams of, namely becoming the strongest person in the world. This series explores what happens when you ACHIEVE that goal and the EXISTENTIAL CRISIS that inevitably follows.

18. Dororo

Hyakkimaru from 'Dororo' pulling a sword

Dororo follows a ronin named Hyakkimaru and a young orphan named Dororo as they travel across war-ravaged Japan. Hyakkimaru was born missing most of his body parts after his politically ambitious father made a dark pact with demons. Now he hunts down and fights the demons who took his body parts with his PROSTHETIC LIMBS THAT ARE MADE OF KNIVES. WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT?

17. Jujutsu Kaisen

Teacher and student in Jujutsu Kaisen

Jujutsu Kaisen is basically spooky Naruto. The plot centers around a knuckle-headed kid who has the misfortune of becoming the host of an ancient and powerful demon. The plus side is that now he gets to go to goth wizard school and hunt down other evil spirits that terrorize the land! He’s joined by a dark-haired frenemy with a penchant for brooding (not Sasuke), an emotionally labile girl who is not above violence (not Sakura), and a white-haired sensei who loves to keep his pretty face obscured for plot reasons (not Kakashi).

16. Demon Slayer

Demon Slayer anime art featuring the some of the series' main characters.

Demon Slayer is the story of young Tanjiro Kamado, a young swordsman who swore to destroy all demons after the Demon King massacred his entire family and turned his little sister into a demon. Now he gets to join a demon-killing paramilitary organization staffed entirely by stylish youths! Demon Slayer has some of the finest animated action sequences in recent memory, and has made Ufotable one of the most sought-after studios in all of animation!

15. Kill La Kill

Ryuko Matoi getting frustrated in 'Kill La Kill'
(Aniplex of America)

Kill La Kill is the greatest ecchi anime ever made. What does 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?

14. Pokémon

Ash and friends in the sunset
(The Pokemon Co.)

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

Eva Unit-01 in 'Neon Genesis Evangelion'

Neon Genesis Evangelion is so much more than a fighting anime. It’s science fiction, a 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 at 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

Aang, Katara, and Sokka in 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

Characters from 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”.

10. Fate/Zero

saber from fate/zero in combat

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.

9. Bleach

Ichigo Kurosaki stood with his Zanpakto and Shinigami uniform in black and white with an orange background

Spoiler alert: the anime Big Three is 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

Gon x Killua in Hunter x Hunter
(Madhouse and Viz Media)

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

Edward Elric leaps at Father in Fullmetal Alchemist

In a world where people are able to 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 has some of the best fights in the genre, hands down.

6. My Hero Academia

Deku in 'My Hero Academia'
(Viz Media)

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

Jojo drinking a cocktail in 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

Our hero Ippo sweating bullets in the ring

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

Luffy in 'One Piece'
(Toei Animation)

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.

2. Naruto

A close-up of Naruto Uzumaki's face in 'Naruto.' He looks determined.

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 lightning 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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Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.