Everybody was kung-fu fighting; sometimes strikin’ with lightnin’; in fact demons are a lil’ bit frightenin’, ah yeah, but they gunned them down with expert timin’! I should stick to writing articles…
Yes, we’re looking at our Top 10 Action Anime, which I figured is a very broad subject. However, for the most part, you’re going to get a lot of Shounen. An action anime should take pride in their fights. They must be jam-packed filled with fights of some kind, but striking the right balance of action and story can be tricky. We don’t count horror as action, unless there’s something to warrant it.
10) Fullmetal Alchemist
Starting with a now-classic, Fullmetal Alchemist (in both series incarnations) is an anime filled to the brim with action. It’s low on this week’s list, as whilst the action scenes are intense and filled with shocks, swerves and turns, it mostly focuses on a narrative. In other words, the action is secondary to the plot, which isn’t a bad thing, but in this particular case, it does mean you can get through some episodes without action.
Having said this, we couldn’t exclude it from the list. It’s still one of those series which wows the audience. It’s still manages to blend a complicated, but easy to follow story, with hard-hitting, high-octane action. It’s genuinely deserving to be on this list, but due to the fact that there are many more action-y series out there, we couldn’t give it any higher than tenth.
Myth and folklore are the greatest sources of awe and excitement in our world and that’s before they get the anime treatment, which is what the Fate series is all about. Type Moon’s long-running series is all about tournaments between mages and their epic servants for the holy grail. That sentence alone should grab your attention, and if not, let me tell you that the epic servants are badass, historical and even fictional figures, with the Saber character being a gender-swapped King Arthur.
Every series brings a wallop of action but honestly, I don’t think any of them can surpass Fate/Zero, the prequel to the original series, where Servants include not only Arthuria, but also Alexander the Great, Gille de Rays, Lancelot Du Lac and even the entire order of Hashashin, the real-world inspiration for the Assassin order in Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed series.
Claymore is one of those amazing series where the anime’s staff had to make things up, because they caught up to the manga and still managed to pull off something special. With astounding action and excitement, but you kinda wish they remade the series and properly adapted the entire story, because you can only imagine how good some of the conflicts in the manga would look in anime form.
Claymore follows the eponymous Claymores, female warriors of a mystical order of demon hunters. These demons can look like regular people but they crave human flesh, specifically their guts, and a single one of them can decimate a town given enough time. So, though the populace hates and fears the half-monster Claymores, they have no choice but to hire them as exterminators. But as they fight creatures, overuse of their powers brings them ever so close to becoming monsters themselves, which is at the core of the story and at the centre of some of the amazing action sequences, with swift and flashing swordplay, monstrous limbs flailing and a complete disregard for mercy and hope.
It’s a crappy world they live in, just not as despair-ridden as Berserk’s world (More on that later).
7) My Hero Academia
My Hero Academia is the newest addition to this list, which see’s a school of bidding Superheroes have to learn about their quirks and about how to be heroes. Featuring skills such as Deku’s One For All, where he can concentrate all of his power into a part of his body – Through to Tsuyu’s ability to… Uh… Be a frog. Including her ultimate ability… To be even more like a frog. Sure.
My Hero Academia is a wonderful story, which has many strong action scenes. The fight between All Might and All For One is simply stacked with ridiculous action. Every single shot felt more desperate than the last; every punch was with reason and honestly, it may be one of the greatest action scenes ever to be produced in anime… However…
… Due to the fact MHA is so new to the scene, we can’t put this one any higher on this list. We don’t know how the rest of the series will pan out. We’re hopeful it’ll keep being as incredible as it has been!
6) Bleach vs Naruto vs One Piece
I could do the usual thing of introducing each of these series individually, but honestly, that’d take up so much space, so let’s just use some words to summarise them:
Bleach – Soul Reapers
Naruto – Ninjas
One Piece – Pirates
All three have indeed earned their stripes as a hugely well regarded shounen, each coming to prominence around the same time as one another. However, there can only be one. Let them fight to the death, by choosing the best of the bunch in our vote!
5) Tokyo Ghoul
Now we’re getting gritty – Tokyo Ghoul is honestly such a bleak anime, that some of the screams are hard to listen to! This one almost fell into our definition of horror, but to be fair, there are far too many fights involved for it to not be considered action. One of the interesting parts of Tokyo Ghoul is the use of the supernatural to enhance the fights, giving a shock factor unlike many other series (unless we count perhaps Attack on Titan).
Speaking of, why did we pick Tokyo Ghoul over Attack on Titan? Well, Tokyo Ghoul has always been one of those immensely popular anime, which, even when compared to Attack on Titan, has always been of higher regard. Furthermore, whilst both series deal with overcoming something by embracing parts of that thing, Tokyo Ghoul gets a lot more personal than Attack on Titan’s more grand-scale fights.
Okay, so I at first was thinking “ahh, I love Trigun, it’s so light hearted”. Then I remembered where the plot actually goes, which made me go “Okay, so it’s a bit brutal too”. After that, I reminisced about the first episode and remembered that right away, a whole town gets shot up. I started to question my sanity, when I called Trigun light-hearted, but that’s because our protagonist, Vash the Stampede, is a lovable goofball.
Right, the series does get a bit of a turn throughout but what I think gives Trigun an edge is the unabashedly 90’s approach to the anime style. The world of Trigun, Gunsmoke, is wonderfully western. It’s filled with would be bounty hunters, all of whom try to bring Vash in, dead or alive for the insane bounty on his head. However, every episode is stacked with action, from start to finish – Even if it can be a bit goofy!
3) Fist of the North Star
Warning: The above video’s a little bit graphic!
When you’re speaking of Action Anime, it’s impossible not to mention any of the adaptation of Tetsuo Hara and Buronson’s epic post-apocalyptic martial arts masterpiece, Fist of the North Star.
From high octane, over the top martial arts where single strokes and punches cause body parts to swell up and explode, to insane sequences where ruined buildings fall on the main character’s shoulders and he continues walking, cracking the concrete and steel structures with the strength of his neck muscles. I am not making any of that up. You don’t believe me, go check out Fist of the North Star!
Berserk is one of those series where the creator knows how to escalate. It all begins with human conflicts, fights between mercenaries on the battlefield, then it goes to large-scale warfare and when you think it can’t get bigger, the monsters come out and you witness the struggles of just a normal, if not impossibly determined and super athletic guy against inhuman foes.
Guts was once a simple mercenary, but through what we can call “a series of unfortunate events,” which is one hell of an understatement, he becomes a wandering warrior, seeking salvation and revenge in equal measures. Though the world he lives in is dark and more evil than you could imagine, he manages to bring a bit of hope in each swing of his frankly oversized sword. I mean, this thing makes Cloud’s swords from Final Fantasy 7 look comically small.
And I haven’t even mentioned the world and mythos, which are as amazing as the action!
1) Dragon Ball Z
Two week’s running, we’ve had to put a Dragon Ball entry at the top of the list. Although, when we mention “Top 10 Action Anime”, it’s kind of no surprise this one gets here. We’d like to state that it’s nowhere near as gory, or gruesome, or even anywhere near as violent as some of the entries on this list. But a good action anime doesn’t necessarily need to be any of those things to be filled with great action.
Dragon Ball has forever been one of those series that everyone and their dog has heard of, but honestly that gives extra credence to us putting Dragon Ball Z up top. It’s non-stop – They go from one fight to another and when they’re resting, they’re usually training with even more fighting. There’s so much kung fu, or as I’m going to call it from now on, pseudo-kung fu, that you couldn’t forget this one.
Plus, it went on and on, now we’ve got Dragon Ball Super (which we can’t wait to see return after the excellent finale of the Tournament of Power). But, choosing just one entry out of Dragon Ball, it has to be Dragon Ball Z. This is the one everyone knows, a worldwide phenomenon.
Whilst the above list is filled with action, the next two certainly are no slouches when it comes to fights. However, we have to question whether they’re truly an action anime, or if they’re something unto themselves. Here’s our Honourable Mentions.
The weirdest entry on our list had to slip into the honourable mentions, as honestly the action within Bobobo-Bo Bo-Bobo, (hereby referred to Bo7, ) is strange. At times, it’s hard to tell whether it’s action, or just a constant stream of comedy skits.
Bo7 is a series which features the power of nose hair and wig-out competitions. Wigging out is effectively what Bo7 jumps into on an episodic nature; but even though people are hurt in these wig outs, it’s really hard to explain why they’re hurt. It seems more like the series is trying to imply the fighters suffer emotional trauma through these fights.
Anyway, if you don’t like toilet humour, bogey jokes and nose hair, then this series is… Snot For You!
That pun is funnier if you knew the show… Just… Watch the above for the sheer absurdity.
Okay, so this is the only CGI one we’ve put in, but it’s slipped into our honourables. This is because RWBY is an animated series which follows anime style, but many people maintain that it isn’t an anime. The reason for people believing RWBY is not an anime down to it not being Japanese, which I’m not sure if I personally fully agree with. However, RWBY had to get onto this list as an honourable at least, due to the style.
RWBY features some of the most impressively styled animation in any series, web, anime or otherwise. It’s colourful, with unique characters that all stand out. Each character has their own unique fighting style and it’s genuinely so much fun just following the action, or at least trying to follow it.
That’s it, it’s time for us to put down our swords, guns, knives and fists. We’re done with all of this fighting, it’s time to take a break from all of the action. However, next week, Joel and I will be back for another round. If you’re ready to help us determine what we’ll combat against, then make sure you select one of the options below. Help us determine what we’re going up against – Don’t worry, we can handle it! We’re protagonists.
Hey, real talk everyone? This article wouldn’t be here without Kevin, so please seriously, for the first time ever, I’ll not put our social media links down here. Instead, I implore you to go and follow his site, Subscribe to his YouTube channel and follow him on Twitch. Let us both know what you thought of the list – and if we missed any really obvious ones – In the comments below or on our social media platforms.