Top 20 Fighting Anime
Since the inception of Japanese animation, one genre has withstood the test time. Fighting anime appeals to all generations and demographics alike and constantly tops the popularity polls worldwide. From classics like Dragon Ball, Fist of the North Star, and Gundam to more modern works like One Piece and Attack on Titan, fighting anime appeals to many not only because of its fun, hot-blooded, quick paced action sequences, but also because of the fact that many of these works focus on a coming-of-age aspect as well. Get ready to join our main characters on their journeys as we present 20 of the best fighting anime of all time.
Akame Ga Kill (2014)
Studio: White Fox
In search of a better life for his village and himself, Tatsumi embarks on a journey to the Capital with his two friends. He finds himself alone after his friends are captured in a bandit ambush. With nowhere else to go, Tatsumi continues on to the capital and tries to enlist in the army where he is swiftly denied. After hitting rock bottom, he finds himself caught in a moment of luck when a noble family decides to take him in. However, after an assassin group called the Night Raid infiltrates and kills those who took Tatsumi in, he discovers that this family had also tortured and killed his friends and planned to do the same to him. The nobility of the capital seemed to have an irreconcilable dark side. With his trust betrayed, the last of his home taken from him, Tatsumi steels his resolve and joins the Night Raid, led by the raven-haired Akame, and vows to take revenge on the corruption of the Capital’s elite.
Attack on Titan (2013)
Studio: Wit Studio / Production I.G.
For over 100 years, mankind has found themselves under siege by colossal humanoid beings known as Titans. After their emergence 100 years earlier, the Titans appeared and began to indiscriminately attack and consume humankind resulting in the decimation of the human population. Now, the last bastion of humanity resides in the Walled City in an era of uncertain peace.
Eren Yeager, his foster sister Mikasa Ackerman, and Armin Arlert are attending their regular duties in the town of Shinganshina within the outer wall of the city when suddenly a looming figure appears over the wall and demolishes it. The first Titan sighting in 100 years brings forth chaos as a horde of Titans pour in from the gap resulting in the complete destruction of Eren’s hometown. Following these catastrophic events, Eren, Mikasa, and Armin join the Survey Corps--a group devoted to the protection of the Walled City and the eradication of all Titans.
During the Warring States Period, Japan finds itself in a tumultuous state with civil war rampant across the country. Two ninja clans, the Iga Tsubagakure and Kouga Manjidani, have found themselves entangled in a bloody conflict spanning centuries. This all ended when the legendary Hanzo Hattori forged a ceasefire ending the war ushering a new era ruled by the Tokugawa Shogunate.
After a short-lived peace, Tokugawa Ieyasu decides to retire and appoint one of his grandsons as the new ruler. This sparks unrest among his subjects and causes a rift between many of the Iga and Kouga clans due to a succession dispute between Ieyasu’s heirs.
In an attempt to re-instill political stability, Ieyasu dismantles the truce between the Iga and Kouga clans and orders them to send their best soldiers to represent each of Ieyasu’s heirs in a bloody competition to the death.
Studio: Studio Pierrot
Ichigo Kurosaki is a seemingly normal high school student with one quirk: he can sense the supernatural and see spirits. These become a normal part of everyday life for Ichigo and he’s accepted his contact with the dead as just another part of life. That is until he meets Rukia Kikuchi. Through contact with evil spirits called Hollows, Ichigo brushes against death and is saved by Rukia, a Soul Reaper. Rukia is wounded in the conflict and transfers her spirit energy to Ichigo who then fights in her stead. This marks the beginning of Ichigo’s new life as a Soul Reaper as a keeper of peace in the realm of supernatural.
Dragon Ball Z (1989)
Studio: Toei Animation
Following the events of Dragon Ball, Goku finds himself a young adult happily married to Chichi and fathering his son, Gohan. Five years have passed since his battle with PIccolo and his foray into the Dark World. Since then, peace has found its way into Goku’s life. Suddenly an explosion occurs near Goku’s home and he hurries to investigate. What he finds is a man name Raditz who claims to be his long-lost-brother from the destroyed Planet Vegeta, the former home of the Sayains. The Sayains are an alien race that have great power and Raditz offers Goku the chance to rejoin the remnants of his race and conquer the galaxy. Goku refuses and his peaceful life ends while his fight with the Sayains begins.
Fist of the North Star (1984)
Set in an alternate 1990s where the world has been devastated by the fallout of nuclear war. Humanity has been reduced to 30% of what it once was and has devolved into a society where the strong control the weak.
Enter Kenshiro, the successor to the ancient martial art of Hokuto Shinken, who tried to find a place for his fiancee, Yuria, and himself in the post-apocalyptic world. He was defeated by Shin, a rival from the Nanto Koshu Ken school, Yuria was taken from him, and he was left with a seven-starred scar on his chest. Now he wanders the wasteland searching for his beloved and his revenge.
Full Metal Alchemist (2003)
Edward Elric and Alphonse Elric are two brothers that lost their mother early in their childhood. In their father’s footsteps, who left them at a young age, they practice an art known as alchemy. In an alternate history, alchemy has taken the place of technological science; it is a sort of mix between science and magic and allows them to transmute elements and substances into other things so long as it follows the rules of equivalent exchange. Alchemy is something that the Elric brothers gained mastery of at a young age. With their father gone and their mother dead, the two young boys decide to experiment with a type of alchemy forbidden by the world: attempting to bring their mother back with alchemy. People require souls and in a physical world, what allows for the equivalent exchange of a soul? The Elric brothers soon found out when Alphonse lost his physical body and Edward lost his leg in the attempt. Edward then successfully transmuted Alphonse’s soul by affixing it to a suit of armor losing one of his arms in the process. Years later, Edward, with a mechanical arm and leg, and Alphonse found family in their master and their childhood friend Winry. With these two in their life, the Elric brothers resolve to find a way to restore their bodies to normal.
Hajime no Ippo (1989)
Ippo Makunouchi is a shy and reserved high school student. As he’s busy helping his mother run the family fishing business, he never found the time to be active at school. As a result he was often bullied. One day, the bullies, led by Umezawa, decided to give Ippo a serious beating. He is saved by Mamoru Takamura, a professional boxer, who fends off Ippo’s attackers and brings him to the Kamogawa gym to recover. After witnessing Takamura’s strength, Ippo finds a new determination within himself to become stronger. Following the events, Ippo joins the Kamogawa gym with the hope of one day setting foot in the ring.
Hunter x Hunter (1999)
Studio: Nippon Animation
Gon Freecss lives with his adopted mother Mito on Whale Island. He was told by everyone in his life that his biological parents died when he was a very young. One day, Gon hunts down a giant beast and presents it to his mother and village. His mother remarks that he is just like his father and Gon grows continuously curious about who his father was. Soon after, Gon discovers that his father is still alive and a famous Hunter. Striving to learn more about his past, Gon begs his mother to enter the Hunter examination. After his previous feats, his mother obliges and Gon sets out on an adventure to chase after his own history.
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure (2012)
Studio: David Production
The year is 1868, location England. A thief named Dario Brando wanders the streets at night in search of his next heist only to find an overturned carriage. Inside, a man and his son are still alive. The nobleman, George Joestar, awakes to find Dario watching over them and assumes he is their savior. He thanks Dario and claims that he’ll be forever in his favor.
Twelve years later, Jonathan Joestar (JoJo), George’s son, aspires to follow the noble’s path and become a gentleman. On the other end of town, Dario lays on his deathbed and tells his son Dio to seek George Joestar to repay his debt. Dio, taking after his thieving father, is naturally conniving and wicked. Hungry for a chance to advance himself, Dio joins the Joestar residence after finally disrespecting his father’s grave with the intent to take the fortune for himself. This begins a lengthy struggle between Joestars and Dio.
Mobile Suit G Gundam (1994)
In the Future Century era, a ruined Earth has been mostly abandoned in favor of space colonies. Other than a few still living in their respective Earth nation, most countries have sovereignty over a space colony outside of Earth’s atmosphere. In this new era, conventional warfare has been forbidden and nations instead have agreed to participate in the “Gundam Fight” tournament. Each nation sends a representative pilot and Gundam, a large armored battle suit, to participate in a tournament held every four years. The winner of the tournament’s sovereign nation then has the right to rule the entire Earth sector for the next four years.
G Gundam takes place during Future Century 60 where the preparation for the 13th Gundam Fight has begun. The story follows Neo Japan’s Domon Kasshu who is chosen as his country’s champion. However, the tournament is secondary to Kasshu’s true mission of tracking down his missing brother who allegedly stole an experimental Gundam from the nation.
Studio: Studio Pierrot
Naruto, as a baby, had a powerful beast known as the Kyuubi, nine-tails, sealed inside him. This beast rampaged across the land nearly destroying his home, Konoha Village. As a result, Naruto was shunned, feared, and ostracized because he is seen as the same monster that terrorized the village years earlier. Because of his circumstances, Naruto vows to become Hokage--the strongest ninja and leader of the village so he would be recognized one day as not a monster but someone the people can rely on. This drives Naruto to become a great ninja. Circumstances bring Naruto, Sakura, and Sasuke together with their master Kakashi as they set off to realize each of their dreams.
One Piece (1999)
Studio: Toei Animation
Gol D. Roger, the King of Pirates, stands at the gallows with a blade to his neck. With his last words, he announces to the world that his greatest treasure, One Piece, will be waiting for whomever is worthy to take it. Thus begins the age of pirates where groups of adventurers, pirates, and treasure hunters set out in search of the legendary treasure of Gol D. Roger.
Enter Monkey D. Luffy; orphaned at a young age, he was taken under the wing of famous pirate “Red Haired” Shanks. One day, Luffy was out at sea enjoying himself when he was attacked by a massive shark. Shanks threw himself in front of the shark and fought him off losing his arm in the process. Inspired by this act of heroism, Luffy decided to form his own crew of pirates to chase after his idol and the One Piece naming his crew after the straw hat Shanks left him.
Queen’s Blade (2009)
In the capital of Gainos, a tournament is held every four years to crown the most powerful and beautiful queen of the land. Various fighters from around the continent travel to Gainos to challenge the current queen. This tournament is known as the Queen’s Blade.
The story follows Leina, heiress to the Vance Family and next in line for the throne, as she travels to Gainos to challenge Queen Aldra for her chance to take the throne of Gainos. On her way she encounters many other warriors competing in the Queen’s Blade and she must emerge victorious to take her prize.
Rurouni Kenshin (1996)
Studio: Studio Gallop / Studio Deen
After helping usher in the Meiji Revolution as the legendary assassin “Hitokiri Battousai,” Himura Kenshin resigns from his bloody past becoming a wanderer. Along his way, he offers services to the weak hoping to atone from the countless murders he committed as Battousai. Eventually Kenshin finds himself in Tokyo during the early Meiji period where he meets Kamiya Kaoru, the head of a local swordfighting dojo. She finds herself in need of assistance when a man claiming to be the Battousai challenges her dojo to a duel. Kenshin witnesses this and defeats the fake Battousai swiftly. After realizing that Kenshin is the real Battousai, Kaoru decides to take him in. Thus beginning his new life in Tokyo. However, his perceived peace would not last long as the skeletons of his past continue to haunt him.
Samurai Champloo (2004)
Samurai Champloo is a story with style and swagger, a reimagining of Edo-period Japan with a modern twist. It’s a blend of traditional and the modern street culture imagined through the characters. Mugen comes from a poor village plagued by bandits and marauders, he wields the sword wildly incorporating elements of modern breakdancing. Jin is a traditional samurai, wandering in search of answers. When they first clash in front of a tea shop where the young Fuu is waitressing, they inadvertently slay a magistrate’s son.For this they are to be executed. Fuu steps in and orchestrates their escape. She is reminded of the “man who smells of sunflowers,” a samural she met in the past, by the two swordsmen whom she then asks to accompany her in search of him.
Sengoku Basara (2008)
Studio: Production I.G.
Set in an alternate Warring States period, Oda Nobunaga is the dark lord that rules with an iron fist. Yukimura Sanada and Masamune Date are from warring clans who’ve rivaled each other for centuries. After many battles, the two young warlords recognize the greater threat in Nobunaga and forge an uneasy alliance. Soon after they set off to recruit the rest of the warring clans to unite against the dark lord.
Seven Deadly Sins (2014)
Studio: A-1 Pictures
Elizabeth lives in the land of Britannia ruled by the militarist Holy Knights as the third princess to the figurehead throne. Tired of their tyrannical regime, Elizabeth sets off on a journey to find those who once challenged the Holy Knights: the Seven Deadly Sins. A decade earlier, the Seven Deadly Sins disbanded after they supposedly staged an attempt to overthrow the rule of Liones Kingdom. This plot was halted by the Holy Knights. Seemingly defeated, the Seven Deadly Sins were no more but rumors of their existence did not stop. Shortly after, the Holy Knights executed their own coup d’etat and swiftly took the reins of the Kingdom. Elizabeth sets off to once again find the Seven Deadly Sins in order to take back what’s hers from the corrupt Holy Knights.
Studio: Liden Films
In the 21st Century, scientists have sent an experimental group of algae to Mars in attempt to terraform the planet. These are carried by cockroaches that wander the planet spreading the algae as they move.
Five centuries later, the first human expedition to Mars finds the experiment has gone awry. The cockroaches have evolved into massive beings. The first expedition crew is decimated by the mutated cockroaches but manage to send a warning to Earth. With the new information, Earth’s scientists began experimenting with genetically enhanced humans, preparing for the war with the Mar’s denizens dubbed Terraformars.
Yu Yu Hakusho (1992)
Studio: Studio Pierrot
Meet Yusuke Urameshi is an irredeemable delinquent with a violent temper and demeanor. One day, Yusuke jumps in front of a car to save a young boy and he is killed in the act. His ghost is greeted by the ferrywoman of the River Styx, the border to the spirit realm. To Yusuke’s surprise Botan explains that there was not yet a place for him in either of the spirit realms. This is because no one ever expected someone like Yusuke to sacrifice himself for anything. After meeting the Koenma, the King of the spirit world’s son, he is offered a chance to return to his body and continue living. Yusuke accepts and is put through the trials of the after life. With some help of a few friends, Yusuke pulls through and returns to his body. This, however, did come with a catch. Yusuke is now a Spirit Detective, tasked with investigating supernatural events that occur in the realm of the living.