Battle Shonen and Seinen anime can be some of the most entertaining genres to consume. These stories are often really fast-paced as a means to keep them as exciting as possible. The battles are often grandiose with great stakes at hand.
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It's common to see the hero of the story break their limits to overcome a truly overwhelming force. In doing so, they save the day and rescue those in danger. Of course, even an anime about fights has to have some manner of story. Fortunately, some of the best action-oriented stories also have compelling characters and amazing worldbuilding to keep viewers locked in.
Updated by Sage Ashford on December 5, 2022: Everyone loves fighting anime, and production studios are always looking for the next popular anime series to air. Not every action series is always going to be good, but there are tons out there for long-time anime fans and newcomers alike. This list has been updated to reflect some of the other great fighting anime series.
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20 Soul Eater Challenges Its Students To Become The Perfect Weapon
In 2008, Studio BONES brought to life the shonen action series Soul Eater. The story focuses on Maka Albarn, a young Shinigami Meister trying to transform her partner, Soul Eater, into a proper Death Scythe. The two of them need to track down 99 evil souls and a single witch to reach their goal, but they're not the only Meister and Scythe pairing out there in the world.
Soul Eater has plenty of incredible action scenes that focus not just on Maka and Soul, but the other pairings in the series that are introduced over time. The one downside is the frustrating last fight of the series, which comes from wrapping up before the manga finished.
19 Devil May Cry Brings The Beloved Video Game Series To Life
Everyone associates Devil May Cry with the acclaimed video game series. However, the anime is an underrated addition to the series that takes place between the first two games. There’s a lot of action to behold in this series, with the characters regularly locking horns with demonic beings and employing their high-octane styles to do so.
The protagonist Dante is a hilarious character whose fighting skills are unmatched due to his status as a half-demon. Since the Devil May Cry anime is only twelve episodes long, viewers can check this out quickly to fulfill their fighting anime needs.
18 Dragon Ball Z Is A Shonen Fighting Classic
In the world of Dragon Ball Z, super-powered individuals take it upon themselves to defend the Earth from alien races and magical creatures. The series takes the meaning of power to incredible lengths, as the characters reach literally world-shattering levels of enhanced might.
The focus on fighting in Dragon Ball Z is so strong that several episodes are dedicated just to the action sequences. These are fleshed out to the point where storylines focus on how the characters unlock new abilities, though they can often feel like frustrating dei ex machina. Everything’s over-the-top and the character development isn't always there, but there are few shows that can match DBZ's intensity.
17 Tokyo Revengers Is All About Gang Fights
In Tokyo Revengers, Takemichi Hanagaki has developed the power to travel back to his time in middle school in 2005, and all he wants to do is save the life of his ex-girlfriend and her brother, who were killed by the Tokyo Manji Gang. But every time he goes back in time, his changes result in someone else being harmed. Somehow, Takemichi must save the future and figure out a way for everyone to live.
For a show with such a high concept premise, Tokyo Revengers sure loves its battles. Each time Takemichi travels to the past, viewers are treated to some brutal action scenes between the different gangs from his time in middle school. While they might not have superpowers, these are still some of the most engrossing fight scenes of the 2020s.
16 The Seven Deadly Sins Has Some Of The Best Character Designs In Anime
The Seven Deadly Sins follows a group of knights who were accused of plotting a coup of the kingdom. A decade later, the members begin searching for one another in order to clear their names and weed out the actual villains behind this conspiracy.
The action in The Seven Deadly Sins focuses on thematic quality, with the characters each having their own identity based on their strongest powers. The character designs are also a thing of beauty, making the fight scenes stand out from a visual standpoint.
15 Fairy Tail Features Mages Who Fight First And Ask Questions Second
Fairy Tail's basic premise can be deceiving for people looking for a series focused entirely on fights. While everyone is supposed to be a mage, in Fairy Tail the mages work a little differently. Characters like Natsu and Gajeel punch their way out of problems, while heroines like Erza use blades to battle their enemies.
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Fairy Tail ran for a total of three seasons, and each arc is better than the last. The fight scenes get more intense and the world-building is always solid. But people shouldn't be surprised if they want a talking cat after the show's over.
14 Samurai Champloo Features Some Excellent Swordplay
Samurai Champloo follows the story of Fuu Kasumi as she begins her journey in search of a mysterious samurai who smells of sunflowers. With only that single clue about him, she enlists the help of the free-form swordsman Mugen and the traditional samurai Jin to track him down.
Though Jin and Mugen have agreed to help, they also can't stand each other, leading to them constantly being at each other's throats. Though Samurai Champloo features exciting battles between swordsmen, that's not exactly the appeal. The show is just as much a character study as it is a fighting anime, with beautiful standalone episodes and an amazing hip-hop soundtrack.
13 My Hero Academia Shows The Difficulty In Becoming A Professional Hero
To become a hero like the one he's always looked up to, My Hero Academia's protagonist Izuku Midoriya must overcome not only his insecurities but the many villains that would see society descend into chaos. Fortunately, he can rely on the guidance of the legendary hero All Might who granted him the power of One For All.
In My Hero Academia, heroes and villains battle it out to see whose ideology will eventually win out. This neverending back-and-forth conflict has led to some of the most entertaining anime battles of the last decade.
12 Eden's Zero Is Space Opera Action At Its Best
Eden's Zero focuses on Shiki, a young boy who grew up on a planet full of robots. After all the robots on the planet stop working, he travels with B-Cuber Rebecca Bluegarden out into the galaxy, to make as many friends as possible and discover the creator of the galaxy.
This premise shouldn't fool viewers looking for plenty of action, though. As Shiki and Rebecca expand the crew of their ship, the Eden's Zero, they make plenty of powerful enemies. And while Shiki would rather make friends, he's never afraid to use his gravity powers to lay the smackdown on anyone who tries to hurt others.
11 Demon Slayer Has Some Of The Best Animation Of Any Shonen Anime
Demon Slayer is the most successful manga of the last decade, not just outselling most manga released during the last few years but outselling massively popular series like Bleach in only a few years. The show focuses on the Demon Slayer Corps' constant battle against Muzan Kibutsuji and his demon army.
Every season of Demon Slayer provides thrilling and exciting fights, with each character having their own unique fighting styles. Animation studio Ufotable makes sure every battle is breathtakingly beautiful, and the sound effects and music added take it to another level.
10 Tokyo Ghoul Focuses On Battles Against Ghouls That Eat Humans
The ghouls in Tokyo Ghoul are man-eating creatures who must feast on human flesh in order to survive. To combat the rising casualties due to the consumption patterns of ghouls, Japan formed a special counter-ghoul agency, the CCG.
The CCG battles against these dangerous creatures daily and these battles tend to be extremely dangerous. These fights see each party put their lives at risk in order to come out on top, which results in some tremendous battles.
9 Vinland Saga Features Intense Viking Action Scenes
At its center, Vinland Saga is about much more than the battle. In many cases, it is a great Norse story that seeks to broaden people's understanding of Nordic culture. Despite this, Vinland Saga does a great job presenting its fighting scenes. Battles in Vinland Saga often mean much more than life or death.
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Warriors go into battle not only putting their lives at risk but also their honor. In Vinland Saga, battles usually have very high stakes with the losers not only losing their life but their countries and families.
8 Bleach Focuses On Sword Combat Between Superpowered People
Bleach focuses on the story of Ichigo Kurosaki as he embarks on his journey of being a Soul Reaper. As a Soul Reaper, Ichigo is tasked with purifying hollows, as well as ensuring the safe passage of the newly dead to the afterlife. Soul Reapers have many enemies that would seek to do damage to the Soul Society.
As such, Soul Reapers go through extreme training to be able to defeat their enemies. A Soul Reaper wields a Zanpakuto, and each Zanpakuto has its own unique powers. Bleach is an exciting anime filled with entertaining battles between groups such as Shinigami, Visored, Espada, Hollow, and more.
7 Naruto Focuses On Ninja Techniques And Tactics
Part one of Naruto showcased some of the most tactically interesting battles in all of anime history. Characters would implement their own specialized Jutsu in order to gain the upper hand on their opponents. These moves varied greatly from village to village and from ninja to ninja.
This diverse action system is the reason for great fights such as Kakashi versus Zabuza and Naruto and Sasuke versus Haku. The early combat system focused on maximizing the effectiveness of each Jutsu used, and this made for some very intriguing battle tactics.
Throughout their journey to find the Philosopher's Stone Edward and Alphonse Elric encounter many powerful Alchemists who want to cause them harm. To protect themselves, the boys use their vast understanding of Alchemy to do battle.
Edward and Alphonse are often able to do Alchemy without first drawing a transmutation circle. This high-level Alchemy ensures that many of the battles in Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood are extremely dynamic and exciting.
5 One Piece Follows A Group Of Pirates That Never Give Up
One Piece is Shonen Jump's most successful manga and its anime adaptation is popular around the world. One Piece chronicles the journey of the Straw Hat Pirates as they journey to Laughtale to find the treasure referred to as One Piece.
A central part of One Piece is the battles that the characters must go through in order to earn the right to be worthy enough to find the treasure that eluded all but one man for 800+ years. The fights in One Piece are often packed with really hype moments and, oftentimes, they go on to become extremely popular worldwide.
4 Attack On Titan Shows A War Between Giants And Humans
Attack on Titan focuses on the life of Eren Yeager as he comes to grip with being the Attack Titan, a titan responsible for fighting against oppression. Titans are fascinating creatures to observe, largely due to their movement styles and erratic behavior.
Attack of Titan's brilliant animation allowed for fluid and interesting battles against these creatures. The battles were high not only in intensity but also in the emotions that went into each fight. The peak climax arrived when the scouts find out that the monsters that they've been fighting all along are merely humans who were forcefully transformed into monsters.
3 One-Punch Man Is More Than Just Saitama Ending His Opponents
One-Punch Man features a main character so strong he can defeat anyone with just one punch. His story involves never receiving the credit for the work he’s put in as a superhero, as his actions tend to go underappreciated.
While it might seem as if One Punch Man doesn’t have much competition for the lead character Saitama, there are still plenty of exciting match-ups between the enemies and Saitama's friends. The show does a great job at expanding its lore while introducing increasingly more powerful opponents for Saitama's group of friends.
2 Hunter X Hunter Challenges Its Protagonists More Than Any Other Series
Hunter X Hunter tells the story of a young boy who finds out his father is one of the elite humans known as Hunters. He sets out to qualify as a Hunter and follow in his father’s footsteps.
The fights in Hunter X Hunter get bigger in scale as the episodes proceed, with the protagonist gaining strength on a progressive basis. Due to this, it’s fun to check out his character development through his fighting adventures.
1 Yu Yu Hakusho Focuses On A Series Of Tournaments
Yu Yu Hakusho is one of the greatest action series of all time. Yusuke Urameshi is a middle-school teenager introduced to a world of demons and psychics after becoming a Spirit Detective. Despite being called a detective, his job mostly involves busting heads and training to prepare for some of the bigger, more dangerous threats to the Human World.
Yu Yu Hakusho has a huge focus on character and world development, making it stand apart from some of the other great shonen series. Still, the series has some incredible fight scenes, as Yusuke and his friends are challenged by everything from demons to former Spirit Detectives and still have to come out on top.
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