It’s no secret that one of the biggest attractions of anime is the artistic pulse-pounding choreography of the action sequences. Of course, the storytelling is an integral part as well, but nothing beats an energetic all-out brawl between two OP characters. Over the course of anime’s long and colorful history, hundreds of titles have had some of the most amazing fight scenes and memorable action stars in all of television, causing fans to try and decipher which ones are the very best. With so many to choose from, it can be difficult to narrow the list down. Here are some action anime recommendations to think about while you’re taking a vote amongst your friends.
Created by Kazuya Tsurumaki, Fooly Cooly (or FLCL) is a humorous and wild coming-of-age anime centered around middle schooler Naota Nandaba and his weirdly harrowing encounter with a Vespa-riding maniac, Haruko Haruhara. After the mysterious woman runs him over with her Vespa, she strikes him on the head with an electric bass guitar and proceeds to follow him everywhere he goes, waiting for something to happen. After getting in good with Naota’s family, Haruko begins to live in Naota’s bedroom as a live-in maid, not to make sure that he’s all right, but so she can watch as giant robotic entities produced by the company Medical Mechanica continue to appear out of a portal in his head. Hoping the incidents will lead her to the whereabouts of the space-manipulating being known as Atomsk, Haruko sticks around the city of Mabase to enjoy the havoc caused by Naota’s complication and turn everyone’s lives upside down as she periodically inserts her own brand of craziness into the mix.
Wild, psychedelic, and overly saturated with sexual innuendos, Fooly Cooly is full of visually erratic fight scenes that’ll make your head spin just watching them. The series is so popular that it doesn’t just stop there. Since the first installment, FLCL has added two sequels⏤FLCL Progressive and FLCL Alternative⏤that continue to follow the story of Haruko Haruhara’s hunt for Atomsk.
Akame Ga Kill
Created by Takahiro and Tetsuya Tashiro, Akame Ga Kill is set in a kingdom where corruption is king. An evil, mysterious Prime Minister uses the emperor’s armies of soldiers, assassins, and secret police to oppress kingdom’s citizens. His only opposition? The renegade group Night Raid, an elite team of assassins and killers equipped with Imperial Arms⏤ancient legendary weapons that endow the wielders with special abilities.
Tatsumi, a young boy from the countryside, comes to the kingdom in the hopes of making money to support his family back home, but when he gets there, he finds himself rescued by the Night Raid from a possible fate worse than death and they offer him a chance to join their ranks instead. Joining Night Raid could lead to his potential execution, and mastering an Imperial Arm is a lot more complicated than it seems. Now Tatsumi is faced with a huge decision: either continue scrounging for scraps to barely survive or fight with Night Raid to end the oppression that keeps the people underfoot.
Written by ONE, Mob Psycho 100 follows the story of Shigeo Kageyama, an average middle school student nicknamed Mob who has lived most of his life with immense psychic power. In fact, he’s the most powerful esper (a person who controls psychic ability) in Japan. But Mob just wants to live like a regular person, so he keeps his power in check with an emotional shackle that gives him a pretty dull and bland personality. However, he has a hard time doing that for his boss, Reigen Arataka, a con man claiming to have psychic powers but usually just gets Mob to do all of the dirty work for him. Nevertheless, Mob uses those moments to hone his psychic skills, and in doing so, he continues to invite trouble from other espers. With every encounter, the emotional chain containing Mob’s power weakens little by little until it threatens to break through its limits and transforms Mob into something he’s been afraid of all along.
Mob Psycho 100’s fight scenes are always on a grand scale with their impressive visuals and stunning feats of psychic powers. In addition, the series introduces several memorable and influential characters that push the action to the extreme. With its humor and a surprisingly good storyline, Mob Psycho 100 is a well-balanced action anime that’ll keep you on your toes.
Created by the late Kentaro Miura, Berserk is centered around the bitter relationship between the lone mercenary Guts and his former leader, Griffith. Griffith⏤now going by the name Femto⏤has become a member of an archdemon group known as the God Hand and released an era of supernatural darkness upon the kingdom of Midland. After surviving from the brink of death, Guts makes it his mission to hunt and kill Griffith to return Midland to its original state. Together with a ragtag team of warriors, Guts travels the land to destroy Griffith’s henchmen and find a way to face his mortal enemy finally.
Berserk is a gory and bloody anime with ferocious action that will make your jaw drop (in a good way). The storyline is vast and complex as it introduces characters and content that delve deep into the supernatural. If you’re a fan of the fantasy genre and love gratuitous violence, then Berserk is going to blow your mind.
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Based on the best-selling game series, the Netflix original Castlevania is another supernatural action anime that takes the violence to a whole new level. Centered around the adventures of the monster hunter Travis Belmont, Castlevania introduces us to the story of Dracula, a vampire whose love and eventual hate toward humans helps usher in an era of monsters, demons, and other supernatural entities. With the help of a sorceress, and the occasional assist from Dracula’s half-human son, Alucard, Belmont travels the land providing services to villages in need of supernatural extermination. But as his adventures continue, he comes to find that the story of Dracula and the growing presence of monsters is not as cut and dry as he once thought.
Castlevania’s action is fluidly detailed and brilliantly drawn, while its level of blood and gore is on par with Berserk’s, making for incredible fight scenes and eye-popping visuals. Another well-rounded anime with great humor and storytelling, Castlevania is worth diving into.
Garo: The Animation
Based on the popular Japanese live-action TV drama, Garo: The Animation centers around the lore of the supernatural Makai Knights and Makai Alchemists, humans who are granted magical abilities, spells, and armors. Like Mobile Suit Gundam, the Garo series has several different installments that follow different stories involving other wielders of the Makai Knight armors. One thing always remains the same: the Makai Knights’ long-standing mission to protect humans from the supernatural creatures known as Horrors threatening to consume the world.
Garo: The Animation is a fast-paced, aggressive action anime that incorporates a blend of CGI and 2D animation to produce an incredible experience that will immediately draw you into every adventure of the Makai Knights’ saga. Some of the installments⏤Garo: The Carved Seal of Flames, Garo: Divine Flame, Garo: Crimson Flame, Garo: The Crimson Moon, Garo: The Fleeting Cherry Blossom, and the latest chapter, Garo: Vanishing Line⏤are set in their own continuity, while others are sequels of others.
It’s recommended that you start with the first chapter, Garo: The Carved Seal of Flames, to get familiar with the Makai Knight mythology. After that, every chapter will make more sense once you understand what drives the overall saga.
Created by Jinsei Kataoka, Deadman Wonderland is a bloody dystopian tale about Ganta Igarashi, an ordinary high school student framed for the murder of his entire class and sent to the prison/theme park, Deadman Wonderland⏤a place where prisoners are fitted with collars that inject a lethal poison that slowly kills them. The only way to neutralize the toxin is by ingesting a candy-like medicine every three days, which prisoners attain by participating in lethal games to gain currency called Cast Points to purchase the precious medicine.
As Ganta participates in the facility activities, he finds that he’s developed an ability to manipulate his blood into a weapon and put into a special category for individuals like himself called Deadmen, a select group of prisoners who possess Branches Of Sin, or the ability to control their blood for various uses. Determined to use his Branches of Sin to flee the prison and clear his name, Ganta fights his way through levels of prisoners and Deadmen to uncover the identity of the person responsible for framing him.
Deadman Wonderland is a sick and twisted action anime that is so intense, you may question the creator Katakoa’s sanity. Full of graphic violence and a cast of strong supporting characters that help carry the mysterious storyline, Deadman Wonderland will keep you on the edge of your seat. If you’ve enjoyed binge-watching the bloodiest and most violent action anime, then you’re going to want to add Deadman Wonderland to your list.
Created by Atsushi Okubo, Soul Eater is a nice change of pace after watching the more serious titles like Garo: The Animation and Deadman Wonderland. Set at the Death Weapon Meister Academy (DWMA), Soul Eater is centered around the humans who aspire to be Meisters and the partners who turn into their weapons known as Scythes. At the school, Meister Maka Albarn and her partner, Soul Eater, strive to attain 99 souls so they can change Soul into a Death Scythe worthy enough to be used by Death himself.
Together with their friends Black Star and Death the Kid, Maka and Soul battle the forces of the witch Medusa to stop the world from descending into madness. And as they go on many adventures to do so, the Meisters build a bond with their scythes so strong that not even Medusa will stop them from reaching their ultimate goal of attaining those 99 souls.
From the same person who brought you Fire Force, Soul Eater is an action clash of combat and supernatural powers. Much like the concept in Bleach, the characters building up to new levels of strength is both entertaining and inspiring. If you’re looking for a good action anime that’s a bit on the lighthearted side to keep you in awe, then Soul Eater is an excellent title to put on your binge-watching to-do list.