There was once a time when anime was not as popular in the United States as it is now. Thanks to the overwhelming popularity of action-packed anime like the Dragon Ball series and the numerous endorsements from celebrities, rappers, and athletes, Americans have started to pay more attention to the genre, which has slowly turned it into one of the most-watched genres in the country.
If you watch anime, then you know why. Aside from the thousands of characters, wild storylines, and often mature content, many anime fight scenes are incredible to watch. With the choreography, vibrant colors, and impressive detail, any over-the-top battle between two characters can look like a beautifully moving work of art, making for a really intense viewing experience.
But, of course, as with anything, not all fighting anime are the same. Some can be quite choppy with overly glorifying fighting poses, childishly drawn animation, and exaggerated yelling for no reason, ruining a person’s first foray into the anime world. If you’re a rookie anime fan trying to figure out which fighting anime to start your Saturday morning off with, here are a few recommendations guaranteed to get your heart pumping.
Dragon Ball Super
One of the most well-known and longest-running action series globally, Dragon Ball follows the story of the Saiyan martial artist Goku and his friends as they face villains from all over the universe to protect the sanctity of life. The series starts with Goku as a kid in Dragon Ball and continues to follow him to adulthood in Dragon Ball Z and, more recently, Dragon Ball Super.
With spectacular fight sequences that literally produce groundbreaking destruction and dramatic soap opera-ish storylines, Dragon Super has rejuvenated the Dragon Ball franchise for the modern era and a new generation of fans. Considered the inspiration for a lot of today’s fighting anime, there’s no denying the anime’s OG status and influence after watching just a few episodes.
Dragon Ball Super is currently streaming on all platforms.
If you love ninja culture, then you’re going to love the Naruto series. The story follows the young outcast Naruto Uzumaki’s quest to become his ninja village’s leader, The Hokage. As he develops his ninjutsu, he makes numerous friends and allies along the way, each with their own unique backstory. The saga continues in Naruto: Shippuden as Naruto becomes a teenager, and throughout his journey, he finds out more things about himself and his connection to the legend of the Nine Tail Fox, whose presence looms over the land like a shadow.
The action sequences are detailed and intricate, diving deep into jutsus and fight strategies while fluidly capturing each move. And with so many different characters, the Naruto series has woven a complex tapestry of bonds and interactions that seamlessly traverse past and future generations, which even continues with Naruto’s son in the spinoff series, Boruto.
Probably the second most widely-recognized and popular anime globally, Naruto is guaranteed to keep you interested. In fact, the series will have you so engrossed in the story that you may start to feel like you have a second family. Spoiler alert: get your tissues ready⏤there are going to be some sad moments for you ahead.
Naruto is currently streaming on all platforms.
Bleach, another wildly popular anime, follows high school student Ichigo Kurosaki, a 15-year-old teenager who can see ghosts and is abruptly drafted into becoming a Soul Reaper to protect the residents in Karakura Town from monstrous tortured souls called Hollows.
Thanks to his friend and former Soul Reaper Rukia Kuchiki, Ichigo is introduced to the new world of the Soul Society and the other members of its Soul Reaper organization, unaware of the evil forces weaving a deadly web that will affect the living, the Soul Society, and even Hollows, with an endgame that ties itself to his very existence.
With a unique take on the supernatural and swordsmanship, Bleach exudes excitement as it pulls you into its world of Zanpuktos, Soul Reapers, and spiritual pressures. Intensely and beautifully drawn, Bleach‘s action scenes grow in scale and destruction as the anime progresses. Full of myriad characters⏤both villains and Soul Reapers⏤Bleach is also rich with various storylines and bonds that will keep you invested in each character and eager to see what happens next.
Bleach is currently streaming on Hulu, Crunchyroll, Funimation, and Tubi.
God Of High School
One of the more recent anime to premiere in the last few years, God of High School is a Crunchyroll Original anime that follows 17-year-old high school student Mori Jin as he takes part in an all-styles martial arts tournament called God of High School to determine who’s the most powerful high school student in Korea. The winner doesn’t just get bragging rights; he or she can also have any wish granted. With his friends Han Dae-Wi and Yu Mi Ra, Mori longs to prove he’s one of the best fighters on the martial arts stage. Little does he know that the tournament’s true purpose has ramifications that will forever change him and the rest of the world.
God of High School has some of the most impressive and highly detailed fight choreography in modern anime so far. The artistry is vibrant with color, and the scene transitions from huge impactful power moves to center-screen hand-to-hand sequences that keep the pace consistently engaging. There are side stories that flesh out each character, but there hasn’t been much of an overall storyline since it’s still new. However, if you’re looking for an action-fueled visually psychedelic experience, God of High School is definitely a great title to watch.
God of School is currently streaming exclusively on Crunchyroll.
Hunter X Hunter
Another popular series with a rich world of characters and combat techniques, Hunter X Hunter follows the story of young Gon as he joins the organization of mercenaries called the Hunters Association in search of his father and fellow Hunter, Ging. Along the way, Gon becomes friends with a young assassin Killua, and the two boys form a bond that keeps them pushing toward their individual goals. Through various Hunter exams and missions, the two continue to test their will as they meet allies and villains who change their perception of the world.
Though it’s much older than God of High School, Hunter X Hunter‘s action scenes are still some of the best in fighting anime’s history. Drawn with an intensely dark undertone and murderous fast combat exchanges, Hunter X Hunter isn’t as beautiful as it is brutal. Though there is comedy and light-hearted banter, don’t let those moments fool you; this anime can get serious in the blink of an eye.
Hunter X Hunter is currently streaming on all platforms.
My Hero Academia
With its interesting take on the popular genre of superheroes, My Hero Academia has quickly become one of the new kings of fighting anime for the modern age. The story introduces fans to a world where most of the human population are born with Quirks⏤special superhuman abilities and traits⏤and superhero work is the most respected and top-paying profession on Earth.
The main character, Midoriya Izuku, is a Quirkless teenager who hopes to one day be like his idol, All Might. One day he meets the great hero and is given a great gift: the chance to be given a Quirk from All Might himself. The moment changes his life forever, as he’s enrolled in the Ultra Academy to train alongside other teenagers with various Quirks and builds bonds that only help strengthen his resolve to be a great hero like his mentor. But superhero work is never easy, and Midoriya comes to learn that this type of life can come with heavy consequences that will also shape his path to becoming a capable hero.
My Hero Academia is a colorful anime with an infectiously lighthearted mood that will quickly endear you to each character, but it’s also dark enough to thoroughly exude the gravity of more serious storylines and the backstories of its usually tragic villains. The fight scenes are usually large-scale bouts of powers and abilities, keeping in line with its superhero premise but adding all the normal anime elements to provide impressive action sequences that will make your jaw drop.
My Hero Academia is streaming on Hulu, Crunchyroll, and Funimation.
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba
You’ve likely seen this anime on shirts, merchandise, and in an IG cosplay at least once. There’s a good reason for that. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba is one of the most unique anime to be seen in recent years. It follows the tragic story of Tanjiro Kamado, a teenage boy who comes home to find most of his family murdered by a demon. Unfortunately, the only surviving member of the horrible massacre is his younger sister Nezuko, and she’s been turned into a demon. Now prepared to do whatever it takes to slay the demon and turn his sister back to normal, Tanjiro joins the private demon-killing organization The Demon Slayers in hopes of achieving his goals.
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba has become one of the most-watched anime in recent years thanks to its visually striking ukiyo-e style that popularized ancient Japanese artwork in the 17th century. The action scenes are fluid, fast, and exceptionally detailed between the vibrantly colored characters, as the supernatural elements are captured perfectly in the dark overtones of the surrounding environment. Though the storylines can sometimes seem a little strained, the action and gravity of the overall premise are strong enough to easily make you forget that it’s even there. With several memorable characters and enough tragedy to make you cry your eyes out, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba is a fighting anime that will certainly change your mind about how you once viewed the genre.