Alright, I’ve looked at romantic anime before but this time I’m shifting my focus to action. It is really hard to get a definitive classification on whether something is action or not. Does one fight sequence really make for action? And how do you compare action used for comedy with gritty realistic fight sequences, and then how do you compare those to the over the top craziness that is most action in anime? In the end my criteria for this list was that the fight sequences themselves were a strength of the show and integral to the narrative. So yes there are anime out there with more action and maybe even more impressive action sequences, this is the list of anime that I came up with.
I’d love to know what action anime you love and why. Please comment below.
Patrons, be sure to check out my lesser top 5 list. The anime on the list this week are all actually decent anime (in their own way – okay one of them is terrible no matter how you slice it) but the action in them is not so awesome.
Please Note – There will be spoilers below.
Honourable mentions this week go to Full Metal Alchemist and Claymore.
Number 5: Soul Eater
While I’d love to put Soul Eater far higher on this list (because Soul Eater is just plain awesome) when looking just at the action of the series I have to admit there are some really wasted moments and some fairly disappointing outcomes in some of the fights. The reason this stayed on the list at all is Maka. Her fights, right from episode 1, are some of the most amazing fight sequences I’ve seen from a female character in anime. She’s not using a ranged weapon, she’s not moral support, she’s out there in the thick of the fight and swinging around a weapon that realistically she shouldn’t be able to pick up. If we ignore the final fight (which, please do), all of Maka’s battles are just a joy to watch. If you’re interested my series review is here.
Number 4: Gangsta
This one is a bit more realistic than Soul Eater but still goes for spectacle and humans who can perform inhuman feats. Nicolas, as a tag, really shows off what he can do and given he seems to just like the rush his fights aren’t about efficiency, they are definitely about fun. Of course, most of his opponents also seem to be enjoying themselves so while the fight might be about life and death, you can’t help but get caught up in the enthusiasm of the clash itself. Again, I’ve reviewed this series so if you are interested the review is here.
Number 3: Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash
I know I just heard the sound of jaws collectively hitting the ground but there is a reason for this choice. While Grimgar is a sleepy little fantasy that is focussed very much on the main character’s internal struggle to cope with this life he finds himself in, the action sequences are an absolutely integral part of this story. More importantly, because every fight is literally a matter of survival for both sides and the tragedy of death is introduced early as a central theme, every battle has a feeling of absolute finality. There are no small conflicts when a single arrow might bring you down and hesitating for a moment could be all the difference between life and death. If we couple this with Grimgar’s distinct art style then the action sequences here are not just deadly they are beautiful. So, while this might be a slow moving story, the action is anything but and if you haven’t given it a go you should probably check out my review and then go check out the anime.
Number 2: Owari no Seraph
This one I haven’t reviewed yet but it will definitely happen. I think what draws me to this is it is a vampire story but it doesn’t really try for horror or atmosphere. It really is a straight up us vs them battle for the right to rule and we have some pretty cool weapons and characters thrown into the mix. Certainly there’s a few issues with the story, particularly in the second half of the second season, but if you like humans (or mostly human) fighting against a superior supernatural force with high stakes than this anime is well worth a watch.
Number 1: Full Metal Panic
Again, I’ve yet to review this anime but it is a great action anime. You have military conflicts, robot fights, explosions in school shoe lockers, and pretty much any other kind of action you could be looking for in a story. The weird mix of serious narrative and high school comedy somehow works and actually the Fumoffu season which is pretty much entirely focussed on the mercenary’s day-to-day school life delivers some pretty amazing action in and of itself. Season 1 and Second Raid give us hostage situations and dramatic rescues, chase sequences, straight up military fights, and just such a range of scenes to enjoy it is kind of hard to overlook this one. As being a fighter is an essential part of Sousuke’s character and the action is used so much for both dramatic and humorous effect I just had to choose this as the number one for the list.
There we go, my top 5 action anime recommendations, though not necessarily the most action filled anime out there. What would you have put on your list?
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36 thoughts on “Tuesday’s Top 5: Anime With Action”
Nice list! 😉
Nice Top 5, I like that Owari no Seraph and Soul Eater are up there they were good anime’s
I agree the fight between Byakuya and Kouga is a very interesting battle and one of my favourites. Another fight I also enjoyed in bleach the fight with Kenpachi vs Nnoitra, but my favourite fight is actually when Ichigo fights Grimjow for third time.
Grimjow was always entertaining on the screen. One of my favourite ‘villains’ from the anime.
I’d have to disagree with you on most of it. If we are going off pure fight sequences. Soul Eater is great and the animation is awesome but it’s fight sequences compared to other anime area lackluster. I’ll try to list my pure fight sequences that is (hand to hand combat as guns and mechs unless done in duels should be a separate list).
Bleach – Hear me out on this one it’s a long running battle shonen. Not every arc is good. It has terrible filler. However some of the individual fight sequences are amazing in it. Plus it has a rocking soundtrack. The first three good seasons are on Netflix and I highly recommend them. Though the epic duels don’t really begin until the third season.
Dragonball Z: It might be cliche but this show basically created so much of the modern shonen battle tropes that we still live in its shadow. Insane power ups, planet wide destruction, god level fighting, it sticks with you. My favorite is still Goku VS Vegeta in the Saiyan Saga. The Gallick Gun VS Kamehameha is legendary in that fight. I’m biased because it was the first DBZ fight I ever saw flipping channels but god it was thrilling.
Yu Yu Hakusho: This one is the precursor to Hunter x Hunter and honestly H x H borrows a lot from the show including character designs and powers. Killua, Kurapika, and Leorio are pretty much clones of Kuabara, Hiei and Kurama. Gon himself is just younger more innocent version of Yusuke Yurimeshi. Comparing the two shows I prefer Yu Yu Hakusho better, the characters lived in a darker more serious universe with a fiercer tone. It’s no coincidence there are 4 heroes in Yu Yu Hakusho and 4 in H x H. Kuabara and Leorio are about the same personality wise so I don’t have a preference. As for the rest Yusuke, Hiei and Kurama are far superior to the other three. Hiei is my favorite with his wickedly awesome Dragon of the Darkness Flame.
Cowboy Bebop: This one is a Space Western. It doesn’t typically feature much more than shooting and explosions but that is not why it is on here. It is on here the awesome duel and fist/blade fight at the end of the series between Spike and Vicious. It was so awesome Naruto basically copied and pasted it for one it’s epic fights. It starts off with guns and swords, then moves to knives and fists and with tight action and a thrilling duel. Just one scene alone in the entire series made it on this list.
Ninja Scroll: This one is a bit of a cop out as it is in anime move and classic from the era when anime was still called Japanamation. It was the first anime I ever watched and boy did it thrill me as a teen. It had the sex, violence and gore every healthy teenage boy craves at that time of his life. It later became adapted into a subpar anime show but the movie is where it counts. What makes it special is the final battle between Jubei and Gemma. It’s a brutal realistic fight with two foes who know each other well. Neither one escapes unharmed and you can just feel the weight of the blows they land on each other.
See I am a major fan of Bleach but with one or two exceptions I find the fights relatively dull and too long. I like Bleach for the comedy and the cool swords but most of the fights become pretty formulaic after awhile. Actually that’s probably the main reason most mainstream action anime did not find a spot on my list.
That said, thanks for sharing your top action anime. It definitely gives some more titles, and some good reasons for those titles, for people to try out.
I do agree Ichigo’s fight’s are extremely fomulaic. It’s the side characters that stand out to me. We often had no idea if they were are a match for who they fought. You should check out the Zanpukto Tales. Mostly for story but also for Byakuya’s thrilling fight with Kouga. It’s easily one the best in the series and not simple at all. Though I don’t know where you’d watch it. Its like episode 280 ish. I honestly forget. I had to watch it on a fandub site.
Full metal panic is hysterical. LOL
I always enjoy it. Action and comedy done reasonably well.
Yeah, it was definitely a nice balance of both
Definitely, all of the full metal panic series had a nice balance of both.
Owari no Seraph and Soul Eater are awesome anime
honestly i’m super glad you included grimgar. iirc under the scope did a piece on how grimgar’s fights put a lot of emphasis on weight in their action sequences, and that really adds to the realism and struggle to survive.
It’s different from the other action shows but those fight sequences really deserve recognition and I think you are right that it is the weight each fight carries and the real threat of death that makes it so good. Thanks for the comment.
I agree. Grimgar puts effort into character devlelopment so we care when the characters die or are in danger. Also enough important characters die, like Manato and all of Mary’s first party so that we know it is possible for any character we care about to be in real danger. It’s like what Game of Thrones does but the deaths don’t get out of hand like Game of Thrones.
Yeah, it never gets silly and it doesn’t take out characters just to stir things up. Everything felt very deliberate and heavy.
It has a Jon Woo character, a terminator maid, some really messed up murderous lolis, a samurai that cuts bullets in half, a torpedo destroying a helicopter, and a chinese american woman who can dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge all over the place while she kills way more people than she should be able to with her twin pistols.
In short, Black Lagoon is all action all the time.
Still reeling from the exclamation marks on that one. Never really got into this but after reading your description I should probably give it another go. Thanks for sharing.
Sorry, got excited 😀
I tag you:
Great list. Pretty much some of my favs. Especially gangsta
I have watched every single show on the list except Full Metal Panic and irony of it is that I never finished any of these shows because of reasons, well I did finish Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash for review purposes but never loved it. All other were good in terms of action and it is a good list, I loved first two episodes of soul eater. If I have to put my top action animes then it will be like this.
5. Hunter X Hunter
4. Naruto.(includes Shippuden)
3. Kill la Kill.
2. Gurren Lagann.
1. Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan.
But then again, after creating this list hundreds of anime comes in my mind for this position.
Rise of the Yokai Clan is pretty awesome as is Gurren Lagann.
I couldn’t stand Kill la Kill (but didn’t watch much of it) and I haven’t watched Naruto (other than a few bits and pieces).
Hunter x Hunter I’m loving but I’m still not anywhere near done watching it which is why it hasn’t appeared in any of my lists yet.
Thanks for sharing your list.
Erm, while I am sorry to say that I have not seen any of these shows yet, the action genre is one of my favorite genres. So it’s nice to have a few new titles to add to the things I have yet to watch. As for my favorite action animeseries, I think I am going to go with Ghost in the Shell Standalone Complex. While it was not an action series every episode, I still think it contained enough action to classify it as such.
Great post as always 😊😊
I think because I don’t like just pure action or overly military focussed pieces, most of my choices aren’t going to be the ones major action fans would have picked. I like my action interspersed with character moments, romance or comedy depending on how it is executed.
Only pure action tends to get boring anyway (unless it is executed in a good way). Still, I also like seeing other things in a series besides action, so that is why I like the list you have put together. Most of the storylines on those are definitely things that I usually enjoy watching very much 😊
I haven’t watched Fullmetal Panic but it is on my list so I will get round to it one day :’)
As far as actios goes, I’d have to say FMAB is my favourite! It’s one of my favourite anime’s of all time. 😊
Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood does have some excellent fights. Probably my only complaint is the length of some of them. Very cool to watch.
Yeah it does, they were really great to watch. Haha fair enough, I can see where you’re coming from on that one. :’)
Oh my gosh. Full Metal Panic is so nostalgic. I used to watch it as a kid. I had a huge crush on Sagara Sasuke. And I’m almost on Gangsta on my to-watch list so I’m going to watch it soon. So excited.
Sagara is awesome. I just wanted Chidori to adopt him and teach him how to live in the world not as a soldier.
Hope you enjoy Gangsta.
Indeed. And yes, I’m almost onto Gangsta. Just a couple of anime before it, I think. So excited. Thanks!
Ah, I haven’t seen a single show on this list but they’re all on my to-watch list. Yet again, I wonder when I’ll actually watch all the shows I want to…
Anyway, action is my favorite genre and the top spot goes to Yu Yu Hakusho. It was pure shonen fun with epic fights and friendship thrown in. I need to rewatch it at some point.
Yu Yu Hakusho has been on my watch list forever but I just never get to it. Really should fix that at some point.
It’s by the same mangaka as Hunter x Hunter. I think HxH is the more popular one but I prefer YYH over it.