In a medium the place highschool college students have magical powers and don neon hairstyles, can good ol’ martial arts even exist in anime?
Nicely in fact!
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From sword fights in medieval Japan to hand-to-hand fight, the various types of martial arts abound in anime.
So my purpose right here is to search out anime that spotlight the artwork of fight in the absolute best manner. Making martial arts a big component of the present.
With that in thoughts, listed here are my prime picks for the perfect martial arts anime of all time. Seize your black belt and strap in!
21. Afro Samurai
I get it. You’re most likely questioning why Afro Samurai is right here, particularly when the voice forged consists of Samuel L. Jackson and Ron Perlman no much less.
Nicely, it’s nonetheless anime — and it’s one of many slickest ones ever.
Afro Samurai is bloody, unapologetic, and oozing with model.
This goes for each the collection and the film sequel Afro Samurai: Resurrection.
Did you think about an afro samurai dealing with ninjas and a fellow samurai sporting a teddy bear masks?
Afro Samurai is drenched in neon colours, hip-hop, and over-the-top sword fights. And I couldn’t ask for something extra.
Nonetheless, that is just about model over substance. Which is why it’s it’s simply breaking in in the beginning of my listing.
I received’t blame you in the event you thought this was Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress as a result of MC’s look and its mixture of blades and weapons.
However Kurozuka got here out eight years earlier, and has vampires as a substitute of undead hordes.
Additionally not like a lot of the entries right here, Kurozuka isn’t tailored from a manga.
It’s an adaptation of a Baku Yumemakura novel. So it goes from across the Heian interval to a dystopian way forward for Japan.
Martial arts isn’t that distinguished right here, nevertheless it pops into body for all the primary motion scenes.
19. Hunter x Hunter
I don’t truly thoughts whether or not you watch the unique 1999 adaptation or Madhouse Studio’s 148-episode epic 2011 adaptation.
What issues is that you simply perceive why so many followers like me are keen to attend literal months for a brand new manga chapter.
Granted, Hunter x Hunter is full of shounen moments.
But it surely’s positively a martial arts anime.
For instance, Killua and Gon do the Flowing Dance, a martial artwork train.
It’s a sparring approach that comes from kumite, a major facet of karate. Additionally Isaac Netero taught the kung fu model Shingen-ryu.
It’s an extended watch, however belief me It’s value it.
There’s a very good cause why it’s one of many highest-rated collection on MAL.
18. Tiger Masks W
Is wrestling thought-about martial arts?
Many individuals right now consider martial arts as an Japanese idea, and that it’s unrelated to boxing and wrestling which the West is extra accustomed to.
However conventional martial arts is also called folks wrestling.
And Tiger Masks W is all about wrestling shenanigans.
For those who thought WWE was actual sports activities leisure, you’ve but to see the twists and turns right here.
That is loaded high-flying motion with simply sufficient ridiculousness in addition.
To get a fast style, I like to recommend trying out the combat between Tiger Masks and The Third who does suplexes, chops, and powerbombs.
It’s alright in the event you’ve by no means heard of Yawara.
Whereas it was a scores success in Japan(in opposition to my subsequent entry on this listing) it didn’t do as properly outdoors the nation.
However nonetheless a very nice anime to take a look at!
Yawara stars its titular character who’s principally a Judo grasp.
She doesn’t need to dwell like one. What Yawara needs is a standard life the place she will be able to specific her femininity and simply be with a man.
Unluckily for her, Yawara usually dips into obstacles in her on a regular basis life that pressure her to make use of her hidden expertise.
16. Ranma ½
In sheer distinction to the demise and blood in Afro Samurai is the comedy basic Ranma ½.
This aired manner again in 1989, however there hasn’t been a comedy romance prefer it ever since.
Consider it as Martial Arts: Slice of Life.
Ranma ½ revolves across the lives of Ranma Saotome and Akane, and so they’re engaged.
It’s a pleasant watch — and it has 161 episodes so that you can marathon.
Alongside the way in which they meet individuals like Ryouga and Shampoo, the latter of whom is from China and is a part of the Joketsuzoku who’re skilled in physique manipulation and strain level strikes.
15. Dragon Ball
For those who thought Ranma ½ was previous, get a load of Dragon Ball from 1986.
Arguably one of many all-time hottest anime alongside Pokemon, the collection is the granddaddy of shounen and super-powered MCs.
From Dragon Ball to Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball Kai, you get a saga that includes insane fights.
The collection ultimately turns into extra about explosions and power assaults. However you’ll be able to nonetheless see bits of martial arts alongside the way in which.
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The franchise has seven colleges of martial arts and there’s additionally the World Martial Arts Event.
As for Goku, he’s glorious in boxing and kickboxing — along with his kicking model harking back to taekwondo.
14. Juubee Ninpuuchou (Ninja Scroll)
Juubee Ninpuuchou is the primary film entry on this listing.
Premiering again in 1993, this Madhouse venture is about in feudal Japan and follows a swordsman named Jubei.
He’s obtained no time for all of the political strife, however he additionally has to take care of a bunch of supernatural ninjas.
It’s like Shigurui in that it’s not protected for teenagers, nevertheless it fortunately has a lot much less gore.
The fights in opposition to the Devils of Kimon are gorgeously choreographed — the fluid animation is timeless. If you’ll find a replica or discover it streaming on-line, do give it a strive.
13. Kimetsu no Yaiba (Demon Slayer)
No one anticipated simply how standard Kimetsu no Yaiba would change into.
As 2019’s undisputed prime anime, it impressed memes and led to a surge of Zenitsu, Tanjiro, and (most particularly) Nezuko merch gross sales.
However aside from its emotionally partaking story and lovable bunch of characters, Kimetsu no Yaiba proved why Ufotable continues to be a top-tier studio: It is aware of the best way to craft top-notch motion sequences.
Set in Japan’s Taisho period, the acclaimed collection pits the protagonists in opposition to an entire slew of demons, every with their very own strengths and weaknesses.
Identical to Afro Samurai, this present relishes in sword fights.
But it surely additionally provides in an entire set of sword-fighting types known as breath types — and it’s an absolute visible delight.
12. Road Fighter II V (Road Fighter II: The Animated Sequence)
This listing wouldn’t be full with out Ryuu, Chun-li, Guile, and the remainder of the enduring characters within the Road Fighter franchise.
Ryu and Ken Masters are actually martial artists.
And this explicit adaptation is the closest we’ve got to the arcade sport’s hype-inducing matches.
Road Fighter II V — sure, two roman numerals — options a wide range of preventing types starting from Muay Thai and kickboxing to Shotokan karate and ninjutsu.
Seeing these guys combat one another won’t ever really feel previous.
11. Kenpuu Denki Berserk (Berserk)
Does Berserk even want any introductions at this level?
As one of the vital notorious anime and manga ever, this darkish fantasy has all the time gone all out when it comes to spectacle and terror.
Anime has all the time had rivalries, however solely so few can examine to that of Guts and Griffith.
That is an epic that we don’t even have an ending of but. You may argue Guts has change into OP and fewer lifelike.
However using flip strikes, correct stances, and simply spectacular melee fight is value noting.
Nevertheless please don’t watch the 2016 sequel.
It’s simply not good in any respect in comparison with the 1997 TV collection and even the movie trilogy (The Golden Age Arc).
For those who actually need extra Berserk, learn the manga.
To say that Shigurui is violent is an understatement.
Exhibits like Elfen Lied and Higurashi When They Cry maintain no candle to the detailed and even lovely brutality of this 2009 collection.
The story’s easy.
You observe two guys as they take part in a match the place actual swords as a substitute of picket swords are used. One solely has a single arm whereas the opposite is a blind samurai.
It’s positively for teenagers, however I can also’t put the collection any increased on the listing.
Regardless of that includes sword fights, the model isn’t for everybody.
Let’s simply say it takes a extra “creative” route as a substitute of the same old fast-action sequences.
It feels extra like a gradual burn — scenes of decapitations and gut-spilling linger with you extra.
9. Basilisk: Kouga Ninpou Chou
Neglect in regards to the 2018 sequel known as Basilisk: Ouka Ninpouchou. Basilisk: Kouga Ninpou Chou didn’t want a sequel that clearly forgot about what made the unique so particular.
The unique collection felt lifelike even when its warriors had particular skills — it was like Naruto for adults.
Its first episode was glorious, setting the tone for the remainder of the present: Two clans preventing to the demise.
Basilisk is a battle royale accomplished proper, that includes tons of exhilarating and heart-wrenching moments.
You’ll by no means count on how every demise unfolds, and it’s truthfully wonderful how affecting they are often.
I did simply say that Basilisk is Naruto for adults, however that doesn’t imply the latter is dangerous — removed from it.
As one of many “large three” shonen anime alongside One Piece and Bleach, Naruto has accomplished all of it.
The primary story is over(after what felt like infinite filler arcs) however that doesn’t erase its achievements.
Naruto stays as a gateway to not solely anime, but in addition martial arts anime.
Rock Lee represents taekwondo whereas Neji has a preventing methodology harking back to Chinese language martial arts known as Pakwachang.
After all, very similar to Dragon Ball, Naruto has a great deal of boxing and kickboxing too. So there’s one thing right here for everybody.
7. Hokuto no Ken (Fist of the North Star)
As you’ll have already seen, my listing accommodates various previous anime.
However that’s a testomony to the achievements of titles like Fist of the North Star.
Plus, I can’t deny the aesthetic attract of previous anime.
Launched in 1984, this Toei Animation basic presents viewers with a post-apocalyptic panorama.
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But it surely’s undoubtedly a martial arts anime by way of and thru.
The primary protagonist, Kenshiro, is proficient in Hokuto Shinken, a fictional martial artwork type from historical China.
Consider it as Naruto’s Negi when he does his Light Fist taijutsu that targets very important factors.
6. Grappler Baki (Baki the Grappler)
Admittedly I used to be initially unnerved with how the characters regarded in Baki the Grappler.
Like, they’re all these tremendous muscular fighters with menacing eyes. I respect the detailed muscle mass, nevertheless it was a bit creepy.
Nonetheless, Baki the Grappler is a beast of an anime.
It’s all about being the perfect fighter on the earth, and Baki received’t stoop to anybody.
Virtually each combat, it appears like Baki is about to lose.
Each new opponent seems extra-muscular than the one earlier than.
And but, Baki the Grappler reminds us that brawn is nothing with out brains.
5. Shijou Saikyou no Deshi Kenichi (Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple)
Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple is my prime comedy entry, manner increased than Ranma ½.
I just like the latter extra as an anime, however Kenichi provides extra when it comes to precise martial arts.
For 50 episodes you’ll be able to witness the rise of Kenichi from a weakling to a formidable teen fighter.
You get to observe him in his rigorous dojo periods, studying every part from Muay Thai to Chinese language martial arts.
Is it the best-looking martial arts anime? No.
Can it attraction to youthful audiences and inspire them to check out martial arts? Extra so than most entries on my listing.
4. Seirei no Moribito (Moribito – Guardian of the Spirit)
Like Kurozuka, Seirei no Moribito is customized from a novel.
Particularly the primary entry in Nahoko Uehashi’s e book collection.
It’s simply 26 episodes lengthy, but it’s packed with standout weapons-based martial arts.
Plus, is there every other anime that highlights spear martial arts?
Balsa Yonsa, along with her trusty spear, is among the most fearsome feminine characters in all of anime.
And regardless of being a 2007 anime, it seems a lot better than newer reveals due to Manufacturing I.G.
That is kinda embarrassing, however I assumed Katanagatari was a part of Shaft’s Monogatari franchise.
For one, it’s from White Fox.
Second, it lacks all the top tilts.
As an alternative Katanagatari is just about Sword Fights: The Anime.
However right here’s why I find it irresistible a lot: The man actually makes use of a preventing model the place he has to make use of his personal physique as if it was a sword.
That’s proper. Shichika Yasuri is each the weapon and the weapon wielder, like a canine holding its personal leash.
Plus it’s obtained a novel visible look — like a hybrid of Western and Japanese types.
2. Sword of the Stranger
The very best martial arts anime film is Sword of the Stranger for a wide range of causes.
This award-winning movie doesn’t compromise its story to create some beautiful set items and intelligent cinematography.
I can’t fault this film.
It’s well-paced and removes all of the fats — presenting a clear-cut story with a smorgasbord of sword fights.
And but, our samurai MC has an oath to not use his sword. Intriguing, proper?
Sure, it’s violent.
But it surely’s not over-the-top sort of violent.
There’s loads of coronary heart in Sword of the Stranger and it shares this sense of guilt and redemption with my No. 1 choose.
1. Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Kenkaku Romantan (Samurai X)
Was there any doubt that Samurai X could be my best choice?
It’s a basic murals in my e book — anime or not.
The truth is, the live-action film variations turned out a lot better than anticipated.
Whether or not it’s the prequel OVA (Belief and Betrayal), the concluding OVA (Reflection), or the sprawling 94-episode collection, you’re assured to witness a few of the greatest anime moments of all time.
Kenshin can beat up enemies with a reverse blade katana.
His love curiosity Kaoru has kenjutsu sword coaching.
Aoshi and Hajime have mastered the kodachi and katana swords, respectively.
After which you may have guys like Sanosuke and Anji who can duke it out with naked arms.
Edo-period Japan? Test.
God-tier soundtrack? Test.
Legendary protagonist? Test.
Iconic villains like Shishio Makoto and Seta Sojiro? Test.
Among the finest redemption tales ever? Completely.