Fighting is an important part of anime history, with best martial arts anime is an all-time classic that has defined generations. More than just fighting, martial arts is also a contest of intellect and will as different warriors test their strength against each other. This leads to thrilling character moments as audiences watch their favorites test their ideals against each other.
More than just generic action anime, there’s something special about martial arts anime in particular. Training plays a huge role in this as audiences watch the anime’s main heroes grow stronger with each passing episode, all culminating in an epic challenge with a Another epic challenge. The best martial arts anime make battles look good with smooth animation and engaging character moments.
Wrestling is really popular in Japan, which is why it’s no surprise that one of Shonen Jump’s first big hits was about wrestling. Kinnikuman is a 1983 anime based on the manga of the same name by mangaka duo Yudetamago. The film is about a goofy superhero named Kinnikuman, who must prove himself worthy of the throne of his home planet in a wrestling tournament. While there’s no denying that elements of Kinnikuman haven’t aged well, it is a foundational martial arts series that laid the groundwork for later hits like Dragon Ball. Western fans may know the series better thanks to its localized 2002 sequel series Ultimate Muscle. While Kinnikuman may not be the best martial arts anime, its influence and legacy make it a cornerstone of the genre.
14 Kenichi’s Strongest Disciple
Kenichi is a humorous story about a weak man named Kenichi who becomes an expert martial artist through intense training in various martial arts styles. In fact, Kenichi is exactly what many fans expected a cliche martial arts story to be. A bullied child who wants to be good at martial arts finds an anonymous master (in this case, multiple people) who trains them into an incredible warrior. Although there are many clichés, the essence of real-life martial arts is present in the film, but as the film progresses, supernatural powers also begin to be unlocked.
Naruto is in many ways the perfect successor to many martial arts anime that came before it, giving fans action-packed hand-to-hand combat alongside more fantasy-based battles. Naruto has some of the best long battles in shounen anime and is able to do this well through the use of martial arts. Ninjutsu, taijutsu, and genjutsu are the three types of ninjutsu used in Naruto. Not only does this help fit the martial arts theme, but it also adds to the overall shinobi theme. With some ninjas like Rock Lee and Might Guy focusing almost exclusively on martial arts-based taijutsu, there’s no denying that Naruto has some truly incredible martial arts scenes.
Taking place in a near future where martial artists use exoskeletons to enhance their fighting abilities, Megalobox is a short martial arts anime that is well worth watching. The series follows a young man known only as Junk Dog as he rises through the ranks of the iconic Megalobox sport. Although the series uses science fiction elements such as exoskeletons, Megalobox has won critical acclaim for its realistic animation. Boxing has never looked better than in Megalobox and that automatically makes it one of the best martial arts anime.
11 God of High School
Based on one of the best Webtoon manhwa, The God of High School follows a group of high school students who participate in an official tournament to fulfill a dream. The plot of The God of High School should sound instantly familiar to any fighting game fan as it follows a large martial arts tournament run by a suspicious corporation, a cast of Diverse creatures with unique powers and many kingdoms vying for power. Such elements are popular in fighting games for good reason, and they all contribute to the fantastic martial arts anime The God of High School.
10 Jujutsu Kaisen
While Jujutsu Kaisen’s incredible power system certainly gives it a mystical edge, at its core, the series is as much a martial arts anime as many other hit anime. The story is about a young man named Yuji who is inducted into a secret society of witches to fight the countless cursed spirits plaguing Japan. With Studio MAPPA’s signature attention to detail, Jujutsu Kaisen’s fights look stunningly animated, with some truly impressive animations. Special mention should go to Gojo and Miguel’s fight in Jujutsu Kaisen 0, where the series’ strongest wizard delivers one of the best knockout blows in martial arts anime history.
9 Kengan Ashura
Kengan Ashura focuses on a society where the outcome of wars determines business transactions. The main character of the series, Ouma, strives to become the strongest fighter in the world. To test his mettle and fight against the strongest enemies possible, he joined the Kengan Association working for a business called Nogi Corporation. Kengan Ashura gives fans plenty of explosive and exciting battles while also developing its main character into a better man, exactly what many fans are looking for in a good martial arts anime. best.
8 Joe of tomorrow
Tomorrow’s Joe is easily the most influential boxing anime. Tomorrow’s Joe tells a compassionate story about a young man named Joe who becomes a boxer under the tutelage of a man named Danpei. While Joe has anger problems outside of the ring, Danpei tries to teach Joe how to harness it in his boxing matches. Joe is set apart from many of the typical protagonists of martial arts anime, who are initially meek or weak, and are instead bullies and delinquents who develop into a kinder and better person over time. throughout the series.
7 Bamboo Tongs
Fencing is an extremely popular theme in martial arts anime, which is why it’s surprising that there are so few anime about the actual sport of kendo like Bamboo Blade. Based on the manga by Masahiro Totsuka and Aguri Igarashi, Bamboo Blade follows an all-female kendo team as they train to take on a rival kendo group. Far from the fantasy battles of many martial arts series, Bamboo Blade’s true strength lies in how grounded it is. Without any embellishment, the series gives kendo a kind of quiet dignity that shows great respect for the sport. Few martial arts anime are as realistic as Bamboo Blade.
6 Fist of the North Star
Fist of the North Star is a martial arts story in a post-apocalyptic world with incredible battles throughout. This story is Bruce Lee meets Mad Max in the best way possible. While the original anime’s animation hasn’t aged well in many respects, the series’ incredible influence is still felt across the industry with hits like JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. Martial arts anime fans wanting something a little more modern might even want to wait for the upcoming anime reboot of Fist of the North Star, which has incredible potential.
5 Hajime no Ippo: Fighting spirit
Hajime no Ippo: Fighting Spirit is perhaps the most recognizable boxing anime, and rightly so. Fighting Spirit contains some of the most intense and impressive fight scenes in anime and is guaranteed to thrill any fan. The amazing thing about the battles in the series is how unpredictable they are. All matches rarely turn out the way fans imagine, which helps make the show more realistic and interesting. No one wants to watch a fighting anime where the main character always wins. Ippo is another incredibly influential manga series and its recent adaptation in Fighting Spirit ranks among the best martial arts anime.
4 Yu Yu Hakusho
Like many Shonen Jump hits, Yu Yu Hakusho uses a combination of physical combat and energy attacks to create some truly energetic battles that stick with fans. The series is about a young man named Yusuke who dies after saving a child and is given a second chance to live as a spirit. Although Yu Yu Hakusho initially started out as a detective series, its later focus on martial arts is where the series really found its footing. The fighting in Yu Yu Hakusho is intense and the Dark Tournament is easily one of the best tournament rounds in shounen anime.
3 Baki Hanma
Few martial arts anime can match the ridiculousness of Grappler Baki. The film follows a young man named Baki as he trains to become a powerful warrior in the world of martial arts. While the manga has its more grounded moments, the anime adaptation that began in 2018 and continues to this day shows how wild the series can get when the main fighter fights a an incredibly powerful prehistoric man named Pickle and even a giant mantis. The strongest warriors in Baki Hanma are all memorable characters, easily ranking the series among the best martial arts anime ever made.
2 Samurai Champloo
Coming from the creator of Cowboy Bebop, Shinichiro Watanabe, it’s no surprise that Samurai Champloo pays homage to martial arts. The film follows the wandering Mugen and the masterless samurai Jin as they escort a young woman named Fuu through a heavily stylized version of Edo-period Japan. There are many things that stand out about the series, but special praise needs to be given to how well the anime captures a variety of different fighting styles. From Jin’s more thoughtful and reserved swordplay to Mugen’s wild abandon, few other anime make martial arts look quite as good as Samurai Champloo, easily earning its place among martial arts anime. best ever made.
1 dragon ball
Dragon Ball is what many people think of when mentioning martial arts anime. The original Dragon Ball series focused on some of the most exciting martial arts matches and tournaments seen in any anime or manga. What makes Dragon Ball’s battles so revolutionary is that they are so dynamic as characters constantly have to reassess their positions and strategies in battle. Even Dragon Ball Super brought techniques and skills back with abilities like Ultra Instinct. Although Dragon Ball Z is more about explosive battles, it also contains some core martial arts. All of that contributes to making Dragon Ball the best martial arts anime ever made.
Martial arts have always had a place in anime and for good reason. At their best, martial arts series can showcase a character’s physical and personal growth in an epic showdown. There’s also an emphasis on things like endurance in many martial arts series, with characters constantly having to adapt to their own physical and mental exhaustion. The best martial arts anime takes all of these elements and combines them into some of the best battles ever animated.