Anime as a medium is very unconventional. Unconventional to the point of people firing lethal laser beams from their eyes or blasting an entire world to smithereens nearly became a practice. And, of course, we, the supporters, have no reservations about the way anime runs things. In fact, we appreciate the material that anime constantly feeds us.
We come into standard subjects like martial arts every once in a while. Martial artists still exist in anime, even though they are relatively rare. It’s just that what they are capable of is beyond the martial arts definition.
Here are the best martial arts anime we’ve always admired.
Reverse Blade Katana
You’re sure to witness some of the greatest karate anime moments of all time, whether it’s the prequel OVA (Trust and Betrayal), the culminating OVA (Reflection), or the sprawling 94-episode season.
With a reverse blade katana, Kenshin can beat up enemies. Kaoru has kenjutsu sword training for his love interest. It is ranked among good martial arts anime considering its actions.
The kodachi and katana swords, respectively, were learned by Aoshi and Hajime. And then you’ve got guys like Sanosuke and Anji who can bare-handedly duke it out.
Sword of Stranger
For a number of factors, the best martial arts anime film is Sword of the Stranger.
In order to build some beautiful set pieces and clever cinematography, this award-winning film does not sacrifice its story.
I can’t blame this film.
It is well-paced and gets rid of all the fat, with a smorgasbord of sword fights telling a clear-cut plot. And still, our MC samurai has an oath that he will not use his sword. Fascinating, right?
It’s aggressive, yeah.
But this isn’t an over-the-top sort of violent thing. There’s a lot of heart in Sword of the Outsider, and my No. 1 selection shares this feeling of remorse and salvation.
This is kind of embarrassing, but I thought that Katanagatari belonged to the Monogatari franchise of Shaft.
It’s from White Fox, for one. Secondly, all the head tilts are missing.
Katanagatari, instead, is pretty much Sword Fights: The Anime.
But here’s why I love it so much: The guy uses a combat style, literally, where he has to use his own body as though it were a weapon.
That is right. Like a dog keeping its own leash, Shichika Yasuri is both a tool and a gun wielder.
Plus, like a combination of Western and Japanese models, it has a distinctive visual look.
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Seirei no Moribito
Seirei no Moribito is, like Kurozuka, adapted from a book. Specifically, the first entry in a book trilogy by Nahoko Uehashi.
It’s only 26 episodes long, but it’s filled with excellent martial arts focused on weapons.
Plus, is there any other spear martial arts anime that illustrates it?
Balsa Yonsa is one of the most intimidating female characters in all anime, with her good pal spear.
Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, even better than Ranma 1⁄2, is my highest comic entry. As an anime, I like the latter better, but in terms of real martial arts, Kenichi offers better.
You will watch the rise of Kenichi from a weakling to a powerful teen warrior in 50 episodes.
In his intense dojo sessions, you get to follow him, studying everything from Muay Thai to Chinese martial arts.
It has the potential to appeal younger audience to try out martial arts.So, its worth watching.
Baki the Grappler
I was initially disappointed by how the characters appeared in Baki the Grappler, admittedly.
Like, all these super muscular warriors with sinister eyes are like that. Detailed muscles is what I admire, but it was a little creepy.
Baki the Grappler is an anime beast. It’s all about being the world’s best warrior, and Baki won’t bow down to anyone.
It feels like Baki is about to fail almost every fight. Each new opponent looks more muscular than the previous one.
And yet, Baki the Grappler tells us that, despite brains, brawn is nothing.
Fist of the North Star
My list includes quite a couple of old anime, as you may have already observed. But that is a testament to titles like Fist of the North Star’s achievements. It proved to be one of the best martial arts anime.
Plus, I can’t ignore old anime’s aesthetic allure. This Toei Animation classic, released in 1984, presents viewers with a post-apocalyptic landscape. Yet it is a good karate anime, undeniably.
The main protagonist, Kenshiro, is proficient in Hokuto Shinken, a fictional martial art style from ancient China. When he performs his Gentle Fist taijutsu that hits critical points, think of it as Naruto’s Negi.
I just said Basilisk was Naruto for grown-ups, but that doesn’t mean that the latter is evil, far from it.
Naruto has earned it as one of the “big three” shonen anime alongside One Piece and Bleach.
The main story is finished, but that does not negate its accomplishments (after what seemed like endless filler plot lines).
As a gateway not only to anime, but also to martial arts anime, Naruto remains.
Rock Lee represents taekwondo, while Neji has a style of fighting called Pakwachang, symbolic of Chinese martial arts.
Of course, Naruto also has plenty of boxing and jiu jitsu, just like Dragon Ball. So there’s enough for everyone here.
Forget the sequel title Basilisk: Ouka Ninpouchou in 2018. Basilisk: There was no need for a sequel by Kouga Ninpou Chou that clearly forgot what made the original so special.
Even though its warriors had special powers, the original series felt realistic; it was like Naruto for adults. It was an excellent first episode, setting the tone for the rest of the show: two clans battling to the death.
Basilisk, with lots of exciting and heart-wrenching moments, is a battle royale done right.
You can never anticipate how each death happens, and how effective they can be is honestly incredible.
It is an understatement to state that Shigurui is aggressive.
Shows such as Elfen Lied and Higurashi When They Weep hold no candle to this 2009 series’ comprehensive and even beautiful warfare.
The tale is plain. As they compete in a tournament where real weapons are used instead of wooden swords, you follow two guys. One has just one weapon, while the other is a samurai who is blind.
The style is not for all, despite featuring sword fights. Instead of the typical fast-action scenes, let’s just say it takes a more “artistic” path.
It feels more like a slow burn, more like decapitation and gut-spilling scenes stay with you.
Street Fighter II
Without Ryuu, Chun-li, Guile and the rest of the popular characters in the Street Fighter franchise, this list wouldn’t be complete.
Ryu and Ken Masters are martial artists, literally. And this particular adaptation is the closest we’ve got to the hype-inducing matches of the arcade game.
Street Fighter II V has a number of fighting styles, ranging from Muay Thai and kickboxing to Shotokan karate and ninjutsu. Indeed, two Roman numerals.
Watching these guys compete against each other will never make them feel tired.
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Kimetsu no Yaiba
Just how famous Kimetsu no Yaiba would become, nobody expected. As the undisputed top anime of 2019, it spawned memes and contributed to a surge in merchandise sales of Zenitsu, Tanjiro, and (most particularly) Nezuko.
But Kimetsu no Yaiba showed why Ufotable is still a top-tier studio, apart from its emotionally compelling story and lovable bunch of characters: it knows how to create top-notch action sequences.
The acclaimed series pits the protagonists against a whole slew of demons, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. This show, just like Afro Samurai, delights in sword battles.
But it also leads to a whole series of styles of sword-fighting called breath styles, and it is an absolute visual delight.
The first movie entry on this list is Juubee Ninpuuchou. This Madhouse project, which premiered back in 1993, is set in feudal Japan and follows a swordsman called Jubei.
He has little time for any of this political struggle, but he has to contend with a bunch of supernatural ninjas as well.
It’s like Shigurui, so it’s not suitable for children, but, luckily, it has a lot less gore.
Dragon Ball Z
Get a load of Dragon Ball from 1986, if you ever believed Ranma 1⁄2 was old. Alongside Pokemon, the series is definitely one of the most famous anime ever, the grandfather of shounen and super-powered MCs.
From Dragon Ball to Dragon Ball Z and DragonBall Kai, you get a saga featuring wild battles.
Eventually, the series becomes all about explosions and attacks on electricity. Yet pieces of martial arts can still be seen along the way.
The franchise has seven martial arts schools and the World Martial Arts Competition also takes place. As for Goku, with his kicking style indicative of taekwondo, he’s great at boxing and kickboxing.
The comedy classic Ranma 1⁄2 is in sheer contrast to the death and blood of Afro Samurai.
There hasn’t been a comedy romance like it. Think of it as a Slice of Life: Martial Arts after its release in 1981
Ranma 1⁄2 revolves around Ranma Saotome and Akane’s lives, and they are involved.
It’s a lovely watch, and it has 161 marathon episodes for you.
They meet individuals like Ryouga and Shampoo along the way, the latter of whom is from China and is part of the Joketsuzoku, who are trained in body manipulation and pressure point attacks.
Darker than Black
Darker Than Black is a massive anime success that premiered in the spring of 2007. The anime is a sci-fi thriller that takes place in a world that is almost futuristic. The events in the story primarily revolve around the main character of the series, Hei.
Hei is a contractor with the capacity to control electricity. But Hei is reasonably fluent in martial arts, unlike most anime characters who rely heavily on their superpowers.
It’s okay if you’ve never heard of Yawara before. Although it was a good rating in Japan (against my next entry on this list), it did not do as well outside the country.
But still a fantastic anime to check out! Yawara stars in his title character, who is essentially a master of Judo.
She doesn’t want to be one to exist. A normal life is what Yawara wants, where she can express her femininity and just be with a man.
Unfortunately for her, in her daily life, Yawara frequently dips into challenges that force her to use her secret talents.
Tiger Mask W
Many people today think of martial arts as an Eastern term, and that the West is more familiar with boxing and wrestling.
Modern martial arts, however, are sometimes called folk wrestling. And Tiger Mask W is all about the shenanigans of wrestling.
If you thought WWE was real sports entertainment, the twists and turns here have yet to be seen. This high-flying action is filled with just enough ridicule to boot.
I suggest checking out the fight between Tiger Mask and The Seventh, who does suplexes, chops, and powerbombs, to get a fast taste. This is going to be one of the best martial arts anime to be added in your list.
Cowboy Bebop’s protagonist is friendly, cool, and nonchalant, but has some tremendous abilities that he won’t hesitate to use. Because of his former association with the Red Dragon, he is proficient in weapons (for example, his own Jericho 941, or Ruger P85, and even other firearms and explosives), martial arts, and hand-to-hand combat.
Have you ever tried to get the last pre-made discounted lunch at a supermarket, only to unexpectedly get kicked in a desperate bid for cheap food by a bunch of hungry teenagers? Oh, that’s the way things go for You Satou one fateful day in the anime adaptation of the light novel series Ben-To. He soon discovers that pre-packaged lunch-boxes are highly regarded, called “Bentos”
This martial arts anime is an all-around enjoyable, heavy fan service that takes place in a world where supermarket brawls are commonplace over discounted bentos, having developed into a sort of warrior culture.
The seasoned warriors are referred to as “Wolves” while “Dogs” are the weaklings, and there are laws on proper morals among them, such as no one has succeeded to get their hands on a bento.
A fantastic martial arts anime based on a manga that ran for around 12 years is Shijou Saikyou no Deshi Kenichi (History’s Best Disciple Kenichi).
In summary, before he encounters a classmate known as Miu, who lives at the Ryouzanpaku dojo, Kenichi is a student who is continually bullied.
The anime has Kenichi continuously fighting enemies who have devoted themselves to practicing a different style of martial arts, blended in between the battles with a lot of humor.
These battles help to shape something concrete in his combination-style of defense of Karate, Muay Thai, Ju Jitsu, Chinese Martial Arts, and Weapons, but even his opponents strengthen and ally with him over the course of the series.
If you thought it was Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress because of the presence of the MC and its combination of blades and weapons, I won’t blame you. But Kurozuka came out eight years ago, and instead of zombie hordes, she has vampires.
Kurozuka is also not adapted from a manga, as opposed to most of the entries here.
It’s an adaptation of a novel about Baku Yumemakura. Thus, it goes from around the Heian era to Japan’s dystopian future.
Martial arts is not that popular here, but for all the key action scenes it pops into the picture.
I’m having this. You’re probably wondering why Afro Samurai is here, especially if Samuel L. Jackson and Ron Perlman are no less involved in the voice cast.
Yeah, it’s still anime, and it’s one of the most slick of all. Afro Samurai is bloody, unpardonable, and stylishly oozing.
This goes for both the Afro Samurai: Resurrection series and the movie sequel. Neon shades, hip-hop, and over-the-top sword battles are drenched in Afro Samurai. And for nothing more, I couldn’t ask.
This is all pretty much style over substance. This is why at the beginning of my list it just breaks in.
We are excited to know your thoughts about the best martial arts anime and which one really made your day. Some anime are life changing for few people. So, share your experience with us.