This post is part of The 30 Day Anime Challenge Series alongside the Cosmic Anvil Kickstarter campaign. Click here to read the introduction, and click here to check out and support the campaign to help us fund the printing and distribution of our first collected volume of our manga-inspired comic series, Age of Revolution.
Okay, so I’m sure this isn’t technically classed as a fighter anime but it does have some really epic fight scenes in it. Plus, I’ve not really seen many fighter anime – I’ve still only watched a couple of episodes of One Piece (such a N00b!) My pick for my favourite fighter anime is Deadman Wonderland.
In Deadman Wonderland, not only are the Deadmen using their own blood to fight with they also are made to fight each other and the loser is dissected for body parts to experiment on… Ugh.
This means the fights are pretty NSFW, such as this epic one between Ganta and Senji:
I’m more into magical and supernatural fighting in anime and I’m not sure those would qualify as ‘fighter’ anime in the traditional sense. However, I also love anime involving old-school Samurai action, and therefore my pick for my favourite fighter anime is Samurai Champloo.
Set in Edo-era Japan, the story follows Mugen – a rebellious, wandering swordsman, Jin – a stoic, honourable ronin – and Fuu – a plucky young waitress who enlists the pair of them to accompany on her quest to find “the samurai who smells of sunflowers.”
This rag-tag team journey their way through the Japanese countryside and villages, getting into trouble in brothels, pissing off the local government, and having some pretty amazingly animated fights:
As creator Shinichirō Watanabe‘s first series following Cowboy Bebop, it is certainly of the same high standard and similarly critically acclaimed, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is a fan of sword fighting or martial arts. I’m always more impressed by skill by power when it comes to fight scenes – quick and masterful swings of the sword or fist are more satisfying to watch than massive explosions of power/energy for me like in most Shonen shows. Samurai Champloo has plenty of this on display, and moreover, cleverly inflects it’s hip-hop flavoured soundtrack into the action by throwing breakdancing moves into Mugen’s fighting style.
The contrast between Mugen and Jin’s personalities is also echoed through their preferred fighting styles. Whereas Mugen dances round and shows off, Jin is quick, precise, and respectful of his opponents. I won’t spoil what happens in the final fight, but let’s just say it’s a classic Samurai stand-off.
Honourable mentions: Bleach, Soul Eater, Sword Art Online, D.Gray-Man, Claymore.
Obviously, I’m going to talk about Dragon Ball with this one. Firstly, I would like to clarify that I am talking about Dragon Ball not Dragon Ball Z. The franchise is amazing, and DBZ does take it to the next level, but I feel Dragon Ball is better when it comes to martial arts and fighting as it revolves more around Goku training for the martial arts tournament, rather than space adventures, serial killer androids, and mindless demonic creatures made of chewing gum.
Hands down, the Dragon Ball franchise is one of the most, if not the most, successful manga/anime franchises of all time. So I’m sure as hell making it my number one fighting anime. For starters, it’s literally all about fighting as the whole story revolves around Goku, who from an early age, falls in love with training and martial arts and begens his journey to becoming the world’s greatest fighter.
What makes Dragon Ball the best fighter is not just it’s commercial success, but at it’s core it’s a pure martial arts story. Very early on, Goku leans that he is not the most powerful in the world as at his first Martial Arts Tournament Goku is defeated in the finals by his then master, Master Roshi who is under the guise of Jackie Chung. Roshi then confesses that he entered the Martial Arts tournament to teach Goku and Krillin this lesson, because if they live their lives believing that they are already at the top, they will either become sloppy or arrogant. This lesson is probably the most important lesson in Dragon Ball, as it creates one of the most definable character traits in Goku – the need and the want to train to be the best, but it also secures Dragon Ball as a fighting anime by definition.
Not only does it have the spirit of a good fighter, but it looks amazing. The fights in Dragon Ball are some the best in anime. Incredibly fast and insanely strong, these fights are always a thrill to watch. I know DBZ takes it to the level of God standard, but I feel like in doing this it loses it’s martial arts roots. Dragon Ball manages to provide heart-pounding action without blowing the world up every season. Dragon Ball is also the anime that has the most iconic fighting move of all time: The Kamehameha.
The moves used in Dragon Ball are crazy. Not only are there energy blasts, but martial artists have trained their bodies to do everything from multiply, grow extra limbs, regenerate, fly, read minds, hypnotise, trap demons (or Namekians) in jars… the list goes on. Also, the humor used in Dragon Ball is amazing; preventing it from becoming too serious or reduced down to tough guys just beating each other up. It also has some of the best cast of characters who are all completely lovable – even the bad guys…Who aren’t always that bad, in the end.
Written by The Cosmic Anvil Team.
Check out our own Welsh-manga (or ‘Wanga’) series, AGE OF REVOLUTION on our official site and Comixology! And if you want to join the fight to get the AGE OF REVOLUTION Volume printed check out our Kickstarter page!