The Best Anime & Movies in Martial Arts (Of All Time)
Is it possible for traditional martial arts in anime, a medium known for its magical powers and neon wigs, to exist?
That’s a no-brainer!
In anime, martial arts are depicted in a variety of ways, from sword fighting in medieval Japan to hand-to-hand combat.
Anime that do a good job of showcasing battle as an art form is what I’m looking for in this search. Making a big deal out of the fact that the show has a lot of martial arts.
So with that in mind, here are my favorite martial arts anime of all time. Grab your belt and buckle up!
21. Afro Samurai
It’s clear. With Samuel L. Jackson and Ron Perlman in the voice cast, you may be asking why Afro Samurai is here.
Then again, it’s still anime, and it’s one of the most slickly done of all time.
Bloody, unapologetic and overflowing with style, Afro Samurai is a bloodbath.
Afro Samurai: Resurrection and the series Afro Samurai: Rebirth are examples of this.
What if there was an afro samurai fighting alongside a ninja and another samurai with a teddy bear mask?
Neon colors, hip-hop, and over-the-top sword fights make up Afro Samurai. And that’s all I could ask for.
It’s still all about the look, not the content. As a result, it’s only just making its way onto my list.
Due to the MC’s appearance and the combo of swords and firearms, I won’t be surprised if you believed this was Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress.
Kurozuka, on the other hand, was released eight years earlier and features vampires rather than hordes of the undead.
Additionally, Kurozuka isn’t based on a manga like the majority of the other films listed here.
A Baku Yumemakura novel serves as the inspiration for this film. As a result, we move from Japan’s Heian era to a dismal future.
There isn’t a lot of emphasis on martial arts in this film, but it is prominently featured in all of the major action sequences.
19. Hunter x Hunter
If you like the original 1999 version or Madhouse Studio’s 148-episode epic 2011 version, I don’t really care which one you watch.
In the end, all that counts is that you can understand why so many manga enthusiasts like me put up with months-long waits for new stories.
Hunter x Hunter does have its share of shounen moments, that much is certain.
But there’s no denying that this is a martial arts show.
Killua and Gon, for example, do a martial arts exercise called the Flowing Dance.
It’s a karate technique derived from kumite, which is a major part of the sport. Isaac Netero also taught Shingen-ryu, a kung fu style.
Trust me, it’s worth the time investment.
It’s one of the most popular shows on MAL for a good reason.
18. Tiger Mask W
Wrestling is a form of martial arts, correct?
When it comes to martial arts, a lot of people today think of it as something that’s only practiced in Asia, rather than something that’s practiced in the West.
Folk wrestling is another name for traditional combat arts.
Tiger Mask W, on the other hand, is all about wrestling pranks.
The twists and turns here will blow your mind if you thought WWE was actual sports entertainment.
High-flying action with just the right amount of craziness.
Tiger Mask and The Third’s fight is a good place to start if you’re looking for a sample of all the series has to offer.
Whether or not you’ve heard of Yawara isn’t a big deal.
However, outside of Japan, it did not perform as well as it did in Japan (versus my following inclusion on this list).
However, this is still a fantastic anime to watch!
A Judo expert is the star of Yawara, which is based on the Japanese martial art.
In what way?
She has no desire to lead a life of a hermit. A regular life for Yawara consists of spending time with a man and expressing her femininity.
Unfortunately for Yawara, her daily life is full of stumbling blocks that push her to make use of her untapped potential.
16. Ranma ½
Ranma 12 is a comedy that stands in stark contrast to Afro Samurai’s gore and bloodshed.
As far as I know, there has never been a comedic romance quite like this since.
Think of it as a slice of life in the martial arts.
When it comes to Akane and Ranma Saotome, their relationship is the focus of Ranma 12.
It’s a joy to watch, and there are 161 episodes to catch up on if you want.
Ryouga and Shampoo, members of the Joketsuzoku, a group that specializes in pressure point strikes and other forms of bodily manipulation, encounter them along the route.
15. Dragon Ball
To think you thought Ranma 12 was dated is an understatement.
The series is the forefather of shounen and super-powered MCs and, together with Pokemon, one of the most popular anime of all time.
From the original Dragon Ball through the latter Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball Kai, the series is known for its bloody battles.
As the story progresses, explosions and energy strikes take over. But there are still hints of martial arts to be seen.
The World Martial Arts Tournament and seven different martial arts schools are all part of the brand.
When it comes to boxing and kickboxing, Goku’s approach is reminiscent of Taekwondo, making him a great boxer.
14. Juubee Ninpuuchou (Ninja Scroll)
The list begins with the film Juubee Ninpuuchou.
Jubei, a swordsman in feudal Japan, is the protagonist of this 1993 Madhouse series.
He doesn’t have time for the political wrangling, but he also has to deal with a lot of otherworldly ninjas.
As with Shigurui, it’s not suitable for young audiences, but thankfully there’s less gore in this film.
Beautifully animated fights against the Devils of Kimon are a joy to watch. If you can get your hands on a copy or watch it online, do so.
13. Kimetsu no Yaiba (Demon Slayer)
Kimetsu no Yaiba was not expected to be as popular as it has become.
As the year’s most popular anime, Zenitsu, Tanjiro, and (most importantly) Nezuko merchandise sales skyrocketed.
That’s not all, though: Kimetsu no Yaiba confirmed that Ufotable still a top-tier studio thanks to its emotionally gripping tale and adorable cast members.
There are many demons to face off against in this highly regarded series, which is set in Japan during the Taisho period.
Like Afro Samurai, this show is all about swordfighting.
A whole new set of swordfighting styles, known as “breath-styles,” is also included.
12. Street Fighter II V (Street Fighter II: The Animated Series)
In addition to Ryu, Chun-li and Guile from Street Fighter, this list would be incomplete without their inclusion.
Martial artists Ryu and Ken Masters are both.
This is the closest we’ve gotten to the adrenaline-pumping matches of the arcade game.
When it comes to the fighting in Street Fighter II V, you may choose from several different styles, like Muay Thai, kickboxing, ninjutsu, and even Shotokan karate.
It’s impossible to get tired of watching these men go at it.
11. Kenpuu Denki Berserk (Berserk)
Is it even necessary to say anything else about Berserk at this point?
When it comes to horror and spectacle, this dark fantasy is one of the most well-known anime and manga ever.
Guts vs. Griffith is one of the most storied rivalry in anime history, although there are few that can match it.
This is a huge undertaking for which we have yet to devise a conclusion. It’s possible to say that Guts has become overpowered and unrealistic in the last few years.
Nonetheless, the amazing usage of flip strikes, proper postures, and just impressive melee combat is worth highlighting.
But please avoid the 2016 sequel.
It doesn’t hold a candle to the 1997 television series or even the trilogy of films that preceded it (The Golden Age Arc).
Read the manga if you really want more Berserk.
When it comes to violence, Shigurui is an understatement.
No other 2009 series comes close to the level of detail and even beauty found in Elfen Lied and Higurashi When They Cry.
Two men are competing in a competition using actual swords rather than wooden ones. In contrast, the other samurai has just one arm, and he’s completely blind.
However, I can’t put the series any higher on the list because I think it’s best suited for children.
It’s not for everyone, even when it features sword fights.
“Artistic” rather than “fast-action” sequences are used to describe this film.
Although it’s more intense, the scenes of decapitations and intestines flowing are more memorable.
9. Basilisk: Kouga Ninpou Chou
Forget about Basilisk: Ouka Ninpouchou, the 2018 sequel. There was no need for a sequel that completely forgot about what made the original so great, Basilisk argues.
The original series was like Naruto for adults, even if its fighters had exceptional skills.
A great start to the series, with two clans going toe-to-toe throughout the rest of the season.
Exhilarating and heart-wrenching battles await in Basilisk, a battle royale done correctly.
You’ll never know what to expect when a death occurs, and it’s remarkable how much it affects you.
The fact that Basilisk is “Naruto for grownups” doesn’t mean it’s any less enjoyable.
With One Piece and Bleach, Naruto is one of the “big three” shonen animes.
The primary tale has ended, but that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t accomplished anything.
Even after all these years, Naruto continues to serve as a doorway to both anime and martial arts anime.
When it comes to fighting styles, the taekwondo of Rock Lee and the Chinese-inspired Pakwachang of Neji are the most obvious comparisons.
Naruto, like Dragon Ball, includes a hefty dose of boxing and kickboxing action as well. As a result, there’s something for everyone here.
7. Hokuto no Ken (Fist of the North Star)
As you may have observed, I have a lot of older anime on my list.
Fist of the North Star’s success is a monument to that fact.
The visual appeal of classic anime can’t be denied.
This Toei Animation masterpiece from 1984 depicts a post-apocalyptic scene for its audience.
However, it is unquestionably a martial arts anime.
Kenshiro, the protagonist, is an expert in Hokuto Shinken, a fictional Chinese martial art.
For example, think of it as Negi from Naruto’s gentle taijutsu when he strikes at critical spots.
6. Grappler Baki (Baki the Grappler)
Baki the Grappler’s characters were originally unnerving to me.
Their eyes are scary and their muscles are intimidating. I admire the attention to detail, however I found it a little unnerving.
Still, Baki the Grappler is one of the best animes out there.
Baki refuses to stoop to anyone in his quest to become the best fighter in the world.
Baki’s fights always feel like they’re going to end in defeat.
Every next opponent appears more muscular than the last one.
Baki the Grappler, on the other hand, serves as a reminder that strength is useless without intelligence.
5. Shijou Saikyou no Deshi Kenichi (Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple)
My favorite comedy film of the year is Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, far superior to Ranma 12.
Kenichi is a better martial artist than the anime, but I prefer the former.
Kenichi’s transformation from a helpless child into a fearsome adolescent warrior is chronicled over the course of 50 episodes.
You’ll be able to watch and learn from him as he trains in everything from Muay Thai to Chinese martial arts in his studio.
In terms of martial arts anime, is this one of the best-looking out there? No.
Is it a good way to get kids interested in martial arts? Although not as much as some others.
4. Seirei no Moribito (Moribito – Guardian of the Spirit)
As with Kurozuka, the source material for Seirei no Moribito was a novel.
In particular, the debut novel by Nahoko Uehashi.
Weapons-based martial arts are prominent in this 26-episode series.
In addition, is there another anime that focuses on spear fighting?
It’s hard to think of a more frightening female character in anime than Balsa Yonsa.
In spite of the fact that it was released in 2007, Production I.G.’s work makes it seem better than other recent animes.
However, I assumed Katanagatari was part of the Shaft’s Monogatari series.
Aside than that, it’s made by White Fox.
Second, none of the head tilts are present.
Katanagatari is more like Sword Fights: The Anime than the reverse.
I adore it because he uses his own body as if it were a sword, and that’s one of the reasons why.
Yes, that’s exactly what I’m getting at here. A dog with its own leash, Shichika Yasuri is both the weapon and the weapon wielder.
It also has a distinctive visual design, like a cross between Western and Japanese aesthetics.
2. Sword of the Stranger
For a multitude of reasons, Sword of the Stranger is the best martial arts anime film.
In this award-winning film, the story isn’t sacrificed for spectacular visuals or creative cinematography.
This film has no flaws in my opinion.
With a clear plot and a feast of sword fights, it’s a fast-paced and enjoyable film.
Our samurai MC, on the other hand, swears never to wield his sword. I know, I know.
The film is violent, yes.
There is some violence, but it’s not over-the-top.
In Swords of the Stranger, there is a lot of heart, and it shares this sense of remorse and atonement with my favorite.
1. Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Kenkaku Romantan (Samurai X)
No one could have possibly doubted that Samurai X would be my #1 pick.
Regardless of whether it’s an anime or not, it’s a work of art in my book.
In fact, the live-action film adaptations exceeded expectations.