Martial arts is the codified system which is practiced between individuals looking to use mainly for self defense, competition, or personal goal. In drastic times it is used for combat and attacking a foe.
When you think of Martial Arts most people think of Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, or Jet Lee, etc. But when you think of the best martial arts anime, which ones come to mind for you? Below are 10 of the best martial arts anime that came to mind for me. They are in a rough order for which I thought best to worst, but I am open to criticism and would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
Yu Yu Hakusho
Yu Yu Hakusho is the story of Yusuke Urameshi, a 14-year-old street-brawling delinquent who, in an uncharacteristic act of altruism, is hit by a car and killed in an attempt to save a young boy by pushing him out of the way. His ghost is greeted by Botan, a woman who introduces herself as the pilot of the River Styx, who ferries souls to the “Underworld” or Spirit World (霊界, Reikai) where they may be judged for the afterlife. Botan informs Yusuke that his act had caught even the Underworld by surprise and that there was not yet a place made for him in either heaven or hell. Thus Koenma, son of the Underworld’s ruler King Enma, offers Yusuke a chance to return to his body through a series of tests. (Wikipedia)
Throughout the anime Yusuke and his friends are continually challenged with martial arts fights. There are super powers added in, however it is still a great display of martial arts and deserves to be on any top 10 list out there for martial arts anime! Get started watching this anime, with our watch order over at Anime Chrono! Yu-Yu Hakusho Watch Order
Kengan Ashura is a Japanese manga series written by Yabako Sandrovich and illustrated by Daromeon. It was serialized on Shogakukan’s Ura Sunday website from April 2012 to August 2018, with its chapters compiled into twenty-seven tankōbon volumes. A sequel, titled Kengan Omega, began in January 2019. (Wikipedia)
With the amazing talent that Netflix has at its disposal this anime was created with stunning visuals and fight scenes. It is certainly pushing the bar with martial arts and even though it is new to the game, it must be mentioned in any anime martial arts list. Start watching it with the watch order here!
Baki Hanma is raised by his wealthy mother, Emi Akezawa, who also funds his training in the hopes that he can be a powerful warrior like his father, Yujiro Hanma. Around the start of the series, Baki outgrows traditional training and heads out to follow the path of his ruthless father’s training and meets many powerful fighters along the way. Eventually, Baki fights his father and is beaten without a challenge. (Wikipedia)
Baki is on par with Kengan Ashura in its cinematics and fight scenes. Both series have a ton of similarities and both are equally great. As far as martial arts, they both focus on the main character having super-natural abilities and with that they do amazing things during the series with each fight scene. Check out the Baki Watch Order here!
The God of High School
The main protagonist is Mori Jin, a 17-year-old martial artist from Seoul, South Korea. At the beginning of the story, he is invited to join a Martial Arts tournament called “The God of High School” (or GOH). The event, sponsored by a shady corporation, brings together people from high schools all over South Korea on a regional and then, national level in order to select three representatives for the World Tournament. As a prize, the winner gets his wish fulfilled by the hosting corporation, no question asked. (Wikipedia)
One of the newer anime for this summer, The God of High School flourishes with some of the best animated scenes we’ve encountered. The Korean based artistry also adds some flair and separates it a bit from the other martial arts anime. Very enjoyable to watch, get started with the watch order!
Fist of the North Star
A worldwide nuclear war sometime in the 1990s has resulted in the destruction of most of civilization, turning the world into a desert wasteland. The remnants of mankind fight over whatever supply of food and uncontaminated water still remaining as the strong prey on the weak. Kenshiro is the successor to Hokuto Shinken, an ancient martial art of assassination that trains its practitioners to kill from within an opponent’s body through the use of hidden meridian points. (Wikipedia)
Get started watching this anime today, with the watch order here!
Street Fighter Series
The series chronicles the adventures of Ryu and Ken, two teenage martial artists who embark on a journey to improve their skills after experiencing brutal defeat at the hands of Guile. Along the way, they become acquainted with other Street Fighter characters such as the 15-year-old tour guide Chun-Li, martial arts movie-star Fei Long, Muay Thai champion Sagat, and Indian monk Dhalsim. (Wikipedia)
We’ve all played and at least heard of the street fighter video games, so the anime is a no-brainer for the martial arts list. It is an all time great, and I highly recommend it. Good luck finding the series to watch, however there are a few outlets out there.
Naruto Uzumaki had a rough life growing up without his parents and the way of the ninja, specifically becoming the next hokage was his one and only goal. The story revolves around Naruto and his journey with friends and foes which challenge him to continue to improve to become the best ninja he can be.
Even though this series includes multiple jutsu and other magical type skills, the martial arts involved (more heavily with some characters like Rock Lee and Neji) is still very prevelant, and most certainly worth the mention into the martial arts list.
This anime, being an all-time great, is one you must watch. Let this watch order help get you started on the right path.
A young woman named Fuu is working as a waitress in a tea shop when she is abused by a band of samurai. She is saved by a mysterious rogue named Mugen and a young rōnin named Jin. Mugen attacks Jin after he proves to be a worthy opponent. (Wikipedia)
This anime brings a special twist to martial arts, with the main plot set in the Edo-era Japan, with styles that are unique to any other anime. If you’re into samurai, shogun, or that era of Japanese history and you like martial arts, this anime is worth the watch. Check out the watch order here!
Hajime no Ippo
Ippo Makunouchi was an extremely shy high school student, unable to make friends due to always being busy helping his mother run their family fishing charter business. Because he kept to himself, a group of bullies led by Umezawa got into the habit of picking on him. (Wikipedia)
Ippo learns the martial arts facet of boxing, in order to project himself and vent his frustrations. Although not a typical martial arts form, like kung fu or jujitsu, boxing is another worthy mention, for which this anime does a great job of outlining.
Dragon Ball Series
Dragon Ball focuses on the story of Goku and his journey of living on earth as a saiyan from another planet. Goku trains with master Roshi to become the greatest martial artist of all time. His journey exponentially grows through each series and the amount of martial arts that is used is astounding.
This series does include energy type powers and movements at the speed of light, but it still portrays one of the best and arguable the most popular anime to date, which uses martial arts as its forefront. Get started by checking out the watch order here, if you have not already seen it!
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Hi, there’s also another martial arts anime that I think worth mentioning or it’s just me, hehe it’s Virtua Fighter. 🙂 And Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple.
Awesome, Thanks for mentioning that! I will certainly check them out and perhaps feature them in upcoming posts 🙂