In the vibrant world of anime, captivating fight scenes often define the essence of the characters and their abilities. From the dizzying spinning punches of Goku to the brick-shattering chops of a Super Saiyan, or the uniquely intense brawls reminiscent of Fist of the North Star, these scenes are what make the best martial arts anime series and movies truly remarkable. Through these sequences, viewers witness the limitations of the characters’ bodies and the ingenious methods of attack and defense that unfold throughout the show, captivating the hearts of anime enthusiasts.
It’s important to note that while brawls within anime can sometimes appear brutal, there exists another side where martial arts are practiced responsibly and regulated, serving as a central and critical element of the storyline.
Anime often ventures beyond conventional fighting styles, introducing unique power systems that shape battles. From Stands to Nen and Chakra, these systems infuse the anime world with distinct dynamics. Nevertheless, martial arts have left an indelible mark on numerous anime characters and their fighting techniques. Some characters stand as martial arts experts, relying solely on their combat skills, while others seamlessly combine martial arts with extraordinary powers to deliver impactful blows.
For any true anime enthusiast, certain series instantly come to mind for their awe-inspiring fight scenes. These battles are etched into memory, not solely for the dazzling super forms, power-ups, or flashy moves, but for the emotional intensity as heroes stake their lives to vanquish their adversaries. Amidst the myriad of choices, a select few anime truly excel in their fight sequences, particularly those that emphasize the art of martial arts.
With the latest season of Baki now available on Netflix, fans of the intense martial arts anime are already eagerly anticipating the next installment. If you’re seeking more martial arts action, here’s a list of ten additional martial arts anime to consider watching if you enjoyed Baki:
1. “Baki the Grappler” (2001-2023)
“Baki” stands out as one of Netflix’s original Martial Arts Anime series, adapted from the renowned manga “Baki the Grappler” authored by Keisuke Itagaki. This series has undergone various iterations across the years, tracing back to a 1994 original video animation (OVA) and a 2001 anime series.
Thanks to Netflix’s efforts, “Baki” has experienced a resurgence in popularity and has re-entered the mainstream. Notably, the series now boasts three additional seasons available for streaming. With the intense battles between Baki and Pickle reaching their conclusion and the epic clash against his father, Yujiro, recorded in the story, dedicated fans of the series are likely in search of alternative martial arts anime that can satiate their thirst for combat sports excitement.
Baki might be on the cusp of a new season release on Netflix, but it’s important not to overlook the anime’s original run in 2001. While the current incarnation of the show carries its signature brand of eccentricity, the earlier version maintains that essence, albeit with a slightly rougher aesthetic and animation style. For those seeking to delve into the background and evolution of the character, watching the original is a must, as it traces the journey of young Baki as he develops into the formidable fighter cherished by fans today.
When it comes to immersing oneself in the realm of martial arts, few options compare to the allure of Grappler Baki. Within this series, fights are high-stakes affairs devoid of rules, often escalating to life-or-death situations. Thanks to an ongoing manga that dates back to 1991, Keisuke Itagaki’s narrative provides a plethora of material that various anime adaptations can draw from. Regardless of the entry point, the fundamental premise remains constant: Baki Hanma’s gradual transition from conventional martial arts to embracing ruthless techniques, all with the singular aim of overcoming his father, even if it means resorting to lethal measures.
Following a crushing defeat at the hands of his own father, Baki embarks on a global journey, immersing himself in underground tournaments to refine his combat skills. Unlike many other martial arts anime, Grappler Baki captures the attention of action aficionados with its unadulterated and merciless approach to combat. The series seamlessly melds realistic martial arts with fantastical techniques, showcasing a fusion of physical resilience, superhuman abilities, and extraordinary body compositions. Grappler Baki stands alone in its ability to deliver a raw and unfiltered depiction of martial arts prowess.
2. “Hajime No Ippo”
Boxing, both a sport and a martial art, takes center stage in Hajime No Ippo, captivating anime enthusiasts with its enthralling narratives. Boasting an ongoing manga that originated as far back as 1989, the series offers a wealth of stories and matches for each anime adaptation to draw inspiration from.
Hajime No Ippo follows the journey of Ippo Makunochi, delving into his introduction to the world of boxing during his high school days. Beyond Ippo’s unwavering determination that carries him from one bout to the next, the series shines in its meticulous attention to detail, evident in both the intricacies of the fights and the technical analyses that accompany them.
Eschewing fantastical techniques, Ippo and his rivals instead leverage a profound understanding of the strengths and weaknesses that resonate with modern boxers. For instance, Ippo is renowned for his devastating power and his inclination to seek knockouts before the 9th round. However, his relative lack of mastery in boxing techniques consistently places him at a disadvantage, highlighting the realistic challenges faced by fighters.
No discourse on martial arts anime would be complete without acknowledging Hajime No Ippo. Regarded as a classic in the realm of boxing anime, the series attains GOAT (Greatest of All Time) status among sports enthusiasts worldwide.
The narrative closely follows the journey of Hajime ‘Ippo’ Makunouchi, a seemingly unremarkable schoolboy subjected to bullying by his peers. His life takes a transformative turn upon encountering Mamoru Takamura, a multi-weight class boxing champion who not only wards off Ippo’s tormentors but also sparks his passion for boxing.
Hajime no Ippo is more than one of the best Martial Arts Anime; it is a heartfelt tribute to the art of boxing, penned by George Morikawa, an author who owns his own boxing gym, complete with a statue of Takamura adorning the roof. The series delves deep into the intricacies of boxing technique and culture, fostering an emotional connection between viewers and every fighter that crosses Ippo’s path. This is an anime that promises immense satisfaction upon viewing and is likely to become a cherished favorite to revisit over the years.
Enthusiasts can experience Hajime no Ippo’s boxing journey on platforms such as Crunchyroll and Retro Crush, ensuring that the epic tale remains accessible for fans to enjoy. The anime is “GOAT” (Greatest of All Time) among sports anime implying its exceptional quality and significance in the genre of Martial Arts Anime.
3. “Kengan Ashura” (2019)
Kengan Ashura delivers a captivating narrative centered around high-stakes business negotiations that hinge on the outcomes of intense combat. At its core, the story revolves around Ouma, the series’ protagonist, who is resolute in his quest to claim the title of the world’s most powerful martial artist. In pursuit of his goal and the desire to challenge the mightiest opponents, Ouma aligns himself with the Kengan Association, an entity affiliated with the Nogi Group business.
The allure of Kengan Ashura lies in its explosive and riveting battles that unfold throughout the narrative. These battles not only serve as thrilling spectacles but also contribute to Ouma’s personal growth and transformation. As he faces formidable adversaries, he evolves not only as a martial artist but also as a better individual.
Kengan Ashura stands as a pinnacle among martial arts-focused manga and anime. The series revolves around Tokita Ohma, a skilled wanderer armed with the formidable ‘Advance’ technique. His journey takes him into the heart of the Kengan Annihilation Tournament, an arena where major corporations make critical business decisions through the outcomes of hand-to-hand combat contests.
Within the world of Kengan Ashura, corporations engage in unique business dealings by pitting their champion fighters against each other. These confrontations determine significant acquisitions and corporate advancements. The initial seasons of the series spotlight a tournament held by the Kengan Association’s leader, where the victor secures the coveted position of corporation head. Tokita Ohma steps up to take on this demanding challenge.
Kengan Ashura masterfully caters to martial arts anime enthusiasts, treating them to a wide array of combat sports techniques showcased with realistic movements and tactical battle scenarios. Despite its flamboyance, the series delves into genuine fighting theories and scientific principles in an engaging manner, earning accolades from stuntmen and martial arts professionals alike for its realism and intense fight sequences.
Fans can immerse themselves in the world of Kengan Ashura through Netflix, where the series is available for viewing. Anticipation mounts as a Kengan Ashura Season 3 of the series is scheduled for release this September, promising to deliver even more enthralling anime martial arts action.
4. “Fist Of The North Star“ (1984-1988)
There’s something timeless about classics like Fist of the North Star in the Martial Arts Anime genre. Adapted from Buronson’s 1983 manga, this iconic series follows the odyssey of Kenshiro in a post-apocalyptic world shaped by a nuclear catastrophe. Set in the 1990s after the devastating nuclear war, Kenshiro, equipped with the lethal techniques of Hokuto Shinken, embarks on a journey that leads him away from tranquility to embrace violence once again, all for the salvation of his beloved Yuria.
Despite its age, Fist of the North Star continues to captivate audiences from the very beginning. Its fusion of martial arts and extraordinary techniques set against a post-apocalyptic Western backdrop holds a timeless appeal that transcends generations. And of course, witnessing Kenshiro unleash the Hokuto Shinken techniques, including his infamous 3-second killing move Gekitsui Shi, never fails to thrill. This very move gave rise to the now-famous meme “Omae wa mou shindeiru” (“You are already dead”).
“You’re already dead” – a phrase that has permeated the anime landscape, recognizable even to those who haven’t delved into Fist of the North Star. The series offers a martial arts saga set in a post-apocalyptic world, delivering incredible battles that resonate throughout the narrative. Think Bruce Lee, Mad Max, and Dragon Ball Z all rolled into one. While the animation may display some signs of aging in certain aspects, the manga’s exceptional artwork vividly depicts finely drawn battle sequences. Few confrontations can rival the intensity of the showdown between Kenshiro and Raoh in both anime and manga.
The Martial Arts Anime series situates itself in a world where human civilization has crumbled due to a catastrophic atomic event in the year 199X. Amid a period characterized by the dominance of the strong over the weak, survivors battle for the limited remnants of food and water. Kenshiro, the bearer of an ancient and fearsome martial art called Hokuto Shinken, roams this desolate wasteland, marked by seven wounds on his chest that mirror the constellation Ursa Major.
This martial technique delves into the body’s concealed 708 pressure points to dismantle adversaries from within, allowing practitioners to unleash their ultimate human strength. Accompanied by a young delinquent and a homeless girl, this enigmatic figure brings a semblance of justice to this tumultuous world through the mightiest fist known to mankind. Enthusiasts can experience classics like Fist of the North Star on platforms such as Crunchyroll and Netflix, ensuring that the epic tale remains accessible for fans to enjoy.
5. “Ashita no Joe” (Tomorrow’s Joe) (1980)
Before Ippo Makunochi and Hajime, no Ippo made their mark on the world of sports and martial arts anime, there was Tomorrow’s Joe, also known as Ashita no Joe, which stands as a monumental work renowned for its profound impact on the industry and the sports genre as a whole. The narrative revolves around the journey of Joe Yabuki, a wanderer whose chance encounters with former boxing trainer Danpei Tange and once-promising boxing talent Toru Rikiishi serve as the catalysts propelling him into the world of boxing.
In contrast to Ippo’s extended boxing career, Joe Yabuki’s tale in Tomorrow’s Joe is comparatively brief, functioning more as a personal exploration of passion rather than an extensive expedition toward triumph. The series unfolds as a deeply engaging narrative with a controversial conclusion. The fight scenes in Tomorrow’s Joe echo an intense emotion, borne from the profound personal nature of Joe’s motivations. His drive to win extends beyond mere victory; it’s about proving something to himself.
The conversation about boxing in anime naturally gravitates towards the originator of the genre, Ashita no Joe. Originating from the ’60s and ’70s, this series centers on Joe Yabuki, a troubled youth who faces incarceration due to fraud charges. A fateful encounter with boxing prodigy Tōru Rikiishi leads to a confrontation that sparks Joe’s determination for revenge against his rival once they are both released from prison.
Upon his release, Joe wholeheartedly embraces the realm of boxing as his means of settling the score with Rikiishi. Widely considered one of the greatest anime series of all time, Ashita no Joe is a mandatory watch for boxing enthusiasts.
Tomorrow’s Joe stands as the definitive anime boxing series, serving as an influential inspiration for subsequent shows like Megalo Box and Fighting Spirit (Hajime no Ippo). Tomorrow’s Joe on Crunchyroll narrates a compelling journey about Joe’s evolution as a boxer under the guidance of Danpei, who endeavors to channel Joe’s anger from outside the ring into the heart of his fights. Joe distinguishes himself from the typical protagonists found in martial arts anime; he isn’t initially meek or weak but rather a delinquent and bully who undergoes a transformative journey towards becoming a more compassionate and virtuous individual.
6. “Hinomaru Sumo” (2018)
“Hinomaru Sumo” stands out as a noteworthy Martial Arts Anime series that shines a spotlight on the martial art of sumo wrestling, which is deeply ingrained in Japanese culture. Originally a sports manga running from 2014 to 2019, the story centers around Hinomaru Ushio, a determined high school student who defies conventional expectations as he joins Odachi High’s sumo club. Despite his shorter stature, Ushio aspires to reach the pinnacle of sumo wrestling – the prestigious rank of yokozuna – and prove himself in intense sumo tournaments.
The Martial Arts Anime anime offers a treat for enthusiasts of Sumo Wrestling, an ancient Japanese discipline renowned for its wrestlers’ robust physiques and rigorous combat techniques. “Hinomaru Sumo” brings to life the vibrant journey of Hinomaru Ushio, an unconventional protagonist striving to become Hinoshita Kaisan, the esteemed highest class of Sumo wrestler.
This spirited anime can be enjoyed on Crunchyroll, offering viewers a window into the gripping world of sumo wrestling. In just 24 episodes, “Hinomaru Sumo” manages to captivate its audience, potentially becoming one of the most underappreciated sports anime in recent memory. It presents an opportunity for fans to witness the calculated intensity within the sumo ring, where every maneuver is carefully calculated, and the tension is palpable.
The Martial Arts Anime series’ focus on the strategic nuances of sumo, coupled with its character-driven narrative, elevates it beyond its limited episode count. Indeed, it’s a testament to the depth that sports anime can achieve when delving into the psychology of athletes, the intricacies of their disciplines, and the importance of camaraderie and personal growth.
7. “Tekken: Bloodline” (2022)
In 2022, Tekken enthusiasts were treated to their own dedicated show on Netflix. This Martial Arts Anime series follows the journey of a young protagonist, Jin Kazama, as he embarks on a quest for vengeance against Ogre, the culprit behind his mother’s tragic demise. Throughout the narrative, Jin’s path is guided by his grandfather, Heihachi Mishima, leading him to eventually participate in the renowned King of Iron Fist Tournament.
While the storyline of the show intriguingly sets the stage for a possible second season, the initial installment titled “Tekken: Bloodline” offers a captivating experience for fans of the franchise. It’s worth noting that not all the fighters in the Tekken universe receive equal attention in this adaptation, but there remains optimism that subsequent seasons might address this imbalance.
For those who revel in the pulse-pounding combat and dynamic characters of Tekken, “Tekken: Bloodline” is a worthwhile addition to their watchlist. This video game adaptation brings the fist-flying action to life, immersing viewers in the engaging world of the King of Iron Fist Tournament. Exclusive to Netflix, the Martial Arts Anime series provides an opportunity to delve deeper into the iconic Tekken universe and indulge in its thrilling gameplay.
8. “Street Fighter II V (1995)“
Indulging in the exhilarating world of martial arts finds no better avenue than immersing oneself in the realm of one of the most celebrated fighting games ever created. “Street Fighter II V” stands as a creative take on the 1994 Super Street Fighter II Turbo game, masterfully directed by the same visionary behind “Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie.” While the cinematic adaptation closely adhered to the game’s plot, “Street Fighter II V” offers a more imaginative interpretation of the characters, resulting in deviations in their backgrounds and personalities.
This rendition, however, boasts some of the most remarkable combat sequences to ever grace the realm of anime. Filled with the same fluidity and choreography that earned acclaim for the animated film, “Street Fighter II V” provides extended battles that take full advantage of the episodic format. The result is an engaging series that showcases the franchise’s iconic characters engaged in fierce confrontations, contributing to the legacy of Street Fighter as a powerhouse in the world of martial arts entertainment.
The Street Fighter franchise has undeniably left an indelible mark on martial arts enthusiasts, captivating a global audience with its intense gameplay and dynamic characters. The 1994 animated Street Fighter film, in particular, has cemented its status as an icon. The narrative unfurls across a panorama of beloved characters united against the sinister Shadaloo organization. Iconic battles like Chun-Li’s clash with Vega and the climactic showdown featuring Ryu, Ken, Guile, and their Shadaloo adversaries epitomize the essence of the franchise. With its fluid animation and a resonating soundtrack that effortlessly melds with the action (a nod to Ken’s musical tastes), this film remains a timeless classic.
Enthusiasts of the Martial Arts Anime genre can revel in the magic of the “Street Fighter II Animated Movie” on Amazon Prime, an opportunity to relive the game’s electrifying battles and savor the mastery of its beloved characters.
9. “Kenichi the Mightiest Disciple“
“Kenichi the Mightiest Disciple,” also known as “History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi,” is a Japanese manga and anime series created by Syun Matsuena. The story revolves around Kenichi Shirahama, a high school student who is frequently bullied and decides to learn martial arts to defend himself. He stumbles upon a dojo known as the Ryozanpaku, which is home to a group of eccentric and powerful martial arts masters. Under their guidance, Kenichi embarks on a journey to become stronger both physically and mentally.
Throughout the Martial Arts Anime series, Kenichi trains in various martial arts disciplines, each taught by a different master at the dojo. The training he undergoes is intense and often comical, highlighting the diverse range of martial arts skills and personalities of his mentors. As Kenichi hones his abilities, he becomes embroiled in various conflicts, facing off against other skilled martial artists, street gangs, and even international criminal organizations.
“Kenichi the Mightiest Disciple” is known for its action-packed scenes, humor, and character development. It explores themes of perseverance, friendship, and personal growth as Kenichi strives to overcome his weaknesses and fears. The series offers a blend of martial arts, comedy, and drama that has appealed to fans of both genres.
The Martial Arts Anime anime adaptation aired from 2006 to 2007, while the manga ran from 2002 to 2014. Itis available on Crunchyroll. Both the manga and the anime have garnered a dedicated fan base, and the series is recognized for its energetic fight sequences, dynamic characters, and the evolution of Kenichi from a timid student to a formidable martial artist.
10. “Ni No Kuni“
“Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch” stands as a remarkable collaboration between Level-5 and Studio Ghibli, where the latter contributed their iconic touch to character designs and visuals. This partnership resulted in an RPG that not only enthralls players with its gameplay but also enchants them with an immersive visual journey reminiscent of the Studio Ghibli aesthetic. The compelling narrative further adds to the game’s allure, creating a holistic experience that resonates with fans of both Level-5 and Studio Ghibli.
While Studio Ghibli’s direct involvement was absent in the development of the sequel, “Ni no Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom,” the game retained the distinctive art style that had been established in its predecessor. This continuity ensures that players are once again enveloped in the enchanting visual universe that the franchise has become synonymous with.
The Ni no Kuni series spans six games, including releases for mobile platforms. Each installment transports players to different worlds, accompanied by fresh casts of characters who embark on captivating adventures. A notable example is “Revenant Kingdom,” which follows the journey of King Evan Tildrum. Evan, a monarch who has been dethroned, strives to reclaim his kingdom, steering the storyline toward themes of resilience, camaraderie, and redemption.
The Ni no Kuni series weaves together magical storytelling, captivating visuals, and engaging gameplay to deliver a gaming experience that resonates with a wide audience. The combination of distinct worlds, compelling characters, and intricate narratives ensures that each entry stands out while contributing to the overarching allure of the franchise.