What makes battles and even a duel with two skilled warriors the best? Of course the scenes must be well-animated with eye-catching set pieces and insane acrobatics, but there is one element that makes these scenes more palpable, more impactful, more meaningful… regardless of animation quality and special effects. What is this secret ingredient? I won’t tell you just yet, but let’s figure out as I list down the top 10 best battles and fights in anime. Oh and yes, SPOILER ALERT!
10. Samurai Champloo: Mugen vs Jin
The story starts with our protagonist Fuu working in a tea shop and then is abused by a band of samurai. She is saved by a rogue named Mugen and the vagabond Jin and after the two met, all hell breaks lose. After they were caught, Fuu rescues them and in return for her deed, Fuu asks them to travel with her to find "the samurai who smells of sunflowers."
You’ll know the anime will have very good fight scenes in the next few episodes once you see the very first one. Mugen uses a mix of unorthodoxed style of sword fighting with breakdancing using his feet and erratic movements while Jin is uses the more traditional sword arts and use calculated strikes. The fight only lasted a few seconds, but it’s enough to convince you that Samurai Champloo will be a great show to watch.
09. Naruto: Uzumaki Naruto vs Uchiha Sasuke
Uchiha Sasuke, bearing the cursed seal, leaves Konoha to search for Orochimaru. Hot on his tail is none other than Uzumaki Naruto, determined to bring him back even if he needs breaks Sasuke’s body.
This one of the few episodes in the Naruto series with its notable fluid animation and well-choreographed fight, but what makes this special is this is first time the two went all out. Naruto harnessed the power of the Nine-Tailed Fox that proved and Sasuke responded by fully unlocking the Sharingan and utilized the power of the cursed seal given to him by Orochimaru.
The fight isn’t all about which one is the most powerful, but rather the fight is all about the bond the two made during their time training, fighting, and goofing around. Naruto wants Sasuke back and the only way through it is by force. Sasuke said it was to late and he can’t go back, but finally he acknowledged Naruto as an equal.
08. School Rumble 2nd Term: Harima Kenji vs Hanai Haruki
Harima Kenji is madly in love with Tsukamoto Tenma, but he doesn’t have the courage to confess. Like the clumsy oaf that he is, his actions have led to many misunderstandings like Tenma is convinced Harima is dating her little sister Tsukamoto Yakumo. To makes matters worse, Hanai Haruki - who has a crush on Yakumo - overheard she is dating Harima. This led the two into bad terms with each other. Harima wants to clear this misunderstanding and Hanai wants to be sure Yakumo is truly dating Harima. They need to fix this and find answers fast.
Enter the school festival. The entire class of 2-C are having trouble deciding on what activity to use in the festival. Half of the class wants a maid cafe while the other half prefers to stage a play. On a deadlock, the class decided to settle it by duking it out in a survival game. The class is divided into two teams and whoever wins the battle will get to pick what activity to use in the festival.
School Rumble loves parody and the survival game is arguably the best with its gloomy atmosphere and violence. Harima and Hanai are on separate teams and like any other epic drama, they’re the only ones left standing and they fight it out on the rooftop with one of the best gun kata battles in a slice of life show. Will Hanai find the answer he’s looking for? He has to defeat Harima first.
07. Bleach: Zaraki Kenpachi vs Nnoitra Gilga
Hueco Mundo Arc, Kurosaki Ichigo and the gang is on a rescue mission to save their friend Orihime Inoue from the clutches of Shinigami traitor Sousuke Aizen and his elite band of hollows called the Espada. Around mid-way into the story arc, Ichigo and the gang are getting overpowered by the Espada. All seems lost but in an unexpected twist, the 13 Division Imperial Guards of Soul Society intervened to aide the exhausted gang.
Ichigo escaped death after getting rescued by Zaraki Kenpachi, the most deadly shinigami in the 13 Division. As Ichigo recuperates, Kenpachi sets his sights and clash swords with Nnoitra Gilga, one of the Espada.
A lot of people will say the fight between Ichigo and Grimmjow or the fight between Ichigo and Ulquiorra are well-made and they’re right, they’re very great. However, the best one in the arc goes to Kenpachi and his fight with Nnoitra mainly because this is the first time Kenpachi let loose. Nnoitra is a formidable enemy that managed to injure a shinigami known to absorb any kind of attack like it was nothing. In the end, Kenpachi emerged victorious simply by recalling basic training, and as you know, Kenpachi isn’t really the type who follows sword discipline.
If you’ve been watching Bleach long enough, Kenpachi wasn’t given the time to show off his true power. Either he got lost finding where the action is or is conveniently imprisoned because if he’s around, the entire conflict would have ended in just a few minutes. He’s that powerful. This battle finally showed what he’s capable of and while the animation weren’t that good, the fight showed us what Kenpachi is truly capable of.
06. Hajime no Ippo - Rising: Makunouchi Ippo vs Sawamura Ryuuhei
Makunouchi Ippo’s passion for the boxing sport is unrivaled and he won title after title through sheer work and determination. So when he sees a fellow boxer mocking the sport, and injuring those he love, Ippo can’t just idly stand by and must answer back through his fists.
The man in question is Sawamura Ryuuhei, a boxer who specializes in counter attacks. He is a deranged thug with a bad upbringing. He doesn’t respect the sport and he relentlessly destroys his opponents through foul play to the point he ends the careers of any boxer he faces. He’s not in it for the sport, he’s in it to satisfy his bloodlust.
Ippo’s worst type of opponent are the counter punchers, and it’s one of the reason why his coach Kamogawa Genji indirectly refuses Ippo to fight long time rival Miyata Ichirou. Ippo’s signature finishing move the Dempsey Roll can be countered easily and a counter under such momentum of the move will greatly damage Ippo. Sawamura knows this and Ippo knows this.
In the fight, Sawamura underestimated Ippo by shooting cheap shots and using dirty tactics, but as soon as Sawamura realizes the champion’s firepower and rhythm down, he changes mood and fighting stance to take Ippo seriously. Ippo then realized that outside from the dirty tactics, Sawamura is a formidable opponent with lightning-fast fists. The only way to defeat Sawamura is use the Dempsey Roll, but Sawamura is aware of this and he’s ready to deliver a deadly counter punch. Ippo must evolve the Dempsey Roll if he wants to win this fight.
05. Slam Dunk: Shohoku vs Shoyo-Ryonan
Team Shohoku, for the first time, joins the Inter High Tournament where schools around Japan compete for the championships. When the rest of the team went to training before joining the Inter High Tournament, Shohoku coach Anzai Mitsuyoshi asked basketball “genius” Sakuragi Hanamichi to remain for a special training. Coach Anzai explained that this training will improve Hanamichi like never before.
Before they head out to the shinkansen (high speed bullet train), district rivals Shoyo and Ryonan arrived at the Shohoku gym for a farewell. What happened instead is they propose a final practice match between district qualifier Shohoku and the combined might of team Shoyo-Ryonan. If they win this practice match, then Shohoku is truly worthy as contenders in the Inter High, and if they fail, they will not succeed in attaining championship.
Shoyo-Ryonan, with ace player Akira Sendou is the most formidable team Shohoku has ever faced. The match is fierce and difficult with Shohoku losing. Even Shohoku’s ace Kaede Rukawa is having trouble with Sendou on his back. All seems lost, but Shoyo-Ryonan failed to realize that Hanamichi has a trick up his sleeve.
This is a great last battle between Shohoku and rivals Shoyo and Ryonan. The rival teams are giving it all and show Shohoku that the Inter High is a whole new level they have yet to realize. If Shohoku loses, they might as well give up. From a simple practice match to a grueling initiation right Shohoku must overcome.
04. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: Team Dai-Gurren vs The Anti-Spirals
Lordgenome, the ruler of the beastmen and dictator of the Earth’s surface was finally defeated all thanks to the efforts of Simon Jiha with his mech called the Gurren Lagann, Lordgenome’s own daughter Nia Teppelin and the Team Dai-Gurren. Before the ruler of the beastmen takes his last breath, he warned Simon that a far greater evil will arrive once man reaches to the skies.
A few years later, humans finally populated the planet, co-existed with the beastmen and relative peace has attained. Simon has grown into a fine young man and confessed his feelings to Nia and the rest of the Dai-Gurren had moved on with their lives. One of the team members Rossiu Adai sent a space probe to the moon, an unknown power had appeared and laid waste on the capital city. Nia was suddenly transformed and became the messenger of the Anti-Spirals. It is then revealed that the Anti-Spirals are controlling the very universe by limiting Spiral energy, an energy source that beings like humans are capable of using.
The Anti-Spirals took Nia and it’s up to Simon and Team Dai-Gurren to save not only Nia, but also the entire universe. After a series of hard fought battles and a sacrifice of a close friend, Simon and the entire team attained near omnipotence thanks to Simon’s innate ability to produce huge amounts of Spiral energy. Simon and Team Dai-Gurren combined all of their spiral energy to form Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, a galaxy-sized mech to fight against the Granzeboma, the Anti-Spiral’s menacing mech of equal size.
Not only the fight is arguably the biggest in anime history (I mean, two galaxy-sized mechs fighting on top of galaxies), it’s also a battle for beliefs. It’s easy to paint the Anti-Spirals as the bad guy, but in fact, they sacrificed their very being and devoid themselves of evolution because they believe that Spiral energy will ultimately bring the end of the universe. On the other hand, Simon believed that Spiral energy can be used for good and will not bring about the end of everything when they’re in the hands of the right people. It is also one of the most intense battles in recent memory that is guaranteed to get your adrenaline pumping. If you never had any manly tears in your life, then Gurren Lagann will make you.
03. Vision of Escaflowne: Van Fanel vs Dilandau Albatou and the Dragonslayers
After the relentless attack of the Zaibach Empire, the Duke of Freid died in combat, and the kingdom fell. Hitomi Kanzaki, the girl from the Mystic Mood, Van Fanel, a boy with Draconian blood and the king of Fanelia that was destroyed by Zaibach, and the dashing knight Allen Schezar fled the kingdom, only to be chased again by the bloodthirsty Dilandau Albatou and his Dragonslayers.
Before the fall of Freid, Hitomi indirectly taught Van on how to use his mech Escaflowne using his mind. Van successfully mastered the ability that he can move Escaflowne like it was his own body. It came with the price, however: If Escaflowne gets injured, so does he. After the battle, Van is in severe pain, his wounds won’t heal. Thanks to the wise thinking of merchant-scholar Dryden Fassa, they were able to summon a race of engineers from the sky and fixed Escaflowne, healing Van.
Not before long Dilandau finally caught up to them and before the nomadic race leaves, they warned Van that his Draconian blood will have adverse side effects when using Escaflowne. Ignoring the warnings, Van descends down with Escaflowne to fight Dilandau and the Dragonslayers all by himself.
The battle itself is very intense albeit one-sided. Van destroyed everyone due to rage and the fact that it was Dilandau who destroyed Fanelia and murdered his allies. It’s hard to describe the battle, but one thing’s for sure, the music titled Epistle sets the murderous mood of the battle.
02. Gundam SEED: Kira Yamato vs Rau le Creuset
The war between the Earth Forces and ZAFT has escalated in space, determined to wipe each other out. The Earth Forces (Naturals) attempted genocide by firing hundreds of nuclear missiles to ZAFT’s (Coordinators) civilian space colonies called PLANTs, and ZAFT counterattacked by revealing their Death Star-like super weapon GENESIS and destroyed the Earth Forces’ moonbase. After both sides revealed their hand, Kira Yamato, Athrun Zala, and Lacus Clyne, and the rest of the freedom fighters intervened and tries to stop mass murder.
Little do the Naturals and Coordinators know that this war is just a backdrop to Rau le Creuset’s plan to destroy humanity. One of the ZAFT’s elite soldiers, Rau le Creuset pulled the strings from both sides and used their hatred of each other to his advantage. The final pieces are in place.
Rau pilots the Providence Gundam, a massive death machine with multiple remote controlled laser turrets he can use to fire in any direction. He entered the final phases of the war not to stop it, but to make sure both sides kill each other. Standing in his way is a young coordinator boy named Kira Yamato and his Freedom Gundam.
The battle between the two determines the fate of humanity and Rau is one of the most relentless and deadly opponent Kira has ever faced. The Providence Gundam has the edge thanks to its assortment of weapons including a ton of remote controlled laser turrets that detach from the main body. Imagine trying to get rid of a moving bee nest while dodging the stings of the bees swarming around you. Eventually Kira emerged victorious, but was an inch closer to death.
01. Cowboy Bebop: Spike Spiegel vs Vicious
The elders of the Red Dragon crime syndicate was assassinated by Vicious and is now the leader. Vicious orders are to eliminate former syndicate members Spike Spiegel and including Spike’s lover Julia. As the two tries to escape, Julia was shot dead in the crossfire. Spike escaped back to the Bebop to not only see his comrades, but also to say one final goodbye to them.
Spike grabbed all his gear and enters the syndicate’s main building to exact revenge on his own. When reaching the top floor, Spike finally encounters his former comrade Vicious and the two battle to the death.
Spike had lost the person he hold dear and he wants to end it all by killing Vicious. The fight only lasted for a few seconds and eventually Spike emerged victorious, but fatally wounded. The final battle with Vicious may not be the most flashiest fight in the list, but it finally made Spike realize that he is truly alive, and not just in a bad dream. What’s next is the most heart-breaking scene in all of anime.
And there you have it, the top 10 best battles and fights scenes in anime. Sure there are more well-animated or well-choreographed battles, but flashiness isn’t everything. A flashy battle against a group of nameless thugs may look nice, but it lacks that purpose as to why that particular battle happened.
A generic or simple-looking fight scene will turn into something memorable, something special if there is a story behind it. This is the message of this article. It doesn’t matter the fight only lasts for a few seconds or a few episodes, any fight is great when the story behind them is great.
So what do you think of this list? Do you have a memorable fight scene in anime? Please share them with us!