Action anime series are one of the most prominent shows in anime. There are a few genres that catch the attention of the public in the way action does. Action has become almost a necessity and almost all the mainstream animes have some semblance of action theme incorporated into them. However, ‘action’ does not always refer to fight scenes, thrilling car chases, and explosions. Some of the best action anime series use suspense in narrative and storytelling that keeps the audience on edge throughout.
The list we have prepared is ranked ‘only in terms of their action quality’, and not their overall quality. So here are 31 of the very best action anime series that are currently available in the world of anime.
31. Ajin: Demi-Human
Ajin is an action-fueled anime series produced by Polygon Pictures, which features the emergence of superior human species known as ‘Ajins’. The main character Kei Nagai suddenly realizes that he is an Ajin, a new form of a human species with incredible regenerative abilities. He is immediately red-listed by the human government which prompts him to make an agreement with them for his own safety. His new job is to hunt fellow Ajin Hat Satou, a renowned rebel leader of the Pro-Ajin movement. Ajin is a mystery thriller with lots of good fight scenes and a boasts a narrative which is a force in itself.
30. Sword Art Online
Sword Art Online truly is one of the most polarizing anime series that has ever been made. There are sets of fans who think it is a masterpiece and worship it while another group finds it repulsive, abhorrent, and plain bad. Despite all the hate it garners, Sword Art Online does have beautiful animations which greatly propel the action scenes it has. The fight scenes, unfortunately, lack any form of suspense because of its overpowered main character but it does have aesthetically pleasing visuals, which warrants its spot in our list. Sword Art Online has a great premise but unfortunately, it has a mediocre and atrocious execution, rendering its narrative pretty much obsolete. However, the show still is one of the pioneers of the trending Isekai theme in anime and although its action is not top notch, the beautiful animation is its saving grace.
29. God Eater
Set in a post-apocalyptic world, humanity is pushed to the brink of extinction by man-eating monsters known as ‘Aragami’. Since conventional weapons have no effect on them, the remnants of humanity make one last-ditch effort to ensure their survival by creating ‘Fenrir’, an organization tasked with pushing back the hordes of Aragami. Elite humans infused with Oracle Cell are breed, called the ‘God Eaters’ who can wield a special weapon God Arc which can harm an Aragami. Lenka Utsugi, the main character is one such God Eater who is tasked with mastering his God Arc and driving back the Aragami. God Eater is an action-packed series where Lenka is given the insurmountable task of driving back the Aragamis.
28. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure
A series which starts back in the ’90s, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure has amassed a sort of cult followers throughout the passage of time. Much like the title suggests, it follows a bizarre turn of event in the life of the protagonist Kujo Jotaro. A popular high school kid Kujo is convinced that a spirit has possessed him and locks himself up. The series gets even more bizarre when it is revealed that his spirit is actually ‘Star Platinum’, a sort of fighting energy that can manifest in a physical form. His family is revealed to be connected and Kujo has to defeat an ancient vampire Dio Brando. All very bizarre, right?
27. Fairy Tail
Fairy Tail, one of the most popular shonen is set in the magical world of Fiore – a place where magic is essentially a normalized necessity, used in all aspect of everyday lives including normal household chores. However, magic is also inevitably used in combat and Fairy Tail is a guild where adventurers gather to go on quests using their magic. The show mostly explores the adventures of Natsu, Lucy, Grey, Erza, and their talking cat Happy. If you are looking for a great show with good magical action scenes, look no further cause Fairy Tail hit the nail in that regard.
26. Gate: Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri
Simply known as Gate, the show is one of the more serious Isekai Anime. The world of reality is shattered by the sudden emergence of a portal which connects it to a world fantasy. Gate displays a vivid juxtaposition of reality and fantasy in this manner and we the audience are treated to action scenes which is a mixture of medieval and modern warfare, which is a rare breed. Youji Itami, a member of Japan’s Self Defense Team is part of the crew sent in the portal to explore this alternate reality and the show explores this adventure which is full of action.
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25. Deadman Wonderland
Deadman Wonderland is set in a world where mainland Japan is destroyed by a Great Earthquake, sinking most of its landscape into the depth of the Pacific Ocean. Ten years later, Ganta Igarashi is part of the class who are brutally massacred by the mysterious ‘Red Man’. As the only survivor, he is framed for the murder and sent to Deadman Wonderland, a vicious prison which endorses pseudo gladiatorial battles of Ancient Rome. Ganta is forced to participate in these deadly games, bot to ensure his survival and decode the secret of the Red Man.
Btooom! highlights the story of Ryouta Sakamoto, a social failure and an indoor shut in NEET obsessed with only playing an online combat video game called ‘Btooom!’. One day, Ryouta finds himself transported into a real-life version of his favorite game in a mysterious island. With no recollection of how he got there, he is thus forced to play the game before he can get any answers. Although reluctant to kill the other players at first, the others are not so willing to abide by his non-violence policy. Teaming up with his in-game wife Himiko who is also trapped, Ryouta begins to play the game of death to ensure his survival.
Claymore is one of the most beloved action series that has a medieval fantasy theme. Claymores are basically strong female warriors tasked with the elimination of monsters. When Raki’s family are all brutally murdered by a man-eating monster called ‘Youma’, a young silver-haired Claymore named Clare comes to his rescue. With no family left, Raki decides to follow Clare in her journeys. The show explores the adventures of the duo as they move from town to town, killing several Youma, inching closer and closer to a Youma Clare has been searching for since she first became a Claymore.
22. One Punch Man
Before all else, One Punch Man is a parody. Saitama’s insane strength renders him able to defeat any opponent with a single punch, which soon becomes very boring for him. It sounds boring, doesn’t it, but the reality is nothing close to boring. With a masterful narrative technique, the audience always anticipates the moment Saitama decides to punch an opponent into oblivion, even though the result is always known beforehand. There are also powerful action scenes in the show such as the battle between Mumen Rider and the Sea King or any fight scenes with Genos. One Punch Man successfully delivers in creating a suspenseful action, despite the seemingly nonchalant setting.
21. Kill La Kill
Ryoko Matoi, a brash young girl is determined to find her father’s killer who left behind a large half of a scissor. She enlists into Honnouji Academy which she believes holds the clues to her father’s murder. Using the half scissor as a weapon, she challenges the strict hierarchy of school measured by the star system in their Goku uniform. Pitted against the elegant and beautiful Student Council President Satsuki Kiryuin, Ryoko plays a dangerous game putting, risking everything she possesses. Kill La Kill is an extremely unique action series, armed with loads of intense fight scenes and a plot twist you never saw coming.
20. Akame Ga Kill
‘Kill or be killed’ is the ruthless philosophy endorsed by those who walk the path of assassination. Tatsumi, a novice assassin joins the Night Raid, an assassination branch of the Revolutionary Army who aims to throw down Prime Minister Honest, a greedy megalomaniac who has effectively taken control of the empire from the inexperience emperor who is still a child. Akame Ga Kill is an action/assassination story of Tatsumi and his friends in the Night Raid as they encounter several obstacles including enemy assassins and a test to their own sets of morals.
19. Hellsing Ultimate
In the eternal battle between the force of darkness and light, there is bound to be an action scene or two, and Hellsing Ultimate does not disappoint. Alucard is a powerful vampire and a servant to Integra Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing, the leader of Hellsing, an organization fated to battle against evil for eternity. Alucard and his apprentice Seras Victoria are tasked at battling their very own kind for the greater good of the mortal realm. Bloodshed, gore, demonic entities, legendary weapons, and epic fight scenes to cap it off, Hellsing Ultimate remains one of the very top action anime series in the world of animation.
For a long time now, Bleach has been considered to be one of the very best action shonen by its loyal fans. This is a claim which has a certain ring of truth to it. Ichigo, a normal student in a high school is suddenly thrown into a world of Hollows and Soul Reapers, where it falls upon him to ensure the safety of his town. As he gains more and more power, he begins to truly realize the stakes at hand – that the world is being threatened by powerful beings and it is up to him to deal with the threat. With a compelling story, lovable characters, and epic fights, Bleach has established its place among the very top animes.
17. Steins’ Gate
A story about time travel doesn’t seem to have much action at first glance. That statement would be true for Steins’ Gate is one considers action as only gun and sword fights. Steins’ Gate is a show which transcends the physical level of action, not that the show is completely devoid of such scenes. There are few gun chases and fist fights but for Steins’ Gate, the ‘action’ theme lies in its master storytelling technique. The pace seems to be a little slow at first glance but waits till it fully establishes itself; the story of the mad scientist Okabe and his cohorts will deliver a story which will leave you out of breath and out of your mind. A true classic and one of the best, if not the best action anime series in time travel you will ever see.
16. Assassination Classroom
Koro-Sensei and his class of supposed failures is a show that never fails to captivate its audience. With the fate of the world at stake, the students of Class 3-E of Kunugigaoka Middle School are trained in the art of assassination by the Koro-Sensei himself, the very person who threatens to destroy the earth. For Class 3-E, their lessons are directly related to the fate of the world, therefore the stakes have never been higher. With unpredictable twists and turns along the way, assassinating Koro-Sensei may be more difficult than they initially imagined. Assassination Classroom is fun and serious, full of enjoyable moments in both comedy and action, and definitely one of the top action anime series of recent years.
15. Rurouni Kenshin (Samurai X)
After the end of the Bakumatsu era in Japan, one of its most feared and legendary assassin Hitokiri Battousai decides to abandon his way of the samurai and live a more peaceful life. Changing his name to Kenshin Himura, he vows never to kill again and pledge his servitude to those who are weaker. One day, he meets Kaoru Kamiya, a young girl who is being threatened by his very own imposter. To show her gratitude for chasing the imposter away, she invites him to stay at her dojo which Himura accepts. In his story of redemption, Himura may find obstacles which could potentially distract him from his new ideals. Touching, heartfelt, thrilling, romantic, and action-filled, Rurouni Kenshin is the one anime you do not want to miss out.
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14. Tokyo Ghoul
Set in an alternate timeline, Tokyo has become a dangerous city where vicious flesh-eating creatures known as ghoul exists. Since these ghouls look exactly like ordinary humans unless they show their form, they are hidden in broad daylight, mingling within the society just like any other human. Since they require human flesh and blood to sustain themselves, it obviously creates a problem in society – the shadows of Tokyo harbor deadly battles between ghouls and CCG, a human organization that hunts ghouls. In the midst of all the violence and bloodshed, Ken Kaneki is rendered a half-ghoul half human through fateful circumstances and he is thrown into the vortex of the chaos. A dark and gritty tale featuring gore and awesome fight scenes, Tokyo Ghoul is a story which will keep you entertained through and throughout.
13. Seven Deadly Sins
The Holy Knights of Britannia are powerful, feared, and revered, acting as the Vanguard of the Britannia Empire and its Emperor. In an internal conflict break, a small group of knights is accused of treason, who were supposedly planning a coup d’état to overthrow the rulers of Britannia. This group of knights, known as ‘The Seven Deadly Sins’ is defeated and driven away by the Holy Knights. Years later, the Holy Knights themselves rebel against the empire and established a strict and tyrannical military ruler under their flagship. Elizabeth, the third princess of the Empire embarks on a quest to seek out ‘The Seven Deadly Sins’ who could potentially help her regain their lost kingdom. Honestly, what more need be said? From the plot alone, you can guess that Seven Deadly Sins is one of the top action anime series.
12. Naruto Franchise
One of the most beloved anime series of all time, Naruto has dominated the anime scene for over a decade. Starting from Naruto till Shippuden including the currently aired Boruto, Naruto is a franchise that never fails to deliver in all aspect – comedy, story, melancholy, and action. There are so many badass fight scenes in the show, most of which are carefully designed in terms of its technicality. Naruto’s fights are never boring, always full of creativity and intellect. We have so many favorite fights it is difficult to name them all – Guy Sensei versus Madara, Rock Lee versus Gaara, Naruto versus Pain, to name a few. There is no doubt that Naruto is one of the very best action anime series of all time.
11. Death Note
Much like Steins’ Gate, Death Note is a series which rely on its narrative to deliver good action. Light Yagami, a bright yet cynical teenager is given the ultimate tool – a weapon that can kill simply by writing the name of a person on a notebook. When Light takes justice into his own hands and erases hordes of criminals from the face of the earth, it creates chaos in the official law enforcement. When an equally bright teenager ‘L’ is hired to expose the identity of Light, what ensues is an action-fueled ‘cat and mouse chase’ featuring two of the best minds in the world. Death Note has become an icon within the anime, considered as the best anime by many fans of the community.
10. Cowboy Bepop
If someone were to ask us to recommend a good action anime form the old schools, we would definitely point towards Cowboy Bepop. A classic from the ’90s, the thrilling series features a futuristic Earth which has colonized many planetary objects within the vast tract of space. In a setting which is an amalgamated mixture of space and the western cowboy world, the story follows two bounty hunters Spike and Jet who assist the intergalactic police maintain peace in the intergalactic society. After adding several members to their tightly knitted crew, they embark on several quests, some of which could potentially decide the fate of their galaxy.
9. Berserk Franchise
Another beloved franchise that dates way back from the ’90s, Berserk is another series that does not disappoint in the action department. After several animated seasons and movies, a potential new season is possibly under production, although official confirmation is not yet available. There are few otakus who has not heard of Guts the Black Swordsman and his endeavors in an unforgiving and betraying world. The show is basically full of action driven by a sharp narrative. Unfortunately, the revamped sequel in 2016 is reviewed poorly by fans but the series, especially the manga still holds a firm place in our hearts.
8. Mob Psycho 100
Mob Kageyama, an eighth-grader manages to develop psychic abilities at a young age and becomes quite proficient in wielding it. Wanting to live a normal life, Mob suppresses his powers and uses it only to impress his crush Tsubomi. Trained by a self-proclaimed esper Arataka Reigen who exploits his powers for profit, Mob lives a difficult life struggling to suppress his ability or impress Tsubomi, who quickly becomes bored with seeing the same trick several times. However, when real espers begin to emerge on the scene, Mob’s true potential as an esper could be unleashed which could destabilize his concealment. Comical and engaging, the show rarely hits the brake on its accelerated action sequences, rendering it one of the top action anime series in the industry.
7. My Hero Academia
One of the most popular anime of recent years, My Hero Academia is filled to the brim with fast-paced action, with the fourth season currently scheduled for release in October 2019. In a world where the majority of the population are born with super abilities, there are inevitably a few portions who want to use their powers for committing crimes. Midoriya, the chosen hero and his peers are set to battle against an army of villains looming in the shadows. The show is full of great fights, out of which one particular good fight ‘All Might versus All for One’ which wins the Best Fight Category in the Crunchyroll Awards.
6. Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Currently occupying the top spot in the ratings of My Anime List with a rating of 9.2, Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood is a show which delivers in all categories, action included. Bounded by the Laws of Equivalent Exchange, power spikes are neatly controlled, which adversely increase the quality of the fight scenes. The action is meaningful and with a purpose, strictly regulated by rules – power always comes with a heavy price. The story of Edward and Alphonse Elric is one that will be remembered for years to come.
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5. Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
Lelouch Vi Britannia commands you to put the show in your list!! Of course, even without the command we receive, Code Geass would still be warranted a top spot in our list. Code Geass follows an epic tale of Lelouch rebelling against the powerful Brittania Empire, armed with a power to give a single irrefutable command to any person. Strategic battles, mechas, glorious individual fight scenes – you name it, Code Geass has it. Armed with every element that is necessary for a good action show, Code Geass is one of the best action anime series that has ever been made.
4. Hunter X Hunter
In fourth place, we have Togashi’s masterpiece Hunter X Hunter, one of the highest rated action shonen. Much like Naruto and Full Metal, the battles in Hunter X Hunter are intelligent and neatly curled by a strict rule – Nen. The utilization of Nen is a primary factor in their battles, and brute strength is pushed to the sides. Nen opens up an infinite potential of things that could happen in a battle. Honestly, not much is needed to be said – Hunter X Hunter excels in all aspect including action, especially action. A MUST WATCH!
3. Fate Franchise
Starting from the original Fate Stay Night to Fate Zero and Unlimited Blade Works, and finally, Heaven’s Feel, all of the Fate Series have one thing in common – excellent action. The premise is always the same but in an alternate reality; therefore they all feature the Holy Grail Wars, a vicious competition where seven magicians and their summons battle to the death for the prize of the Holy Grail. Each summons called Servants are powerful creatures or humans from the past and they battle each other to do their master’s biddings. Thrilling, action-packed, and mostly about fights, the Fate Franchise is one of the top action anime series the industry has to offer.
2. Dragon Ball Franchise
Considered by many as the ‘Father of Anime‘ itself, Dragon Ball has dominated the anime landscape, especially during the ’90s. With many epic battles down the ages, the rivalry between Goku and Vegeta has become a foundation for many rivalries in other shows. Many Dragon Ball series has emerged through the ages from the original to Z to GT to Super, all of which deliver top-notch fight between the galactic powers, although it is probably fair to say that Dragon Ball Z is the absolute peak in terms of story and action alone. The arrival of the Saiyan invaders, Goku and Frieza’s battle at Planet Namek, the Android Uprising, and the Buu Arc all hold a very dear place in our hearts and we often look back at them with nostalgic fondness.
1. Attack on Titan
It is time for our number one action anime series and that privilege goes to none other than Isayama’s masterpiece. Attack on Titan has been a revolution since its anime release in 2013. Set in dystopian future where man-eating Titans roamed the earth, a young boy Eren who has lost his mother to the Titans vowed to wipe out the Titans from the face of the Earth. Full of suspense accompanied by gory battles, limbs are discarded and lives are lost at a seemingly fast rate. However, amidst all the chaos, lies a powerful story, boasting world-class action scenes, inspiring speeches, and hefty betrayals, Attack on Titan is a show which manages to stand out on its own, as our chosen best action anime series of all time!
There you have it. The top 31 action anime series chosen by Squinoo. However, we are aware that assigning ranks to a list can be highly subjective and that our criteria of ranking them are also may be highly flawed. So if you think there are any good action anime shows we have missed or something we have ranked too high or too low, do let us know in the comment section below.