Who doesn’t love a good action anime? With their violence, heart-pumping battle scenes, bad-ass weaponry, trigger happy psychopaths, and unique storylines, action anime series set us up for hours of entertainment. Here, in no particular order, are twenty-five action series known for being the best that anime has to offer.
All ranking information was taken on the date of publication.
MAL Rated 8.32, Ranked #193 | Aired Fall 2009 | Produced by A-1 Pictures and Satelight
Fairy Tail is a 175 action/fantasy series that packs one hell of a powerful punch. With a plethora of fun characters and epic duels featuring all sorts of magic, Fairy Tail is a great series if you are looking for some good popcorn material! This long-form shounen anime has pleased fans for years.
Fairy Tail is the name of the anime as well as the mage guild that Natsu Dragneel and Lucy Heartfilia among others belong to. Watch as they accomplish missions in order to help others as well as raise the rank of their former top guild! Friendship and honor are central themes to this funny and heart-warming action series.
MAL Rated 8.61, Ranked #61 | Aired Fall 1999 | Produced by Toei Animation
A swashbuckling adventure featuring duels with supernatural powers, fun characters, voyages and tons of pirates, One Piece is one of the most popular anime series out there. It will certainly fulfill any action craving you have.
In a world covered by ocean water, Luffy is on a quest to find the One Piece, the lost treasure of the former King of Pirates. He’s not alone, of course. Every pirate in the world is searching for it! On Luffy’s search, he’ll gather a crew of ragtag teammates, each of which have their own dreams and goals!
MAL Rated 7.79, Ranked #847 | Aired Fall 2002 | Produced by Studio Pierrot
The long-running shounen series Naruto definitely deserves a spot on this list. Following the many adventures and misadventures of Naruto, a knuckle-headed ninja, and his ninja pals, viewers of this series are in for a fun viewing experience.
Problem student Naruto was never popular or talented as a ninja. That is, until he discovers the hidden power of the Nine-Tailed Fox sealed within him. Even though Naruto’s physical strength is due to the Fox, his true strong point is his bright personality and determination to be friends with everyone. Will he achieve his dream of becoming the leader of the Fire Village of ninjas? And can he protect his friends from the countless evils that threaten to destroy all he has? Find out in what is arguably the most famous anime internationally (besides Pokemon, of course).
MAL Rated 8.32, Ranked #192 | Aired Spring 1989 | Produced by Toei Animation
Want to watch a show with an ’80s vibe? Look no further! Dragonball Z is all the right kinds of cheese, featuring amazing fights, power ups, and… SUPER SAIYANS!
Son Gokuu is a character inspired by the Monkey King of classic Chinese literature. The similarities between Dragon Ball Z and Journey to the West end there, however. Son Gokuu is an alien, the last of the Saiyans. Now he lives on Earth, and must protect his new home planet from the various dangers that befall it, ranging from other aliens to even gods!
MAL Rated 9.15, Ranked #5 | Aired Fall 2011 | Produced by Madhouse
Hunter x Hunter has action, great characters and even scenes that will pull at your heartstrings. Each episode will have you laughing, crying, or biting your nails during great action scenes!
Gon was raised by his aunt, and believed he was an orphan for so long. One day, he comes across a Hunter, a sort of freelance adventurer, who tells Gon that not only was Ging, his father, alive, but he was a world-famous Hunter. Determined to find his dad, Gon decides to take the Hunter examination and travel the world.
MAL Rated 8.50, Ranked #101 | Aired Spring 2004 | Produced by Manglobe
Time for some good, old fashioned samurai swordsmanship with Samurai Champloo! When two very skilled, yet diametrically opposed samurais cross paths, circumstances force them to embark on a quest together. Let’s just say that if you are looking for a series about the power of love and friendship… then this series is probably not for you.
Mugen, Jin, and Fuu are a bit of an unexpected team. Mugen and Jin cross swords the first time they meet. Fuu is the young waitress of a teashop with a mysterious request for the two violent vagabonds: find the samurai who smells of sunflowers. They’ll travel Japan in search of this mysterious person, leaving a lot of bodies in their wake.
MAL Rated 8.12, Ranked #389 | Aired Spring 2008 | Produced by Bones
No other series has been able to incorporate awesome characters, music, story, battles and a Halloween-like, yet cheery premise as well as Soul Eater. Admit it, after watching this series everyone was stuck sitting in front of their couch wishing they could wield a scythe with the same precision and accuracy as Maka Albarn. Soul Eater helped define a genre of action anime; it is a classic all anime fans should take the time to watch.
Death City, Nevada is home to a school of weapon wielders and weapons, Death Academy. The human weapon and wielder partners learn here how to synchronize, and accomplish various missions for the Death God. In order to transform the weapon partners into Death Scythes worthy of being wielded by the Death God himself, the teams must hunt down 99 bad humans and one witch in that exact order for their souls. Will Maka and Soul succeed, or will they be bested by their teammates or enemies?
MAL Rated 8.36, Ranked #174 | Aired Fall 2003 | Produced by Bones
Fullmetal Alchemist not only has tons of amazing action scenes, but also contains fun, memorable characters, tear-jerking scenes and beautiful music. This is a must watch anime series for anime fans alike.
Set in a land where alchemy is considered a highly skilled profession, Fullmetal tells the story of two brothers who live every day repaying for their childhood mistake. They forgot the greatest rule in alchemy: equivalent exchange. In the aftermath of their botched attempt at reviving their dead mother, Ed lost an arm and a leg, and Al lost his entire body. They hear that a mysterious stone named the Philospher’s Stone can solve all their problems, and so begins their adventure in an attempt to restore what was lost.
MAL Rated 8.85, Ranked #21 | Aired Fall 2006 | Produced by Sunrise
Code Geass is an amazing series that incorporates supernatural ability, action, and moral messages. It is a mecha/action anime series done right.
In this alternate future, the world is ruled by three factions: the Holy Britannian Empire, the Chinese Federation, and the European Union. Lelouch, prince of the Brittannian Empire, made a vow to his childhood friend Suzaku to bring down the Empire, only to find that as adolescents they end up on opposite sides.
MAL Rated 8.81, Ranked #25 | Aired Spring 2007 | Produced by Gainax
Gurren Lagann is an anime featuring epic battles, controversial characters, humor, and… busty female leads? Yes, please! Gurren Lagann is probably one of the more entertaining on this list, and is not something you should miss.
Digging is the only way of life Simon knows－humans have been forced underground by the tyrant King Lordgenome, who guns down any who dare poke their heads to the surface. Simon spends the first 14 years of his life going further and further underground until a red-haired girl named Yoko crashes down, fighting several enemy Gunmen. Seeing the sky for the first time, Simon is determined to never again hide away, and fights for the right to live under the sun.
MAL Rated 8.44, Ranked #128 | Aired Winter 1996 | Produced by Studio Deen and Studio Gallop
It shouldn’t be much of a surprise by now that there are plenty of anime series featuring assassins, samurais, and martial artists. Some of these series are hit and miss, but not Rurouni Kenshin. This is an extremely entertaining series that every action anime fan should watch.
Kenshin Himura is determined never to kill again, despite being a wandering samurai. He wields an unsharpened blade so that he may fight without death. Discover his dark past and watch his path to atonement in this hit period action series!
MAL Rated 8.64, Ranked #55 | Aired Spring 2013 | Produced by Production I.G and Wit Studio
Attack on Titan took the anime community by storm. It definitely deserves credit for being one of the best anime series within the past five years. Amazing battle equipment, badass soldiers, cliff-hangers, and some pretty epic sparring matches, this is a truly superb action series.
In a world terrorized by giant man-eating humanoids known as titans, mankind hides behind gargantuan walls in constant fear. The only way they have to fight back against the Titans is the military. Eren Yeager, who witnessed the death of his family and friends as a child, is determined to fight back in the only way he can: by joining the service! Little did he know: the story behind the Titans are much more convoluted than they appear.
MAL Rated 7.44, Ranked #1722 | Aired Spring 2001 | Produced by Bee Train and Victor Entertainment
This anime series centers around a young woman who just happens to be a professional assassin. Noir seems like a pretty straight forward series doesn’t it? That is where you are wrong. The series actually has a deeper, more complicated plot. When given the time, Noir proves to be a show that is both interesting and action-packed. What more could you possibly ask for?
The assassin duo of Mireille Bouquet and amnesiac Yuumura Kirika are known to the public as Noir. Together, they try to uncover Kirika’s past, and discover why it has so many connections with Mireille’s. This is all complicated, however, by the shady organization named Les Soldats…
MAL Rated 8.83, Ranked #22 | Aired Spring 1998 | Produced by Sunrise
Cowboy Bebop is known as one of the greatest anime series of all time. It excels in absolutely every area imaginable, and the action is no exception. The fight scenes can range from badass to comical to stomach-dropping. If you have not watched Cowboy Bebop, then you are depriving yourself of one of the best experiences out there.
In 2071, humans have moved off the now unfit-for-life planet Earth and onto the other non-gaseous planets of the Solar System. The ragtag crew of the spaceship Bebop travel the stars on various missions!
MAL Rated 8.58, Ranked #67 | Aired Summer 2007 | Produced by Brains Base
Baccano! is a grossly underrated action anime that fits right in with all of the other great series on this list! Fully equipped with an outstanding set of characters, storyline, action theme and overall jazzy style, Baccano! is a great choice if you are looking for a good, old-style action anime series.
This is a tale of eternal life gone awry: a group of alchemists is given the elixir of eternal life by a demon, and most of them agree to let the secret die with them so that no one becomes immortal. All but one member, that is. This alchemist goes on to recreate this elixir, which subsequently falls into the wrong hands. The path of wreckage left by this immortality elixir is international.
MAL Rated 7.95, Ranked #584 | Aired Spring 2007 | Produced by Madhouse
Claymore is another fantasy/action anime, but unlike Fairy Tail, it is filled with intensity, demons, sword fighting, and, well… lots of death!
In a land infested by man-eating yoma, only half-yoma half-human hybrid warriors can defend the humans. Feared by all due to their half-yoma nature and distinctive appearance, the all-woman army known as the Organization, but more often called Claymores, or Silver-eyed Witches, travel across the land to sniff out the yoma who often pose as regular humans.
Clare is the weakest of all the Claymores, possessing only 1/4th yoma blood, as opposed to the usual 1/2. She rescues a young human male, and takes him on her travels.
MAL Rated 7.56, Ranked #1329 | Aired Spring 2011 | Produced by Manglobe
If you’re looking for an action anime with over-the-top graphics, a beyond entertaining plot, and psychotic, messed up characters, Deadman Wonderland is the series for you. Trust me when I tell you, it will leave you wanting more.
Ganta is on death row in Japan’s private half-prison half-theme park, Deadman Wonderland. In order to receive the antidote to the poison injected into him via his collar, he must perform various tasks to entertain the park-goers. The problem is, he isn’t even guilty!
MAL Rated 7.88, Ranked #697 | Aired Fall 2011 | Produced by Production I.G
In Guilty Crown, after a tragic outbreak of a disease known as the “Apocalypse Virus”, one boy has obtained special powers and hopes to help restore Japan to the way it once was before it was taken over by an organization known as GHQ. This action anime is filled with thrilling scenes that will literally take your breath away!
MAL Rated 7.62, Ranked #1182 | Aired Winter 2006 | Produced by Studio Deen
Another fantasy/action anime, you say? Alright then! Fate/stay night is one of those highly addictive, highly entertaining anime series that you just can’t get enough of. Probably one of the best aspects of the entire show is the action! The battle scenes are some of the most epic in the history of anime; the execution of them, as well as the outstanding animation, is unmatched.
MAL Rated 8.35, Ranked #178 | Aired Fall 1997 | Produced by Oriental Light and Magic
Berserk is an anime classic that you can’t really avoid seeing, action anime fan or not. With epic sword fights, compelling characters, and glorious ’90s gore, Berserk is one of the best action anime ever.
MAL Rated 8.20, Ranked #293 | Aired Spring 2006 | Produced by Madhouse
Ah, Black Lagoon. A show featuring modern day pirates, Black Lagoon is another one of the best action anime series available. With outrageous, yet amazing action scenes, foul, yet entertaining language, and kick-ass characters, Black Lagoon is one heck of a thrill ride! Of course, I have to mention Revy, the trigger-happy femme fatale, who truly ties the entire series together.
MAL Rated 8.44, Ranked #129 | Aired Fall 2007 | Produced by Bones
As the only movie on this list, Sword of the Stranger is certainly able to hold its own! With all of the positive feedback it’s received, this 1 hour and 40 minute film is sure to satisfy your action cravings. Young Kotaro is on the run from Ming Dynasty Chinese warriors who are hell-bent on taking his life. But why?
MAL Rated 8.55, Ranked #82 | Aired Fall 2012 | Produced by Production I.G
Psycho-Pass takes place in a future where the government is literally inside your head! You had better not even think about committing a crime. With an interesting setting, characters and weaponry, this action anime is not to be missed.
New Inspector Akane Tsunemori works with Enforcers, those who have been determined through psychologic evaluation to be latent criminals. They are mistrusted and feared in this world, where “mental stability” determines everything. But just how effective is this method of determining sanity, and does sanity equal morality?
MAL Rated 8.19, Ranked #311 | Aired Spring 2009 | Produced by Bee Train and Genco
Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom is a great anime series for anyone seeking out a total thrill ride. Filled with gunshots, assassinations, and violence, Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom is the perfect action series.
MAL Rated 9.07, Ranked #10 | Aired Fall 2015 | Produced by Madhouse
This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning One Punch Man! This very recent comedy/action anime series is one of the highlights of the past anime season. Fans of the action genre should definitely give One Punch Man a shot… or at least one punch!
Saitama became determined to be a superhero after experiencing the thrill of fighting an evil baddy. He puts himself on a training regimen, only to lost all of his hair and accidentally become the strongest human who ever walked the Earth. It’s actually a problem－he doesn’t get to experience any heart-pounding fights, as any conflict with Saitama ends with a very standard punch.