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5 Best Japanese Action Anime

Michael has a passion for animation and has extensive knowledge and experience with Japanese anime.

Rurouni Kenshin Samurai X Reflection

Rurouni Kenshin Samurai X Reflection

Japanese anime or manga come in a wide array of themes and genres. No matter the genre, I've always enjoyed its intricate storytelling and limitless creativity. Many highly acclaimed titles are filled with action and are among the most popular of all anime. It typically contains action sequences that are breathtaking that you won't find anywhere else.

If you're a hardcore action film fan and haven't watched anime, you don't know what you're missing! There are few live-action movies that keep me on the edge of my seat more often and consistently than a Japanese anime action flick can. Within this article, I have compiled five personal favorite anime action movies.

1. Ninja Scroll

Ninja Scroll is one of the first anime I watched over a decade ago, and ever since I have been hooked. I've never experienced a film that was animated, that was so violent, but beautifully violent.

It was like true art come to life for me. My affection and appreciation for this film couldn't be overstated. There are many dimensions to the film other than just visually stunning action sequences.

There's an amazing depth and cleverness in every scene to enjoy. The story revolves around a quiet, reserved, albeit highly skilled warrior named Jubei. The story takes place in Japan during the feudal age. Within the first ten minutes of the film, an action sequence takes place that will change your perception of anime. Not all anime are about dewy eyed school girls with colorful hair.

There is also an engaging and interesting love story in the film. While getting lost in the animated cinematic, you'll nearly forget you're watching animation, because it's just so realistic. The characters in Ninja Scroll were developed by Yutaka Minowa, and directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, a renowned producer in the Japanese Anime industry.

This film is definitely not for children, containing extreme violence, nudity and strong sexual themes. But it's a title that I will always admire. For me personally, I was amazed and humbled by another human being's creativeness. So, it is fitting that number one of this list, is the film that made me a Japanese action anime fan for life.

Dragon Ball Z anime action

Dragon Ball Z anime action

2. Dragon Ball Z

It was a difficult decision to make Dragon Ball Z the second on my list. There is no other anime title that I've repeatedly watch more of, I've been through the entire movie series at least over twenty times.

And no, that is not an exaggerated figure. While many of my friends were swooning over Superman and Batman, "Goku" was the focal point of my teenage phase of hero worship.

Goku is a Saiyan from a distant planet, from a planet of a warrior race with the penchant and love for combat. Fighting is in their blood, apart of their culture. Compared to the humans on Earth, Goku is extraordinary and possesses amazing speed, agility, and strength. Also, every time they are beaten or defeated in battle but not killed, they grow stronger.

He grows and matures with good people teaching him human morals and values. This guides him to his destiny of protecting the people of earth, from alien threats and sometimes even themselves. Aside from the engaging storyline, Dragon Ball Z is all about the action, a nearly endless volume of fight scenes and different enemies Goku must overcome.

To this day, I can watch this anime and still fall in love all over again. Dragon Ball Z was created by Akira Toriyama in 1984. Unlike many other action packed anime, Dragon Ball Z is actually quite family friendly. I can already see myself re watching this anime when I'm 90 years old and still think it's the coolest thing ever. A truly timeless masterpiece.

Favorite DBZ Character

3. Bleach Action

The refreshingly original story of Bleach revolves around a young protagonist, named Ichigo Kurosaki. Ichigo, as far back as he can remember can see ghosts.

At the age of 15, he is empowered by a Soul Reaper, Rukia. She breaks a sacred covenant by transferring her powers to this would be hero. Ichigo becomes destined to be a protector of the living and the dead, from an evil force, known as "Hollows".

This Japanese anime series also carries a lighter side with it, full of humor, along with it's action packed battle sequences. The series moves on with Ichigo vowing to defend Rukia from the "Soul Society", after she is arrested. Ichigo must cross over to the Soul Society to rescue Rukia before she is executed. Plenty of giant sword swinging action with howling monsters to be entertained by.

Bleach is definitely one of favorite action anime of all time. In my humble opinion it is the epitome of what a good, modern action anime should be. Bleach may not be totally suitable for younger children, but comparatively to other titles, Bleach is tame.

Naruto Uzumaki action anime episodes

Naruto Uzumaki action anime episodes

4. Naruto

The most family friendly action anime in my opinion would have to be Naruto. I would describe it as creative action sequences seamlessly melded with laugh out loud humor.

The story takes place in a world controlled and governed by Ninjas. "Naruto" is the actual name of the main protagonist. A young boy from the leaf village, he expresses himself as a zealous and eager Ninja in training.

However, Naruto harbors a deep evil within him, in the form a nine-tailed fox demon. He is unaware of the spirit that is contained within his own spirit. Naruto comes with a wealth of different and colorful Ninjas, that usually battle one another using different cultural traits and different skill sets.

This anime is a gem for children and teens, while maintaining many entertaining aspects for older fans. Another great thing about Naruto, is women love to watch Naruto as well. I've personally had many female friends that were huge fans of this series. Let's not forget there are plenty of female ninjas in this anime. Also, do you know anyone that dislikes ninjas?

5. Rurouni Kenshin

Rurouni Kenshin is widely known among fans of action genre anime. The story follows Himura Kenshin, a highly trained samurai and ex assassin on a path of redemption and atonement for his bloody past.

This reformed murderer travels through the countryside of Japan, aiding innocent people where he can, trying to amend for his life as heartless killing machine. This all takes place in Meiji era.

The overall tone of this anime series is quite somber, yet it is perfectly appropriate for the traumatic time period where war, poverty, and a power struggle within the infrastructure of the country is perpetually ongoing. In a time of honor-less men, Himura Kenshin swears an oath never to take another life.

The Character is a relate-able figure, as human individuals, we all understand what it's like to bear the burden of true remorse and shame. This one of the greatest anime series ever produced, and it's a shame it lacks more notoriety. A very emotionally deep anime that is a thinking and feeling man's action anime.

Honorable Mention

Attack on Titan

Another spectacular anime title is Attack on Titan, one of the best unique series that is full of non-stop action and filled with moments of disbelief. Thank you for reading through my list of the five best Japanese action anime.

Hopefully most of these titles you agree with, if there's a better action anime out there, please voice your suggestion. Also, feel free to share this article with a friend and your social network!


This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.


John Razgriz on August 11, 2018:

sorry but Fist Of The North Star is #1, had the best fighting and animation to this day. Especially Kenshiro vs Han.