Cheeky Kid has been watching anime and reading manga for as long as he can remember. Doing so takes him to different worlds.
When I say action, I mean action! Yes, with an exclamation mark! Okay, I just said that to overemphasize things, but that’s what action anime is all about!
These shows are focused on the action and intensity of everything in the plot, be it the characters, the battles, or the stunts. More often than not, this genre is responsible for bringing the hype and excitement. That means it's there to make you want to jump around restlessly as if you’re in the show itself. To put it simply, action anime is the bomb. They are an explosion of eye-candy visuals and highly-engaging action.
So after that messed up, overexcited, and nonsensical explanation of this genre, I’ve listed the best action anime based on how popular they are, how intense they are, and the way I see them.
Now get the adrenaline pumping as you’re in for a rush of extreme action that will knock you off your feet.
The Ten Best Action Anime
- Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan)
- Sword Art Online
- Hunter X Hunter
- Kill la Kill
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
- Terra Formars
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
- Deadman Wonderland
- Guilty Crown
10. Guilty Crown
Snagging the #10 spot with a mixture of mystery, drama, mecha, supernatural powers, and extraordinary action is an anime that’ll definitely make you feel guilty if you haven’t watched it yet. That anime is Guilty Crown.
Storywise, you shouldn’t expect too much from this show. I believe that it could have been done much better. The sound and music is awesome, but what’s most important here is the action! It has tons of action and battle scenes that are good enough for you to disregard all the other mediocrities in it.
Guilty Crown starts off when a 17-year-old boy named Shu accidentally meets the mysterious Inori Yuzuriha, a member of the infamous terrorist group Funeral Parlor. After that fateful encounter, Shu gets mixed-up in a cruel conflict that involves a shadowy conspiracy and a deadly virus. Together with Inori, Shu obtains a top-secret power, the Guilty Crown. It enables him to extract voids from people’s hearts and manifest them as weaponry.
9. Deadman Wonderland
If you’re looking for life-and-death battles with brutally exciting action, then look no further. You’ve just discovered it in the form of Deadman Wonderland. Though there are some horrifying scenes and ruthless twists in this one (and the fact that one of its major themes is blood), all of them sync up well with the action, which makes it a really engaging show to watch. There are battles and lots of bloody fight scenes (which are not that grotesque) to watch, so you won’t budge from your seat for a while.
Deadman Wonderland is a 2-in-1 facility that acts as both a high-security prison block and a carnival (hence the name Deadman Wonderland). All of that is a mere facade, however, because what lies beneath is actually a terrible secret that once shook the foundations of the country.
After witnessing the gruesome murder of all his classmates, middle school student Igarashi Ganta is framed as the culprit. Unknown to him, this tragic development in his life shall soon lead him to face the bloody truth of what exists in the shadows of Deadman Wonderland.
8. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Amazing fight scenes involving alchemy and the law of equivalent exchange? How cool is that? It’s no wonder this anime series made it to number eight on this list.
This show is really popular and highly-rated, thanks to the excellent plot, engaging action, and enticing drama it showcases. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood has not only captivated viewers with its unique premise and story, but also with its high-end alchemic stunts. As the law of equivalent exchange suggests, a great anime equals great reception.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood follows the story of the Elric brothers, Edward and Alphonse, after they had a tragic accident in alchemy trying to perform the taboo. They lose parts of their bodies in the process (or for Alphonse, his whole body).
Now, after receiving vast amounts of knowledge in alchemy and becoming state alchemists themselves, they embark on a journey to uncover the all-powerful Philosopher’s Stone and restore their bodies. Unbeknownst to them, as they get closer and closer to the stone, they also get closer to the undeniable and shocking truth about the whole world of alchemy.
There’s nothing more action-packed and exciting than an overwhelmingly popular action online game. In this case, it's Btooom! But when the players are forced to play that survival game in real life, the action increases drastically with a 100x multiplier! If what I’ve said isn’t enough, then just watch the show and witness the bomb-fest of survival with your very own eyes.
Btooom is an action online game wherein the players use unique bombs and explosives as weapons. Unknown to most, there’s actually a conspiracy behind it where the developers capture hopeless people to play the game on a deserted island in real life.
That means it’s a battle of life-and-death where a player who collects a certain number of chips is able to leave the hellish nightmare. 22-year-old N.E.E.T. Ryouta Sakamoto (who happens to be a top-ranking Btooom online player) awakens on the island one day only to find out that he has no choice but to play the real life game of Btooom and survive.
6. Terra Formars
If action and fight scenes with little-to-no breaks in between are what you’re craving, then Terra Formars has got the fix for you. Seriously, every minute of every episode (except the first few ones) of this show are packed to the brim with action! Battles here and there with attacks flying everywhere. There’s really no rest from battle in this one. Why? Well, the characters here would probably die if they stop struggling even for a moment.
Terra Formars depicts the battle of humanity against mutated (or probably evolved) cockroaches on Mars. At first, humans were trying to make Mars habitable by sending moss and cockroaches there to begin the ecosystem.
But then, after several hundred years, things take a dark turn. The cockroaches evolved into monstrosities and a deadly virus is on the loose on Earth. The only fix now is to capture the Terra Formars, study them, make an anti-virus from them, and, if possible, eradicate them all!
5. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
As Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is the very definition of epic in the world of anime, snatching the number five spot was a walk in the park. Marvelously, Gurren Lagann’s epic moments aren’t just marked by its remarkable and out-of-this-world story, but also by the death-defying action it showcases. From the most gigantic robot ever seen to the over-emphasized movements and stunts, you won’t be able to help but be fascinated by this spectacle.
Gurren Lagann starts off in an underground world where humans now dwell and live, ignorant of the existence of the surface world. Living there is a humble digger boy named Simon who works hard to dig tunnels to expand the village.
One day, he discovers a peculiar drill-shaped object beneath the dirt. Not knowing what it is and what great change it’ll bring, Simon keeps it as necklace only to soon realize that his life will forever change in the most drastic and epic of turns.
4. Kill la Kill
Taking the number four spot with style is an anime that knows no bounds when it comes to epic battles and astonishing moves. From the creators of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann comes…Kill la Kill! If you’ve seen it before, then you know that every episode of this anime feels like the climax of the whole story. With that said, I must say that the eye-popping style in itself is what’s keeping viewers glued to the screen.
Kill la Kill is a story of revenge that follows Ryuuko Matoi’s exploits on seeking the person who killed her father—the woman with the scissor blade! As she travels from place to place, she finally comes upon an abnormal school where the students possess ridiculous amounts of power through their Goku school uniforms. The whole student body is governed by the student council lead by the ruthless and powerful Satsuki Kiryuuin. This is Ryuuko Matoi’s biggest clue to exact her revenge.
3. Hunter X Hunter (2011)
Hunter X Hunter may always (feels like forever) be on-hold/hiatus (both manga and anime), but surprisingly, it’s one of the best anime out there in terms of plot, action, and probably everything.
Taking a hint from that, one shouldn’t underestimate the action in this anime. Everything’s well-thought out and well-animated. Even the moves and skills have massive substance in them. This in turn makes each battle highly-anticipated. You’ll probably get hooked and sit there asking (or begging) for more.
Hunters are the most professional of all professionals in the world. And so, they’re regarded as V.I.P.s and the most special people everywhere. However, joining the ranks of the hunters isn’t an easy feat.
There’s a deadly test (hunter exam) that requires very fine and attuned skills to pass. A boy named Gon Freecs is one of the applicants this year, and together with a few friends; the avenger Kurapika, the professional killer Killua, and the seemingly normal medical practitioner Leorio, they go through the dangerous hunter exam to pursue their own great dreams.
2. Sword Art Online
They say that Sword Art Online is overrated, but for me, it deserves all the good ratings it earned. I can attest myself that the action in Sword Art Online is really refined and cutting-edge.
You see, it’s one of the anime where I really felt the intense exhilaration and thrill in some of its fight scenes. Well, not all fight scenes in this anime are like that, but I should share that there is one boss fight in a certain floor that literally made me jump from overexcitement. The story’s not over yet, but I’m really expecting a lot more from it in the upcoming seasons.
Sword Art Online narrates the story of how the very first virtual online game turned into a huge disaster. Thousands of players were trapped inside the game and denied the ability to log-out until someone finished the game.
As if that wasn’t enough, and that might look like an enjoyable tragedy, there’s the fact that when a player dies in the game—they die in real life! Now, a black swordsman named Kirito takes on the role of a beater and tries to finish the game.
1. Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan)
Okay, after everything we’ve seen so far, it’s time to reveal the number one anime on this list. Standing tall (actually gigantic/titanic) is—Shingeki no Kyojin, also known as Attack on Titan. I can't really say any more.
Words don't cut it to describe the overwhelming action in this anime. Let’s just say that there’s a colossal titan. That colossal titan is this anime. And that titan’s neck cannot be reached by our blades (in this case, words). Yeah, I’m sounding nonsensical already, but I suggest you watch it now to see for yourself what extreme action and story I’m talking about.
As humanity was left to live inside gigantic walls that fend off man-eating titans, there seems to be no hope left if nothing is done soon. Humans actually have lived in peace for a couple of years inside the walls, but one day, an abnormal colossal titan shatters the walls and breaks their peace.
After that tragic event, a boy named Eren Jaeger, who survived the horror, vows to become a soldier to eradicate all the titans that exist. That’s not a simple thing to do though, as he finds out and discovers the truth about the titans and the whole of humanity.
Recommended Fighting Anime
Combat scenes are a major part of action anime. Many anime feature battles at the core of their narratives. Here are some of the best series out there that focus on fighting.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica
- Angel Beats!
- Darker than Black
- One Punch Man
Recommended Action Anime Films
While this article discusses television shows, there are some great anime action films out there. Here are some you should consider adding to your watch list.
- Gurren Lagann the Movie – The Lights in the Sky Are Stars
- Sword of the Stranger
- Cowboy Bebop: The Movie
- Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Do You Remember Love?
- Ghost in the Shell
Questions & Answers
Question: When is season three of Attack on Titan coming out?
Answer: Official sources state that the third season of Attack on Titan will be coming out in July 2018 (Summer Anime Season).
JOSEPH O HODGE on July 17, 2019:
What no One Piece??!! SMDH
George on December 18, 2018:
I am not happy with this list, I would totally include Dragon Ball Z and Naruto in it
William Figueroa on August 18, 2018:
SAO and Attack On Titan are on the list but not One Punch Man or Samurai Champloo?
Kyouma on July 25, 2018:
No Fate Stay Night UBW or Fate Zero?
anime leach on June 13, 2018:
What about Tokyo ghoul ,Tokyo ESP?
Otaku forever on June 10, 2018:
Doesn'HXH deserved a much more better position than SAO.
Imean HXH is one of the best anime that I had ever seen.
Ethan on February 21, 2018:
HxH is way better than SOA and AOT...
Naruto Sucks Bro on February 18, 2018:
Naruto Sucks Lol People Who Actually Like Naruto Are 10 Years Olds With No Life
Frank on January 17, 2018:
Attack on Titan and Terra Formars are stylistic garbage. Hardly anything happens. When something happens, it's hidden with weird angles and constantly shifting views and style changes.
People and critics love it because the message is hyper leftist.
raven on January 02, 2018:
I'm a bit surprised that one punch man isnt in this list that anime is pretty cool.
Animesha on November 25, 2017:
need to add some famous Anime like Naruto, Fairy Tale and Etchetera.
Sophia Zhaira on October 28, 2017:
i like guilty crown and sao. Boyh of them are amazing.
MEELOPEZ on October 07, 2017:
FMA and HXH must be on the top.
Hitesh on October 04, 2017:
Dragon Ball super is the best action anime in this century and u didn't put it in list
DeShwan Brunos on September 18, 2017:
hehehe you right on the no. one spot.
Joeysama on June 23, 2017:
Well written. I love all animes. I don't care about the ranks at all. Almost all of them have their charms. The arts, the animation, the plot, even voice actors are flawless. No offense, western cartoons have better animation and quality but I love anime more. I really am. I saw comments about complaining what should be in the list or not. One piece, Naruto, Fairy tail, Dragon....? They're just too mainstream guys. Obviously no animes can compete them. They're flagship anime series! lol. So I'd say Bravo, Cheeky. At least we have the same taste cuz SAO and AOT are my fav!
Cheeky Kid (author) from Milky Way on May 14, 2017:
@cynthia well, it's not purely action, and the action in it get into you after some time. Know what I mean? The fight scenes just kinda get old.
cynthia on May 14, 2017:
how come " fairy tail " is not here?
Sam Kuma on February 25, 2017:
@TyrantPree really? the anime you mentioned, everybody knows already. i am personally looking for something new! and come on bleach? that filler packed anime? or dragon ball? 2 dudes kicking each other to space and beyond and they only end up with a tiny scratch. ok!
there are so much more to anime than the things you mentioned! and its already mentioned ** personal best **
TyrantPree on February 24, 2017:
seriously no One piece, Fairy Tail, Bleach and Dragon Ball!!!!
EMRADE on February 10, 2017:
People could be so weird at times, before he listed the above, he stated that they were his personal best so i don't understand the reason for the negative comments.
DRock on January 04, 2017:
Where is Dragon Ball Z???
Thatanimeguy on December 14, 2016:
Attack on the Titans is a decent anime doesn't deserve trip 5 spot
Lee on November 29, 2016:
Yeah!! What a pity that Fate zero not in this list!
ToryBrown on October 29, 2016:
Nice list, saw some of my favorites and some i hadn't seen here. Watching Btooom! now, seems pretty cool
narissa on October 11, 2016:
CANT BELIEVE I DIDNT SEE NARUTO. Oh well, i think Hunter x Hunter wins it all in this list lol
Fun Hunter on August 02, 2016:
SAO above HXH and FMAB
Someone end my suffering
Bob on May 28, 2016:
I Screamed when i didn't see tokyo ghoul -_-
Mmartinez0015 on March 17, 2016:
Justed walked away when i saw SAO higher than Hunter x Hunter lol
Ihatesao on October 08, 2015:
Sao did not deserve to be on this list. Fate Zero is way better.
askjasd on August 07, 2015:
Never seen SAO, I will now. What about Shaman King? Sure the anime its not that great as the manga but still awesome
Christopher Jay Thompson from Fort Worth, TX on July 08, 2015:
I disagree. Akira is over 20 years old and the picture Quality is superb.
Cheeky Kid (author) from Milky Way on July 07, 2015:
But then, most people wouldn't really watch them even if they were really superb because of their old age (meaning: lower quality in terms of video and audio and whatnot). And that's why I only recommend the recent ones. :D
Christopher Jay Thompson from Fort Worth, TX on July 07, 2015:
the problem with lists like this is they always seem to only include titles that have come out in the past 15 years. There are a lot more older Anime that are much better than some of these.
pinkie on June 12, 2015:
SAO is my all time favorite action anime, but i like sub better, so the trailor bugged me a bit, but this is the best list I've found so far, so thanks!
mikeydcarroll67 on May 23, 2015:
Interesting list. I might have to buy a few of them in order to practice my Japanese!
Anonymous on May 08, 2015:
I'd certainly say i agree with most of this list certainly FMA and SAO, a few id have put up there in pace of others i would spit upon such as Akame ga Kill or Log Horizon in place of the WAY overrated Attack on Titan which i think really isn't that great of an anime in my opinion (my opinion is cold hard fact though :P ) other than my small pet hate good list :)
Cheeky Kid (author) from Milky Way on April 01, 2015:
Have considered it. It's probably included at Top 10+ if it were like that. :D
waytooold on March 31, 2015:
No tokyo ghoul?
Miran Shuleta on February 13, 2015:
Personally I think Hunter X Hunter tops this list, the story, sense of adventure, and the uniqueness of the characters are things to admire. Attack on Titan is also very aesthetically pleasing as well as providing a very interesting story line.
Cheeky Kid (author) from Milky Way on February 10, 2015:
Haha. Thanks. Indeed you are correct when you said I intended to skip the obvious titles - they are mainstream and I wanted to put on spotlight the less mainstream ones but a lot more action-packed, hence this list. Fro Black Lagoon and Tiger & Bunny, I haven't seen them yet, so now I'm curious what they're about - thanks for recommending those two. :D
kotobukijake on February 10, 2015:
Interesting list, and props on making room for Hunter x Hunter and Gurren Lagann. FMA: Brotherhood is also an essential action anime, and from the first episode I expect Kill la Kill to be as well (really want to get into that one). I am surprised, though, by the absence of Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, InuYasha, Ranma 1/2, Dragon Ball, Evangelion AND Fairy Tail. Guess you wanted to skip most of the obvious choices? Incidentally, I'd also consider Black Lagoon and Tiger & Bunny to be excellent contenders as well. Anyway, I enjoyed your list, and I certainly DO intend to add Kill la Kill, Sword Art Online and Attack on Titan to my series viewed, sooner than later.