Jeremy explores many topics as he juggles his passion for writing with his career as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
Anime Battles and Rules
With hundreds of anime chock-full of battles, viewers may be daunted by the task of locating the diamonds in the rough. Plus, each individual harbors their own personal tastes; some prefer the hours-long dramatic brawls between hero and villain, while others (like myself) favor short but sweet clashes. Yet regardless of audience bias, some anime showcase fights that fans can't help but enjoy, and I hope to introduce you to the cream of the crop.
First, our simple criteria: fittingly, each battle must stem from an anime (no fights from pseudo-anime like RWBY or video game cutscenes), and only one battle allowed per series. Without further ado, these are the top ten anime fights!
10. Zuko vs Azula
Anime: Avatar: The Last Airbender
To some, Avatar doesn't count as an anime, but I'd classify it as such, just with less Japanese influence. Regardless, the series captivated millions of fans and was littered with exciting battles. My favorite consists of the Agni Kai duel between villain-turned-hero Zuko and his villainous sister Azula.
The clash isn't particularly long, but I don't mind. Better an awesome three minutes than an encumbered two hours. Filled with fittingly somber music, dynamic firebending, and beautiful visuals as blue fire roars against orange, Zuko's final combat against Azula offered the best match of the show.
9. Light vs L
Anime: Death Note
Part of the brilliance of this fight was how unexpected (yet fitting) it was. Death Note is a psychological horror series, far more realistic than most anime, with very few physical battles within. Throughout the series, Light Yagami, determined to rid the world of criminals by murdering them with his supernatural Death Note, faces genius detective L in a game of wits to catch and eliminate the other.
However, when circumstances temporarily bring the two to the same side, Light becomes frustrated with L's attitude, and the two enter a brawl. While brief, Death Note knows how to make audiences feel every blow, and the fight also helped viewers better understand both characters and their respective frustrations.
8. Ichigo vs Ulquiorra
Bleach endured its low and high points, but few argue the brilliance of the Espada arc, which culminates in Ichigo's titanic battle against the coldly logical Ulquirorra.
This is one of today's longest and most dramatic battles, where Ichigo and Ulquiorra attack not just each other's bodies, but their very ideologies. Action-packed, riddled with classic Bleach tunes, and containing more than a few twists, Ichigo's bout with the emerald Espada will long be remembered.
7. Saitama vs Genos
Anime: One-Punch Man
Sometimes it's fun to just kick back and watch two heroes engage in a training match. Cyborg Genos challenges the titular "One-Punch" Saitama to a practice battle, which leads to a stellar contest.
Brief, but showcasing incredible animation, the battle does justice to Saitama's near-invincible strength while also highlighting Genos's own talents. More modern than today's other entries, these dazzling visuals were truly a wonder to behold.
6. Goku vs Frieza
Anime: Dragon Ball Z
One of the longest matches ever witnessed in anime—the original fight spans over 15 episodes—Goku took on his Saiyan race's destroyer, Frieza, in a terrific fight. Goku's various tactics initially prove futile, but he eventually gains the long-foreshadowed Super Saiyan transformation, precipitating a battle with the fate of the universe at stake.
If you'd like to watch shortened versions of the bout, several edits cut out the filler segments, or you can check out Dragon Ball Z Kai's abridged version.
5. Madara vs Shinobi Alliance
To prove the prowess of the main antagonist, anime often present battles where the villain dominates several opponents at once. Madara here is no exception, and I appreciate several aspects of this particular example. Battling hundreds of united ninja—including prominent characters such as Naruto and Gaara—Madara certainly demonstrates his power, but the Alliance proves their mettle at points, too. They successfully repel Madara's fire justu with a united water blast, and work together well to counter Madara's giant meteor, showing they're more than worthless grunts for Madara to ragdoll around.
My one complaint here is an occasional dip in the art quality, but the close-ups are well done, and seeing my favorite villain of the series solo an army never gets old.
4. Kirito vs Gleam Eyes
Anime: Sword Art Online
Here's a rare instance of an awesome bout despite one of the combatants, Gleam Eyes, being a simple carnal monster who harbors no personality or history with protagonist Kirito. Despite that potential obstacle, the fight contains superb music, animation, and intensity, easily engraving it in my mind.
Kirito and several other players must escape the virtual reality game Sword Art without their character avatar dying, or their real-world bodies will do the same. Thus, when Kirito and romantic pursuit Asuna witness an unprepared group recklessly engaging the mighty boss monster Gleam-Eyes, they must decide whether to step in and help—quite possibly dying themselves—or retreat and leave the players to their fate.
With some understandable hesitation, they enter the skirmish, and without spoiling too much, let's just say that you really get a feel of how badly things are stacked against them, yet a surprise twist wonderfully evens the odds.
3. Archer vs Lancer
Anime: Fate/stay night
In the Fate universe's battle royale settings, many skirmishes occur where the lines between good and evil are blurred, this being a prime example. Young mage Rin watches her red-clad Heroic Servant of the Archer class battle the blue-hued Lancer in a fast-paced duel to the death.
I especially enjoy fights with a palpable realism. Minus an occasional taunt, there's no lengthy exposition weighing down the combat. Archer vs Lancer is just one of several superb bouts within Fate/stay night.
2. Kenshin vs Saito
Anime: Rurouni Kenshin
Former assassin Kenshin vows to never kill again and protect the innocent in Rurouni Kenshin, yet when Saito, a warrior from Kenshin's past, reemerges, old instincts resurface. In addition, Saito maims Kenshin's ally Sanosuke, providing more incentive for Kenshin's repressed killer's attitude from his days as "Battousai the Manslayer" to take over.
We finally see Kenshin, normally a humble, friendly, and somewhat silly hero, take a fight seriously, showcasing his inner demons. The fight is brutal, comparatively realistic, and leaves room to debate who had the advantage—providing more experiences for fans to obtain.
With so many superb swordfights in this series, it's hard to select a single standout. Learn more about the strongest warriors throughout Kenshin here!
1. Kiritsugu vs Kirei
Anime: Fate Zero
Fate Zero, the prequel to Fate/stay night, highlights a separate Holy Grail War, again a battle royale between seven teams of mage and Heroic Spirit. Throughout the series, we continuously witness the mages Kiritsugu and Kirei's mutual fear and fascination of one another.
The two finally collide in a beautiful fight. They don't waste time with banter, but we do hear each's inner thoughts, offering believable insights into their various tactics. With Kirei's superior close-quarters offense facing Kiritsugu's firearms and time magic, rewatching this brutal battle never gets old.
Hopefully I've piqued your interest with some impressive bouts across a variety of anime! Though the above shows range in quality, they've all accumulated many fans, and I'd recommend giving each a chance to decide for yourself!
But for now, vote for your favorite battle, and feel free to let me know which other anime matches you enjoy in the comments below. You might even name a fight I haven't yet seen and could potentially use in a future countdown!
Questions & Answers
Question: What do you think about the fight between Luffy and Lucci from One Piece?
Answer: I'll admit I haven't seen all of One Piece yet (in my defense, it's a ridiculously long anime), but I appreciate the suggestion. I also enjoy many of Sanji and Zoro's battles.
Question: How about Naruto vs Pain as a top anime fight?
Answer: A good fight, but again, I only wanted one per series, and it's hard to pick from the several great bouts in Naruto.
Question: Why isn't Naruto and Sasuke's final battle on this list of top 10 anime fights?
Answer: Yep, another good brawl for anime fans, especially if they've grown alongside the characters and understand their stories.
Question: Is Goku vs Jiren a good anime fight?
Answer: A good fight, but most veterans will still probably pick Goku vs Frieza as the definitive titanic battle of the series.
Question: What about Kakashi vs Obito as a top anime fight?
Answer: I didn't want to oversaturate the list with any one anime (we already had a Naruto fight), and besides that, Naruto battles unfortunately tend to fluctuate in animation quality. Not to say that this wasn't an impressive fight; Rock Lee vs Gaara remains another personal favorite.
© 2018 Jeremy Gill
A guy on July 15, 2019:
Kirito vs pontifex in Sword Art Online: Alicization
CryptoKing on July 14, 2019:
i really like kirito vs death gun from SAO 2 or meliodas vs the ten commandments from seven deadly sins and my third is natsu vs the dragon in the movie fairy tail dragon cry
Noah on February 05, 2019:
Luffy vs Katakuri
Zero Ways from Indonesia on January 11, 2018:
Hmm, never really paid much attention to that. As you said, the correct spelling of the title is to ignore capitalizing "stay night". I guess just wrote that part with capitalization because I'm used to writing the series' title in abbreviation (e.g. "FSN"). Write it in any way you want. I don't think most Fate fans will pay any mind to it either way.
Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on January 10, 2018:
Right with ya, looking forward to it.
I haven't yet seen Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann but it's definitely on my radar, thank you for the reminder. On a slight tangent, I wonder whether to change my spelling of Fate/stay night to the way you wrote it, with each word capitalized. If I'm not mistaken, the former is technically correct, but the latter looks more presentable.
Zero Ways from Indonesia on January 10, 2018:
Nice list! My personal favorite anime fight is between Simon vs The Anti Spiral (from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann) and Shirou vs Gilgamesh (from Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works).
Sudipa from India on January 09, 2018:
Rurouni Kenshin- the feared killer.
Cheeky Kid from Milky Way on January 09, 2018:
Personally, ALL of Saitama's fights are the best for me. I hope the second season comes very VERY soon.