What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the phrase “action anime?” Personally, I think of exhilarating fight scenes and heart-wrenching moments. I also expect well-designed characters, epic music, and deep reflections on what’s important in life.
In this article, we cover the top 10 action anime series of all time. If you like the genre, you’ll love our list. Check out our selections and let us know if you share our opinion.
10. Code Geass (2006-2007)
Code Geass takes place in an oppressive future where only three empires exist. They include Brittania (the Americas), Asia, and the European Union (Europe and Africa).
Lelouch Lamperouge is the exiled prince of a place called Britannia. After being forced out of his home country, he goes to school in Japan. He’s managed to escape the fighting between the empires.
Lelouch meets a mysterious girl named C.C., and she gives him the power of Geass. This magical power allows him to command anyone to do what he wants…. but only under certain conditions. He creates a team to destroy the Empire of Britannia and restore peace in Japan.
This anime deserves a place on our list for the memorable fight scenes alone. The series also features complex, dynamic, and interesting characters.
Code Geass has strong moral messages. It teaches powerful lessons about life, family, and friends.
Buy the first DVD on Amazon: Code Geass: Lelouch of Rebellion Season One
9. Fullmetal Alchemist (2003-2004)
Fullmetal Alchemist focuses on the adventures a young alchemist, Edward Elric. Edward lives in a world based on Europe around the time of the industrial revolution.
Edward’s mother died of the plague. Edward and his brother attempt to resurrect her through a forbidden, dark magic. In the process, Edward loses his younger brother and two of his limbs. Before the spell was complete, he managed to bind his brother’s soul into a large, sturdy metal armor.
Edward and his brother set out to find the Philosopher’s Stone. The Stone has the ability to give them their fully functional bodies back.
If you’re a true anime fan, you’ve probably already watched Full Metal Alchemist, or at least put it on your must-watch list. It has many heartbreaking, touching, and memorable scenes. Fans rave about the epic fights and wonderful music.
FMA takes you to an alternate universe with fun characters to cheer on and support. The moral and philosophical themes give you something to think about.
Buy the DVDs on Amazon: Fullmetal Alchemist: The Complete Series [Blu-ray]
8. Soul Eater (2008-2009)
If you like spooky entertainment, you don’t want to miss this creepy action anime.
Shibusen is a technical academy in Death City, Nevada. Soul Eater Evans goes to school here. Evans wants to become a Death Scythe – a weapon. He helps the students of Shibusen protect the city from the world’s threats.
What makes this anime so amazing is the great combination of characters, plot, music, and action. It creates a creepy, Halloween-like atmosphere.
If you haven’t watched Soul Eater yet, do so. It helped define and shape the genre of action anime.
Soul Eater makes you wish you could wield a scythe just like the main characters. You’ll still feel pumped hours after watching it… and spooked!
Buy the DVDs on Amazon: Soul Eater – Complete Series [Blu-ray]
7. Fate/Stay Night (2006)
Shiro was wounded after watching a battle between supernatural humans called Servants. He was saved from the villains by a Servant of his own, Saber. His family is all deceased, and this causes him much grief.
Shiro must become a hero, but he’s scared he might become a villain in the process. Many obstacles lie ahead. Shiro has to make the right choice: Will he become a hero or a villain?
This fantasy/action anime helped shape the genre. The series gets addictive. Each episode makes you want to watch more and more.
Fate/Stay Night has some of the most memorable fight scenes in anime. The philosophical theme of struggling to overcome your past resonates with many viewers. The outstanding design and animation will keep you entertained for hours.
Buy the DVDs on Amazon: Fate / Stay Night TV: Complete Collection [Blu-ray]
6. Sword Art Online (2012)
In the year 2022, artificial intelligence and virtual reality have greatly advanced.
Kirito gets to test a new virtual reality game with 10,000 other people. After they log in, they realize they’re stuck in a virtual world. They won’t be able to leave this world until they complete 100 levels of the game.
They must take risky missions and fend off big, dangerous monsters. To make matters worse — if they die in the game, they die in real life as well!
People often say Sword Art Online is overrated. I disagree.
Sword Art Online gets high ratings in my book for the masterful fight scenes and epic animation. The unusual music creates a unique atmosphere.
Will Kirito adapt to the virtual world and find his way out?
Buy the DVDs on Amazon: Sword Art Online Season 1 BLURAY Boxed Set (Eps 1-25)
5. Fairy Tail (2009-2016)
This anime centers on the Fairy Tail Guild in the Kingdom of Fiore. Guilds consist of people working together to do magic.
Natsu Dragneel and Lucy Heartfilia are members of the Fairy Tail guild. They must complete certain magical tasks in the right order. They also fight off evil guilds and chase after dragons.
Fairy Tail has a special focus on honor and friendship. The series offers inspiring moral messages.
The fight scenes are epic and, at times, comical. The unusual, dynamic characters are fun to watch. Each of them possesses a special skill which gives them a unique appeal.
The awesome fights and epic music take your breath away. The music is so good they’ve released soundtracks available on CD and MP3.
Buy the DVD on Amazon: Fairy Tail: Collection One (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
4. Attack on Titan (2013)
Titans are giant humanoid monsters who terrorize cities and eat men.
Humans have built walls around cities to protect themselves, but they live in constant fear. The walls can’t keep the Titans out forever.
The only way to defeat these humanoids is with the military.
Eren Yeager saw the Titans kill his family and friends when he was little. Now that he’s grown up, he’s determined to stop the terror the Titans spread. Will he succeed?
This anime features lovable male characters. It offers top-notch animation and dynamic, well-drawn characters in realistic military uniforms. Each possesses a unique personality worth cheering for.
The plot is innovative, and a large part of what makes it so good. The only thing I don’t like is that the fight scenes are way too short! The short fight scenes don’t make the series any less enjoyable overall. It’s well worth checking out.
Buy the DVD on Amazon: Attack on Titan: The Complete First Season [Blu-ray]
3. Naruto Shippuden (2007 – 2017)
This is the sequel to the anime series Naruto, written by Masashi Kishimoto. It follows a boy named Naruto on his journey to become the best ninja and Hokage (ninja leader).
Naruto is friendly, and he’s determined to achieve his goals. He protects his village and the rest of the realm from evil.
He isn’t popular amongst the other children because a Nine-tailed Fox named Kyuubi is trapped in him. The fox gives Naruto special powers. The fox and Naruto’s trustworthy friends follow him on his adventures.
Naruto Shippuden is on the list for many reasons. The series imparts important messages about friendship, determination, and ambitions. It teaches the audience anything is possible, and you should never give up on your dreams.
Buy the DVD on Amazon: Naruto Shippuden: Set One
2. One Piece (1999 – present)
Action fans will love this anime, as it completely revolves around the action.
Luffy is on a mission to find One Piece. One Piece is a lost treasure all the pirates in the world seek, and it belonged to the former King of Pirates. Luffy’s friends accompany him on his mission.
I haven’t seen much good anime featuring pirates. One Piece, however, is a must watch.
There are many, many episodes, but they’re full of fun, original characters. The cool supernatural powers and memorable fight scenes make this the second greatest action anime of all time.
Buy the first DVD on Amazon: One Piece: Collection One
1. Dragon Ball Z (1989 – 1996)
Nearly all anime fans started with Dragon Ball Z.
The series has become so popular that phrases like “going Super Saiyan” and “Kamehameha” are understood by many Americans. A popular joke states it takes seconds to charge up a Kamehameha, but minutes to say it!
Goku came to Earth from an alien planet as a baby. Now fully grown, he has special powers and advanced fighting skills. He transforms into a large, powerful monkey under the full moon. His character was inspired by the Monkey King of Chinese folklore.
Goku and his friends defend Earth from the evil coming from outer space. They work hard to protect their adopted home planet.
Dragon Ball Z offers villains rare in other series. People complain the fight scenes take too long, but I disagree.
Exciting fight scenes, heart-wrenching moments, and likable characters make Dragon Ball Z the best action anime of all time.
Buy the first season on DVD on Amazon: Dragon Ball Z: Season 1 (Vegeta Saga)
What’s Your Favorite Action Anime Series?
I hope you get a chance to check out some of the series on our list. You won’t be disappointed.
There are many other amazing series that arguably deserve to be on the list. We highlighted the anime we thought stands out from the crowd.
What do you think of our top 10 action anime of all time? Tell us your opinion in the comments. Don’t forget to share this article with your friends… they might Kamihamiha you if you don’t!