It’s one thing to watch the masters of martial arts do battle in person on film, it’s quite another to explore the realms of visual possibility by way of anime!
Whereas the likes of Bruce Lee, Jim Kelly and Tony Jaa have proven that the limits of physical action can still reach out pretty far, anime films have the capability not just to push the boundaries, but to create their own.
There’s a certain childish gratification that comes from watching these cartoons. On the one hand, they are fantastical – merging inhuman characters with impossible expectations. Yet, on the other, they are full of imaginative story-lines, beautiful cinematography and a degree of visceral violence that is anything but child-like!
With that in mind, here are ten of my favourite fight scenes from anime features.
1. Sword of the Stranger – Final Fight
Sword of the Stranger tells the tale of Kotaro, a young orphan boy who is hunted by a group of Ming Dynasty swordsmen. He meets a ronin named Nanashi, whose mysterious past has led to him relinquishing his sword. When the swordsmen clash with a number of number of Sengoku-era elites, the reason for their pursuit of Nanashi becomes clearer.
This is a clip of the final fight which sees Nanashi battle one of the swordsmen, Luo-Lang.
2. Street Fighter 2 – Bison vs. Ryu and Ken
Based on the game of the same name, Street Fighter 2 tells the story of Bison, a terrorise leader looking to find the greatest fighter on the planet. He believes he has found that person in the elusive Ryu. When Ryu cannot be found, Bison learns of Ken, Ryu’s former training parter. Bison then captures and brainwashes Ken into becoming his latest soldier.
This scene depicts the final battle between Bison, Ryu and Ken – who has broken free of Bison’s spell and is determined to destroy him.
3. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure – Jotaro vs. Dio
This series tells the stories from different generations of the rival Joestar and Brando families, who both adorn a similar birthmark – that of a star placed just above the shoulder blade. The rivalry stems from a battle between Jonathan Joestar and his adopted brother, Dio Brando, whereby Dio ‘stole’ Jonathan’s body in order to inherit his powerful family roots.
In this scene, Jonathan’s decedent, Jotaro, does battle with Dio using his psychic powers.
4. One Piece – Zoro vs. Kaku
This anime tells the story of the One Piece – the greatest piece of treasure left behind by the King of the Pirates, Gol D. Roger, before his execution. The story is set in a surreal word that includes fish-human hybrids and giants, and focuses on the quest of Monkey D. Luffy as he and his band of fellow pirates go in search of the treasure.
I chose this clip as it demonstrates the ability of anime to push boundaries of story telling, whilst still managing to create a great fight scene!
5. Jubei-Chan – Jubei vs. Freesia
Jubei-Chan: The Ninja Girl is the story of Jiyu Nanohana, a high-scool student who refuses to accept her heirship to the Jubei school of swordsmanship. The source of her power come from a magical artifact called the Lovely Eyepatch.
In this scene, Jiyu and Freesia, a self proclaimed heir to the eyepatch, partake in a stunning sword-fight sequence.
6. Hunter X Hunter – Gon vs. Hisoka
When Gon discovers that his father, whom he had always believed was dead, is in fact alive, he heads out on a mission to find him and become a Hunter. His father is a master Hunter – a licensed person who pursues fantastic adventures such as finding new animal species and hunting down lawless people. In order to become a Hunter, Gon must pass a rigorous exam, and encounters others on the same path along the way.
In this scene, Gon fights a conjurer and fellow examinee, Hisoka.
7. Natsuki Crisis 2 – Natsuki vs. Akira
Natsuki Crisis was a 2 episode straight to video anime that spawned a computer game called Natusuki Crisis Battle. The concept is a simple one that stays true to general martial art battles – 2 humans battle each other using their own technique.
Despite the fairly lacklustre premise, there are some impressive fight scenes, such as this rain soaked battle between Natsuki and Akira.
8. Fist of the North Star – Kenshiro vs. Punks
Fist of the North Star is the story of a post apocalyptic world. It focuses on a warrior called Kenshiro who, as a descendant of a martial art known as Hokuto Shinken, has the ability to kill his enemies through attacking their secret vital points. The story is based on his survival, and his fight against those who endanger the innocent.
In this scene, a group of thugs are threatening to kill a young girl. Violence ensues.
9. Baki the Grappler – Hanman Yujiro vs. Doppo
Baki the Grappler is a Manga collection that was adapted into an anime series. It concentrates on the quest of a young fighter called Baki, who is seeking to become a great warrior, like his father.
In this scene, Baki tests his fighting skills against 100 men.
10. Hajim no Ippo – Ippo vs. Sendo
Hajim no Ippo is the story of a 16 year old boy and his journey into the boxing world. Following an attack by a group of bullies, Ippo is saved by a passer by who is also a boxer. Inspired, he begins his quest to rise through the ranks.
This scene depicts Ippo’s championship fight in a stunningly decorative animation.
The Blunt Samurai Sword (1917)
Here’s one of the earliest forms of Japanese animations, one of the first precursors to anime!
What are some of your top anime fight scenes? Share your top battles in the comment section below!