What are the best action anime of all time?
Series that keep fans on the edges of their seats are some of the best around, and anime isn’t lacking when it comes to nail-biting action shows.
However, some of these series rise above the rest due to a combination of storytelling and remarkable characters.
If you’re looking for a new action anime series to watch, then you’ve come to the right place because we’ve singled out the best of the best!
The 25 Best Action Anime of All Time
Our ranked lists are created by researching and rounding up information from the most reputable web sources.
Here’s our list of the 25 best action anime of all time:
25. Black Lagoon
Set in Roanapur, a fictional city in Thailand and haven of corruption and crime, this anime doesn’t hold back when it comes to exploring the darkest parts of human morality.
Centered around the titular mercenary group, Black Lagoon tells the story of a kidnapped businessman who is betrayed by his employer and decides to join his captors.
With fantastic action scenes, Michael Bay-worthy explosions, and a look at just how brutal human beings can be, this anime is something that every action fan should watch.
24. Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic
Based on the stories from Arabian Nights, Magi follows the story of Aladdin, a young boy eager to explore the world.
However, after accidentally destroying a merchant’s cart, Aladdin is coaxed by Alibaba into attempting to conquer a local dungeon to pay for the damages.
What he doesn’t know is that these dungeons are ancient labyrinths created by rare magicians and contain incredible power that can elevate someone high enough to rule the world.
Needless to say, this anime is an epic adventure full of supernatural powers, exciting characters, and loads of adrenaline-pumping action.
Promising to grant any wish, the Holy Grail has been the catalyst for three incredibly ferocious wars in which the carnage left no victors.
Based on the light novel of the same name, Fate/Zero follows the events of the Fourth Holy Grail War, which plays out as a savage game of survival.
The battle scenes alone are to die for, and the entire series is a must-watch for fans of Fate/ Stay Night, which it serves as a prequel to.
Parasyte is as action-packed as it is unsettling, and horror fans are sure to enjoy this series.
Based on a popular manga, this series centers around Shinichi Izumi, who winds up having his right hand possessed by an alien parasite called Migi.
However, since the parasite failed to take control of Shinichi’s brain, it must now rely on him to survive, and the two end up needing to defend themselves from other hostile parasites who feast upon humans.
If you’re a fan of the action genre but enjoy a good bit of horror as the cherry on top, this series is definitely one that you don’t want to pass up.
Another great series based on a novel, Overlord, has grown to be an incredibly successful anime series, with the fourth season slated to be released in 2022.
Set in a virtual reality video game called Yggdrasil, the titular character, Momonga, finds himself trapped inside after the servers shut down.
Working with his loyal servants, he sets out to try and understand why and take control of his new world. However, nothing is as cut and dry as it seems, and after each episode, fans are left wanting more.
Named after a huge machine used by the organization Nerv to protect humanity from Angels — alien creatures bent on genocide — this mecha anime is truly something to behold.
While it doesn’t shy away from the action, it is much more concerned with the psychology behind its compelling characters.
That said, when the violence starts, it isn’t the same cartoon brutality that you’d see elsewhere. It is visceral, gruesome, and terrifying.
This anime definitely isn’t for the faint of heart, but for those with the courage to watch it, it is by far one of the best and will keep you enraptured from the very beginning.
It also features one of the most memorable purple-haired anime girls, Misato Katsuragi, who is just incredible.
19. Hellsing Ultimate
Like Evangelion, Hellsing Ultimate doesn’t shy away from gore and action.
However, instead of battling aliens, this series pits humanity against some of the most frightening vampires we’ve ever seen.
Sticking closely to the original manga, the story centers around Hellsing, an organization devoted to destroying the dark forces that threaten humanity.
Although the leader of Hellsing is an incredible character, many fans gravitate towards her secret weapon, Alucard, a vampire who fights against his kind.
This series is dark, full of action, and a great example of why you should never judge a book by its cover.
18. The Seven Deadly Sins
Based on the manga of the same series, The Seven Deadly Sins takes place in a world similar to Europe during the Middle Ages, where the Holy Knights use their powers to protect the land of Britannia.
However, after a subset of knights, known as the Seven Deadly Sins, execute a coup to become the new rulers, all hell breaks loose, and it falls to Princess Elizabeth to take back her kingdom and get the justice she deserves.
This series is rife with action, and the story it tells is among some of the most compelling in anime. For fans who want a great plot to go along with their action, this is one series not to pass up.
17. Akame Ga Kill
With kill in the name, you know it has to be filled with action.
Akame Ga Kill follows Tatsumi, the newest member of the Night Raid, a group of assassins working for the Revolutionary Army as they attempt to take down a Prime Minister who has been manipulating the child Emperor.
Although they are killers, they are not without a righteous cause. Due to the Prime Minister’s machinations, the nation has fallen into poverty and ruin, leading many to suffer and leading Tatsumi to join with the assassins.
This anime series has one of the best stories, and the way it explores morals and values when characters are placed in difficult situations highlights its fantastic writing.
For fans of action who also want a series that explores the intricacies of human nature, this is by far one of the best animes to binge.
16. Sword of the Stranger
Set in the Sengoku period of Japan’s history where civil war and social upheaval were rampant, this anime follows Kotarou, who is forced into the chaos after becoming a target of the Ming Dynasty.
After being attacked, he is saved by a samurai, who he then hires as a bodyguard to ensure his safety until he is healed and at his destination.
However, the journey is anything but easy, and with one of the most terrifying swordsmen on their trail, the action never stops.
Not only is the story compelling, but the animation is some of the best, and even the smallest expressions are rendered to convey an impressive amount of emotion.
15. Vinland Saga
Having been born in a small Icelandic village, Thorfinn is enraptured with tales of Vinland and wants nothing more than to take to the sea and sail to this land.
But the life of a Viking is never without bloodshed and, after his father is murdered, Thorfinn is forced onto a path of revenge where violence isn’t always the answer.
This Shounen anime has some of the most epic battles of any series, and its story of fatherhood and revenge is also one of the most captivating.
Although there are only 24 episodes, there is also the manga which consists of 25 volumes, meaning that you’ll be hard-pressed to run out of content once you get hooked on this incredible adventure.
Featuring one of the coolest anime girls with green hair, Bleach is one of the most popular and well-known animes, and for good reason.
The action never stops once Ichigo Kurosaki’s family is attacked by a Hollow, a corrupt spirit that consumes human souls, which leads to him meeting Rukia, a Soul Reaper who is injured during the attack.
When Rukia is unable to regain her powers, Ichigo is tasked with taking on the spirits plaguing his town with the help of his friends, each of whom has their own unique powers.
Although watching these high schoolers learn to support each other both on and off the battle, the teens quickly have their work cut out for them once it’s revealed that Hollows aren’t the only threat that humanity has to contend with.
While many anime fans are familiar with this series, if you haven’t yet gotten around to watching it, you definitely will want to stop missing out.
13. One Piece
Another of the most well-known series, One Piece, is something that every anime fan needs to watch at least once, and with 974 episodes, you’re not going to run out of content any time soon.
Kicking off with the death of the Pirate King and his death-bed revelation of One Piece, the greatest treasure in the world, a golden age of piracy begins with everyone searching for this lost bounty.
This is where Luffy enters the picture, a youthful boy who flouts the traditional image of what modern-day pirates should be.
Following in the footsteps of his childhood hero, Luffy and his crew embark on an incredible number of exciting adventures, battling some of the most interesting and powerful enemies, as they try to find One Piece for themselves, and all the riches and fame that comes with it.
12. Tokyo Ghoul
Although many fans believe season one to be the best, this entire series is a dark emotional journey that doesn’t hold back on the bloodshed.
After meeting and almost being devoured by Rize Kamishiro, Ken Kaneki kills her but is gravely injured in the process.
To save his life, he undergoes an organ transplant that moves Rize’s organs into him, giving him the powers of a Ghoul, a vampiric creature that survives on human flesh.
Adapted from the manga, this series is both gorgeous and terrifying, and watching Ken as he adjusts to his new life as a half-human half-ghoul is definitely one of the most interesting journeys in any series.
11. Code Geass: Lelouch Of The Rebellion
After the Holy Roman Empire of Britannia completes its swift militant takeover of Japan, in which the country is renamed Area 11, Lelouch Lamperouge finds himself caught in the crossfire between rebels and the Britannian forces.
Able to escape with the help of C.C., a mysterious girl who gives him Geass, the Power of the Kings, Lelouch transforms into a vigilante known as Zero.
Under this guise, he leads a merciless slaughter against Britannia in order to free his country and get revenge for all the pain they have caused.
This action anime pulls no punches, and between the stunning fight scenes, compelling characters, and excellent storytelling, there is a lot to love for both veteran fans and newcomers alike.
10. Dragon Ball Z
Boasting an impressive 291 episodes, almost everyone has at least heard of this action anime series.
Following the story of Gokuu, a warrior of the nearly extinct Saiyan race, who was once sent to earth in order to conquer it, but who now lives as a kind protector due to amnesia.
Once his true nature is revealed to him, Gokuu must work with his friends to defeat the threats that imperil humanity and put the planet in danger of being thrown into an intergalactic conflict.
The plot twists and writing are phenomenal and enabled the series to run for as long as it did. However, it was the action sequences that truly made Dragon Ball Z stand out from all others.
Needless to say, this amazing action anime is one of the best of all time.
You could even say that it’s OVER 9000!!
9. Cowboy Bebop
Featuring one of the best red-haired anime girls, Cow Boy Bebop is a legendary action anime, and it follows the crew of the spaceship Bebop, a group of outlaw country hunters.
The carefree and easygoing Spike and his rowdy but pragmatic partner Jet make a living pursuing bounties and collecting the rewards.
However, their engaging dynamic is turned upside down by the new members they gain, each of whom has come to be beloved by fans.
Melding high action with light comedy perfectly, Cowboy Bebop is best described as an energetic space Western, and it melds the depth of a sci-fi thriller with gunslinging perfectly.
With 220 action-packed episodes, Naruto is one of the most popular animes, and both casual and hardcore anime fans alike hold this series in high esteem.
Following the story of Naruto Uzumaki, a young boy whose village was wrecked by the Nine-Tailed Fox moments before his birth, and who now harbors the beast inside him after the leader sacrificed himself to end the monster’s rampage.
As a young knuckle-headed ninja, Naruto is often shunned because of the demon inside him, and he struggles with finding his place in his village.
Despite this, he does what he can to protect the world from some incredibly deadly foes with the help of his new friends.
The action in this anime is incredible, and it totally makes fans want to join Naruto on his adventures and hone their own martial arts skills.
There is even Naruto: Shippuuden with 500 episodes and numerous movies that fans can binge to keep the excitement going once they get hooked.
7. Mob Psycho 100
Mob Psycho 100 follows the story of Shigeo “Mob” Kageyama, an 8th grader with impressive psychic abilities.
While he attempts to suppress his gifts, choosing only to use them to impress his crush, he eventually tries to learn to control them more and enlists the help of a con artist and supposed psychic, who uses Mob to make money.
While his life may seem mundane, there is much more to his powers than meets the eye, and if triggered, Mob’s psychic energy could cause a cataclysmic event that could cause unparalleled levels of destruction.
Although preventing this may be futile, all Mob really wants is to become friends with his crush and live a normal life.
Fortunately for viewers, Mob’s life is anything but ordinary, and the action never slows down.
6. One Punch Man
Taking cues from shounen anime and the superhero genre, One Punch Man takes the stereotype of an infinitely powerful protagonist and makes it interesting.
Following the story of Saitama, who pursued his childhood dream of being a hero, training so much that he can take down any foe with a single punch, this anime explores all the downsides of being an all-powerful hero.
Although being a one punch man might seem exciting, like being Superman on steroids, Saitama quickly grows bored since no battle is a challenge anymore.
Thankfully, this boredom changes when Genos, a cyborg, convinces Saitama to join the Hero Association with him so that they can get the recognition they deserve and fight the strongest enemies the world has ever seen.
As an action series with the perfect amount of comic relief, One Punch Man introduces fans to plenty of incredible characters and numerous battles that make even the most exciting MCU fights look tame.
5. Samurai Champloo
Set in an alternate reality version of Edo period Japan, this story follows a young woman named Fuu who works at a small tea house.
However, once she accidentally spills tea on one of her customers, she becomes increasingly harassed by a group of samurai.
Fortunately, another Samurai, Mugen, steps in and defends her. Unfortunately, he ends up picking a fight with an unwilling and more skilled samurai whose sword fighting is much more developed.
After trashing the tea house and accidentally killing a magistrate’s son, the pair are imprisoned and set up for execution.
Before they can be put to death, Fuu rescues them and hires the two samurai to be her bodyguards as she searches for another samurai who smells of sunflowers.
With an opening like this, it’s easy to see just how much action Samurai Champloo features for fans to eat up.
Between the incredible fight sequences, memorable characters, and unique hip-hop soundtrack, it isn’t hard to fall in love with this series.
4. Gurren Lagann
This action anime was released to incredible critical acclaim, and it contains some of the best action scenes in any series.
Following the protagonists, Simon and Kamina, as they journey from their underground refuge, a place where humans have lived in safety for generations, after stumbling upon an ancient ignition key to a war machine that they end up calling Lagann.
After being attacked by a massive gun-wielding red-head from the surface, the pair head off to explore the wasteland above and end up at the forefront of a battle between the remaining humans and the beastmen who terrorize them.
With massive mecha battles and a galactic-scale conflict that elevates this series to a whole new level, there is so much to get excited about while binging this incredible series.
3. Attack on Titan
Attack on Titan is filled with some of the most unique action sequences in anime, along with some of the most memorable and endearing characters, including one of the most badass black-haired girls in anime.
Following Arin, his adopted sister Mikasa, and childhood friend Armin as their walled city is reduced to chaos by towering titans who are as destructive as they are disturbing to look at.
After witnessing the destruction of his home, Arin pledges that he will one day eradicate the Titans and enlists in the Survey Corps to gain the strength that he needs.
When it comes to anime, this series is a modern classic chock full of nail-biting suspense, edge-of-your-seat action, and head-spinning key plot points that all help bring this anime world to life.
Based on the award-winning manga of the same name, this is one series that fans quickly fell in love with, and if you haven’t yet seen it, it’s a must-add to your watch list.
2. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Fullmetal Alchemist is often considered one of the best animes of all time, and the action and storyline help set it apart from all others.
After an alchemy experiment goes wrong, brothers Edward and Alphonse are left to face a terrifying new reality.
Ignoring the alchemical rule that prohibits human transmutation, the pair attempt to bring their mother back to life but instead end up sacrificing more than they bargained for.
With Edward losing his arm and Alphonse losing himself completely, only saved by his brother binding his spirit to a towering suit of armor, this story is as emotionally impactful as it is full of action.
If you haven’t given this series a chance yet, you’ll want to clear your schedule and get caught up. Just remember to keep tissues handy because this show will hit you right in the feels.
1. Hunter x Hunter
In a world where Hunters are used to completing dangerous tasks, like catching dangerous criminals or exploring unknown regions, 12-year-old Gon Freecss wants nothing more but to join their ranks.
However, it quickly becomes evident that achieving this goal is much more complex and dangerous than he could ever have imagined.
Along the way, Gon makes a lot of new friends with whom he takes the hunter exam. Through this journey, they take on numerous monsters and characters that challenge them to be the best they can be.
The action never stops, and each episode will have you biting your nails, teetering on the edge of your seat, and eagerly wanting more once the credits roll.
Action is an important aspect in many anime series, and without a doubt, some of the most popular are the most action-packed.
While narrowing down the best action anime series isn’t easy, these 25 stand out for their incredible fight scenes, story, and ability to get fans’ hearts racing.
If you haven’t seen any of the great series on this list, be sure to add them to your watchlist and get ready to join the legions of fans singing their praises!
Here’s a quick recap of the 25 best action anime of all time:
- Hunter x Hunter
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
- Attack on Titan
- Gurren Lagann
- Samurai Champloo
- One Punch Man
- Mob Psycho 100
- Cowboy Bebop
- Dragon Ball Z
- Code Geass: Lelouch Of The Rebellion
- Tokyo Ghoul
- One Piece
- Vinland Saga
- Sword of the Stranger
- Akame Ga Kill
- The Seven Deadly Sins
- Hellsing Ultimate
- Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic
- Black Lagoon
What’s the best action anime of all time, in your opinion? Leave a comment below.
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