Epic visuals, beautifully choreographed, and narratively engaging, are some aspects people look for in a fight. But some fight scenes go beyond our expectations, make our jaw drop, and leave our heads scratching after the ending. It’s as if the animators go into steroid mode, forget about the budget and deliver a shocking performance. Here are some of those fights listed for you to give some thought to.
Luffy vs Katakuri
After a long scuffle, Toei animators go, “Screw it, we are not ruining this final battle. This will make history”. From the subtle build-up, the transformation, the moment the first attack is launched, all the way to the conclusion, everything is handled masterfully. And it’s not just some regular fight, there’s a lot of mind game going on and carefully thought-out choreographs. This fight epitomized what One Piece fights are about, technical yet full of hype and emotional weight. This was a massive step up for One Piece after getting through really slow-paced episodes.
Dragon Ball Super
ToP final fight and Gogeta vs Broly
Dragon Ball Super has the worst reputation when it comes to storytelling and animation. Due to time restrictions, the staff never had the time to polish or write a compelling story. They had great ideas & concepts, but the execution was dead wrong. That is until the end when the final Antagonist Jiren came into play. He was the most generic, boring character but the writers managed to write a decent story with him. And the animation spoke more than words. The camera works, over-the-top visuals, sound effects, hype music, insane choreography, and most importantly, delivering the massage through the fighting, truly feels like a masterpiece. This reminded me of the good old days of Dragon Ball Z and how it truly feels to watch Dragon Ball. Episodes 109, 110, and 129 to 131 literally broke the internet and left the server crashing during the simulcast. This also speaks just how massive of a franchise Dragon Ball is.
The TV series wasn’t the end of it. Akira Toriyama took the helm & set for a new journey. When Dragon Ball Super: Broly hit the theaters, it brought a fresh new look and new animation techniques to the table that paved the way for an efficient way of animating. It had a good story, compelling characters, and great fights. First Dragon Ball dominated the small screen, then the big screen worldwide. In summary, Dragon Ball fights hit differently.
Sasuke vs Orochimaru, Rock Lee vs Gaara, Naruto vs Sasuke
This series has multiple fights I would like to touch on that curved themselves in history. From the mid-early 2000s to the mid-2010s, they delivered some killer performances. The Sasuke vs Orochimaru fight in the forest of death killed my boredom when I thought it was gonna be another slow-paced, long-running show. It was one of the most technical & well-choreographed fights. Soon later in the arc, we got another banger, Rock Lee vs Gaara, which became an icon. It drew how to tell a story via a fight scene. From an animation perspective, it was a landmark in those days.
Some good fights follow soon after such as The Third Hokage vs Orochimaru, Naruto vs Gaara, Tsunade vs Orochimaru, and all the fights in the last arc of part 1. All of them stand out on their own, but the highlight of these is Naruto vs Sasuke at the final valley. What makes the fight more engaging isn’t just the animation or the choreography, it’s the emotional weight. Both have conflicting ideals & beliefs, both are polar opposites in terms of appearance with the contrast of orange & blue, blond & dark hair. This visual metaphor evolves as the fight goes on with the clash of Rasengan & Chidori, Naruto’s Kyuubi rage & Sasuke’s calm observation with Sharingan, the bright red chakra cloak & darkened curse form, everything single detail speaks for themselves. It concluded in a bitter-sweet ending that had us silenced for the moment.
Kimetsu no Yaiba (Demon Slayer)
Tanjiro & Tengen Uzui vs Gyutaro
When this anime blew up after episode 19, nothing was gonna hold this back. Ufotable believed in this show and kept pushing forward with heart & soul. Later when we thought the show reached its peak with the Infinity Train movie, they blow our minds once again. Though the final boss fights are highlighted the most, every other fight is also given much care and crafted to perfection. The second season had back-to-back action-packed episodes with polished animation. Even so, the final fight in the Entertainment District arc just feels out of this world. The animation is not something impossible or the animators used a mysterious trick to do, but with the clever use of technics, this truly feels different. The visuals were strikingly gorgeous, the sound effects felt impactful, the music was exhilarating, and everything about it felt amazing. Words simply cannot describe how awesome this was.
Mob Psycho 100 II
Shimazaki vs Everyone, Mob vs Tōichirō
This is one of the shows that look good from start to finish. It has a unique look, interesting visuals, and a lot of details put into every scene. The animation is mostly used for comedic effects and characters’ cartoonish behaviors, but the fights became a huge surprise. Shimazaki vs Everyone and Mob vs Tōichirō are the biggest highlights. To me, the Shimazaki fight felt most interesting. The author took the basic concept of teleport power and turned it into one of the most creative fight scenes ever made. The anime not only did justice to it but elevated it to a level that is mind-boggling. The anime already has a great story, but fights like this, remind us why we love anime. Shimazaki, the antagonist here fighting all the good guys. And the way he anticipates attacks moves around and rounds up everyone in his clutches feels fascinating to watch. Not that I root for the villain, it just showed how dominating he is. And that’s why it felt satisfying when the heroes gradually overpower him. It’s a great fight, in a great anime, makes this a must-watch for sure.
One Punch Man
Saitama vs Boros
When the animators don’t pull any punches (pun intended), you get shows amazing as One Punch Man. Both of One’s manga got great anime. One Punch Man conveyed the message that you don’t need a big budget to make great animation. Because of the talented animators at the helm, the show was delivered great both from storytelling narrative & fight scenes. In the last episode, the final fight was a visual representation of hype. I’ve already explained what makes the fights good, but this one takes it to the moon, literally. Everything is over the top. The fight itself, the collateral damage, the display of superpower, everything is just too much hype.
Fate/stay night: Heaven’s Feel III. spring song
Saber Alter vs Rider
Ufotable raises the bar once again with this movie in terms of both animation and storytelling. The final and concluding movie of the Fate/stay night series has everything a Fate series fan can ask for. With the Holy Grail War turning increasingly morbid and grotesque, many of the show’s characters are pushed to their absolute limit. Animation, to no one’s surprise, is perfect. Ufotable knows they need to send this off with a bang and boy do they turn up the heat with this one. Saber Alter vs Rider fight scene certainly is the highlight of this show. Never thought they can top the Saber Alter vs Berserker fight scene from the second movie. But Ufotable has delivered once again. Production quality is distinctly higher than in an episodic series. The amazing & fluid animation, & the visually stunning colors of the Saber Alter vs Rider fight scene is truly a sight to behold.
Hajime no Ippo: New Challenger
Takamura vs Hawk
Can’t make a fight scene list without an anime about fighting. Hajime no Ippo is an all-time classic boxing anime, and it has one of the best fist fights in all of media. The one that comes to mind immediately when someone asks which is the best fight in the series, it’s Takamura vs Hawk. Right from the beginning, the buildup of this fight, the smack talk between the opponents, press conference drama just like real life, the rigorous training that took for our hero to get in the fight, everything feels hype. And in the fight, the choreography, the crowds, the mind game, the techniques thrown during the match, and the great animation by Madhouse, give a different feeling than any other anime fights. It almost resembles real-life sports events which is really inspiring.
Kaneki vs Jason
There are times when we all feel “Enough is enough”. In the last episode of the first season, we see Kaneki goes through hell for no reason. We see his inner conflict, thoughts, and regrets, then finally breaking out of the cage he was trapped in. The anime is beautiful. It almost doesn’t feel like watching anime but a real-life drama. The characters are great, the whole atmosphere feels cool, the animation is top-tier, the music is unique and when things get bloody, it feels horrible. Kaneki finally fighting back felt refreshing yet gory. It was short and to the point. It started unexpectedly and left the fans with more questions than answers.
Well, this is it for now. Huge thanks to Alucard for helping me writing this. There are a lot more left to explore so there’s definitely going to be vol. 2. If you haven’t watched any of the shows mentioned above, you should give them a watch, one at a time. All of them offer something unique. They are all great shows with great fights in them.