Guns spewing out bullets, martial artists locked in a heated battle and swords clashing with the echoes of each hit vibrating into the speakers of those watching. The action genre allows almost any other genre to enter its domain and form a perfect harmony to create some of the greatest anime releases ever. Today we will be look at my top ten action anime list filled with a vast range of different themes to allow for someone to easily enjoy something from this list. Please note this is my personal list and while you may have different opinions on a specific show you can feel free to comment down below letting me know. Now then, let’s get this list underway!
- Episodes: 26
- Air Date: April 1st 1998- September 30th, 1998
- Studio: Madhouse
Trigun is a well-known series for a reason, even in today world of anime. Following the exploits of Vash The Stampede, the story aims to fuse western television with sci-fi themes. Trigun has always aimed to create a good mixture of action, drama, comedy and obviously some sci-fi for good measure. As the story progresses the themes undergo a massive change which helps really make the story more intense and removes the possibility of the repetitive nature shows like this can sometimes take on. Studio Madhouse infuses Trigun with a nice amount of great animation to really make each episode more than just story. Overall if you have been seeking a pleasant breath of fresh air in the action genre and want to see a classic show that still holds up well today, you can’t go wrong with Trigun.
9) Psycho Pass
- Episode: 22 (S2 11)
- Aired: October 12th, 2012- March 22nd, 2013
- Studio: Production I.G
Maybe you want some sci-fi action but without the western theme and more so a futuristic ideal. Welcome to the world of Psycho-Pass where humans live in a new age Japan setting. Everyday people are gauged by Sibyl to see if their emotions, or their psycho-pass to see if they are safe to be allowed to continue with their normal lives or if they will become latent criminals. Thus it lies on the shoulders of Division one, mixed with investigators and enforces, the latter being those with high psycho passes but are deemed efficient enough to work to take down possible criminals, to keep those with unclouded psycho pass safe and happy. However, as Division 1 will soon learn, the current state isn’t as neat and orderly as people believe. Boasting amazing animation, a very cool story with plenty of intrigue and obviously some awesome action, you’ll enjoy Psycho Pass greatly. Now go forth and see if Sibyl sees if you’re in a good state of mind, though you’ll be fine if you try out Psycho Pass.
8) Darker than Black
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: April 6th, 2007- September 28th 2007
- Studio: Bones
Hei seems like a normal young man, however he lives in a world that is anything but. After an incident people began gaining strange psychic like powers, Hei included. While they are powerful they do come with odd side effects such as some who must eat cigarettes or in Hei’s case eating mass amounts of food. The world of Darker than Black is strange indeed but the selling point is the same oddness which boasts a very unique concept and loads of great psychic battles. Hei working for an independent group leads to some interesting, albeit sometimes cliché, elements of a darker tale of espionage and betrayal. Studio Bones is famous for their animation which has sometimes quirky natures but interestingly enough Darker than Black is actually pretty normal but don’t mistake that statement for weak animation and art. Darker than Black will hit you with some amazing elements and easily is worth a watch. While season 2 isn’t that great, all you truly need to watch is season 1 and the ova episodes to get the most out of Hei’s tale.
7) Attack on Titan
- Episodes: 25 (S2 presently Airing)
- Aired: April 7th, 2013- September 29th, 2013
- Studio: Wit Studio
Humanity is nearing their end. Long ago large humanoid beings called Titans appeared and began devouring humans in mass for no reason. Facing their demise, humans built giant walls and removed themselves from the world in order to survive and hopefully rebuild. Time passes and Eren Jagger and several others find their peaceful lives threatened when a colossal titan appears and destroys enough of a wall to allow a flood of Titans to enter. Will humanity face complete annihilation now or can they fight back?
Attack on Titan is obviously a well-known series becoming one of those mainstream anime in the west. However, don’t let that fool you if you’re one of those who fear mainstream anime. Attack on Titan has become a famous series for a reason boasting an interesting idea but also boasting some of the coolest action animation I’ve ever seen. Season 2 is currently airing and showing that despite a long break the show hasn’t missed a beat with improved animation. Just trust me, if you have never tried Attack on Titan you’re missing out on one of the best action anime in the last few decades.
6) Bungou Stray Dogs Season 2
- Episodes: 12 (Season 1 as well)
- Aired: October 6th, 2016- December 16th, 2016
- Studio: Bones
You may wonder why I stated season 2 of Bungou Stray Dogs. Well honestly while Bungou Stray Dogs as a whole is amazing, Season 2 really blew me away with a strong first few episodes and an amazing follow-up to the series. (Season 2 starts with a prequel before continuing with season 1’s conclusion in case I confused you.) Once more we follow the Agency, this time learning more about its gifted users, as well as other organizations that seem hell-bent on taking control over the city using their own powers. When Bungou Stray Dogs isn’t blowing you away with a cool story, it will be launching an attack at your eyes with help of Studio Bones’s amazing art and animation that only they could pull off. Bungou Stray Dogs in general has always been a hidden gem of a series and that is a shame as this is honestly one of the coolest examples of having action and supernatural elements wrapped in perfect harmony.
5) Fate Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works
- Episodes: 12 (S2: 13)
- Aired: October 12th, 2014- June 28th, 2015
- Studio: Ufotable
Fate Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works is probably one of the most gorgeous anime I’ve ever seen let’s get that comment out-of-the-way. Ufotable is known for really pumping time and resource into each of their works and Fate Stay Night UBW is no exception to that ideal. While there can be a lot of down time in some episodes, focusing on more talking and lore building, when the talking stops weapons fly blinding the audience with amazing action. There are several episodes in both seasons of Fate Stay Night UBW that left me breathless as characters like Shiro or Saber did battle against their enemies and I’m sure if you watch it yourself you’ll get the same rush. If you’re a fan of the series I’d recommend watching Fate/Zero first (it’s just as amazing) to get a full understanding of characters and what the Holy War really is, but even if you just enter into this with no prior understanding of the lore, you’ll enjoy it immensely.
4) JoJo’s Bizarre Adventures
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: October 6th, 2012- April 6th, 2013
- Studio: David Production
One look at the title will tell you that you’re in for an interesting and, dare we say, bizarre ride. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventures is a long running manga series that has been airing currently as several seasons (3 have released so far) all of which follow the titular character who gets named JoJo as a nickname. I want to say however that season 1 still stands as my favorite of the series so far for having some of the coolest characters, namely Joseph, of all the season that have aired so far. In case you’ve never heard of JoJo the concept is that our story begins with Jonathan Joestar meeting an individual named Dio. As the two group up together their lives are always rocky as both have a lot of disdain for their ways of being, in particular Dio towards Jonathan. When Dio one day activates an ancient mask out of curiosity, he awakens a vampire like power that has been dormant for some time. It is the up to Jonathan to stop Dio using a power he will learn called Hamon. What’s cool about each part of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is that the series main lead changes and so does the art style but even with the different styles and main leads there isn’t ever a dull moment. Trust me folks, if you had any hesitation in watching this series prior, take my word for it that you’ll enjoy the crazy antics and amazing action this show has to offer. There is a reason that even today hundreds of anime series make references to JoJo in their works.
3) Berserk 1997
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: October 8th, 1997 – April 1st, 1998
- Studio: OLM
Berserk has been made into three movies, two more recent shows (one being in 2016 the other still currently airing) and yet the reality is that the first adaptation stands as the best of them all. While it may have dated animation, Berserk 1997 still packs the best punch in terms of an action packed anime series. Every sword battle Guts get into is visceral and stunning thanks to a mature theme and OLM’s animation back in the late 90’s. In case you’re new to the lore of Berserk here’s a quick summary. Berserk follows the tale of a young mercenary named Guts who is a lone mercenary despite his young age. However, one day he runs into a mercenary band named The Band of the Hawk led by Griffith and their fates forever become entwined. Berserk will start off as a seemingly ordinary series about empires in war but soon you’ll enter a supernatural tale of demons, beasts and other odd foes. No matter what episode you’re watching, Berserk will be full of action and bloodshed and trust me because of that I have no qualms about putting it in my third spot. While Berserk 2016 and 2017 may be very mediocre thanks to questionable animation, Berserk 1997 looks incredible and stands at the top of its adaptations.
2) Cowboy Bebop
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: Apr 3rd, 1998 – April 24th, 1999
- Studio: Sunrise
The space pirates of the Bebop have granted me joy every episode of the Cowboy Bebop series. Spike, Jet, Faye, Ed and Ein have always been some of the coolest space bounty hunters in the world of anime and it’s understandable when you watch their exploits in the series. When Spike and the gang go towards their bounty you can bet they will face any number of issues ranging from odd characters, weird space intrigue and even their own dark pasts. The action of Cowboy Bebop has continued to dazzle fans even today nearly 18 years after its end. Sunrise has made a creation that even 30 years from now will still be a shining example of how to do a space adventure series right. I know a lot of people who are afraid to go into this show because maybe they only watch new series, I completely understand your trepidation if that’s how you feel. However, realize that even if you’re new to anime you can truly find enjoyment out of this amazing space action show. As they say in Cowboy Bebop “See ya space cowboy!
1) Black Lagoon
- Episodes: 29 (2 Seasons and an OVA)
- Aired: April 9th, 2006 – June 22nd, 2011
- Studio: Madhouse
Now for the number one action anime, as you can see it is Black Lagoon. Rock a young business man gets thrown into a dark world of drug smugglers and hired hit men when his path crosses with The Lagoon Company. Revy, Benny and Dutch take in Rock despite his personality and lack of skills and welcome him into the hellish nightmare of the world they live and breathe in. Honestly I can say that every minute of Black Lagoon is a treat, not a singular episode ever left me feeling unsatisfied and always impressed me with great animation and mature themes. Black Lagoon will become your favorite series if you give it the time of day. Now I only hope that the manga goes off hiatus allowing the series to continue towards a hopeful conclusion one day.
With that folks this ends my top ten action anime list. I would love to know your thoughts below, did you agree with my list or did you feel like I missed a title. Stick around on AniRoute for more amazing articles and be sure to follow us on twitter. We also recently launched a YouTube channel so feel free to check that out as well. With that later everyone!