Anime seemingly never ceases to produce a visual feast for the eyes. This becomes much more pronounced when a fight erupts, as a viewer’s investment puts him or her directly into the shoes of their favorite combatant. One of the most memorable parts of anime is the payoff that ensues after longtime rivals finally have their day to settle the score once and for all. To celebrate great anime fights, we’ve compiled a list of the greatest anime fights. Be warned that the entries below do each contain heavy spoilers.
Greatest Anime Fights: Goku Versus Frieza
Goku’s long fight with Frieza in Dragon Ball Z marked one of the first times western audiences were exposed to the drama and tension that makes up this Japanese shonen sensation. After destroying planet after planet and massacring innocent lives before the viewer’s own eyes, Frieza sets his sights on the titular Dragon Balls that are under the watchful protection of the Z Fighters.
Frieza manages to thwart nearly every opponent that gets in his way, and even goes so far as to murder Vegeta with a painful Death Beam. After literally exploding Goku’s longtime friend Krillin in midair, the well-known protagonist transforms into a Super Saiyan for the very first time. The subsequent fight is a brutal one that ends in humiliation for Frieza as the tyrant is cut into pieces by his own attack.
Greatest Anime Fights: Saitama Versus Boros
Throughout the course of One Punch Man, main character Saitama dreams of one day facing an opponent capable of withstanding more than one of his signature blows. His dreams come true when an alien invader named Boros appears, eager to face off against an opponent he was prophesied to fight against long ago.
Boros does indeed survive after soaking in multiple blows from Saitama, but ultimately isn’t able to keep up with the bald-headed man in a jumpsuit, and fails to overcome total annihilation. He does manage to send One Punch Man to the moon, however, granting him somewhat of an accomplishment.
Greatest Anime Fights: Midoriya Versus Todoroki
My Hero Academia sees students from all walks of life struggle to find meaning behind the word “hero.” To protagonist Midoriya, it means bringing out the best of what he sees in other people, even if it costs him an arm in the process. Rival Todoroki refuses to embrace his heritage as the son of an unscrupulous hero named Endeavor, thus suppressing his flame quirk and favoring only his mother’s ice quirk.
Midoriya manages to force Todoroki to use his fire to keep his body from growing cold in the midst of battle. The half-fire, half-ice boy awakens both of his abilities and uses them together to blast a powerful wave of destruction towards Midoriya, though not without thanking him first. The green-haired hero loses the battle and a top spot at the school tournament, though does obtain a reliable new friend.
Greatest Anime Fights: Akira Versus Ryo
Devilman Crybaby‘s climatic fight is as gorgeous as it is sad. Best friends Akira and Ryo must duke it out to the death while the fate of the world rests in the balance. With all Akira’s family and friends murdered and Ryo embracing his true form as the angel Lucifer, the two try their hardest to convince each other of their conflicting ideals. The earth is torn apart as a result, with the sky disappearing and cracks erupting across continents. Ryo ultimately wins the battle but cries when he realizes he’s lost everything, including his best friend.
Greatest Anime Fights: Gon Versus Pitou
Hunter X Hunter‘s Chimera Ant arc is undoubtedly one of the industry’s most traumatic and outright brutal storylines. Protagonist Gon’s adventures up until this point were lighthearted and fun, with only a few truly devastating consequences. This arc completely changes that by killing off characters from the show’s first season right off the bat.
A new species dubbed the Chimera Ant seeks to take control over the world by feasting on its most powerful fighters and creating new warriors who swear allegiance to the king. One of these warriors, Pitou, kills Gon’s mentor, Kite, scarring the child for the rest of his life. As Pitou harvests Kite’s remains, Gon vows to resurrect his friend. When he confronts Pitou again—this time with a threatening, dark aura—he commands her to take him to his former teacher. She leads Gon to Kite’s body and, in a brief moment, attempts to kill the kid when he’s not noticing.
This leads Gon to transform his entire body, unleashing all of his fury and rage into a form that surpasses the strength of the Chimera Ant king. Pitou attempts to murder the protagonist once more, but shamefully ends up being nothing more than a pile of mutilated flesh on the ground.
Greatest Anime Fights: Sasuke Versus Naruto
Chances are that if you’ve heard of anime, you probably know who Naruto is. Since the first episode in the series, the titular protagonist strikes a rivalry with the calm, cool, and collected Sasuke and pledges he’ll be a greater ninja than he one day. With their enemies finally defeated in follow-up series Shippuden, Naruto and Sasuke decide to settle the score once and for all to determine who really is the best shinobi of them all.
The two use their respective abilities to erect gigantic monsters and clash in a dizzying barrage of electricity and flame worthy of the long build-up fans waited years for. It all ends with Naruto and Sasuke punching each other until their arms literally fall off, signifying that the two were perfect rivals for each other after all.
Greatest Anime Fights: Kiritsugu Versus Kirei
With Fate Zero‘s Holy Grail War in its final stages, its two last participants—Kiritsugu and Kirei—must fight to the death in order to secure their right to a treasure that grants the user any wish he or she desires. Each combatant brings his own skills to the fray, with Kiritsugu able to slow down time and shoot bullets as he sees fit, and Kirei possessing inhuman strength capable of breaking bones in a matter of seconds. The two fighters manage to sink a few painful blows into each other, though their fight is interrupted as the grail begins to take matters into its own hands.
Greatest Anime Fights: Team Gurren Versus The Anti-Spiral
Team Gurren’s final fight with the Anti-Spiral in Gurren Lagann is perhaps the most anime brawl on this list just for how over-the-top it is. This doesn’t mean it’s bad by any means, as this clash between humanity and the mysterious forces that govern the known universe gives fans the emotional payoff they’ve been waiting for. It simultaneously produces one of the most jaw-dropping animations the industry has ever seen. I mean, these dudes throw entire galaxies at each other. What more can be said?
As anime grows more popular day by day, the industry will undoubtedly see even more spectacular fights in the future. Where exactly we’ll see them remains anyone’s guess, though the shonen genre will probably be around for as long as anime exists.