17 Action Anime That Will Change Your Life

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This list of the 21 best anime of all time for action lovers was painstakingly created to give you guys the best comprehensive list of completed anime that will change your life.

Now that anime is finally getting the love it deserves, people have been swarming the internet to consume the millions of shows they didn't even know existed. And with all of these options can come stress.

Dissimilar to current American TV programming, anime TV shows regularly make it past 300 episodes. And let's be real, who has the time to dive into a 300+ episodic series that might not even pay off in the end?

The good thing is that, now, you don't worry about those opportunity costs. I got your back.


1. Naruto/Naruto Shippuden

Naruto/Naruto Shippuden

Synopsis: In his need to be acknowledged by the hidden-leaf village that shuns him, Naruto vows he will one day become the greatest Hokage the ninja world has ever seen.

Okay. This recommendation might be a little obvious. If you're new to anime, people will usually recommend the same things: Naruto and Dragon Ball Z.

But let me assure you, this anime is constantly recommended to others because it's just that amazing. Naruto and Naruto Shippuden truly is one of the best anime of all time and millions agree.

Although the characters are kids, this could also be one of the best anime series for adults. It starts off a bit slow, but after it's given the proper amount of time to build up the universe and establish the 13+ characters -- it turns up big time.

By the time you get to Naruto Shippuden (when the main characters are teens), the plot narrows the focus to just Naruto and Sasuke, and boy is their story of brotherhood one for the books.

2. Full Metal Alchemist/Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Full Metal Alchemist/Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Synopsis: After losing his brother's body and his right arm trying to bring his mother back from the dead, Edward Elric scours the globe with his brother, Alphonse, to find a red stone that has the power to make their bodies whole again.

Speaking of a remarkable story about brothers. Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood makes this list of anime because it's the series is flawless. The characters, the plot, the relationships, the music, the pacing, etc. etc. is absolute perfection.

The only thing someone could plausibly say against the show is that they didn't like the direction the story took.

And in that event, they could just watch Full Metal Alchemist that has similar plot points but the characters handle them differently. Think, Sliding Doors but with two brothers trying to find their happiness together.

3. Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion

Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion

Synopsis: Newly bestowed with Geass, "The Power of Kings," Lelouch Lamperouge vows to avenge his late mother and his paralyzed sister by killing the father who banished him and his sister to a military-controlled island and ultimately cast them aside as bargaining tools.

Code Geass is not as well known as the previous two shows but that's not due to a lack of quality by any means. This anime is so well-written, I couldn't quit it even if I wanted to, and I have the story to prove it.

About halfway through Code Geass, a big w-t-f moment, probably written in to shock the audience, surprise, shocked me. But it did more than that, it made me furious. I'd gotten so mad, I swore I wouldn't give the creators the pleasure of my views and stormed upstairs.

*5 minutes later*

I was going strong in my room, bingeing through old episodes of Naruto.

*10 minutes later*

I hear loud banging and tire screeches, signaling a huge action scene.

*1 minute later*

I randomly decide I want some water but not because the kitchen was right across from the TV where my friend was watching Code Geass. It was a random urge that occurred randomly.

*5 minutes later*

I was right back on the couch, screaming at the TV, fully invested in the narrative. Upsetting or not, I absolutely had to finish Lelouch's story, and it was one of the best decisions I've ever made.

4. Fate/Zero


Synopsis: During the fourth Holy Grail War, where revived heroic spirits of the past fight to the death in order to make any wish they want, we see Kiritsugu at the center this battle royale as he faces six other masters and their servants, each fueled by their own unique desires and ideals.

Seeing as Fate/Zero is a relatively new anime, you won't see this show on many other lists of anime that cover the best anime of all time. Good thing you came here.

And you should probably know that I'm the best friend you have for this recommendation alone because if you haven't seen the Fate/Stay Night installments you're losing out. Big time. The fight scenes are bananas.

The other shows, such as Unlimited Blade Works and Apocrypha have also wonderful action scenes.

However, Fate/Zero is the only one that makes this exclusive anime list because, like all of the other anime I've listed and will list, Fate/Zero has the whole package: supreme characters, a compelling story, a seamless plot, etc. And more importantly, it will stand the test of time.

Fate/Zero would also make the list of the best anime series for adults, seeing as most of its content would scar anyone under 16 for life. You've been warned.

5. Michiko & Hatchin

Michiko & Hatchin

Synopsis: Michiko Malandro escapes from prison to kidnap her former lover's daughter Hana Morenos (nicknamed Hatchin), and scours the country in search of her past love in the hopes of a long-awaited reunion.

The anime Michiko e Hatchin is different from all of the other anime on this list in that the fight scenes didn't hugely sway my decision to include it in on my list of top anime.

The characters and the plot completely carried this team across the finish line. Each episode has you guessing. The subplots are seamlessly tied into the main story and its overall theme is enough to grow even The Grinch's heart 5 sizes.

The main characters and their complexities also landed Michiko e Hatchin on my list of the best anime of all time because, even though they are both women, they don't fall into the usual categories where female leads in anime tend to be boxed.

There are no docile vs loud and pushy female tropes throughout this show. Both women have their strengths, their limits, their weaknesses, and their motivations perfectly balanced and developed. In contrast to Full Metal and Naruto, this is a story of sisterhood and it's absolutely everything.

6. HunterxHunter


Synopsis: Gon Freecs will do anything to find his father, including fight through all of the obstacles his father creates for him, but first, he has to pass the Hunter exam to gain access to all of the resources he'll need for what's to come.

HunterxHunter is one of the newbies that make this list of anime. Although it's relatively new, it still hangs tough with the OG anime. Similar to Naruto, this anime follows a young boy trying to hone his skills to be the best.

While Naruto wants to make everyone acknowledge him, Gon from HunterxHunter just needs his absentee father's validation. I mean, what's a hero without daddy issues?

What sets this anime apart is that it's mostly action, but that doesn't mean the characters don't develop at a good pace. The writer roots each character's growth in their fights and how the main characters choose to approach their enemies. It's pretty ingenious.

7. Yu Yu Hakusho

Yu Yu Hakusho

Synopsis: When the prince of the spirit realm offers Yuusuke an opportunity to regain his life through a series of missions, he teams up withex-rival, Kazuma Kuwabara, and two powerful demons, Hiei and Kurama, to help him get the jobs done.

This baby is an oldie but a goodie.

And for those opposed to old-style animation, if you love HunterxHunter then you'll love this anime. So frankly, get over your bias or you'll miss out on an amazing story.

Think HunterxHunter but with a bigger OG crew and a lead that has a side of himself that he doesn't even know he has yet. In that way, this anime is also like Bleach and Naruto; the lead character, Yuusuke always levels up to beat his opponent and it's always a sight to behold.

One could argue Yu Yu Hakusho is the father of current anime themes that Naruto, Bleach, HunterxHunter (written by the same person), and even My Hero Academia, currently adapt to tell their own stories.

If this anime can inspire a whole new generation of amazing stories, it's definitely worth your time. I'd also suggest taking the chance on Yu Yu Hakusho's movies as well. If I had a list of best anime movies, Yu Yu would be on that as well.

8. Samurai Champloo

Samurai Champloo

Synopsis: During the Edo period in Japan, a young woman named Fuu "hires" Mugen and Jin to help her find a samurai who smells of sunflowers.

It's not a race, but this anime will always be first place. Samurai Champloo is everything a person like me could want in a show. It has gripping and long action scenes.

It has 3 characters that are compellingly complex and totally different from one another. It balances humor and grave situations, fiction and the reality of Japan during the Samurai transition period, and character arcs vs plot arcs.

Samurai Champloo does all of these things and does it smoothly to a jazz, blues, and hip-hop soundtrack. This anime is my soulmate. I don't know if you will be as connected to this anime as I am, but I do know you'll love it regardless.

The series knew exactly when to stop and maintained the integrity of the story rather than the option to get more cash by extending it over multiple seasons. If you don't watch anything else on this list, I beg you to watch this. It's more than worth your time.

9. Death Note

Death Note

Synopsis: When someone named Kira begins discriminantly killing criminals, a genius detective named L makes it his mission to take down the mysterious man who thinks he's a god; it just so happens that this Kira is Light Yagami, and he has absolutely no intention of giving up his newly found power.

Death Note is another common recommendation for anime because many other anime watchers agree with me that it deserves a space on the list of the best anime of all time. Death Note is one of two anime on this list that focuses more on mental action than physical.

You won't see epic physical battles, although there are a couple of shootouts and a lot of death. Most of the action in this series is mental chess between the lead, Light Yagami, and his initial adversary, L.

Both characters get put in these impossible situations and we see how they think themselves out of it, and the moment -- I mean the exact moment -- they can't think themselves out of a rut, they're finished.

10. Jormungand


Synopsis: After Koko gets her new recruit, a child solider named Jonah, she immediately enfolds him into her arms-dealing activities and her nefarious plan to save the world.

Another win for the ladies, Jormungand has a woman named Koko in charge of a mafia-like organization who happens to be in competition with her brother's equally powerful organization.

Yes, you read that right. It's a family affair and things definitely get messy as the story develops.

The narrative has epic gunfights, intrigue, and wonderful characters you get attached to instantly. Like most anime, the goal of this story is to save the world. And it just so happens that Koko has the perfect plan to make that happen, repercussions be damned.

11. Dragon Ball Z

Dragon Ball Z

Synopsis: Goku, Vageta, and the rest of their friends fight against an assortment of villains that attack their world.

Probably the most watched anime... ever. Dragon Ball Z usually acts as the entry anime.

Someone recommends it to you or you run across an episode on cartoon network (because it basically played on a loop for a while), and then you realize there are other shows similar to this one that are just as amazing.

You might be here because of Dragon Ball Z; however, it would not be a good complete list of the best anime of all time if I didn't include it.

Dragon Ball Z has year-long fight scenes, ample villains that keep causing our ever-resurrected hero Goku on his toes, and unlimited power up so the fight scenes keep getting better and better.

12. Ga Rei: Zero

Ga Rei: Zero

Synopsis: Kagura and Yomi's sisterhood bond is challenged when their sacre duties push them in different directions and, ultimately, conflicting fates.

Ga Rei Zero lands at a close second to Samurai Champloo on my list of the best anime of all time. Yes, that means Ga Rei Zero jumps over Full Metal, Death Note, and Dragon Ball Z. It's just that amazing.

One aspect of the show that I love stems from its feminist central theme: the best fighters in the show are female.

Actually, the two women who are the best fighters have a sister-like bond that had been forming between them for years. This bond is what makes the events later in the season so heartbreaking.

However, if you can get through the tear-jerker scenes, you'll be in for an amazing surprise as the riveting fight scenes unfold.

13. Afro Samurai

Afro Samurai

Synopsis: In a world where swords samurai fight to the death for rank, the series focuses on one man who's on a mission to avenge the wrongful death of his father.

This unconventional, sporadic anime makes my top list because of the premise and the fight scenes. It's wildly gory and usually, I avoid anime with unnecessary gore in it.

However, the gore you see as you watch adds to the gritty tone the entire show spends the entire series building. If the fact that we follow a samurai with serious psychological issues who is a moving target that thousands of samurai train their entire lives to kill doesn't perfectly describe the tone of Afro Samurai then I don't know what does.

Alternatively, I appreciate that this anime gives an alternative perspective to the samurai way of life. It's not all cherry blossoms and flashy moves.

It's death, blood, isolation, and, sometimes, a crippling amount of honor. This anime is pretty short compared to the other anime on my list, so it's good for a quick binge.

14. Steins;Gate


Synopsis: The self-proclaimed mad scientist, Rintarou Okabe, deals with the repercussions of creating a time machine.

Similar to Death Note, Steins;Gate's action stems from more mental stimulation than physical., but, unlike Death Note, it's not man vs. man, it's man vs. science.

If you had the power to turn back time to save someone you loved, would you do it knowing it could lead to misery for countless others? My answer? Yes, with absolutely no hesitation.

However, this is an anime with centered hero tropes so Rintarou's decision isn't so easy, and sooner rather than later, he has to make a final decision. As one convoluted event entangles with another, the decision becomes harder and harder to execute.

15. Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit

Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit

Synopsis: Balsa, spear wielder and bodyguard, is a wandering warrior who has vowed to atone for eight deaths in her past by saving an equivalent number of lives.

Moribito is probably the least known show on this list of anime. So, now you can flaunt your anime pro status and put all of your friends on this amazing series. You're welcome. Thank me later. Preferably in the comments section.

Unlike other anime with a similar premise, once Balsa escapes with the targeted prince, they spend most of their time on the run. As they're on the run, they build alliances until they are strong enough to strike back.

However, what can a humble woman and her friends do against all-powerful spirits that have enough power to end the kingdom?

16. Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell

Synopsis: Cyborg federal agent, Maj. Motoko Kusanagi, takes down various cyber criminals and saves countless lives.

Just know: this anime is epic. The fight scenes will change your life. It's full-on girl power. And the anime movies and TV show is much better than the live-action movie would lead you to believe.

I remember watching this anime as a kid, 3-feet from my television, and thinking, "What an amazing live-action movie this series would make."

So, when I heard that the company who created the series were making moves to give us such a movie, I immediately thought it would be one of the best anime movies created of all time.

However, I was severely disappointed as many other anime fans were when they watched the movie, especially after the disaster white-washed casting.

17. One Piece

One Piece

Synopsis: Monkey D. Luffy begins his mission from the East Blue Sea to scour the world in order to find the famed treasure, One Piece, and become King of the Pirates.

I know you guys didn't think I would end a list of the best anime of all time and not include One Piece? Although this is the only anime on the list that is not completed, it had to be added or it would invalidate my entire list.

One Piece is another 300+ anime series that takes a while to build. However, once Luffy finally hits his peak as a fighter, the series really gets going. One Piece if a part of the Big 4 that most anime watchers recommend, including Dragon Ball Z, Full Metal Alchemist, and Naruto.

Because it's so well-known and widely loved, you wouldn't be taking a huge risk if you invest in watching this show.

But on the other hand, since it is so deep into the series, you should definitely pace yourself and switch it up with a few other anime on this list as you try to catch up to where the series is now.

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