Animation has grown up from bears that shoot beams out of their chest to superhuman ninjas kicking major ass. Anime fight scenes are typically more brutal that real life fight sequences, but they are much safer on the actor – in fact cartoon violence features far less accidental injuries among its actors as well as a complete lack of terrible plastic surgery to try and hide normal aging. Enjoy all the pretty colors and bright lights as you forget that the highest art form you ever created were two stick figures making sweet, sweet love.
Fist of the North Star
Alternately titled “When Steroid Use Goes Bad”, this anime is pretty much one gigantic fight scene with some pauses for bathroom breaks. Punching, pounding, kicking, and goring there isn’t much that gets left out of Fist of the North Star. Muscles build upon muscles and the blood flows both through veins and out onto the ground. Think of a animated Fight Club without much of the sensibility or philosophy. Enough blood and guts to sate the worst of moods of anyone coming off a bad day, enjoy in moderation or your friends will become worried and through you an anime intervention.
Karas: The Prophecy
Beautiful animation coupled with an eerie supernatural storyline make the fight scenes in this anime utterly amazing. Karas: The Prophecy doesn’t bow to the fighting, instead it lets it augment the storyline, reinforcing key parts. The fights are powerful and worthy of respect but they aren’t allowed to overwhelm or detract from this story of spirits and humanity and their conflict with demons who see humanity as a walking, talking food source.
Afro Samurai: Resurrection
Honor, respect for one’s parents and some bizarre characters add up to an anime movie filled with incredible fight scenes. Afro has to stop his enemies from resurrecting his father and the only way to do that is to acquire the number two headband in order to challenge the new owner of the number one headband. A simplistic rule, but it’s the brutal execution of the rules governing the challenges that make for a well-crafted frenzy of fighting. Afro Samurai: Resurrection is honor and morality in a battle to the death with no breaks to catch a breath for the protagonist or the audience.
Cowboy Bebop: The Movie
An anime that pays as much detail to the characters as it does to the background and inanimate surroundings, Cowboy Bebop: The Movie delivers art that feels like a living, breathing thing. The fight scenes don’t escape the careful attention of the animators either—with each one tiring the audience as much as the participants, being as complex as a fight should be and not simply resolved with a few punches. If there was an award for breathtaking fight scenes in an anime movie then Bebop would steal away with it whether it won or not, because it deserves it more than any other anime.
Diamonds might be a girl’s best friend but a woman’s best friend is her cyborg. Deunan and her cybernetically enhanced companion Briareos tackle the heady theme of reproductive rights all while laying down enough shell casings and explosions to level a few mid-sized cities. Appleseed features tremendous fight scenes in an anime movie that take advantage of the well written personalities of the two main characters and a talented attention to the details that would go on in a long fire fights. Come for the battles, stay for the dialogue.