[Description]: Action shows are all about high-intensity, fast-pacing, and big, epic, payoff moments. They always feature tons of fights, battles, and dramatic exchanges in order to conjure up excitement and passion in the viewer. Their stories are often more simplistic and straightforward but there are still plenty of action shows that manage to be just as thematic, emotional, and provocative as any other genre of show. Links to spoiler-free reviews of all of the shows that have them are included.
12. God Eater
Episode Count: 13 Episodes (23-minutes each)
Studio and Year: ufotable; 2015 – 2016
Details: An anime adaptation of the popular God Eater franchise, the show sets itself apart from other game adaptations through ufotable’s unique visual approach and it’s action sequences. Many years in the future, humanity has almost been driven to extinction by the appearance of monsters called Aragami who proved resilient to modern weaponry. As the world steadily turned into a barren wasteland, an organization called Fenrir gave birth to individuals known as God Eaters – humans augmented with Oracle Cells and capable of wielding immense weapons known as God Arcs. The story focuses on Lenka Utsugi, a newly recruited God Eater, as he battles against the Aragami threat. At the end of the day, God Eater is still just another game adaptation and doesn’t present all that great of a story but its action scenes, world, and presentation make it worth a watch despite this genericism.
11. Garo: Honoo no Kokuin
Alternative Title: GARO THE ANIMATION
Episode Count: 24 Episodes (24-minutes each)
Studio and Year: MAPPA; 2014 – 2015
Details: Under the influence of his trusted adviser Mendosa, the king of Valiante initiated a massive witch hunt in order to exterminate both the Makai Knights and the Makai Alchemists after the king’s health was threatened by the curse of a witch. As she was burned at the stake, the witch gave birth to a son, Leon Luis, who was then spirited away by his father and Makai Knight Luis Herman. Years later Leon returns with his father to exact his revenge on those responsible for his mother’s death and a young, escaped prince, Alfonso Variante, seeks to take back his kingdom from Mendosa’s twisted influence. Garo is a fun and simple, action-filled adventure through a fantasy world with surprisingly decent character-writing and a handful of really great action sequences. You can read a spoiler-free review: here.
10. Samurai Champloo
Episode Count: 26 Episodes (24-minutes each)
Studio and Year: Manglobe; 2004 – 2005
Details: Samurai Champloo is renowned for its stylistic juxtaposition of an adventurous tale of two samurai and the show’s heavily hip-hop influenced soundtrack as well and several of its anachronistic world elements. The story centers around Fuu Kasumi and her search for an enigmatic samurai who smells of sunflowers. After she rescues Mugen and Jin from execution, the two reluctantly agree to be her bodyguards and accompany Fuu on her quest. If you like the sound of an episodic, samurai, adventure through Edo Japan with instances of breakdancing, beatboxing, and classic samurai sword-fighting then Samurai Champloo delivers like no other. The characters are a lot of fun and have great chemistry with one another despite their delicate comradery.
9. Boku no Hero Academia
Alternative Title: My Hero Academia
Episode Count: 13 Episodes (24-minutes each)
Studio and Year: Bones; 2016
Details: Boku no Hero Academia is the endearing underdog story of Midoriya Izuku and a distilled example of the super hero genre. With the advent of supernatural abilities dubbed ‘quirks,’ the profession of ‘hero’ came into existence – people who would use their abilities to defeat others who sought to use their quirks for criminal purposes. In a world where now 80% of the population has manifested these various powers, children who fail to develop any talents at an early age are considered quirkless and will never acquire a special ability. Midoriya is one of these children however his life is forever changed when he meets his personal hero idol All Might. Boku no Hero has a terrific set of early episodes and great animation that really carry the show as it gradually becomes more typical of the formulaic underdog story and super hero genre. You can read a spoiler-free review: here.
Episode Count: 13 Episodes (24-minutes each)
Studio and Year: Brain’s Base; 2007
Details: Baccano is the chaotic and anachronically presented story of a large cast of individuals as their stories cross paths and collide in an early 1930’s gangster environment. A train on its way from Chicago to New York is hijacked by several parties leading to an adventure full of action and bloodshed. Meanwhile, in New York, the war between various mafia groups worsens by the day. Throw in homunculi, an elixer of immortality, and more eccentric lunatics and memorable characters than the viewer can handle and Baccano starts to come into focus. The story takes place on a variety of fronts all at varying times and really emphasizes the role of each of its characters as the protagonists of their own story. If you’re looking for something extremely fast-paced and presented in an incredibly intricate way, then Baccano follows through excessively and is one hell of a ride.
7. Yozakura Quartet: Hana no Uta
Episode Count: 19 Episodes; 3 Seasons (25-minutes each)
Studio and Year: Tatsunoko Production; 2011 – 2014
Details: Yozakura Quartet follows the members of the Hiizumi Life Counseling Office in the town of Sakurashin where humans and youkai co-exist alongside one another. The show features a large cast of characters and focuses on their interactions with one another as well as the problems that arise that threaten the serenity of the town. For those familiar with the cast-driven, interrelating style of Durarara!! – Yozakura Quartet is a more fantasy-oriented show in the same vein of character interest. Full of supernatural powers and various otherworldly beings, the show offers an incredibly fun and charming town atmosphere. Absolutely littered with amazing action-sequences and choreography, Yozakura Quartet is one of the most underappreciated action shows in the genre. If you enjoy big casts of likable characters and don’t mind a bit of playful fan-service, then this show is a ton of fun. Don’t bother with the original 2008 adaptation. You can read a spoiler-free review of the series: here.
6. Shingeki no Kyojin
Alternative Title: Attack on Titan
Episode Count: 25 Episodes (24-minutes each)
Studio and Year: Production I.G, Wit Studio; 2013
Details: One of, if not the most, popular anime of the last decade, Shingeki no Kyojin details the apocalyptic scenario of mankind’s struggle for survival against terrifying, giants called titans. Having fled behind massive walls to protect themselves, humanity knew peace for a time before a colossal titan crashed through the outermost wall and allowed the man-eating creatures behind humanity’s defenses. Eren Yeager, a child who suffered great personal loss during this event, thereafter vowed to eradicate the titans and join the Survey Corps who venture out beyond the walls to the outside world. Shingeki no Kyojin is an action-packed, revenge story about driving back the monsters threatening the extinction of the human race. Large-scale action scenes and the overwhelming soundtrack provided by Hiyoruki Sawano make this show worth picking up.
Episode Count: 25 Episodes (25-minutes each)
Studio and Year: OLM; 1997 – 1998
Details: Berserk is the story of Guts, a mercenary warrior possessing immense strength, who joins the Band of the Hawk under the leadership of Griffith, a charismatic tactician and deadly warrior in his own right. Together along with Casca and the rest of the Band of the Hawk, the two men set out to make a name for their company and pursue Griffith’s ambitions by aiding the kingdom of Midland in the 100-year war against their enemy Chuder. More than just an action show, Berserk presents some of the most complicated and human characters in anime and features a number of intricate themes that give the story a prodigious sense of purpose and direction. The 1997 anime is very faithful to Kentarou Miura’s original manga and serves as a great introduction into the series. I suggest reading the manga. You can read a spoiler-free review of the show: here.
4. One Punch Man
Episode Count: 12 Episodes (24-minutes each)
Studio and Year: Madhouse; 2015
Details: One of the most fun shows to come out in recent years, One Punch Man is jam-packed with gorgeous fight animation and witty comedy. Saitama, though bald and unassuming, is an immensely powerful Superhero capable of dispatching any foe he encounters in a single punch, however this dilemma makes him wonder if being a hero is all the fun he once imagined it would be. Along with Genos, a cyborg on a quest for revenge and his self-proclaimed pupil, Saitama goes about his daily life as a ‘Hero for Fun’ hoping to one day encounter an enemy that can truly test him and discover what it means to be a hero. If you want a lighthearted, often comedic action show that looks draw-dropping amazing, then One Punch Man is an easy sell. You can read a spoiler-free review: here.
3. Kill la Kill
Episode Count: 24 Episodes (24-minutes each)
Studio and Year: Trigger; 2013 – 2014
Details: After her father’s murder, Matoi Ryuuko, is led to the esteemed school of Honnouji Academy – a school ruled with an iron fist by its student council president Kiryuuin Satsuki. Unable to beat the school’s students who were equipped with uniforms granting them superhuman strength and abilities, she encounters Senketsu in the ruins of her old home, a sentient sailor uniform called a Kamui which grant their wearer power in exchange for their blood. Newly equipped, the two head back to Honnouji accademy to confront Satsuki and learn the truth of the murder of Ryuuko’s father. If that premise sounds insane to you then I’ve accurately described the kind of show you should expect when heading into Kill la Kill. It’s a show full of brilliant animation and incredibly over-the-top action scenes whose nonsensical plot doesn’t stop it from being incredibly entertaining and memorable.
2. Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works (TV)
Episode Count: 25 Episodes; 2 Seasons (25-minutes each)
Studio and Year: ufotable; 2014 – 2015
Details: One of the three iterations of the story that is Fate/stay night, Unlimited Bladeworks follows the experiences of Emiya Shirou, an aspiring hero as he is unwittingly thrust into the Fifth Holy Grail War. The Holy Grail War is a grand contest between mages who summon legendary figures from history and lore to fight on their behalf in order to secure the grail which has the ability to grant their wish. Emiya’s classmate, Toosaka Rin, comes from a long line of mages and readily prepares for the upcoming battle with her servant Archer. Surprised by each other’s involvement, they form a temporary alliance. Unlimited Bladeworks is a magnificently animated grand melee between various masters and servants as they fight to the death for the chance to fulfill their wishes. The more familiar you are with the Fate franchise, the better it becomes.
1. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
Episode Count: 27 Episodes (24-minutes each)
Studio and Year: Gainax; 2007
Details: Possibly the most hot-blooded, outrageously awesome action show ever made, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is an absolute thrill from start to finish. It centers around two brothers, Simon and Kamina, who live in an underground village where nothing ever happens. One day, while excavating, Simon stumbles onto an ancient mechanical artifact which the two brothers name Lagann. Shortly afterwards they are set upon by a robot from the surface called a Gunmen which the two are able to dispatch with the help of Yoko Littner, a girl from the surface. Deciding to set off and explore the surface of the earth, the three begin an epic journey and fight against the Beastmen – the current inhabitants of the surface world. Tenga Toppa Gurren Lagann is as over-the-top and masculine as any show could be and its high-impact, often thematic, grand adventure is one that nobody should miss. This is an absolute must-watch.