Based on the manga by Yabako Sandrovich and Daromeon, Kengan Ashura is one of Netflix’s most recent exclusive adaptations. Try to imagine a world where anti-monopolization laws don’t exist to regulate big business. Instead of corporations handling their deals through lawyers or insider trading under the table, they settle things through trials of combat called Kengan Bouts without the interference of anti-big business politicians such as Elizabeth Warren, aka Pocahontas. For Nogi Publications, they select Kazuo Yamashita, a meek and underachieving middle aged employee to manage their fighter, Ouma Tokita. While we have no idea why Kazuo was selected, Ouma has a personal stake in the Kengan Bouts as he is seeking the man who killed his master, who he believes is also competing. Praised for its insane action and distinguishing story, what other anime can you check out before the second season comes out? Read our top 6 to find out!
Similar Anime to Kengan Ashura
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: June 25, 2018 – December 17, 2018
One obvious recommendation is Baki, which is also on Netflix. Based on the long running manga series by Keisuke Itagaki, Baki is about how Baki Hanma wants to be the very best, like no one ever was! To beat his father is his test, to train like no other is his cause. He will travel across the land, kicking ass and taking names. To face other martial artists to understand the power that’s inside. In this Netflix exclusive, the fight comes to him as a bunch of death row inmates from around the world break out to come to Japan and test their skills. Not only does the anime center around Baki, but his friends and foes who are entangled in this fight where their very honor as martial artists are at stake!
Like Kengan Ashura, Baki uses privately sponsored underground MMA as its backdrop. As opposed to fighting over contracts, the fighting in Baki is mostly about honor as men. As to how the fights are executed, Baki’s fights are similar to Kengan Ashura’s as they rely more on hardened martial arts but compared to Kengan Ashura, the intensity of Baki’s fights are on steroids! And we’re not talking about any steroids, we’re talking about a cocktail mix of Russian and Mexican steroids! When you take into account that the season primarily focuses on fugitives, that’s the best way to describe how insane the fights get. When you watch the fights, every punch and kick thrown is with not just bad, but with the worst of intentions! Last, they’re artistically similar with its details to muscles, fighters with insane gimmicks, and crazy hair styles!
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: April 6, 2018 – June 29, 2018
Megalobox is a sci-fi homage to Ashita no Joe, the OG boxing manga. Taking place in a future under corporate control, those who live in the city are recognized as citizens, while those outside have no recognized legal status. In this future, the rules of the sweet science are different than ours and probably not regulated under any government sanctioned commission. Under the rules of Megalobox, there are no weight classes, round limits, drug testing, age limits, or any other medical requirements. To top it off, boxers wear augmented machines on their upper body! Junk Dog, the main character, is a promising boxer but is forced to throw fights for the sake of his trainer who is in debt with the local mob. However, he has a chance to prove himself when that same mob gives him fake identification (under the name Joe) to enter a tournament to not only pay off his trainer’s debts, but also allow him to test his true abilities as he chooses to fight without gear!
Unlike the Kengan Bouts in Kengan Ashura, the Megalobox matches are public and televised. However, what makes them similar as that both of the nature of these bouts are more for serving corporate interests. While the outcome of Joe and Yuri’s (Joe’s rival) match does financially affect their sponsors, like Ouma, Joe and Yuri aren’t motivated by the money but to prove themselves as men. While Megalobox is limited to boxing, the fights are still dramatic and tell its own distinguishing story.
3. Shijou Saikyou no Deshi Kenichi (Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple)
- Episodes: 50
- Aired: October 7, 2006 – September 30, 2007
Kenichi Shirahama was the weakest kid in school. So weak that the other weaker kids were beating him up! As he enters high school, he thinks he can become stronger by joining the school’s Karate club, but ends up being a human training dummy. However, he finds the trainers he’s been looking for as he meets his newest classmate, Miu Fuurinji, who is also a master of martial arts. After befriending Miu, she introduces Kenichi to the masters of her home who each specialize in Karate, Kung Fu, Ninjutsu, Japanese Jiujitsu, and Muay Thai. Determined to become stronger, Kenichi moves in and endures the harsh training to stand up to Ragnarok, a gang of teenage martial artists.
Like Kengan Ashura, the fights in Kenichi rely on pure hand-to-hand combat as each character specializes in a martial art. Some are based on real life martial arts, others are just uniquely original as both extremities are portrayed in this anime, and in Kengan Ashura. As opposed to taking place in the corporate world, Kenichi is kind of more like the 1979 film, The Warriors but in a high school setting. Just like how Ouma has to exploit a flaw in his opponent in order to beat them, Kenichi does the same with his cross-training and that is where their similarities mostly reside. Though the fights in Kenichi aren’t as extreme and brutal as Kengan Ashura’s, they still offer a unique sense of excitement with a similar psychology.
Shijou Saikyou no Deishi Kenichi Trailer
Any Anime Like Kengan Ashura?
4. Street Fighter II V
- Episodes: 29
- Aired: April 10, 1995 – November 27, 1995
Based on the long hit fighting game, Street Fighter II V takes liberties with the source material to tell its own unique story. In this anime, Ken and Ryu are 17-year-old’s who have earned their black belts, but have yet to be truly tested as fighters. While on their first night out in San Francisco, Ken and Ryu run into Guile. Ryu initially challenges Guile but despite his dedicated training, he’s no match for Guile’s superior experience on the battlefield. The following day, Ken tries to challenge Guile and is easily met with an ass beating. As opposed to letting their losses bring them down, they use it as motivation to go out and test themselves against the world’s strongest!
While the original game helped popularize fireballs, what’s great about this anime is that it doesn’t spam them. If this is your cup of tea, the fights are pure hand-to-hand and if you didn’t like the cel-shading of Kengan Ashura, you can get almost the same flavor of Kengan Ashura’s action through traditional animation as portrayed in Street Fighter II V! The fights are pretty intense and yet technical. The stances, footwork, lunging, and techniques are excellently executed to give you action sequences that put Hong Kong cinema to shame! Plus, both anime have their share of intense use of guitar riffs to get you air guitaring and bobbing your head like you’re at a rock concert.
5. Tiger Mask W
- Episodes: 38
- Aired: October 2, 2016 – July 2, 2017
This is recognized as the true sequel to the original 1969 series as Naoto Azuma assumes the Tiger Mask mantle to once again face the rise of the Tiger’s Den, an evil professional wrestling organization that wants to take over the industry (and hopefully not make it PG like Vince McMahon has done with the WWE). However, his vendetta against them is personal as one of their top wrestlers, The Yellow Devil, defeated his trainer and made him an invalid. But before he can face The Yellow Devil, he must face Tiger the Dark, whose true identity is that of his best friend.
While this is a sequel to a series from 50 years ago, by no means are you required to watch the original. However, like Kengan Ashura, Tiger Mask W is pretty much theatrical fighting which is in essence, what pro wrestling actually is. The fights in Tiger Mask W portray wrestling as real as opposed to being sports entertainment (the official way of calling it “fake”), they’re still uniquely technical but in a way distinguishing that from Kengan Ashura. As to how these two series are also similar, both main characters are fighting to avenge their masters and against hostile takeovers, and are not motivated by fame or money.
Tiger Mask W Trailer
6. Koukou Tekken-den Tough (Shootfighter Tekken)
- Episodes: 3
- Aired: January 31, 2002 – April 26, 2002
Based on the hit manga by Tetsuya Saruwatari, Tough is about how Keiichi Miyazawa wishes to fulfill his father’s legacy in underground MMA. In order to do that, he must fight in his father’s place against Iron Kiba, a legendary wrestler who was once the rival of Keiichi’s father.
Just like Kengan Ashura, Tough once again uses underground MMA as a backdrop but when you contextualize that the original manga debuted back in 1993, the nature of underground MMA makes absolute sense since the sport was barely taking off at the time. The fights rely a lot of techniques and brutality, just like in Kengan Ashura but knows how to balance striking and grappling a little more. What ultimately makes them similar is that Keiichi is motivated by his father, or his trainer, to compete in fights. However, considering the short length of this OVA, we also recommend the manga or hope that Netflix can also give this hit series a true adaptation.
Fighting can be a sport of the highest technique as seen in MMA, or grueling in reality without a referee as seen in street fight videos on social media. In the creative world of anime, it does a unique job of trying to balance those qualities and Kengan Ashura does a great job of demonstrating that. In addition to Kengan Ashura, our six recommendations show how entertaining martial arts/fighting anime can truly be. They are a great exhibition to how exciting and cerebral action can get. Some may inspire you to take up martial arts, others may inspire you to lift weights, and there are those that may give you the idea to call up Jose Canseco for some steroids. These anime also show how brutal it can be for both the winner and loser, but in the end, you still have to have respect for your opponent which is what the martial arts are truly about (except for the part about steroids and serving corporate interests).