Fights stand out as some of the best moments in anime, and 2021 was no different. Of course, shonen anime brings out the best clashes between characters, but we have a few Isekai from last year, with Re:Zero returning for the second part of season two! That being said, shonen still dominates our best fights, and with titles like Jujutsu Kaisen making a splash onto the anime scene, it's easy to understand why. So without further ado, let's look at our top five fights of 2021!
5. Shigaraki vs Re-Destro from Boku no Hero Academia 5th Season (My Hero Academia Season 5)
Typically in anime, the best fights come in epic showdowns between good and evil, but My Hero Academia holds no punches when pitching the forces of evil against each other for domination. The fight sees Shigaraki and his League of Villains go up against Re-Destro’s Meta Liberation Army as they fight over who should lead the battle against heroes.
Re-Destro’s Meta Ability allows him to outmatch Shigaraki in terms of size, strength, and raw power. When bound, we get flashbacks to Shigaraki’s past, understanding more of his morbid backstory in which everything and everyone he touches dies because of his quirk. The fight’s turning point is when Shigaraki’s quirk evolves to only require contact from a few fingers instead of his whole hand, discarding the hands of his family from his appearance. Between Re-Destro’s immense show of strength through his Stress quirk and Shigaraki’s development into a complete villain, this fight is not to be missed.
4. Elsa vs Garfiel from Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu 2nd Season Part 2 (Re:Zero Starting Life in Another World Season 2 Part 2)
Importance to plot always plays a key part in the weighting of anime fights, and Elsa, the main threat from the first season of Re:Zero, gives this clash a lot of heft. Elsa’s role as a seemingly immortal witch compared to the likes of Subaru has built her character up to be near indestructible, and that can be felt when she begins her attack on the mansion and takes on Garfiel.
The final battle after numerous of Subaru's restarts to get his tactics right for the clash at the mansion, seeing Elsa and Garfiel square-up one last time knowing our beast boy has a chance, is very rewarding. Again, Garfiel’s sheer power and strength push him through the fight, taking on Elsa’s regenerative abilities and deadly slashes in an excellently animated sequence as the Roswaal family mansion burns around them.
3. Diva vs Yuugo from Vivy: Fluorite Eye’s Song
Vivy flew under many anime fans’ radars in 2021 as it aired in a packed Spring schedule full of sequels and anticipated manga adaptations. However, the stunning visuals, music, and captivating sci-fi plot garnered Vivy a dedicated cult following, making this fight stand out even more as the show excelled in every other aspect.
Androids fighting leaves a lot of creative licence for animators as they can bend what looks like a human in unnatural ways, but seeing Yuugo come up against a combat android like Diva and match her is incredibly well done. The visual choreography is meticulously planned, with a visible knife slice leaving individual strands of Diva’s hair floating as they continue their martial arts ballet. The music alone is enough to give any anime fan goosebumps, as the heavy guitar riffs slam on in the background as a deadly dance continues in the foreground.
2. Rengoku vs Akaza from Kimetsu no Yaiba: Mugen Ressha-hen (Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Mugen Train Arc)
Though this seems like cheating as the Demon Slayer movie came out in 2020, it was recapped in 2021 with the Mugen Train Arc, meaning it’s on our list anyway. Rengoku’s title of the “Fire Pillar” hyped his abilities up a lot in anticipation of this arc, and boy did he deliver. The insane abilities of Rengoku’s fire breathing technique amazed fans as he took on Akaza, one of the top demons in the Demon Slayer world.
The sheer animation quality put into each twist of Akaza’s body is only matched by Rengoku’s flaming sword strikes with the red and yellow swirls dancing around. However, the biggest hitter of this fight is the emotional weight attached to the ending as the fire pillar burns for the last time. A must-watch for any anime fan.
1. Yuji, Todo, and Gojo vs Hanami from Jujutsu Kaisen
Studio MAPPA entered 2021 swinging, figuratively and literally, with Jujutsu Kaisen. Despite having a lot of battles to choose from, this one outweighs the others by far in the sheer animation quality, extensive choreography, and the demonstrations of different characters' powers. Yuji and Todo, newly-made best friends in their class clash, display incredible synergy from the get-go as they take on the Cursed Spirit Hanami.
Alas, Hanami’s power to manipulate all of the nature around it is far too great for the young pair to take on. Until, in steps everyone’s favourite absentee teacher, Satoru Gojou, to take out the special-grade Cursed Spirit. A man with eyes that have had more animator time spent on them than some entire series, Gojou conjures up a flashy purple spirit ball that emits enough energy to dig a trench in the ground like an earthquake, all to a techno beat that matches the scene’s hype. The entire fight works out like a well-choreographed stage play but feels like there are actually odds at stake, making it stand head and shoulders above other shonen battle sequences.
Fights in anime are epic and have always been due to the ability to construct sequences that are impossible to be performed by ordinary human beings. 2021 was no exception, giving us even better battles, more attention to detail than ever before, and incredible quality from fantastic anime series. What was your favourite anime fight of 2021? Did we miss out on any of the best? Let us know in the comments!