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Dragons have always been a big part of Japanese folklore, so it is no surprise that we may find such mythical creatures in the magical world of Anime. What does come as a surprise is that the majority of the dragons that appear in Anime are based on the western depiction of these animals; huge flying lizards who breathe fire and scorch entire cities to ashes.
What’s even more shocking is that most of these dragon representations in Anime turn out to be quite forgettable, regardless of whether they are European or Japanese dragons, and we’re only left with a handful of the good ones.
Today we bring you a selection of the most epic and memorable dragons in Anime!
10. Haku from Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (Spirited Away)
- Episodes: 1 (Movie)
- Aired: Jul 2001
Spirited Away is an Academy Award winner, and one of the most popular anime films ever. It’s a beautiful story, and a wonderful adventure in which we get to meet the lovely Chihiro and the charming and mystical Haku, who has the ability to transform into a majestic Japanese dragon.
In his dragon form, Haku looks like the typical Asian dragon; he’s got a huge snake-like body, long whiskers, no wings and beautiful green hair on his head and loin. Even though he spends most of the time as a human, his dragon form is so epic that we had to include him on our list.
9. Bloody August from Majutsushi Orphen (Sorcerous Stabber Orphen)
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: Oct 1998 – Mar 1999
As a big fan of the Orphen series, Bloody August is one of my favorite dragons, even though she (yup, Bloody August is a girl) is ugly as crap. Back when Krylancelo, AKA Orphen, and Azalie where students at the Tower of Fangs, she was obsessed with becoming the most powerful sorcerer, so she made use of some dark and forbidden ancient magic.
Azalie had the brilliant idea of testing the magical Sword of Baltanders on herself, which turned her into this hideous and giant dragon. Her appearance in the month of August earned her the name of Bloody August, and she was then hunted by the most powerful sorcerers, including her own master, Childman. She’s no easy prey though; Bloody August is a fearsome rival to anyone who dares to face her.
8. Blue Eyes White Dragon from Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters
- Episodes: 224
- Aired: Apr 2000 – Sep 2004
One of the most powerful monsters in Duel Monsters, and certainly the most famous and emblematic dragon in the Yu-Gi-Oh series, the Blue Eyes White Dragon could not be left out of our list. This is an absolutely majestic and unique creature.
Despite its name, the Blue Eyes White Dragon’s body is covered with metallic light blue scales. As the description of the card says, “this legendary dragon is an engine of destruction” and “is virtually invincible.” This reflects the powerful and catastrophic nature of an authentic dragon.
7. Fredrica from Hitsugi no Chaika (Chaika the Coffin Princess)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Apr 2014 – Jun 2014
Fredrica is a dragoon and a shape shifter. She usually takes the form of a cute blond teenage girl. Despite this harmless appearance, Fredrica can transform into a big white-dragon (several times the size of a person).
In her dragon form, she has a pair of horns on her head, sharped teeth and deadly claws on her four legs. Her tail is also a powerful weapon and she can crash windows with the mere flapping of her wings. As if she wasn’t a fearsome and lethal beast already, her body is covered with metallic scales as strong as steel. This is clearly one tough dragon lady.
6. Dragons from Gedo Senki (Tales from Earthsea)
- Episodes: 1 (Movie)
- Aired: Jul 2006
Tales from Earthsea is quite an original movie, very different to anything I’ve seen before. What’s more, what I really loved about it is how well it represented dragons.
These dragons are 100% inspired on the European type. They are huge winged lizards with mean faces and spikes all over their bodies. But their great design is not only what stands out. The flawless animation on this film and the great sound combine to represent true dragons. Their screeches will give you goose bumps, trust me.
5. Peterhausen from Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou (Demon King Daimao)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Apr 2010 – Jun 2010
Peterhausen is an awe-inspiring beast that has awakened after a hundred-year slumber. His powers are terrible, and so he seeks an equally powerful master to lead him and take over the skies together.
All Peterhausen can think off is decimating entire cities and fighting the most powerful opponents. However, this enormous and dreadful beast has his soft side. He has shown to be jealous of his new master’s popularity with girls. That is one adorable killing monster! :3
4. Acnologia from Fairy Tail
- Episodes: 175
- Aired: Oct 2009 – Mar 2013
Acnologia is a powerful dragon slayer who can take the form of a terrible dragon. In this form, he’s so mighty he could rip poor Igneel in half. His wings create shockwaves while his breath can unleash a catastrophic onslaught. There is just no stopping this humongous beast.
His design is much similar to that of wyrms or four-legged dragons (all European dragons), but with a more rounded head, phoenix-like wings and charming and colorful blue spiral designs on the scales that cover his body. I find it a brilliant combination of grace and terror.
3. Shooting Star from Lodoss-tou Senki (Record of Lodoss War)
- Episodes: 13 (OVAs)
- Aired: Jan 1990 – Nov 1991
The most powerful of all dragons, Shooting Star resides in Flame Dragon Mountain, where he guards the scepter of domination. He’s a red dragon and he reminds me a lot of Smaug (from “The Hobbit”).
Shooting Star is a terrible and humongous dragon who inspires dread and awe among humans, which he deems lesser beings. He has the ability to speak and communicate, even if he only does so to insult and threaten people. Shooting Star is definitely a cataclysmic beast that needs to be stopped.
2. Bahamut from Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis (Rage of Bahamut: Genesis)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Oct 2014 – Dec 2014
Our list could definitely not be complete without the most terrible and unstoppable of all dragons, the frightening Bahamut. His sole name inspires awe and terror among gods, humans and demons alike.
Bahamut is the most colossal of dragons. His proportions are utterly titanic, his tail is even longer than his body, and his wings can cover an entire city in shadows. He exists only to destroy, that is his one purpose and he cannot be stopped by any human, divine or demonic weapon. Dragons are, in general, a symbol of power; in that sense, Bahamut is a perfect representation of dragons.
1. Shenron from Dragon Ball
- Episodes: 153
- Aired: Feb 1986 – Apr 1989
I’m guessing you already knew who was going to make the top of our list. There is simply no other dragon in anime that’s nearly as iconic and legendary as Shenron (and of course, it had to be a Japanese dragon). He only appears every once in a while in the show, but every time he does, it’s a big thing.
He’s a most magical and powerful being, the kind that anyone would like to summon. Once the seven dragon balls are gathered, one can disrupt Shenron’s sleep and watch him reach for the sky while the light fades and the day turns to night. Then, he will grant any wish he’s asked. How epic!
This is the end of our journey with dragons. I hope you’ve enjoyed it and that you’ve learned a thing or two about dragons in Anime. If you love these majestic and powerful creatures as much as I do (which I guess you do if you’re here), then you may like to check shows like Cross Ange, Seikoku no Dragonar, Dragon Crisis!, Dragon Drive and Brave Story.
Feel free to let me know if there are any more dragons out there that you think deserve a spot on our list or an honorable mention.