In the world of fighting whether it would be in cinema, competition, or anime, there’s a difference between being a fighter and a martial artist. Two division UFC Champion Georges St. Pierre (who also holds black belts in Kyokushin Karate and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) once said that the difference between being a fighter and a martial artist is that a fighter simply trains for a fight, while a martial artist is always training for perfection, something they’re never going to reach.
When some athletes in combat sports retire, he or she is always training not just to stay in shape physically, but mentally and spiritually as well. Then, there are instances of when a fighter may just stop training altogether and get fight just like former boxing champion Naseem Hamed. If anything, retired MMA fighters, kickboxers, or boxers stay active by teaching new students as just general trainees, or to be the next champion. In addition to accomplished competitive mixed martial arts champions such as St. Pierre preaching and practicing such philosophies that martial arts is more than just about competition, they were originally popularized by martial arts greatest legend, Bruce Lee. His training not only gave him a wonderful physique and unbelievable speed, but it gave him a strong mentality of living a good life and helping others.
10. Sword from Garo: Vanishing Line
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: October 7, 2017 – March 30, 2018
As Garo, Sword’s ultimate job is to fight horrors, monsters born from the darkness of human desires. In order to carry out his duties every night, he trains (and eat five pounds of steak) to keep his skills up and to maintain his Schwarzenegger-like physique. Prior to officially donning the Golden Armor, he spent most of his youth training both physically and spiritually, which is common in traditional martial arts whether they be hand-to-hand or weapons oriented. Thanks to that training, he is very disciplined (despite his casual perverted tendencies at the sight of big breasts) and composed when it’s showtime. He shows genuine care for Sophie, the girl he has to protect, and the innocent as a whole. He never lets the adrenaline go to his head in the middle of a fight since he has enough experience and training to win as efficiently as possible. Whenever he has time alone, he can be seen training by lifting weights, hitting his heavy bag, or swinging his sword. Due to the qualities he exhibits, he’s an ideal martial artist with his morals and work ethic.
9. Naoto Azuma from Tiger Mask W
- Episodes: 38
- Aired: October 2, 2016 – July 2, 2017
If you don’t think professional wrestling is a martial art, we defer you to Kazuyuki Fujita, Kazushi Sakuraba, and former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett. Hell, Satoru Sayama, the first real life Tiger Mask, was a pioneer of Japanese MMA and we see that legacy carried out in anime form with Naoto Azuma as he becomes Tiger Mask in Tiger Mask W (with the W intended to be read as double). Real life pro-wrestling may be sports entertainment (a fancy way of saying it’s a work, a wrestling term meaning it’s a performance), but in anime, you’re free to make it as real as the UFC. Anyone can call wrestling fake, but nobody can just get off the couch and do what wrestlers do every night on the road almost 365 days a year. It takes disciple and years of training (and try doing the Iron Sheik's workout with Persian clubs).
Just like all wrestlers, Naoto has to go through harsh training to get into the best shape he can get not for the sake of performance, but for the sake of actual competition. He learns strikes based on Japanese stand up martial arts such as kickboxing and karate, the takedowns of amateur wrestling, the acrobatics of lucha libre, and the submissions of catch wrestling. Stu Hart, father of 5-time WWE champion Bret Hart, trained most of his wrestlers in catch wrestling and some say his training was as grueling as Naoto’s (apparently that training helped Chris Jericho win an actual backstage fight against Goldberg, a wrestler infamous for only having two moves while Jericho was the self-proclaimed Master of 1004 Holds). As to how Naoto exemplifies on what makes an ideal martial artist, he isn’t driven by becoming just a champion and for the money, but by aiming to becoming a better human being and being an inspiration to others in the way watching wrestling helped him get through a crisis in his teenage years.
8. Kenshiro from Souten no Ken: ReGenesis 2nd Season (Fist of the North Star: ReGenesis 2nd Season)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: October 2, 2018 -December 18, 2018
With the right touch, Kenshiro can make your body explode and make blood gush out like a fountain. However, he will only fight when he needs to defend himself and the innocent. Thanks to his sense of justice, he’s a great representation of martial artists in fiction. In addition, when a fight is all said and done, he’s willing to pay respects to his opponents not for the sake of giving him a worthy challenge, but that they were an individual that lived by their own convictions, even if they were opposite of his own. The fact that forgives and acknowledges his enemies as fellow human beings demonstrates why he’s worthy of not just being a martial artist, but a master.
7. Hinomaru Ushio from Hinomaru Zumou (Hinomaru Sumo)
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: October 5, 2018 - Ongoing
In the world of sumo, we have Hinomaru. Not only is he smaller than average for someone his age at 157 cm, by the rules of sumo’s sanctioning body, he’s can’t even compete as a pro (since the minimum height requirement is 167 cm)! Thankfully, there’s an exception to the rule where if he can become a Yokozuna at the high school level (where such height rules don’t apply), then he can get an exception to compete as a pro. Thanks to his work ethic and passion for sumo, he managed to become a Yokozuna at the elementary level. He cares about the art and his goal is to one day become a Yokozuna at the pro level, but to Hinomaru and the real world of sumo, it’s a way of life.
As to why he’s a worthy martial artist, Hinomaru isn’t someone to take the easy way out. He could have joined Ishigami High School, which has one of the best high school sumo teams in the country. Instead, after a chance meeting with Oseki at another high school (which he assumed was Ishigami), he decides to join that school instead due to being touched by Oseki’s work ethic and passion for sumo, and to make Odachi High School become the best sumo team in the nation from scratch. Everyday, he’s always training and likely wears his sumo belt under his pants, or at times, doesn’t even bother to wear pants! Not only does Ushio work hard for himself, but for his teammates who are relatively new to sumo, which is the ultimate reason why he makes this list.
6. Joe from Megalo Box
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: April 6, 2018 – June 29, 2018
For the longest time, it was really difficult for the mainstream to acknowledge boxing as a martial art but thanks to the mainstreaming of mixed martial arts, where many of its competitors actually seek the instruction of accomplished boxing coaches such as Freddie Roach, many are opening to the notion that it is. You can learn it not just for the sake of competition, but for your physical and mental health as well, which is one of the main goals in martial arts training. As we said in on our entry for Hinomaru, martial arts is about the smaller guy being able to fight or even defeat a bigger guy, and with this entry of Joe from Megalo Box, we’re positive he exemplifies those qualities of a true martial artist.
He may be naturally talented, but his circumstances have never allowed him to reach his full potential. Thankfully, a shot at the Megalonia tournament will prove his worth. But Megalo Box isn’t just regular boxing, combatants wear augmented gear on their upper body which improves performance. However, Joe decides to compete without out it and he’s already undersized compared to his opponents. Through Joe, we learn that fighting and/or martial arts isn’t just about who has the better gear or bigger muscles, it’s truly about technique, and thanks to that, Joe finds his way to the finals. However, Joe doesn’t really care about the money despite how winning it solves all his problems. He fights just to prove his self-worth to himself and those that supported him, and that trait perfectly distinguishes him as a true martial artist.
5. Yawara Inokuma from Yawara!
- Episodes: 124
- Aired: October 16, 1989 – September 21, 1992
When it comes to the world of women’s Judo, many know of former UFC champion turned WWE superstar Ronda Rousey. Prior to her MMA career, Rousey was a bronze medalist in women’s Judo. But in the world of Japan, the first female judo superstar wasn’t an actual medalist, but an anime character by the name of Yawara Inokuma, who was training to become a 1992 gold medalist. Thanks to the anime’s popularity, Ryoko Tamura, a real life female Judo practitioner was also gaining popularity and fans named her Yawara-chan, after the character (and she would win multiple medals in her career and become a politician).
Many of the people listed here gained their skills through hard work and dedication because they lacked something physical. Yawara may have years of training under her grandfather, but some argue that her talent in Judo is God given once you learn that when she was a child, she made easy work of her own father, who was a national champion. Even if her talent in Judo was blessed by nature, she still goes with her grandfather’s training with the traditional Judo warm ups of rolling on the ground to learn how to take a fall, etc. Furthermore, she shows how martial arts, most especially Judo, is meant for someone her size to defeat bigger opponents. In the beginning of the series, she makes quick work of a thief with a Judo throw, and can beat the boys team at her high school. Later on, she defeats opponents that significantly outweigh her in open weight tournaments. Throughout the series, she expresses she doesn’t want to do Judo and wants to be a regular girl. But thanks to seeing how people look up to her, she uses that to ignite the passion she needs to win the gold.
4. Miu Furinji from Shijou Saikyou no Deshi Kenichi (Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple)
- Episodes: 50
- Aired: October 7, 2006 – September 30, 2007
On the outside, Miu may seem like you’re average high school girl (with the body of a gravure model) but put your hands on her, forget about ending up in jail, you’ll probably wake up in a hospital with a full body cast because she’s a dedicated student to her grandfather’s dojo where she has learned Kung Fu, Karate, Ninjitsu, Muay Thai, and Aiki Jiu Jitsu. Thanks to her years of training, she can handle herself against most attackers. But handling herself in a fight isn’t what qualifies her as a great martial artist, it’s her humble attitude and willingness to help Kenichi, a classmate who gets bullied.
Seeing that Kenichi needed help and touched by his determination despite zero chances of winning, she goes out of her way to share with him some pointers on how to beat his opponent, who was much larger than him. Thanks to her assistance, Kenichi manages to knock his opponent out. For someone her age, she has it together compared to the adults of her household, who tend to be more childish and does her best to make them act their own age. Thanks to her training and upbringing, she demonstrates passion and maturity which is what traditional martial arts should pass on, and that is why she is a great role model for the martial arts.
3. Yujiro Hanma from Baki
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: June 25, 2018 – December 17, 2018
Yujiro is back from the previous edition to this list and his portrayal in the recent Netflix Baki series proves he’s worthy to be listed again. He’s the Fedor of anime fighters and much more. In previous seasons, he’s portrayed rather villainously since he killed Baki’s mother, and invaded the White House just to prove he could (thankfully he wasn’t around during the government shut down). But towards the end of the Netflix series, you do see that he is capable of having true respect for fellow martial artists. He actually wanted to challenge Muhammad Ali, yes THE GREATEST, to a fight back in the seventies when he came to fight Kanji Igari (who is inspired by Antonio Inoki, who actually fought Ali in a legit shoot match in the same time period) in a boxer vs. wrestler match.
What’s interesting to note is that while he could have fought Ali when they met early morning on the streets, Yujiro chooses not to out of respect that Ali wasn’t the same fighter anymore due to Ali being suspended from boxing for three years because he refused induction into the armed services (just like the real Ali). The Yujiro we tend to know would have mocked him but this time, he actually showed great respect to Ali for standing up for what he believed in at the cost of his own boxing career. Knowing that the Ali he met wasn’t the same Ali from prior to his suspension, he chose not to pursue his challenge out of respect. The fact that Yujiro is capable of showing such qualities proves he’s worthy of being a martial artist with noble principles.
2. Son Gokuu from Dragon Ball Super
- Episodes: 131
- Aired: July 5, 2015 – March 25, 2018
While he had the Z edition to Gokuu on our previous list, we thought it’d be best to revisit him again from the Super series. A lot of people tend to see Gokuu as a superhero, but he isn’t. Based on the Japanese portrayal, he’s someone who is simply motivated just by the thrill of a fight and the series portrays it’s because of his Saiyan lineage. When he faces someone such as Beerus or Jiren, it’s not for the sake of trying to save the universe or anything of that nature. He just wants to fight someone who can give him a fight. When he isn’t fighting, he’s always in training just to keep in shape and that’s his way of having fun. After learning that Whis, Beerus’ assistant was also his master, he went as far to seek him as his master and thanks to his training, he was able to go Super Saiyan Blue.
When it came to the Tournament of Power, all he wanted to do was just find out who the best was and take them head on and he didn’t bother thinking about the fate of his universe being at stake. To someone like Gokuu, fighting for the sake of fighting is what makes him feel alive, and that makes him different in comparison to other traditional heroes. Gokuu is a pure example of you can take the Saiyan out of the fight, but you can’t take the fight out of the Saiyan. Some say people were born to fight and even when Gokuu was separated from his own warrior race, fighting still found a way to him since his adoptive Grandfather was his first martial arts teacher. But beyond his Saiyan pride, the true lessons his Grandfather gave him of valuing life and your friends are probably the greatest lessons a true master could teach their student, and that’s another reason why Gokuu is a great martial artist in the purest definition as he is willing to forgive past opponents such as Tenshinhan, Yamcha, and even Frieza.
1. Ken Asuka from Karate Baka Ichidai (Karate Master)
- Episodes: 47
- Aired: October 3, 1973 – September 25, 1974
At number one, we have Ken Asuka from Karate Baka Ichidai. As a matter of fact, his story is taken directly from Mas Oyama’s, the founder of Kyokushin Karate. They share numerous parallels such as being pilots in World War II, starting their martial arts training in Manchuria, and how they trained in seclusion for over a year and read Miyamoto Musashi’s Book of the Five Rings to get an idea of how to improve themselves as martial artists. Like Oyama, Asuka wants to spread the gospel of Karate around the world and is willing to participate in freak show demonstrations or take on all challengers. It goes as far to adapt Oyama’s most famous exploit, chopping off a bull’s horn with his bare hand!
Though the nature of Ken’s Karate is brutal and rough like the actual Kyokushin style, he doesn’t do it for the fame or money, even when he could have pursued such avenues with ease. He does it to not only test his skills, but to prove that Karate is number one. As word of his achievements spread out, he’s willing to take more students and share what Karate has done for him not just physically, but spiritually as well. The fact that he dedicates his life to Karate and is always trying to aim for the unattainable perfection demonstrates why he’s a worthy martial artist. He knows that even with a black belt, training is never over and you can still learn much more.
With all the options out there for martial artists, we feel with our selections, they represent what the martial arts are all about as a whole. Some are driven by competition, and there are others who just want to see it as a religion. Thanks to the charisma of the likes of Bruce Lee and modern MMA competitors, the martial arts has this unique mystique to it that you don’t see in any other physical activity, spectator sport or in entertainment. It takes years of practice and hard work to not only master (if there’s ever such a thing), but to also compete at an intense level. Like in any other sport, there are those that are genetically gifted such as Yawara and Yujiro, and there are others who had to work hard to get to where they are, such as the case with Hinomaru and Joe. Either way, the martial arts demonstrates that with the right training, anyone of any gender or size can pick it up and learn to beat just about anyone and with our our selections, we are positive we have proven that.
If there has been one distinction of Japanese anime that has captured many fans around the world, it most certainly has been the intense, dramatic and creative fight scenes. I have been a long time practitioner of the martial arts and shows, such as “Ninja Turtles”, “Power Rangers”, and Van Damme movies. They were my initial inspirations to take them up.
Then, when I was in sixth grade in 1995, I bought my first anime VHS, “Street Fighter II The Animated Movie,” and the action sequences in that were more reliant in physical techniques, as opposed to gimmicky fireballs that were abusively used in the American “Street Fighter” cartoon (how many times per episode did Guile use his sonic boom anyway?). I was only 11 and the fight scenes were nothing like I had ever seen.
I was already a big fan of the games, but the fight between Chun-Li and Vega/Balrog renewed my love for anything action and I saw myself trying to train to fight at the same intensity. As a result, it further gave me inspiration to see more of what anime (or what fans referred to as Japanimation back in the day) had to offer.
Since the fighting/action genre was my gateway to anime, I will share my personal top 10 martial artists/fighters. The fighters I will be listing will consist all kinds. Some will be listed because they can kick ass and take names. Some are listed because they fight for what they believe in. Others are listed because they got the biggest balls. Some you may agree with, some you will not. Let's get ready to rumble with ten rounds of what I personally call the best fighters in anime.
10. Ricardo Martinez from Hajime no Ippo New Challenger
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: January 2009 – June 2009
The reigning champion in Ippo’s weight class, not much is known about his background but he is the man that beat Date Eiji and the man that beat Ippo in the pro ring. When Date gets his re-match 18 months after he beat Ippo, Martinez had already achieved 20 title defenses. For a tune up, Martinez spars with Ippo and he practically knocks Ippo out with just his jabs and does not throw any other punches.
When it came to fight time, it lasted 10 rounds out of 12. Date does have his moments but it was not enough. Despite his best efforts, Date dishes little to no damage on Martinez, but still acknowledges Date as his greatest opponent while destroying his hand, jaw and probably a few ribs.
If you think he was vicious in the anime, wait until you play him in “Hajime no Ippo 2 Victorious Road” for PlayStation 2. The dude is harder than every SNK boss put together.
9. Yabuki Joe from Ashita no Joe
- Episodes: 71
- Aired: April 1970 – September 1971
Before Rocky Balboa was the million to one underdog, Mike Tyson created controversy, and Manny Pacquiao became a Philippine Symbol, the world of anime and manga gave Japan the iconic Yabuki Joe from “Ashita no Joe.”
Joe starts off as a wandering 15-year-old hobo that ends up meeting Tange Danpei, an alcoholic boxing coach. Due to his initial scam involving children, Joe ends up in juvenile detention for a little over a year, and Tange still sees potential that Joe can be a champion. Joe was already a natural street brawler, but he needs to know the basics of the sweet science such as a jab and a one-two. Joe doesn't get motivated until he has issues with another inmate, Tooru Rikiishi, a suspended boxing prospect who is there for assaulting a reporter. Humiliated by losing to Rikiishi, Joe finally takes boxing seriously to beat Rikiishi in the pro ring.
What makes Joe such a great fighter? The guy will not take crap from anybody. He has natural knock out power and a stubborn sense of toughness. Plus, his triple cross counter is not a move you want to be on the receiving end of, if you want to keep your jaw. What makes him a great character is that he is always conflicted. His success in boxing makes him a hero to the people of his shantytown neighborhood and he never cares about the fame or money.
At the same time, some of his antics have made me believe that he makes a young Mike Tyson look like a saint. Tange may have trained a great boxer, but he never could get his behavior under control. Joe has used abusive language towards women, turned his first license test into a street fight, and assaulted reporters.
In the end, Joe fights the champion of the world, Jose Mendoza. Mendoza is unstoppable and has easily destroyed all challengers. Joe goes against those odds and they have the most grueling 15 rounds that probably rivals the Thrilla in Manila, in which both Ali and Fraizer claimed they were near death. The ending to the series is probably one of the most iconic endings in Japanese history. You see an image that represents the blood, sweat, tears and sacrifices on what it takes to achieve one’s dreams.
8. Shirahama Ken’ichi from Kenichi The Mightiest Disciple
- Episodes: 50
- Aired: October 2006 – September 2007
Being the weakest kid in school, Shirahama Ken’ichi joins his schools karate team. However, he is only used as a human punching bag and is challenged to a match where the loser quits the club. Thankfully, Ken’ichi’s new friend, Miu, comes from a home of masters in the martial arts (where he can learn street fighting style karate, kung fu, ninjutsu, aikijujutsu, and muay thai) and seeks their training to win the fight. However, he was only trained in grappling and he wins the challenge by using a counter throw not legal in karate and quits in principle to continue his training at Miu’s dojo. Due to his progress, Ken’ichi begins to be targeted by Ragnarok, a gang of martial artists.
Ken’ichi may not have been born super strong and has no natural talent for the martial arts, but he is always willing to put in the work, though, it is at the expense of what can be legally called child abuse in most parts of the world. I think the fact that he is also human and knows what limits can be broken, is what makes him a great fighter. He has a strong sense of justice and demonstrates chivalry such as his unwillingness to fight women no matter what their capabilities are.
What I also enjoy about Ken’ichi’s fights is that he takes a very realistic approach to it. Like when Ken’ichi is challenged by a boxer, Takeda, Ken’ichi conclusively beats him by using leg kicks. I think in anime definition, Ken’ichi is a good representation of Bruce Lee’s “Jeet Kune Do” methods of applying that works in a real street fight.
7. Chun Li from Street Fighter II The Animated Movie
- Episodes: Movie
- Aired: August 1994
I know some of you feel I should put Ryu on this list representing “Street Fighter,” but I am going with Chun Li because she shows how awesome she is in the Vega/Balrog fight. I feel that her basic move set and fighting style are accurately represented in the film and I totally dig how intense she was. I love how realistically, in a physical sense, the movie includes her spinning bird kick and how she uses her “hyakuretsukyaku” to kick her opponent out of her 20th floor apartment room. While watching Chun Li fight, she me feel she was really fighting for her life. She goes as far as throwing a couch and a lamp. She does everything she can in a realistic sense. To me, her objective was to survive as opposed to win while Vega/Balrog was a sadistic hunter and the way they contrasted was beautifully expressed in this crazy battle. I also feel it was a good way to demonstrate that fights don't have to be reliant on special fireball attacks, and going pure in hand-to-hand combat is more than enough to bring suspense and excitement.
6. Hanma Yujiro from Grappler Baki
- Episodes: 48
- Aired: January 2001 – December 2001
If any mixed martial arts promoters are looking for the best fighter to sign with them, look no further than Hanma Yujiro, the father of the main character, Baki. I say it is very disputable based on the anime whether or not Yujiro is pure evil. Yujiro may not be motivated by world domination, but did prove that he can take over America by beating Bill Clinton’s secret service team and making him cry on his knees just to prove so. In addition, he is immune to nuclear attacks, cancer and AIDS. To make things crazier, he can stop earthquakes just by punching the ground.
The only thing that motivates him is fighting and he had a son for the sake of making him a worthy opponent to fight. Hell, he kills his own wife just to motivate Baki. The dude treats his opponents like toys. He is also willing to go to extremes for “trophies” from time to time and has no issues with killing some of his opponents.
What you see in the anime is only the beginning. In the manga, it will be insane.
5. Terry Bogard from Fatal Fury
- Episodes: 2 OVAs plus 1 movie
- Aired: December 1992, July 1993, July 1994
Originally a game character from the SNK “Fatal Fury” and “King of Fighters” franchises, Terry’s design and origins are true to those source materials. In the first OAV, he is fighting to avenge the death of his father. In the second OAV, he is fighting to restore his honor as a fighter. In the movie, Terry fights to save the world. Like Ryu from the “Street Fighter” series, Terry is always traveling the world training and looking for a thrilling fight. The tragic thing about him is that he does not get the girl since he loses two love interests with Lilly in the first OAV, and Sulia from the movie.
In addition to retaining his moves from the game, such as the power geyser and the burn knuckle, he is given a few upgrades that would later influence the games that would be released after the motion picture. This is from when he beats Mars, the God of War himself in hand-to-hand combat with a technique which would be called the “Buster Wolf” later debuting in “Mark of the Wolves” in 1999. Anybody who defeats a God is a must for this addition.
4. Uzumaki Naruto from Naruto
- Episodes: Ongoing
- Aired: October 2002 - Present
Uzumaki Naruto may not be the greatest ninja in a technical sense (seriously, an orange outfit?), but it’s his heart and balls that make him an admirable fighter. He may not have been born a genius like his rival Sasuke, but his ultimate goal to be the Hokage motivates him to never give up. In addition to his hidden kyubi powers, elite ninjas such as Kakashi and legends such as Jiraiya are willing to train him in bringing out his full potential. When worse comes to worse, Naruto will always find a creative way to win and look cool.
Naruto always brings a heavy atmosphere of emotions to his battles and will not tolerate anyone’s excuses on why his opponent walks on a dark path. Despite his isolated upbringing, Naruto understands that growing up as an outcast is no excuse for world domination and is willing to seek the approval of others by doing the right thing. Naruto is an awesome fighter because he will always fight for what is right.
His antics may not be traditional to how people view ninjas, but his honor, loyalty, and determination make him a true warrior.
3. El Cid from Saint Seiya The Lost Canvas
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: June 2009 – July 2011
The Capricorn Gold Saint in the 1800s, what makes El Cid a great fighter is that he fought a team of Gods by himself. Even though the Gold Saints are the strongest of Athena’s warriors, their great Cosmo is not enough to take on a God, let alone three. In the battle that defies space and time, El Cid is pushed to every corner and even loses an arm as the gods toy with him, but finds a way to achieve his goals. His fight is proof that it is always not about winning but about doing your part in achieving the greater good of the mission.
Even though he is not viscous like Shura, the Capricorn Saint in the original series, El Cid has a take no prisoners approach and shows wit and balls. He demonstrates a unique sense of compassion for his fellow saints and loyalty to his best friend Sisyphus. Those qualities are what factor him to go against the odds of the gods themselves.
2. Kenshiro from Hokuto no Ken
- Episodes: 152
- Aired: October 1984 – February 1988
One of the biggest bad asses in anime and manga, Kenshiro is the sole heir to a powerful martial art known as Hokuto Shinken. It allows Kenshiro to use 100% of his body’s potential and many of his attacks, at the right pressure points, result in an explosive blood bath. And his Bruce Lee inspired battle cries make him more awesome. His toughest challenges were against Souther, whose unique reverse-physiological structure made him immune to the effects of Hokuto Shineken to some extent, and Kenshiro’s own brother, Raoh, a survival of the fittest conqueror. Despite the destructive power of his fists, he does have some healing abilities such as giving a little girl the ability to speak again.
Kenshiro can't always save the day in this crazy apocalyptic world of 199X, but when he sees that innocent lives have been ruthlessly taken, he will pay it back 100 fold. Don't bother messing with him, because the moment you do, you're already dead.
1. Son Goku from Dragon Ball
- Episodes: 291
- Aired: April 1989 – January 1996
Many probably feel a list such as this would be nothing without Goku from the “Dragon Ball” series itself. “Dragon Ball Z’s” hyper-paced battles, to many, is why the action in anime is very distinct and has this “magic” that cannot be done in live action Kung Fu movies. The imagination of the action through the panning, the explosiveness, the speed and movement can only be captured by animation.
Born from a warrior alien race, Goku still grows up learning the martial arts from his adoptive Grandfather and various unorthodox masters. He would use his skills to save the universe throughout his lifetime. In addition, he has many energy attacks, such as the kamehameha, the genki dama, kaio-ken power ups and his Super Saiya-jin transformations. Goku’s training ethic is never ending and is ready to take on all challengers. At times, a mix his Saiya-jin pride of seeking the thrill of a tough fight, and his pure heart in wanting to spare his opponents, has cost him numerous advantages but he always manages to pull through or allow others to take the challenge.
For honorable mentions, there is Inokuma Yawara from “Yawara,” Saotome Ranma from “Ranma 1/2,” Spike Spiegel from “Cowboy Bebop,” Onizuka Eikichi from “Great Teacher Onizuka,” Yamaguchi Yumiko from “Gokusen” (though I emphasize the live action version of the character in this instance), and Horiguchi Genki from “Ganbare Genki.”
So who do you think can go toe-to-toe or beat anybody on this list? I will admit with an abundant amount of quality action titles out there, it can be both an easy and difficult task for fans in coming up who is the best fighter in all of anime. Who thrills you? Who do you think can save the universe? Or be the champ? Please comment below and share what you personally think are the greatest.