Whether it’s due to the art style or the action, fans love a good anime fight. But the high stakes, massive powerups, and showstopper moves aren’t the only reasons fans are interested. The best of these unforgettable clashes add substance to their shows as well by furthering character development and creating new storylines. So, here are the five anime fights that we’ll never forget.
Goku vs. Frieza (Dragon Ball Z)
A list of the best animes fights wouldn’t be complete without one of the longest and most iconic battles in the Dragon Ball franchise. Taking place during the Frieza Saga, the battle between the main character, Goku, and the tyrant Frieza lasted a whopping 20 episodes. Each blow makes it clear the two adversaries match each other in both strength and power. Even Goku’s most powerful attack, the Large Spirit Bomb, fails to destroy Frieza.
It’s only after Frieza plays a dirty trick, taking advantage of a distraction to deal a deadly blow, when the gloves come off. Unfortunately, Frieza’s target isn’t Goku, but his best friend, Krillin. Watching his best friend die before his eyes causes an enraged Goku to tap into his inner power reserves, turning him into a golden-haired Super Saiyan for the first time in the series.
With some clever taunting, the Super Saiyan convinces Frieza to use 100% of his power. And while it seems that Frieza still outmatches Goku, the tyrant soon learns the Saiyan was holding back all along. Using an Angry Kamehameha, Goku defeats Frieza, bringing one of the best fights in anime to a close. But it wasn’t just Goku’s triumphant victory that got fans hype, it was realizing his true hero potential.
Kakashi Hatake vs. Obito Uchiha (Naruto: Shippūden)
One of the most epic fights in Naruto: Shippūden is Kakashi Hatake vs. Obito Uchiha. It sticks with fans, not because of the battle’s extraordinary moves or incredible graphics, but for its simplicity. Here you have two former teammates giving their all. While they both use jutsu at the beginning, the majority of their fight boils down to taijutsu, or hand-to-hand combat. And unlike many other battles in Naruto or the other anime on this list, it doesn’t waste any time getting to the action.
The battle takes place in Kamui’s Dimension, an alternate space created by Obito. However, the real conflict started years ago when they were children. During the battle, flashbacks to the two men sparring as children are intercut with their battle in the present. The technique highlights their respective journeys and how much their skills have grown over time.
The visual contrast between the colorful landscape of the past and dark, cube-filled one in the present further serve to illustrate this point. Despite this noticeable shift in tone, we never lose momentum during this symbolic battle with the past and their inner demons.
The well-choreographed fight scene, although short, shows the real talent of both these men. Even as kids, they were formidable sparring opponents, and in Obito’s case, it’s the beginning of learning who he could’ve been had he chosen the right path.
Saitama vs. Boros (One-Punch Man)
During the final episode of One-Punch Man, our hero Saitama finally gets to face Boros, the leader of a group of alien invaders. Disgusted by Boros’ egotistical reason (to find a worthy opponent) for destroying A-city, Saitama throws a swift punch at him.
As the two trade blows Saitama manages to destroy Boros’ arm, which infuriates the alien. Boros grabs our hero, throws him around like a rag doll, and then gloats about how strong he is. But he soon comes to regret bragging prematurely.
When a powerful punch sends One-Punch Man to the moon, it looks like he will finally lose. But this is Saitama we’re talking about. At the very last second, he drops a bombshell: He’d been playing with Boros the whole time.
With a single punch, Saitama sends Boros flying back to Earth. But his attack doesn’t end there. He hits Boros with a barrage of punches and finishes him off with his final move — Killer Move: Serious Series, Serious Punch.
Despite the show being about an unbeatable hero, this fight still manages to fill viewers with suspense, as many believed that Saitama had finally met his match. Fortunately, this fight didn’t end One-Punch Man’s quest, which will continue in Season 2 in 2019.
Izuku Midoriya vs. Shoto Todoroki (My Hero Academia)
After breaking all his fingers on his right hand and his leg, Izuku realizes Shoto isn’t just a kid with a powerful Quirk, Half-Cold Half-Hot. His judgment, mobility, and reasoning also make him a tough opponent to overcome. But there’s another problem: Shoto only uses the cryokinesis part of his Quirk, as pyrokinesis reminds him of the abuse he suffered at the hands of his hero father Endeavor.
Irritated by this, Izuku headbutts Shoto in the chest and demands he gives it his all. Even though Izuku, being born Quirkless, can’t relate to Shoto’s hesitance to use his fire abilities, he still offers him words of encouragement. But he also doesn’t back down, telling Shoto that he has no right to be the best if he won’t use his full power.
Izuku’s words trigger memories of Shoto’s mother burning his face and another of her telling him to be the kind of hero that he wants to be. Motivated by Izuku and his mother’s words, Shoto finally unleashes his flames and the real fight begins — which ends up destroying the stadium. Despite the damage caused and Izuku’s defeat, we got to see that it takes more than a powerful Quirk to be a hero. Encouraging others to do their best and finding the courage to face yourself is what’s truly important.
Rock Lee vs. Gaara (Naruto)
The fight between Rock Lee and Gaara does two things: it tells a story and also changes your perception of a character. In one corner, there’s the Lee, who can only use taijutsu and appears to be nothing more than comic relief in Naruto. In the other corner, you have Gaara, whose skills and villainy strike fear into the heart of his adversaries.
So, when the time comes for the two to face off, everyone assumes Lee will be afraid of Gaara. But in actuality, Lee couldn’t be more excited. During the fight, Lee finds he can’t break through Gaara’s sand defense. That is until he removes his training weights and reveals how fast he really is without them.
With lighting speed, Lee manages to land several punches, proving with each blow that he’s not a joke but a real threat and a skilled shinobi. By unlocking several of the Eight Gates, Lee’s able to surpass his limits. However, Gaara gains the upper hand when Lee’s body shows signs of being unable to handle the pressure. Still, Lee somehow finds the strength to continue and renders Gaara unconscious with his Reverse Lotus attack.
Unfortunately, his attack isn’t enough, as Gaara manages to break Lee’s limbs, which knocks him out. It’s then that something amazing happens — Lee’s unconscious body stands on its own. Even when victory is hopeless, his fighting spirit keeps him going. Gaara ultimately wins the fight, but Rock Lee does him one better and wins the heart of Naruto‘s fans.