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Best Action Anime Shows

11. Hellsing

Guns, vampires and vampire hunters: you don’t get much more action than what’s stuffed into this wild, violent series. Vampire Alucard and his human-turned-vampire sidekick Seras Victoria go to war against vampirekind in the service of the British Empire’s Hellsing Organization, and uncover a plot to create a new kind of vampire via technology that endangers the existence of the human race itself. There is very little in this series that does not get shot at, including (and especially) the heroes.More »

12. Outlaw Star

Think of this show as Bebop’s cousin—it’s also about spacefaring bounty hunters, but with even more outlandish style, even more action, and even broader humor. You know you’re in fairly wild territory when the hero’s named Gene Starwind, shoots enchanted bullets from a special gun, and is captain of a spacecraft that can only be flown with the aid of a co-pilot who melds her mind with the ship’s computer. Further bonus points are awarded for an opening song that is as raucous and memorable as the show itself.More »

13. Rurouni Kenshin

A samurai adventure set in the sunset days of the samurai, when Japan was first opening to the West and the old ways of life were capitulating to the new. Himura Kenshin, a former assassin, has set aside his violent ways—but there’s a great many people from his past that aren’t about to let him off the hook. Much of the action is driven by various outlandish sword-fighting techniques—don’t expect to see any of this in your local real-life dojo!—but that’s also what gives the show its own flavor and energy.More »

14. Samurai Champloo

Half historical adventure, half wild-style urban attitude, all awesome. Somewhere in a historical Japan that’s absolutely not historically accurate, Ronin Jin meets brawler Mugen, and the two are only stopped from slitting each other’s throats by teahouse waitress Fuu. Call ‘em The Good, The Bad and The Ditzy—and between the three of them they cook up a mixture of mayhem, skull-busting and general craziness, all set to an amazing hip-hop soundtrack.More »

15. Sword of the Stranger

A lone-wolf martial artist crosses paths with a young boy being pursued by an army of warriors. No prizes for guessing the boy is a lot more important than he looks, or that the fighter who sticks his neck out for nobody will in fact do so for this kid. Or that the fighter will cross paths with the death-obsessed master of battle in the army’s employ, or … The story of Stranger isn’t terribly special, but from that story they’ve created one astonishingly-depicted action sequence after another, and the climax—a battle on a kind of giant clock—is an ingenious (if rather anachronistic) blend of fight choreography and whacked-out set designs.More »

16. Tiger & Bunny

An anime love letter to Western superhero comics, with all the quirk of the former and the dash and zip of the latter. Superstar superhero Wild Tiger's star has been on the wane for some time now, so when he's forced to accept a younger, more dashing partner, he struggles to keep his limelight from being poached by this upstart. But soon dark forces from both of their pasts arise, and they have to band together to be real heroes and not simply the kind they get to play on TV. The show works on a number of different levels: both as a sly jab at celebrity and mass media, and as a sincere homage to the power of a fantasy hero to inspire us. And it also features some wild, stylish action of the sort normally confined to big-budget live-action films like Man of Steel.More »

17. Trigun

Watching the scenery get shot up was never this funny. An “Old West in space” setting is used as the backdrop for a wild, loopy story about a staunch pacifist mistaken for being a deadly assassin. A pair of long-suffering insurance adjusters tag along after him, trying to determine if this lovable goofball is indeed the “Vash the Stampede” of legend, responsible for so much mayhem. No, it’s not him, so much as it is the people who are doing things in his name and trying to take credit for it. The show’s as much fun for the way it lampoons outrageous action clichés as it is for how it uses them.More »

18. Vampire Hunter D / Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust

The vampires, or “Nobility,” lorded over the world for millennia. Now they’re on the wane, and the half-vampire vampire hunter known only as “D” will use sword, stake, silver and sunlight to make sure the last of the bloodsuckers are wiped out. Both the original OAV and the theatrical film are loaded with lavish and striking action. (See if you can count how many other films have aped the “enemy gets split up the middle” shot in the first installment.) What’s also worth sticking around for is the lush atmosphere—a fusion of gothic horror, the Old West, and Lovecraftian dark fantasy, just like in Hideyuki Kikuchi’s long-running series of novels before it.More »

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