Actions in Anime – Different Levels of Combat

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I had been a long-time fan of the action genre, and was especially a fan of anime ones as well. Watching anime for a long time, I find that actions can be easily categorized in four manners:

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Level 1: Pure Physical Strength

This is in my opinion, one of the most rarest, and underrated types. In a word, they are the “realistic fights”. The characters fight in very humane way, no special powers, no sci-fi powers, no weird abilities, no superhuman strength; just pure ordinary physical fight. One notable example of this is Hajime no Ippo, at best, the characters can execute very fast, and strong knock-out punches. Their attacks aren’t ridiculous to the point that they can break walls or floors, let alone super powers.

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Level 2: Inhumane Brute Strength

A slight opposite to the previous. In here, the characters still don’t possess magical powers or something, but they have strength which surpassed the boundary of human limits. A good example is Kenishiro from Fist of the North Star, he is a martial artist who can implode people; causing some nasty blood-splattering damage, he can even break walls, tanks and so on, possessing superhuman strength which ordinary humans wouldn’t normally be able to attain. Another is History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi (especially the manga), the masters there can exert so much damage that sometimes you had to question if they are even humans themselves.

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Level 3: Hybrid

This is probably the most common, easily found from most anime like Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, Fairy Tail, Hunter X Hunter and so on, to even some anime like Darker Than Black and Fate/Stay Night. Hybrid here, quite self-explanatory, means the hybrid use of combat between physical and superhuman abilities, with the latter originating from some sci-fi or magic. This is where the fight itself becomes completely unrealistic. Even if their abilities originated from science, they could use whatever physics to explain it, but in the end, it’s an ability which isn’t practical in real time.

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Level 4: Full Magic

This is again, just as rare, or even rarer then “Pure Physical Strength” from Level 1. Again, pretty self-explanatory, it is where the characters use their special powers fully instead of relying on their physical strength. On top of my mind, I could only think of Shinsekai Yori, one of the ongoing anime in Fall 2012, so I would love to hear more recommendations for this. Actually, I could say Mahou Sensei Negima as well, but I’m not sure about that since I haven’t read the manga yet.

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In the end, I think one of the most underrated types, and ones I would like to see or read more, is Level 1, “Pure Physical Strength”. Unrealistic fights are good, but watching realistic fights can be quite emotionally impactful. It’s like from every punch or stab, the characters are genuinely feeling the pain, where as from anime like One Piece, their levels of destruction gets so over-the-top that you just couldn’t feel anything from them anymore.

Any of you have any recommendations from the more lesser known action types from above?

Note: A belated Happy Chinese New Year to all of you!

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12 thoughts on “Actions in Anime – Different Levels of Combat

  1. Less magic, more fisticuffs in my combat. Magic only works in media that takes magic seriously, Harry Pothead, for example. Otherwise, I want to see combatants exchanging blows in an acceptable below that of light. Same goes for sword fights and my dream fight of Kai vs Acerailgun in a first blood match.

    • More fistfights here as well. Indeed, I’m not too fond of magic as well though it will be interesting if Harry Pothead had an anime adaption of some sorts. We had already seen X-men and Ironman being adapted so it’s definitely a possibility.

      Lol, Kai (Undertaker) VS Acerailgun (Rey Mysterio). I got da powah but he got da spid.

  2. Negima characters are very much physical, since if you can punch a mage in the face before he completes his incantation, there’s no need to defend against his spell ;).

  3. I’m the type who enjoys reading action series, and even I can only think of a couple pure fighting series. More often than not, when something tries to use martial arts it ends up looking a lot like Kenichi because it’s hard to tell where to draw the line at realism.

    • Less mainstream one sure, lol. I remember there was a lesser known manga about MMA, but I just can’t remember the title. When they started punching holes into walls, boulders and floors, I guess there’s when the realism broke off.

  4. I’m kinda with the whole pure strength idea but mine is more appreciation and admiration of anything CQC ^^

    My most favourite fighting character is Rock Lee because he is all about taichi. I love how he’s very determined to show that he can become a great ninja only through the use of taichi and one of his most awesome battles is his fight against Gaara in the Preliminaries. Full of kicks and punches and lightning speed, I love CQC a LOT. Armstrong from Fullmetal Alchemist is also one of my most favourite fighting characters because he’s all muscle and loves to use his fists (while mixing it up with alchemy).

    • Is CQC a real martial arts in real life? I googled and only saw it in Metal Gears Solid, lol.

      Rock Lee gates powers make it a bit difficult, but I think it’s safe to say his of Level 2, all physical but of inhumane levels. His fight with Garaa was definitely one of the best fight in the previous Naruto season xD It’s like full taichi (full physical) VS ninjutsu (full magic) xD Armstrong’s muscles are sexy xD

  5. Kai I am disappoint
    Well a little bit because Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure isn’t in this list (or at least, not mentioned)
    It deserves a category all in its own because of the most “wtf-unique” abilities the main characters and villains have. Lemme give you an example
    One of the enemies in Part 3 is named J Geil and his “Stand” is called the Hanged Man. It basically moves through the medium of “light” and attacks through reflective surfaces while being completely invisible to regular vision.
    Part 4 and 5 feature the most unique set of “Stands” though. You have Part 4’s protagonist Josuke and his ability to restore objects to their basic componens (rubber pieces to tires, breaking and reconstructing vehilces), Part 5’s Giorno who can force/give life to any object (and later gains the most broken power ever)
    Would elaborate more but I don’t want to spoil anything if you give a chance to read/watch Jojo

  6. Rurouni Kenshin was a bit of a mix between the first two types that you mentioned. Most of the time it focused on actual human abilities, but every now and then an enemy would appear that could do something that was obviously beyond human limits.

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