Tournament arcs are a series of episodes that have everything a Shounen anime fan breathes for. And people who appreciate art will tell you it’s more than just fighting, it’s an experience, it’s a feeling!
We have the expected friendships and rivalries, also some captivating underdog stories. Moreover, some deserving exposure is shed on the side characters. And perhaps the most important thing of all, euphoria-inducing extremely hyped anime battles.
We will be looking at the top ten anime that have tournament arcs, the most brilliantly executed ones among all. Essentially, I will be suggesting some of my favorite picks, if you are in it for that tournament arc action.
What are Tournament Arcs in Anime?
The Tournament arc is an anime trope where all the combatively relevant characters come together and pit their skills against each other. Usually, the aim is to beat the hell out of your opponent. But it’s also more of a way to test and prove your worth.
Similar to competing in an international sports tournament in real life, it’s years of training, and resolve. Which is driven by aspirations to achieve deeply personal or selfless goals. The battles do get a bit emotional, prompting you to root for one or more characters and this will leave you always wanting more.
Tournament arcs are inseparable from shounen anime. A good example of a great shuonen anime is Black Clover and I have made a separate list of excellent shounen shows you need to watch.
10GOD OF HIGHSCHOOL
Certainly, the new kid around the block, with a truly cool origin story. As you might have heard, this anime is not based on a Japanese manga, but a south Korean Manhwa.
Which is essentially a colored manga, as it does follow typical anime tropes yet also has that unique Korean flavor.
God of High School is an all-styles martial arts tournament for high schoolers from all over Korea. Many compete but only one person wins, where his/her’s one wish is granted. You can wish for literally anything!
Wait a minute, anyone else getting those Holy Grail War vibes?
Coming back, the story follows Jin Mori, who participates to become the best. While the other two main characters Daewi Han and Mira Yoo have much more interesting reasons to participates.
The series is not about a single tournament with back to back fights. As there is much more going on in this world, sometimes a lot more. That is also the major complaint regarding this anime.
One of the most popular anime, which is back for another run until the conclusion. This is an anime about wizards and guilds, and if you are imagining a couple of Dumbledores going against each other, then you are sorely mistaken.
These wizards love to punch, kick, and slice more than casting long-range spells.
The comedy in Fairy Tail is especially good. The anime also has a huge range of colorful side characters that get a decent amount of screen time. Perhaps the biggest strength of the anime is that you get to see the story of a whole guild, which goes through tough times together. The anime is indeed not too focused on the protagonist unless we are talking about the climactic fights at the end of arcs.
Grand magic games were a tournament arc, where the Guild fought to regain its former glory. While the anime didn’t do anything revolutionary. The games were full of epic moments filled with sheer badassness.
If you think about it, every ‘Fate’ is just a tournament arc. You know, 7 teams compete for a cup as a prize? As for those who are new to this.
Every sixty years or so, there is A Holy Grail War. Which is a battle (typically to the death) between seven Masters.
They are called masters because they are selected people who are given the ability to summon a servant. Who are heroic spirits, like these guys are the real deal. Some examples are Alexender the Great, and King Arther. These guys are the stuff of legends.
Each of the seven pairs consisting of a master and a servant fights each other to obtain the holy grail, that can grant any wish.
If you have heard of Fate, I know what question is coming to your mind. How do I watch it?
If you ask me, you can start watching Fate Zero, I did and it was a fine experience.
7SHOKUGEKI NO SOMA
Also known as Food Wars is an anime all about food.
Tootsuki Culinary Academy is an elite cooking school where only a mere 10 percent of the students graduate. The establishment is famous for its ‘Shokugeki’ where students face off in intense, high-stakes cooking showdowns. The anime is pretty ecchi, the reason being is that the character’s reactions to food are not what you may expect. Or maybe you will once you see how ridiculously delicious is the food.
What this show brings forth to the table is more than just a delicious meal. Shokugeki no Souma is a satirical battle Shonen that emphasizes more than just cooking. Let me put it this way, the overpowered dishes by overpowered chefs completely blow away the weaker chef like someone just knocked out the guy.
A volleyball anime that is the best sports anime I have ever watched. Haikyu is essentially tournament arc after tournament arc.
But this time it’s a team vs team thing, the anime manages to walk the thin line between over escalation and under escalation which keeps the anime grounded yet fresh. The characters do grow as athletes, but there is never even a second where they feel superhuman.
Food wars and Haikyuu are examples of some great anime that you can watch on Netflix. And if you are a Netflix subscriber you might be interested in this list: Best Anime on Netflix to Watch in 2021.
5YU YU HAKASHOU
A timeless classic that is one of the anime’s all-time greats, yet it’s not known by many newer anime fans. The writing is excellent for sure, but what makes it stand out is the depth, as you can somewhat feel what the character is feeling, like the psyche of the character is shown through minor details that add a lot to the watching experience. Just go and watch it, I will not even explain the plot for the anime from now on. As these animes are the best a weeb can get.
4MY HERO ACADEMIA
The U.A. Sports Festival Arc is one of the best executions of the tournament arcs ever. My Hero certainly managed to perfectly hit all the marks. As there was a definite conclusion, as there were no interruptions by any outside forces.
Side characters were given sufficient time to shine. The character development of Todoroki was an awesome finishing touch. So why is this not on number one you ask?
Sorry to say this, but it was just too simple and straight forward. This doesn’t make it bad by any means, because I know there will be a much grander tournament arc in My Hero anime in the near future.
Chunin exams arc is still considered the best arc in Naruto by many to this day. You can still find many fellow fans in the community who got into anime because they got a glimpse of Rock lee vs Gaara purely by chance.
The moment where Rock Lee drops those weights off his leg is way too epic. The fight was so beautiful to see so naturally, everyone was so invested in these two new characters that have just been introduced.
2HUNTER X HUNTER
It’s above Naruto because the Hunter Exams Arc was the inspiration for Chunin Exams. And we have to give praise to the original creator. But we should note there were more tournament arcs in the series.
Another great thing about HunterxHunter is that this is perhaps the most unique out of all the huge battle shounen anime. As our protagonist, Gon has around 50% win rate in fights, and that is unheard of in this shonen territory.
Just watch it if haven’t, you will be glued for sure.
The Dragon Ball franchise has many tournament arcs in it, especially if you include Z, GT, and super too. But I have selected the original Dragon Ball’s 23rd World Martial Arts Tournament as the best one.
All and all Dragon Ball is the best anime to watch for the tournament arc fans. The anime has other tournament arcs in other seasons as well. Yet, all of them feel fresh as the creator knows how to get us shounen fans hyped up like little kids.
This is the end of the list of the best anime with tournament arcs. I know this list has mostly all the popular anime titles, but you have to admit that there is a good reason for their popularity.
So which tournament arc is your favorite in all of Anime?
Be sure to, let me know in the comments.