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Anime Action Has Evolved
By WakeUpSnooze • 1 week ago

Back in the day, action in anime often sucked due to two common factors. The first being that action itself was hard to come by due to budget constraints. True extended confrontations were pretty rare, and when they did occur, it often included a lot of big movements like blasting lazer beams or animation loops of punches (think of the action in old Dragon Ball episodes). Actual choreography was almost nonexistent for most anime, at least not on any sort of consistent basis. This leads to the second issue: when you did finally come across a show with enough budget to include action, characters wouldn't stop yapping every two seconds. Every longtime anime fan is familiar with the Naruto fights that included a flashback every few seconds. A couple of kunai are thrown. Flashback. A kick is landed. Flashback. A ninjutsu is utilized. Maybe not a flashback this time, but at least a short speech about the power of never giving up and thereby believing it. By the time Naruto ended it did leave us with some amazing battles like the final bout between Naruto and Sasuke, but those beginning days were rough.

I say beginning days because after paying attention to several action anime recently, I think the genre has evolved. Thanks to the international growth of anime to be a worldwide phenomenon and advances in animation technology, (plus the occasional poor treatment of animators as near-slaves) the constraints of the past feel like they've faded away to me. Jujutsu Kaisen dazzled the world with a constant stream of awesome fights in the Shibuya Arc. Wind Breaker, a seasonal anime based on a damn Web Toon possessed an incredibly hype fight with amazingly detailed choreography for a seasonal production for a series nobody was familiar with beforehand. Just recently Suicide Squad Isekai released a three episode batch to kick off its debut, with each episode containing a solid amount of high-octane action by Wit Studio. Years ago, we'd be lucky to receive fights of that caliber as an audience once per year. Maybe twice for a Big Three show. My shounen of that time period, Zatch Bell!, never produced a fight of this quality. Yet in the good year of 2024 it seems like a new spectacle of action is fed to us each season, if not multiple spoonfuls per season.

Now this is my kind of gang violence!

We often call out a ton of bullshit that goes on in the anime industry, so today I wanted to take a second and appreciate the advancements that have been made in the past decade or so that have resulted in such a massive improvement for fans of fights. Did you grow up being amazed by the squabbles in anime? Have you noticed that action improves in quality and quantity over the years in the medium? What fights or scenes have you loved recently? Zip the characters' mouths shut, edit out those flashbacks, and marvel at an unadulterated long display of combat in the comments below!