Top 10 Anime That Dedicate Themselves to Tournaments [Best Recommendations]
From the magic tournament in Fairy Tail and Black Clover to the numerous tournaments in every incarnation of Dragon Ball, anime can't seem to get enough of the tournament's arc. So we decided to compile a list dedicated to anime tournaments. However, rather than a simple list of some great tournament arcs, this list is about anime that solely focus on tournaments. Here, the tournament is not merely a story arc, but it is actually the main focus of the story.
There's one caveat though. Every sports anime tends to center around tournaments, so it's practically impossible to pick one over the other. That's why this article will exclude this particular genre. With that out of the way, here are our top ten anime that dedicate themselves to tournaments.
10. Marchen Awakens Romance (MAR)
MAR is an isekai story before isekai stories became popular. Because the protagonist in this series is also suddenly transported into a mysterious world called MAR-Heaven. Unlike earth, the people in this fantasy world have the ability to use magic, particularly items, and accessories that are imbued with magic, also known as ARM. These magical items and accessories can display all sorts of strange, useful, and dangerous effects, such as a necklace that can turn into a platinum shovel or rings that can cause earthquakes.
However, all is not well in the world of MAR-Heaven. There is an evil military organization that wreaks havoc and slaughters innocent people all over the world. They are known as the Chess Pieces army, often simply called Chess. As it turns out, Chess realizes that there are countless groups of people that want to take them down. So in order to gather them all in one place, Chess announced a deadly tournament called The War Game.
Chess's soldiers and executives will be divided into several individual groups, and each of them will take on different groups of rebels and resistance through each stage of the tournament. For the rebellions, it's a good chance to take on Chess's executives, and for Chess, it's the most effective way to annihilate their opponents. Thus begins one of the most brutal and bloody tournaments in the history of MAR-Heaven.
In a world that is run by a special kind of steam, Levius Cromwell lives as a metal boxer, an athlete who boxes using mechanical arms that are powered by said steam. It is one of the most popular sports in the world, and the champions are often treated like celebrities and royalties. But not Levius though. After all, he is still a Grade III Rank 7 fighter. A far cry from the big names like those special few in Grade I.
The Metal Boxing tournaments work quite similarly to a real-world boxing match because the fights will only happen once in a while in order to give the boxers enough time to recuperate. However, there are some additional rules that are unique to Metal Boxing, such as the aforementioned Grade and Rank system.
In order to climb through the rank, a boxer needs to fight somebody who is ranked higher than them. Once they become Rank 1 in their grade, they will get the chance to fight the lowest rank of the upper grade. Being in Grade I is the dream of every Metal Boxer, including Levius. He knows that the road ahead is paved with blood, sweat, and death, but he will keep moving forward in order to become number 1 in the world, and hopefully find the answers that he's been looking for all this time.
8. Kami no Tou (Tower of God)
The Tower in the Tower of God is quite possibly the most mysterious structure that ever graced the world of Anime. It's unclear who actually created the Tower, nor how big it actually is. One thing is for sure, it is extremely massive. After all, every floor of the Tower is practically its own unique pocket world with different landscapes that house all kinds of people and creatures.
Living in the Tower is hard for most people, and that is especially true for those who are still on the lower floors. Forget about food or shelter, just walking around aimlessly could potentially get you killed either by a random monster or by other participants.
Yes, participants. Because the Tower is actually one colossal and continuous tournament. Everybody who is willing to enter the Tower is basically a participant, and they have to kill or at least defeat the other participants, and also the boss for each floor if they want to move to the next floor. Because being able to advance to the next floor means getting to enjoy some great perks, such as better weapons or food, but it also means having to face an even tougher opponent. Lots of people are killed every day in the Tower, but it doesn't stop everybody else from trying to get to the top of the Tower and reach the promised land.
7. Kengan Ashura
In order to prevent violent competition between merchants that would only end up hurting business for everybody, the merchants in the Edo Period devised a system called Kengan matches. The way it works is pretty simple, the Champions of two competing merchants will fight, and the winner gets to impose their will upon the loser, such as getting the rights to buy certain land or impose tariffs on certain products.
The Kengan matches have proven to be extremely effective, which is why this system still exists to this day, albeit being much more secretive than ever. The one who oversees the different Kengan matches is the Kengan Association, and its chairman is often regarded as the most influential person in the nation.
So how does one get to be a chairman? Well, through Kengan matches, of course. But not just any matches. If the need arises to choose a new chairman, the association will hold a tournament called the Kengan Annihilation Tournament. Every member of the association has the right to compete in this tournament, and their Champions will duke it out until there is only one indisputable winner left standing.
6. Shaman King
A Shaman is somebody who can channel the spirit of the dead so that they can temporarily manifest in the living world. However, not all Shamans are equal. Some can only access the souls of regular people, while others can channel the spirits of the greats and influential people of the past, also known as Great Spirits.
Needless to say, different kinds of spirits can provide different kinds of powers or abilities to the shaman, which is why every shaman wants to be able to control the Great Spirits. However, only the Shaman King has the ability to do so. Fortunately, a Shaman King is a position that has to be earned. That means only the best shaman can earn the title of Shaman King.
And that is where the Shaman tournament called Shaman Fight comes in. The structure of the tournament itself is similar to a regular knockout tournament, which means you keep fighting until you reach the final round. Additionally, Shaman Fight is a group tournament. Each member of the team will fight against another member of the opposite team. The group that wins more is the winner of that round. One thing worth mentioning, however, is the fact that the tournament may have started out as a way to find the best shaman, but it quickly developed into a desperate fight to save the world.
5. Konjiki no Gash Bell!! (Zatch Bell)
The story of Zatch Bell begins with a simple prompt. A thousand years have passed, and now it's time for the eligible candidates to participate in a tournament that will decide who gets to be the next king of the Mamodo World. This time around, the tournament will be held secretly on a parallel world called Earth.
Not only that, but every candidate also has to pick a human partner that will fight together with them. The reason is that their powers are sealed in a spell book, and only when a human casts the spells within that book can the Mamodo themselves temporarily unleash that particular power.
Those who can destroy their opponent's spell book are the winners, and the one who can defeat the other 99 candidates, and stand tall with their spell book intact will be the new king of the Mamodo world.
4. Ueki no Housoku (Law of Ueki)
Just like Zatch Bell, the story of the Law of Ueki also begins with a simple prompt. The time has come to choose the new almighty God. As it happens, there are 100 candidates that are worthy of becoming the new God. However, their power is so great that their universe will be destroyed if they decide to fight each other. So in order to prevent such calamity, a system is made to ensure each candidate gets a fair chance to claim the throne of God. It's called the Battle of Supernatural Power.
Each God candidate has to choose a junior high school student and grant them a unique power. These students are the proxy of their respective candidates and will participate in this tournament in their name.
The winner of this tournament will be the new almighty God, while their human representative will receive any power/talents/skills that they choose. And so begins one of the most exciting and brutal battles involving tons of strange and inconceivable powers.
3. Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online
As the name suggests, Gun Gale Online (GGO) is a spin-off of one of the most popular Sword Art Online (SAO) story arcs, the Phantom Bullet Arc, featuring an all-new set of characters and storyline. However, if SAO is all about surviving a death game, GGO takes a different approach and focuses on the fun aspect of an MMO game, which is the multiplayer tournament.
In GGO, we follow a petite girl clad in an all-pink military grab who dominates her opponents with her trusted pink P90 submachine gun. Her username is Llenn, and her extraordinary agility and ruthlessness earned her the nickname of Pink Devil.
Every player in GGO wants to be the best shooter in the game, and one of the best ways to do that is to participate in a newly created team tournament called Squad Jam. From real professional soldiers who use GGO to train their skills to a team of merciless femme fatale, there are all sorts of dangerous enemies that LLen and her teammate have to face in Squad Jam. But no matter who stands in her way, the Pink Devil will face them head-on and obliterate her enemies.
2. God of High School
Even more than any new blockbuster movies or big band concerts, there's one particular spectacle that every citizen of South Korea has been waiting to see. This is the one event where everybody can see numerous young skilled Martial artists fight against each other in order to find the best in the nation. It's called the God of High School Martial Art Tournament.
The story follows three 17-year-old martial artists as they stake their life in this nationwide tournament. They are the carefree and energetic Jin Mori, the calm and caring Han Daewi, and finally the strong-minded and free-spirited Yu Mira. They meet for the first time on the opening day of the tournament and quickly become comrades in arms who share the same goal.
What most participants don't realize, however, is the fact that there is actually something sinister going on behind the scene. A threat from a massive financial and supernatural powerhouse that can influence and annihilate the planet and everything in it.
1. Shuumatsu no Walkure (Record of Ragnarok) [photo11]
We've talked about all kinds of tournaments in this list. There are tournaments of Gods, demons, skilled martial artists, people who wield supernatural powers, and many others. All are main-blowing in their own way. However, if we have to choose the most epic anime tournaments ever made, then the answer is without a doubt Record of Ragnarok.
In Record of Ragnarok, the Gods decided to annihilate the human beings, so in other words, the beginning of Ragnarok. Needless to say, humanity doesn't have a say in this matter. They don't even know that the life of every person on the planet is about to be erased. Thankfully for humanity, there's one person who stood up to the almighty Gods and demanded a chance for humanity to defend their life. Her name is Brunhilde, the oldest of the 13 Valkyries.
The Gods reluctantly agreed, and so they decided to hold a one-of-a-kind fighting tournament between various powerful Gods, against the best that humanity has to offer. There are a total of 13 fights. So if humanity can defeat seven out of 13 Gods, then their life will be spared. Some of the participants include Gods from different mythologies, such as Zeus, Shiva, Bishamonten, etc. Fighting against them are some of the finest and most influential people in the long history of humanity, such as Sasaki Kojiro, Nikola Tesla, Qin Shi Huang, and many others.
Record of Ragnarok is the most straightforward tournament anime in this list. Every fight becomes its own story arc, and the overall story will continue until one side becomes the undisputable winner. Not only that, the goal and motivation of the story are also incredibly massive yet quite simple at the same time. After all, it won't get any bigger than preventing the extinction of humanity, and it also won't get any simpler than a simple 1-on-1 fight. The combination between the strong premise, unbelievable fighting scenes, and easy-to-understand goal and motivation are the reasons why Record of Ragnarok deserves to be the best tournament anime.
One of the reasons why almost every shounen, or at least action-oriented anime, has a tournament arc is because it offers continuous excitement with little to no boring moments. This list represents anime that hyper-focus on giving that exact feeling to you. So if that sounds like your cup of tea, be sure to watch them all.
Do you know any other anime that deserves to be on this list? If so, don't hesitate to let us know in the comment section below.