Anime with tournaments are tried and true staples of the medium. There's nothing like watching a character you've come to know and love compete, win, and advance to the next level. The coolest anime tournaments not only treat you to high-stakes battles that will leave your heart pounding, they also give you insight into the participants' thoughts and emotions. All the best tournaments in anime are intense.
The greatest anime tournaments feature everything from volleyball games that will leave you shouting at your screen like a real sports fan to life-or-death competitions to become the God of Time and Space. If you like your anime suspenseful, emotionally moving, or just plain badass, tournament arcs are a great way to get your fix.
- Photo: Toei Animation
The World Martial Arts Tournament in Dragon Ball is a classic shonen tournament arc. Earth's strongest fighters come together every three years to fight for the title of World Martial Arts Champion. It's a good old-fashioned hand-to-hand combat fight where weapons or cheat shots to the groin or eyes aren't allowed.
There wasn't a fight during this arc that wasn't fun and entertaining. Goku vs. Jackie Chun and Goku vs. Piccolo were notable fights that are considered the best in the series.
- Photo: Studio Pierrot
In Black Clover, the Magic Emperor Julius announces that there will be an exam to determine which Magic Knight will join the Royal Knights, a squad that will directly serve the King. Randomly selected groups of three across various Magic Knight squads must compete against each other for 30 minutes. In this tournament, the goal is to break the opposing team's giant crystal that they are guarding.
This tournament has Knights from different teams working together, making for interesting character interactions and development. Plus, the team-based competition offers amazing and complex fights that require teamwork and strategy rather than just strength.
While most anime-sports festivals are one-episode fillers, My Hero Academia does things a little differently. The sports festival isn't a bunch of kids running around, it's a televised event where U.A. students start off with competitive obstacle courses, then move on to full-on battles with their powerful classmates.
The stakes here are particularly high because hero agencies are in the audience, looking for potential talent. These kids are fighting for their future careers. Besides that, some of the matchups are crazy intense. This is especially true for the Bakugo vs Todoroki match, which combines amazing fire-based action with some painful family turmoil for Todoroki.
The Heaven’s Arena tournament from Hunter X Hunter has a unique format. Participants must scale the floors of an enormous building, and defeat the enemies on each floor. The difficulty, and financial rewards, increase with each floor. Those who reach the 251st floor not only get riches and glory, but they're also permitted to live in a place called Battle Olympia, with other powerful fighters.
The consistent escalation of stakes, as well as the truly terrifying opponents the protagonists encounter, bring unmatched intensity to this particular tournament.