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
During the Dressrosa Arc in One Piece, Luffy comes across the Corrida Colosseum and decides to enter its tournament in order to win the prize Devil Fruit: Mera Mera no Mi. The tournament is a battle royale competition with 565 fighters vying for the prize.
As if the stakes weren't already high, it is also revealed that this tournament is one of Doflamingo's ploys where the contestants who lose are turned into toys against their will. It's an intense tournament that shows off the series' diverse fighters and gladiators. Plus, the fights are action-packed, making for a thrilling and fun arc.
Dragon Ball Z includes one of the most intense tournaments of all time, the Cell Games.
There are several elements that help the Cell Games stand out among the other DBZ tournaments. First, there's the presence of Cell himself, a deeply unsettling antagonist who absorbs his opponents and takes on their traits. Second, this is the first time we get to see both Gohan and Goku, together, in their full Super Saiyan glory. Finally, the battles against Cell are brutal, viewers are even forced to watch Future Trunks die right before Vegeta's eyes. Cell exploding is just icing on the cake.
In most sports anime, the tournament arc is when things really started to get heated, and Haikyuu!! is no exception. Haikyuu!!'s Interhigh volleyball tournament adds excitement and drama to a game that, in real life, tends to pale in comparison to some of the action featured in other forms of anime. The character's enthusiasm and dedication is infectious, especially when you know how hard they worked to earn a spot in the tournament. The Haikyuu!! characters do more than just practice, they study each other's techniques and scout out other schools ahead of time.
Also, Karasuno isn't the only team viewers get attached to. Some of the intensity comes from knowing that if one team you've come to love wins, another team that you also love inevitably loses.
Food Wars: Shokugeki no Soma masterfully combines the thrills from high-octane cooking shows, with gratuitous amounts of action. At Tōtsuki Academy, first-year students are expected to participate in a cooking tournament that will determine their class standing.
While they're basically just cooking, there's a lot of showmanship involved. After all, this is an anime where judges literally orgasm after eating a particularly tasty pork roast. If you want to see people's clothes explode off of their bodies because they're overwhelmed by pure deliciousness, this is the show for you. If you want to watch a three-way death match at the end of the arc that jacks the intensity up to eleven, this is also the show for you.