The Top 10+ Action Anime Without the Power of Friendship

The power of friendship is often a stretch used in combat anime, which if repeated excessively can end up spoiling the plot and making it forced.

How many times have we seen the protagonist win the decisive fight by pulling off random power-ups? Or even unheard-of techniques solely because of flashbacks of his friends happening at the right time?

It’s precisely to go against this trend that we have gathered for you a list of the best action anime without the power of friendship. This means no big plot holes or inexplicable situations where the main character leaves unscathed due to this specific plot arm.

As always this listicle is purely based on our opinions and knowledge.

11. Claymore


A 26-episode anime set in a medieval fantasy-themed world where the inhabitants are forced to fight the threat of monstrous creatures that feed on humans.

The Claymores, warriors with enormous power, are fighting these creatures called the Yomi, who can counter the terrible monsters with their swords.

The protagonist of the story is Claire, a low-level claymore who will increase her fighting power over time as she discovers the deceptions behind the Yomi and the society in which she lives.

She’s among the best you can get, indeed we mentioned her when talking about fantasy anime with a female protagonist.

The atmosphere will be markedly dark fantasy, with even scenes of unprecedented violence without discounting, leaving no room for various powers of friendship.

10. Rurouni Kenshin

Rurouni Kenshin

A great classic when it comes to samurai-themed anime is Rurouni Kenshin, a 95-episode anime based on the manga of the same name by Nobuhiro Watsuki.

In this drama for proud Japanese warriors, stories of love and conflict evolve that are rare nowadays.

The protagonist of the series is Kenshin Himura, a legendary warrior who, after helping to depose the Tokugawa shogunate, lives his life protecting people from injustice, and searching for atonement.

One of the merits of this anime definable as one of the fathers of modern shonen is the realism in the fighting, which takes place without plot armor or friendship powers.

You will feel like you are watching one of the best sword fighting anime of all time, clean and honorable, with even a romance with no harem if you feel romantic.

9. Golden Kamuy

Golden Kamuy

Golden Kamuy is set in early XXth century Hokkaido and tells the story of Saichi Sugimoto, a survived soldier who seeks fortune to support the family of a deceased friend.

One day he is told the story of a famous criminal who stole a huge amount of gold and hid it in Hokkaido before getting caught by the police.

The only clue to its location is the coded map he tattooed on the bodies of his cellmates in exchange for a share of the treasure.

Sugimoto will join forces with a young girl called Asirpa, whose family was murdered by the criminal, and the pair will start searching for the hidden treasure.

Betrayal, murder, and violence are the order of the day in this excellent anime, making the power of friendship only a vague memory.

8. Dororo


Born at the hand of legendary master Osamu Tezuka, it recently received a remake in 2019.

The plot revolves around Hyakkimaru, a boy with a body made of prosthetics, who fights demons. When he was a child his impoverished father sacrificed the child to demons to seek prosperity.

These demons now possess his body parts and senses, so Hyakkimaru will have to seek them out and defeat them to regain his lost body. He will do this together with Dororo, a child that is keeping him company during the journey.

Hyakkimaru, when he’s not in Dororo’s company, his moral and psychological support, is alone in his struggles, with no one to rely on. He will therefore have to make it on his strength and rely on his sheer force of will.

7. Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Puella Magi Madoka Magica

A 2011 anime produced by Shaft and Aniplex, Puella Magi Madoka Magika is a masterpiece that shines new light on the classic Majokko genre.

This abandons various powers of friendship and sparkles in preference for a darker and darker plot, that culminates in horror.

Even though the story starts in much the same way as many other anime in the genre, the atmosphere will change very soon. Puella Magi Madoka Magica isn’t really the first magical girls show that introduced dark elements, as we could cite Princess Tutu or even Sailor Moon S.

The distinctive trait can be noticed during Episode 3, as there is an important plot twist that will reveal the true colors of this anime.

While there is a group of young girls united by friendship, there is no real reference to it during fights. Love is even more predominant and important in the overall plot, which isn’t even new to the genre.

You would expect references to friendship like in Sailor Moon but Puella Magi Madoka Magica isn’t really the best example.

6. Katanagatari


Katanagatari is an outstanding and underrated action anime. It’s undoubtedly one of the best anime set in feudal Japan, featuring many captivating sword fights.

The story follows Shichika Yasuri, the last heir of an ancient technique used to disarm and defeat swordsmen using only his bare hands.

He lives with his brother on an island until a young white-haired girl named Togame arrives.

Togame turns out to be a strategist sent to find a descendant of the Yasuri family to help her retrieve the 12 legendary swords.

Katanagatari excels in various ways. It boasts unique and stunning character designs, breathtaking samurai battles, and heartwarming romantic moments that enhance the overall experience.

5. Hellsing Ultimate

Hellsing Ultimate

Here we are dealing with another work recognized as a masterpiece by the fan imagination. We are talking about Hellsing Ultimate, the main work of author Kota Hirano.

The anime tells the story of the bloody war between the English Hellsing association and the forces of evil. Among the ranks of the first faction, we find the vampire Alucard, the protagonist of the story.

The complex but effective plot and the high-level confrontations are the highlights of the anime.

The haunted and dark London that serves as the setting of the story enhances the splatter scenes. We think it’s coherent with the themes of Hellsing Ultimate, which are everything but surely not the power of friendship.

4. Vinland Saga

Vinland Saga

One of the most interesting works to come out in recent years, animated by Wit Studio and based on the manga by Makoto Yukimura.

The plot follows the life of the warrior Thorfinn, in a precisely Viking world inspired by real historical events.

Thorfinn is a warrior who became one to avenge the death of his father Thors, who was killed by the pirate Askeladd on behalf of King Sweyd because he had deserted years earlier to retire to a quiet life.

An anime with very psychological traits that dwells on the choices that must be made on the battlefield.

Our protagonist will find himself tangled in a quest for revenge and he will learn that one can easily slide and take wrong turns while blinded by such an evil sentiment.

You will understand that rawness, revenge, and barbarity are the order of the day in this anime.

3. Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy Bebop is set in a post-apocalyptic world where Earth is uninhabitable and follows the story of some bounty hunters aboard a spaceship called Bebop.

This show is deep and focused on psychological elements like regret and thinking about your past. What makes it even more enjoyable is its worldbuilding, which encompasses almost all of the Solar System.

The adventures of Spike Spiegel and his fellow bounty hunters will show us what we can only dream of, accompanied by a soundtrack that many consider the best.

Cowboy Bebop is one of the best examples of actual character development undoubtely one of the best action anime, if not the best.

The entire crew of the Bebop is well characterized and they are extremely friendly and rely on each other, but there are no stretches in linking this fact with how they handle their problems.

Thus an anime is created with one of the central themes based on friendship, but without making it forced, so it’s one of the living examples that anime producers can do better.

2. Devilman Crybaby

Devilman Crybaby

Devilman is the most iconic Go Nagai manga, released in 1973 and still considered one of the most important productions ever.

Masaaki Yuasa decided to pay homage to the work by taking it and catapulting the events to the present day without unhinging its soul.

Akira is far too good a boy, reasoning that he ends up receiving the nickname, Crybaby.

Not so is Ryo, his best friend who is more fearless and arrogant than he is, and by who he gets carried away.

One day, Akira will be persuaded to go on a Sabbath, which ends up turning out to be a full-blown satanic ritual to attract demons.

Everyone will be possessed, including Akira, who nevertheless manages through his gentle spirit to control the beast. Thus is born Devilman, a man-devil with supernatural powers dedicated to the protection of humanity.

Gore and violence are the heart of Devilman, and Yuasa managed to preserve this component in his remake. An anime about demons should be gruesome and cruel, there is no need to humanize them, as they are monsters.

Akira has a group of friends like every average boy but this isn’t a reason for altering the progression of the plot.

1. Berserk


A masterpiece of the dark fantasy and sword and sorcery genres by the notorious mangaka Kentaro Miura. Its 1997 anime adaptation is famous for its vintage style and its fitting setting and for being an anime without any plot armor at all.

Few other works can match this one due to the complexity of its characters and for starring two incredible personalities: Gatsu and Griffith.

The story doesn’t start in the happiest of ways, but it gets even worse as the protagonist Gatsu has a fateful encounter with Griffith, the leader of the Falcons.

Berserk is a milestone in Japanese art and the progressive suffering of Gatsu is what makes it more realistic and relatable.

Berserk is known for its mature themes and rawness, both visually and from the psychological point of view of the characters.

The power of friendship is the most remote concept when talking about Berserk, as demonstrated by the tumultuous relationship between the 2 main characters.

Gatsu symbolizes the lonely wolf that has to carry the burden of other people while fighting his demons from the past. For this reason, we consider it as one of the best fantasy anime because it proposed a different and risky formula.

Photo of author


Passionate about Japanese culture for years, serial devourer of manga, anime, and videogames that have now become part of my routine. My favorite series? Goodnight Punpun and One Piece.

Leave a Comment