Although anime spans a wide range of genres, many of the most popular series are action-packed and include some of the most creative and recognizable power systems in fiction. Power systems aren’t unique to anime, but few mediums host such a diverse range of abilities and skills. Whether complex or simple, they all do one thing in common; create high octane action.
But what makes an electrical system good? The best systems are clearly defined and have limits – even if those limits are eventually exceeded. Also, the powers must serve and enhance the anime’s narrative and characters, otherwise it just becomes a meaningless spectacle. So what are the best power systems in anime?
Ki: ‘Dragon Ball’
In the West, the dragonball is one of the most beloved anime series of all time. It also has some of the most recognizable names in anime – and not just character names. The Kamehame Wave is, without a doubt, one of the medium’s most iconic attacks, and there’s not a fan who hasn’t tried to unleash this ability.
The Kamehama, like many other abilities in the series, is powered by a warrior’s internal Ki energy. Ki is a finite resource, but those who master it are capable of incredible feats of destructive power; not to mention other abilities, like flight. Committed to its simplicity and accessibility, Ki is among the best.
Like Ki, narutoit is The Chakra system is based on limited internal energy. However, Chakra adds layers of complexity, while remaining accessible, which creates a more dynamic system. Shinobi trains to unlock and use his internal energy to power Jutsu (skills), which can take many forms; especially when elemental affinities are taken into account.
Even though Chakra can be used in so many ways, character feats make sense; even when the action starts to get into over-the-top territory (looking at you, Kaguya). Chakra is iconic and one of the best power systems in anime. Believe it!
Breathing Styles: Demon Slayer Kimetsu no Yaiba
demon slayer may be one of the newer kids on the block, but he’s been making waves in the fandom. Great character work, stunning animation, thrilling sound design, and an engaging narrative have all contributed to the success of this series. The titular Demon Slayers use various breathing styles to enhance their swordsmanship, allowing mere humans to stand against mighty demons.
While all of the styles started with Sun Breathing, they branched out over the life of Demon Slayer Corp. Each style has unique pros and cons – whether it’s extreme speed, power, or adaptability. However, they all share the ability to improve the user’s durability, stamina, and reflexes. To be the best, you have to control your breathing.
Magic grimoires: “Black Clover”
black clover is a mixed bag in terms of storytelling and quality that unfortunately often overshadows its power system. There are many anime that use magic spells, but black clover adds some unique twists to it. First, the use of grimoires (spell books) provides a clear indicator of progress in acquiring new spells, but also creates a limitation on the number of spells a person can attain. Also, the fact that different social classes are based on how much mana a person has is a great worldbuilding feature.
While everyone in the world has magic, they are in tune with a certain element. However, through training and determination, individuals can create custom subcategories, making each powerful friend and foe unique wizards. Pushing its limits, Black Clover’s magic system is more than meets the eye.
Haki: one piece
Dormant in all living beings, Haki is a spiritual power that theoretically can be attained by any creature in A piece. There are three varieties of Haki; Weapon Color, Observation Color, and Supreme King Color. Color of Arms allows the user to coat themselves in a layer of protective spiritual energy that enhances both their defensive and offensive abilities. The color of observation improves perception and allows even experienced users to project themselves into the near future. Finally, there are a few special individuals who can use the Supreme King’s color to overwhelm the will of people around them.
After the formal introduction of Haki, A piece entered a new era. Haki is powerful and when combined with Devil Fruits has created many interesting fights. It may not be supreme, but Haki is king among power systems.
Oddities: My Hero Academia
While most abilities seen in my hero academia Barely meeting the dictionary definition of “weird,” the power system quickly became iconic within anime fandom. From superhuman to supernatural, the Quirk System is full of intelligent and unique abilities. These powers have combined to create some of the most impressive fight scenes in recent years.
Like many anime power systems, the focus is on growing and breaking the characters’ perceived limitations. This is exemplified by main character Deku’s One For All ability. It is only so powerful because it has been passed down through generations of users, each adding to its overall potential. My Hero Academia’s Quirks are truly Plus Ultra.
To gain something, something else of equal value must be lost. It is Fullmetal Alchemist’s act of equivalent exchange, and it is one of the main driving forces of the entire series and its power system; alchemy. At first glance, alchemy looks like another simple magical system. However, it is based on science and an understanding of the foundations of reality. It is also limited by the need for transmutation circles to implement the alchemical process.
Power is unlocked through education and study; there are no shortcuts in alchemy. Even those who have seen the Truth, removing their need for a circle, are still bound by their knowledge. It doesn’t take a genius, however, to recognize the greatness of alchemy.
Devil Fruit: One Piece
Iconic. Powerful. Beast. The Devil Fruits of A piece are one of the most creative power systems. Unlike most power systems, Devil Fruits are extrinsic and not tied to a person’s personality, spirituality, or other internal motivation. All it takes to gain power is to eat one weird looking fruit.
The wide range of abilities granted by Devil Fruits allow for some truly unique actions and combat. With enough creativity and practice, any fruit can be useful. The main downside, however, is that Devil Fruit Eaters lose the ability to swim, which in a world of islands and oceans is a bit problematic. One Piece’s devil’s fruits drown out the competition.
Booths: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
After the original power system (Hamon) of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure outlasted its relevance to the narrative – however, not before creating some truly memorable fights – the Stand system was born. A manifestation of an individual’s spirit, Stands are as unique as those who wield them. Thanks to the incredible variety of Stand abilities, every fight is unique and memorable. Brute strength is not enough – it takes intelligence to defeat an enemy Stand.
Despite the diversity, stands still have rules. Each has a limited range, damage to the Stand is taken by the Stand user, and non-Stand users cannot see the Stands (although they can still be affected by them). JoJo’s power system Stands above the rest.
Nen: Hunter x Hunter
Another spiritual power system, the Nen of Hunter X Hunter is one of the most developed systems in fiction. It’s robust and complicated, but developing an understanding of Nen alongside the characters is a rewarding experience. After his introduction, Nen becomes a staple of the series, and the creative uses of power are engaging and fun to try and dissect. Each new encounter is like a puzzle for the viewer.
Because it’s so well-developed, every power boost or new ability comes into its own in the rules of the world. Nen is unmatched in its creativity and detail, as well as its impact on the characters and narrative of Hunter x Hunter.
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