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The 15 Best Action Anime with a Badass Female Lead

The 15 Best Action Anime with a Badass Female Lead
Written by publishing team

If there’s one thing anime does well, it’s action. Whether it’s fighting giant monsters or intense one-on-one duels across space and time, so many shows have shown how animation can bring these moments to life.

So many of these exciting worlds have also played host to incredibly strong female characters. Thesis action anime with a badass female lead show that gender doesn’t matter when it comes to awesome fight scenes and unforgettable one-liners.

Related: The Strongest Female Anime Characters of All Time

  1. A Certain Scientific Railgun

    This anime is a spin-off of A Certain Magical Index but is an excellent series in its own right.

    The story takes place in the futuristic Academy City, where many people are espers with special psychic powers.

    One of the seven most powerful espers in the city is Mikoto Misaka, known as the Railgun. As fans of the original series will know, Mikoto is not someone to be messed with!

    This series follows her and her friends as they explore strange happenings in the utopian city.

  2. kill the kill

    Arguably one of the most famous action series leads of all time is Ryuko Matoi, the protagonist of Kill la Kill on a mission to avenge her father’s death.

    The story primarily takes place around Honnouji Academy, a high school ruled by its student council and special students whose unique clothes grant them special powers. Ryuko, with half of her father’s special invention, the Scissor Blade, and special clothes of her own, takes the fight to the student council in this acclaimed action series.

    Related: Original Anime Series Worth Watching

  3. Land of the Lustrous

    Land of the Lustrous is a fantasy anime taking place on earth long in the future, where the only remaining lifeform on land is the Lustrous, gems that take the form of human beings.

    While the lead characters in this ambitious series are technically genderless, they are very much modeled physically and emotionally on females. The lead, Phosphophyllite, is a clumsy and fragile gem that isn’t trusted in battles against the Lunarians that hunt them for their crystals but is desperate to prove her worth.

    While not as loud and violent as other series on this list, this action series certainly delivers some exciting visuals and plenty of sword action!

  4. Yona of the Dawn

    One of the most famous action shojo series of all time, Yona of the Dawn is a must-watch for anyone that enjoys great female lead characters.

    Once a sheltered princess, Yona is betrayed by the new ruler and must fend for herself while on the run in her kingdom. A coming-of-age story filled with action, comedy and romance, it’s one of the most-loved female-led series that you’ll find anywhere.

  5. Decadence

    This original sci-fi series came out in 2020 and takes place in a world in which 90% of humanity has been destroyed by lifeforms known as Gadolls. What’s left is forced to live in a giant mobile fortress called Deca-Dence.

    The story follows Natsume, a girl who dreams of working as a warrior and fighting the Gadolls to avenge her father. While initially held back by her prosthetic right arm, she is taken under the wing of the mysterious Kaburagi, who trains her to fight while teaching her the reality of their existence in the fortress.

  6. Samurai Champloo

    This is a show where the lead is technically shared. However, Fuu is technically in charge, so we’re allowing it to pass!

    Samurai Champloo follows Fuu Kasumi, whose relatively simple life is upended when two incredibly strong samurai get into a fight where she works, bringing the building to the ground. When the two of them are sentenced to death, Fuu rescues them and forces them to help her track down the ‘samurai who smells like sunflowers’.

    The series follows the unlikely trio as they traverse through an alternate Edo Japan, with Fuu constantly reigning in the two hot-headed samurai.

    Related: 15 Anime Like Demon Slayer You Should Be Watching

  7. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean

    The latest series of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure can be enjoyed all on its own, and features a super-cool lead that’s definitely worth watching!

    Stone Ocean follows Jolyne Kuujou, a woman framed for a crime she didn’t commit and sentenced to a long sentence in the maximum-security Green Dolphin Street Prison.

    Once inside, she is contacted by her estranged father Joutarou, who awakens her to a unique power. Despite her dislike for her father, she discovers that her sentence is about much more than just her, tying back into the whole JoJo storyline.

    As with other seasons of JoJo, the show is filled with extravagant characters and extraordinary fight scenes, while Jolyne is an incredibly confident and snappy lead character that’s so fun to watch!

  8. Psycho Pass

    As the name might suggest, this show is excellent if you want a bit of psychological drama mixed with your action.

    Psycho-Pass takes place in the 22nd century when a new system allows police to enforce judgment upon people based on their mental state and likeliness to commit crimes.

    The lead, Akane Tsunemori, is a bright new member of the police service with an excellent academic record. However, joining a rough and combat-hardened squad, she soon discovers that the shiny utopia she’s enjoyed isn’t all it’s made up to be.

  9. Claymore

    Claymore is almost the epitome of the badass female lead, perfect for all action fans.

    The story takes place in a medieval land where humans are under threat from shapeshifting demons called youma. Clare is a half-human, half-youma creation designed to eliminate the demons.

    After saving a boy named Raki when his village is destroyed by a youma, he follows her through the land, learning about the organization that built her and her vengeful mission.

    Related: Anime with Controversial Endings

  10. BNA

    Brand New Animal takes place in a world where Beastmen – people that can change into anthropomorphic beings – are discriminated against by humans. As a result, many live in Anima City, a haven separated from the world.

    Michiru Kagemori suddenly turns into a tanuki and is forced to move to Anima City. At first, she sees a utopia, until she becomes wrapped up in a crime and meets Shirou Ogami, protector of the Beastmen, who believes her mysterious transformation and unique abilities might provide a clue to their salvation.

  11. InuYasha

    One of the first hugely popular isekai anime, InuYasha is a bonafide classic and a great example of a strong female lead.

    The story follows Kagome Higurashi who, when living on her family’s Shinto shrine, is suddenly pulled through an old well and transported 500 years into the past. Here, she discovers that she contains the sacred Shikon Jewel that is being hunted by demons.

    After the jewel is shattered into pieces, she teams up with Inuyasha, a demon-human hybrid that also wanted the jewel to regain the pieces.

    Despite her situation, Kagome is incredibly strong and courageous while also being capable with an arrow.

  12. Gunslinger Girl

    This action tragedy follows girls that, as part of a government programme, have been brainwashed and trained into becoming the ultimate assassins.

    Starring five such assassins, Gunslinger Girl is full of great actions scenes, but also has a more emotional side than many shows on this list. The melancholic story contrasts their conditioning with their souls as they crave the same things as normal people despite their responsibilities.

  13. Black

    If you’re looking for a classic action series, Noir is a great example.

    The story starts in Paris, where local gun-for-hire Mireille Bouquet is contacted by amnesiac Kirika Yuumura, who believes her missing memories may be connected to Mireille’s. When Mireille discovers that Kirika is an adept killer herself, they decide to team up and seek answers to their shared past.

    Noir has been praised for being a more realistic underworld crime story than seen in many anime series, so this is a great series for crime story fans.

  14. Saga of Tanya the Evil

    Tough and ruthless, Tanya Degurechaff is certainly one of the toughest female lead characters on the list, even if she’s technically a man reincarnated.

    The story takes place in an alternate world where Tanya rises through the ranks as a soldier for the Empire as a world war breaks out. Cold, calculated and bloodthirsty on a battlefield fueled by magic, she earns the nickname ‘Devil of the Rhine’ and is feared even by her comrades.

    If you’re looking for a female lead that can more than hold her own, this is a show worth checking.

  15. Black Lagoon

    You can’t have a list about badass females in action series without mentioning Revy. similar to Champloo, while she’s not technically the lead on her own, she’s the center of the show and has enough self-direction for it to be included on this list.

    This series takes place in Roanapur, a crime-ridden coastal city ruled by gangs. The story follows the Black Lagoon mercenary group as they work between the major criminal gangs, taking whichever jobs will pay best.

    Revy is Black Lagoon’s resident gunslinger. Known as Two Hands for her dual-wield pistols, she’s one of the most feared people in the city and a strong believer in actions over words. You won’t find many cooler, stronger lead characters than her!

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