In the anime world, especially the shounen genre, there are so many crazy, yet extremely imaginative power systems. Some systems are about magic, some systems are about martial arts, and some systems are… like: “how the authors can come up with that!?” Nonetheless, all of these anime superpowers are super cool and today, let’s check out the top 10 anime power systems to date!
*Note: Minor spoiler alert if you have not watched any of the anime series listed below!
10. Power of “Friendship” (Yu-Gi-Oh)
Starting the list we have a fun “power system”. But saying this is a “power system” is kind of a stretch. Anyway, for those who really do not know, Yu-Gi-Oh is originally a manga series that gave birth to the popular Yu-Gi-Oh Card Game nowadays. And so you may be thinking: a manga about card game… then its superpower is about the card game, right?
The answer is yeah… but here’s the thing: the series (specifically the first Yu-Gi-Oh generation) has a hidden theme of friendship. It really promotes the idea of “friendship can beat everything”. No matter how powerful the opponent is, Yugi (the main protagonist) can pull out an out-of-nowhere combo which completely obliterates his opponent… by believing in friendship and “the heart of the card”. This is why every now and then we may see a Yu-Gi-Oh meme showing the character Kaiba (the protagonist’s rival) is overpowering Yugi, but then the guy just wins thanks to friendship.
That aside, Yu-Gi-Oh is an interesting series to watch, especially when you were young. Gotta say, that friendship did not bother us as much as we did when we grew up.
9. Bankai (Bleach)
Bleach was among the four original “main pillars” of shounen anime/manga (besides Naruto, One Piece, Dragon Ball). It had an incredible start, followed up with a number of climatic arcs. However, the series (specifically the manga version) had a rough final arc.
But, we are not here to discuss how good the manga here, we are interested in its power system: Bankai. Based on the series’ explanation, Bankai is the unleashed form of a Shinigami’s Zankaputo. Normally each Zankaputo has a second and a final form, and mastering Bankai can cost a Shinigami years to master. Frankly speaking, there is no specific rule about Bankai system. But what cool about it is how powerful and awesome-looking Bankai powers are, like Byakuya’s Senbonzakura Kageyoshi which transforms the blade into numerous deadly sakura petals, or Hitsugaya’s Daiguren Hyōrinmaru which makes him like an ice dragon.
The only “downside” to this power system is that… it is for Shinigami – the reapers of the underworld. So technically, we have to die, then become a Shinigami ourselves!?
8. Rukh and Magoi (Magi)
Magi the Labyrinth of Magic has quite a solid power system in which it features the concept of Ruph and Magoi. Rukh is the flow of Life and Fate which leads to the evolution of mankind. And from Rukh comes the magical energy called Magoi that exists in everybody. However, only Magicians or people owning Metal Vessels, Household Vessels, or Magic Tools can utilize this energy. It is said that normal people can only use their own Magoi, but if they overuse it, their bodies will suffer extreme exhaustion or even death. Only special person like a Magi can use the unlimited power of Magoi since he can utilize the unlimited flow of Rukh itself.
A magic system like the one in Magi is pretty difficult to make logical rules behind it. But in overall, Magi did a good job of building a system with enough depth and meaningful ideas behind it. There are many powerful spells and weapons and they are legitly explained to certain extent. The most OP spells are created by one of the main protagonists, but even then, everything is well explained beforehand so they do not sound outrageous.
7. Noble Phantasm (Fate series)
Fate series has a… pretty “weird” magic system, but the most interesting part is the Noble Phantasm. For those who are unfamiliar with Fate series, in short, it features a so-called Holy Grail War in which historical heroes are summoned to the present and they will fight for their summoners (a.k.a Masters) to win the Holy Grail. Aside from the “imaginative” change of appearance (like gender-bending King Arthur to a girl!?), every hero possesses a secret weapon called “Noble Phantasm”. These secret weapons are unique to each hero (e.g. Arthur has Excalibur, Cu Chulain has Gae Bolg) and usually, they are the trump card saved for decisive moments.
So why these are secret weapons you may ask? Well, there is a good reason for it: the balance between heroes. You see, each hero has their own strengths and weaknesses, and their stories are literally known by everyone. When a hero revealed his True Name and his Noble Phantasm, other opponents will soon realize who he is and how to defeat him based on historical legend. For example: Everyone must have heard of Achilles, he is an invincible hero in Greek mythology. But his mortal weakness is his heel, hence the term “Achilles’ heel”.
To be frank, we are just common folk, we are no heroes. But would it be awesome if we can summon our favorite heroes of the past like Hercules, Achilles, and even… Edison!?
6. Ninjutsu (Naruto)
In real life, ninjas do have their own combat arts called ninjutsu; however, it is not as insane as what we see in Naruto series. In any case, Ninjutsu in Naruto is probably one of the most well-known anime power systems to date. To perform Ninjutsu, a ninja needs to utilize the inner energy called Chakra. Then these Ninjutsu techniques are classified in 3 main categories: ninjutsu, taijutsu (martial arts), and genjutsu (illusion techniques). These classifications can even deeper, including the individual Chakra attunement, e.g. some people are most effective with Fire element, while others can use Wind and Water element, etc…
The beauty of this Ninjutsu system is that: all techniques have their own strengths and flaws. Every combat requires the shinobis to think hard and come up with a proper strategy. And that is what makes fighting in Naruto looks extremely fun and intense. Battles are not simply the clash of pure power, it is a matter of wit and skill (or at least in the early and mid arcs of the series, by the end of the anime, there are too many unexplainable OP stuff).
5. Quirks (My Hero Academia)
My Hero Academia (or Boku no Hero Academia in Japanese) is the rising star of shounen genre in recent years, both in terms of manga and anime. From our perspective, My Hero Academia kinda reminds us of Naruto’s power system to a certain extent.
It features a system called Quirks in which most people are born with unique innate powers. The fun thing is: these powers are not simply limited to the usual superpowers like super strength, laser eye, etc… There are many fun Quirks that we do not expect like transforming your body part to metal, eating sugar making you stronger, making things float, “sticky hairball” (yeah we know… ew!), and lots more. These Quirks may not be limited by energy (like Chakra in Naruto), but they are too niche that their owners have to use their powers creatively. Again, it makes every battle in this anime so intriguing as every combatant has to think fast and come up with a good strategy (Deku the main protagonist is a bit of exception though).
But as good as this power system may sound, to be honest, you may not want it to come true because you never know what kind of power you would have. You may get some cool stuff like shooting fire from your hand, but… you may just get a weird one like… transforming yourself to icecream? It is like lottery, and lottery does not always work in your favor.
4. Devil Fruits (One Piece)
Simple, yet awesome. The Devil Fruits in One Piece anime never cease to amaze its audience thanks to all kind of crazy powers and what can their owners do. To quickly explain what it does, basically, these are magical fruits that give you a unique power when you eat them (important note though, you can only eat one Devil Fruit, eating two will kill you). All Devil Fruit powers are kind of quirky, but no power is “weak”. Everything depends on the users, like let’s be frank when we first heard of Luffy’s rubber power, it does not sound all that powerful. But gradually, we see how creatively Luffy uses his ability and powerful he gradually grows. Then we see some really awesome powers, like Whitebeard with his insane Quake power (he is said to be able to destroy the world!), the famous Portgas D. Ace with his Fire power, and even the Marines Fleet Admiral Sengoku with the power to transform into… Buddha?
The biggest downside for Devil Fruits users is that they can never be able to swim. But c’mon, given the OP powers they have, who cares about swimming!?
3. Nen (Hunter X Hunter)
It is hard to come up with a deep, yet flexible and balanced power system like Nen in Hunter X Hunter (HxH for short). In HxH, Nen is the secret technique of using a person’s life energy (or aura). In the world of HxH, only a few percentages of the population around the world can use Nen. More importantly, it is power every Hunter needs to master especially if they want to reach higher statuses and riches. A person Nen can fall into one of the 6 categories:
- Enhancer: strengthening the users or objects
- Transmuter: changing the aura energy to other quality
- Emitter: unleashing aura energy to the outside
- Conjurer: creating objects from aura energy
- Manipulator: controlling things, both animated or non-animated
- Specialist: unique power (depending on different users)
And here’s come the best part: Nen reflects a person’s flexibility, personality, and skill. It makes every battle in HxH so fun to watch since again, it is the battle of wit and skill. Most battles are won based on how skillful you are and your creativity in dealing with difficult situations. Even the mighty can be beaten by a “small fry” if you understand your power and your opponent’s shortcomings.
2. Alchemy (Fullmetal Alchemist)
Everything does not come from nothingness, if you want to create something, you need to pay an equivalent price. This is the main principle of Alchemy in Fullmetal Alchemist. This series is a roller-coaster ride of emotions and tensions, and its power system only makes the stories and events more meaningful.
In essence, the power of Alchemy in this series bases on Principle of Equivalent Exchange, meaning if you want to make something, you need to provide the materials with equal value. And while this may sound difficult to understand, here are some great examples: the main protagonist Edward can morph metal to various types of weapons like sword, spear, etc… And he has to use metal to do that, it is not like he can just transform air into metal. Roy Mustang is a powerful alchemist who uses a “pyrotex/ignition cloth” glove which ignites sparks when he rubs his fingers. And by making the oxygen more volatile, he can create a huge explosion combining with the sparks from his glove. This also means that if there is no oxygen, we cannot create an explosion. And if he creates explosion in a place with few oxygens, he will risk choking himself.
The most memorable aspect is probably the question of human life and soul. How much does a person’s life worth? What does it take to resurrect a dead person? It makes us think again about our life and how we truly value it. In Fullmetal Alchemist, certain alchemists have tried to resurrect their loved ones, but to no avail. Life is too precious, being able to live is the most valuable thing and nothing can trade a person’s life.
1. Stand (Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure)
Honestly, putting the top 3 is quite difficult since they all deserve the number 1 spot. But because we are “a bit of” Jojo’s fans, we have to give the number 1 to Stand power in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. This series definitely has a special place in every fan’s heart. It is funny, it is intense, and most importantly, it is so creative that we have to question the author – Hirohiko Araki – “how the hell he can think of all these?”
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is a special case because it is an extremely long series with so many parts (8 parts at the moment), yet it still manages to grab the audience’s attention. Each part of Jojo’s series is so creative, every part has its own theme. For example: The 3rd part – Stardust Crusaders – is like a world adventure to reach the final boss, while the 4th part – Diamond Is Unbreakable – is more like a murder mystery. Then the 5th part – Golden Wind (which just has a successful anime adaptation) – is a mafia drama. The fact that this series has an enormous fanbase (not to mention that it gives birth to so many popular anime memes) just shows how loved this series is. But alright, we are here for the anime power systems, not the show itself.
Interesting enough, the Stand power only starts to appear in the 3rd part – Stardust Crusaders. At the time, it had a rather simple definition: a Stand is technically the life energy of a person manifested. It stands next to its owner, therefore, it is called… “Stand” (rather funny explanation if you think about it). Yet despite its simple definition, the beauty of Stand power is how unique each Stand is. There are so many weird Stand powers which we can never think of, here are some fun examples:
- Bruno Bucciarati (from part 5) has Stand called Sticky Fingers that can open… zippers on any kind surface!? The zippers can detach any objects and living beings like humans, while still keeping the living beings alive.
- Trish Una (from part 5) has Stand called Spice Girl that can… soften anything after it punches the object, including hard materials like metal.
- Yoshikage Kira (from part 4) has a deadly Stand called Killer Queen (does it remind you of the song from The Queen?) that can make anything it touches into a bomb. Then it can detonate that “bomb” by pressing it right thumb onto its index finger’s middle phalanx (it is like pressing a trigger on a handheld detonator).
These are just a few examples, and the fact that there are even more quirky Stand powers really makes us admire the author’s mind when creating these characters. And of course, these quirky Stands are extremely fun and exciting to watch thanks to how creative their users are. These powers force the main protagonists to think hard and come up with the right solutions, (including so many out-of-the-box stuff). Literally all battles in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure are won because of wit and creativity, not simply because of mere “willpower” or “friendship”.
Honorable Mention: Saitama! (One-Punch Man)
Okay to be fair, Saitama’s power from One Punch Man is hardly a “power system”, like at all. But c’mon, the poor guy deserves some love.
Every anime fan must have heard of him by now: he is just “an ordinary man who does superhero job just for fun”. But seriously, the way this guy obtains his invincible power is truly a meme itself. Funny enough, many people did even try “Saitama challenge” by doing the exact same thing as Saitama said: “100 Push-ups, 100 Sit-ups, 100 Squats, 10 Km run, EVERY SINGLE DAY!”. Some people definitely succeeded in the challenge, but we are not sure if they truly achieve invincibility like Saitama.
So what do you think? Do you agree with our list? Feel free to share with us and for now, thank you and stay tuned for more news in the future!