There’s no shortage of Japanese fighting games, or anime based on them. Or powerful fighting girls. Who’s the most attractive, has the best skills, or the thiccest thighs? J-List is here to decide!
Chun-Li (Street Fighter II V)
You might have expected Chun-Li here, given her action-packed escapades in Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie (1994). That much stays true in Group TAC’s TV spinoff Street Fighter II V (1995), which features more of the franchise’s premier fighting lady and the rest of the classic roster.
The anime takes some creative liberties compared to the games, such as Ryu (Kouji Tsujitani, Brett Weaver, Skip Stellrecht) having a shonen-esque personality and Cammy White (Yōko Sasaki, Carol Matthews, Shawn Taylor, Debra Jean Rogers) being a recurring amnesiac assassin. It’s a solid adaptation though, with a cult following that persists today. As for Chun-Li herself (Chisa Yokoyama, Tamara Lo, Junie Hoang, Lia Sargent), she’s a significant character in the series and a formidable fighter.
As in the movie, she’s easy on the eyes and an incredibly competent martial artist, often going toe-to-toe with multiple enemies at once. That her many outfits accentuate her looks and her fighting ability certainly keeps her memorable.
Morrigan Aensland (Vampire Hunter)
Vampire Hunter (1997-98) might not ring many bells. Known in the West as Night Warriors: Darkstalker’s Revenge, it’s an OVA adaptation of the cult-classic Nightstalkers franchise. However, you’ll almost certainly recognize Morrigan, who’s appeared in various crossover titles like the Marvel vs. Capcom series.
Animated by Madhouse and directed by Masashi Ikeda, the anime mostly follows the source material. Whether it’s the fascinating mishmash of horror and monster movie concepts or the sleek animation, there’s a lot to love. The same could be said for Morrigan Aensland (Rei Sakuma, Kathleen Barr). Don’t get any ideas about the seductive looks or thicc thighs, however. She could kill you before you thought them.
If her nicely-animated fighting moves don’t win you over, then her mix of utter confidence and disarming charm certainly would. Either way, she’ll leave a spell on you that’ll be hard to shrug off.
Michelle Chang (Tekken: The Motion Picture)
Capitalizing on the Tekken series’ budding popularity by the late ’90s, Studio DEEN’s Tekken: The Motion Picture (1998) has certainly left its mark on anime history. As infamous as it is, one major positive would be its female characters, including the fierce native environmentalist Michelle Chang.
Taking cues from the first game’s storyline, the movie follows Kazuya Kazama (Kazuhiro Yamaji, Adam Dudley) in his quest for vengeance. Beyond that, it plays loose with the material — notably making the notoriously sociopathic Kazuya a heroic figure — while sidelining much of the cast. Mainstays like Nina Williams (Minami Takayama, Ellie McBride) and Yoshimitsu feel like extras in their own anime. Thankfully, that’s where Michelle Chang (Narumi Hidaka, Jessica Robertson) comes in. A Native American environmentalist done wrong by the Mishima zaibatsu, she proves herself to be as skilled in combat as she is in appealing to her companions’ better angels.
It’s just a shame that she has some of the heaviest character development among the fighting ladies seen and comes across as more sympathetic than the protagonists, yet is ultimately wasted in the plot. Despite this, her remarkably competent showing against the other fighters is still a welcome change. She did get a better legacy in later games though.
Sarah Bryant (Virtua Fighter)
Before Tekken set the standard for 3D fighting games, Sega’s Virtua Fighter explored the idea when it debuted in the arcade in 1993. Its roster of attractive fighting ladies includes Sarah Bryant, one of the most memorable. She’s also one of the major highlights of the 1995-96 anime adaptation.
Created by TMS Entertainment, with veteran director Hideki Tonokatsu on hand, the 35-episode series follows the lazy yet heroic Akira Yuki (Shin-ichiro Miki, Tony “NeebsGaming” Schnur) as he fights the criminal Koenkan and its plans to create the perfect soldier, alongside his friends. Hijinks, and a lot of twists, ensue. One of those twists is Sarah (Maya Okamoto, Juliet Cesario) herself. As a playful companion, a tough fighter, or even a ruthless yet brainwashed pawn, there’s never a dull moment whenever she’s on-screen.
The anime makes the most of the game’s barebones plot to follow its own distinct storyline, without feeling formulaic. (Source: YouTube)
That’s also not getting to Sarah’s finely-built body and blonde hair, which are all on display every time she does any of her signature moves. She’s no side character in this anime, let alone the games, and she has many action scenes in which to leave a lasting impression.
Mai Shiranui (Fatal Fury: The Motion Picture)
Before SNK’s King of Fighters saga, there was Fatal Fury. Even if that name’s not familiar, Mai Shiranui certainly should be. As in more recent SNK entries, she’s about as iconic as many of that series’ longtime roster, and the 1994 movie based on Fatal Fury is no exception.
As over-the-top as the film is, Fatal Fury handles it with more finesse than some of its contemporaries. (Source: YouTube)
With Studio Comet and director-designer Masami Obari at the helm, this theatrical release focuses on an original globetrotting adventure. While not as well-received as Street Fighter II‘s adaptations, it’s still an entertaining adventure. That could be attributed in part to the ample scenes featuring Mai Shiranui (Kotono Mitsuishi, Lisa Ann Beley). Much as in the games and spinoffs, she’s the last heiress to the Shiranui ninja school, though it’s easy to forget that given how spirited and a bit of an airhead she could be. Don’t mistake these for weaknesses; she’s more than capable of holding her own against stronger opponents.
It helps as well that you get to see those ninja skills in action throughout the movie, which also shows the animation at its best. If her moves don’t do the trick, then her thighs and gratuitous fanservice scenes will almost surely stick with you long after the anime’s done.
Want to check out other contenders? Like a gender-flipped Terry Bogard, courtesy of Kotobukiya Bishoujo? She’s available right here, on J-List.