Super Power Anime Subgenre
In a world of average people, a select few stand above them all – characters with super powers. As characters reveal their secret abilities, gain the power to save the world or compete against each other for supremacy, anime takes on the “super power” subgenre. With a wide enough application to be found in many major genres, the sole defining point of super power anime is that one or more characters have an ability that goes beyond mere skill or usual human ability. It should be noted that magic isn’t a super power; powers must be defined skills that work outside the logic of the world.
Although super heroes inherently have super powers, this subgenre includes all anime where characters are blessed with logic-defying yet contained abilities regardless of how they obtain them or how they use them. This extends to action series, fantasy shows, sports anime and any genre possible.
The chosen one. The world isn’t big enough for two characters with super powers, or at least not for two on the same side. Characters bestowed or awakening to ultimate power are often the one chosen or able to break the world out of its status quo. When there are multiple characters with powers, there will often be one who can beat them all – one who has abilities so strong that all others look powerless by comparison.
Hierarchy. When practically every character is blessed with a power or two, a hierarchy tends to break out. Whether it’s a ranking system that sorts characters by power or a social system breaks out, you can almost count on there being a divide between all-powerful characters and characters with less potent abilities.
The only limit is your imagination. Part of the super power subgenre is to become bigger and better, often through conflict. How can super powers become more super? By fudging the limitations of course! Super powers can often be manipulated to become other powers through technicalities, leading to cooler moments without having to hand new powers out like candy.
Science Fiction. Advancements in technology can be a gateway to gaining powers, something which science fiction can take full advantage of. Science fiction combines super power anime’s need for loose rules while offering characters a chance to use unspecific scientific jargon to explain away new powers or new power applications.
Sports. A highly realistic ports anime can be pretty boring if you don’t play it right, but if you can imagine a sport enhanced by all sorts of powers, the possibilities are endless. Supernatural-level powers can chance the course of luck-based games while pushing physical limits can carry your team to victory. Super power sports anime has much of the same traits of a regular sports anime, just with more focus on skills.
Shounen. Super powers are super awesome, so whether it’s a superhero anime or your regular characters-have-special-abilities show, it’s often aimed at the preteen boy demographic.
Here's our top 10 'Best Super Power Anime Recommendations'
1. One Punch Man – Saitama is the world’s greatest hero, but due to circumstance, hardly anyone knows of his true power. Despite being able to defeat any enemy with one punch, he must work his way through the ranks of the Hero Association to be recognized, any maybe along the way he’ll find a worthy fight. A comedic parody of superhero anime that has an undefeatable charm.
2. Kill la Kill – Ryuuko Matoi is on a journey to avenge her father. Her latest lead runs straight through Honnouji Academy, a school completely devoted to uniforms that grant the wearer a special power. As Ryuuko fights her way through super-powered club presidents, she aims for the school council president who just might have the answers she needs. A high-action anime dripping with over-the-top personality.
3. Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion – As Japan’s identity is stripped away by the invading Britannia Empire, the Empire’s exiled prince gains the power to bend people to his will. Granted the power of geass, Lelouch begins a resistance campaign to bring the Empire to its knees. A delightfully large-scale war story enhanced by powers and mecha.
4. Darker Than Black – The world changed forever when two separate gates appeared, but the logic-defying gates were just the beginning. As people exchange their humanity for special powers and sacrifice something to use them each time, the Syndicate moves to use these people for their own criminal ends. A dark sci-fi series with a fair mystery.
5. A Certain Scientific Railgun – Academy City’s scientific advancements have placed it decades ahead of the rest of the country, which is why many students flock to learn there. Besides science, Academy City is also home to super powers, and most students have a power of their own that can be ranked against everyone in the city. As we follow Level 5 esper Mikoto, we see the city holds some dark secrets. A high-powered science fiction series with fair amounts of action.
6. Tiger and Bunny – In the modern era of superheroes, heroes compete with others to do good while being broadcast around the nation. As heroes earn Hero Points and acquire sponsors, they have a chance to grab the coveted title “King of Heroes”. It’s in this world that lone cat Wild Tiger is assigned a rookie partner who he needs to look after. A colourful buddy series that opens into a mystery.
7. R.O.D. – Read or Die – Yomiko Readman might look like your average bookworm, but she doesn’t work for the British Library Special Operations Division because she knows her books. She has the power to manipulate paper, and together with her partner, codename Miss Deep, they must fight against villains intent on taking over the world. A quirky series that skirts the line between superhero series and super powered adventures.
8. Guilty Crown – After the Apocalypse Virus outbreak crippled Japan, it has since been taken over by an international free-acting military organization. As the country’s largest resistance group moves to obtain the power to make an attack, it falls into the unwitting hands of Ouma Shu who must now cope with his power to extract weapons from people’s souls. A more contained story of a single savior that must use his powers to change the world.
9. Saki – The titular girl Saki has never liked mahjong too much. Because of difficult family reactions, she has learnt to always keep her score at plus/minus zero, something that the mahjong club at her new school wants to assist their climb to the national championship. As Saki is dragged back into the world of mahjong, she must use her power to combat other girls who can just as easily turn the tide of the match. An insane look into the otherwise dull game of luck that is mahjong.
10. Charlotte – Thanks to a strange passing comet, children can develop super powers as they grow into their teens. As Yuu Otosaka discovers he can temporarily possess people, he plans to use his powers to set himself up for life, but his plans are interrupted when Nao Tomori forces him to transfer to a school filled with special students. The goal: to protect the students from exploitation. A short character-focused high school drama.