One of the coolest things about anime (including western animation!) is that the characters are capable of amazing things. Not only that, but they're capable of amazing things that no one else can do. What's more, most of those things are so powerful that the show's world and the people in it can barely handle them. When a character needs an ace in the hole, this is the move they go for. Here are ten of the most bad-ass signature moves.
10. The Avatar State — The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra
This one works on a technicality because Aang and Korra are reincarnations of the same spirit (more or less) — so it's still the avatar's signature move.
Anyway, as if being able to bend all four elements wasn't enough, the avatar state turns that ability up to 11. One of the first times Aang enters the avatar state, he can't even control its power, scaring the shit out of Katara and Sokka in the process. Throughout the rest of TLA, Aang continues to wreck anything in his path while in the avatar state, culminating in his battle with Fire Lord Ozai which saw epic levels of bending. Korra starts off with a lot more control over the state, but she still manages to mop the floor with opponents while using it. But the avatar state is about more than power.
In addition to granting godly power, the avatar state also grants its user the wisdom and knowledge of all the former avatars. That means access to techniques a young avatar might not have learned yet or tactics that take years of being a seasoned fighter to develop. This, more than the power, seems to be the avatar state's true strength. But when you combine that with the power-boost, you get a killer signature technique that is hard to beat.
9. Saito's Gatotsu — Ruroni Kenshin
During the entire series, Saito remains one of the most dangerous swordsmen in Japan, and it's largely thanks to his deadly Gatotsu technique. When using it, Saito adopts a powerful stance that allows him to deliver a powerful thrust that has almost no weak spots. And despite all of Saito's attacks being a variation of the Gatotsu, he still rarely loses. In fact, part of Saito's sword-fighting philosophy is what makes him, and his signature move, so lethal.
Saito believes that it's pointless to master anything other than a single technique. His reasoning is that since you will ideally kill your opponent, one technique that wins right away is better than a handful of techniques that give help you survive a drawn out confrontation. Frankly, it's hard to argue with him when you examine his results.
8. Izuru Kira's Wabisuke — Bleach
Bleach is mostly fueled by signature moves since almost every character has a zanpakuto that is specific to them. And some of these zanpakuto grant completely absurd powers that could level an entire city with little effort. One is so powerful that its owner, Genryusai Yamamoto, can't even release its full power without destroying basically everything in soul society. But that zanpakuto and others like it lack the power and subtlety of Izuru's Wabisuke.
At first glance, Wabisuke doesn't seem like a very good sword for fighting. It's shape is unsuited to a normal sword fight and it doesn't shoot massive lasers like Ichigo's sword does. But unlike most blades, Wabisuke doubles the weight of whatever it cuts — and that effect stacks with each cut. That means Izuru's enemies are completely unable to move after just a few slashes from Wabisuke. And when the enemy is forced to bow at Izuru under their own crushing weight, suddenly Wabisuke's shape makes a lot more sense. It's easy, then, to decapitate them with one upward strike. And all without having to land more than a few hits.
7. Domon Kasshu's Erupting Burning Finger — Mobile Fighter G Gundam
Most of us can agree that Mobile Fighter G Gundam was far from the best Gundam series, and it gave us so many ridiculous mobile suits to make fun of (seriously, one was a fucking windmill). But even still, the main character's Burning Gundam of Japan comes with a move so epic, its every use is preceded by an epic, emotionally charged speech. Those that grew up with it can probably still recite the whole thing by heart ("This hand of mine is burning red!").
Aside from the exciting atmosphere the move incites, it's a pretty powerful attack too. It cuts through other mobile suits like soft butter and blows them up to boot. And considering Domon was incorporates this one attack into all his others for the entire Gundam fight, it was easily better than most techniques used by his fellow pilots. Hell, it even took out the Dark Gundam, which was constantly evolving into more and more powerful forms.
The typical energy swords and buster cannons of other more popular Gundam series are cool in their own right, but Domon gets it done in style with this signature move.
6. Monkey D. Luffy's Gear Second — One Piece
Much like Bleach, One Piece is a story where everyone gets their own special power. There are a lot of other cool ones, but few are as versatile as Luffy's rubber-based powers. And while at the start of the series they were a little goofy, they definitely took on a bad-ass edge eventually. One such ability, Gear Second is way more awesome than rubber probably deserves to be, but it's super creative.
Because his entire body is made of rubber, Luffy can speed up the flow of blood in his body by pumping the more durable blood cells faster than normal. This (thanks to anime science) gives Luffy's muscles more oxygen and nutrients, giving him such a speed boost that he reaches a whole other level.
In gear second, Luffy's normal attacks move so fast that it they're invisible to the naked eye, and they hit so hard that a simple punch looks like the impact from a cannon. What's more, the technique raises his body temperature to such a point that Luffy's skin turns a red hue and his skin gives off steam. Visually, that alone is pretty fucking awesome. But fighting Luffy in gear second would be a tough matchup for most pirates in One Piece.
5. Zatch Bell's Bao Zakeruga — Zatch Bell
In the fight to see who would be the demon king, few characters suspected Zatch would be a contender. Despite being the son of the current demon king, Zatch was called a weakling by almost everyone he came across—that is until he unlocked his fourth spell, the indomitable Bao Zakeruga.
Taking the form of an absolutely massive dragon made of lightning, this monster plows through all but the strongest demon children. And even when it may falter at first, Kiyo, Zatch's partner, can use more heart energy to power the spell up to new heights. Throughout the series, it is always their trump card, and always the go to spell when things look their darkest.
This attack is actually so dangerous that Zatch's father couldn't entrust it to his more violent brother Zeno. Bao actually consumes all the evil in its target's heart, absorbing it into itself and powering up the move. This buildup can become overwhelming eventually and cause its user to lose control and be devoured by darkness themselves. But since Zatch has a pure heart, he's able to handle it (after some trial and error) and unlock its full, destructive power.
4. Hiei's Dragon of the Darkness Flame— Yu Yu Hakusho
Liking Hiei is the same as liking Sasuke from Naruto — it's too easy. He was so cool and strong that he was a no brainer when it came to favorites. But to be fair, his strength was well justified, as he possessed one of the most powerful techniques in the entire series: The Dragon of Darkness Flame.
By combining his natural fire demon powers with the pure essence of evil, Hiei can summon an energy from the deepest pits of hell. This power is completely uncontrollable and even inflicts severe damage on those who use it. As for the attack's target, well — every trace of them is completely destroyed. And as the only person to have ever mastered the technique, Hiei is capable of adding some twists that make the attack even stronger. When Hiei uses the attack on himself, he can absorb it for a massive power boost. His strength, agility, and defensive abilities are all increased to a vast extent, and it makes it damn near impossible for anyone but the strongest demons to defeat him.
Visually the attack is bad-ass too, because its component elements are some of the coolest things ever: fire, darkness, dragons, and pure win. Suffice it to say you do not want to end up on the wrong side of this attack.
3. Might Guy's Eight Gates — Naruto
Naruto is full of fighters that possess god like strength — literally. They're capable of attacking you with an entire forest or trapping the entire world in an illusion. Some are just filled with powerful beasts that ratchet their strength up to ridiculous levels. And then there's Rock Lee and his sensei Might Guy.
These two are notable for being unable to use chakra (Though Guy might just not use it frequently by choice), a staple of the ninja way. Yet despite this, these two kick enough ass with their fists and feet to make up for it. And though they could get by in life with just their physical abilities, the pair also has access to an ability which has the potential to surpass even the strongest ninja alive or dead.
By opening up to eight chakra gates in their body, Rock Lee and Guy can give themselves such a boost in strength and speed that their body is often shredded as a result. When Lee uses it during the Chunin exam, he is almost rendered physically incapable of every being a ninja again. But Guy is much more resilient, opening more gates and recovering far faster than Lee. And on top of that, Guy is the only person alive who can open all eight gates—an act that makes you so powerful that it literally kills you. In fact, your blood boils and you sweat it out in a nice red mist, all while moving so fast that it snaps your legs and hitting so hard your hands basically explode. Of course, you get a few minutes before those drawbacks kick in, but you'll have plenty of time to completely fuck everything up before you die in a blaze of glory.
2. Goku's Spirit Bomb — Dragon Ball Z
It's tempting to label the Kamehameha Wave as Goku's signature technique, but a lot of other people use it all the time. And even though King Kai taught Goku the spirit bomb, only the main character uses it consistently.
Most any anime fans, and even those who barely watch anime, are familiar with the spirit bomb. By channeling the energy of every living thing in a given area, Goku can create an orb of pure destructive energy — and I mean pure in both senses of the word. It won't hurt those who are pure of heart and it completely wrecks those who are evil. Its only drawback is that charging the attack takes a long time (SO MANY EPISODES WASTED), which builds up the fight's tension to uncomfortable levels.
The attack keeps getting stronger too as Goku himself grows in strength. When he first starts off, the spirit bomb is just slightly bigger than a standard ki-orb attack, though it packs far more punch. When Goku uses it on Frieza though, it's so massive that most of the land around for a mile is reduced to nothing. And when Goku uses it against Kid Buu, it's so powerful that Goku had to tack on Super to the attack's name. Built with the energy from everyone on the planet Earth, this monster kills what is otherwise indestructible.
1. Simon's Giga Drill Break—Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
If you thought Goku's spirit bomb was the most awesome and strongest attack in all of anime, you obviously haven't watched Gurren Lagann. And for those who are unfamiliar with the show, trust that I never expected an attack based on a giant drill to be so cool — but I'll be damned if it's not the most exciting fucking attack I've ever seen.
Using spiral power and pure fighting spirit, Simon and his co-pilot create a series of drills that continue to increase in size and power. In the beginning, the drill is probably the size of a skyscraper. Later, it's probably the size of a large state. And once team Dai-Gurren takes the fight to outerspace, Gurren Lagann is probably packing a drill the size of fucking Jupiter. But even that isn't the biggest it gets. During the final battle when Gurren Lagann is larger than most galaxies, the giga drill break is many times larger than that.
I will acknowledge that it's absurd, but that's only if you qualify it absurdly awesome. And unlike the spirit bomb, Simon finds all of that power in his own heart, using nothing but shouting and determination to ignore conventional reason as a power source. Seriously, this attack would destroy anyone else that came up against it, bar none, if only because it's so massive.