Writers often use competitors as a contrast to the heroic protagonists, whether they are annoyingly pompous or menacingly malevolent. Fleshing out these characters makes anime battles more than just contests of power, adding depth and personality to the story. A good rivalry is always a pleasant element to an anime, regardless of whether you’re rooting for the protagonist or their savage counterpart.
10. Aang and Zuko
When Avatar first premiered on Nickelodeon, it was met with skepticism about whether it should be considered an anime. The young Avatar Aang explores the world to master the elements and overthrow the despotic Fire Nation in the program. Zuko, a disgraced and austere prince, soon clashes with Aang’s lighthearted exploits as he seeks to reclaim his dignity.
Aang and Zuko fight multiple times in the series, with Zuko always losing. But as things go, we witness Zuko grow as a fighter, as well as a thinker, and he joins the ranks of the Avatar.
9. Kiritsugu and Kirei
As each magi/Heroic Spirit combo strives for the wish-granting Grail in Fate Zero, the precursor series to Fate/Stay Night, we see another Holy Grail War.
When it comes to pursuing the Holy Grail, the protagonist Kiritsugu Emiya is no fool. It’s hard to foresee opponent Kirei Kotomine’s tactics, yet the two share a mutual admiration and a fierce rivalry for each other. I definitely recommend this series for mature people, as the battles distort the lines between good and evil while providing exciting action.
8. Kenshin and Saito
Ruroni Kenshin takes place in the early nineteenth century and follows the exploits of Kenshin Himura, a former swordsman and assassin who is now trying to atone for his mistakes. By standing up for the defenseless and refusing to harm anyone, he is able to do this, despite the fact that the enemies he faces often challenge his newfound tranquility.
In this regard, Saito doesn’t debut until the Kyoto arc, yet his appearance puts in motion the series’ most interesting tale. Saito and Kenshin are both combat veterans, and Saito intends to resurrect his Battosai the Man-Slayer character in order to pull out Kenshin’s murdering tendencies. Despite their differing political views, the two eventually come together to fight the evil Shishio. Both characters had to rely on their former enemy to survive, which made for an interesting dynamic.
7. Ichigo and Grimmjow
When Ichigo Kurosaki, the main character of Bleach, gains the power of a Soul Reaper, he loses his normal life and is forced to join the Soul Society. The Espada Grimmjow is one of Ichigo’s most noteworthy frenemies throughout the series.
When Grimmjow and Ichigo first meet, Grimmjow blows Ichigo out of the water, and the two develop a vengeful rivalry. There are numerous spectacular battles erupting as Ichigo closes the gap between the two over time. Aside from the fact that they’re on opposing sides, Ichigo and Grimmjow have a lot in common in terms of personality traits, such as confidence and honor.
6. Inuyasha and Sesshomaru
Inuyasha narrates the narrative of Kagome and her connection with the half-demon Inuyasha, a tale of adventure and passion. Despite their disagreements, Inuyasha and Sesshomaru are able to overcome a number of formidable adversaries, including Sesshomaru’s older brother, Inuyasha.
There are numerous heated fights between pure-blood Sesshomaru, who has a hatred for his half-human half-brother, and his half-human half-brother. Even though Sesshomaru’s precision and coolness perfectly counter Inuyasha’s impulsive personality, the two eventually come to respect one another.
5. Ash and Gary
When Pokemon first appeared, it became an instant hit, inspiring a slew of spinoffs, including video games, trading cards, and animated series. In the original anime series, Ash Ketchum sets out on a global tour in pursuit of his dream of becoming a Pokemon Master, but he is overshadowed by Gary Oak, a former neighbor.
After beginning their journeys at the same time, Gary is continually comparing himself to and outperforming Ash in order to prove that he is the best. While Gary continues to rack up the badges and catch more Pokemon, Ash is constantly honing his craft and has even gone further in the Pokemon League than Gary has thus far. After a series of tense standoffs, the two finally come to terms with their differences in a climactic duel.
4. Yugi and Kaiba
In order to keep the Duel Monsters game fresh and interesting, Yu-Gi-Oh introduces new characters and cards in each episode. Original cast members Yugi Moto and Seto Kaiba’s tense rivalry is remembered fondly by fans of the series.
With his Blue-Eyes White Dragon card, Kaiba, a wealthy and clever prodigy, considers himself the greatest Duelist of all time. Due to Yugi’s alter ego regularly defeating him in duels, the two develop a fierce rivalry. Fans love Kaiba’s selfish taunts despite his attitude, and they celebrated when he grew up.
3. Naruto and Sasuke
A teenage ninja-in-training named Naruto (shocking, I know) dreams of becoming Hokage, the village’s leader and fiercest warrior. Naruto’s adventures are chronicled in Naruto. There, Naruto meets Sasuke, a hard-nosed bandmate and fierce adversary.
Sasuke goes on a violent mission of retribution after horrific events separate Team 7 from Naruto and his fellow ninja. After a series of bloody battles, Naruto finally decides to bring back his one-time companion. After all, Naruto remains confident in his ability to vanquish Sasuke, and the two ninja’s strength grows as the series proceeds. Throughout the story, readers were unsure if Sasuke would become a friend or adversary.
2. Light and L
High school student Light Yagami, who is both smart and gorgeous, is about to drop out when he accidentally comes upon a Death Note that has the power to kill anybody who opens it. Light swears to use the weapon to slay all criminals, and the police quickly begin searching for the enigmatic assassin known only as “Kira.” They turn to eccentric genius-detective L. for aid when they need it.
L is able to rapidly surmise that Light is Kira, but he is unable to provide any evidence to support this conclusion. To find L’s real name, Light joins the investigating Task Force led by L. Using trickery, mental gymnastics, and a combination of the two, both players strive to corner the other. I’m a big fan of Death Note, and I’m impressed by the contrast between Light and L.’s views on justice.
1. Goku and Vegeta
Many young people were introduced to anime by the series Dragon Ball Z, which is both a sequel to and a precursor to Dragon Ball Super. Fighting several adversaries, Goku relentlessly trains his body and masters his ki to unleash a variety of powerful energy techniques. His identity as a Saiyan warrior soon becomes clear to Goku. Vegeta, one of the few remaining Saiyans, makes an attempt to destroy Earth in order to prove his superiority to Goku.
As the strongest of his kind, Vegeta has grown accustomed to being outdone by Goku on a regular basis. The conventional “rival bests protagonist” dynamic was delightfully reversed in this episode, and we often found ourselves pulling for the underdog Vegeta despite his more selfless tendencies. The two Saiyans eventually become friends, but they continue to push each other to improve their skills, fuelling a never-ending competition. It’s no surprise that their children, Goten and Trunks, have inherited their dads’ passionate rivalry.
Re-watching past rivalries is still possible, even if many of these anime have been out for some time. For example, Yugi and Kaibi appear in new Yu-Gi-Oh movies like The Dark Side of Dimensions, whereas Goku and Vegeta appear in the anime Dragon Ball Super.
In addition to these, anime continues to be a popular entertainment choice for many people, and we may expect more intense rivalries in upcoming episodes. I hope you’ll join us for our next countdown, and I’ll see you then!