Ah, rivalries. That familiar love-hate relationship characters find themselves in the moment they meet their equal.
We’ve seen it happen in movies, dramas, and even in reality shows. One character stands above the rest, only to meet someone equally competent minutes after.
Rivalry is one of the common themes we see in Japanese animation. And when we talk about anime rivalry, we mean intense battles or advanced level competitions which intend on glorifying that one character who deserves the win.
Today, we’ll look into 10 of the most memorable rivalries all true-blooded anime fans will easily recognize!
Let’s bring the spotlights on…
The CANAAN series could perhaps be one of the most underrated shows ever created, but action fans who love badass girls firing high-powered ammunition wouldn’t forget this rivalry.
Both of these badass females are literal rivals in skills, intellect, and name. But while Alphard seeks to eliminate Canaan to stand on top and claim the coveted name, the latter is skilled enough to hide and stay away from the crossfire.
Fate, however, has its strange way of drawing them together – always resulting to a full-blown fire power combat.
Who would forget the intense rivalry of these two siblings spanning decades of family feuds and secrets?
Recca and Kurei are both fire-wielders, apparently descendants of a clan who’s entrusted to carry such ability. According to history, however, only one child shall carry on the skill. Eventually, clan members came into the decision to eliminate the other – a failed plan.
Fast-forward to present and we see the inevitable clash of the brothers who both wield fire powers along with their respective motivations – one to protect the woman he values, while the other to bring back the life of his lover.
Fans might’ve been disappointed with the unresolved issue between Recca and Kurei and the question of who’s stronger was left to our imagination. But at the end of the day, this brother rivalry remains a standing reminder that not all brothers sharing the same bloodline could enjoy the typical happy family situation even if they do so desire.
Urahara might not admit it and Mayuri might dismiss it with a condescending glare. But who are they kidding?
The rivalry of these two intellectual geniuses from Bleach is so consistent that you can’t simply think of one without considering the other. The series has ended and it’s pretty much clear who had the upper hand, but we’ll leave the debate to you, guys.
If Mayuri can create the most bizarre inventions Soul Society has ever seen, Urahara can devise tools capable of countering just about any inventions.
They can battle in their vast intellectual laboratory however they want. The important thing is they’re both on the same side.
In the mecha anime genre, the Gundam SEED series could perhaps be considered as one of the best in its generation. It set the bar for what badass Gundam suits should be like and introduced some of the most fascinating and relatable characters we have come to love.
Among these characters were Kira Yamato and Shin Asuka who were both lead Gundam pilots in their respective organizations, which happen to be on the opposite sides. Their rivalry was made apparent in the notable encounters they had in the battlefield, with Kira defending Cagallie and Orb, and Shin blindly carrying out the mission handed by their chairman, Durandall.
They’re both pilot aces – skilled in combat, have someone to protect, and have beliefs to uphold.
Healthy rivalry among friends is a breather. Unfortunately for these two, everything turned sour and irreconcilable.
Lelouch was a Britannian Prince on the run who befriended the warm-hearted Japanese Suzaku Kururugi during The Holy Britannian Empire’s invasion. They grew up together, shared lots of interests, and even went to the same school in the later years.
But with Lelouch’s desire for revenge and Suzaku’s belief in peace through assimilation, it was somehow a given that they would soon clash. And clash they did. We know the tragic story.
Some would argue that Ryoma Echizen’s skills are far behind his father’s. But let’s face it. Ryoma never really had anyone in mind whom he considers as his true rival other than his dad. Best thing is, Nanjiro’s more than willing to indulge his son’s tireless attempt to defeat him.
Ryoma has met lots of strong players and we saw how he had grown as time passed by. This father-and-son rivalry was only given some sort of minimal screen time, but ultimately, Nanjiro’s standing at the pedestal Ryoma’s always tried to reach. And his journeys are only a stepping stone to finally grab that spot for himself.
They both have the superior intelligence necessary for the cause they’re fighting for. It would’ve been nice to see them both working together. They did once. But ultimately, Kira and L are certified rivals who want to defeat each other in a battle of wit and deception.
Kira might be considered as the main character of the series, but it’s difficult not to root for the weird, sweet-loving detective L who worked in shadows and brilliantly challenged Kira every step of the way, all the while unveiling his secret in the open.
We know how the story ends. But even with their battle coming to an end, we know they’ll forever be the best rivals Death Note has ever given birth to.
It’s easy to see some solid rivalries in sports anime. After all, it revolves around individuals or teams going against each other towards their dream to win the gold medal or trophy.
Among the unforgettable rivalries in this genre is that of Sakuragi and Rukawa who were both freshmen at Shohoku and who also happen to be members of the school’s basketball team.
What makes their story more stellar is the fact that they’re somehow the antithesis of each other. While Rukawa’s laid-back, Sakuragi’s hot-headed. The former’s cool and silent, while the latter’s loud and arrogant.
But the most unforgettable contrast comes with the fact that Rukawa is a basketball prodigy. He’s got the body, skills, and mindset of a basketball player. Sakuragi, on the other hand, was a complete noob – someone who literally has zero knowledge of the sport and whose only motivation was the attention of his crush.
Don’t judge because that motivation brought the hot-headed redhead far. He may still not be able to take on Rukawa in a one-on-one match, but let’s face it, he can. Perhaps if he tries harder.
The anime series has officially ended this 2016, but Naruto and Sasuke’s friendship and rivalry are undoubtedly engraved in their fans’ minds.
Since they were kids, both have been seen to compete against each other on just about everything. Sasuke being the orphaned prodigy with a sort of complicated family history, and Naruto who was an outcast because of rumors that he’s a cursed child. They started out competing with each other but eventually became comrades upon working under Kakashi-sensei. And the rest is history.
We’ve all been through those surprising revelations and heartbreaking deaths in the series and we see just how much Naruto and Sasuke grew over the years. They’re true rivals. But at the end of the day, they’re also friends, and that makes their story even more beautiful.
The iconic rivalry from one of the most iconic anime of all times. You’re not a true-blooded anime fan if you don’t know Goku and Vegeta. Their names can speak for themselves.
They started out as superpowered rivals with one bent on ruling the Earth, while the other set on protecting it. They became allies eventually, but even at that, the unspoken curiosity and desire to know who’s better remains.
There are tons of other notable rivalries in Japanese animations but we can’t have them all in one list. Feel free to introduce some of your favorites in the comments!