The Best Anime Rivalries of All Time | TheReviewGeek Recommends

The anime universe is expansive and offers many different tales with compelling characters, engaging plots, and epic moments. While some anime come and go, many deliver outstanding and memorable experiences. Those types of anime typically contain well-written storylines, characters, and events that will get people excited for more.

For our ongoing series of articles depicting the best anime, we’d like to highlight the best anime rivalries of all time. Whether these pairs got folks excited for their respective shows or helped push our characters to their limits, these are the ones worth recognizing.

Of course, if we’ve missed any of your favorites, feel free to comment below and we’ll add them when we can!

Goku & Vegeta (Dragon Ball Z & Onward)

Goku is an incredible protagonist in Dragon Ball, but many find Vegeta to be equally entertaining. While he wasn’t a part of the original Dragon Ball storyline, Vegeta’s made a name for himself since his debut in Dragon Ball Z. That said, the rivalry between him and Goku is always thrilling to watch. Regardless if they’re physically fighting or engaging in silly banter, these two maintain excellent chemistry.

One key aspect that makes their rivalry great is that they’re both powerful fighters. Both characters continue pushing each other to new levels of strength and skill. Their battles are intense and they often end up putting some areas in harm’s way. Furthermore, Vegeta and Goku’s clashing personalities and different approaches to training, create solid tension between them.

Goku and Vegeta also hold mutual respect for each other. While they started off as enemies, both characters grew to appreciate the other’s company over time. They’ve even fused with each other to create two solid entities fans hold close to their hearts. Regardless of whether they’re opponents or friends, Goku and Vegeta have one of the best rivalries of all time.

Light & L (Death Note)

For a less action-centric rivalry, we’d like to highlight the feud between Light and L. These characters are iconic for their personalities, clashing ideologies, and sharp intelligence. Light and L know how to constantly outsmart each other and stay one step ahead of the other. Their mental battles are thrilling to watch as both use complex strategies that’ll surprise most audiences.

Both characters constantly push each other to their limits, allowing them to reach new levels of intelligence and trickery. Light and L have different perspectives on justice. Where Light wants to cleanse the world through violence, L believes in the justice system and the rule of law. It’s these different viewpoints that make Light and L’s characters fun to examine throughout Death Note. Although their onscreen feud gets cut short toward the end, viewers will adore the tension between them.

Kaiba & Yugi (Yu-Gi-Oh!)

Kaguya & Miyuki (Kaguya-sama: Love Is War)

While this rivalry doesn’t have characters engaging in epic fisticuffs or card games, Kaguya and Miyuki’s rivalry throughout Kaguya-sama: Love Is War is compelling enough to deserve a mention on this list. Firstly, these characters are incredibly intelligent and use diverse tactics to outsmart each other. Their battle of wits is intense and amusing with the number of schemes they conduct.

Furthermore, their rivalry is more unique compared to the ones mentioned thus far. Kaguya and Miyuki vow to get the other to confess their love for each other and refuse to be the ones to do it. You’ll get a chuckle out of Kaguya and Miyuki’s failed and near-successful attempts at getting their adversary to crack. It’s what makes these two characters enjoyable to analyze throughout Kaguya-sama.

Kaguya and Miyuki receive excellent growth throughout this anime, though. While they’ll start out as cold people toward one another, they’ll eventually develop feelings for each other. This dramatic shift in their relationships adds to the tale’s depth and makes their interactions more wholesome to watch.

Naruto & Sasuke (Naruto)

Naruto and Sasuke are iconic characters with a rivalry that’s been discussed to death. Naruto and Sasuke have different approaches to life and relationships, which lead to incredible tension between them. Despite their different abilities and principles, Naruto and Sasuke share complicated and tragic pasts. Where Sasuke witnessed his older brother Itachi slaughter his people, Naruto was belittled for having the Nine-Tailed Fox inside him and lost his parents.

Despite one prevailing over the other in their past bouts, Naruto and Sasuke feel evenly matched. They’re both formidable ninjas with great skills and abilities. They’re always pushing each other to break their limits. Their battles are thrilling to watch and it’s great to see their rivalry evolve throughout the series. From coming at each other’s throats in their heyday, to teaming up to fight Obito, Madara, Kaguya, and others during the Boruto storyline, it’s great to see their relationship become stronger over time.

Alucard & Anderson (Hellsing Ultimate)

Alucard is a fierce protagonist in Hellsing Ultimate and his rivalry with Anderson is just as intense. Both characters have a deep history and a strong sense of purpose that drive their actions throughout the series. From their first encounter, it’s clear they’re natural enemies, each serving different masters and driven by separate ideals.

Where Alucard is listed as the Hellsing Organization’s ultimate predator, Anderson finds himself to be the defender of humanity and will stop at nothing to eliminate all supernatural entities. Their rivalry features several intense physical and mental battles between the two. Although they share a distaste for the other, there’s mutual respect between them.

They both recognize the other’s strength and determination, and there are moments when they acknowledge each other’s perspectives. Nonetheless, their rivalry drives them to push each other to their limits and beyond, resulting in some of the most memorable moments in Hellsing Ultimate.

Mugen & Jin (Samurai Champloo)

Samurai Champloo is an action-packed samurai anime with a great blend of hip-hop. Mugen and Jin are incredible characters and their rivalry is one of the show’s aspects that helped it become successful. Mugen’s known for being a brash, impulsive, and reckless individual who acts on his own instincts while Jin’s more collected and thinks things through before he acts.

Both swordsmen share a common goal and that’s to redeem themselves of their past mistakes and find their place in the world. While these two butt heads occasionally, they share a mutual respect for each other’s swordsmanship and fighting abilities. They continuously push each other to improve and become better fighters. That said, Mugen and Jin have opposing philosophies.

While Jin’s more disciplined and adheres to tradition, Mugen’s more rebellious and likes relying on his instincts. Through their different personalities, philosophies, and past experiences, viewers will find Mugen and Jin’s rivalry fascinating throughout Samurai Champloo’s run.

Sanji & Zoro (One Piece)

Sanji and Zoro may be on the same crew, but that doesn’t mean they’ll always see eye to eye. While Sanji serves as the crew’s chef, Zoro is their number-one swordsman. They have different personalities, which often leads to humorous and entertaining interactions between them. Both characters are brimming with pride and confidence.

They’re skilled in their respective areas and are well aware of each other’s feats. Sanji and Zoro constantly compete with each other to prove who is stronger. This creates solid tension within the crew, but it’s crucial in motivating them to become more capable subordinates to Luffy’s cause. On that note, both desire to protect their crewmates and will fight to the death to guard their allies.

Sanji and Zoro’s rivalry is also fueled by their different fighting styles. Sanji doesn’t like using his hands and opts to deliver a beating with his feet. As for Zoro, he prefers using his three swords to slice through his opponents. With their pride, confidence, and contrasting natures, Zoro and Sanji have one of the most memorable rivalries in anime.

Midoriya & Bakugo (My Hero Academia)

My Hero Academia is a fairly new Shonen series that captures the heart of American comics. One of its defining features has to be the intense and complex rivalry between Midoriya and Bakugo. Despite being buddies in elementary school, their rivalry began once they discovered they both aspire to become incredible heroes.

This relationship carries a complex web of emotions, competition, and mutual respect that’ll keep viewers returning to the series to see how it’ll eventually conclude. Midoriya and Bakugo have clashing personalities. Midoriya is more thoughtful and empathetic while Bakugo is more hot-headed and impulsive to be around. This evokes a delightful yin and yang dynamic that’ll grasp fans’ attention.

Bakugo’s anger toward Midoriya also makes this rivalry feel more interesting to follow. Bakugo believes Midoriya’s weak and has no right to have the same dreams as himself. However, this is more of a defense mechanism on Bakugo’s part since he doesn’t want Midoriya to surpass him in skill and become a better hero. Through their clashing personalities and powers, Bakugo and Midoriya’s rivalry is one of My Hero Academia’s best aspects.

Inuyasha and Sesshomaru (Inuyasha)

Inuyasha is a classic acton-adventure shonen series written and illustrated by the legendary Rumiko Takahashi. It features a charming world filled with imaginative and entertaining creatures and characters. Inuyasha, the show’s male lead, is a great protagonist and develops a fun rivalry with his half-demon brother Sesshomaru.

Despite being similar in that aspect, Sesshomaru and Inuyasha have contrasting personalities and goals that fuel their rivalry. Their competitive and ambitious nature constantly drives them to outdo each other and to prove who is stronger between the two. Both characters have intriguing and clashing views of their demon heritage that audiences will find engaging.

These conflicting views help to set the characters apart and make their rivalry entertaining. Although Sesshomaru despises Inuyasha throughout the show’s early beginnings, he eventually grows fond and looks out for his half-brother like in their battle against Naraku.

So, there we have it, our picks for the best anime rivalries through the years!

What do you think of our picks? Do you agree? Are there any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments below!

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