Deep anime rivalry that makes both characters more interesting all around. They’re not limited by show type—slice of life, action, horror, and cyberpunk are just a few of the genres where the best anime feuds occur. In many cases, these opponents are complete opposites in appearance, style, and ethics. In others, the opponents have subtle differences that suggest the protagonist could end up like their enemy if they’re not careful. Literary-minded anime fans will recognize these as narrative cards, and they make for some of the most compelling storytelling in the medium.
Anime is great for contrasting characters. In worlds where exaggerated physical reactions and variations in appearance such as hair color are the norm, animators can quickly convey to the audience the contrasting natures of two characters. . Many of the most iconic anime confrontations involve a gruff, dark-haired protagonist who is pitted against an ethereal, light-haired character. Sometimes, opponents appear similar but are later revealed to have very different personalities. But what would a good competition be without different ethics? Anime is one of the best mediums to explore not only good and evil but the many shades of gray that exist in between.
10 Shinya Kogami and Shogo Makishima (Psycho-Pass)
Psycho-Pass is filled with moral commentary, and the rivalry between Kogami and Makishima only reinforces that. Kogami, a police officer in dystopian Japan, is haunted by cold-blooded Makishima after he killed his friend, Sasayama. According to series director Naoyoshi Shiotani, Kogami was developed as the complete opposite of Makishima – he is action-oriented and idealistic, while Makishima is cold and didactic. They also have surprisingly different character designs; Makishima looks strangely angelic while Kogami is tough and no-nonsense. The antagonism between them was so strong that their final confrontation resulted in one of the best episodes from Season 1 of Psycho-Pass.
9 Ash Lynx and Yut-Lung Lee (Banana Fish)
Banana Fish’s Ash and Yut-Lung are contenders that will provide any gender studies professor with months’ worth of discussion resources. Ash, a realistic and ruthless New York City gang leader, is much more stereotypically masculine than the conniving and hot-tempered Yut-Lung. As the series progresses, it is revealed that they have both experienced traumas of a similar and deeply horrific nature. The main difference in their recovery is that Ash had friends to help him heal, while Yut-Lung did not. Wistful fans often wonder if these two would have gotten along if it weren’t for the tug-of-war over Eiji that dominates the second half of the series. With such good characters, it’s no wonder Banana Fish ranks as one of the most underrated anime of the past 5 years.
8 Kotetsu T. Kaburagi and Barnaby Brooks, Jr. (Tiger and Rabbit)
The mismatched superhero duo is a popular TV series for good reason. A prime example is Tiger and Bunny’s Kotetsu and Barnaby, who are paired together to fight crime and boost ratings for Sternbild’s popular TV show, Hero TV. Kotetsu, coming out of work, has a traditional view of heroism that he balances with fatherhood, while Barnaby, the younger of the two, brings fresh insights to their work, this often drives Kotetsu crazy. Although their relationship is more of a reluctant friendship than a rivalry, there are always good laughs when these two characters face off against each other.
7 Kenzo Tenma and Johan Liebert (Monster)
Monster follows Dr. Kenzo Tenma, a surgeon who saves a gunshot victim who turns out to be killer Johan Liebert. Tenma’s crisis of conscience surrounding this issue immediately contrasts him with the main monster of the series. Throughout the 74 episodes, Tenma always maintains his morals, such as his vow to never kill. Meanwhile, Johan spends the entire series talking about a killing spree. The appearances and personality traits of these characters couldn’t be more different—Tenma, exhausted from hunting Johan, often looks gaunt and unshaven, while Johan maintains a quiet, polite and almost from another world.
6 Alois Trancy and Ciel Phantomhive (Black Butler)
While Season 2 of Black Butler was controversial for departing from Yana Toboso’s manga and creating entirely new characters, Alois Trancy became one of Ciel’s most memorable opponents. At first glance, he seems to be the mirror image of Ciel – a spoiled rich kid with a demonic butler – but there are slight differences between the two. One of the most disturbing things is that Alois’s butler, Claude, is much less invested in his master’s welfare than Sebastian is for Ciel. Although Part 2 is self-contained and skippable, fans are encouraged to tune in for a masterclass in character form.
5 Tohru Honda and Akito Sohma (Fruit Basket)
On a surface level, Fruits Basket’s Tohru and Akito couldn’t be more different. Tohru, polite and pleased with everyone to a fault, contrasts with the violent and manipulative head of the Sohma family. However, at the core of their opposing personalities lies a great deal of emotional trauma that they have separately experienced. The effects of that trauma manifested differently — Tohru led her to fear never disappointing anyone, while Akito led to a desperate and controlling personality, leading to one of the most tragic villains in anime. Notably, they both resolve their conflict with each other by the end of the series, but not without some significant sacrifices.
4 Sesshomaru and Inuyasha (Inuyasha)
One of the best storytelling techniques when revealing a character has siblings is to show the differences in those siblings. Sesshomaru and Inuyasha epitomize sibling rivalry – the former cold and bossy, the latter fiery and stubborn. Many of their disagreements were due to their origins; Sesshomaru is a full-fledged demon dog while Inuyasha is half-human. The information audiences gain about their upbringing and their parents’ expressions of love could fill many psychology textbooks. While Inuyasha’s main mission is to collect the Shikon Gem shards, his rivalry with his half-brother is just as interesting, if not more interesting.
3 Katsuki Bakugo and Izuku Midoriya (My Hero Academia)
It’s hard to find two characters with more obvious contrasts than Bakugo and Deku. Deku, gentle and idealistic, often goes against Bakugo’s hot-tempered remarks. Once childhood friends, Bakugo’s competitiveness and disdain for anyone Quirkless made Deku an easy target for his rage. Over the course of the year, spanning six seasons of the anime, Deku has proven those who underestimated him wrong countless times, but Bakugo is a tsundere and remains a tough shell to break. Still, Deku tries to show kindness to the friend who betrayed him, and there’s still a chance these two will make amends.
2 L Lawliet and Light Yagami (Death Note)
L and Light are a great example of anime and one of the best rivalries in shounen anime. While their appearances are certainly different, they are actually more similar than first impressions suggest. For example, while L certainly had no murderous intent, it’s hard to argue that he’s also on the side of good will. He approaches his quest to stop Kira like a game of chess or any other mentally stimulating puzzle. Light, while worried that his Kira identity will be discovered, also seems to feel a thrill in outwitting the world’s greatest detective. In many ways, they are perfectly suited for each other in their endless game of cat and mouse.
1 Guts and Griffith (Berserk)
Berserk has been considered a masterpiece since 1989, and one of the biggest reasons for that is the captivating rivalry between Guts and Griffith. Originally teammates in the Band of the Hawk, Griffith’s ambitions got in the way and led to one of the most devastating betrayals in anime history. Guts, a man of few words and (until the fateful Eclipse) a man without dreams, stands in sharp contrast to the charismatic and calculating Griffith. The author, Kentaro Miura, sadly passed away in 2021, but the manga appears to be in the hands of Studio Gaga, who are setting a new standard for reviving the series. In other words, fans will likely get to see the epic final match between Guts and Griffith that has been cherished for nearly 35 years.
There’s an old saying that jewelers will put shiny foil under a gemstone to make the stone shine brighter, and the same can be said for well-written showdowns. in anime. By emphasizing the differences between the two characters, each character must assert himself against the other to stand out in his own way. One of the many reasons anime has become such an influential storytelling medium is its effort to create complex characters that challenge each other’s motivations, morals, and ways of life. Deep anime rivalry it makes both characters more interesting, doing all that and more.