Top 10 Anime Rivals of 2017 [Best Recommendations]

2017 was a fantastic year for anime, especially when it came to rivalries. A well-written conflict between two people who constantly strive to be better than one another can elevate a series from good to great in an instant, and even one-sided rivalries are endlessly entertaining to watch. So today, let’s count down our favorite sets of rivals in 2017 anime!

10. Youichi and Atsuhiko from Dive!!

  • Episodes: 12
  • Air Date: Jul 2017 – Sep 2017

Youichi is an ace diver, easily the best in his club and a favored pick for the Olympics. He’s cool, calm, collected, and inspires his fellow club members to work hard every single day. Atsuhiko, on the other hand, is a total wackadoo. He’s best known among the other divers as “Pinky” because of the flashy pink speedo he wears to every meet. He’s also crazily obsessed with defeating Youichi, going so far as to challenge him at everything from foot races to thumb wrestling contests whenever they see each other.

According to Youichi, Atsuhiko is actually physically stronger and more agile than he is, but Pinky’s tunnel vision keeps him from unlocking his full potential. Some of Dive’s funniest moments come from Youichi stoically ignoring Atsuhiko’s heated outbursts after losing at yet another impromptu contest. Even in an anime that climbs aboard the harsh reality train around the halfway point, these interactions kept us smiling through it all.

9. Ciel (Kirarin) and Julio (Pikario) from Kirakira☆Precure A La Mode

  • Episodes: 49
  • Air Date: Feb 2017 – Jan 2018

Two fairy siblings named Kirarin and Pikario strive to be great patissiers, so they move to France and study under a master pastry chef. Kirarin takes to the lessons quickly and becomes a genius chef in only a few years (also gaining enough power to assume a human form known as Ciel). This left her younger brother Pikario in the dust, his own achievements dwarfed by his increasingly well-known sister. Eventually, his jealousy overcame him and he turned to the dark side in exchange for power – becoming the villain Julio.

This heated sibling rivalry is more heartbreaking than entertaining, since Ciel didn’t realize until much later that her neglect after becoming famous had destroyed her brother’s self-confidence and turned him away from sweets forever. Even when Julio tries to bake, his shadow-stained heart taints the sweets as soon as they’re complete. Will she ever be able to make up with him and purify his tortured soul? You should watch the series to find out!

8. Asta and Yuno from Black Clover

  • Episodes: 51
  • Air Date: Oct 2017 – 2018

What would a fantasy fighting shounen be without an excitable protagonist and his level-headed rival? Following in the well-worn combat boots of series like Naruto and Fairy Tail, Black Clover presents us with childhood friends/rivals Asta and Yuno. Yuno is a naturally gifted magician, while Asta has no magical powers but incredible physical strength. They compete with one another to become the Wizard King someday, although Asta barely stands a chance.

Luckily, these two actually get along quite well and their rivalry is treated as a contest between friends rather than a struggle to cut each other down in pursuit of a single goal. And once Asta acquires his anti-magic sword, he becomes more than a match for Yuno’s inherent talents. Throughout all of their adventures, these two can always count on each other to keep pushing them to greater heights.

7. Shizuku and Kiyoharu from Ballroom e Youkoso (Welcome to the Ballroom)

  • Episodes: 24
  • Air Date: Jul 2017 – Dec 2017

The world of ballroom dancing is one of steep competition, so dancers must constantly train to be the best in their field. Rivalries can emerge even among partners, as is the case with Shizuku and Kiyoharu. Having known each other for many years, these two are perfectly in sync on the dance floor. However, Shizuku has always felt like she’s one step behind Kiyoharu, never able to match his raw talent and dedication to the craft.

Kiyoharu is one of the best amateur dancers in Japan and nothing seems to faze him, even injuries. Shizuku keeps pushing herself to get to his level, but he’s like a brick wall. Even so, this insurmountable goal keeps her invested in dancing and she wouldn’t give up Kiyoharu for anything. These partners have their own internal strife, but they always keep in step when it truly matters.

6. Phosphophyllite and Bortz from Houseki no Kuni (Land of the Lustrous)

  • Episodes: 12
  • Air Date: Oct 2017 – Dec 2017

This rivalry only forms in the latter half of the series, but it’s gripping nonetheless. Initially, there couldn’t be a bigger gap between the weak, lazy Phosphophyllite and the gems’ strongest fighter Bortz. Phos desperately wants to be liked and respected, but his low hardness means that most of his ventures end up with him literally in pieces. This all changes once he gets mixed up in mysterious circumstances that leave him as a battle-hardened shell of his former self with new abilities that skyrocket him to the top of the pack.

Suddenly, Bortz takes notice. He carefully observes Phos’ newfound skills and confidence, silently warning the other gem not to push his luck. Their rivalry is a subtle one, but we can tell that Bortz is very protective of his position. As for Phos, he’s gone through so much by the end of the series that by the time his greatest opponent sees him as an equal, he doesn’t care about being strong or admirable anymore. All he wants is to unearth the secrets of the strange world they live in.

5. Shiki and Akira from Nana Maru San Batsu (Fastest Finger First)

  • Episodes: 12
  • Air Date: Jul 2017 – Sep 2017

A quiz bowl anime? Sounds fun! But of course, since this is technically a sports show, we’ve got to have some serious rivalries. Shiki is a bookworm with knowledge on a wide variety of topics, but he needs to master the art of pressing the buzzer faster than anyone else so he can answer questions in the first place. If he can hone his skills at both trivia and buzzer pressing, he could become the King of Quizzes!

Akira happens to be the complete opposite. He doesn’t have the breadth of knowledge that Shiki does, but his gaming experience allows him to find loopholes in the quiz bowl rules and psych out his competition. He initially dismisses Shiki as just another opponent to conquer, but changes his tune once the bookworm gives the correct answer to a question that had stumped Akira. From then on, he regards Shiki as a worthy competitor and even offers him advice for future matches. Nerds unite!

4. Yumeko and Kirari from Kakegurui (Kakegurui: Compulsive Gambler)

  • Episodes: 12
  • Air Date: Jul 2017 – Sep 2017

Hyakkaou Private Academy isn’t just any private school for rich kids – it’s a place where gambling is law, and the winners control the losers like puppets on strings. Student Council president Kirari rules the school with an iron fist and knows that nobody could possibly defeat her. That is, until a new transfer student starts picking off her subordinates one by one with the goal of challenging Kirari herself.

The final showdown between these two wicked women simmers with tension, each trying to make the other crack. But unlike the other students who become blubbering messes once Yumeko has them backed into a corner, Kirari never loses her composed demeanor. This shifts the viewer’s perspective on mastermind Yumeko, exposing her as the pure gambling addict that she is. Who will win out in the end – Yumeko’s burning insanity or Kirari’s chilling calculations? Or perhaps it really does just come down to luck.

3. Izuku and Todoroki from Boku no Hero Academia 2nd Season (My Hero Academia 2)

  • Episodes: 25
  • Air Date: Apr 2017 – Sep 2017

In the first season of My Hero Academia, protagonist Izuku’s main rival was his old friend/bully Katsuki (as seen in our Top 10 Anime Rivals of 2016 list). It was a heavily antagonistic relationship, forged many years ago and coming to a head once Izuku caught up to Katsuki in strength. This season, his new rival Todoroki has only known him for a few months and doesn’t despise him, but instead needs to learn a lesson that only Izuku can teach.

During the school sports festival (aka the tournament arc), Todoroki refuses to use the fire powers he inherited from his controlling and abusive father. Izuku wants him to be free and claim that quirk as his own, just like Izuku himself put his own twist onto his borrowed One for All quirk. In their fight, he wears Todoroki down until he has no choice but to use his fire side, opening the stoic boy to a part of himself that he’d repressed for years. These two may solve their problems by fighting, but the results are still impressive.

2. Yukihira and Terunori from Shokugeki no Souma: San no Sara (Food Wars! The Third Plate)

  • Episodes: 12
  • Air Date: Oct 2017 – Dec 2017

Food Wars does have an overarching plot, but our favorite parts are the mini arcs like Karaage Wars from season 1 and the Moon Banquet Festival from this most recent season. At the festival, our boy Yukihira faces off against a confident Chinese chef named Terunori who dominates his festival area year after year with his enormous staff and spicy signature dishes. Yukihira’s modest stand struggles at first, but he’s confident that he can topple Terunori from his high horse.

By listening to customer feedback after each night of the festival, Yukihira comes up with new dishes and enlists the help of all of his friends (some of whom used to be his enemies) to create an enticing outdoor eatery that finally inches its sales past Terunori’s intimidating restaurant. The Chinese chef is flabbergasted, but admits that Yukihira is cleverer than he thought. Who knows – maybe Terunori will come back to help out in the next mini-arc!

1. Eren and Reiner from Shingeki no Kyojin Season 2 (Attack on Titan Season 2)

  • Episodes: 12
  • Air Date: Apr 2017 – Jun 2017

These two started out as friends, with Eren looking up to Reiner as a cool older brother type and Reiner admiring Eren’s directness and tenacity. But once the truth comes out that Reiner and his buddy Bertoldt are spies who infiltrated the army so they could wreak havoc from within, everything else shatters. Eren and Reiner find themselves on opposite sides of a war neither of them truly understand, battling for dominance more out of indignant rage rather than dedication to any cause.

This tragic conflict is the best anime rivalry of 2017 because at its core, it’s the story of two people who would’ve remained friendly rivals if they hadn’t been forced to wage war on one another. They could’ve had a fun dynamic together like others on this list, but their hearts had been filled with such hatred and betrayal that any chance of rekindling that relationship is gone forever. Now all that remains is a bitter struggle where nobody wins.

Final Thoughts

Whew, sorry about the downer ending there. But whether friendly, antagonistic, or somewhere in between, all of these rivalries added tension and excitement to their series and kept us watching until the very end. Now we can’t wait to see what new rivals 2018 has hiding up its sleeve!

What did you think of our list? Who were your favorite rivals of this past year? Let us know in the comments below, and thanks so much for reading!

Mary Lee Sauder


Author: Mary Lee Sauder

After the hard-hitting East Coast lifestyle hit me a bit too hard, I started pursuing my passion as a writer in my cozy home state of Ohio. Aside from that, I spend my time cooking, cosplaying, collecting anime merch, and being an improv comedy actor. I also love sneaking alliterations and stupid puns into my writing, so be on the lookout for them! 😉

Previous Articles

Recommended Post

Top 10 Anime Rivalries