In general, what defines a rival? Traditionally, a rival could be an antagonist or a villain, or in some instances it could be a fellow hero who just has different ideas from the main character. Rivalries have different motivations. Some are motivated by stopping one or the other from implementing a goal or plan, and there are others that want to prove that their idea of something is right. Or in other instances, it’s just simply born from pure competition. From 2018’s line up of anime, who are the best that defines these qualities as a rival to our main characters? Read our top 10 to find out!
10. Eris from Saint Seiya: Saintia Shou
- Episodes: 10
- Aired: December 10, 2018 – February 18, 2019
In this adaptation to Saint Seiya, the Saintias (or a secret group of female saints) must battle Eris, the Greek Goddess of Strife and Discord. If you’re familiar with the Saint Seiya mythos, Greek Gods and Goddesses tend to use human bodies as a host. Initially, Eris wanted to use Shoko, the main character after exposing her to her Golden Apple, but instead, she takes Kyoko, Shoko’s sister as her host. Though Eris is the true rival to Athena based on actual mythology, the story of Saintia Sho maneuvers it to being Shoko’s rival for personal reasons. She is more than just a mere rival, but a mortal enemy. She uses the spirits of Athena’s dead Saints against her, and uses Kyoko’s body as a means of manipulating Shoko. Not only does she manipulate Shoko, but she manipulates the dead as a whole to do her evil bidding, most especially Saga, a Gold Saint.
9. Godo from Gyakuten Saiban: Sono “Shinjitsu,” Igi Ari! Season 2 (Godot from Ace Attorney Season 2)
- Episodes: 19+
- Aired: October 6, 2018 - Ongoing
Based on the third game to Capcom’s hit Phoenix Wright series, we have Godot, replacing Miles Edgeworth (since he has patched up his friendship with Phoenix) as the lead prosecutor. Though he doesn’t have the direct history with Phoenix like Miles does, he does have a mean streak (and don’t let those weird visors fool you!) and he is a capable prosecutor. He likes to get under Phoenix’s skin by mispronouncing his family name as “Trite,” instead of “Wright,” and just enjoys having some coffee as means of showing he’s riding his high horse. As the series progresses, we do see why he doesn’t like Phoenix, and it relates to how he once worked with Phoenix’s former boss, Maya, and he blames him for not protecting her. The fact that he couldn’t compete with Phoenix’s intellect and his feelings are qualities that you can equate to being something more of a romantic rival.
8. Kojiro Hyuga from Captain Tsubasa (2018)
- Episodes: 52
- Aired: April 3, 2018 – April 2, 2019
Hyuga serves as Tsubasa’s (and Genzo’s) rival in both the old and the 2018 edition to Captain Tsubasa. Like Tsubasa, his dream is to be the best soccer player ever to help his family. What makes this rivalry distinguishing is how far it goes throughout their youth (from elementary to past high school!). In context to sports anime as a whole, this rivalry is a bit complicated. Initially, they were on opposing teams between their pre-teen years, and though in context to the team competitions, Hyuga’s team did win, but individually, Tsubasa was superior. However, they both eventually became teammates in the under 16 and under 20 All Japan Teams. Though their competitive spirit was still there, they were willing to work together. But when it came to trying out for the same team in a more professional setting for that one spot, their feelings for competitive feelings over getting a spot on the team once again ignited their rivalry to prove who can be Japan’s best player (thankfully, with not too many fake injuries like you see in the World Cup).
7. Kenshin from Souten no Ken: ReGenesis Season 2 (Fist of the Blue Sky: ReGenesis Season 2)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: October 2, 2018 – December 18, 2018
Kenshin is not only Kenshiro’s main rival towards the latter half of Souten no Ken but also his adopted brother. When they were younger, they trained in the art of Hokuto Shinken by their father, but disgusted by how Kenshiro’s father didn’t want to be of help to people during the war and for erasing Kenshin’s memories about his mother, he goes out to seek his own path in life. A decade later, Kenshin is back and he wants to use Erika’s photographic memory as to how to make an atomic bomb so he can end humanity because he feels they’re too sick to live.
However, deep down inside, Kenshin and Kenshiro deeply respect each other as men of convictions. Kenshin may want to destroy the world, but in a twisted definition, his motivations are understandable. Humanity is too stupid and sick to live and he wants to end it with the most extreme means of doing so. Kenshiro on the other hand wants to save the world through compassion and he wants to save Erika’s life. What makes Kenshin a unique rival is that he may be an extremist, but in his own way, he genuinely wants to do good, while Kenshiro on the other hand, represents the traditional hero. When it’s all said and done, they acknowledge each other as warriors, men, and as brothers.
6. Akira Oono from High Score Girl
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 13, 2018 – September 28, 2018
For some of you older folks, try to imagine yourself back in high school (or for you youngsters, try imagine yourself going to high school in 1991), you may have enjoyed playing video games and hanging out at your local arcade kicking butt and taking names at Street Fighter II. You’re beating everyone until someone beats you. And who is that opponent? Akira Oono, the rich popular girl at your school! From here, a rivalry/friendship is born between Akira and Haruo. Haruo is more or less a spoiled brat and all he cares about is video games, the only thing he found any validation in. Suddenly, it’s all taken away by Akira. Initially, he does exhibit some malicious feelings towards Akira but seeing he always wanted a worthy rival, she fills in that role and they develop a friendship while also maintaining their competitiveness. This relationship just simply shows how rivalries, or competition can be healthy for people. Thanks to Akira, Haruo starts to mellow out and finds the true meaning of friendship, but also one day vowing to defeat Akira once and for all.
5. Katsuki Bakugo from Boku no Hero Academia 3rd Season (My Hero Academia 3)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: April 7, 2018 – September 29, 2018
Of course, this rivalry goes back to the events of season 1, when Midoriya inherits All Might’s quirk, All For One. Though he still has trouble getting used to it, their rivalry intensifies when they both enter UAE and when Midoriya does his part to help save Bakugo’s life despite his objections. Due to Bakugo’s superiority complex (and All Might now finally having to retire as a hero), he can’t help but feel frustrated at Midoriya who just suddenly got a quirk when he was quirk-less his entire life.
Due to Bakugo’s superiority complex, he hates it whenever people have to save him and didn’t like it when Midoriya, who was quirk-less at the time, tried to save him from a villain. As the series progresses when they both enter UAE, their rivalry intensifies due to their progressing feelings and definitions in what it means to be a hero. They both look up to All Might but in their own ways. Midoriya genuinely wants to help people in the way that All Might has, and Bakugo, due to his highly competitive nature, wants to surpass All Might. Due to Bakugo’s personal motivations of being internally driven for his own validation, he is a complimentary rival to Midoriya, who has external motivations and that does come to further define their rivalry.
4. Reinhard Von Lohengramm from Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu: Die Neue These- Kaikou (Legend of the Galactic Heroes: The New Thesis - Encounter)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: April 3, 2018 – June 26, 2018
In this remake to the original hit OVA series (and based on the hit novel series by Yoshiki Tanaka), we have Reinhard of the Galactic Empire, a rival strategist/general to Yang Wen-Li of the Free Planets Alliance. What makes him a great rival is not due to him being genius generals on the battlefield, but how his motivations and philosophies contrast with Yang. In comparison Yang who is just in it for a good pension (and he needed the money for college), Reinhard is motivated by power, but in a very genuine selfless way.
What defines him is not just simply being on the other side, but how him and Yang contrast in philosophical ways based on their upbringings. Being brought up in democracy, Yang feels that the power will always belong to the people, regardless if they elect/re-elect bad people. For Reinhard, he wants to use the monarchy to make progress for the lower classes. They both believe in giving freedom to the people, but just have different ideas in expressing it. When talking about politics in real life, this aspect is very relatable is that we all want the same thing, the question is how do we get there, and that’s what makes Reinhard a unique rival. When you see him and Yang contrast, do you want a democracy where we know we could elect bad people? Or do we want a dictatorship that actually benefits all people?
3. Jiren from Dragon Ball Super
- Episodes: 131
- Aired: July 5, 2018 – March 25, 2018
Throughout the history of Dragon Ball, Gokuu and his friends have to save the world (or galaxy) from numerous threats. However, their greatest threat doesn’t come from a villain with bad intentions like Frieza, but from Jiren, a fellow hero from a different universe. He is a member of an elite hero squad and gives Gokuu and company a run for their money. Like a good majority of the competitors of the Tournament of Power, he sees Gokuu as the villain because he instigated the tournament that put their universes at stake. However, it’s not his amazing strength that makes him a great rival, but how his morals conflict with Gokuu’s. Gokuu may enjoy a one-on-one bout, but he truly cares about his friends and protects all life. Jiren on the other hands doesn’t care about friends and believes strength is what defines justice.
2. Goro Akechi from Persona 5 The Animation
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 8, 2018 – September 30, 2018
Akechi from Persona 5 is a unique kind of rival, since he is more of a moral rival. Like our cast, he’s still in high school but he’s an accomplished detective with an intellect that surpasses most adults. Unlike our cast who wants to fight the machine under the shadows, Akechi’s motivations stems from wanting to be acknowledged and wants attention for his accomplishments, while the Phantom Thieves just want to make a difference. Ultimately, he wishes to be acknowledged by his father (who you can call the machine that the Phantom Thieves rage against), who abandoned him when he was born. He sees the Phantom Thieves’ actions nothing more than criminal and trivial, and he doesn’t believe in the power of “nakama,” or your friends having your back. He quickly sells out the Phantom Thieves and wants to use that to buy favor with his father. However, his father still doesn’t care for him and he starts to see the value of friends when he sacrifices himself to help the Phantom Thieves save the future of Japan.
1. Yuri from Megalo Box
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: April 6, 2018 – June 29, 2018
As the 17-time wrestling heavyweight champion Ric Flair famously said, “to be the man, (wooooooooooooo), you have to beat the man,” and the man that Joe from Megalo Box has to beat is Yuri, the heavy favorite to win the Megalonia boxing tournament (and he’s already a high-flyin’, limousine ridin’, jet flyin’, kiss stealin’ son of a gun, and there’s nothin’ you can do about it!). They first meet under tense conditions when Yoko, Yuri’s boss, almost gets into an accident with Joe. Shortly after, Yuri faces Joe in a Megalo Boxing match in Joe’s territory with Yuri coming out the winner after making short work of Joe. However, he acknowledges that Joe has heart and invites him to the possibility of a rematch if he can make it to Megalonia, the sport’s biggest tournament. After seeing Joe rise through the ranks without gear, Yuri starts to take him seriously as a legitimate threat.
Though their rivalry starts with some malice, the motivations to their rivalry evolves to wanting to prove their manhood to one another. Yuri is looking for the ultimate challenger, and Joe wants to be the best, and when they face each other, they know they can bring out the best in each other and leave everything in the ring when it’s all said and done. When they get to their match, every punch they throw may look like it’s with bad intentions, but it’s their way of showing their respect for each other in the world they live in. The fact that Yuri puts his own health at risk to fight Joe on equal terms makes him not only a great rival, but a true sportsman. While there are outside parties who benefit from their fight, their rivalry is about not just gaining respect from each other, but respect for themselves and they see each other’s presence at the ultimate motivation.
Rivals can come in all shapes in forms. They can be in a sports competition, in romance, or at your job. Some may be with bad intentions, some may be with the best of intentions. They can be a motivation to better yourself, or they can be someone you have to put a stop to. We feel with our best 10, they represent the best that 2018 has to offer in terms of rivals. So, who do you think are worthy additions? Please feel free to leave a comment!