There's an interesting trope in shounen and seinen manga that has been around for decades, and it has to do with the pairing of characters. More often than not, the mangaka pairs hot-headed characters with calm and collected characters, with the main character usually being the hot one while his best friend is the cold one.
Think Goku and Vegeta or Naruto and Sasuke. While not particularly best friends, both pairs are certainly a hot and cold duo who always complement each other. With that in mind, let’s look at some applications of this trope in manga titles that have been published within the last decade.
In order to achieve a balanced list, we combined some of the biggest names in the industry with other titles that are a bit underappreciated. These are the top 10 hot-and-cold pairs in modern manga.
10. Coco/Agott from Tongari Boushi no Atelier (Witch Hat Atelier)
Coco is a new disciple who studies magic under the tutelage of professor Qifrey. She is usually a shy girl who never wants to ruffle any feathers, but when it comes to something that she is passionate about, Coco will lose her patience and become very reckless.
Agott is also a disciple of Qifrey who studies under the same atelier as Coco. She is a quiet girl who is rather obsessed with magic. She always calmly analyzes the situation before making a decision. Agott is not close enough to be called Coco's best friend, but they are not distant enough to be called rivals either. When both of them work together, they complement each other perfectly.
9. Laios/Marcille from Dungeon Meshi (Delicious in Dungeon)
At a first glance, the absent-minded human knight Laios seems to be sure to jump into danger without thinking about the consequences. The elegant elven mage Marcille, on the other hand, looks like somebody who calculates everything to take the best course of action.
But that couldn’t be further from the truth. When they are actually fighting against all kinds of monsters in the dungeon, the opposite is actually true. Laios is the one who always comes up with the effective plans while Marcille tends to shoot her strongest offensive magic without a care in the world.
8. Yonagi/Momoshiro from Act-Age
And now we come to the world of acting. This one actually starts in a David vs. Goliath kind of way when the newcomer Yonagi tries to usurp the current shining star Momoshiro. Both girls are around the same age, but Momoshiro started in the industry first, while Yonagi is blessed with a raw and powerful talent.
Initially, they’re not close at all. They are aware of each other's skill, but there's no reason for them to be friends. But Yonagi is the type who learns through experience and likes to charge head first into every challenge, and one of those challenges happens to be Momoshiro.
They both have different approaches to acting. Yonagi is a method actor who prefers to dive deeply into the characters. Momoshiro will analyze the script and what the directors want, and act accordingly. Although they have a rather rough introduction, once they start working together, they become an unstoppable pair who always try to outperform each other.
7. Tomo/Misuzu from Tomo-chan wa Onnanoko! (Tomo-chan Is A Girl!)
When it comes to a contrasting pair, there's no better example than Tomo and Misuzu. One is a boyish red-haired girl who is well-versed in Karate and can beat anybody to a pulp. While the other one is a feminine raven-haired girl who excels in academics but can rip your soul apart with her words.
Normally, the easy-going Tomo and the quiet Misuzu shouldn't be able to find anything in common. And yet, they are the best of friends. Tomo even trusts Misuzu enough to be one of the two people that she will always turn to whenever she has love problems. And more often than not, Misuzu will chew her out for not being assertive enough.
6. Isagi/Bachira from Blue Lock
Blue Lock is a place that puts originality and individual style over the overall teamwork. That's why each member ends up having a very different playing style that is uniquely theirs. And when it comes to the main character Yoichi Isagi, who is usually calm and level-headed, there's no other player who can complement him better than the whimsical Meguru Bachira.
Isagi is someone who can remember and predict the position of the players on the field in order to calculate the most effective and efficient course of action, while Bachira is a player who depends highly on his own incredible instinct. That is why Isagi can always rely on Bachira to be in the best position for a pass, and Bachira can always count on Isagi to give him the ball no matter where he goes.
5. Choube/Touma from Jigokuraku (Hell's Paradise)
We've talked about best friends, partners, and rivals. Now it's time to talk about brothers. If the last generation has Edward and Alphonse Elric, then this generation has the deranged Aza brothers, Choube and Toma. They may not be the main characters, but they are certainly one of the most stand out pairs in the group.
The big brother, Choube, is the king of the bandits and has a very short temper. The younger brother, Touma, is a refined samurai who likes to keep to himself. Choube will always try to protect Touma and Touma will always try to make his brother proud. And they both won't hesitate to massacre the world for each other's sake.
4. Itadori/Fushiguro from Jujutsu Kaisen
Itadori exhibits the classic tropes of a main character in a shounen manga: he is a fun-loving guy who learns easily through experience and he also likes to charge headfirst into the enemy without any sort of plan.
Likewise, Fushiguro also has the staple “main supporting character” personality. He is a reserved guy with a mysterious past who often does things by the book, and he also loathed Itadori when they first met.
But after they spend some time learning together at Jujutsu High and even going on missions and fighting together on numerous occasions, Fushiguro comes to respect Itadori. As for Itadori, well, he always considers Fushiguro to be his friend and is rather oblivious to Fushiguro's initial animosity towards him. And now, they can effectively fight together as if they could read each other's minds.
3. Denji/Hayakawa from Chainsaw Man
Another interesting pair to talk about is Denji and Hayakawa. Both of them take the shounen duo tropes to the extreme. The easygoing Denji is so reckless that he seems to act like a mad man at times. And Hayakawa is so reserved that he seems to act like he carries the weight of the world on his shoulders.
But interestingly enough, those extreme personalities and behaviors are precisely the things that glue them together. Because, at first, both of them despise each other's existence. Hayakawa can't stand working together with a devil, and Denji only does his job to impress Makima.
And yet, as the story progresses, not only do they finally come to understand one another, but they grow closer to the point of becoming something akin to siblings. Hayakawa is the big brother who works hard to discipline his baby brother, while Denji is the younger brother who is totally dependent on his big brother.
2. Asta/Yuno from Black Clover
Most of the duos on this list seem to follow the same template, which is much like the relationship between Naruto and Sasuke: a wild character is paired up with a brooding one. And no manga sticks to that template more closely than Black Clover, but that is only true at the beginning. As the story progresses, Asta and Yuno end up becoming arguably a better pair than Naruto and Sasuke.
This is because, while Asta and Yuno may have very different personalities and different perspectives on things, they are already like brothers right from the get-go. Asta is not the type to stand back and think and Yuno is not the type to dive headlong without a plan. And yet they perfectly understand and respect each other. There is not a shred of animosity between them.
Not only that - they also share the same dream and admiration towards each other. And now that they've become both best friends and rivals, they are racing to see who can get to the top first.
1. Deku/Bakugou from Boku no Hero Academia (My Hero Academia)
And finally, one of the most iconic hot-and-cold duos in this generation is none other than Deku and Bakugou. But the roles are actually reversed this time around: Deku is the calm main character while Bakugou is the reckless supporting character.
Although there was a thick animosity between them at first, especially from Bakugou's side, they’ve become very close friends now. As a matter of fact, Bakugou has become one of the few people who truly understands Deku.
But interestingly enough, both of them actually have elements of hot and cold within them. Yes, Deku usually thinks calmly before he acts, but there is also a reckless side to him that tends to do something without thinking about the consequences, especially the ones that affect his own body.
Likewise, Bakugou may seem like a maniac who dives head-first into danger, but he actually puts thought into his actions and won't do anything without a reason. This is what makes them one of the best duos in the manga world right now.
The hot-and-cold pair is one of the most commonly used tropes in manga simply because it is so fun and inspiring to see people with different personalities work together for a common goal. They do have different views on life and different ways to finish certain tasks, but by working together, they can cover each other's weaknesses and boost each other's strengths at the same time. And these ten titles are the perfect representations of that principle.
And there you have it. Is your favorite pair on this list? Or maybe you have another pair that you think fits the bill but not listed here? Feel free to share your thoughts and recommendations in the comment section below.