11 Times Anime Rivals Were Totally Cooler Than the Main Character
The battle between a lovable protagonist and his hated archenemy is the basis for some of the best anime in existence, going all the way back to the mangas by Shakespeare-Senpai. But once in a while, a rival comes along that is so much more awesome than the main character that you actually want the lead to lose. So, to forever throw your loyalties into whack, here are 11 times anime rivals were totally cooler than the main character.
1) L (Death Note)
Granted, he’s more a straight-up enemy than a rival, but Kira and this ghoulish detective were ultimately competing for the same goal: the perfect world. And in the pursuit of that perfect world, L came to the fore as a charming, quirky, and brilliant character whose dark and serious approach to the justice system does nothing to affect his knack for candy. Perhaps it is the minimalist dialogue, the (logically-questionable) deductions, the zombie-like design, or just the brilliant deadpan tone with just the right amount of inflection that makes L so memorable. Whatever it may be, the best detective the world has ever known is a haunting sight to behold and an unforgettable character that has won anime fans the world over.
2) Sasuke Uchiha (Naruto)
In the end, there will always be those who are Team Sasuke. And why wouldn’t they be, considering the fact that he is just as cool a ninja as the show’s titular protagonist, but he also has the added advantage of not being an idiot. Having faced personal tragedy that would have broken most, Sasuke instead rose to the challenge, fighting everything from demons to the corruption within his own soul to become one of the most feared warriors on the planet. His tremendous thirst to be the best drives him into a relentless pursuit for strong opponents and, more often than not, he shows he can take them. Meanwhile, Rock Lee gets his own show. What?
3) Emi Yusa (The Devil is a Part-Timer!)
As the world’s most over-achieving hero of all time, Emi gets a special reward for maintaining her rivalry long after the Devil stopped being a devil (for the most part). Even on the days when Maou is just flipping burgers, Emi is the kind of rival that sneaks around trying to find evidence of his devilry at the MgRonald’s kitchen. That doesn’t change that she’s totally a cool warrior with commendable fighting skill and not an ounce of fear in her soul, BTW. Now if only she could actually focus on keeping a real job, Emi might actually become a productive member of society. Besides, as Ashiya will gladly remind you, the Devil is not interested in taking over the world right now; it’s just not in the monthly budget.
4) Seto Kaiba (Yu-Gi-Oh!)
As the Tony Stark of anime, Kaiba is an engineering wunderkind with his own fortune and a jet shaped like the Blue Eyes White Dragon. Not to mention he is arguably the best duelist of his time (the only one who could really beat him was a 5,000-year old pharaoh). Yes, he has to deal with a brother who is always getting kidnapped, but that’s still cooler than a little kid whose mind gets taken over by an ancient puzzle. Sure, he doesn’t always play by the rules, but screw the rules; he has money.
5) Kaede Rukawa (Slam Dunk!)
We all love Hanamichi Sakuragi, but there’s no denying that he’s kind of a thug with a short temper and a desperate need to be liked by a girl who just isn’t into him. Who she is into, however, is the silent genius Rukawa, whose own squad of portable cheerleaders does well to remind us who is the best basketball player in Japan. In the entire series, Rukawa doesn’t miss a shot and, were it not for another undeniable genius, no one can take Rukawa one-on-one. Oh, and he manages to surpass that other genius by the end too. There’s really nothing anyone else has on Rukawa’s game, and he doesn’t even need a partner to help him be the best of all time. So take that, Kuroko.
6) Gary Oak (Pokemon)
At 10 years of age, in spite of starting his journey at exactly the same time as you, Gary Oak was the final boss champion in the first game in the series. A few years later, he was a self-proclaimed Pokemon genius in the anime with his own sports car and band of cheerleaders. He even got up on time and got an actual starter rather than a rat that nobody wanted. And he would go on to become the highest-ranking Gym Leader in Kanto. Ladies and gentlemen, that is Gary “Mutha****ing” Oak. And yes, the life we likely won’t retire with as 60, he already has. And he’s 10.
7) Erina Nakiri (Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma)
Having suffered some of the harshest training to ever befall a cook, it’s no surprise that Erina has a distaste for all things of poor taste. Actually, she also seems to have a problem with the poor in general, frequently deeming even the most esteemed chefs unworthy, due to her ability to test the greatness of food with her regal tongue. She’s gifted, arrogant and one of the worst critics you will ever face, because when she tells you your food is terrible, she is absolutely right. Sorry, Soma; Erina does not approve of your horrible restaurant background.
8) Vegeta (Dragon Ball Z)
Who dares challenge the Prince of Saiyans?! Well, a lot of people did. And pretty much all of them are dead right now. That is the power of Vegeta, one of the last surviving members of the warrior species, and the only one who doesn’t die all the time (looking at you, Kakarot). Vegeta may not be the strongest character the galaxy has ever known, but he is certainly the most combative, never worrying about his own life in the face of adversity as he fights to be known as the last true royal Saiyan. Having survived everything from Goku’s Kamehameha to Majin Buu’s indoctrination, Vegeta can genuinely lay claim to being the most resilient fighter of all time. And he’s married to Bulma, arguably the fantasy of tech nerds everywhere; that has to count for something.
9) Satsuki Kiryuin (Kill la Kill)
While she starts off as something of a maniacal jerk, Satsuki grows into one of the most admirable characters at Honnouji Academy (which isn’t saying much because they’re mostly awful people, but still). While she serves as an opponent to protagonist Ryuko for most of the series, she also finds her path in life when she realizes that her mother is just totally wrong and stands against her. She also has a ridiculous blade that can chop through pretty much anything, tremendous physical ability to rival the world’s deadliest assassins, and school administrative skills like you won’t believe. Do you know how hard it is to find a good student council president?
10) Matt Ishida (Digimon)
When Tai and his hideous goggles aren’t narrating about how awesome Wargreymon is, fans actually get to enjoy the much cooler Matt. He cares for his younger brother. He inspires his shy Digimon to be more open. He wears a sleeveless shirt that makes him look kind of like a villain and probably gels his hair. Point is, Matt is genuinely the coolest character Digimon fans never got to see in detail. Not to mention his Digimon becomes a wolf with combat pants.
11) Shenhua (Black Lagoon)
Assassin with amazing knife skills? Check. Ability to rock gorgeous dress and maintain fabulous looks while fighting for her life? Check. Alluring speech pattern that frequently switches between two languages? Check. A touch of mysticism and willingness to switch over loyalties based on personal moral code? Check. Basically, everything that one could want in the lead for an anime is present in Shenhua, the rival that makes Revy look like an uncultured thug. Sure, Revy loves to call her “Chinglish” and “Yes Man,” but she responds with calling her opponent a “Twinkie.” Anyone who knows what that means knows that Revy just got burned.
So what other rivals do you know that are totally cooler than the main anime lead? Be sure to sound off in the comments below! And for all your anime needs, be sure to follow Dramafever on Twitter!