Goku and Vegeta have yet to be surpassed as anime’s most iconic rivals. Their love-hate relationship has proven influential for many series since Dragon Ball Z first released, and has led to the creation of many anime duos that have been iconic in their own right.
The power of Goku’s rivalry with Vegeta is their long history of ups and downs that coincides directly with Vegeta’s own character growth. These are two warriors who fought and struggled both against and alongside one another numerous times, and it helped them both become even stronger in the process. This kind of dynamic between deuteragonists has become quite common in shonen anime in particular, with many of the most popular series featuring main characters that embody similar tropes in their own ways.
10 Asta and Yuno Both Have The Same Goal
Asta and Yuno are a highly recognizable duo that have a lot of obvious things in common with Vegeta and Goku. After all, their rivalry stems from the differences in the circumstances of their birth and talent—much like Goku and Vegeta’s does.
Asta and Yuno are also both orphans, similar to how Vegeta and Goku are the last of their race after Planet Vegeta is destroyed by Frieza. Even though Asta doesn’t have any innate talent or magical ability, his uncompromising work ethic eventually earns him the respect of Yuno, much like Goku earns Vegeta’s respect in Dragon Ball.
9 Gabimaru and Sagiri Balance Each Other Out
When Gabimaru and Sagiri first meet, it’s as convict and executioner. Sagiri is tasked with keeping a close eye on Gabimaru as they explore the island of Shinsenkyo in search of the fabled elixir of life.
Like Goku and Vegeta, Sagiri and Gabimaru Sagiri and Gabimaru start off as bitter enemies, only to grow on each other by the necessity of working together. Something about Sagiri resonates with Gabimaru, causing him not to kill her when he inevitably gets the chance. As reluctant as their relationship was at first, the two become the best of friends who stand by each other, no matter what.
8 Kenshin Himura and Sanosuke Earn One Another’s Respect Through Combat
Kenshin and Sanosuke first meet as opponents on the field of battle in Rurouni Kenshin. That’s because Sanosuke is offered a contract to fight and kill the legendary Battosai The Man Slayer, which he gladly accepts.
Following that initial conflict, both fighters gain mutual respect for each other as warriors and as people. Despite the fact that Kenshin and Sanosuke have completely opposite personalities, they still fight for the same reasons and have very similar moral codes that allow them to work together to defeat those who would impose their strength on the weak and innocent.
7 Yugi Moto and Seto Kaiba Come From Different Walks Of Life
Yugi and Kaiba are distinct opposites from the very beginning of the Yu-Gi-Oh! series. Yugi comes from humble beginnings, with his deck being passed down from his grandfather. Kaiba, on the other hand, is the owner of a powerful corporation and bought a deck full of the most powerful cards using his immense fortune.
Even though Kaiba will do anything to become the best and believes in using his cards to gain greater power and renown, Yugi believes in following the “heart of the cards” and trusting in his grandfather’s deck to win fair and square. Yugi’s skill as a duelist eventually wins over Kaiba’s respect, but not before the two engage in multiple intense duels between Yugi’s signature Dark Magician and Kaiba’s infamous Blue Eyes White Dragon.
6 Inuyasha and Sesshomaru Let Love Win In The End
Inuyasha and Sesshomaru are actually half-brothers, which makes them unique to Goku and Vegeta and many other shonen anime rivalries. However, their status as demons gives them a sense of understanding each other that is not far off from Goku and Vegeta’s own situation as members of the Saiyan race.
Sesshomaru begins the series as a heartless villain whose sole goal is to obtain the Tessaiga from Inuyasha and use its power for his own selfish needs. He lacks an understanding of humanity and has no value for it at all until he meets Rin, whose reliance on him reaches Sesshomaru that there are things worth protecting—a fact that makes him a bit more willing to work alongside his brother in the end.
5 Guts and Griffith Are The Opposite Of Vegeta and Goku
Perhaps the darkest instance of rivalries in anime is that of Guts and Griffith in Berserk. Their rivalry is in many ways opposite to Goku and Vegeta, as the two first began as great friends and comrades with a mutual respect for one another that eventually resulted in being mortal enemies.
Guts became friends with Griffith after serving under him in the Band of the Hawk and quickly rising the ranks to become Griffith’s most trusted soldier. However, Griffith’s sadistic need to dominate everyone around him and be the master of all things led to his falling out with Guts, who proved himself to be stronger than Griffith in a one-on-one fight. This perceived weakness completely broke Griffith and caused him to begin a downward spiral which led to the two becoming the worst of enemies, and Guts living to seek revenge on his old friend.
4 Deku and Bakugo Save Each Other Like True Heroes Do
My Hero Academia
Midoriya and Bakugo are by no means friends at the outset of My Hero Academia. Bakugo is nothing short of a bully, constantly going out of his way to make Midoriya feel weak and small any chance he gets.
After Midoriya inherits One For All and becomes Deku, though, Bakugo slowly develops a respect for Midoriya, which is only increased by their shared admiration for All Might. Even when they do become best friends though, Bakugo and Deku always retain a healthy sense of rivalry that pushes them both to grow into the best heroes they can be.
3 Ash Ketchum and Gary Oak Help Eachother Grow As Trainers
Ash and Gary are a staple of both anime and video games as the main rivals of the Pokémon franchise’s earliest anime adaptation and the Red & Blue version for Game Boy. In both showings, Gary’s attitude and demeanor very much mimic that of Vegeta as a prideful and arrogant person who perceives himself as better than Ash.
However, like Goku, Ash is unflinching in his resolve to become the very best, and that’s a quality that even Gary has to respect. As the series goes on, Ash proves his worth as a Pokémon trainer in the Johto League, forcing Gary to humble himself in order to grow into a better person.
2 Yuji Itadori and Megumi Fushigoro Are The Quintessential Shonen Rival Archetype
Yuji and Megumi’s relationship was never quite as hostile as Vegeta and Goku’s was in the beginning. In fact, Megumi actually saved Yuji from a cursed spirit the first time they met. However, these two often clash because of their personalities which are almost completely polar opposites of each other and actually resemble Goku and Vegeta’s pretty closely.
Yuji is the bubbly, air-headed one who always wants to save people, while Megumi is the more serious, loner type. Their characters were actually closely based on another iconic shonen pair which was itself inspired by Goku and Vegeta: Naruto and Sasuke.
1 Naruto and Sasuke Have The Most Moving Rivalry In Anime
The only pair of anime rivals that may be able to rival the recognizability of Goku and Vegeta is Naruto and Sasuke. Like Vegeta and Goku, Naruto and Sasuke have frequently fluctuated between being the worst of enemies and the best of friends throughout both the original Naruto series and Shippuden.
Naruto and Sasuke’s rivalry and friendship take on a much more emotional tone than Goku and Vegeta’s, even if the two pairs are extremely similar. That’s because the two have a much deeper history since the earliest days of their childhood, making Sasuke’s fall from grace all the more tragic. Aside from being the Hokage, Naruto’s main mission is to bring his friend back to the Hidden Leaf Village, no matter how far on the side of darkness Sasuke seems to have traveled.
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