Of all the fight scenes that happen in anime, some of the more interesting ones involve friendly bouts between heroic characters. Whether they're comparing their strengths or stuck together in a tournament, they might go all-out on each other—even if they're friends.
But there are also times when heroes have clashing ideologies, which can create rifts between friendships and even escalate to all-out war.
These hero-versus-hero moments in anime can be really interesting because when you dig into their respective contexts, you can usually spot all kinds of deeper drama brewing beneath it all.
From death matches between friends to battles decide the fate of the world, here are my picks for the best hero-versus-hero moments in anime.
11. Kakashi vs. Guy (Naruto)
One of the best friendship rivalries in anime is found between Kakashi Hatake and Might Guy. Both are powerful shinobis who are enlisted as Jonins of the Hidden Leaf Village.
Their lifelong rivalry usually comes out in the form of childish games, from rock-paper-scissors to racing towards a finish line.
While their friendly matches are generally silly, it's fun to watch because we know they're both so extremely powerful that they could only be stopped by Kage-level ninjas if they got serious.
10. Yuno vs. Rill (Black Clover)
The Royal Knight Selection is a competition held in Clover Kingdom, which aims to find powerful mages for the Royal Knights in response to the threats of the Eyes of the Midnight Sun.
This competition pits selected Magic Knights against each other, and the arc gave us plenty of action-packed and well-animated fight scenes, including Rill's team versus Luck's team.
But, of course, one of the best was Yuno's battle against the Aqua Deer's Captain, Rill. While the young captain is thrilled to fight, Yuno unleashed a powerful spell he'd never done before: the Spirit Dive.
9. Ban vs. Meliodas (The Seven Deadly Sins)
Like Kakashi and Guy, Ban and Meliodas also share a good relationship as both rivals and friends. However, their friendly matches aren't just jokes—their attacks are really trying to kill one another!
One such instance of a deadly friendly match occurs during the Vaizel Fight Festival, where Ban (who just snatched Meliodas's strength) was blasted out of bounds after Meliodas tapped into his demonic powers (as seen with his demon mark).
8. Escanor vs. Gowther (The Seven Deadly Sins)
In The Seven Deadly Sins, Drole and Gloxinia host a tournament that ends up featuring a battle between the members of the Seven Deadly Sins. In particular, I'm talking about Escanor against Gowther.
Escanor goes up against Gowther, who's a blank slate of emotions and is driven by the fight itself. Escanor doesn't want to fight his friend, but Gowther doesn't feel the same way towards him.
However, the Lion's Sin manages to turn the Goat's Sin's Nightmare Teller into an immense magic power and unleashes it—not towards his friend but towards the spectating Commandments.
7. Shinra vs. Arthur (Fire Force)
Shinra Kusakabe and Arthur Boyle are members of Special Fire Force Company 8 in Fire Force. But after Shinra enters the Adolla Link and gets possessed by the First Pillar, he succumbs to intense hatred.
This causes Shinra to run wild, who desires to burn everything to the ground. Arthur, on the other hand, beats him down and back to his senses after a few important exchanges.
6. Goku vs. Vegeta (Dragon Ball Z)
After Vegeta came down to Earth the second time, we never got to see another serious fight between him and Goku. But after Babidi turns him into Majin Vegeta, we're treated to a groundbreaking duel between the two iconic Saiyans.
This time, instead of fighting in their base forms, both enter their Super Saiyan forms (much more powerful versions of themselves compared to when they first clashed).
5. Naruto vs. Sasuke (Naruto Shippuden)
Naruto and Sasuke are best friends and lifelong rivals. Their opposing views on life cause all kinds of misunderstandings, which usually result in them fighting each other.
Sasuke becomes an anti-hero when he goes rogue, trains under Orochimaru, and starts working for Akatsuki. But later, he returns to being a hero after he joins the Allied Shinobi Forces in their battle during the Fourth Great Ninja War.
After the war, an even greater battle ensues as Sasuke has his own plans to create a better world with Naruto opposing him. What makes this fight so badass is that they're both at the peaks of their powers, with both still having the powers that the Sage of Six Paths gave them.
4. Saitama vs. Genos (One Punch Man)
The battle between Saitama and Genos is more of a sparring match and a test of strength, but GEnos wants to go all-out. With all of his modifications and high-powered weaponry, he's confident that he can take his master in a one-on-one match.
When he feels like his master is just fooling around and going easy on him, Genos requests that Saitama get serious. (But if Saitama really did get serious, Genos would've surely been destroyed.)
3. Zoro vs. Sanji (One Piece)
One Piece has tons of Zoro versus Sanji moments that usually serve as a form of comic relief. They frequently raise arms against each other, but their arguments and brawls are often nonsensical.
However, during the aftermath of their battle in Thriller Bark, they again face each other—but this time, it's to decide who will remain on the ship as the other takeks the huge bubble of Luffy's pain.
While this matchup isn't as action-packed as other fight scenes, it's elevated by the drama as these characters fight for loyalty to their captain and their willingness to sacrifice their lives for him.
2. Izuku Midoriya vs. Katsuki Bakugo (My Hero Academia)
Right from the start of My Hero Academia, we can see that Katsuki Bakugo hates Izuku Midoriya. Whenever he sees or even hears Midoriya, he's inexplicably furious.
The thing is, Bakugo's hatred is rooted in a deep-seated feeling of inferiority towards Midoriya. This hatred grows even more after he learns the truth about Midoriya being All Might's successor.
Bakugo eventually vents his rage in their battle on Ground Beta. Both young heroes showcase their capabilities and strength, and it helps them both to realize the feelings they're hiding in their hearts.
1. Luffy vs. Usopp (One Piece)
Usopp is clearly no match against his captain Luffy. But still, he steps up and challenges him to a duel that will decide the fates of Going Merry and the crew as a whole.
What makes this scene one of the best in One Piece is that it's dripping with both action and drama. We all know that Luffy cares deeply for his nakama, so his punches hurt himself more than they hurt Usopp.
While Usopp is beaten physically, Luffy is hurt emotionally as he bids farewell to his unconscious comrade lying on the ground.