An Anime Guide on Finding a Rival for Valentine's Day | The Mary Sue
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An Anime Guide on Finding a Love—*AHEM* Sorry, a “Rival” for Valentine’s Day

Is this the person you're going to share an unshakeable bond with?

Screencap from Dragon Ball Z

As we continue our steady course toward Valentine’s Day, it may be time to take a deep breath, approach the mysterious silhouette in front of you, and ask if they’ve finally gotten strong enough to best you in combat.

Let’s be honest: One of the greatest character interactions in anime (and media in general) stems from rivalries. There’s something quite intimate about someone dedicating an ungodly amount of energy to being better than this one other person. Frankly, a lot of the tension would be solved if the characters just held hands or hugged or kissed or (censored), but instead, we’re treated to episode upon episode of will they/won’t they? Are they friends? Are they enemies? Is the creator just writing the longest slow burn fic of all time?


A proper rivalry is a not-really-forbidden-because-it’s-right-there-in-the-damn-opening dance full of raw, uninhibited emotions that, in some cases, is more powerful than the actual love story in the show. So this Valentine’s Day, I’m writing a handy dandy list of ways to tell if that person who keeps glaring at you and growling your name like some wild animal is the rival for you.

  • You and this person used to be friends but THINGS CHANGED


Did you have a best friend back in the day? Someone you shared a bond with? And suddenly, when you were both, hm, teenagers, they got all reality show I’m not here to make friends on you? And now all you do is fight?


Maybe something happened to trigger it in your childhood and it’s been awkward ever since?


The point is this person is now somebody that you used to know and every interaction you have with them is tense. Will you ever return to those old times?

  • You and this person used to be enemies but THINGS CHANGED 


Surprisingly, the reverse is true, too! It’s not just former friends who become rivals. Enemies, in some cases, go from world domination to setting their sights on beating one singular person.


The difference is that former enemies can get way more obsessive about it. On top of swearing up and down that they’re still enemies, damn it, they’re willing to drop everything for the sake of beating you in combat.


Or something happens to make them realize that they’re actually on the same page as you and it would be best if you just—

  • This person tries their hardest to make themselves feel superior to you


It’s not enough that they beat you. They want you to know, without a shadow of a doubt, that they’re better than you. By like, a lot.


So it’s not going to be a close victory. No. They want to utterly destroy you and everything you stand for.

  • This person doesn’t need your help (but they do need your help please help them)


It would take a lot. I mean. A. LOT. For them to ever admit needing your help, so until that moment comes, expect them to tell you to eff off, even if their life hangs in the balance, even if the entire world is depending on you working together.

  • This person is constantly trying to impress you

Even if you’re not seeing eye to eye, they’re always hoping that you’re watching them so you can see how much they’ve improved. Does it matter that you hate them? It should, but it doesn’t. In fact, it just makes them more determined to show you that they’re worthy of your time.

  • Everything is a contest. EVERYTHING!


I mean it. Y’all are going to go head to head about everything. This person is going to find any reason to make a situation into A THING. You think you’re just sitting there, eating dinner? Nope. Eat faster, loser.


  • You can’t get away from this person

No matter how hard you try they’re just … there. All the time. You think you won’t see them again now that you’re at a new school?



It’s like fate. You’re just destined to have this person by your side, no matter what (and you two would probably miss each other if you ever did split up).

  • This person won’t openly acknowledge you as a friend … but would be REAL mad if you died

On the surface, they’re pretty aloof. When you try to get close to them they look the other way. To be honest, you’re not sure if you’re even friends.

But listen.

If something happened to you, worst of all, if you died? They’d be upset. Hell, they’d probably get a power boost to go and avenge you.

So you better not die. Okay?

Even if their goal is to kill you, life wouldn’t be the same without you in it.


  • This person can’t deal with you being nice to them

Like. Stop complimenting them.

It makes them uncomfortable.

  • You get unbelievably strong when you’re around this person

You may have started off underestimating them (or vice versa), but the fact remains that when you two put aside your differences and work together, you’re unstoppable.






And the aftermath? Totally worth it.

Just don’t tell them that.

Hopefully, this list helps you figure out whether or not that person who keeps making passive-aggressive comments about your chosen skill or the fact that you have the audacity to breathe air will solidify a lifelong rivalry.

Happy Valentine’s Day.



… fool.

List of anime referenced:

  1. Naruto
  2. My Hero Academia
  3. Free! Iwatobi Swim Club
  4. Kuroko’s Basketball
  5. Promare
  6. Dragon Ball Z
  7. Death Note
  8. Demon Slayer
  9. Haikyu!!
  10. Jujutsu Kaisen
  11. Yu Yu Hakusho

(featured image: Funimation)

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Briana (she/her - bisexual) is trying her best to cosplay as a responsible adult. Her writing tends to focus on the importance of representation, whether it’s through her multiple book series or the pieces she writes. After de-transforming from her magical girl state, she indulges in an ever-growing pile of manga, marathons too much anime, and dedicates an embarrassing amount of time to her Animal Crossing pumpkin patch (it's Halloween forever, deal with it Nook)