Sometimes they're rivals, while sometimes they get along. Whether they fight, argue, or just talk to each other, they keep their relationship not too close to be called “friendship”, and yet not too distant to be called “enemy”. Well, the only word able to fit between two characters of this kind is “frenemies”.
The peculiar trait of frenemies is the fact that whatever they may do, they end up being foils. Frenemies aren't opposites of each other as they have some similarities that draw them closer. Yet, they do have some different qualities that make them shine in different situations and, at the same time, force them apart in spite of the similarities that make them friends. What is obvious, though, is that fact because frenemies are foils, they are in need of each other.
The anime world is full of frenemy duos. Some of them argue openly, some of them fight with kicks and punches, some of them despise each other. What doesn't change, though, is the fact that beside everything, they end up cooperating and helping each other, clash but never leave the other behind. The purpose of this ranking is to mention ten of the most amazing frenemy duos who aroused enthusiasm among the viewers all around the world, so stick with us until the end and enjoy the ride!
10. Mahiro Fuwa vs Yoshino Takigawa from Blast of Tempest (Zetsuen no Tempest)
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: October 2012 – March 2013
Yoshino Takigawa and Mahiro Fuwa are best friends. Mahiro has a little sister, Aika. Yoshino and Aika are dating, but they have to keep it a secret from Mahiro, as Aika suggests. One day, Mahiro, stepping back home finds Aika in a pool of blood. He swears to find who killed her and act consequently. Mahiro, unable to overcome Aika's death, is left alone. One month after, when a strange girl is about to shoot Yoshino, Mahiro reappears and saves him at the very nick of time. He finally explains what he intends to do, and what is about to happen in that world that seem on the verge of chaos!
These two fellows are childhood friends and best friends. Yoshino is calm and collected, yet when the situation requires, he can become very manipulative. On the other hand, there's Mahiro who is hot-headed but steadfast. Even though Yoshino is the closest person Mahiro has, their being frenemies is undeniable. Yoshino was dating Mahiro's sister, but Mahiro – in spite of stating the contrary – had always loved his non-blood-related, little sister. In fact, when he will discover that Yoshino and Aika were dating, he will be very upset.
This frenemy duo is interesting under a lot of aspects; Yoshino envies Mahiro's way of reacting at his sister's death, and admires his strength and determination. On the other side, Mahiro can't fathom what his little sister found in Yoshino and why they had to keep their relationship a secret. In spite all of this, in spite being on the polar opposite sides, they are inseparable friends. Probably, Yoshino is the only one who is capable to understand Mahiro, and vice versa.
9. Haruto Tokishima vs L-elf Karlstein from Valvrave The Liberator (Kakumeiki Valvrave)
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: April 2013 – December 2013
Haruto Tokishima's peaceful life is about to end abruptly. He lives his student daily routine in space, in a division called Module 77. When the Dorssian Military Pact Federation invade the territory, he is forced by the circumstances to become a Valvrave pilot. That's the exact moment when his life drastically changes and take a turn for the worse. Haruto doesn't know that by becoming a Valvrave pilot, he is actually giving up his human part, becoming some hungry monster similar to a vampire.
Of course, if the situation wasn't already bad, even Haruto needed a fierce frenemy to get (not so) along with. L-elf Karlstein is a Special Agent, part of the Dorssian Military Pact Federation, sent to infiltrate JIOR's dyson sphere with his team. At the beginning, as one would expect from frenemies, Haruto and L-elf are on two completely different wavelengths. While Haruto is too naive and kind, L-elf is too bitter and irritating. While Haruto struggle with his new condition, unable to accept it, L-elf seems to be cold and unfazed.
The situation changes when Haruto discovers that L-elf, too, has someone who is important to him. That's the starting point for Haruto to start trusting in L-elf and see him in a different perspective. While these two keep bickering over everything, one not accepting the other's way of thinking/acting, when push comes to shove they end up cooperating and helping each other. In the end, in spite their differences and their rivalry, they'll become allies and, later on, even friends.
8. Moritaka Mashiro vs Eiji Niizuma from Bakuman.
- Episodes: 75
- Aired: October 2010 – March 2013
Moritaka Mashiro, also called Saiko, had one big dream: to become a successful mangaka and follow his uncle's steps. When tragedy strikes, though, he decides to give up. The fated meeting with Akito Takagi, an aspiring writer, turns the tables. Takagi is what Saiko was waiting for: a boy full of enthusiasm, who noticed his drawings and proposed to him to become mangaka together. Joining forces, they become a duo – Muto Ashirogi – and start creating a story, hoping to become great enough to gain an anime adaptation to their works.
On one side we have Saiko – and Takagi – struggling to emerge in a world where competition is just too strong. He is self-critical when it comes to his drawings, and a perfectionist who refuses to stop drawing until he is completely satisfied with what he sees. On the other side, there's Eiji Niizuma. Niizuma is a high school genius mangaka who has been drawing manga since he was very little. He acts all conceited, and seems to be naive, but he can turn out to be very serious at times.
What we see is something along these lines: Saiko, who struggles to his maximum, obtaining the littlest results, and Niizuma, who seems able to draw with the minimum effort, obtaining the greatest results. Even though they are rivals, fighting with a pen in hands, they admire each other. Saiko admires Niizuma's dedication and genius, while Niizuma can't stop admiring Saiko's determination. Episode by episode, it is shown how they are sincerely happy over each other's successes, but still they have to keep an eye on each other because they both don't want to lose.
7. Natsu Dragneel vs Gray Fullbuster from Fairy Tail
- Episodes: 175
- Aired: October 2009 – March 2013
Lucy Heartphilia is a kindhearted, traveling mage. She decides to join the Fairy Tail wizarding guild in Magnolia Town and there, she meets Natsu Dragneel. Natsu is searching for Igneel, his missing father, and along with him there's Happy, a flying cat. After being abducted and about to be sold as a slave, Lucy is rescued by Natsu, who reveals to be a dragon slayer, and offers Lucy to join his team. That's how these two, along with Erza Scarlet and Gray Fullbuster will form one of the most powerful team within the Fairy Tail guild!
Natsu and Gray are childhood friends and rivals ever since. It's no wonder, though, as they use opposite elements in their magic; while Natsu wields the power of the fire, Gray wields the power of the ice. It goes without saying that one will always be stronger than the other, by definition. This is what keeps drawing them apart. Since their younger years, they kept fighting over trivial stuff. Yet, they are together in their fear of Erza, who has always been the only one able to stop their arguing.
This frenemy duo share a competitive, and yet deep friendship. The bond between Natsu and Gray is very strong, so much so that they will do anything to protect the other. In spite their differences while fighting, and their willing to confirm their superiority over the other, they are always there for the other, when the moment requires.
6. “Avilio” Angelo Lagusa vs Nero Vanetti from 91 Days
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 2016 – October 2016
This story is set in Lawless, a city ruled by the mafia and where the law holds no power. Avilio, alias Angelo Lagusa, returns to Lawless after some time away. His past is full of ghosts; his family has been murdered in front of his own eyes, and he managed to escape somehow. After receiving a letter, Angelo understands that it was time to return to Lawless and infiltrate the Vanetti family, responsible for his family's death. His idea is to befriend Nero Vanetti, the don's son, and finally accomplish his revenge.
Nero Vanetti, in spite being the don's son, has a cheerful personality and is the exact opposite of Angelo. Of course, Angelo went through a lot during his life and that's probably what turned him into a silent man never able to express his true feelings, not even in front of his childhood friend Corteo. He decides to befriend Nero, and manages to do so. Not only he manages to become Nero's most trusted underling, but their relationship grows so strong that he declares himself to be Nero's brother. What's more, Nero will start to consider Angelo a real brother to a certain point.
Despite their growing closer and their bond, though, Angelo can never forget what Nero and his family did. So these frenemies' relationship is constantly on the verge of falling apart, whenever Angelo remembers the true purpose of his getting closer to Nero. And since revenge calls for revenge, and death calls for death, their story will end up leaving all the viewers speechless.
5. Goku “Kakarot” Son vs Vegeta from Dragon Ball Z
- Episodes: 291
- Aired: April 1989 – January 1996
After winning the World Martial Arts tournament, Goku can finally spend peaceful days with his family. Or so he thought. Things drastically changes when Raditz appears and states to be Goku's brother, revealing that Goku is a warrior of the Saiyan race which is now extinct, and was sent on the Earth to conquer it. Since Goku doesn't accept to become Raditz's ally, Raditz warns him that something evil will strike the Earth soon and a new big war will start.
Right after, it's the moment for the fated meeting of this frenemy duo to happen. Vegeta is the prince of the Saiyan, and after hearing Raditz's report, he decides to come to Earth and find the Dragon Balls, to gain immortality. Vegeta is arrogant, bitter and full of pride, and his rage is all due to the fact that his race has been abused and destroyed. Goku, on the other hand, has a cheerful personality and loves challenges.
In the beginning, Vegeta considers Goku as a third-class warrior. When he realizes his strength, though, he just can't believe it. Vegeta, the prince of the Sayian, is defeated by Goku and soon his indifference and arrogance turn into open hostility. We could actually write a poem about these two, but we will just say that their rivalry goes on during all the show, until something changes. In fact, after saving the Earth together, Goku will start considering Vegeta as a friend. Vegeta, even though he will still consider Goku as his only rival, will put aside the hatred and after a long time he will start to consider Goku, and the other Saiyan, as something similar to friends and comrades.
4. Zoro Roronoa vs Sanji from ONE PIECE
- Episodes: 760
- Aired: October 1999 - ongoing
Let's go on with this amazing a frenemy duo in the ONE PIECE universe. You all know that ONE PIECE revolves around Monkey D. Luffy and his desire to become the King of Pirates. During his journey, he will meet people willing to join him and then, together, they will cut through the Grand Line, experiencing crazy adventures and fighting against the most powerful enemies.
Zoro and Sanji are probably the most important and powerful members of Luffy's crew. They are on the opposite sides in basically everything: Zoro is serious, unfazed and distant, even though he loses his temper almost immediately; while Sanji is a ladies' man, constantly thinking of a way to have Nami and Robin notice him. While Zoro is a sworsdman, Sanji uses his legs to kick asses. Well, they are different, as we said up above.
With these premises, it was easy to understand where their relationship could land. In fact, these two fellows, as good frenemies do, are always competing and arguing over trivial matters. Zoro has the habit of insulting Sanji when he is trying to flirt with Nami or Nico Robin, while Sanji frequently calls Zoro “s***** marimo”. Despite their rivalry, and their stupid fights that end up being comical, the flip side is that they have a brotherly mutual trust and care, even though they would never admit it. What's more, when push comes to shove and the situations get serious, they understand each other way better than the other crewmates, and when they fight together, they become basically unstoppable.
3. Naruto Uzumaki vs Sasuke Uchiha from Naruto
- Episodes: 220
- Aired: October 2002 – February 2007
The huge Nine-Tailed Fox demon once attacked the Hidden Leaf Village. To put an end to the havoc and stop the demon, the Fourth Hokage sealed the beast inside Naruto's body. Years after, when Naruto is an eleven-year-old little ninja, everyone avoids him because of the monster sealed within him. Without parents nor friends, he struggles to find his place in a world where he doesn't seem to fit.
At the Ninja Academy, Naruto and Sasuke meet for the first time. Naruto is exuberant, hyperactive and seemingly unfazed by what the others think of him. Sasuke is cold, distant and not in the least interested in other people. Their personalities clash from the beginning; Naruto is very bad at traditional ninja techniques and no one actually believes he will succeed. Sasuke, on the contrary, is a model student, and popular with boys and girls.
Aside from these differences, they have something in common as well. They are both orphans, due to a tragedy that happened to their village, and they both are searching for a place to belong to. The only difference is that Naruto is more honest about it. Their being frenemies is all up to Naruto's jealousy over Sasuke’s natural talent, and the way the others support him. While Sasuke can't seem to overcome the loss of his brother's support and attention. So, in the end, while fighting, and yet helping each other and running at each other's rescue, they will go through a lot together not to be considered friends, and yet they will never cease to be sworn rivals.
2. Lelouch Lamperouge vs Suzaku Kururugi from Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion (Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch)
- Episodes: 25
- Aired: October 2006 – July 2007
Code Geass is a story revolving around the Holy Empire of Britannia, that has subjugated Japan with robots called Knightmare Frames. Now “Area 11”, Japan is totally deprived of its freedom, and its citizens – the Elevens – struggle to survive in that tyrannical oppression. In order to help Japan regain its freedom, an organization called “The Order of the Black Knights” led by a masked man called “Zero” appears. Under Zero's mask hides Lelouch vi Britannia, the exiled prince who, in order to put down Britannian aristocracy, changes his name into Lelouch Lamperouge and starts plotting his revenge.
Banished by his father for outrage, when he was still a little child, he was raised in the mansion of the Prime Minister Kururugi. There, he met Kururugi's son, Suzaku. Even though the two of them didn't get along in the beginning, it was easy for the gentle Suzaku to be liked by Lelouch. They became close friends, almost like brothers, but the revenge that Lelouch was preparing would force them apart.
As Lelouch is seemingly a patient, kind and considered boy, in reality he turns out to be very inflexible and stubborn. On the contrary, Suzaku is more open and flexible than Lelouch. To a certain point, their ideals will go on the opposite sides, and they will end up being enemies. Yet, the fact that Suzaku is the only true friend Lelouch has ever had is something that Lelouch himself realizes. In fact, he will kneel and pray that Suzaku takes care of Nunnally, his sister, because he trusts Suzaku with his life. In the end, they will figure out a way of cooperating and keeping their friendship in spite of everything. They will find a compromise and sacrifice themselves for a greater good: the country's future.
1. Arsene Lupin III vs Kouichi Zenigata from Lupin III
- Episodes: 23
- Aired: October 1971 – March 1972
Let's end this chart with a frenemy duo old but gold, known in the entire world and still able to make viewers laugh and have fun. Arsene Lupin III is the world-famous thief Arsene Lupin's grandson. He has to live up to everyone's expectations, and to his grandfather's memory as a thief. Due to his name, Lupin often attracts unwanted attentions; rival criminals try to get in his way and, of course, Tokyo Police, too. Above all, he attracts the attention of a certain Tokyo Police Inspector, called Kouichi Zenigata.
Zenigata has made catching Lupin his one and only reason to live. No matter how many times Lupin manages to escape; no matter how many times he plays Zenigata and belittles him in front of his subordinates. Zenigata has the confidence that one day he will arrest Lupin for good. With Lupin and Zenigata we probably have the most classic example of friendly enemies. Even though Zenigata chases after Lupin, they frequently end up cooperating. And every single time Lupin fakes his death, Zenigata unavoidably finds himself in sorrow.
Their way of interacting is very similar to the game of the cat and the mouse. That is to say, the cat gets bored without the mouse, while the mouse gets bored without the cat. So, in the end, it's safe enough to say that these two, even without saying it out loud, are actually fond of each other, exactly like we are fond of them after so many years!
With this old but gold frenemy duo, we end our ranking. We chose those who had the biggest impact on the viewers. Those who were clearly frenemies from the start, and those who were frenemies in a less flashy way. All of them, though, shared the important trait we mentioned above; they were foils unable to leave the other alone. What do you think? If you know other frenemy duos and want to share your thoughts, feel free to comment below!