Asta and Yuno have the healthiest rivalry


Notice that I’m using the term “healthiest” here as opposed to greatest. It’s a little nuance that is worth pointing out because it’s different. The greatest rivalry would definitely need to be Goku and Vegeta followed by Yugi and Kaiba, Tyson and Kai, Aichi and Kai, Naruto and Sasuke, Yusuke and Hiei, etc. I would put those rivalries higher than Asta and Yuno’s if I were to rank them all.

However, while those rivalries are a lot of fun, part of the intensity there is with how toxic and antagonistic the characters were for a time. Vegeta literally started out as a genocidal monster who would blow up monsters and torture his opponents. He’s tried to murder Goku on more than one occasion and hasn’t always stayed the path of a hero. The banter is top tier but you couldn’t always say the rivalry was on good terms. (Well, Goku would probably say it was positive throughout) It’s a great rivalry but I wouldn’t call it a healthy one in the sense that you wouldn’t want this rivalry in real life prior to when it finally mellows out more in the end of Z to Super era.

Meanwhile Asta and Yuno is the kind of rivalry that you would absolutely love to have in real life. Both of them clearly respect each other and encourage themselves to do better. When Asta was having a hard time, Yuno gave him a pep talk. When Yuno was mind controlled Asta talked him back up. You never see these two characters getting really jealous of each other to the point of turning evil or giving each other the cold shoulder.

There were several times it seemed like the manga may be about to turn Yuno over to the dark side but it hasn’t happened. Now it still could at some point but we’re fairly deep into the series without that happening so the chances continue to decrease. He just takes his losses as an opportunity to get stronger without resenting Asta for it. They may get jealous at times but nothing very serious. One such moment is when Asta’s chances of fighting Yuno are sabotaged and he’s upset since now Yuno is in the finals but Asta won’t get to be there. It makes sense as being a very frustrating moment though because that’s something he had been looking forward to for a very long time. So let’s specifically look at the reasons why I call it a great rivalry.

The origin of the rivalry

So rivalries can start in a lot of different ways. It could be due to an inferiority complex from the rival himself who sees that he will ultimately be surpassed by the lead as with Bakugo. Deku just rubbed him the wrong way and the guy never looked back. He went after Deku at every turn but make no mistake he was a bully through be through. For Asta and Yuno, they became rivals after Asta saved Yuno from a bandit. Yuno saw Asta’s power and vowed to be strong. Not to rub it in Asta’s face or to destroy him but because that was a new ideal for him. From that point on Yuno was a changed man and never cried like that again. It was a positive start though as Yuno saw Asta at his best and it helped him improve himself. It’s a rivalry based on making each other better as opposed to breaking each other down and that’s a common theme throughout the series.

Clear Communication

A lot of rivals can barely manage to acknowledge each other without throwing in some kind of insult. You’ll come to see that a lot especially with Sasuke as he continually badmouths Naruto. He is definitely an extreme rival given how he completely turned evil and all but it does show how far some rivals are willing to go. Compare that to Asta who is able to awaken Yuno from the mind control by talking about his dreams or Yuno saying that he knew Asta would he selected by the magic knights and get a book. A proper rivalry should be one where you acknowledge the other side as an equal and that’s exactly what they did. Not just in a power sense but even just acknowledging that they respect each other.

Asta and Yuno always do that and even in front of villains so it’s not like this is a private thing. They don’t care who’s listening and will still praise the other. Particularly in Yuno’s case this is a big deal since in the series there is a big stigma against those who cannot use magic like Asta. This can also mean that Asta is susceptible to surprise attacks since his durability is that of a normal human’s. Once Asta learns how to use ki it becomes difficult to launch a sneak attack on him but there’s one time prior to that where a villain tries to land a sneak attack and Yuno quickly foils the attempt. It was a good way to show how they still watch each other’s back. The clip I linked above showed Asta at his lowest moment in the series and Yuno was able to bring him out of that depression. There were no insults, barbs, or any of that. Yuno just talked him up and it was a powerful moment.

Finally, it’s a rivalry not an obsession

When there’s an actual villain to defeat you don’t see any kind of bickering between them. There’s no pretense about being the one to stop the villains or anything like that. They just run in and get the job done. They’ll team up and coordinate attacks in an instant without looking back. They did this to fight Licht, the Devils, Mars, etc. their rivalry takes a backseat to the actual threats which is very realistic and just makes sense. They are heroes first and rivals second after all.

Personally I love the kind of banter we get from say Goku and Vegeta when a villain shows up. In their case the rivalry takes first dibs mainly thanks to Vegeta insisting on it. It’s a lot of fun to watch of course which is why they have the best rivalry of all time but in real life you’re probably hoping you can get help from your rival if something serious happens. Make no mistake Asta and Yuno still have a lot of great banter throughout the series and take shots at each other but it’s all in good fun. You never feel any kind of malice between the characters, serious resentment or anything like that. They’re just good friends who make each other even better.

So those are the main reasons why I put Asta and Yuno at the top in this category. It’s a really nice change of pace and it also makes this a very unique rivalry. As mentioned there is still time for things to change though. I’ve always been in the camp that believes Yuno will probably turn evil at some point but I wouldn’t mind being incorrect on this one. I should also say this isn’t the only healthy rivalry. There are certainly more of them out there particularly if you go more into different demographics. For Shonen the closest might be fighters like Ichigo and Renji or Luffy and Zoro but both rivalries are less of a focus to the point where you can debate if they really are rivalries. Then you have Ash and Gary where there are a lot of insults from Gary but I would put it more on the good fun side. It might be straddling the line just a tad but I have no doubt that if Ash was in serious trouble Gary would step in without letting Ash get beat up. Still, those are all runner ups in the end. Asta & Yuno’s rivalry is unmatched.

Lucien Draay vs Sasuke




Lucien is a strong fighter who can use the Force as well as his lightsaber. He won’t be going down to Sasuke very easily…but he will be going down all the same. Sasuke’s Chidori sword can hold its own with a lightsaber and moreover he has the definitive edge in combat ability. His speed and power are far greater than anything Lucien has seen in his day. He would be getting completely overwhelmed in the end. Sasuke wins.

Yennefer vs Sasuke




Yennefer has powerful spells, but those won’t be able to do enough damage or activate quick enough to take down Sasuke. Sasuke has access to the sharingan which makes him incredibly difficult to hit. He has grown sharper and sharper as his sharingan has evolved and Sasuke is incredibly tough to defeat one on one. One glance is enough for him to possibly end this fight. Sasuke wins.

Tenel Ka Djo vs Sasuke




Tenel is a pretty tough fighter. Force abilities shouldn’t be underestimated and even just having a lightsaber is something to be feared. Still, Sasuke can zip around with his Sharingan and lightning speed so he will be able to keep his distance and still claim the advantage. This just isn’t a fight where Tenel can really hope to make much of a difference. Sasuke’s abilities are just in a world of their own. Sasuke wins.

Levy McGarden vs Sasuke




Levy is strong, but she’s not quite ready to take on Sasuke. Sasuke was already OP back when he was a kid and his abilities have grown even more fierce since then. Sasuke can unleash his intense fire jutsu to keep Levy off balance and then finish things off in hand to hand combat. The difference in their abilities is far too vast and so this will be a pretty quick win for Sasuke. He won’t even need to go into Rinnengan mode to win this. Sasuke wins.

Richter Belmont vs Sasuke




Richter Belmont is definitely a pretty talented fighter. He may not be quite as well known as Simon, but he definitely does get the job done. Unfortunately for him this is not a match that he can hope to win. Sasuke is considerably faster and stronger than Richter. Richter will also have to spend the whole fight trying not to look at Sasuke or he may find himself in an illusion that he is unable to break out of. It’s an uphill battle from start to finish. Sasuke wins.

Rarity vs Sasuke




Rarity is definitely a nice pony and she can fight when necessary but I definitely think she is a little outmatched here. Sasuke has the Sharingan at his disposal and a lot of speed and power even without it. Rarity will be caught in a genjutsu right away and thus she will be unable to fight for the rest of the match. No amount of telekinesis will be enough to bring her back from that. Illusions are just tough to stop. Sasuke wins.

Itachi’s Story: Daylight/Midnight Review


It’s time to look art the two part Itachi adventure spread across these two novels. At this point you are likely familiar with Itachi’s story as it was explained around 10 times in the anime and is constantly brought up. These novels add more details to the period before Itachi actually ended up murdering his clan. This way you can better understand his rationale and what caused him to tip over the edge. How much you enjoy the novels will likely depend on if you can buy into any kind of justification for murdering a whole clan and as there is none it can get tricky. Prequels like this tend to suffer from one tricky element that is hard to get around. The ending is written in stone and can’t be changed so no matter how heroic the character tries to be, it is ultimately futile. I remember another prequel being like this, but I can’t recall which one.

Well, the novel starts with Itachi growing up. At first he is a kid who is forced to learn about the outside world and the brutal realities of the Ninja War. Eventually he grows to accept it, but decides that when he is strong he will be able to change the world. He’ll become Hokage and end all of this. In the mean time he has to be careful because the Uchiha clan want him to be a spy on the Hidden Leaf Village while the Anbu want him to spy on the Uchiha. He obtains a high ranking position among both groups. Both groups intend on murdering the other so Itachi is unsure what he can do. No matter what he will end up betraying somebody.

I’m quickly going to jump into the ending here because it’s really the main problem with this duology. Throughout both books Itachi is painted as being a very nice guy. He’s apparently quite the pacifist who even acts timid for quite a while. The only scenes where he becomes a lot harder and more out of control are the ones from the manga which have to be re-adapted. As such, the ending really comes out of nowhere. It never feels like the narrative was building up to Itachi murdering everyone until it happens. The justification for it is still as weak as it ever was. Danzo and his group are effectively blackmailing Itachi at the end, but why should he obey them?

Danzo ordered the execution of Itachi’s best friend and has been doing everything he can to ensure that the Uchiha clan would be destroyed. He eliminated the only option for peace by getting rid of Shinsui. Itachi even half heartedly tried to avenge his friend. Why go from there to suddenly agreeing with Danzo and murdering his family? The only reason for this is that it had to be that way. That’s how the story is supposed to end. It’s still the biggest problem with prequels like this. The story tries to have him save face by placing his friend in a genjutsu as he destroys her so she doesn’t feel like it, but that’s not even a silver lining. To ease his own conscience Itachi lets Madara destroy the women and children, but that is still as guilty as doing it yourself.

The ultimate rationale for this is that if Itachi didn’t wipe out the Uchiha then both sides would have had many casualties. While that seemed very likely if not inevitable, it’s still not a choice that he should have made. I also wouldn’t trust Sasuke’s safety with the village after this. Sure, he had their word, but what’s to stop Danzo from setting up another “accident?” Itachi could try to out him with his info, but that wouldn’t do much at that point. Clearly the best thing to do would have been to just make the situation known to everyone. A civil war would likely occur but at least some people would live rather than none. Of course the other villages may attack as well, but with this many ifs it isn’t as if there is an option that is risk free.

So the second volume definitely finishes the series off on a low note, but overall the duology is fairly well written. Itachi’s story makes for a pretty good parallel to Kakashi’s. Both of them are prodigies who quickly joined the Anbu and started to turn the tides of the war. The leaf village was really lucky to get so many highly skilled ninja at their disposal. I think the series is at its best when Itachi is on missions with the Anbu. I think focusing on that part is certainly best, but as I mentioned the rest of it is very interesting too. Just cut out the ending and then this story would be complete.

Danzo and his group are just very annoying. They get away with everything including literal murder. The Hokage is heavily implied to know what is going on, but simply doesn’t care enough to help. That’s why I never liked the Third Hokage and I was rooting for Sasuke to take down the village. The place is just so corrupt and everyone always seems to get away scott free. Even not arresting Orochimaru in the Boruto series is highly suspect at best. The guy is responsible for countless crimes, why are they being swept under the rug? These novels show just how shady the village is and why it’s hard to like any of those guys.

Naruto gets a cameo which was cool. Apparently Itachi was also able to be nice to him back in the day. Before he ended up snapping Itachi is shown to be one of the nicest guys around. He’s a genius while staying humble. If you don’t like it when a character gets too much hype then this could annoy you, but I’m fine with it. Some characters just are that perfect, it’s fine. It also does make for a very intimidating villain since it’s not as if Itachi lost those skills when he turned over to the other side. Given how Itachi’s mission was to look out for the Leaf though, I do think that hanging out with the Akatsuki was super risky at times though. It’s good to be close to the villains of course, but I feel like after a while Itachi’s goal shifted from protecting Sasuke and the village to purely be focused on Sasuke. Not a bad thing of course and the village doesn’t deserve his protection anyway, but time probably clouded his thinking.

Overall, The Itachi novels definitely add a lot of details to his sob story. Even though we’ve been through this many times in the show already, it definitely does add some insight that you couldn’t already know. How much that matters will depend on the person. I have to shave some points off for the terrible ending, but beyond that the books are solid and I’d recommend checking them out. Itachi may be gone in the present day stories, but his sacrifice did ultimately help Sasuke become one of the greatest Ninja out there. The village also seems to be in a better spot than it used to be so at least things won’t always be corrupt there. Naruto needs to keep everyone on a short leash and he has the power to do so. We better not get another Danzo type situation. With this one done I’ll start on the Sasuke novel soon. I expect that one will triumph. After all, Sasuke’s the main character!

Overall 5/10

Beleth vs Sasuke


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Beleth is a decently strong fighter who certainly knows what it is like to be on the winning side of a fight. Still, he will have a tough time getting past Sasuke of the Uchiha clan. Sasuke has visual jutsu that are leagues ahead of any other and his teleportation will allow him to get the drop on Beleth whenever he pleases. As such, Beleth has no real way of landing a hit. Sasuke wins.

Mercury vs Sasuke



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These two look and sound rather similar so this match was a given. I think Mercury would have given Part 1 Sasuke a very good fight and could potentially have even had the edge. That being said, Sasuke is certainly more powerful by the end of the series. He got so many overpowered Ninjutsu and Sharingan techniques that it was hard to keep track of them. Mercury will have to avoid eye contact while also keeping up with Sasuke’s speed and that’s just not happening. Sasuke wins.