Dragon Ball: 3 anime rivals similar to Vegeta (& 3 that are total opposites)

A comparison of different characters against Vegeta (Image via Toei Animation)
A comparison of different characters against Vegeta (Image via Toei Animation)

Vegeta of Dragon Ball fame is an iconic anime rival character. His character has become a blueprint for many rivals in anime.

The prideful downfall, becoming better, and always trying to push past his limits have been anime staples since before Dragon Ball. It didn’t invent the wheel, but it popularized the redeemed rival. That said, there have been many rivals over the years, some with Vegeta's exact blueprint and others completely different.

These are three anime rivals that are similar to Vegeta, and three that are his complete opposite.

Note: Contains spoilers for Yu-Gi-Oh, Kill la Kill, and other anime. This article reflects the author's opinions.


3 rivals who mirror Dragon Ball's Vegeta

1) Seto Kaiba

Seto Kaiba (Image via Studio Gallup)
Seto Kaiba (Image via Studio Gallup)

Seto Kaiba is the owner of the Kaiba Corporation, a large gaming and entertainment corporation in the world of Yu-Gi-Oh! He believed rules didn’t apply to him because he had money. If the money didn’t persuade people, he’d have them beaten until they submitted. The duel with Yugi in the first episode of the anime (earlier in the manga) began his obsession with beating the so-called “King of Games.”

Kaiba of Yu-Gi-Oh! and Vegeta of Dragon Ball are hugely similar. Kaiba is obsessed with defeating Yugi to the point of recreating Yugi's image down to the last strand of his "perfectly coiffed hair." His ego is so huge he has a Blue Eyes White Dragon jet and and is very quick to anger when insulted. He’s also fond of talking down to opponents, similar to Vegeta’s 'Prince of All Saiyans' rhetoric.

Kaiba has also been beaten by the main villains multiple times, like Dragon Ball's Vegeta. He starts off as a villain, driving Yugi’s grandfather to a heart attack over a mere card. After losing to Yugi, he obsesses over it and neglects his little brother Mokuba to the point where he gets kidnapped by Pegasus. After Yugi rescued Kaiba after Kaiba lost to Pegasus, the two teamed up frequently.

It culminates in Kaiba watching Yugi and Atem duel, and finally gaining respect for Yugi as a duelist and person. He offered Yugi his own cards, and an entire briefcase to aid Yugi in his battle with Atem. it’s akin to Vegeta giving energy for a Spirit Bomb or taking blows for people (which Kaiba does as well) in Dragon Ball.


2) Sasuke Uchiha

Fanmade Sasuke Uchiha wallpaper (Image via DeviantArt/nascimentART)
Fanmade Sasuke Uchiha wallpaper (Image via DeviantArt/nascimentART)

Much like Vegeta in Dragon Ball, Sasuke Uchiha is one of the last of his clan by the time Naruto rolls around. Both were survivors of massacres and were traumatized. Both of their traumas manifested in very sour attitudes, and both were shocked when they learned the truth behind what happened.

Both Sasuke and Vegeta barely walked away with their lives intact when they fought their respective rivals. Both men got worse over time, with Sasuke working with the villainous Akatsuki and Vegeta killing Namekians in Dragon Ball. Both men lost themselves to their delusions of grandeur: Sasuke tried killing all the Kage and Vegeta turned Maijin and unleashed Majin Buu.

But both men also changed for the sake of their families. Both men have been awkward dads, but have improved. Both men are better because of the people in their lives, including their rivals, helping them improve and eventually dropping the rivalry. As a bonus, Sasuke trains Boruto without question!


3) Katuski Bakugo

Katsuki Bakugo (Image via My Hero Academia)
Katsuki Bakugo (Image via My Hero Academia)

Bakugo is arrogant and loud. He bullied Izuku Midoriya as a child and that never stopped. Despite winning the U.A. sports festival, Bakugo bombed when it came to the provincial liscensing exam and his anger hasn’t exactly cooled off in the anime or the manga. Much like Vegeta from Dragon Ball, Bakugo is aiming for the top Hero spot.

All three of these men share being prodigies, yet lost to people they consider beneath them. Bakugo changes as My Hero Academia continues forward, starting to respect Izuku not just for his quirk but for his relentless optimism.

Likewise, Bakugo felt true guilt over getting kidnapped by the League of Villains and felt like he was the reason why All Might retired following Bakugo's rescue. He also manages to befriend and confess that he cares for Deku, and admits all his insecurities when helping him train to face All For One.

He’s also warmed up to the rest of Class 1-A, becoming friends or at least solid comrades with Todoroki, Jiro, Ochaco, Sero, and Kaminari of all people! It’s a step up from where he started, another thing he shares with Vegeta from Dragon Ball.


3 rivals that are drastically different than Vegeta from Dragon Ball

1) Satsuki Kiriyuin

Of the three profiles on this particular list, Satsuki seems as if she’s the most like Dragon Ball's Vegeta. A loud and prideful prodigy making speeches about how people beneath her are “pigs in human clothing,” Satsuki carried herself as the queen of Honnouji Academy in Kill la Kill. Brutally beating rival and series protagonist Ryuko Matoi, the two clashed more than once with Satsuki constantly berating her. So, why is she on the opposites' list?

She’s placed here due to her anti-villain motivations, and for getting herself better faster than Vegeta did in Dragon Ball. She had to seem ruthless to fool her evil mother, Ragyo Kiriyuin. Unlike Vegeta, who was deceived well into adulthood about the Saiyan genocide, Satsuki knew about her mother being evil thanks to her father. Satsuki’s plans required her to play the villain in order to fool her mother and the eldritch horror that were the life fibers.

After the raid trip and the timeskip events that culminated in Satsuki being rescued and Ryuko being saved from brainwashing, Satsuki bowed to Ryuko and admitted she was a fool to use brutal methods to maintain control. She also started explicitly relaxing and opening up to everyone, before and especially after, her wicked mother Ragyo is killed.

She even helped redeem Rei Hoomaru, telling her that she understood her pain and would work with her to get past it, finally putting her sword down. It also helped that Ryuko Matoi was revealed to be her long-lost sister.


2) Kazuma Kuwabara

Kazuma Kuwabara (Image via Studio Pierrot)
Kazuma Kuwabara (Image via Studio Pierrot)

Kazuma Kuwabara of Yu Yu Hakusho seems like an archetypical anime rival! He’s dumb, he’s not very pretty, he’s the second toughest kid and self-proclaimed punk of Sarayashiki Junior High School! How is that any different than Dragon Ball's Vegeta?

Well, for one, his temper isn’t as bad as rival Yusuke Urameshi, who could give all the above entries a run for their money. He was openly heartbroken about Yusuke dying, and wasn’t shy about showing his emotions. Yes, he can be rude, reckless, and stubborn, but he’s not arrogant and is honest to a fault.

He’s also considered the kindest of the main characters (cared for stray kittens, always giving energy to save Yusuke, saved Sea Man and spared his life despite Sea Man trying to kill him and his friends) and is insanely honorable (refused to fight in a team battle because of their opponents being controlled).

He often supports Yusuke and encourages him to improve. His relationship with Yukina, demon teammate Hiei's sister, was the sweetest thing to watch. He retired from fighting after the series, another departure from Dragon Ball's Vegeta, and focused on studying for college entrance exams. Letting go of his rivalry with Yusuke when the spirit world got serious is also a plus.


3) Yuri Plisetsky

The self-proclaimed “Ice Tiger of Russia”, the Russian Yuri!!! on Ice skater is indeed a prodigy. While he has the foul mouth and rudeness down, what separates him from Dragon Ball's Vegeta is the smokescreen of arrogance. Yuri is very harshly critical of himself and projects confidence to hide what he considers his flaws and sees everyone as a rival and enemy.

This is combined with his feelings towards Yuuri Katski (who he constantly encourages), his near blowout at the Rostelcom Cup short program when his grandfather couldn’t attend the cup, giving him a birthday present and given his motivation to train from Yuuri.

He constantly pushed himself and Yuuri, even helping him when he thought he was going to quit and not selfishly either. It’s the opposite of Vegeta from Dragon Ball, where it was totally selfish. Yuri even has actual friends and loved ones right from the start.


Conclusion

While Dragon Ball's Vegeta seems to have been a phenomenal inspiration for many anime rival characters, there are more than a few that don’t fit his mold despite initial impressions. This is just how it is, sometimes the old mold gets broken and the new comes in it’s place.