Versus: Ten Epic Animated Duels
You know that moment when two people come face to face in a confrontation where only one is going to walk away under their own power if they’re lucky? There’s some primal instinct hidden in human psychology that lives to see that moment and the resulting fight for life that inevitably follows unfold. It just gets our blood pumping.
Film and television is naturally a perfect outlet for satisfying our need for bloodshed and conflict without anyone actually getting hurt. Everybody has their list of memorable one-on-one fight scenes from film and television, but what about animation? After all, with animation the possibilities for epic beatdowns are literally without limitation.
I’ve assembled an Unreality fight card featuring some of my favorite match-ups from over the years and I’m putting on show for you guys. Note that there will be spoilers and let’s get ready to ruuuuuuuuumble!
Jin vs Sara
Setup– In Samurai Champloo, Jin is a ronin samurai hired to help a girl find her father, and Sara is a blind musician serving as an involuntary assassin, the shogunate having coerced her by kidnapping her child. Once she finally gets Jin alone, she reveals that she has been tasked with killing him and his friends.
Match-up– Jin is the epitome of calm, cool, and collected with flawless katana technique.
Sara uses a yari spear and is an extremely talented fighter. Also, she is blind -which in Japan gives you samurai superpowers- and believes she is fighting for the life of her child.
My Prediction– Jin has been pretty unbeatable and unshakable in addition to being a primary protagonist. Got to go with him
Let’s do it.
Winner– Sara by TKO.
Post-fight Analysis– Jin seems to have little trouble fighting a woman, but even if he did, Sara’s lack of desire to kill Jin would have canceled it out. After getting owned by the blind shamisen master, Jin goes into survival mode and desperately cuts the ropes holding the bridge together, sending them both into the river below. Seeing that Jin was clearly on his last leg when he chose to risk the fall, I’m ruling this one a technical knockout for Sara.
Raven vs. Terra
Setup– This duel from Teen Titans was a long time coming. In the show’s adaptation of The Judas Contract the Titans take in a troubled teen who proceeds to win everyone over and alienate longtime member Raven. Turns out Terra was working with Titan’s nemesis Slade (Deathstroke) all along and her betrayal shatters the team.
Match-up– Raven sports various demonic powers including flight, sorcery, and telekinesis. She’s arguably the most powerful Titan.
Terra has earth powers that allow her to control and levitate any sort of rock or soil, making her a powerhouse as well.
My Prediction– Raven for days. This is her time to prove herself and save the day after she was the only one to sense that something was off about Terra. Plus, she’s a (sometimes literal) beast in combat with powers that border on limitless.
Let’s do this!
Winner– Terra via smothering
Post-fight Analysis– It was rigged! Having the fight take place in a mud pit gave Terra a massive advantage. Coupled with her intelligent use of taunting to intensify Raven’s frustration, breaking her concentration (the basis of her powers) she had this one in the bag from the start.
Chun-Li vs. Vega
Setup– In Japan’s classic Street Fighter II film -an extremely rare instance of a good video game adaptation-Interpol agent Chun-Li is on the trail of M.Bison’s Shadowlaw organization and Vega is dispatched to get her off of it…permanently. As she brushes her hair after a shower, a concealed Vega makes his move.
Match-up- Vega is an agile assassin who fights with a claw and favors aerial and rolling attacks. He wears a mask to keep his beautiful face protected. Yeah, he’s that much of a pretty boy.
Chun-Li is the original female world warrior with mad kicks that are too fast for the human eye to follow once she gets going. She’s as acrobatic as Vega and always a fan favorite.
My Prediction- I played this one out in arcades for years. Once you get Vega’s patterns down, he’s a pushover. Chun-Li.
Winner- Chun-Li via Lightning Kicks
Post-fight Analysis- Vega’s surprise attack caught her off guard, and he stayed on the attack and kept Chun-Li on the defensive. But once he paused to gloat (or more likely to catch his breath), Chun-Li turned the tables by attacking his face. After Vega lost his composure due to his vanity, he was done.
The Main Card
Anakin Skywalker vs. Asajj Ventress
Setup– In the awesome original Clone Wars miniseries Count Dooku holds a battle royale of the killingest killer aliens he can find. Ventress is the last one standing so he trains her and sends her to take out Anakin Skywalker. She follows him to an abandoned world and confronts him.
Match-up- Skywalker is the chosen one. Destined to be the most powerful jedi, he has the training and experience of a jedi master even as a padawan. Light saber and force powers come standard.
Ventress has less training than Ani, but she is nearly as powerful and is not held back by any jedi code. She is one of the biggest survivors in Star Wars mythos and more than a handful for anyone with dual-wielded sabers and a high fight IQ.
My Prediction- As much of a doof as Skywalker is, he is a strong bastard when push comes to shove. Got to go with the star of the series.
Time to rock.
Winner- Anakin via rage mode ground and pound
Post-fight Analysis- God damn I love that fight. If only the CG Clone Wars show was half as good. Ventress’ killer instinct has Anakin on the defensive for much of the first half, but unlike most fighters, when Skywalker loses his cool he becomes even nastier because he forgets the jedi code and plays for keeps.
Wonder Woman vs. Aquaman
Setup– In the Justice League animated series our heroes investigate a sea monster attack, and end up tracing it to the interesting combination of Doctor Fate, Aquaman, and Solomon Grundy. Fate sends the combatants away in pairs and the Atlantean King finds himself facing the Amazon princess.
Match-up- Wonder Woman has super strength, flight, advanced combat skills, a magic lasso, and is skilled in using her indestructible bracelets to deflect attacks.
Aquaman has the usual enhanced strength, plus (in this version) a blade for a hand and a telepathic rapport with sea creatures. Naturally, he’s god-tier in the water.
My Prediction- Kevin Smith said it best: “Wonder Woman is a goddess. Aquaman is a guppy.”
Touch gloves and come out fighting.
Winner- Aquaman by drowning
Post-fight Analysis- FIX! Aquaman is a character many people don’t take seriously, and the classic way to get respect for such a character is by having them beat somebody out of their league with crappy writing. Arthur puts up a great fight on land, but Diana has him outclassed until Aquaman tackles her off of a cliff and into the water. Apparently WW forgot she could fly there. Just saying. She avenges herself in the recent film The Flashpoint Paradox.
Alucard vs. Father Anderson
Setup– From Hellsing Ultimate. One is the most powerful vampire of all time working for British Protestants to exterminate monsters, the other is the ultimate vampire slayer created by the Irish Catholic church. That’s a lot of reasons to fight, right there, but Anderson is menacing Alucard’s master and student as well.
Match-up- The limit of Alucard’s power is unknown at that point, but basically, he’s invincible, immortal, and has two sweet guns loaded with holy bullets.
Father Anderson is a blademaster with a healing factor and something I’m going to go ahead and call Bible-page telekinesis.
My Prediction- Two invincible guys again, but I’m a vampire man, so Alucard.
Time to get it on.
Sorry about that lame editing on this video. Blame the uploader. The entire scene is better, but much longer too.
Winner- Alucard by disqualification due to Anderson leaving the arena
Post-fight Analysis- This is a pretty epic meeting between two polar opposites but a mere precursor of what’s to come. Alucard is taken by surprise by Anderson’s tactics and healing factor and literally loses his head. But being an immortal creature of the night with unlimited power has its perks and once Anderson realizes he may not have the means at his disposal to finish the fight, he bows out…for now.
Hulk vs. Wolverine
Setup– In Marvel’s coolest straight to DVD animated film, some Canadian villages are smashed and Hulk has been sighted in the area. After doing the math, Department H sends in Wolverine to put Big Green down. These are two of Marvel’s toughest, meanest, and most popular draws, so this match-up is an obvious and frequent crowd pleaser.
Match-up- HULK IS STRONGEST THERE IS!
Wolverine is the best there is at what he does. Indestructible, lethal, and as mean as his namesake with adamantium claws. Would not f**k with.
My Prediction- What part of “strongest there is” did you miss? Always bet Hulk.
Get ready to smash.
Winner- Hulk by judge’s decision
Post-fight Analysis- The fact that Hulk has no means to permanently put an end to Wolverine (and vice versa) means that every pretty much every fight between them is going to the judge’s scorecards. Wolvie got his licks in, but by the end of the round he’d clearly taken the worse of it, even being KOed once. Almost no one can handle an enraged Hulk.
Spike vs. Vicious
Setup– These two Cowboy Bebop standouts are former partners in a criminal organization known as The Red Dragon Crime Syndicate. At some point Spike left the Syndicate to abscond with Viscious’ girlfriend, and seeing that the punishment for desertion in that particular organization was death, that wasn’t the end of it. With Julia dead and Spike dead tired of running, he fights his way through the Syndicate’s headquarters to settle the score once and for all.
Match-up- Spike is a jeet kune do fighter and bounty hunter who is good with a pistol and represents the ultimate in anime cool.
Vicious is a brutal crime boss who will do anything to get what he wants and wields a katana to complete the classic Japanese sword vs. gun battle.
My Prediction- I’ve never seen the swordsman prevail in one of these, so Spike.
Bring the noise.
Post-fight Analysis- Brief but intense. Spike gets the kill shot on the quick-draw exchange, but is mortally wounded himself. He has just enough in him to make it down the stairs for the most memorable exit in anime history. See you, Space Cowboy.
Spider-Man vs. Venom
Setup– Comic rivalries don’t come more classic, and Spectacular Spider-Man was the best Spider-Man. After Peter Parker rejects the black suit symbiote, it senses the loneliness and anger in his former friend, Eddie Brock, and forms Venom with him. Venom then stalks Peter and kidnaps his love interest, Gwen Stacy.
Match-up- You know the drill. Venom is stronger, more durable, unconsciously knows all of Spidey’s moves and capabilities, and has all of his abilities and then some.
Spidey is smarter, faster, and more experienced, but has to worry about harming bystanders and rescuing Gwen, which is a serious disadvantage.
My Prediction- Always bet on the red and blue. Spider-Man.
Winner- Spider-Man by forfeit
Post-fight Analysis- While Venom clearly has Spidey licked in a slugfest, Parker’s insight into the psychology of his opponent allows him to manipulate the symbiote into abandoning its new master. The symbiote latches onto loneliness and uses it to control the host, and Parker’s realization that he’s got friends and family supporting him allows him to reject and contain it.
The Main Event
Avatar Aang vs. Fire Lord Ozai
Setup– The final confrontation from Avatar: The Last Airbender was the culmination of a show that gave us three seasons of outstanding battles. Aang spent the three seasons learning to master all of the elements in preparation for this final showdown. Having failed to stop Ozai from obtaining the power of a passing comet that supercharged his powers, the inexperienced Aang must stop the out of control Fire Lord from decimating the planet. This is the exact definition of an epic battle.
Match-up- As Fire Lord, Ozai is the most powerful fire bender in the world, completely ruthless, bent on world domination, and has the ambition and experience to do it.
Aang is the Avatar, meaning he can control all four elements, but he is inexperienced with three out of the four. His trump card is the ability to go into an “avatar state” which puts him on another level. But at the time of this battle, he had lost the ability to enter it due to a blocked chakra in his back. His pacifist philosophy also puts him at a disadvantage in combat.
My Prediction- Hard not to pick the title character, but how cool would it be if a kid’s show just decided to teach its fans that life isn’t always fair? Still, only a fool would bet against the Avatar.
Winner-Aang via energy bend
Post-fight Analysis- Ozai got overanxious and accidently unblocked Aang’s chakra, unlocking his Avatar State god mode. In Avatar State, the entire planet is an Avatar’s weapon so good luck with that, bro. Faced with an opponent who won’t quit until he is dead and a personal philosophy that forbids him from taking a life, Aang finds a way to stay true to himself at great personal risk and bends Ozai’s chi to take his powers away permanently. Ultimate epic victory.
Now that’s a fine night of animated fights if I ever saw one. Thank you for joining us, and feel free to share your commentary in the comments section. Suggestions for possible future installments are also welcome.
As I was reading this I was coming up with my own list in my head, only to find them as I scrolled further down. Excellent list!
If i was to add one though, It would be the final fight from the anime movie “Sword of the Stranger”.
spike v vicious was good but not as good as spike v vincent
Off the top of my head, the one I would add is the Code Geass R2 final mech fight between Guren and Lancelot
This is one of my favorite articles to date on Unreality! I very much hope that there will be more in the future that are in this vein.
This is very good work. You miss Batman vs Superman from the Dark Knight Returns movie. It was good.
Surprised to not see an Evangelion battle in there! All the Angel fights are epic – one example
Love the list but I think it’s missing the Superman Vs Captain Marvel in the “Clash” episode of Justice League Unlimited:
Good calls. One of the criteria I used for picking the fights was how stretched out they were. I wanted to keep it as short as I could. A lot of the Eva fights have a ton of dialogue interspersed with the action so the vids are either horribly edited or too long. I also could have (and maybe should have) done an all comic book hero fight card, but I really wanted to run the gamut a bit so I excised a few comic fights. Maybe next time. Thanks a lot, all.
nice list, xenoirish got it. sword of the stranger has one of if not the best fight scene in any movie.
Definitely missed the Batman vs Superman fight from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. Also, I’d love to see Goku vs Vegeta/Freeza/Boo/Cell from Dragonball Z.
Man the first Clone Wars series was fucking awesome. Much better than the new series. They really need to bring that one back. Great article btw.
Also having an Epic animated battle list with out DBZ is just ludicrous.
Oh the ending of Cowboy was just perfect, wasn’t it? Though none of us probably wanted THAT to happen it fit the tone of the series. And Spike walking down those steps? Perfect and solemn ;_:
Sorry, guys, but shows like DBZ and Bleach that spread a minute of actual fighting over three full episodes were out of the question. I demand more killer and less filler. You know, actually fighting each other rather than standing facing each other explaining for 5 minutes how their power works before charging up for another 5 minutes and then attacking, waiting another 5 minutes for the smoke to clear, then letting the other guy do the same to them and repeating the process 5 times or so while changing to a more powerful form each time with lengthy flashbacks interspersed here and there. Just…..no.
I know I watched Sword of the Stranger and enjoyed it, but for some reason I couldn’t recall any specific fights from it. I’m too young for Alzheimer’s, damn it.
@KLS- Wanna be freeeeeeeeeee… Oh, man, I’m getting all misty just thinking about it.
I’d like to throw in my hat in Naruto vs. Pain. To me one of the best anime fights throughout the whole series.
Samurai Jack vs The ninja will always be one of my favourite battles.
This one isn’t 1vs1, but it’s the most epic fight i’ve seen in recent anime. Berserk remake movie 2, Guts VS 100 Soldiers. I watched it maybe 20 times, and it is awesome from the animation, music, everything! Strongly reccomended.
I agree DBZ can be a little long winded but there are some battles that don’t have a ton of dialog. Such as Goku Vs Majin Vegeta.
Rouroni Kenshin had a number of good fights. I would probably choose his first one against Saito in the dojo. I love this list and look forward to more. I can’t get on youtube to post a link, sorry.
@Gil- The main Kenshin series is something I’ve always wanted to watch more of, but there’s just so much of it I hesitate to make the time commitment. The Samurai X films were freaking great, though.
@Shiki- I’m waiting for the Berserk films to catch up to the original anime series (or at least become available to rent on Netflix) before I get into those. Would you say they are different enough from the old version to be worth buying? I’m not crazy about the CG look, but it’s not a dealbreaker or anything.
In a future installment I request including one of the fights between Slade and Robin in Teen Titans. I don’t care which one and they don’t all end with the same victor, so surprise me!
TT had a ton of great fights, but being a comic dork means I’m appalled that Robin could even fight on the same level as Slade. Slade is Batman level and arguably beyond. I haven’t read too much of the original comic so maybe “Termy” wasn’t as boss back then as he is now, but any mere Boy Wonder taking on Deathstroke single-handedly is just wrong to me. It was pretty sweet in the show, though.
Naruto vs Sasuke (first one where sasuke runs off to join Orochimaru). Curse mark mode vs. Tailed Beast mode.
FMAB has some incredibly dynamic fight sequences.