Dueling works are two similar anime that air within a few years. Sometimes they air during the same season! Their similarities can be intentional, coincidental, or part of a trend.
Either way, the similarities are enough for fans to feel déjà vu and it can lead to accusations of being a rip-off. Like it or not, here are some of the biggest examples of dueling works in anime.
1The Asterisk War vs Chivalry of a Failed Knight
In a nutshell: Two light novel adaptations that aired in the same season. Both have a magic high school setting, a supposed “failure” pairing up a pink-haired princess, fanservice, and center around a combat festival.
Key differences: The Asterisk War focuses more on the harem aspect and plays up the sci-fi elements. Chivalry of a Failed Knight focuses more on relationships and treats the magic aspect from a fantasy standpoint.
Winner: Chivalry of a Failed Knight sold more copies and had a better reception from fans and critics, despite being as cliche filled as The Asterisk War.
2Shimoneta vs Prison School
In a nutshell: Raunchy sex comedies that were adapted by J.C. Staff that aired during the same season. Both works used absurd situations and comedy to make commentary on modern views of sex.
Key differences: Shimoneta is more light-hearted and is loaded with sexual puns. The anime also takes shots at censorship and the diminishing role of sex-ed in schools. Prison School a dark comedy that uses physical humor and verbal abuse for the core of its jokes. The anime also examines Japan’s changing gender roles (women are seen as more aggressive while men are becoming more passive.)
Winner: Prison School has a larger fanbase, which led to higher sales. The series’ manga is also a top-seller while Shimoneta is a middling light novel in terms of sales.
3Gourmet Girl Graffiti vs Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma
In a nutshell: Two anime that focus on food porn.
Key differences: Gourmet Girl Graffiti is about a lonely girl learning that food can bring people together. The slice-of-stye story is more low-key, the characters eat in an erotic fashion, and the food shown is Japanese.
Food Wars! takes shounen fighting anime tropes and applies them to cooking. The characters are over-the-top, eating involves clothes exploding, and a wide variety of foods are shown.
Winner: Food Wars! The manga is one of the industry’s best-selling series and the anime adaptation is about to get a third season. Chef Yuki Morisaki also collaborates and develops the recipes shown in Food Wars!, which makes the dishes possible for people to recreate.
4Tokyo Ghoul vs Parasyte -the maxim-
In a nutshell: A dorky teen has his normal life changed after contracting a dehumanizing affliction. The teen tries to hold on to his humanity while coping with society’s ills. Body horror and nihilism play a big role in shaping the story.
Key differences: Tokyo Ghoul centers around fleshing-eating ghouls. Ken Kaneki goes on an ill-fated date with a female ghoul and is turned into a hybrid due to a life-saving procedure. The series is more action based, especially the anime adaptation.
Parasyte centers around parasitic aliens that take over humans so they can be harvested for food. Izumi’s right hand is taken over after a parasite fails to infect his brain, which leads to a strained relationship. The series is more character driven.
Winner: A tie. Both series, especially their source manga, have large fanbases and received good reviews. The Tokyo Ghoul anime may be a little more popular since it has two seasons and a couple of OVAs.
5Free! vs Haikyuu!!
In a nutshell: Pretty boys participate in their beloved sport with extreme amounts of passion.
Key differences: Free! follows a swimming club, has a bit more drama, and is made for a female audience. Haikyuu!! follows a volleyball club, has more comedy, and is shounen series with a female peripheral audience.
Winner: Tie. Both series have huge followings in and outside of Japan, which has led to a renewed interest in sports anime. Free! and Haikyuu!! also has a strong doujin and cosplay presence at conventions.
6Sword Art Online vs Log Horizon
In a nutshell: A large group of MMORPG players is trapped inside a game. They must adapt to their new environment and work together to find a way back to reality.
Key differences: Sword Art Online allows their cast to freely enter and exit the game after the first arc. The series is more action based, has lite-harem elements, and attempts to have semi-realistic technologies.
Log Horizon does not allow their cast to freely enter and exit the game. The series is slower-paced and is centered on the cast building a functioning society while attempting to make their way to a tower. Log Horizon is also more light-hearted.
Winner: Sword Art Online, though both have devout fans. Sword Art Online is a behemoth in terms of popularity and sales, despite having a mixed reception from fans and critics. Log Horizon is praised for having better writing and character development, which has led to a cult following.
7Puella Magi Madoka Magica vs Yuki Yuna is a Hero
In a nutshell: Being a magical girl is suffering.
Key differences: Madoka Magica has more psychological horror, philosophical references, and brutal deaths. Yuki Yuna is a little more light-hearted, centers around sacrificing one’s body instead of death, and is character driven.
Winner: Tie. It may be surprising to Western fans, but Yuki Yuna is almost as big as Madoka Magica. Both works have had theatrical films, merchandising, game adaptations, spin-offs.
8Eden of the East vs The Future Diary
In a nutshell: A group of individuals are given cell phones with special properties and are forced into a death game.
Key differences: Eden of the East has a stronger mystery, character development, and has lite-sci-fi elements. The Future Diary is more action packed, has a more gruesome story, and has supernatural elements.
Winner: Depends on the region. Eden of the East is the winner in Japan, as it went on to have sequel movies and its story was praised by fans and critics. The Future Diary had a bigger impact outside of Japan as it popularized the yandere archetype and lives on in memes.
What two anime do you think have the most intense dueling fandoms?