Most shonen anime give the protagonist at least one official sidekick and friend, often several. These characters aren’t just an apprentice like Robin in Batman, though — in many ways, they are the shonen hero’s true equal, and the pair might have a personal or professional rivalry that brings out the best in both of them.
Bleach and My Hero Academia both give their heroes a tough-talking tsundere friend and sidekick who has excellent personal chemistry and drama with the main lead. Katsuki Bakugo is Izuku Midoriya’s childhood friend turned classmate and rival at UA, while Rukia Kuchiki the Soul Reaper taught Ichigo the basics of Hollow hunting and became a key ally. These tsundere sidekicks have a serious attitude but are integral to the story, and one of them is especially compelling.
Bakugo’s Rise as Midoriya’s Explosive Rival in MHA
Unlike Midoriya, Katsuki Bakugo was born with a powerful Quirk that allows him to set off explosions with his nitroglycerin sweat. Along with his idolization of All Might, this drove Bakugo to aim for the top and train hard so he can become the new #1 hero. Bakugo is notoriously competitive, aggressive and self-centered as a trainee hero, often acting more like an antihero who fights for the right cause but with the wrong methods. He is the sidekick in My Hero Academia, but he often refuses to see himself that way.
Bakugo can’t overcome One For All’s power though, and he knows All Might favors Midoriya over him. So, after being in denial for some time, Bakugo gradually came to terms with being the protagonist’s #2, fighting alongside him to help the latter realize his destiny to defeat Tomura Shigaraki. Bakugo is now a young Endeavor, accepting that he wasn’t chosen by fate but still playing a key role in supporting the hero. Though reluctant to be in this position, he’s still proud to be Midoriya’s best ally and worthy rival, even at the risk of his own life.
How Rukia Became Ichigo’s Soul Reaper Friend & A Bridge Between Worlds
Unlike Bakugo, Rukia Kuchiki wasn’t Ichigo’s childhood friend in Bleach, since she grew up in the Soul Society and was born decades before he was. The two met one fateful night in a reverse isekai adventure in Karakura Town; facing the Hollow called Fishbone D., Rukia gave Ichigo her Soul Reaper powers, then adapted to human life in her gigai body and mentored Ichigo in the ways of Hollow hunting. Over the course of Bleach, Rukia went from a captive in the “Soul Society” arc to a reborn Soul Reaper who fought by Ichigo’s side as an equal. She grew and gained new powers at the same pace as Ichigo, showcasing her new ice-based shikai before eventually unveiling her bankai, Hakka no Togame.
On a personal level, Rukia had famously strong on-screen chemistry with Ichigo as his tsundere friend and sidekick despite having only met him recently. She was sometimes playful and whimsical during her stay in Karakura, and other times, she scolded Ichigo or tearfully sympathized with characters like Orihime, Yuzu, Karin and more. She also fought to overcome her own guilt about Kaien Shiba’s death, first apologizing humbly to Kukaku before overcoming her personal demons when she fought Aaroniero Arruruerie, who had disguised himself as Kaien. Rukia also made up with her foster brother Byakuya, and the two of them became much closer.
MHA’s Bakugo Vs. Bleach’s Rukia – Who’s the Better Tsundere Sidekick?
MHA’s Bakugo and Bleach’s Rukia both have strong appeal as tsundere sidekicks, and they have emotionally charged personal arcs that tie them closely to the hero. Bakugo was an obnoxious and rough antihero who slowly learned to accept his role as Midoriya’s sidekick while giving up his dreams of becoming #1, while Rukia endured serious losses and grief before coming to grips with it all. Ultimately, though, Rukia is the best tsundere supporting character.
Rukia matches Bakugo in many ways — a surprisingly deep and multi-faceted personality and the steady growth of powers — but she has even stronger chemistry with the shonen hero and a more nuanced character arc overall. Rukia overcame more hardships than Bakugo ever did, such as her foster brother’s emotional distance and her childhood poverty in the Rukongai District’s streets. She is also lovable for being a classic reverse isekai hero in an anime that often toys with those elements in creative ways. Rukia is a girl of two worlds with friends in both, and she made serious personal strides when she reconnected with Byakuya, overcame her grief and guilt about Kaien’s death, and more.She is also more empathetic and protective than Bakugo, balancing her tsundere temper with unabashed kindness toward others. My Hero Academia’s Bakugo, by contrast, is downright nasty with his own tsundere attitude and is sometimes sickeningly self-absorbed and abusive toward others, and he rarely supports other people aside from Quirk usage. Even if Bakugo has apologized for all that by now, the damage has been done. Bleach’s Rukia sets a far better example as a lovable tsundere sidekick everyone can look up to.