9 Times Anime Fans Went To War Over Character Shipping

Katsuki/Ochako Vs. Izuku/Ochako Vs. Izuku/Katsuki

If you’re the type of anime fan who’s content to just watch shows and stay off the internet, you may not know how heated shipping gets. But, if you discuss series with fellow fans online, or read up on other people’s opinions, you know people care about shipping. When fans get invested in a couple they love, they will defend their opinions vigorously. Conversely, people seriously rile themselves up when it comes to the pairings they dislike.

Some controversial ships are canon, while others never actually happen but the series offers plenty of hints. There are also some quirky, creative anime ships out there that are based on imagination, attracting fandoms full of dedicated fantasy shippers. 

Does nuanced, respectful dialogue on controversial anime couples exist? Sure – but discussions often become ugly. Anon hate flies into people’s inboxes, and in one case irate fans sent death threats to the creators of DARLING In The FRANXX after Ichigo kissed Hiro.

9. Katsuki/Ochako Vs. Izuku/Ochako Vs. Izuku/Katsuki

Katsuki/Ochako Vs. Izuku/Ochako Vs. Izuku/Katsuki

My Hero Academia emerged as one of the most popular series to air in the 2010s, and with popularity comes ship arguments. Most of the conflict centers on Izuku Midoriya, Katsuki Bakugo, and Ochako Uraraka. 

Izuku/Katsuki, AKA BakuDeku, has passionate fans, but there are plenty who hate it. The haters claim that it’s abusive – a fair assessment considering Katsuki spends the first 60 episodes bullying Izuku – but some take it a step further and call fans of the pairing abusive themselves.

Less vitriol gets directed toward Ochako/Izuku. This points to an interesting development in fandom – in the past, a potentially abusive male/male pairing would cause droves of fans to hate on the girl who “got in the way.” This definitely still happens in fandom, but not so much here.

In fact, Katsuki/Ochako, known as Kacchako is disliked by some for the same reason that BakuDeku is. Katsuki verbally and physically abuses everyone around him, and is never once nice to Ochako. Sure, he shows some basic respect for her as an opponent during the Sports Festival, but to anti-Kacchako fans, that’s not enough.

The fight is less about the gender of the participants or even their specific personalities – it’s about whether fans want wholesome, healthy relationships, or relationships that generate conflict. 

8. Every Single Ship In ‘The Quintessential Quintuplets’

Every Single Ship In 'The Quintessential Quintuplets'

The Quintessential Quintuplets is a romance series that gets viewers invested in five different ships – and fans haven’t always agreed on which ship should sail.

Fuutarou Uesugi has a unique relationship with each of the Nakano sisters. He and Ichika bond over the responsibilities that come with being the oldest. He helps Miku come out of her shell and he helps Nino express her emotions. His initial bond is with Itsuki, and he helps Yotsuba deal with some serious self-esteem issues. All of them have feelings for him.

Not only is every ship plausible, but the series teases his marriage to an unidentified Nakano sister. We don’t find out until the movie which one of them he winds up with. So naturally, fans took sides. The most vocal were probably the “Miku Church” and the “Nino Gang” – two groups on Reddit who supported those ships. 

7. Subaru/Emilia Vs. Subaru/Rem

Subaru/Emilia Vs. Subaru/Rem

There’s no doubt about who Subaru loves in Re:Zero canon – he’s repeatedly declared his feelings for Emilia, and he turned Rem down when she asked. But there are some fans who think this was the wrong call. 

Subaru’s relationship with Emilia starts off rocky – his low self-esteem makes him try desperately to be her knight in shining armor despite having very little idea of how their world functions. He puts himself in danger and humiliates her on more than one occasion. Emilia is spends a lot of time feeling totally exasperated by him. While some people appreciate how she pushes him to change for the better, this puts others off of the canon ship.

Meanwhile, Rem is totally supportive of everything about Subaru. She loves him wholeheartedly, flaws and all. This is an appealing prospect, and some fans think he’s out of his mind not to love her back. But others think Rem’s version of love could hold Subaru back from making changes he needs to make – and that Rem deserves better. 

6. Rin/Haru Vs. Makoto/Haru

Rin/Haru Vs. Makoto/Haru

The rancor between the two largest ships in the Free! fandom feels somewhat baffling. While a majority of ship disagreements start over moral issues or one ship being canon, Free! didn’t have any canon pairings, and none of the popular ships posed ethical problems like incest, age gaps, or abuse.

Furthermore, little to no conflict happened between the Free! straight ships and queer ships – nearly every pairing in the Free! fandom involved two teenage boys.

Why then did RinHaru shippers and MakoHaru shippers butt heads so dramatically, even going so far as to send anon hate to people who weren’t onboard their ship? There’s no clear answer to this – people let their passions fly when fandom is involved, and they aren’t always inclined to be polite with people who disagree.

5. Taichi/Sora Vs. Taichi/Yamato Vs. Yamato/Sora

Taichi/Sora Vs. Taichi/Yamato Vs. Yamato/Sora

The Digimon fandom has largely subsided, but back in the early 2000s when Digimon 02 aired and for years afterward, the fandom cared a lot about the series’ pairings, especially those involving the main character, Taichi, known in the dub as Tai.

Many people shipped Taichi with Sora, a good friend of his who shares his love for soccer. Others thought Sora should be with Yamato, known in the dub as Matt, and still others felt Taichi and Yamato belonged together, while Sora was better off with just about every other character in the series – or gone entirely, as the hoards of Sora haters demanded.

Yamato/Sora ended becoming canon, but evidence suggests it could have gone any which way – Yamato and Taichi’s friendship provided a major plot point in Digimon 01, and because actual queer representation remained practically nonexistent in kids media at the time, friendships often offered the only lenses queer kids had to see themselves in their media.

Meanwhile, Taichi and Sora clearly grew close – but so did Yamato and Sora. In fact, Sora tries to give Yamato cookies once, and appears jealous and upset when Yamato isn’t making time for her.

Whichever ship you preferred, you had something in canon to back you up – making for a ton of conflict. 

4. Hiro/Ichigo Vs. Hiro/Zero Two

Hiro/Ichigo Vs. Hiro/Zero Two

This recent ship war, centered on DARLING In The FRANXX, became so heated that angry fans literally sent death threats to the staff.

For most of the series, Hiro seems on track to form a relationship with the mysterious Zero Two, a human-klaxosaur hybrid. The two work in tandem as mecha pilots, and they share a deep bond – except Hiro knows Zero Two less than he thought, as he’s stunned when she suddenly betrays her squad.

Ichigo, a girl interested in Hiro from the start, tries to prevent him from going after Zero Two by not only confessing her feelings, but kissing him. Ichigo/Hiro shippers felt thrilled, but Zero Two/Hiro shippers were furious. This prompted them to inundate the anime’s creators with actual threats against their lives. 

3. Naruto/Sakura Vs. Naruto/Sasuke Vs. Naruto/Hinata Vs. Sasuke/Sakura

Naruto/Sakura Vs. Naruto/Sasuke Vs. Naruto/Hinata Vs. Sasuke/Sakura

To say the endgame pairings featured in Naruto sparked controversy puts it lightly – many people grew incensed over the final ships. Some were annoyed about how all of the endgame pairings were straight couples and argued that Sasuke and Naruto’s friendship developed more like a romance.

Others simply disliked Sakura’s relationship with Sasuke, but the reasons varied: either they felt Sakura was obsessed over Sasuke beyond reason and that he deserved better, or they felt Sakura deserved better than a deadbeat husband/dad who previously tried to end her life.

Meanwhile, Naruto/Hinata garnered criticism for different reasons. Some found Naruto’s relationship with Sakura or Sasuke developed much more than his with Hinata, while others argued the relationship is based off of Hinata’s wish fulfillment and not Naruto’s genuine interest. Some also objected to Hinata being treated like a damsel in distress whenever Naruto is around.

Not only did people disagree on endgame pairings, they also never agreed on reasoning. Unless you agree with someone on all the nuances, you’re likely to get into an argument. Even people who liked the final pairings didn’t necessarily agree with each other on the pairs. If you want a Naruto pairing that isn’t controversial, try Shikamaru/Temari – most people seem to like that one.

2. Raku/Chitoge Vs. Raku/Onodera

Raku/Chitoge Vs. Raku/Onodera

Nisekoi, a harem anime, intentionally sets up several different possible endgame pairings. It tries to make all of them appear plausible and make viewers care about them, and then ultimately chooses a single endgame pairing – in this case, the ending was Raku/Chitoge. 

Naturally, the people who were invested in the other possibilities felt peeved. Those who didn’t like Raku/Onodera claimed Onodera possessed no personality and never felt like a real contender in the first place. Anti Raku/Chitoge fans felt Chitoge was violent, annoying, and generally a terrible partner, chosen largely to annoy fans of the series.

Fans of each pairing felt theirs had received the most development, and the winner was bad storytelling. 

1. Ichigo/Orihime Vs. Ichigo/Rukia

Ichigo/Orihime Vs. Ichigo/Rukia

If you’re a Bleach fan who was perfectly satisfied with Ichigo’s decision to pursue a relationship with Orihime, you probably know of salty Rukia fans who thought Ichigo should have chosen the Shinigami. On the flip side, if you’re into Ichigo/Rukia, you’ve likely encountered Orihime fans who come off as smug because their ship sailed and yours didn’t.

Fans of Ichigo/Orihime cite their obvious canonical love for each other, as well as their complementary personalities. Detractors claim Orihime’s personality is too subservient and that their dynamic is one-sided and uninteresting as a result.

Conversely, Ichigo/Rukia fans feel they each actively changed the other’s life and their equal partnership feels more worthy of elevating to romance. Meanwhile, those who don’t like the pairing claim Rukia is way too old for Ichigo (she’s hundreds of years old), cite her canon relationship with Renji, and that no matter what your preference is, Orihime and Ichigo are in fact a couple.

Despite the issue being long resolved in canon, fans never forgot the conflict between the two ships.