The world of shonen anime has no shortage of exciting protagonists, with the likes of Son Goku and Yusuke Urameshi setting the mold for a new generation of heroes. In the 2000s, hit series such as Bleach and Fairy Tail sold well, and they introduced shonen stars such as Ichigo Kurosaki and Natsu Dragneel, respectively.
Ichigo and Natsu both defend and rely on their friends to win the day, and in the end, both of them could take on the strongest foes and win, such as Sosuke Aizen and Acnologia the dragon. But if Ichigo and Natsu became mortal enemies and went all out, who would win this fight, and what powers and techniques can each of them bring to bear?
Ichigo Kurosaki's Skills & Power: The Masked Defender
Ichigo Kurosaki was introduced in Bleach as a human adolescent who can see spirits, but there is much more to him than that. Ichigo's father Isshin was once a Soul Reaper named Isshin Shiba who saved the life of Masaki, a human Quincy. They later married, and their son Ichigo was born with a lot of diverse spiritual powers. Ichigo had latent Soul Reaper powers from his father, which were awakened when Rukia Kuchiki lent him her own. Ichigo continued to get stronger and stronger as he trained with Kisuke Urahara and Yoruichi Shihoin, and later, the Visoreds as well.
But Ichigo has an inner monster: a Hollow. Ichigo's inner Hollow tried to take control at one point in the Soul Society arc, hijacking Ichigo's entire body and turning him into a berserker to take down Captain Byakuya Kuchiki. After some training, Ichigo learned to tame this power, eventually donning his Hollow mask at will to boost his speed, strength and stamina alike.
Ichigo also trained hard to unlock his true zanpakuto, Zangetsu, and he later achieved bankai with Yoruichi's help. The thin black blade known as Tensa Zangetsu grants Ichigo incredible speed and cutting power, and bankai state enhances Ichigo's sole ranged attack, Getsuga Tensho, even turning it black. Ichigo can also wrap a Getsuga Tensho around his blade to increase his melee power, as he once did against Ulquiorra Schiffer.
Finally, Ichigo has a Vasto Lorde true from, a mega-Hollow with long horns, hair and frightening power. This form only appears when Ichigo is near death, however, and cannot be used at will.
Natsu Dragneel's Skills & Power: The Son Of Igneel
Natsu's true parents were human, but once he awoke in the modern era, he believed that the fire dragon named Igneel was his real father. Natsu trained for years at Igneel's hands to learn fire magic and basic combat skills, and by his adolescence, Natus had proven himself an incredible melee-oriented wizard. His fire dragon slayer magic is obviously best used on dragons, but it's also effective against other wizards and even the demon books of Zeref. Natu ranks among the strongest wizards of the Fairy Tail guild, aside from Erza Scarlet, Laxus Dreyar and Gildarts Clive.
As a true Fairy Tail wizard, Natsu is at his strongest when fighting for his friends and shielding them from harm. In fact, he relies on this even more than the good-hearted Ichigo Kurosaki does. This is especially true when Lucy Heartfilia is involved, a girl who is rather special to Natsu. Fairy Tail wizards are renowned for being stronger together.
Natsu brings formidable strength, endurance and technique to any fight, with or without fir magic, and he is known for fighting on sheer instinct and reflex, rather than formulating complex battle plans. Being a master of fire, Natsu is immune to flames and can even eat them (aside from his own) to fuel himself and bolster his magical attacks. Natsu's inventory of techniques ranges from basic Fire Dragon Roar blasts to flame techniques that boost his mobility or combine his magic with physical blows (even with his elbows). Later in the story, Natsu began using Lightning Fire Dragon mode, borrowing Laxus Dreyar's lightning magic, as well as Dragon Force, to heighten his powers even more.
The Final Battle: Bankai Vs. Dragon Slayer Magic
On paper, these two characters have roughly equal offensive power, but a few key factors set them apart during their duel. Natsu is strong on his own, but the Fairy Tail anime makes it clear that he never reaches his full potential until he's fighting with (and for) his friends and allies. The power of friendship really does empower him and motivate him to go beyond his limits, but that won't work here, where Natsu is alone. Ichigo is only Natsu's enemy, and Natsu has no reason to defend his allies from him.
What is more, Ichigo has superior speed. Natsu is hardly slow, but Ichigo's bankai grants him sufficient speed to zip around the battlefield and make afterimages, and that's before Ichigo dons his mask. Ichigo's extreme speed and Getsuga Tensho will overwhelm Natsu's limited defenses, and Natsu has no real counter to Ichigo's sharp blade. Ichigo has the speed necessary to get past Natsu's defenses and slice an arm or leg off, or if he's quick enough, Natsu's head. Natsu will never even get a chance to use his Dragon Force or E.N.D. form, meaning Ichigo can claim victory in this shonen showdown.