The self-proclaimed rival character archetype has been far too dull for far too long. They are characters that lack any real depth and create no amount of attachment to the reader. From the pathetic and shallow Bakugo from Boku no Hero Academia, who does nothing but scream and shout, to Leopold Vermillion from Black Clover, who achieves nothing and has no character depth.
I thought the rival character archetype was a complete waste, and it is with such glee that I can finally say that there is a self-proclaimed rival that I actually enjoy. I introduce to you Sabnock Sabro.
Far too often rival characters are made for gags or are the source of petty squabbles, so it is a relief to turn to Sabnock Sabro in Mairimashita! Iruma-kun. Early on Sabnock declares Iruma to be his rival, but rather than serving the sentence of being a scale on which to compare the main character to, Sabnock has his own clearly defined character arc.
From being a ruthless troublemaker, Sabnock learns from the main character and practises humility rather than arrogance, understands the importance of being well-read and the importance of strategy. It is a relief to find a rival character where their entire personality is not centred around a single term: “hot headed”. In a rather mediocre anime, it makes me happy to see such shining gems of character design.