Asymmetric Equals


(permanent link) added: 2011-06-08 13:53:59 sponsor: HandsomeRob (last reply: 2014-05-30 22:25:41)

Add Tag:
Needs a Better Name

During a fight scene, you will see many different styles of battle. You have your Fragile Speedster, your Mighty Glacier, you Weak, but Skilled fighter, and your Unskilled, but Strong fighter. When two fighters with the same kind of technique face each other, Fearful Symmetry ensues, as they are so similar, they counter each-other's moves and end up evenly matched. It's assumed however, that if one fighter was slower, or if the other dude was a bit weaker, the tides would tilt in their opponents favor.

Not always though. Sometimes the Fragile Speedster fights the Mighty Glacier, and they can't do a thing to each other. The strong guy can't lay a finger on the fast dude, because he's not swift enough. Likewise, the fast one can't hurt the big fighter, no matter how many times he hits him, because that guy is built like an impenetrable wall.

This is when two fighters are so far on one end of the spectrum in terms of fighting styles, that they end up evenly matched anyway. This can also apply with Weak, but Skilled vs Unskilled, but Strong, if said characters are skilled enough, and strong enough.

In situations like this, the fight will have to be won either by outside interference, luck, intelligence, or just doing something completely unexpected.

Video Game designers have made it a point for years to try and balance very different character types and play styles. They've also made it a point to try and design maps so that multiple play styles can succeed or support one another, even if not all are viable.

A Sub-Trope of Fearful Symmetry, and the Inversion of Mirror Match (I think), and also related to Mutual Disadvantage. Also see Unstoppable Force Meets Immovable Object.

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • In Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, Action Girlfriend Miu battles Elegant Gothic Lolita and Fragile Speedster Rimi. Miu is not exactly slow, but early in the fight, it is established that Rimi surpasses her in speed. Miu is able to match her however, due to superior technique and experience. She even states this out loud at different points of their battle.
  • In Samurai Champloo, Jin and Mugen are practically perfectly balanced in swordfighting (it's unknown if this extended to fisticuffs as well?) — Jin practises a very disciplined school style, Mugen goes with a chaotic rogue "style".
  • In Bleach, when Ichigo and crew first get into Hueco Mundo, Chad and Ishida fight two Hollows together to show off their newly gained powers. Aisslinger Wernarr the fast Ranged figher and Demoura Zodd the slow heavy hitter. During the battle, originally Ishida takes Demoura and Chad Aisslinger and while they are fighting their opposites, they are Evenly Matched Asymmetric. To get past this the two heroes switch partners and proceed to win.
  • Fairy Tail
    • Natsu Dragneel and Gray Fullbuster are Asymmetric equals. One being a fire wizard and the other an ice wizard. This also plays on opposing elements.
    • During the last leg of the Grand Magic Tournament, we have long time character Juvia Locksear(whose ability to turn into water makes her Nigh Invulnerable) vs Chelia Blendy (The Sky God Slayer who heal from any injury near instantly). Their battle hasn't been focused on, but their respective abilities would make them this. It implied Juvia was chosen to fight Chelia for this exact reason.
  • In Buso Renkin, when Captain Bravo and Moonface fight, it is essentially a battle of unlimited endurance versus unlimited regeneration.
  • In S-CRY-ed, Kazuma and Ryuho are shown evenly matched from the moment they met to the end of the series. When one gets a power upgrade, the other will too. We see one has finally emerged victorious at the end, but it is unknown who. Kazuma fights using a rocket-propelled arm; Ryuho summons a humanoid being that can launch razor-sharp ribbons.
  • Durarara!!. This is the reason Shizuo and Izaya never manage to kill each other, no matter how much they wreck Ikebukuro in the process - Izaya is never any fewer than ten steps ahead of Shizuo at any time, literally and figuratively, and Shizuo can take anything that Izaya can throw at him.

Comic Books
  • In The Dark Knight Returns, Batman and Superman fight to a stand still thanks to the moral conviction and strength of the one and the moral conviction and strength of the other. Totally different convictions and strengths, but totally cancelled.

Mythology
  • There's a Greek myth about a fox that can't ever be caught, and a hound that can't ever lose its prey. Naturally, the latter is set after the former. Unable to allow such a paradox to continue, Zeus Takes a Third Option and turns them both to stone.

Literature
  • A Song of Ice and Fire has Tyrion's trial by combat, which was resolved by a duel betweed Gregor "the Mountain" Clegane and Oberyn Martell. The former was a Mighty Glacier, the latter a Fragile Speedster. The duel ended by both dying: Gregor killed Oberyn, but was fatally poisoned by Oberyn's poison-coated spear.

Table Top Games:
  • The Blood War, a conflict between the Lawful Evil devils and Chaotic Evil demons which appears in some Dungeons & Dragons settings, plays out like this. The demons have the advantages of sheer numbers and combatants with immense individual power, but they don't care for advanced tactics, and they spend as much effort fighting each other as they do the devils because their forces lack unity. The devils are frequently outnumbered, but the soldiers they deploy are disciplined, regimented and well-trained and their leaders are ruthless tacticians. This balance meant neither side could gain a clear upper-hand over the other for millennia, although in 4th Edition Forgotten Realms, the Archdevil Asmodeus has brought the war to a stale-mate by separating Hell and the Abyss so the two races rarely encounter each other any more.

Video Games

  • In Exit Fate, the wandering martial artist Tong Wu (a Fragile Speedster) challenges the famed monk Shadfork (a Mighty Glacier). In the resulting fight Shadfork doesn't manage to hit Tong Wu, but Tong Wu cannot deal any damage to Shadfork either.
  • In BlazBlue, Ragna the Bloodedge and Jin Kisaragi have been fighting on and off ever since they were kids, and neither has been able to get a decisive victory over the other. Aside from both being swordsmen, they are totally different: Ragna carries a BFS and can absorb life force; Jin carries a sliver-thin blade that freezes people in solid chunks of ice. This is reflected in high-level play: Until recently, a match with a Ragna player facing an equally skilled Jin player would be a total toss-up, with a precisely 50-50 shot of either player winning.
  • Long touted as one of the defining traits of the three largely different races in StarCraft. Some races have some advantages at some skill levels and on certain iffy maps, but overall in both StarCraft I and StarCraft II at the highest levels the races are almost perfectly evenly split in wins (StarCraft I moreso, but StarCraft II is remarkably close and trending closer all the time).
  • This can often happen in Fire Emblem games; sending a high-level Swordmaster (notorious for their speed and crithax against a high-level General (Ultimate defense, but really slow) generally results in the Swordmaster hitting twice for no damage, and dodging all of the General's attacks.
replies: 60

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy