Tiger Versus Dragon

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Yin Yang, Tiger, Dragon, and I Ching. Okay, we get it. It's Eastern.

A subtrope of Animal Jingoism and Red Oni, Blue Oni.

The Chinese have an interesting idiom, "the tiger and the dragon". This refers to two spirits so wildly different and yet wildly similar at the same time, intricately linked together in destiny. Both the Dragon and the Tiger are Buddhist symbols, with the tiger lunging straight ahead to bulldoze through his opponents, while the dragon is revered more for patience and wisdom which he then derives fighting power from. Both of these locked together represent a balance of power, both "hard" and "soft" styles coming together to form a harmony between Yin and Yang. They can also be seen as the Dragon representing Spirit/Heaven, and the Tiger representing Matter/Earth. This is why you see lots of Dragon/Tiger tattoos. They're as Eastern as Yin and Yang. Bonus points if they're in the same picture as a Yin and Yang (which isn't Buddhist, per se, but Taoist).

This can be used either for depth, exploitation, or just because.

Whether it's just competing companies, martial arts, board games, or whatever, the dragon and the tiger will likely be used to represent these similar-but-different forces. The person representing the dragon will usually be wise, tempered, patient, humble, plucky, and/or any other traits usually seen as "laid-back". The person representing the tiger will probably be passionate, driven, enthusiastic, wild, and/or other traits seen as "Hot-Blooded".

Either way, once they work together or fight against each other, there will definitely be sparks.

Often manifests in an Animal Battle Aura. See also Red Oni, Blue Oni, for when the contrast is just contrast and not actually representing a Tiger/Dragon battle. See also Animal Jingoism, for when other animals contrast against each other. If it's just animal of the dragon by himself, then it's Dragons Up the Yin-Yang. If there's also a snake/turtle and a phoenix it's The Four Gods.

If the person representing the dragon is actually The Dragon, then, uh, something went terribly wrong.

Examples of Tiger Versus Dragon include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Yu-Gi-Oh! cut out the middle man: A single Tiger Dragon.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: In an early season one episode, tiger and dragon images are shown behind Misawa and Juudai respectively. Later on, Misawa falls for Taniya, who has quite a few connections to tigers, and Juudai's past life love Yubel turns up: who was transformed into a dragon.
  • Toradora! uses this as a frequently recurring motif. The characters are even named Taiga and Ryuuji![1]
    • In the first episode, Taiga gives Ryuuji (who is One Head Taller) a powerful uppercut. Is this a reference to Sagat?
    • The title uses the Japanese word for tiger, tora, and the Japanese romanization of dragon, dora(gon).
  • In Fist of the North Star, Kenshiro and Raoh are sometimes represented by a dragon and a tiger, respectively. Kenshiro is stoic and does not seek power, Raoh is more hot-blooded and ambitious.
  • In Rurouni Kenshin, Kenshin and his master are repeatedly given dragon motifs. Most of their fighting style's moves have the word Dragon in the name. Later on, the final Big Bad Enishi shows up...and is given tiger motifs.
    • This is particularity referenced to their sword fighting style. Enishi uses a style with emphasis on a lower stance (earthly tiger), while Kenshin fights at a relatively higher stance (heavenly dragon).
  • In Ask Dr. Rin, two of the people who are supposed to be Meirin's guardians, Tokiwa and Asuka, are reincarnations of Byakko the Tiger and Seiryuu the Dragon respectively. They are the two big competitors for Meirin's affections.
  • Subverted in Saint Seiya with the character of Libra Dohko. He is the master of Shiryu, and the one who taught him all of his Dragon attacks, which he of course can masterfully execute himself. However, his zodiacal sign is Tiger and he bears a tattoo depicting one, the same way Shiryu does. Interestingly, the Libra Saint is usually described as the "point of equilibrium" of the Gold Saints. It is quite obvious by the fact that he is one of the most badass of the characters that Dohko has achieved the perfect balance between Dragon and Tiger and that he draws enormous strength from it.
    • And played straight, at least in the anime, with the other candidate to Dragon Saint, who follows a dragon mottif.
  • How could anyone forget Shigurui. Kogan Iwamoto and after him Gennosuke Fujiki symbolise the Tiger while Seigen Irako symbolises the Dragon.
  • The Liger vs. Theropod-type rivalry in Zoids is likely intended to invoke this trope.
  • Hyakko gives most of its characters Eastern Zodiac associations. Torako and Tatsuki, don't get along initially and their personalities (chaotic and energetic vs. calm and dignified{ continue to be contrasted throughout the series.
  • Spoofed in Hayate the Combat Butler, with Nagi getting the Battle Aura of a dragon, and Ayumu countering with...a hamster. She never quite escapes the association with the little rodent.
  • When Junichi and Yuuhi of Akane-Iro ni Somaru Saka square off in one episode, the dragon and tiger appear above their heads.
  • The World Nobles of One Piece are known as the Celestial Dragons. One of the greatest challenges to their authority, an attack on their lands and the freeing of all their slaves, occurred at the hands of a Fishman called Fisher Tiger.
    • One could also say that Queen Otohime is the "dragon" to Fisher's "tiger".
  • Hajime no Ippo: Takeshi Sendo, the Naniwa Tiger versus Ryuuhei Sawamura, the Owari Dragon. Both were feared street fighters that have never lost a fight and possess incredible fighting instincts. And yet, their fighting style is very different, as is their personality. They eventually wind up in some kind of Vitriolic Best Buds relationship, which occasionally gives us funny scenes.
  • In Full Metal Panic!, Sousuke's Animal Motifs is a tiger. Gauron's Animal Motif can be seen as a dragon (derived from his name, Gauron, meaning "nine dragons" in Chinese). Their relationship fits this trope description to a "T".
  • Subverted in Tenkuu Senki Shurato Ryuu-Oh Ryoma and Ten-Oh Hyuuga happen to be best friends, despite their armor motifs.
  • Subverted in SD Gundam Sangokuden - the Three Kingdoms along with Toutaku Zaku's forces are based on The Four Gods, and the dragon- and tiger-themed factions Shou and Gou correspond to Shu and Wu in Romance of the Three Kingdoms, making them allies (or at least the factions that spend the most time not at war).
  • Seen in Naruto The Movie: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow, where Nadare Rouga employs the jutsu called Ice Release: Tearing Dragon Fierce Tiger (Ice Style: Dragon vs. Tiger). Kakashi Hatake subsequently counters the attack with the Water Dragon Jutsu.
    • In the manga, Rock Lee and Gaara are seen as a tiger and a dragon respectively during their fight.
  • Tai Chi Chasers features this trope prominently, from the two major rival factions (Tigeroids and Dragonoids) to tigers, dragons, and the taijutu (yin-yang symbol) being displayed heavily in the main opening.
  • Seen in Sengoku Youko where two of the Four Beasts General are a tiger and dragon demon-human fusions, and the tiger - Douren - in this case has an ongoing rivalry with the dragon - Jinun - to the point that he believes that he would be the only one allowed to take down Jinun.
  • In the Soul Eater manga, Death The Kid references this as the main difference between his and Black Star's fighting styles. While Black Star prefers to simply use brute force against his opponents, Kid is more methodical and prefers using strategy.
  • The Ranma ½ episode Genma Takes A Walk has Soun and Genma falling out, and fighting a dual at the end of the episode, their first attacks against eachother being Genma's "Wild Tiger Exploding Fist" and Soun's "Flying Dragon Kick To Oblivion".

Film[edit | hide]

  • Fighting Dragon VS Deadly Tiger, also known as Call Me Dragon.
  • Tiger VS Dragon, also known as Kung Fu, the Invisible Fist.
  • In Dragon Tiger Gate, Dragon Wong and Tiger Wong are brothers loyal to a fault, but they do end up getting into spats every now and then.
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, though In Name Only.
    • Mentioned during the Oscars by Steve Martin: he was wondering why there weren't any tigers and dragons. Then he understood it's because they're crouching and hidden.
    • Word of God suggests that the title is intended to refer to the obvious threat of Jade Fox (the 'crouching tiger') and the secret but far more significant threat of Jen (the 'hidden dragon').
  • In Exit the Dragon, Enter the Tiger, the spirit of Bruce Lee points to the Brucesploitation actor Bruce Li as his "successor", calling him the "Tiger" to Lee's "Dragon".
  • Possibly unintentional, but in Rocky IV, Rocky, previously represented by the song "Eye of the Tiger", faces Ivan Drago.
    • What's even stranger is that those roles are reversed in their fighting styles: Drago is hailed for his raw power and Rocky for his toughness.
  • The Kung Fu Panda series' Ship Tease with Master Po the Dragon Warrior and Master Tigress feels even more appropriate with this Chinese symbology in mind.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • John Brunner's Telepathist has Howson, the therapeutic telepath, entering the absurdly detailed Oriental fantasy dream-state of a catatonic patient. After a series of events, he brings the patient out of the fugue by naming Tiger City as the tiger, and his sword, which had slain a dragon, as the dragon. Both objects then turn into their respective animals and fight. Howson wins because "the tiger is the second strongest animal", and the other man wakes up. Subverted, as the patient was also a telepath -- he'd put such blatant weaknesses in it because he'd created the fantasy as a sort of holiday, and wanted to be brought out of it easily.
    • In at least one version of the book, the catatonic telepath is caught completely by surprise. He'd set up the laws of magic so that the above fight was possible with minimal Inception-style "cheating" on Howson's part, but he'd expected the people on the outside to send a less experienced therapeutic telepath, who would screw up and get noticed, at which point the catatonic guy would wake up on his own.
  • In David Brin's novel Earth, the on-screen representations of two software packages that end up fighting each other with the fate of the world at stake happen to be a tiger and a dragon.
  • In 1632 in the Battle Couple Jeff and Gretchen Jeff is laid back and Gretchen is forceful.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

Music[edit | hide]

  • 8bitduane's rap rendition of the Bad Dudes video game says that the eponymous Bad Dudes are "...the tiger you cannot tame". The enemies are the Dragon Ninja.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • In Street Fighter, Sagat's endless arsenal of Tiger-themed attacks prove worthless against a single Dragon Punch from Ryu.
  • No More Heroes 2 has lots of explicit Tiger association with Travis Touchdown—which only further accentuates the duel between him and Ryuji.
    • Spelling "Travis" in katakana gets you Torabisu, after all.
  • In Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan!, there is a level (set to Thrill) where you act as cheerleaders for the battle between a dragon-themed kid and a tiger-themed kid.
  • In Ace Attorney, Phoenix Wright finds himself at particular odds with Furio Tigre. This becomes far more relevant in the Japanese version, where Phoenix Wright and his Japanese name represent the dragon rather than a phoenix.
    • If you look closely, you'll notice Tigre's shirt features a tiger chomping on a dragon's neck.
  • In The World Ends With You Mitsuki Konishi's noise form is a tiger, Megumi Kitaniji's is a dragon. Konishi plans to usurp Kitaniji as Conductor, or Composer, even.
  • Art of Fighting has a rivalry between its two main protagonists: Ryo Sakazaki (the tiger) and Robert Garcia (the dragon). In fact, the Japanese name of the series is Ryuuko no Ken, or "Fist of the Dragon/Tiger". Their stances occasionally reflect their animal motifs, and they share a super move, the Ryuuko Ranbu, that refers to the rivalry in its name.
    • Slightly inverted as Ryo is called the "Invincible Dragon" while Robert is called the "Raging Tiger."
  • The last boss of the Capcom game Black Tiger involves the hero of the same name fighting a dragon.
  • In the game Tiger Road, the hero can learn to shoot tiger shaped fireballs, the Big Bad shoots Dragon shaped fireballs.
  • Played for laughs in Kagetsu Tohya with Akiha and Ciel during a minor confrontation, where they verbally spar before turning on Shiki to force him to choose between the lunches they have made. And saying he can't choose between them is not acceptable.
  • In Jade Empire, Lord Lao's furnace has two buttons to activate the configurations, the tiger button and the dragon button, as well as respective configurations (stat increase recipes). The configuration of the tiger grants an increase to focus, while the configuration of the dragon grants an increase to body.
  • At the beginning of Shining Force III, when Master Gabrial asks you to name the three heroes, he compares them to animals. Synbios is compared to the Tiger, Medion is compared to the Dragon and Julian is compared to a Wolf. Synbios, the Tiger is a Knight of the Republic and Medion, the Dragon is a Prince of the Empire. Both are played against each other at one point by the Emperor.
  • In Sengoku Basara, eternal rivals Date Masamune and Sanada Yukimura are known as the One-Eyed Dragon and the Little Tiger respectively. The anime makes this even more poignant by having them represented by their animals during the Final Battle.
  • During the Final Boss battle in King's Quest V, Mordack transforms into a insectoid dragon. Guess which animal form counters him?
  • The Ryu Oh Ki and Ko Oh Ki in Super Robot Wars Alpha and Super Robot Wars Original Generation series are the only two surviving examples of a series of ancient god-mechs patterned after The Four Gods. Rather than a rivalry, however, they are depicted as opposite sides of the coin, capable of forming a Combining Mecha that can transform between two forms: The Tiger-themed KoRyuOh is a physical fighter, using blades, nunchaku, and Rocket Punches to attack the enemy directly, while the Dragon-themed RyuKoOh uses magic, flames, and dropping mountains on the enemy to fight from a distance.
  • Catherine and Katherine from... Catherine.
  • In the final battle of King's Quest V, the Big Bad changes into a dragon; while Graham can change into a tiger, this just gets you killed; the trick is to change into a rabbit, which is nimble enough to dodge the dragon's Breath Weapon.
  • In DJMAX Technika, the music selection Dual Strikers is a reference to tiger and dragon, with the characters for them emphasized in opposite corners of the eyecatch image.

Webcomics[edit | hide]

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • The rival martial arts cliques at Whateley are the Tigers (whose members are all black) and the Dragons (whose members are mostly Asian, though they seem to accept other races more openly.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Famous samurai Uesugi Kenshin was called the Dragon of Eichigo (Eichigo was the province he ruled). His rival, Takeda Shingen, was called the Tiger of Kai. And yes, this was on purpose.
  • Symbolism with tigers and dragons are common in asian martial arts, and one Shaolin myth has it that to prove themselves worthy of a black belt, students would have to fight their way through 100 wooden enemies and lift a 500 pound vase blocking the exit of the testing room. The vase was imprinted with a tiger and a dragon, and was hot enough that it would brand the symbols into the chest or shoulders of the student as proof of success.
  • A Dragon is commonly used to symbolise China. A Tiger is commonly used to symbolise India. Guess which two large Asian nations have rapidly developing economies and are seen as rivals for the post of "next superpower"
  • One civilian variant of the Dragunov rifle is the "Tiger".
  1. Ryuuji = "dragon child/dragon character"