Sooner or later, the question comes up: just how powerful IS Escaflowne? Van/Esca are the most powerful single fighters in their anime, but just how much can they do, and most importantly, who can they beat? Can Escaflowne take a Valkyrie, Eva, Orgun, or SV2? Well, I think it's clear that even if Van sees it coming, the spear of Longinus will punch a hole in him like a locomotive through a damp tissue. Nevertheless, the issue of "this vs. that" in anime has long been a topic for much debate.
In considering any such confrontation, I prefer to remove the advantage of "main character power" from the contestants. MCP (sounds like we're in Tron here) is what allows the main character in a show to defeat any opponent no matter what. Using MCP, even Miki could destroy Allen and Sherazade because she's a main character and he isn't. (Actually, what would happen is that strange events would save her at the last minute, like a building falling down on Allen's guymelef.) This MCP is what makes the bad guys lose to circumstances in campy shows and what allows the main characters to pull off super moves and always arrive just in time to save their friends. In light of this, many "vs." contests are less fun because only main characters (both having MCP) can compete. So I'll be ignoring MCP for the rest of this article.
I like to divide the fights into two categories, augmented and unaugmented (naked) battles. Eva vs. Esca is augmented, Van vs. Shinji is unaugmented (winners: Eva and Van). Many battles are no contest, so I'll just touch on a few of my favorites.
Escaflowne vs. Alphonse: I find this one interesting because many factors can influence the outcome. If it's just them and pilots, not another soul in sight, it's a question of whether Noa can shoot him fast enough. If she decides to fire and hits, Van dies because he's linked to Esca and takes a bullet wound, but otherwise, I'd have to favor him. Van is very fast and can see Noa's attacks coming with his "strong" imagination. If you start adding characters, like Hitomi and Shinohara -- the usual advice-givers -- it gets complicated. Hitomi can cause Van to lose just by having a bad thought (she's been in the SPHERE, for sure), and Shinohara's darn good at picking the opponent's weak points. Overall, though, I'd have to favor Esca until Chief Goto is involved. He simply tells the SV2 where to be and they win, but that's more Goto vs. Esca...
Basketball -- MB vs. Slam Dunk: You might think that Yuu's team would pulverize the Slam Dunk guys, but you're forgetting something important: the SD team will start fouling a little until the MB team is beaten up; those weenies can't take that much damage. Just look at them -- their limbs will snap like toothpicks! Plus, the SD guys have been playing as a team for a long time, and that could give them a win anyway.
Battle of Wits -- Miki vs. A Jar of Mayonnaise: If it's P&C brand or something, Miki will beat it, but if it's Miracle Whip... she loses badly.
Battle of Wits -- Goto vs. Gendo: Of all the contests mentioned, this is the one I'd most like to see. Both are all-knowing master strategists who always predict the outcomes -- it'd be really close. Part of Gendo's power comes from his vast resources, but he acquired them himself through his own cunning and planning. Goto hasn't a lot in terms of world domination, but that's partially due to the anime's setting -- it's not a place where a police chief can rule the world. Also, I'm certain that Goto could get more overt power but that he doesn't want it; he loves the SV2 and if he changed jobs, he couldn't share an office with Shinobu. Needless to say, either one could fill the other's role quite successfully (albeit with a much different attitude), and a battle of wits between them is too close for me to call.
Kamui vs. TIE Fighter: This one's a bit of a mix-up, being as we're crossing the two categories, but I think it's fair. Kamui has mighty mighty power, right? I seem to be alone in thinking that the TIE fighter actually wins, however, but even then, I have to admit that it takes a bit of rule-bending. First, we let the fight go on infinitely and make both sides very patient -- give the TIE fighter a computer AI instead of a pilot. Okay, now I say that Kamui has very little in the way of long-range attacks (certainly he can't reach orbit), but lasers can be fired from space to the surface with enough power left to kill when they reach. Kamui can be killed "normally" -- he can be cut by normal weapons; certainly, a TIE fighter laser blast is going to disintegrate him. At that point, it's a matter of time before the TIE fighter just hits him and Kamui loses. He can dodge a lot, but sooner or later, he'll get hit and die most completely (remember that he no longer has MCP).
Lina vs. Bastard: I only have one thing to say: Halloween and immortality. Sure Dragon Slave is powerful and can blast a small town to bits, but Halloween has a 1-mile radius and Dark Schneider is immortal; there's no way he'd lose to a flat-chested, 5th-rate magician like Lina Inverse.
Jingoro vs. Luna: Luna can talk, but she can't fight; three little boys beat her up and she had to be saved by Usagi. Jingoro's not very tough either, but he's a veteran of Kurumi and Manami's torture -- I might have to go with him on this.
Fokker vs. Folken: Woah! It's not easy to say what combat abilities each has (obviously, Folken wins a battle of wits). I think that a Valkyrie can take a guymelef, so the augmented goes to Fokker, but the mano à mano? Probably Folken's flight capabilities (self-GERWALK) give him victory.
Jigen vs. Ryo Saeba: I'd like to give Jigen style points for always being cool and not being a lecher, but assuming that Ryo is in serious mode, we'd have another close one on our hands. Ray, could you tell us who's got the advantage? Ray says Ryo never misses and Jigen sometimes does, but James disagrees.
Naria & Eriya vs. Anna Puma & Una Puma: Maybe they're fighting over catnip? N&E have a luck advantage for sure, but the Puma sisters are genetically superior specimens. Both sides are well-trained and coordinated teams that can also do well individually. Really, none of them fight hand-to-hand much, though. Armed with projectile weapons, I'd favor A&U because of their greater expertise and experience, but the reverse could be said if all 4 were given guymelefs. Perhaps in a fight to the death, if the Puma sisters lost one, then they'd go down, but the death of N or E could result in a berserking attack by the remaining twin, leaving no one left alive; though I suppose that's still a draw. I guess it comes down to this: the more serious the environment, the slight advantage goes to Naria and Eriya, but if there's a hint of levity, the Puma twins will come out on top.