A person who wishes to be a responsible companion to an Akita needs to be an experienced and calm dog owner with a confident and dominant personality. I don't know that 'rivals' is an accurate word, but the Akita is more self-determined (read stubborn) than the typical German Shepherd. And I know stubborn dogs! (lol) If you've read any of my posts about my Filas you'll understand.
Akitas can be wonderful companions. They are steadfast, unshakeably loyal, love their masters beyond anything, and they are physically and mentally strong. They can also run your homeowners' insurance rates through the roof, if not get them canceled altogether. Akitas are one of the breeds that give many insurance companies the willies, and it's completely unfair, but that's the way the insurance industry works.
Do a search on the web for Akitas, look at some of the breeders and websites that will come up as references and learn about them. I had a GSD/Akita mix (rescued) for many years. He was a certified therapy animal and was one of the finest creatures I've ever been honored to share my life with.
Akitas are territorial, particularly males. Their form of protection is slightly different than a GSD's form of protection. the average akita is not skittish like the average GSD is. (Curse the Backyard Breeders. The GSD is one of the more troubled breeds now)
The average GSD will turn to aggression out of fear. The average Akita (And well-bred Shepherd) will turn to aggression when they feel their territory or family is being threatened. If the Akita is well-bred, well-trained and well-socialized, they are WONDERFUL protectors, but calm and accepting of friendly strangers, and generally a very good companion for someone who fully understands dog behavior, particularly dominance.
I don't recommend an unneutered male akita for anyone who hasn't had LOADS of experience with stubborn, territorial, and generally 'difficult' dogs.
I'm certainly not saying that Akitas are always stubborn, territorial and difficult, but that's what you should be prepared for. Who knows, you might be pleasantly surprised, or you might get what you were prepared for.
EDIT: I also am not saying that GSDs are all fearful. There are many wonderful, stable shepherds out there, but I was referring to the average BYB fear-biter shepherd who are giving the breed a bad rap.