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15 Strongest Bleach Characters Ranked

There are several fantastic shonen shows to choose from, but few are as famous as the long-running hit anime "Bleach." Based on Tite Kubo's manga of the same name, it's the story of Ichigo Kurosaki, a high school student who reluctantly becomes a Soul Reaper. A Soul Reaper (or Shinigami in the Japanese version) is an otherworldly being who transports the souls of the dead to the afterlife and battles evil spirits known as Hollows. When a Soul Reaper named Rukia Kuchiki tracks a powerful Hollow to Ichigo's home, she's shocked to discover that Ichigo can see her, as they're invisible to ordinary humans. The pair ends up engaging the Hollow and Rukia attempts to transfer some of her power to Ichigo to make it a fair fight. For reasons that neither of them understand to begin with, Ichigo accidentally absorbs almost all of her power and has to substitute for her, carrying out Rukia's Soul Reaper duties in her place.

It later becomes clear that Ichigo always had innate abilities that he knew nothing about. He grows into one of the strongest characters in the "Bleach" world, but is he the strongest of them all? He meets some formidable friends and foes on his unenviable quest, many of whom have become firm fan favorites. Here's our ranking of the most powerful "Bleach" characters.

15. Yoruichi Shihoin

Yoruichi Shihoin is a princess of the Shihoin Clan, one of the great noble families in the Soul Society. Unlike others of her standing, she is a humble person who gets on well with others and doesn't mind getting her hands dirty. She was once the captain of the 2nd Division in The Gotei 13, the Soul Society's main military branch, and she also led the covert special-ops group the Onmitsukido for a time. She quit both jobs, but the skills she developed in these roles never left her.

While she no longer has her Zanpakuto weapon, Yoruichi still maintains her sharp wits and her Kido abilities, which she uses to take her enemies down in swift fashion. Although there are many speedy characters in "Bleach," Yoruichi is definitely among the fastest. She's far from the strongest character in the manga and anime, but she's lightning quick in a fight and is not to be underestimated. She's also capable of transforming into a cat, which is always handy in a tight spot.

14. Byakuya Kuchiki

Byakuya Kuchiki is the captain of the 6th Division and head of the rich and powerful Kuchiki clan. He's an adoptive older brother to Rukia Kuchiki (who was adopted into the clan rather than being born into nobility), and he was deeply in love with her sister, Hisana. Sadly, Hisana passed away — which is partly why Byakuya comes across as such a cold character. Despite his dour personality, his power gains him respect within The Gotei 13 and he's one of the most feared captains to fight against in battle.

Byakuya has one of the most powerful and most beautiful Bankai in all of "Bleach." His Zanpakuto can break into thousands of tiny little blades that mimic the look of pink cherry blossoms. His graceful attacks have become synonymous with his character as he uses both power and style every time he battles an enemy. He might be a staunch aristocrat, but Byakuya can throw down with the best of them when pushed.

13. Toshiro Hitsugaya

Head of the 10th Division in The Gotei 13, Toshiro Hitsugaya is the youngest captain in the Soul Society. Despite this, he's a mature character who holds his own among far more experienced individuals. While not fully developed, his Bankai — which gives him control over ice and water — has come in handy on numerous occasions and his Zanpakuto weapon is considered one of the most powerful of its kind. Of course, a powerful Zanpakuto weapon needs a powerful user.

Toshiro is far from the strongest "Bleach" character, but this one-time child prodigy is widely respected among his peers and many (both in-universe and in the fandom) believe he will likely overtake those who currently rank above him one day. The anime was canceled before we got the chance to see Toshiro age up on screen, but in chapter 671 of the manga, we finally got to see a more mature version of the character — and a more mature version of his Bankai.

12. Kisuke Urahara

Kisuke Urahara is the ex-captain of the 12th Division and arguably one of the smartest characters in "Bleach." He was a little shy and unsure of himself when he first became a captain, but by the time we get introduced to him in the present day, he's confident and as cunning as they come. He settled in the human world after leaving his life in The Gotei 13, opening up a small shop. While this looks like a regular convenience store from the outside, it actually deals in Shinigami goods and is a place where Soul Reapers come to shop. 

Aside from his intellect, Urahara stands out as a character with one of the most interesting Bankai stories, as he was able to master the ability to produce a Bankai in a mere three days. This is something that typically takes most Soul Reapers weeks, months, or even years to accomplish. He's a master swordsman, as evidenced by his use of Hozuri (or the Cheek Stroke, a precise slash technique intended to inflict only superficial wounds), and, in the anime, he is just as skilled in hand-to-hand combat.

11. Coyote Starrk

Hollows are born when a human soul fails to cross over into the Soul Society. This race of supernatural creatures will devour the souls of the living if they are not dealt with, which is where the Soul Reapers come in. Not every Hollow can be dealt with easily, however. When a Hollow removes its mask it becomes what is known as an Arrancar, beings with powers almost on par with the Shinigami. One Arrancar is bad enough, but when Sosuke Aizen (more on him shortly) puts together an army of them, the Soul Reapers have their work cut out.

Coyote Starrk is an Arrancar and the Primera Espada (a Spanish term for someone who excels at bullfighting) in Aizen's army. He's not inherently violent, which makes him an intriguing enemy for the heroes of "Bleach" to face off against. He is, however, very powerful. Not only is he a fearsome swordsman, he's also a master marksman who can fire Cero (concentrated blasts of spiritual energy) with deadly precision. Starrk has so much spiritual power that he's not allowed to release his Zanpakuto inside Aizen's fortress, as doing so could destroy it.

10. Askin Nakk Le Vaar

Askin Nakk Le Vaar is an unstable Quincy (spiritually aware humans) who takes great pleasure in causing pain. He follows Yhwach (aka the Father of the Quincy) not out of loyalty, but in the hope that he'll change the world to suit his own purposes. He's a cocky character who goes out of his way to highlight his superiority over those he's engaged with, but he's strong enough to back up all the smack talk.

Askin is a skilled fighter who likes to finish off his opponents with a terrifying ability called The Deathdealing: He is able to alter the level at which a substance becomes lethal to a person. He's also able to absorb the spiritual energy around him to create weapons that can cause immeasurable damage. Because Askin is such an unpredictable character, you never know what he's going to do next, which makes him a wild card during a fight.

9. Kenpachi Zaraki

To say that Kenpachi Zaraki enjoys a good fight would be a huge understatement: The captain of the 11th Division is in his element in battle. He lives to fight, so much so that he has been known to prolong brawls by giving his opponent time to recover before delivering his final blow. The 11th Division specializes in sword fighting, and Kenpachi leads by example — he's such an accomplished swordsman that he rarely uses two hands.

For a time, Kenpachi was the only captain that didn't have a Bankai, but he is so strong that he never needed one. At first, people assumed that his Zanpakuto was seemingly always in its released state due to Kenpachi's sheer strength. Once his Zanpakuto was truly released, its size and strength could level cities. Even while wearing his eyepatch (which acts as a cap on his explosive spiritual power) he is one of the most formidable fighters in the "Bleach" universe.

8. Shunsui Kyoraku

Shunsui Kyoraku is the captain of the 1st Division and arguably the second most powerful captain in the Soul Society. He's a master swordsman and, being ambidextrous, is able to wield dual blades with ease. While Shunsui may seem carefree, he's been a captain for hundreds of years, making his wisdom unmatched by most around him — even the likes of Byakuya and Kenpachi look to him with regard.

Shunsui doesn't particularly enjoy going into battle, but when he activates his Bankai, all bets are off. He has the ability to alter people's reality by creating an environment completely under his control. His strength and attitude make him the perfect counterpart to Coyote Starrk, the Primera Espada. Starrk once hit the captain of the 1st Division with a Cero at point-blank range, but Shunsui has such a high endurance level that he was able to brush it off.

7. Lille Barro

A powerful Quincy and the leader of Yhwach's elite guard, Lille Barro is an unrivaled marksman. He has perfect accuracy and is guaranteed to hit and destroy his target with his rifle. This is due to the fact that Lille is able to pierce through anything because nothing is strong enough to block or counter his power. Aside from that, he's able to shoot bursts of energy that can completely obliterate entire cities in the blink of an eye.

When Lille transforms and activates his Quincy he becomes an almost unstoppable killing machine. Unlike many of his peers, his Quincy has a second form, and when he accesses it, he can regenerate any part of his body. Aside from his obvious strength, Lille is loyal to a fault. He believes in Yhwach and believes in the Quincy cause, resulting in his willingness to do anything to succeed. It's this resolve that makes him so deadly.

6. Gerard Valkyrie

Gerard Valkyrie is one of strongest fighters in Yhwach's Quincy army and among the most powerful in "Bleach" as a whole. He has an innate ability known as The Miracle, which allows him to emerge victorious despite seemingly insurmountable odds. The tougher the situation seems, the stronger his ability becomes. If an opponent is lucky enough to land a blow on him, they'll probably wish that they hadn't — he can convert any physical damage inflicted onto him into increases in size and might. As if that wasn't enough, he's able to sprout wings and fly should the occasion call for it.

Valkyrie's name, design, and power set have led to inevitable comparisons with Marvel's Thor, with fans debating who would win in a battle at length. The verdict is often inconclusive but usually leads to discussions about whether or not Valkyrie is a little overpowered. This could well be the case, but even so, he's still not the strongest character in the "Bleach" universe.

5. Ichigo Kurosaki

The main protagonist in "Bleach," fan favorite Ichigo Kurosaki is a seemingly average teenager when we meet him, but he becomes the savior of the world over the course of the series. He gets stronger with each arc as he's constantly unlocking new powers that he ends up mastering. His deep relationship with his Zanpakuto is what makes his power so overwhelming. Even before he learned the Shinigami combat skills he was an excellent fighter, having studied martial arts from a young age.

Ichigo is a character who is driven by protecting the innocent. Whether it's his family, his friends, or even complete strangers, he will put himself in danger to help people. Regardless of what might happen to him, he's a hero through and through. While Ichigo is a substitute Soul Reaper, he's surpassed most captains on this list in skill and combat, and in a relatively short amount of time. His heart and determination matched with his abundance of spiritual energy make him one of the strongest and most respected characters in "Bleach."

4. Sosuke Aizen

The main "Bleach" antagonist, Sosuke Aizen was once a captain in The Gotei 13, leading the 5th Division. He secretly works against the Soul Reapers, however, raising an army of Arrancar to take them on. Aizen creates the Espada (super powerful Arrancar) in the hope of destroying the Soul Reapers and the Soul Society. His ultimate goal is to transform himself into the strongest being on the planet.

Aizen is able to trap his enemies in convincing illusions, blurring reality. After rendering them confused, he's usually able to defeat them with ease. Aizen is so powerful that Ichigo is only able to beat him by almost dying himself. What ultimately gives Aizen such a high ranking on this list is the fact that Ichigo could never have stopped Yhwach without his help. Even after everything Aizen did to the Soul Society, they still called on him for help. He's just that powerful.

3. Ichibe Hyosube

Ichibe Hyosube is the captain of the Royal Guard, tasked with protecting the Soul King and royal family. His abilities are akin to that of a god as he's able to manipulate the metaphysical world. Ichibe can turn a concept into an idea: If he gives someone the name "Bug," for example, they will become as weak as one. This is something that he uses against Yhwach, naming him "Ant," which results in him becoming as weak as an ant for a short time.

Given the title "Monk Who Calls the Real Name" by the Soul King, Ichibe actually came up with the terms for pretty much everything in the Soul Society. He coined the terms Bankai and Zanpakuto, and he knows the names of every Soul Reaper's Zanpakuto in The Gotei 13. His name also carries a significant amount of weight, as only those who are worthy can say it. Like others on this list, Ichibe has the power of regeneration. However, his ability takes it one step further, as he can completely restore his body to be good as new, even if it has been destroyed. He's insanely strong and highly proficient in Kido, using spells without having to say the incantations.

2. Genryusai Shigekuni Yamamoto

Before his death, Genryusai Shigekuni Yamamoto was the Captain-Commander of The Gotei 13. He is known to be the most powerful Soul Reaper of all time, a ridiculously strong warrior whose Bankai makes all others look tame in comparison. Zanka no Tachi allows Yamamoto to control fire, but it's far more complicated than that. We're talking about heat in excess of 15 million degrees, heat so hot that it's near impossible to comprehend. It's arguably the most powerful Bankai in "Bleach" history.

What's more, Yamamoto can control the dead. If he cuts a foe down with his blade, he can bring them back to life (in the form of a completely burned-up corpse) to fight alongside him in battle. And, with over two millennia of combat experience, there's nobody more skilled with a blade, meaning zombie soldiers aren't hard to come by. Even without a sword he's deadly, using his Sokotsu (a two-fisted punch) to leave his enemies in a crumpled heap. Needless to say, he's not to be messed with.

1. Yhwach

You're probably wondering who is powerful enough to kill someone as strong as Genryusai Shigekuni Yamamoto. Yhwach doesn't just kill Yamamoto, he totally obliterates him with a torrent of arrows launched from his finger. The son of the Soul King (often referred to as Your Majesty or The Almighty) is insanely powerful. Perhaps his most terrifying trait is that he's able to steal the abilities of others, sucking them dry and killing them. This means there's no end to how strong he can ultimately become. After he absorbs the Soul King, his power levels go through the roof.

Among the many powers he possesses are Blut (a Quincy technique that gives the user superhuman capabilities) and Sankt Bogen (the ability to summon a huge bow with enough power to propel him back to his palace if need be). He's also able to manifest one-eyed bat-like creatures that will attack any Shinigami in the vicinity. The cherry on top of the cake is that he's extremely elusive, being able to create portals that allow him to travel great distances in an instant. It's a close call at the top, but we think that Yhwach is the strongest "Bleach" character.