A little more than a decade ago, the anime world was dominated by three series, and Bleach was one of them. At its core, Bleach focuses on the conflict between three factions: the Soul Reapers, Hollows, and Quincy, and each group possesses distinct attributes and abilities. When it comes to powerful iconic Shonen protagonists, Ichigo Kurosaki ranks near the top, and like several other Soul Reapers, he is capable of using Bankai.


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Every Soul Reaper has a katana called a Zanpakutō, and each one possesses a Shikai release. Bankai refers to a Zanpakutō’s second release, and it can usually only be achieved by Captain-level Soul Reapers. Fans have seen more than a dozen of these Bankai, and they are all extremely powerful, but some are far stronger than others.

Updated on October 21, 2022, by George Voutiritsas: Bleach fans all over the world were ecstatic when news broke that the Thousand Year Blood War Arc was finally going to receive the anime treatment. The arc will tie up several story threads, and there will be a lot of bloody conflicts as well. More importantly, it will introduce several never-before-seen Bankai. The Bankai release is the strongest weapon that a Soul Reaper can use, but only a handful of Soul Reapers can actually awaken their Zanpakutō’s Bankai. Every Bankai is different in terms of ability and appearance, and some can wipe out dozens of enemies at once. Each Bankai may be powerful, but when it comes to overall power and effectiveness, they are not all equal.

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20/20 Ryumon Hozukimaru’s Power Increases When Damage Is Dealt Or Received

Ikkaku has been a fan-favorite ever since he debuted during the Soul Society Arc. He loves to fight, and his Zanpakuto is perfect for melee fighting. His Shikai is a type of spear that can split into three pieces, but his Bankai is far larger, and it deals a lot more damage.

Ryumon Hozukimaru takes the form of three different weapons that are all connected via a thick metal chain. The main weapons are a monk spade and pole-like weapon, but there is also a large axe blade with a dragon crest above his head. The crest continues to turn red each time Ikkaku receives or deals damage, and when it is fully charged, he can utilize his Bankai’s true cutting power.

19/20 Tekken Tachikaze Produces Powerful Melee Attacks

Kensei Muguruma may not be the most likable Captain of the Gotei 13, but he is still a powerful Soul Reaper. When he activates his Shikai, his Zanpakuto takes the form of a combat knife that can produce air blades. His Bankai on the other hand. looks far different.

Tekken Tachikaze takes the form of two knuckle blades with curved silver edges, and he gains segmented purple wraps that cover his arms like armor. These knuckle blades can also take the form of brass knuckles and spiked gauntlets. The destructive force of Kensei’s Shikai is amplified and focused into his fists, which allows his punches to produce explosive force.

18/20 Soo Zabimaru Can Reduce Enemies To Ash

There was a great deal of emotion when Ichigo battled Renji, and what makes their fight even more interesting is the fact that neither had achieved Bankai yet. Renji achieved it shortly after his defeat, and it took the form of a long skeletal snake.

This was not his Bankai’s true for,m however. The true form is achieved during the Thousand Year Blood War Arc, and it is much smaller. The iconic snake skull is now a gauntlet with a protruding blade, and snake vertebrae cover Renji’s body. When he impales someone, the Bankai produces jaws made of spiritual energy that latch onto his opponent. He can then shoot them with a blast that can turn the target to ash.

17/20 Kinshara Butodan Creates Physical Illusions

Rojuro Otoribashi became a Captain again after the war with Aizen, but it wasn’t until the war with the Quincy that he revealed his Bankai. His Shikai is a golden whip that uses sound as a weapon, but his Bankai allows him to create physical illusions with music. It creates a large pair of hands, a conducting wand, and a group of colossal dancers.

The music is meant to deceive his opponents’ hearts, and as long as they are deceived, the Illusions can inflict real physical damage. The illusions are produced by the dancers, and, if Rojuro wishes, he can make them stop his opponent’s breathing.

16/20 Jakuho Raikoben Utilizes An Incredibly Powerful Missile

Soifon’s Shikai creates a gauntlet with a stinger-shaped blade on one finger, and she can use it to kill an opponent in two hits. This ability complements her fighting style, which incorporates stealth and speed, but her Bankai is the complete opposite, which is why she hates using it.

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Jakuho Raikoben is twice the size of Soifon, and it is an armored missile launcher made of gold that is attached to her right arm. It is a heavy Bankai that requires Soifon to aim from far away. Once she locks onto her target, the missile tracks them down, and the resulting explosion causes large-scale destruction.

15/20 Koko Gonryo Rikyu Produces Lightning Strikes From The Sky

Captain Commander Yamamoto was the strongest Soul Reaper for centuries, so it makes sense that his Lieutenant would be a powerful fighter as well. Chojiro Sasakibe wielded a Zanpakuto that transformed into an ornate rapier when he activated his Shikai.

His Bankai is called Koko Gonryo Rikyu, and when it is released, his Zanpakuto fires a bolt of lightning into the sky, which then creates a dome of lightning. There are also numerous lightning pillars that extend toward the ground. Chojiro can direct the lightning bolts with his hands, and the bolts are strong enough to injure the Captain Commander himself.

14/20 Kokujo Tengen Myo’o Is A Massive Armored Giant

Captain Sajin Komamura is built like a tank, and, unlike other Captains, he has used his Bankai in every single fight. His Bankai is pretty straightforward, as it summons a giant which wears a full suit of armor. The giant mimics Komamura’s actions, and it wields a massive blade.

This Bankai’s one downside is the fact that Komamura sustains any damage his giant receives. When Komamura enters his human form, he can unleash his Bankai’s strongest form, which sees the giant lose its armor. While in this form, the giant is immune to all forms of physical damage.

13/20 Tensa Zangetsu’s True Power Can Injure A Quincy God

As the main character, Ichigo has a number of powerful abilities at his disposal, and they all seem to enhance his Bankai. For the majority of the series, Tensa Zangestu looked like an ordinary black katana, and it gave Ichigo a black outfit. It also gave him enhanced speed, reflexes, and durability. The strength of his Getsuga Tenshou was increased as well.

Tensa Zangetsu’s true form is revealed during the final fight with Yhwach, and the blade looks very similar to Zangestu’s curved Shikai design. The true ability of this Bankai has not been seen, but it can produce a golden Getsuga Tenshou that can seriously injure the father of all Quincy.

12/20 Konjiki Ashisogi Jizo Creates Poison & New Abilities

Mayuri Kurotsuchi is by no means a good person, but at least he is on Soul Society’s side. His Shikai uses poison that acts like a neurotoxin, but his Bankai is even deadlier, despite its appearance. Its original form has a worm-like body and a golden baby’s head. It breathes extremely lethal poison, it has numerous retractable blades in its chest, and it can self-destruct.

In its modified form, Konjiki Ashisogi Jizo becomes a massive purple-skinned baby that can create modified versions of itself. After gathering information on an opponent, Mayuri sends the data to his Bankai, which, in turn, creates specific abilities to counter said enemy.

11/20 Kannonbiraki Benihime Aratame Can Restructure Anything

Kisuke Urahara is the former Captain of Squad 12, and he possesses a Bankai which makes use of his scientific mind. His Bankai is called Kannonbiraki Benihime Aratame, and it takes the form of a large woman with dark, braided hair. Her arms look like they belong on a mannequin, and she wears a surprisingly revealing red dress.

This Bankai is capable of restructuring anything it touches. Basically, it can cut anything around it as if it were dissecting something, and it can then restructure them by stitching them back together. Healing is just one of its applications, as Urahara used it to fix his blindness. It can enhance certain other body parts too and can create paths through obstacles and barriers.

10/20 Nozarashi Can Essentially Cut Through Anything

Bleach’s anime does several things better than the manga, including the way it introduces new Bankai. Fans have wanted to see an animated version of the final arc for years, and Kenpachi’s Bankai is a major reason why. The Bankai’s name was never fully revealed, but it causes his skin to turn red, and it makes him grow horns on his face like a demon.

While in this form, Kenpachi is a mindless berserker, and he uses a rough and jagged cleaver. He gains immense physical strength, and his cutting power increases to the point that he can cleave through anything.

9/20 Kamishini No Yari Is Extremely Fast & Can Dissolve Enemies At A Cellular Level

Gin Ichimaru only pretended to be a villain so he could kill Aizen at the right time, and he nearly accomplished this goal with his Bankai. Kamishini no Yari’s main ability is similar to its Shikai, as it can extend at high speeds while producing a great deal of force.

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The speed with which it extends is greatly amplified, however, as it can extend up to 8 miles at 500 times the speed of sound. The sword can also transform into dust for a split second, and this allows Gin to leave a small piece of his sword inside his target’s body. Once activated, this piece releases a fast-acting poison that dissolves the target’s body at a cellular level.

8/20 Suzumushi Tsuishiki Creates A Space That Nullifies Most Senses

Many fans believe that Aizen is one of the best anime villains of all time, and he managed to assemble quite an army of followers. Tōsen was one of those followers, and he used his Bankai only once throughout the entire series.

It is called, Suzumushi Tsuishiki, and it creates a black void that expands until it forms a massive dome-like space. This space nullifies an enemy’s ability to smell, taste, see and hear. It also takes away their ability to sense spirit energy, but it leaves them with their sense of touch. With most of their senses gone, someone trapped within this Bankai cannot defend themselves from Tōsen’s attacks.

7/20 Senbonzakura Kageyoshi Creates Countless Flying Blades For Offense & Defense

Byakuya Kuchiki is one of Bleach‘s more recognizable Captains, and his Bankai produces an almost limitless amount of offensive potential. Upon activation, he summons thousands of large blades which scatter into a countless number of smaller blades that resemble cherry blossoms.

These blades are completely under Byakuya’s control, and he can surround his opponent with them. He can literally tear his enemy to shreds, and best of all, he can use these blades as a shield to protect himself from opposing attacks. The Bankai’s true form surrounds Byakuya and his opponent in a circle of constantly-moving swords, and he can control each sword mentally.

6/20 Minazuki Produces Extremely Effective Acid

Captain Unohana may not be one of the smartest female Shonen characters, but she is a founding member of the Gotei 13, and she was once the Soul Society’s most vile criminal. Her Shikai is a giant manta ray that can heal people with its stomach acids, and her Bankai does the complete opposite.

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When its Bankai is activated, Minazuki’s blade liquefies into a thick, dark red substance that pools around her. She can still use the blade as a weapon once it solidifies, but she can use the liquid as well. The liquid is acid, and it is capable of melting even the strongest opponents into a skeleton within seconds.

5/20 Hakka No Togame Creates A Mist That Freezes Anyone It Touches

Rukia is one of Bleach’s main characters, and she achieves her Bankai release during the Manga’s final arc. Unlike most Bankai, Rukia’s changes her physical appearance, to the point that her hair turns white. She also gains a long, white kimono, and the blade of her sword becomes transparent ice.

This Bankai creates a pillar of cold mist where Rukia is standing, and it grows until it covers a wide area. Anything this mist touches, freezes, and once her enemy is frozen, their entire body will crumble away within seconds.

4/20 Katen Kyokotsu: Karamatsu Shinju Produces A Devastating Aura Of Despair

Shunsui Kyōraku can give some of anime’s laziest characters a run for their money, but he does fight when it’s necessary. His Bankai is called, Katen Kyōkotsu: Karamatsu Shinjū, and there are four parts to it. The first act causes Shunsui and his opponent to share any injury they cause each other.

The second act causes his opponent to bleed heavily from spots that appear all over their body. The third forces both combatants to drown in a massive amount of water until one of them drowns from running out of energy. The final act has Shunsui wrap a thread around his opponent’s neck, and this thread causes their head to explode.

3/20 Daiguren Hyorinmaru Can Flash Freeze Anything & Negate Abilities

Tōshirō may look like a teenager, but he possesses the strongest ice-element Zanpakutō. The sword gives him the ability to create and control both water and ice, and his Bankai allows him to control even larger quantities. He also gains icy dragon wings and a tail.

Daiguren Hyōrinmaru is most dangerous when it reaches its fully matured state, and in doing so, Tōshirō ages into an adult. While in this state, Tōshirō can flash-freeze anything with a simple hand gesture, and if anyone touches him, they instantly freeze. This ice is different, as it negates the spiritual energy and abilities of anyone it catches.

2/20 Zanka No Tachi Can Burn Anything Out Of Existence

Captain Commander Yamamoto was considered to be the strongest Soul Reaper for centuries, which makes sense seeing as he wielded one of the strongest swords in all of anime. Ryūjin Jakka is the oldest and most powerful fire-type Zanpakutō, and just its Shikai can produce flames that can burn anything to ash.

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When its Bankai is activated, all of its fire concentrates on the blade, turning it into a scorched katana. Unseen flames engulf Yamamoto’s body, and anyone who approaches him will burn up because the flames burn at a temperature of 15 million degrees. He can also summon an army composed of all the enemies his sword burned. A single scratch from the blade will literally burn a person out of existence.

1/20 Shin’uchi Can Render All Other Powers Worthless

As the leader of the Zero Division, Ichibē Hyōsube is one of the strongest characters in the series, and his Zanpakutō makes every other ability meaningless. His sword takes the shape of a large calligraphy brush, and it utilizes black ink. If this ink touches someone, they lose all of their powers, and Ichibē can absorb and use them.

His Shin’uchi was the first Zanpakutō to achieve a second form, back when the name “Bankai” did not exist. When its evolved state is activated, Ichibē can use Shin’uchi’s ink to give his opponent a new name and abilities. If he wanted to, he could name someone a flea, and they would be as weak and powerless as a flea.

MORE: Bleach: The Most Powerful Zanpakuto Spirits’ Shikai and Bankai

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