Jeremy enjoys anime when not working as a chemist or building manager.
Captains in the Gotei 13
In the Bleach world, Shinigami warriors defend Soul Society and are split into thirteen main divisions, each led by a white-robed captain. With their mastery of Kidō spells, swordmanship, and Bankai abilities, captains are powerful champions few can match.
We've encountered dozens of captains throughout the series—which reign supreme? Looking at past members as well as current, these are the ten strongest Gotei 13 captains in Bleach! Spoilers ahead.
10. Byakuya Kuchiki
Rukia's elder brother, Byakuya's Shikai and Bankai scatter his blade into thousands of microscopic pieces that can both attack and defend. His Bankai has numerous forms, providing a versatile weapon, and Byakuya has mastered the Flash Step technique, making him one of Soul Society's fastest captains.
9. Gin Ichimaru
Gin demonstrates his sword skills against fellow captain Hitsugaya, but his best trait is perhaps his cunning, defecting from Soul Society alongside Aizen yet secretly plotting his downfall.
Gin's Bankai rapidly extends his sword hundreds of meters, a swift ranged attack. However, like Gin himself, this is a deceptive technique, with its biggest danger lying in the poison it releases.
8. Shinji Hirako
Former captian Shinji now leads the Visored, Shinigami who have acquired Hollow powers. Thus, Shinji can don his Hollow mask for increased speed, strength, and endurance, which allow him to pressure the Espada Grimmjow.
Plus, Shinji's Shikai emits a dangerous illusion, "reversing" the target's senses and making them unable to intercept attacks. Shinji's Bankai was never shown, but would undoubtedly further justify his ranking.
7. Yoruichi Shihōin
Another former captain, Yoruichi is one of few major characters to have neither her Shikai nor Bankai revealed. However, we do know she's considered the best Shunpo user in Soul Society history, having perfecting the Flash Step to the point of combining it with Kidō attacks.
Yoruichi defeats captain Suì-Fēng (who was using Shikai) without ever releasing her Zanpakutō, showcasing her incredible skill.
6. Tessai Tsukabishi
Squad: Kido Corps
Arguably the most underrated character in the entire series, Tessai formerly headed the unique Kidō Corps and can use level 99 Kidō spells without incantation. He also wields forbidden Kidō that manipulate time and space and is skilled at healing injuries.
Plus, Tessai demonstrates a keen intellect and formidable physical power, making him a well-rounded warrior despite never revealing his Shikai or Bankai.
5. Shunsui Kyōraku
Despite his laid-back attitude, Shunsui's a monstrous foe when forced to battle. His skills let him match Starrk (the 1st Espada) without needing his Bankai, and his Shikai is one of the best in the series, able to "make children's games real". This forces combatants to fight with unique rules (like hitting each other's shadows or only certain colors).
Shunsui's intelligence and Bankai further prove his might, and he takes over as Captain-Commander once Yamamoto dies.
4. Kenpachi Zaraki
Kenpachi is the only captain in history to attain the rank without mastering either Shikai or Bankai; his outstanding Reiatsu energy provides incredible raw power, letting him defeat the fifth espada Nnoitra.
But Kenpachi becomes much stronger once mastering his Zanpakutō; his Shikai becomes a large blade capable of cutting anything, and his Bankai turns him into a demon-like berserker with exceptional speed and power.
3. Kisuke Urahara
Urahara's most dangerous attribute is his intelligence, with Aizen describing him as the only man smarter than himself. And the former captain wields an impressive skillset, having mastered Kidō, the Flash Step, and swordsmanship.
Urahara's Shikai can utilize energy in several ways (like firing ranged attacks or forming defensive shields), and his Bankai can restructure what it touches, useful both offensively and as a form of healing.
2. Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto
Captain-Commander Yamamoto repeatedly proves his might throughout the series. His Shikai creates incredibly powerful fire, providing the strongest Shikai in terms of destructive capacity, and he wields one of the best Bankai, letting him cut anything out of existence and summon the dead.
Yamamoto has fought captains Shunsui and Ukitake simultaneously, and even Aizen had to create an Espada (Wonderweiss) solely dedicated to negating Yamamoto's power before challenging him. But speaking of Aizen...
1. Sōsuke Aizen
The main villain throughout most of the series, Aizen has arguably the strongest Shikai in the series, strong enough to carry him through his fights without needing Bankai (his was never revealed). Aizen's Shikai creatures a "perfect illusion" that lets him completely control anyone's five senses.
This proves ridiculously hard to counter because you never know if you're actually fighting Aizen or just think you are. Aizen's incredible Kidō mastery and blade skills further cement his power, perhaps best displayed when he single-handedly defeated numerous captains, lieutenants, and Visored at once (including renowned warriors like Shinji, Shunsui, and Suì-Fēng).
Other Captains in Bleach
Ranking the captains isn't easy, especially those with unrevealed Zanpakutō releases, but today's list highlights many of their strongest members. Honorable mentions include Kaname Tōsen, Retsu Unohana, and Mayuri Kurotsuchi, but for now, vote for your favorite captain and I'll see you at our next Bleach countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill
Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on January 08, 2020:
I like Gin too, but he tried and failed to kill Aizen. Too bad we didn't get to see him go all-out in his other fights.
True--Byakuya had basically reached his peak when the series started, where other characters still had room to grow. But he still held his own throughout the series (he got to take down the Espada Zommari, for what it's worth).
Oliver on January 07, 2020:
gin is by far the strongest, if he tries he can defeat anyone though maybe not with fighting prowess, but with the power of his sword, being able to turn to dust
Cheryl E Preston from Roanoke on November 25, 2019:
My youngest son was a bleach fan.
Jason Reid Capp from Myrtle Beach, SC USA on November 23, 2019:
The direction the series took was quite unfortunate, considering how stellar the first couple arcs were. With that said, Byakuya took a hit as a character, because he was one of the first revealed Bankais in the series. He was portrayed as so strong too early, and that essentially gave Tite no choice but to devalue Byakuya a bit to put spotlight on the other captains when their Bankais were finally revealed.
Great list, though. It brought back a lot of memories reading the manga.