Jeremy enjoys anime when not working as a chemist or building manager.
Shikai in Bleach
In the Bleach anime, the Shinigami characters use unique swords forged from their souls called Zanpakutō. These blades have two "releases" that offer additional abilities: Shikai and Bankai.
These upgrades can be anything from energy blasts to illusions—which reign supreme? Remembering that some characters (like Yoruichi) never had their first release revealed, these are the ten strongest Shikai in Bleach!
User: Kaname Tōsen
Former Gotei 13 captain Tōsen has two abilities he can perform with Shikai. The first unleashes a high-pitched sound across a wide range that overloads hearing and painlessly incapacitates targets, a merciful way to defeat weakened opponents.
The second, more violent ability uses the Benihikō power, launching hundreds of blades across a determined path. If only Tōsen could combine his Shikai (ranged attacks) with his Bankai (deadens all enemy senses except touch), he could safely fight from range against near-helpless targets.
9. Shinken Hakkyōken
User: Nanao Ise
One of Captain Shunsui's lieutenants, Nanao has a unique Zanpakutō that is passed down between generations rather than developed individually. The family's holy blade offers several powers. It can launch divine energy in eight directions, changes based on the opponent's strength (Lille Barro couldn't even see it), and can reflect energy blasts back at their source.
Nanao has yet to develop her Bankai, but if it's anything like her Shikai, it'll be worth the wait.
User: Ichibē Hyōsube
Hyōsube's weapon morphs into a glaive-like blade that shoots ink; anything hit loses its powers. That provides a great way to nullify enemy tactics, and it's a crucial component for his Bankai, which lets him alter anything his ink has hit.
Ichimonji also unlocks the Futen Taisatsuryō technique, which uses a ritual to utterly destroy the target by removing all darkness from their body, crushing them to the point of preventing reincarnation (which normally happens after death in Bleach).
User: Kisuke Urahara
Fitting for a crafty combatant like Urahara, Benihime's Shikai release can use a variety of powers. Its most-known effect fires a wave of red energy capable of stopping even an Espada's Cero attack, and Urahara can charge the move for more damage. Benihime may also shield Urahara with a barrier, cancel enemy attacks, and snare the target with energy "nets".
6. Getsuga Tenshō
Users: Ichigo and Isshin Kurosaki
Ichigo and his father both share the same Shikai, shooting wave-like blasts of energy. These bursts are incredibly powerful, able to damage foes much stronger than the user (like Grimmjow in his first battle against Ichigo).
The ability also scales with Ichigo's Bankai, becoming a stronger black-colored blast, and when he eventually uncovers his true dual-bladed Bankai, he can shoot an even stronger cross-shaped wave.
5. Katen Kyōkotsu
User: Shunsui Kyōraku
Captain Shunsui's unique Shikai has the power to make children's games real, with losers becoming violently injured. These restrict both Shunsui and his opponent to following bizarre rules, or simply use various attacks, like the Cero-countering Bushōgoma wind blast.
Many variations exist; Kageoni has fighters attack each other's shadows (which Shunsui can hide in), Irooni restricts attacks to one color, and Takaoni punishes the lowest-elevated combatant.
Captain Suì-Fēng's Shikai adopts the form of a single-fingered blade and gauntlet; despite their size, they can block other Zanpakutō without breaking. More than that, by stabbing with the "stinger", Suì-Fēng creates a mark that lasts 30 minutes; if she hits that same location again, the target immediately dies, forming a "two-hit kill".
The effect skillfully employs Suì-Fēng's emphasis on speed and can be used repeatedly (unlike her nuke-like Bankai). The stabs also create regular wounds, inflicting damage with just one hit. The technique's only failing is that it doesn't work on ascended enemies with outstanding Reiatsu (like Aizen).
User: Shinji Hirako
Former captain Shinji harbors one of few illusion-type Shikai, creating an "inverted world". Anyone affected has their senses of up/down, left/right, and forward/backwards reversed, making it near-impossible to correctly block attacks.
Shinji's ability also works well when partnering with others; he can exempt allies from the effect, letting them fight normally while opponents become handicapped.
2. Ryūjin Jakka
User: Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto
Captain-Commmander Yamamoto wields undoubtedly the strongest Shikai in terms of power, manipulating fire in several techniques. He can create flame walls that imprison foes (even powerful ones like Aizen, Gin, and Tōsen), summon precision-accuracy infernos to scorch enemies to ash, and create flame pillars strong enough to destroy entire cities.
Yamamoto's strength is so great that Aizen had to create an Arrancar (Wonderweiss) specifically dedicated to nullifying his Shikai. But speaking of Aizen...
1. Kyōka Suigetsu
User: Sōsuke Aizen
Aizen's Shikai unleashes Kanzen Saimin (perfect hypnosis) able to completely control anyone's five senses, letting Aizen fool them in numerous manners. The only condition is for them to see Kyōka's release; after that, they're vulnerable to the illusions and aren't aware they're affected. His Shikai carries Aizen through his battles, never once needing his Bankai (which isn't revealed).
This renders anyone easy pickings for Aizen, who sometimes has them unknowingly attack their own allies by making them think it's him. The only defense is to physically touch Aizen's sword before it releases, sparing one from its illusions.
The Best Bankai in Bleach
Today we examined the ten strongest initial releases in Bleach, but hopefully we'll uncover more despite the series having concluded. There's also the stronger Bankai abilities to explore, showcasing the ultimate powers in the franchise.
As characters like Ichigo and Suì-Fēng prove, Shikai remain useful even after unlocking Bankai, but for now, as we await more Bleach abilities, vote for your favorite and I'll see you at our next anime countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill