Jeremy enjoys anime when not working as a chemist or building manager.
What Are Espada in Bleach?
Anime/manga Bleach is most known for its Arrancar saga, where treacherous captain Aizen betrays Soul Society using his army of Espada, the strongest of all Arrancar. Blending Hollow and Shinigami abilities together, the Espada are a diverse bunch who each represent a different aspect of death (loneliness, emptiness, etc.).
Their unique designs, fierce powers (rivaling even the captains of the Gozei 13), and varied personalities instantly made these fan-favorite villains. But the in-universe ranking system that numbers the Espada 0-9 can be misleading, as some seem stronger or weaker than their position would imply. So, which members are truly the most powerful? These are the ten strongest Espada in Bleach! Spoilers ahead.
10. Aaroniero Arruruerie
Espada Number: 9
Aaroniero wields the unique ability to absorb dead Hollows and obtain their power, letting him continually evolve, and thanks to his acquisition of Metastacia, he has all of Kaien Shiba's abilities (and can take his form). Aaroniero proves skilled in his borrowed state and is cunning enough to utilize his psychological edge over Rukia by having her fight the image of her former mentor.
While sunlight reveals his true form, this weakness can easily be negated by carefully selecting when and where to fight, and if Aaroniero had the chance absorb his fallen comrades, he could have become the strongest Espada of all.
9. Zommari Rureaux
Espada Number: 7
Like Aaroniero, we unfortunately don't get to see Zommari in many fights, but he claims to be the fastest Sonido user among all Espada, rivaling even Soul Society's Byakuya Kuchiki. He moves quickly enough to create "clones" that let him assault foes on multiple fronts.
His release takes control of up to 58 targets, turning allies into enemies and even making your own body betray you. Were it not for his arrogance (he had several chances to strike Byakuya) or the fact that his foe's Bankai perfectly counters his ability (as it splits into too many blades to gain control of), Zommari would have posed a much bigger threat to Ichigo's comrades.
8. Nnoitra Gilga
Espada Number: 5
Having been promoted from his prior position as the eighth Espade, Nnoirta is perhaps the most bloodthirsty of all Aizen's Arrancar, While he's best known for his melee abilities (nearly beating even the renowned Kenpachi), he's also notable for firing Cero energy beams from his mouth, his armor-like body that shrugs off most attacks, and his immense Reiatsu (spiritual pressure).
He's also one of few Espada that possesses a degree of regeneration, and in his release, he can spontaneously grow extra pairs of arms to make sneak attacks on opponents. He's also not above attacking injured enemies, making him one threat you can never turn your back on.
7. Tier Harribel
Espada Number: 3
While by no means weak, Harribel's rank of three has always seemed a bit exaggerated. She's taken down by Hitsugaya (who ranks lower in the Gotei 13 captain hierarchy), although she's admittedly later performs admirably against him and two Visored, with her water powers forming an interesting match against Hitsugaya's ice mastery.
ntelligent and well-respected, Harribel eventually assumes command over Hueco Mundo after Aizen's defeat, and she even possessed the will to attack him after learning of his disregard for his Espadas' lives.
6. Grimmjow Jaegerjaquez
Espada Number: 6
One of Ichigo's most prominent rivals, Grimmjow is ruthless and violent, but possesses a strange sense of honor, going out of his way to heal Ichigo and ensure they have a proper match. His release increases his already-impressive speed, power, and resilience, he wields the unique Desgarron ultimate attack, and he managesto successfully seal Ulquiorra (the fourth Espada) using a Caja cube.
Some fans believe that Grimmjow purposefully let Ichigo impale him during their final match (claiming he could have dodged Ichigo's last attack), but that's a debate for another time.
5. Nelliel Tu Odelschwanck
Espada Number: 3
Ichigo's child-like companion Nel eventually regains her adult Nelliel state and memories as the former third-rank Espada. Having a long rivalry with Nnoitra, she's beaten him numerous times, and her trademark Cero Doble ability lets her reflect Ceros back while adding one of her own to the blast.
Unlike other Espada, Nelliel has a strong sense of compassion and mercy, siding with Ichigo even after regaining her memories, and her spiritual pressure resembles his (which was at times greater than even Ulquiorra's) enough that Renji briefly confused the two.
4. Yammy Llargo
Espada Number: 0/10
Yammy is initially perhaps the weakest Espada at rank ten (and is easily defeated by Ichigo's Bankai alone), but when he releases, he receives an enormous power increase and his rank shifts to zero. Transformed, Yammy grows immensely in size, resembling a Japanese kaiju.
Back to back, he faces Renji, Rukia, and Chad, then a weakened Ichigo, and then both Byakuya and Kenpachi (two of the strongest captains) before finally perishing.
3. Baraggan Louisenbairn
Espada Number: 2
The former ruler of Hueco Mundo, Baraggan can instantly age anything he touches, letting him break captain Sui-Fon's arm (by making it old and brittle) even while she's aided by her lieutenant. He also faces the Visored Hachi, whose barriers prove crucial at staving off Baraggan's assault.
Barragan's abilities make most projectiles useless against him, as he simply ages them into irrelevance. Only Hachi's cleverness (guessing that Barragan's absolute powers might also work against him) let the Shinigami narrowly triumph against him.
2. Ulquiorra Cifer
Espada Number: 4
Why is Ulquiorra's Espada rank so low compared to his true power? It's because Aizen based the ranks on everyone's first release, and Ulquiorra actually possesses a second transformation that even Aizen hadn't seen.
With just his first release, Ulquiorra demolishes Hollow Mask-Ichigo; once he released again, only a deux es power-up for Ichigo saved the day. Ulquiorra has incredible strength and speed, but he's unique among Espada for his incredible regeneration, granting him unrivaled endurance. He's also one of their smartest members, and his green energy lances detonate over a huge radius.
1. Coyote Starrk
Espada Number: 1
Along with his other half Lilynette, Starrk has it all: speed, intelligence, and power. He fires the strongest and fastest Ceros of all Espada, can unleash them with his dual pistols in his released form, and can summon an army of spiritual wolves who detonate after biting their target. He's also a surprisingly kind and relaxed Espada who doesn't bear much enthusiasm for Aizen's cause.
Starrk took on two captains, Ukitake and Kyoraku (the latter of which who would eventually become Captain-Commander) as well as two Visored and very nearly won—in fact, he fought more honorably, granting his adversaries chances to escape while they continually tried to backstab him. With his speed, rapid-fire Ceros, and keen intellect, Starrk's numbering is indeed accurate and he remains the strongest Espada yet.
What Happens to the Espada in Bleach?
Unlike competitors such as Naruto or Dragon Ball, Bleach's anime run was cut short—but its manga continued, and we eventually discovered that not all Espada are truly gone—read up on the manga (or the Bleach wiki) to discover their individual fates.
Espada supposedly don't have emotions, but their unique personalities and occasional moments of compassion prove otherwise, and to most fans, they signify the pinnacle of the series, providing challenging rivals for Ichigo and the Gotei 13 captains. Time will tell whether Bleach ever returns to finish its run, but for now, vote for your favorite Arrancar and I'll see you at our next anime countdown!
Questions & Answers
Question: Is Grimmjow alive?
Answer: Yes, he's frequently badly injured but never dies.
© 2018 Jeremy Gill
S&J on July 16, 2020:
Little rookie on June 08, 2020:
I personally feel that your rankings are true... In a fight, starrk and cifer might actually win against barragan. That is if rietsu cannot age, cause if it cannot, barragan's age abilities will be useless against them
Sandaime_kazekage on June 05, 2020:
Where is Szayel Aporro?
Zommari is stronger than Nnoitra. He will subjugate the body of Nnoitra's and make him kill himself. Baraggan is the strongest. Starrk and Ulquiorra have no ability to kill Barragan's. Intelligence will not help them.
Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on May 14, 2020:
Definitely a tough call. Starrk and Ulquiorra strike me as the smartest Espada, which could mean the difference, especially against an unconventional opponent like Barragan.
It'd be interesting to see Ulquiorra's regeneration against Barragan's death power, and whether fellow Espada would fall for Starrk's trick of pretending his gun needs to be recharged between shots.
Vojtěch on May 13, 2020:
Stark the strongest?
I like him, really... but his power was a big dissapointment for me same as Halibel. Barragan is definitely the strongest, because only what killed him was his own ability turned against him.
Noone from the Espada couldn't beat him.
But the others I agree ... Ulquiorra should be higher than 4th place. I would place him on 2th place.
Yammi could be the 3rd.
Others hard to say. Szayel Apporo, Zomari have unique abilities whitch can be very usefull .. much more than just speed and strenght, but we have there pretty powerfull guys like Grimm, Nnoitra whitch are stronger, but they have simple abilities whitch cannot suprise enemy so much.
Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on March 07, 2020:
True, Ichigo wasn't at his full potential, but remember that in SS, he also didn't have much control over his Hollow mask, so I still think he stronger (or at least comparable) after his training during the Espada arc.
Bleach Guy on March 07, 2020:
Ulquiorra is overrated. Ichigo was suppressed by the Soul Reaper Badge as explained by Ginjo. SS arc Ichigo would've wiped the floor with him.
aFAN on January 16, 2020:
Starrk was a cool Espada, wish the anime went a bit deeper with the Espada’s before Aizen did whatever he did to form them and the other Arrancar’s..
King Siya iv on June 03, 2019:
Mr Cifer is awesome him and Grimmjow.I rate them as the coolest guys
Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on March 30, 2019:
Fair points, though I believe Toshiro's ice powers happened to counter Harribel's water, and if memory serves, he ultimately needed help regardless. And remember that Harribel (and not another Espada) became leader of Hueco Mundo after Aizen.
And didn't Nnoitra fight Ichigo right after his long brawl with Grimmjow? Things may have been different had Ichigo been at max.
Preston on March 29, 2019:
I wouldn’t put Harribel or Grimmjow above Nnoitra because Toshiro was giving harribel a run for her money while Nnoitra was swapping hands with Kenpachi and Kenpachi is stronger than Toshiro. Now for Grimmjow he was pretty easily defeated by Hollow mask Bankai ichigo and Nnoitra was whooping Ichigo.