Bankai is a term that fills us all with nostalgia. It is the second release of the Zanpakuto which is generally achieved by very few captain-class individuals.
Through the course of the manga, we have seen multiple bankais, each very different from another. Usually, Bankai are grandiose and huge, however, there are a few exceptions.
Some bankai give special battle advantages to their user while others amplify the speed. As the Thousand Year Blood War Arc is finally gearing up, we will witness the strongest bankai animated.
Although Bankai is the final form of the Zanpakuto, it does not mean that the growth of the Shinigami ends there.
Bankai develops and becomes stronger the more the user hones them. This is the primary reason why the older bankai is much more powerful than the recently obtained bankai.
So here’s me ranking the Bankai from the weakest to strongest from Bleach Manga.
Bankai is the final release of a Zanpakuto which is mostly achieved by Captain-class individuals. Shirafude Ichimonji and Zanka No Tachi are the strongest Bankai to ever exist. Ichigo’s Tensa Zangetsu takes third place.
10Hakka No Togame- Kuchiki Rukia
Strongest or not, Rukia’s Bankai is the most beautiful one in Soul Society. Rukia’s Bankai changes both her look and her clothing dramatically. Her robes and her hair turn snow white and she looks like an ice- queen.
Her bankai is an extension of her Shikai and allows her to freeze anything that is in her area of influence. The temperatures reach absolute zero and this makes her bankai one of the trickiest to master.
A slight mistake can lead to her death and she needs to reduce the temperature slowly. There is also a time limit, as spending more time in her Bankai state can lead to damage.
Though her Bankai is extremely powerful it has many limitations which reduce the practicality of her Zanpakuto.
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Battle Advantage- The only advantage of this bankai is its ability to freeze and there are more disadvantages than advantages to this bankai.
9Kamishini no Yari- Ichimaru Gin
Gin Ichimaru is a master of misdirection, during his fight with Ichigo, he emphasises the length and speed of Zanpakuto. However, the deadliest aspect of Kamishini no Yari is not its length or speed but its ability to turn into dust just for a second.
Gin can leave a sliver of his Zanpakuto in the opponent which allows him to kill his opponent whenever he likes. The Zanpakuto acts as a poison and dissolves the cells from inside and out.
His Bankai is the most dangerous and deadliest weapon. Gin has the speed, strength and smarts to trick people and I believe if he were alive, he would have evolved a lot more.
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Battle Advantage- Kamishini no Yari’s advantage lies in the fact that it can extend up to kilometres in seconds. Gin conveniently uses this ability to distract his opponent from the poison aspect of his bankai.
8Daiguren Hyourinmaru- Hitsugaya Toshiro
Toshiro readily uses bankai against every opponent and at some point, I stopped taking it seriously. However, after seeing the completed version I had to change my mind.
Hitsugaya loves to claim that Hyorinmaru is the strongest Ice-type Zanpakuto but had nothing going for him, as he constantly lost fights.
However, in his mature form, he could flash freeze everything just with a hand movement. Anything he freezes ceases to have movement and function. This form was due to his 18 months of effort after Aizen’s defeat.
Toshiro proved that Hyorinmaru is not a Zanpakuto to mess with. The only disadvantage he has is with Fire-type users.
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Battle Advantage- Toshiro can literally freeze anything he wants within 4 seconds just with the movement of his hands.
7Senbonzakura Kageyoshi- Kuchiki Byakuya
Senbonzakura Kageyoshi is one of the first bankai we witnessed in the series. It is a beautiful but lethal bankai, with the blades looking like Sakura petals.
There are numerous such blades which can be controlled by Byakuya to cut through opponents and even as a defence. While using his hands, his blades move much faster.
In the senkei state, these blades turn into four rows and viciously attack the opponent. In Gokei, the blades increase tremendously and swirl around the opponent leaving no blind spot.
In Shūkei: Hakuteiken, all the blades are condensed into one sword and the power is magnified by a lot. Senbonzakura is extremely powerful as it provides both offensive and defensive abilities to its user.
After returning from the Royal Palace, his abilities increased so much that a simple blow from his Shikai was mistaken to be bankai.
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Battle Advantage– Having thousands of blades to attack and defend is an immense advantage. On top, the blades are incredibly fast and cause a great deal of damage.
*Byakuya is ranked higher than Toshiro due to the defensive ability of Senbonzakura Kageyoshi.
6Unnamed Bankai- Kenpachi Zaraki
Kenpachi Zaraki is a formidable Shinigami. He is extremely powerful and only lusts for strong opponents. Zaraki was able to defeat super-strong opponents even without his Shikai.
He only ranks low because he obtained his Shikai and bankai pretty recently. The harmony and experience are very low with Zaraki’s bankai. Additionally, he is not really in control during his bankai and becomes mindless.
However, he is incredibly powerful in this form. His skin turns red and black markings appear all over his body. He gains immense physical strength and cutting ability.
His bankai is disadvantageous as he cannot differentiate between a friend and a foe. He cuts down allies and opponents alike. Maybe with more practice and experience, he can gain control over his bankai.
He can also increase the potency and strength as I believe Zaraki is not at his 100% yet.
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*Disclaimer: Even though Zaraki’s bankai scores higher in basic aspects, Kyoraku’s bankai ranks higher due to the harmony and experience he has with his Zanpakuto.
Battle Advantage– Zaraki’s strength has always been his tenacity and cutting power. He can literally cut through anything and everything. His bankai takes it another notch and gives him immense strength to cut.
5Katen Kyōkotsu: Karamatsu Shinjū – Shunsui Kyoraku
Katen Kyōkotsu Karamatsu Shinju is one of the weirdest Bankai we encounter in Bleach. It is situational and just does not relate to his Shikai which can make children’s games a reality.
On the contrary, it seems to follow a Japanese folklore of two lovers. In the first stage, any wounds that Shunsui or his opponent inflict on each other’s body will emerge on their body as well.
In the next stage, black spots appear all over the opponent’s body and they bleed out. In the third stage, they are drowned under a massive water body, which brings immense despair and melancholy to the opponent.
In the final stage, Kyoraku uses a white thread to snap off the opponent’s head, assuring a sure shot win. This bankai is really weird and cannot be scored based on the normal criteria making it really hard to rank.
However, this Bankai seems to be a sure-shot way to win unless your opponent is immortal which happens to be a problem with Lille Baro.
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Battle Advantage– This Bankai gives a sure-shot kill once activated. It also instils fear into the opponent and quickly separates their head from the body. The only disadvantage is the damage the bankai leaves the user with.
4Kannonbiraki Benihime Aratame – Kisuke Urahara
Urahara is one of the most well-written characters in the Bleach universe. He is mysterious and we can’t seem to figure out his next move. Similar to his personality, his Bankai was mysterious until the Thousand Year Blood War Arc.
Benihime is one of the few female Zanpakuto spirits to have a male owner. It is said that Urahara and his Zanpakuto have a great understanding and harmony which makes him powerful.
Kannonbiraki Benihime Aratame has both offensive and supportive abilities. Offensively the Zanpakuto can cut through everything that is in the range, however, the range is pretty limited and the effects are temporary.
Supportively, this Zanpakuto can be used to restructure things, like stitching Urahara’s eyes or it can be used to enhance the strength by reassembling.
Benihime has great Shikai abilities, however, the Bankai abilities are temporary and have a range of issues. This is the reason probably why Urahara chooses to use his Shikai more than his Bankai and the reason why it is ranked lower than expected.
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Battle Advantage– Urahara Kisuke’s Bankai can restructure the opponent as well as the user. This can be highly advantageous, as Kisuke can use it to restructure himself to be stronger and the opponent to be weaker.
However, the greatest advantage that Urahara possesses might be the psychological factor, his bankai looks eerie and screams bad news. This might take a toll on the opponent’s mental factor.
3Tensa Zangetsu- Ichigo Kurosaki
Ichigo Kurosaki is a true hybrid, he is a part of every race named in Bleach. Soul Reaper? Yaas! Hollow? Why Not?! Quincy? I got your back! This amalgamation of all powers is what made him immensely powerful.
Initially, Ichigo’s bankai was condensed into a small blade instead of becoming more grandiose. Byakuya thought he was being mocked until Ichigo effortlessly escaped his Thousand Swords.
This is when Byakuya realises that Ichigo’s bankai gives him incredible speed. This battle was one of the most hyped ones until the author conveniently forgot about this ability and his base bankai became absolutely useless.
It is when Ichigo discovers his True Bankai, he becomes incredibly powerful. He obtained two different blades for Shikai which need to be fused to activate Bankai.
In his True Bankai state, Ichigo was able to slash Soul King-empowered Yhwach with no difficulty. It was due to the power of the ‘ Almighty’ that this Quincy King could survive.
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Battle Advantage– Sadly, we never got to witness the true power of Ichigo’s Final Bankai, as Yhwach broke it as soon as it was activated. The Quincy King was concerned about the power it holds, so we can only imagine the strength of his bankai.
2Zanka No Tachi- Genryusai Yamamoto
Yamamoto Genryusai’s Ryujin Jakka is one of the oldest and strongest Zanpakuto to ever exist. It is incredibly powerful and has a time limit, not because of the lack of power but because it can burn the entire Soul Society if used for longer. You can imagine how overpowered this Bankai is!
In this form, the blade takes on the form of scorched Katana. It has four abilities, East: This ability eradicates anything it touches into nothingness. West: In this form, Yamamoto is surrounded by 15,000,000-degree flames and cannot be Touched.
South: The ability calls upon the corpses of people he has slain allowing him to deal psychological damage upon the opponents, North: The slash incinerates anything it touches.
Yhwach was only able to defeat Yamamoto after using several tricks and avoiding confronting him directly. This is a testament to how strong Yamamoto and his Bankai are.
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Battle advantage- Yamamoto’s Bankai gives him an immense battle advantage. Just his reiatsu was enough to make Nanao Ise freeze with fear. It also deals psychological damage when the ability South is used.
Before we get to the Number 1 Bankai, here are a few honourable mentions.
- Minazuki- Unohana Retsu
- Konjiki Ashisogi Jizo- Kurotsuchi Mayuri
- Kinshara Butodan- Rojuro Otoribashi
- Soo Zabimaru- Abarai Renji
1Shirafude Ichimonji – Ichibē Hyōsube
Ichibe Hyosube, also known as the ” Monk Who Calls The Real Name” is the leader of the Zero division and also the progenitor of Bankai. Uniquely, Ichibe activates his Bankai by calling it ” Shin’uchi” which means True Blade.
This is due to the fact that he evolved his Zanpakuto way before the term Bankai was popularized. Of course, the one who created Zanpakuto would have the strongest Bankai.
Every ability, no matter how strong, is absolutely useless in front of Ichibe as he can change the properties of the targets. He can make them as powerless as an ant if he wishes.
To elaborate, even if Zanka No Tachi is immensely powerful, Ichibe can make it absolutely powerless. He also stood equal ground with Yhwach and was only defeated due to the ‘Almighty’ power of the Quincy King.
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Battle Advantage– His bankai allows him to change the properties of the objects and can thereby completely render them useless. This is the sole reason why this bankai is rated so high.
Bleach is a Japanese anime television series based on Tite Kubo’s manga of the same name. The anime series adapts Kubo’s manga but also introduces some new, original, self-contained story arcs.
It is based in Karakura Town on a 15-year-old high school student Ichigo Kurosaki who becomes a substitute Soul Reaper when Rukia Kuchiki, a Soul Reaper, puts Soul Reaper powers in Ichigo. They barely manage to kill the hollow.
Although initially reluctant to accept the heavy responsibility, he begins eliminating some more hollows and also discovers that several of his friends and classmates are spiritually aware and have powers of their own.