10 Best Bankai Unleashed In The Thousand Year Blood War, Ranked
- The Thousand-Year Blood War arc of Bleach finally brings the highly anticipated reveal of many Soul Reapers’ Bankai, including new ones not in the manga.
- The anime is expanding on the original manga, fixing some of the issues fans had with the story’s ending, giving them even more than they hoped for.
- Revealing a character’s Bankai helps fans understand them better, as it is a true representation of a part of their soul, making it a major highlight of The Thousand-Year Blood War arc.
After years of anticipation from Bleach fans, the series’ final arc, The Thousand-Year Blood War, is finally receiving its long-awaited anime adaptation, and with it comes a whole slew of new Bankai. The manga version of Bleach ended back in 2016, and while that ending was controversial for a variety of reasons, fans still longed to see the final arc animated. Years later, with the Thousand-Year Blood War anime having already begun to air episodes, it’s looking like fans may get even more than they dared hope for, as the anime adaptation is actually expanding on the original, fixing some of the problems that the manga’s ending had.
One of the most heavily anticipated features of the Thousand-Year Blood War arc is that it sees a lot of Soul Reapers reveal their Bankai, the ultimate unleashed state that their Zanpakuto swords take on. Some are being unveiled by new characters, while others are long-awaited reveals after years of teasing. The anime is even introducing new Bankai which weren’t included in the original manga version of the story, adding new elements that fans have wondered for ages why they weren’t previously included. Here are 10 of the Bankai fans look forward to seeing most in The Thousand-Year Blood War anime.
10 Renji Abarai – Sōō Zabimaru
Renji was one of the most beloved characters in Bleach and one of the first to release his Bankai during the anime. The lieutenant of the 6th squad demonstrated his great ability by releasing the final form of his Zanpakuto, Zabimaru, during his fight with Byakuya early on. It isn’t until the last arc when Renji actually releases the true form of Sōō Zabimaru, however, in his fight with the Qunicy Mask De Masculine. It’s revealed that his Bankai was actually incomplete in all the previous appearances before that fight. The complete Bankai is very similar, but the pelt that was over his shoulder before is now a gorilla arm, allowing for powerful attacks at close range.
9 Ichibei Hyōsube – Shirafude Ichimonji
Ichibei is a member of the Royal Guard, also known as Squad Zero in Bleach, and is one of the characters who first appeared in the Thousand-Year Blood War arc. Ichibei Hyōsube is known as the Monk Manako Oshō, or simply “Oshō,” a title given by the Soul King that means “he who reveals the true identity.” This is because Ichibei was the person who gave the names to Zanpakuto, their Shikai and Bankai releases, and everything else that exists within the Soul Society. Ichibei’s Bankai is one of the most powerful in all of Bleach, so much so that he nearly ended the final battle by himself. With his Shikai, he is able to mark his opponents with ink. These marks allow him to change any property of his opponent in his Bankai form, allowing him to win almost any battle with just one word.
8 Retsu Unohana – Minazuki
The Captain of Squad 2 was a major mystery until the Thousand-Year Blood War. The Shikai version of her Zanpakuto was a giant flying manta ray that could restore people’s health, so fans couldn’t image what her Bankai might be. Unohana didn’t have an opportunity to reveal it until the last arc of Bleach, in her final fight against Kenpachi Zaraki. It’s revealed that Unohana was the previous Kenpachi, a title given to the Soul Society’s most ruthless fighters. Contrary to her Shikai’s healing, Unohana’s Zanpakuto Minazuki starts to produce a blood-like liquid that surrounds her, and then takes the form of a shortened katana, ready to kill in battle. She can manipulate this blood for offense and defense, making it extremely powerful.
7 Shunsui Kyōraku – Katen Kyōkotsu: Karamatsu Shinjū
One of the funniest and most intriguing characters in Bleach, Captain Shunsui Kyōraku proved, as the series progressed, why he was in charge of the eighth division, despite his laid-back nature. His Bankai, however, was a total contradiction to his character, and even to the Shikai form of his Zanpakuto. Katen Kyokotsu took the form of giant blades that Kyoraku could handle in each hand in its Shikai form. In Bankai form, the sword takes the form of a large shadow, and every opponent that gets touched is overwhelmed by a feeling of despair. Its effects are so powerful that Captain Kyoraku must not use it when allies are around, explaining why it took so long to be revealed.
6 Rōjūrō Ōtoribashi – Kinshara Butōdan
Rōjūrō Ōtoribashi was a Captain of the 13 Court Guard Squads a hundred years ago, prior to being exiled after becoming a Visored. After the battle against Sousuke Aizen, he was reinstated as the captain of the 3rd Squad, replacing Gin Ichimaru. Known by his nickname, Rose, he is able to use his Bankai in The Thousand-Year Blood War in the battle against Mask De Masculine. The Kinshara Butōdan, as it’s called, allows its user to become a supernatural conductor. Two large, golden hands holding a baton emerge from Rose, and dancers with petal-shaped protrusions on their faces appear to attack at his command. Rose can use his Bankai to create physical illusions, triggered by the dancers’ motion.
5 Rukia Kuchiki – Hakka No Togame
Rukia is one of the characters in Bleach who unexpectedly grew in a big way during the series. Starting with no powers and helping Ichigo becoming a Soul Reaper, Rukia was almost helpless during the series’ early arcs. It is not until Hueco Mundo that she is able to showcase her awesome ice powers. In the Thousand-Year Blood War, she releases her Bankai in the battle against Äs Nödt, who defeated her brother, Byakuya. Hakka No Togame transforms Rukia into a literal ice princess, letting her freeze everything that surrounds her. She is even able to bring temperatures down to absolute zero, making her a formidable adversary.
4 Kisuke Urahara – Kannonbiraki Benihime Aratame
The former captain of the 12th Squad, Kisuke Urahara was one of the last Soul Reapers to reveal his Bankai. Benihime, his Zanpakuto, was one of the most intriguing weapons, as a sword with a female spirit owned by a male Soul Reaper. Urahara debuted his Bankai, Kannonbiraki Benihime Aratame, in the fight against Askin Nakk Le Vaar, as a last resort. The Zanpakuto takes the form of a giant woman, and everything it touches can be restructured at will by Urahara. It can split things within its radius open, as well as heal those nearby, making it a very potent Bankai.
3 Shinji Hirako – Sakashima Yokoshima Happōfusagari
Shinji Hirako was a Visored, and is now Captain of Squad 5 after returning to the Soul Society. Shinji’s Bankai originally went unrevealed in the manga, but the Thousand-Year Blood War anime rectified this mistake by showing it in full use. Shinji’s Bankai, Sakashima Yokoshima Happōfusagari, allows him to confuse the sense of who is an ally and who is an enemy for a large number of opponents, causing them to slaughter each other without Shinji having to get his hands dirty. The reveal of his Bankai seven years after the manga ended was a shock to many, and it rapidly became one of the highlights of the anime so far.
2 Zaraki Kenpachi – Unnamed
Kenpachi Zaraki is a fan favorite character who’s obsessed with battle, and ever since his first appearance, many have wondered about the upper limits of his power. The audience never learns the real name of Zaraki’s Zanpakuto, and through the first arcs of the manga, the mystery of its true power lingered, as even he didn’t know it then. After facing off with Unohana, Zaraki gains an understanding of his Zanpakuto, making him able to release his Shikai and eventually his Bankai. Appropriate to his character, Zaraki’s Zanpakuto takes on the form of a giant broken sword, and his energy rises to crazy unseen levels, while his own appearance becomes demonic.
1 Ichigo Kurosaki – (True) Tensa Zangetsu
Ichigo Kurosaki is probably one of the most overpowered characters in anime history. He was not only able to access his Shikai in record time, but developed his Bankai before many more experienced Soul Reapers. Ichigo could also transform into a hollow, increasing his power further, but the two turned out to be connected. Ichigo’s inner Hollow was his Zanpakuto’s spirit, and only by accepting that did Ichigo gain his true Zanpakuto. Ichigo’s true Bankai is seen in the very end of the series, as he battles against the villainous Yhwach for the fate of the world.
As such a major conflict, The Thousand-Year Blood War was the perfect opportunity to reveal the Bankai abilities of many Captains who had previously not had the chance to. Some of these were highly anticipated, while others came as a complete surprise to fans. A Soul Reaper’s Bankai is a true representation of a part of their soul, after all, and revealing a character’s Bankai can help fans to understand them better. With Bleach coming to an end, The Thousand-Year Blood War represented a final chance, to show them off, and now, the anime offers one last chance.