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Bleach: 10 Most Powerful Zanpakutos, Ranked | ScreenRant

One of the many concepts that Bleach is known and loved for is the zanpakuto, the iconic weapon used by the shinigami of Soul Society. The nature of a zanpakuto depends on its wielder's personality; as such, both entities tend to form a close spiritual bond over time. That said, the depth of their relationship is only one factor that affects the zanpakuto's strength—the other one being reiryoku, or spirit aura.

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The quantity of reiryoku possessed by a shinigami is directly proportional to the zanpakuto's overall power, which means that older and more experienced fighters tend to have better weapons. This isn't a universal rule, especially since shinigami don't really age like ordinary humans, but there is some merit to the assumption.

10 Hyorinmaru: Toshiro Hitsugaya

Toshiro Hitsugaya is the youngest shinigami to become a captain in Soul Society history, a status he earns with the help of his exceptional swordsmanship. His zanpakuto, Hyorinmaru, generates fields of ice when released in shikai—significantly magnifying when he goes bankai.

Interestingly, Daiguren Hyorinmaru's "completed version" is vastly more powerful than most zanpakutos; however, it cannot be used for prolonged periods of time due to the natural limitations placed on Hitsugaya's adult transformation.

9 Ashisogi Jizo: Mayuri Kurotsuchi

Unlike many other captains, Mayuri Kurotsuchi has neither vast reserves of reiryoku nor any notable battle capabilities. That said, his sublime genius allows him to augment his zanpakuto abilities by experimenting on Ashisogi Jizo.

Mayuri has installed a "self-destruct" mechanism within his bankai, prompting it to revert into sword form if it somehow turns on him. In his fight with Pernida, Konjiki Ashisogi Jizo reveals its latest modification, Matai Fukuin Shotai, whose thousands of nerve strata prevent it from being externally manipulated. This zanpakuto is especially dangerous against opponents who rely on brute strength.

8 Katen Kyokotsu: Shunsui Kyoraku

Shunsui Kyoraku is an incredibly powerful shinigami, a fact reflected in the complexity of his zanpakuto techniques. Katen Kyokotsu translates "children's games into reality", giving its wielder an edge because only he knows how the rules work.

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That said, Kyoraku openly discloses his zanpakuto mechanics to Coyote Starrk and still defeats the Primera Espada, proving that his promotion to Head Captain is well-deserved. Katen Kyokotsu's bankai, Karamatsu Shinju has an enormous area of effect, forcing an atmosphere of doom and gloom on any living entity trapped within its space.

7 Benihime: Kisuke Urahara

Urahara's Benihime is known for its versatile special abilities—from spawning reishi bombs to engulfing opponents in a nigh-indestructible mesh. He rarely uses his shikai in direct swordfighting, instead preferring to unleash reiatsu blasts from a safe distance.

On the other hand, Kannonbiraki Benihime Aratame permits Urahara to partake in close combat by reorganizing the structure of both his environment and himself in order to turn the tides of battle in his favor. Although he states that his zanpakuto isn't an effective training tool, Benihime can be devastating in a serious fight.

6 Minazuki: Retsu Unohana

Unohana plays the role of medic with her manta-ray Minazuki, healing enemies and allies with equal compassion. After the Wandenreich attack on Seireitei in the Thousand Year Blood War arc, though, Kyoraku insists that she train Zaraki Kenpachi how to manifest his unreleased zanpakuto.

Unohana is a force of nature, beating her successor down hundreds of times, despite the latter increasing in power with every loss. She ultimately brings out her bankai, also named Minazuki, prolonging the battle until Kenpachi reaches his full potential and kills her. It's unfortunate that the most powerful female character in Bleach is relegated to such a humiliating fate.

5 Nozarashi: Zaraki Kenpachi

Kenpachi uses his reiatsu to fuel most of his early fights, but his jagged blade is clearly too weak to take on the Sternritter. Once he awakens his zanpakuto, Nozarashi, his overall attack power receives a substantial upgrade.

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Kenpachi takes down Gremmy Thoumeaux with his shikai, and nearly kills the seemingly invincible Gerard Valkyrie after Yachiru triggers his bankai for the first time. Kenpachi might be an overpowered character even without a zanpakuto, but Nozarashi takes him to incomprehensible heights.

4 Kyoka Suigetsu: Sosuke Aizen

Aizen Sosuke is a major threat to Soul Society, as much for his overwhelming reiatsu as Kyoka Suigetsu's "Perfect Hypnosis" ability. Given that he's the only major character without a bankai reveal, Aizen's shikai is more than enough to defeat scores of experienced combatants without needing to go on the defensive.

Kyoka Suigetsu's illusions extend to all five senses, making it practically impossible to defeat its wielder. Aizen's zanpakuto even succeeds in altering Yhwach's perception on two separate occasions.

3 Zangetsu: Ichigo Kurosaki

Ichigo goes through several iterations of zanpakuto before achieving its true form: a pair of swords that each represent his Hollow and Quincy aspects. After spending time training in the Royal Realm, his trademark Getsuga Tensho becomes vastly more effective (and less wasteful).

However, it is his bankai, Tensa Zangetsu, that proves how much Ichigo has grown over the course of two years. He even manages to "kill" Yhwach with it, failing only because the villain's omnipotent Almighty schrift reconfigures the timeline to prevent his death.

2 Ichimonji: Ichibei Hyosube

As the leader of the Zero Squad, Ichibei Hyosube boasts of such incredible reiryoku that Yhwach himself is wary of fighting him. His Ichimonji is capable of erasing an opponent's power by covering them with calligraphic ink, not to mention wielding control over the abstract concept of "blackness."

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Shirafude Ichimonji reverses the theme of his shikai by enforcing a name on the target, thereby imbuing the latter with the attributes associated with the name. There is nothing that can stand against the might of Ichibei and Ichimonji—well, almost.

1 Ryujin Jakka: Shigekuni Yamamoto Genryusai

Captain-Commander Yamamoto's zanpakuto is a weapon of mass destruction, a fire that cannot be blocked, dodged, or contained. Known as Ryujin Jakka, it is said to have "greater offensive power than all other zanpakuto in Soul Society," a claim that proves itself on multiple occasions.

Yama's shikai vaporizes everyone and everything in its path, and his bankai, Zanka no Tachi, burns at the same temperature as the sun's core: 27 million °F. Powerful enemies like Aizen and Yhwach are terrified of the old man's zanpakuto, explaining why they neutralize it before dealing with him.

NEXT: 10 Best Bankai Unleashed In Bleach's Thousand Year Blood War Arc, Ranked

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