Bleach Week - Top 10 Bleach Characters
Written by: ClayDragon and Shiggins
Let’s face it, one of Bleach’s most defining features is its abundance of characters. In fact, at a rough count there are 217 named, canon characters, and I’m sure there are more that I forgot to count. An amount of characters that overwhelmingly large was just crying out for a Top 10 list, so here we are: the Top 10 Bleach Characters as chosen by us. One thing’s for sure – in Bleach, there’s someone for everyone.
WARNING: Spoiler alert. You know, the usual.
10.) Rukia Kuchiki (Squad 13 Lieutenant) (Written by Shiggins)
In a battle, the ones who get in the way are not the ones that lack power, but the ones that lack resolve.
When people ask “who is Bleach’s best female?” the answer will always be Rukia Kuchiki, and for good reason as, out of the few female characters, Rukia has always managed to stand out. She may have the huge problem of always failing to catch up with some of the main characters (like almost every female character in every Shonen series ever) but I don’t remember one time she got upset and let that get her down. And that’s already a good enough reason for her to be the only female in the Top 10.
|Seriously, why are her eyes bigger than everybody else's? I love it but it's strange...|
Rukia was the first ever Bleach character. She was the first character designed and created by Tite Kubo and she was the first one the audience got to see and hear when they opened up the pages. With her weirdly huge eyes, her short black hair and her penchant for making funny faces, Rukia has always been both interesting and hilarious at the same time. She’s a good actress, liar and an expert at drawing crappy rabbit-themed cartoons to provide exposition.
|I know exactly how it feels to be Rukia in this picture.|
She’s also the lieutenant of Squad 13, working for Captain Ukitake, and the adoptive sister of Byakuya Kuchiki. Using her beautiful Zanpakuto and her wit, Rukia has fought many battles such as those against Aaroniero Arruruerie, As Nodt and Riruka Dokugamine. And sadly, this leads to my only problem with her. She always needs saved, mostly by her brother or Ichigo. And although I love her constant comical moments, her method of fighting and her morals, this really brings her down a lot and keeps her from getting higher than 10th place on this list.
9.) Yhwach (Emperor of the Vandenreich) (Written by ClayDragon)
You died not realising this, but I’ll tell you now. The Soul Society is about to die…but the Thirteen Court Guard Companies died with us a thousand years ago.
Despite probably having the least amount of screentime of any character on this list, Yhwach (pronounced Juha Bach…we think) has more than made his mark on the series. The current leader of the army of Quincies known as the Vandenreich, as well as being the progenitor of all Quincies, Yhwach has shaped Ichigo’s life a lot more than Aizen has, despite Ichigo never even meeting him until Yhwach invaded the Soul Society.
|Does this look like the face of sanity to you?|
When he was born, Yhwach was blind, mute, deaf and paralyzed, but by inserting fragments of his soul into others, he was able to grow stronger and stronger when the fragments returned to him, until he was powerful enough to raise an entire army. 1000 years before the series started, Yhwach and the Quincies waged a huge war on the Soul Reapers, but he was somehow defeated and the Quincies managed to hide in a pocket dimension inside the Soul Society, where they waited until the right moment to burst out and attack.
|"Honey, I'm home!"|
The main reason why I like Yhwach so much is because he (and, by extension the rest of the Quincies) are meant to symbolise cold, logical pragmatism, whilst Aizen (and the Arrancars) represent passion and instinct. For example, Yhwach has no problem with going back on his word, mixing up attack strategies, and nuking Yamamoto’s corpse to ensure he doesn’t come back. It’s rare to find a villain who manages to remain calm and collected all throughout his appearance, and it’s a welcome change.
8.) Isshin Kurosaki (Former Squad 10 Captain) (Written by ClayDragon)
Silence! No matter what reason, to he who disrupts this household’s iron harmony, only a punishment of blood can be rendered!
For a long time, Isshin was one of the more mysterious characters in Bleach. At the start, he was just Ichigo’s bumbling but well-meaning dad, but then it was revealed that he had Soul Reaper powers and knew Urahara, and those were the only two facts we knew about him until his flashback in the final arc. It turns out that he was the former Captain of Squad 10 before Hitsugaya, and that he was actually a Shiba, and so related to Kaien, Kukaku, and Ganju.
|"That's right. I'm so awesome!"|
It turns out that during a mission, he was attacked by one of Aizen’s experiments – a prototype artificial Vasto Lorde. During the fight, Aizen managed to sneak up on him and wound him, and the Vasto Lorde would have killed him had it not been for a young Masaki Kurosaki using her Quincy powers to kill it and save his life at the cost of being bitten. When it transpires that the Vasto Lorde had fatally infected Masaki, Isshin and Urahara teamed up to save her, which resulted in him losing his Soul Reaper powers and being spiritually bound to Masaki for life.
|That's right, he knocked Aizen through three buildings just by giving him the finger.|
To be honest, the only problem I have with Isshin is his lack of screentime. He’s one of Bleach’s funnier characters, as even when he was a Soul Reaper he treated his subordinates like he treats his own children, even going so far as to lift Hitsugaya off of the ground. The only time he ever gets serious is when he’s fighting, and as such he basically has two modes: funny and badass. And sometimes he can be both at the same time.
7.) Byakuya Kuchiki (Squad 6 Captain) (Written by ClayDragon)
I do indeed owe my life to you. I am grateful. But you are Ichigo Kurosaki’s enemy. Therefore, no matter whose life you’ve saved…I will not hesitate in the slightest to kill you.
The adoptive brother of Rukia (later revealed to be her brother-in-law), Byakuya appears to be the exact opposite of his sister. Calm, stoic and to-the-point, Byakuya entered the series as an antagonist attempting to take Rukia back to the Soul Society to make her pay for the crime of giving her powers to Ichigo. However, after a number of battles with Ichigo over the course of the Soul Society Arc, Byakuya eventually changed his mind and fought to protect Rukia from Aizen’s grasp.
|That's got to sting.|
Even after this change of heart, Byakuya’s personality didn’t change – the only difference was that he was more openly caring of Rukia. In fact, most of his battles after his fight with Ichigo have been about protecting his little sister. His loyalty to Ichigo is eventually so great that he killed (who he thought was) his old mentor without a second thought, and even entrusted the task of saving the Soul Society from the Vandenreich to Ichigo.
|Yep, that's a young Byakuya. Quite a change.|
A large part of Byakuya’s appeal is how he never loses his cool and remains calm under all circumstances. This not only makes him a cool and admirable character, but it also makes it remarkably easy to make fun of him – a fact that the anime and omakes take every advantage of. This is helped by the fact that he’s actually as hot-blooded as Ichigo himself – he just hides it better.
6.) Sousuke Aizen (Traitorous Squad 5 Captain) (Written by Shiggins)
No one ever stood atop the heavens before. Not you, or I, or the Gods. But the unbearable vacancy of Heaven's throne ends now. From now on...I will stand at the top.
No villain in Bleach is as evil or twisted as Aizen himself. No matter how hard Yhwach tries, he will never be better than Aizen, former captain of Squad 5 and the cause of so much chaos in the Bleach series. When we first met him, he seemed so nice and kind and the type of character who was gentle and caring. Then he died and everybody, including us, gasped in fright and confusion. Then he came back and we all just sat there, wondering what had just happened as he took off his Clark Kent glasses and became evil Superman.
|He's not happy. I think his face is just stuck with that smirk.|
Aizen was never truly given a reason for being so evil but that’s okay because we’re more interested in his present form, rather than his past. From constantly tricking every character in the series, including the overpowered asshole leader Yamamoto and the other geniuses in the science-obsessed Squad 12, to using unstoppable hypnosis powers to wipe out anyone who even looks at him funny, Aizen is a monster and easily one of my favourite villains of all manga. Yes, that does mean that he’s higher than Madara Uchiha to me (yeah, I said it!).
|Madara never gave me chills like this guy does!|
His pursuit of power does get a bit annoying though. At first, you love how he keeps tricking people and never failing but after a while, it’s a bit ridiculous. He always knows what is going to happen. He always knows what to do next. I don’t remember one time he had to take a pause and think of his next step, or be unable to combat a situation, except the final battle scene. And by the way, his rapid personality change during the final battle, from supreme genius to power-obsessed dumbass, is the main reason he’s not in the Top 5.
5.) Toshiro Hitsugaya (Current Squad 10 Captain) (Written by Shiggins)
I didn't come here to fight you...I came here to violently kill you!
Captain of Squad 10 and one of the most obvious entries on this list, Hitsugaya is lovable in both design and personality, with his usual attempt of being serious constantly thwarted by the women surrounding him, although most of the blame goes to Rangiku Matsumoto, his lieutenant. Instantly one of the more recognisable characters of Bleach due to his white hair and beautiful ice abilities, Hitsugaya has always been popular amongst the fans and that includes the writers of this article.
|*Insert epic entrance music here*|
One of Hitsugaya’s biggest character traits is his hilarious expressions, which is always a great reason to make a character high on a list. Despite being such a funny character who wishes people would take him seriously, he has moments which would definitely fit in the category of “badass”, including when he froze Harribel in a thousand flowers made of ice, or when he combined Matsumoto’s ash with tiny ice layers to fight off the evil Quincy Bazz-B in the most recent manga arc.
|It was a tough contest, but this is the winner of the "Most Fucking Hilarious Hitsugaya Face Ever" contest.|
So despite having one of my least favourite characters as his best friend/possible love interest (piss off, Momo!), Hitsugaya has never once annoyed me. He’s smart, deductive, cunning, strong, ruthless and filled to the brim with a sense of duty and honour. When the group he’s in charge of look ready to go wild and crazy in the Human World, Hitsugaya manages to prevent that and give them a stern lecture. It’s the type of thing you can imagine angering readers, but Hitsugaya does it so well it gets him on this list.
4.) Ulquiorra Cifer (Cuatro Espada) (Written by Shiggins)
Your words are those of a man who knows not true despair. If you know it not, then allow me to teach you. This is the face of true despair.
If you hate Ulquiorra, you are wrong. Ulquiorra is not a character to hate. He is a villain and therefore, you should either love him or love to hate him (yes, there is a difference between “hate” and “love to hate”). Ulquiorra is cold, sinister and can be quite cruel and callous when he needs to be. He doesn’t let puny emotions get in the way of his work for Lord Aizen, which just so happens to be taking care of Orihime. And surprisingly, this is how his character develops.
Ulquiorra is the Cuatro Espada (oddly enough, the 4th Espada is 4th on this list!), although there would probably need to be a change of ranking if Aizen had discovered Ulquiorra’s ability to undergo a second Resurrección, which is a clear sign that Ulquiorra is a special kind of genius above the rest to figure out how to do that. And speaking of Resurrección, I love Ulquiorra’s! His second Resurrección, Segunda Etapa is one of my all-time favourite transformations in any manga I have ever read. It is dark, beautiful and scary all at the same time. That alone would get him high enough on this list!
|If it's wrong to love a Satanic Batman, then I don't want to be right.|
The odd thing is I wouldn’t classify him as evil. Don’t get me wrong, he is a villain and when he first appears, he is nothing but cruel and cold. The moment of death, however, is most important for a character and Ulquiorra’s end suggested more. It suggested someone longing for more. He is someone who wanted to understand humanity and who wanted to feel affection and even love. Ulquiorra’s death was a tragic one that I will always remember, and I can’t help but feel that if he had survived he would be on the battlefield to help Ichigo and Orihime right now.
3.) Grimmjow Jaegerjaquez (Sexta Espada) (Written by ClayDragon)
I tore my right arm off. I only need one arm to kill you.
One of the ten strongest members of Aizen’s army, Grimmjow is also the most violent and bloodthirsty, even going so far as to disobey Aizen’s orders in order to go and seek out strong opponents. He’s also one of the most popular Espada, and as of the start of Bleach’s final arc he’s one of the only two surviving Espada. For most of the Arrancar Arc, he serves as Ichigo’s main opponent, fighting him a total of three times (and utterly beating the crap out of Ichigo for the first two).
|"Hah! I'm the highest Espada on this list!"|
Despite his violent and, at times, sadistic attitude, Grimmjow does have a strong sense of honour. When he asks a kidnapped Orihime to heal his arm, he makes sure to repay the debt by saving her from Loly and Menoly, and he refused to fight an already-injured Ichigo until Orihime had healed him. Even after a year and a half passes, he still expresses a desire to fight Ichigo, and had to be physically dragged away from the communications link by Chad and Orihime (assuming, of course, that the figure in the tent was him).
|What you can't see is that Grimmjow is actually listening to 'Staying Alive'.|
The main aspect of Grimmjow’s popularity is that he’s something of an evil counterpart to Ichigo. Both are stubborn, reckless and irreverent, but whilst Ichigo fights to protect his allies, Grimmjow will attack or even kill his own allies if they get on his bad side. He’s ruthless, dangerous and more than a little crazy, but that’s why we like him.
2.) Kenpachi Zaraki (Murderous Squad 11 Captain) (Written by ClayDragon)
Sanity? Sorry, I don’t recall ever having anything like that.
Speaking of crazy, we have Kenpachi. Originally an orphan boy in the slum districts of the Rukongai, he killed a Soul Reaper, took his Zanpakuto and used it to find strong opponents to fight. At one point, he came across a young(er) Retsu Unohana, and enjoyed his fight with her that he began to subconsciously supress his power in order to continue fighting. Later, he found an orphaned baby and adopted her, naming her Yachiru after the only person he ever admired.
|I'd suggest running, but I don't think that would help.|
When the series starts, Kenpachi is a bloodthirsty fighter, who’s only really a Captain so he can find strong opponents. Upon fighting Ichigo, Kenpachi realises that he can become stronger by communicating with his Zanpakuto, and most of his character development revolves around his quest to learn its name. Eventually, he once again confronts Unohana and, after a bloody battle in which he’s killed and brought back many times over, he kills her and hears his Zanpakuto’s voice for the first time.
|Yeah, running definitely wouldn't help.|
Kenpachi is crazy. There’s no other way to put it. But that’s also his best feature. He loves fighting so much that he often uses tactics that would seem basic when used by anyone else, but he makes them seem new and unconventional, meaning that every fight with him involved becomes a lot more interesting and climactic. His psychopathy can also be played for laughs as well, and as such there’s never a dull moment with Kenpachi.
1.) Kisuke Urahara (Small-Time Candy Store Owner) (Written by Shiggins)
That wasn’t very nice. I do believe you’ve killed my hat.
When we constructed this Top 10 list, we both instantly knew this hilarious, wise man would be our Number 1. The phrase “scene-stealer” has never applied to any Bleach character more than Urahara, who just walks into the chapter/episode and takes focus immediately with barely a word. A close friend of Yoruichi (although the extent of their relationship was never fully confirmed…) and former Captain and Founder of Squad 12’s Science Division, Urahara is a genius that even Aizen acknowledges as being more intellectual than him.
|Fun fact: I'm currently trying to get the correct items so I can cosplay as him.|
Funnily enough, when I first saw Urahara I thought he was going to be a villain just because of how mysterious and in the shadows he always seemed to be. Urahara breaks the rules when needed to and whenever he wants to, using fun gadgets and inventions from memory-erasing explosives to human-like puppets called Gigai to get out of any situation that might be too perilous for his health. Being a banished Squad Captain, Urahara possesses many skills and abilities including Bankai (which we have yet to see), amazing Kido powers and stealthy tactics which he used during his days in the “Stealth Ops” Squad, all of which are more than enough reason to make Aizen and any other intelligent foe do the smart thing and not dare go near him unless they want killed. In fact, if it wasn’t for Urahara, Aizen would have won.
|Did he just make eating lollipops awesome? I think he did!|
Kisuke Urahara may not be in the series as much as people would expect him to be, but he is most definitely a key character of the series. He was the inventor of the much-sought-after Hogyouku, the reason Ichigo awakened Zangetsu, the inventor of the method Yoruichi used to teach Ichigo Bankai, the one who brought back Ichigo’s powers during the Fullbring arc, the man who got all the Captains their stolen Bankai back during the Quincy War, and of course the one who trapped Aizen using Kido after Ichigo weakened him enough. And yet despite all this, he manages to make me laugh almost every chapter he is in, just by swinging his happy little fan and giving a delighted smile. Kisuke Urahara, you deserve the Number 1 spot.
|As Nodt (Nightmare-Inducing Sternritter)|
|Yukio Hans Voralberna (Self-Made Orphan)|
|Coyote Starrk (Friendliest Villain Ever)|
|Shunsui Kyoraku (Chivalrous Pervert)|
|Jushiro Ukitake (Nicest Good Guy Ever)|
Are there any characters you feel we missed out? Or do you have any suggestions for another Top 10 List? Let us know in the comments below!
|Sadly, Don Kanonji failed to make the list. But his spirit is always with us.|
ClayDragon is currently studying Physics at university, and is constantly bewildered by it. The main method of contacting him is his Gmail account at email@example.com. The alternative is his Skype account at kyleroulston1993, but he doesn’t use it that much. When not playing games or reading, he can be found with his head in his hands whilst trying in vain to understand quantum physics. Dawn of the Third Day: 72 Hours Remain...
Shiggins enjoys many strange forms of communication, especially those including cosplayers or presents or videos. However, until that wonderful day comes when people care enough to give him things for being him, you can contact him on his Skype; shigginsishere. He can also respond to you if you contact him through GMails at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can find out about him or ask him stuff on ask.fm/shigginsishere.