Counting down Bleach's best battles ahead of the upcoming announcement!
From the very first episode to the finale, fights were always Bleach's bread and butter. Whether it's the early battles against hollows or the latter fights against Arrancar, Bleach never failed to deliver a memorable showdown. Though both the anime and manga are over, Bleach has a big announcement coming up with its 20th anniversary event next month. To celebrate, we're counting down the top 10 Bleach fights that've stuck with us even after all these years!
**Watch out for spoilers and enjoy the list!**
10. Ichigo vs. Ginjo
As Bleach’s final battle, you can tell that the staff behind Ichigo vs. Ginjo gave it their all. Featuring some of the best animation in all of Bleach, it’s also a great reintroduction to Ichigo’s power as a Soul Reaper. It’s great to see him back at his former strength (and then some), after spending most of the Fullbring Arc trying to catch up to everyone else and figure out Tsukishima’s plan.
But now, with his powers returned and the other Fullbringers defeated, it’s down to him and Ginjo. Each exchange makes it clearer and clearer that Ichigo is far and away the superior fighter, and our excitement only grows with that realization. The Hell Verse soundtrack that plays during their final exchange is the cherry on top here, adding the perfect epic sound to conclude this fight. Bleach may be over now, but it certainly went out with a bang!
9. Shuhei vs. Findorr
Shuhei Hisagi was always in an odd position among Bleach’s supporting cast. He was always around, but never did much until this point. Here, though, he proves that he’s one of the coolest Lieutenants in the show. The fight starts off solid, if unremarkable compared to Bleach’s best fights, but doesn’t stay that way for long. Once Shuhei’s forced to use his shikai, it turns into nonstop momentum as Findorr tries to dodge Kazeshini and its odd angles of attack.
Kazeshini’s design makes for an interesting fighting style, and it can be hard to tell where Shuhei’s next attack is coming from. Will he use it as a melee weapon, will he throw it again, or will it loop around for another hit after his last attack? For all that he says he doesn’t like Kazeshini’s shape, Shuhei’s clearly mastered its use. He keeps both us and Findor guessing until the final blow, making this one of Bleach’s most dynamic fights.
8. Chad vs. Shunsui
Chad vs. Shunsui can barely be called a fight, but it still deserves a spot on this list for being a perfect example of how to do a one-sided fight. Chad had been built up as one of the stronger fighters in Ichigo’s group, so it’s startling to see him outmatched so quickly.
The fight plays with expectations, first showing Shunsui blocking and evading Chad’s attacks effortlessly, then setting Chad up for a comeback as he reflects on why he’s fighting in the first place. His final attack has all the marks of a finisher: large scale, obvious effort behind it, triumphant music, everything we’ve come to expect. Only, it fails. Shunsui easily avoids it and downs Chad in one blow. The shock of such a sudden ending comes with a realization: sometimes the heroes just aren't strong enough.
7. Kenpachi vs. Nnoitra
Sometimes you want a tactical battle, where each side is trying to outsmart the other. Sometimes you want to see what tricks and special abilities the fighters are concealing as they wait for just the right moment to get the upper hand. And sometimes you just want to see two tough guys hammering each other and refusing to go down. The latter is where Kenpachi vs. Nnoitra comes in. The two of them both specialize in raw power; power that’s on full display here. Even their special moves (Kenpachi’s kendo and Nnoitra’s Santa Teresa) are essentially ways to amplify their already considerable strength.
Simple as that sounds, it makes for quite a thrilling duel. Both of them are so strong that it sometimes feels like the fight comes down to who can endure the most punishment, especially once Kenpachi manages to cut Nnoitra. Part of what makes it so engrossing is how much fun Kenpachi’s having for the entire fight; it’s hard not to get caught up in his joy at facing a challenging enemy. And this isn’t even his best fight!
6. Yoruichi vs. Soi Fon
Though it’s partially overshadowed by Ichigo vs. Byakuya, Yoruichi vs. Soi Fon is a great fight in its own right. Bleach has always excelled at moments of pure cool, which is exactly how this fight starts off. Soi Fon summons a group of her underlings and seems to have the upper hand, only for Yoruichi to defeat all of them in an instant! That immediately sets the tone for the rest of the fight, which becomes a battle of speed between two masters of close combat.
Soi Fon’s Suzumebachi adds to the stakes, making every blow a risk for Yoruichi, as a second hit from Soi Fon means instant death. Bleach fights are typically built around weapons, but this fight proves it can more than handle hand to hand combat as well. With an explosive ending to top it off, Yoruichi vs. Soi Fon truly earns its place here.
5. Ichigo vs. Kenpachi
Ichigo vs. Kenpachi marks the first time we see a Captain really fight (Byakuya defeating Ichigo before doesn’t really count as a fight), and Kenpachi’s the perfect character to demonstrate why these Captains are such a big deal. Seeing even Ichigo overwhelmed by Kenpachi’s spiritual pressure hammers home that this guy is on a completely different level from everyone else Ichigo has gone against before, and that’s even before we see him stop Zangetsu with his bare hands!
Once we see just how strong Kenpachi is, the fight takes on a new dimension. It really feels like Ichigo could die here, and the tension becomes palpable as he realizes that too. It’s only by pairing his power with Zangetsu’s that Ichigo is finally able to make headway, and even then the fight is about as close as a fight can get, ending with both of them on the verge of death with everything around them reduced to rubble. Ichigo vs. Kenpachi shows us what it means to really fight, and it’s a lesson we won’t soon forget.
4. Ichigo vs. Aizen
Even though Bleach continues on afterwards, Ichigo vs. Aizen has the feel of a final battle. Everyone else is dead or incapacitated, Aizen’s goal is in reach, and Ichigo’s the only one left to stop him. With his Final Getsugatensho training complete and Aizen’s transformation continuing, the stage is set for them to finally clash, and what a fight it is.
Their every exchange destroys the surrounding terrain, and even Aizen finally seems to be on the ropes. After so many episodes of Aizen dominating everyone who stands in his way, it’s gratifying to see someone finally outmatch him for once. As Aizen’s finally defeated, this fight marks the end of Bleach’s longest storyline yet, and it’s an end you won’t soon forget.
3. Ichigo vs. Grimmjow
Put simply, Ichigo vs. Grimmjow is the ultimate grudge match. The two had fought twice before, both times with Ichigo only surviving thanks to outside intervention. This time, though, there’s nobody else to interfere, and both of them are free to go all out and settle things. The raw force of Grimmjow’s Resurrección makes it clear that this is a battle for keeps, one that’s going to take everything Ichigo has.
Once the fight kicks off, it’s nonstop momentum as the two engage in a constant back and forth across the ground and air. Watching it is a thrilling experience as each hit seems like it could be lethal, with even the missed attacks destroying large chunks of the surrounding buildings. Ichigo’s finishing blow is the perfect way to end the fight, exciting and triumphant as he finally defeats Grimmjow, his biggest rival since the Arrancar first showed up. Though there are plenty of fights left before Orihime is safe, Ichigo vs. Grimmjow marks a turning point in Hueco Mundo, and is the perfect way to cap off the arc’s first half.
2. Everyone vs. Aizen
We knew Aizen was strong from the moment he revealed his true colors. After all, he was able to stop Ichigo’s bankai with just a finger! But even that didn’t prepare us for what happens when all of the remaining Captains and Vizards tried taking him down in the Fake Karakura Town Arc.
One by one he defeats these powerful fighters without breaking a sweat, all culminating in the moment he takes down Toshiro, Shinji, Shunsui, and Soi Fon in the span of a few seconds. At this point Aizen seems unstoppable, a force of nature that nobody can stand against. Though we know Ichigo is inevitably going to defeat him, at that moment, when he smiles as the Captains fall to the ground, Aizen truly seems invincible.
1. Ichigo vs. Byakuya
Out of all the fights here, Ichigo vs. Byakuya is far and away the most iconic, and for good reason. This is the culmination of everything the Soul Society Arc has been building to ever since Rukia was first taken. The stakes are clear: if Ichigo doesn’t defeat Byakuya, then Rukia’s never going to be safe, and we know that Ichigo is the only one there who can beat him. As the two engage, we learn just how far Ichigo has come, from losing without even seeing Byakuya’s attacks to fighting on even terms. Even before it kicks into gear, their relative abilities are perfectly matched, making for a thrilling back and forth.
And then the moment finally comes: Ichigo’s bankai. Few moments across Bleach’s 366 episodes are so iconic as the first time Ichigo uses Tensa Zangetsu. The fight from then on runs a gamut of emotions, from confusion at Tensa Zangetsu’s unremarkable shape compared to other Bankai to excitement at Ichigo’s crazy fast movements to shock at the emergence of Hollow Ichigo. All of that culminates in a final clash as the two fighters put everything they’ve got left into one strike. Ichigo vs. Byakuya far and away sets the standard for Bleach fights, and I can’t think of a more deserving fight for the number one spot.
What's your favorite Bleach fight? Let us know down in the comments!
Skyler loves writing and chatting about anime, and is always ready to gush about the latest One Piece chapter. Read more of his work at his blog apieceofanime.com and follow him on Twitter at Videogamep3.
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