When Tite Kubo created Bleach back in 2001, there is no way the artist could have know how popular the shonen would become. The supernatural series was a hit with fans from the start, and global attention was brought to Bleach when Studio Pierrot adapted the story into an anime. In a matter of years, Bleach became one of Japan’s most notable franchises thanks to its massive following, and fans still flock to the series today - and they do so because Bleach has some seriously badass battles.
As a shonen series, fans expect Bleach to have its fair share of battles, but the anime goes above and beyond for many. Imbued with crazy supernatural powers, the anime’s characters have insane strength and all utilize very different talents. Here at ComicBook.com, we made the difficult decision to narrow down just five of the series’ best battles.
And, as you may have guessed, Ichigo Kurosaki appears in every last one of them.
Ichigo v Kenpachi
During the anime’s first major arc, fans were given a taste of what kind of power characters could acquire thanks to Kenpachi Zaraki. Ichigo met the sadistic Soul Society caption once he managed to infiltrate the afterlife, and the veteran was merely interested in testing Ichigo’s skills. The high school student is an inherently gifted fighter, but Kenpachi’s unprecedented reiatsu and sheer killing intent blew Ichigo away. The hero was lucky to leave the battle alive and only did so thanks to his zanpakutou and friends. But, for fans, the fight was a glimpse of the kind of awe-inspiring battles that were to come.
Ichigo v Grimmjow
By the time fans meet Grimmjow, Ichigio is a vetted Substitute Soul Reaper who can stand their ground. So, naturally, the Espada decides to challenge Ichigo’s pride and gives him a thorough beat down. Throughout the long-running Hueco Mundo arc, fans watched as Ichigo and Grimmjow fought in what can only be described as a grudge feud. In one of their final battles, audiences watched breathlessly as Ichigo finally managed to get an upper-hand over Grimmjow who despaired in the defeat. The two like-minded fighters used each other as a whet stone to sharpen their skills, and it made their mostly solid alliance later in the anime all the more enjoyable.
The Gotei 13 & Vizard v Aizen
When you talk about Bleach battles, you have to mention the anime’s grand finale. The long-coming fight was so massive that the Soul Society captains had to lure Aizen and his cronies to a fake city to ensure there’d be no mass casualties. Determined to bring down the establishment, Aizen goes along with the fight and finds himself defeated to the joy of everyone else. But, in a shocking psychological twist, fans learn Aizen had merely fooled everyone into thinking they had won because of his illusionary bankai. So, with little hope left, the captains put their faith in Ichigo to end the war.
Spoiler alert: he totally does.
Ichigo v Byakuya
You never forget the first time you see Ichigo’s bankai, and that is what makes his fight against Byakuya Kuchiki so memorable. Not only does Ichigo enter the feud to rescue his comrade Rukia, but the human Soul Reaper also proves his undeniable worth to one of the Soul Society’s most strict overseers. After having already been beaten by Byakuya once, the noble captain is stunned to see Ichigo attain a bankai state, and the fight only grows more intense because of his begrudging acknowledgement.
Ichigo v Ulquiorra
When it comes to scale and personal risk, there is no greater battle than that between Ichigo and Ulquiorra. Fans met the overpowered Espada during the Hueco Mundo arc, and Ichigo was helpless to keep the villain from stealing Orihime away to his dimension. The orange-haired hero didn’t stand a chance against the tested warrior, but their second encounter ended very differently than their first. When the two fight for the last time, Ulquiorra is in control of the guerrilla front until Ichigo finally puts everything on the line. Unable to hold back his already unstable hollow, Ichigo lets himself become fully hollowfied in order to defeat Ulquiorra. And, when he does, fans finally learn how dangerous the other half of Ichigo truly is.