Bleach is considered part of the holy trinity of big manga/anime series along with Naruto and One Peice. Whilst is is widely argued that author Tite Kubo lost his way towards the end of the story, Bleach was the only one of the three that I could stick with. Pirates just arent for me, and Naruto never appealed to me. Bleach struck a chord with me for a number of reasons, the story (whilst frequently criticised I still enjoyed), the setting, and the characters to name a few. To be honest, I could go on for days about how much I love this series, but for this post I figure I’d list my top 5 Bleach characters and why I hold them in such high esteem.
Bleach is full of interesting, quirky characters that I think are great and making a top 5 is really difficult for me. Whilst characters like Kenpachi Zaraki, Byakuya Kuchiki, Renji Abari, Ikkaku Madarame and Yoruichi Shihoin are absolutely in my favourites, these following 5 stand out to me more than the rest, and for very different reasons. Witout further adue, let’s get started:
Number 5: Gin Ichimaru
Former captain of the 3rd Division of the Gotei 13 and right hand-man of series antagonist Sosuke Aizen, Gin is a sarcastic and facetious individual most of the time except for the rare occasions when he gets iritated. Gin weilds a Zanpakuto called ‘Shinso’ which means ‘god spear’ that he can call upon using the phrase ‘shoot to kill’. Gin plays a meddlesome role within Bleach, not participating in many action sequences and preferring instead to do battle on a psychological front. Gin is often seen manipulating the emotions of those around him, often having the exact opposite effect on people of the constantly jovial facade he wears.
At first I was unsure on Gin. His unsettling grin, flippant nature, and the way he coldly manipulated his peers made me instantly distrust his polite and well mannered presentation. One character describes this well by saying that whenever he spoke to them, they felt like ‘snakes were wrapping around their neck’s’, depicting Gin as an antagonist to the series. However, upon closer observation, Gin is a character written with many subtleties and depth. I would not characterise Gin as an antagonist, but rather and impartial character that is ruthlessly pursuing his own goals.
Gin stands out to me for a number of reasons. Firstly, I grew to really enjoy his flippant remarks to the situations he found himself in; I think I share his humour. Secondly, the design of his character is perfect. The way he looks, his grin, the mocking gestures; it all fits into this decietful air around his personality. Lastly, Gins story is really compelling and proves that whilst he is seen as a ‘bad guy’, the actions he takes are for a ‘good reason’. With a sharp wit and a cunning mind, Gin will forever remain a favourite.
“I,m a snake. Cold of flesh and devoid of heart. My tongue flicks back and forth, ever in search of new prey, and if I like what I find, I swallow ’em whole.”
Number 4: Ichigo Kurosaki
The series protagonist, Ichigo Kurosaki starts out as an abnormal high school student who can see ghosts. His personality lies within the realms of an anti-hero; seemingly blunt and uncaring, standoffish and aggressive Ichigo is not what I would describe as a model citizen. However as the story progresses Ichigo grows as a person into a more caring individual with a steadfast resolve to protect the innocent and those he cares for, especially his friends.
Through his encounter with Rukia Kuchiki he discovers his latent shinigami powers and takes on the role of a substitute-shinigami. He weilds the Zanpakuto called ‘Zangetsu’ and his most notable attack is the ‘Getsuga Tensho’, a concentrated wave of destructive spiritual energy. As he grows through the series, we see Ichigo develop his powers at an incredible speed, working hard to stay strong enough to fight for what matters.
Whilst he is meant to be popular by design, I have Ichigo as one of my favourites because I feel I relate to him in a different way. Ichigo is just an average guy who has a circle of friends he can always count on; this I relate to a lot. I enjoy his character because of how straightforward he is. Ichigo has no hidden agendas and doesn’t try to be anything he’s not. This trait I admire in people, and Ichigo is who inspires me to be better at it.
“Do you know why big brothers are born first? It’s to protect the little brothers and sisters that come after him.”
Number 3: Shunsui Kyoraku
Former captain of the 8th division and now captain commander of the 1st division and the entire Gotei 13, Shunsui Kyoraku is probably the most flamboyant of all the characters in Bleach. Despite his remarkably casual and laid back nature, Shunsui is incredibly astute, loyal to his friends and possesses frightening power. He weilds a dual Zanpakuto called ‘Katen Kyokotsu’ which is one of the only Zanpakuto in Bleach to have it’s own distinctive personality and gender. Katen Kyokotsu is a combination of two capricious women who like to taunt and play silly games with Shunsui. No surprise then that his powers revolve around making children’s games real.
I find Shunsui to be a really fun and interesting character. He is the kind of guy that instead of fighting with his enemy, would prefer to offer them a drink of sake, tell funny tales and play games until they pass out. He spends his free time napping and chasing women, most frequently his own leiutenant. Even when the situation becomes truly dire, Shunsui remains calm and level headed. He is creative in his solutions to solving his problems, and when the situation calls for it, the captain commander of the Gotei 13 becomes a truly frightening force to be reckoned with.
Shunsui is an eccentric, zany and swashbuckling character with a tragic back story that encourages me to see the brighter side of life and reminds me to take a nap every once in a while. He is also an example of ensuring that you do your duty and fight for what matters when the time is right. His lightheartedness and childish behaviour brighten the mood when he shows up; I think the world needs a few more personality’s that do this.
“Honour? Is that what you are all talking about? Then let us speak instead of our duty to the Gotei 13. Honour will not protect the world. I do not believe that using evil to defeat evil is itself an evil act.”
An outcast from the soul society, living in the real world and running a candy store, Kiske is the former head of the 12th division of the Gotei 13 and the original founder of the department of research and development. Kiske is an exuberant man who is often underestimated by his outward gestations, when in fact he has the potential to be the most dangerous and feared shingami of them all. Thankfully he is quite humble and prefers to stay on the sidelines often manipulating others into doing what he wants. He weilds the Zanpakuto ‘Benehime’, the crimson princess, that often takes the guise of a walking stick and has the power to reconstruct anything.
Urahara is without question the most intellectually superior character within Bleach, and without a doubt one of the most intelligent in all of anime and manga. Not only is he smart, but he is far-sighted, astute, and prepared for almost any situation. In his own words he ‘comes expecting 1000 what-if-scenarios just so he’s never caught with his pants down. Ready for and able to act on any fathomable possibility that may occur’.
I can imagine Kiske Urahara as one of Tite Kubo’s favourite characters to write up as the character himself has very few limitations due to his seemingly infinite intellect. With Urahara it seems like virtually nothing is impossible to achieve. His character makes me want to be prepared for anything at any time, but at the same time, remain so seemingly unprepared so that people don’t expect it and you pleasantly surprise them; just like Kiske did the entire series for me.
“What you don’t need in battle is fear. Nothing will come of it. When you counter, don’t let them cut you. When you protect someome, don’t let them die. And when you attack, you kill.”
Arguably the most important character in the entire series, Rukia Kuchiki is my uncontested favourite Bleach character. For a series where character development isn’t the focus Rukia breaks the mold. At the start of the story she is a low ranking shingami in the 13th division, by the end of the anime she becomes a lieutenant, and by the end of the manga she is captain of her own divison!
Rukia grew up a street kid with no real family of her own before being adopted into nobility. Despite this rise in class, Rukia retained her modest and playful nature, often punching or kicking Ichigo when he does something stupid. She is graceful and elegant in combat, weilding the Zanpakuto called ‘Sode no Shirayuki’, known as the most beautiful weapon in existence and capable of snap freezing its foes.
Rukia holds my top spot for so many reasons a whole post could be dedicated to her (I may do this). Without Rukia I do not believe Bleach could exist. She gives watchers and readers a little bit of everything to enjoy; story progression, character development, awesome fight scences, gut wrenching emotional hooks, humourous behaviour. Rukia is the success story everyone wants to be, coming from nothing, working hard, having fun along the way, and eventually being recognised for everything she is worth. A truly heartwarming and inspirational character who I will never forget!
“If you get hurt, I’ll help you. If you can’t fight, then I’ll fight in your place. If you’re in pain, then I’ll help you deal with your pain. After all, we’re friends right?”
This has honestly been a really difficult top 5 for me! Bleach has so many great characters that bring so much to the series; I personally just find that I enjoy these characters just that little bit more than the others. I promise to make future posts a bit shorter!!
Do you agree with my list? If not then who would your top 5 be? Let me know in the comments below! Thanks for reading!