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Along with Naruto and One Piece, Bleach was considered a member of the "Big 3," the 3 best and most popular shounen anime and manga of the early 2000s. And with the anime well behind us, the manga having recently finished and the recent announcement of a live-action film, what a better time to revisit what made earned Bleach its spot amongst the greats.
Throughout the series' eight-year run, Bleach has managed to pit its characters against one another in some of the most exciting fights to come out of a shounen. Here are Bleach's 10 best fight scenes:
10. Ichigo Kurosaki vs Hiyori Sarugaki
Coming in at the number 10 is one of shortest and most one-sided fights in all of Bleach. This fight is exciting because of what know and see is at stake. After coming to the terms with the fact that he needs to learn how to control his inner hollow, Ichigo seeks out the Vizard hoping that they will teach him how to do so. Because Shinji has no plans of teaching Ichigo unless he joins the Vizard, Ichigo decides to fight him hoping to beat it out of him.
Hiyori notices that Ichigo, afraid that he will lose control to his hollow, is holding back and decides to join take Shinji's place in the fight. After calling forth her mask, she is able to control the battle (if we can even call it that). It takes one hit to decide a battle, and that’s exactly what happens here: Hiyori lands a devastating blow on Ichigo, cracking Zangetsu in the process.
Because of this blow, Ichigo is no longer able to control his hollow, which takes over and slams Hiyori into a wall by the throat. It takes the collective effort from the other Vizard to stepping in and pinning down Ichigo to stop him from choking Hiyori to death. It's this one moment of pure uncontrollable power that earns this fight a spot on this list.
9. Mayuri Kurotsuchi vs Szayelaporro Granz
Not your conventional fight, but a battle of the wits is still a battle, is it not? As a battle determined by intelligence as opposed to pure strength, one would think this to be a boring fight, but Mayuri and Szayelaporro make this a fight interesting enough for and worthy of the number 9 spot.
In a fight between the strong and smart it's always very one-sided: either the muscle easily beats up on the brains or is completely outsmarted. The latter is exactly what happened when Szayelaporro fought against Uryuu, Renji, Pesche, and Dondochakka. When the last ditch attack failed, it seemed as if all was lost. It's at this time that Mayuri enters the fight!
Not only are the two very intelligent, they are also very confident in themselves, and that's what truly makes this an exciting fight. In the end, it's Mayuri whose confidence is well-deserved. After toying with Szayelaporro, Mayuri shows that he is the smartest by constantly being one step ahead of his opponent and always prepared for the unknown. Even when Szayelaporro reveals that he's virtually immortal, Mayuri remains unphased, as ends the fight in perhaps one of the most brutal ways in all of Bleach.
8. Toshiro Hitsugaya vs Tier Harribel
This fight makes the list because of how often it ebbs and flows (pun intended) in the favor of Hitsugaya and Harribel. The mantra repeated throughout this fight is "if your enemy's weapon turns to your weapon, then the opposite is true." Hitsugaya's ice-type zanpakutou paired up against Harribel's water based zanpakutou creates a truly exciting back and forth fight. Having zanpakutou with similar elemental powers they fought seeking out the same suitable conditions, but in the end, the conditions were more in Hitsugaya's favor.
7. Kenpachi Zaraki vs Nnoitra Gilga
Perhaps the best thing of the Arrancar Arc is that just about everyone meets their match. Having broken into Hueco Mundo to save Orihime, almost all of the captains of the Gotei 13 meet an Espada that pushes them to their limits. Yes, this includes Kenpachi Zaraki, the battle-hungry Captain of the 11th Division, who meets his match in Nnoitra Gilga, the blood hungry Quinta Espada.
This brutal fight starts with Kenpachi surprisingly unable to cut Nnoitra, putting him at an obvious disadvantage. At every moment of this clash between brutes, Nnoitra seems to have the upper hand over Kenpachi. Even though Kenpachi appears to be the one with more strength, the battle always seems to be Nnoitra's to lose. After realizing that if he were to continue the fight as it was going he would die, Kenpachi decides to bring out the most secret of techniques: Kendo. Following the way of the sword, and gripping the sword with both hands, Kenpachi is able to fall his formidable foe in one swing of his sword.
6. Shunsui Kyouraku (& Jushiro Ukitake) vs Coyote Starrk (& Lilynette Gingerbuck)
Two nonchalant fighters should lead to an entirely unfulfilling fight, shouldn’t it? Much of the fight features the two fiercely going at it, all the while admiring their opponent's ability and commenting on their preference to not be fighting. In awe of the other captains' Bankai, Starrk is determined to get Shunsui to use his Bankai and joins forces with Lilynette to release his Resurrección. Declaring it fair, Ukitake joins the fray. In an exciting two-on-one battle, Starrk shows great respect and appreciation for the two shinigami's strengths.
The battle is interrupted, resulting in Ukitake's removal from the fight. The fight later continues and shows exactly why Starrk is the Primera Espada, as he is able to quickly understand the rules of Shunsui's zanpakutou and provide a great fight, even though his opponent has the upper-hand. Shunsui eventually leaves the fight as the victor, but not after a grueling battle.
5. Ichigo Kurosaki vs Grimmjow Jaegerjaquez
The Invasion of Hueco Mundo Arc should really be renamed to the Grudge Match Arc. Ichigo meets some of his most formidable foes for a second and even third time. Each time they push each other to their limits. Starting in Karakura Town, Ichigo, and Grimmjow, the 6th ranked Espada, engaged in a series of battles that fostered a sense of respect among opponents and culminating in this final bout in Hueco Mundo.
The extent of the respect is shown and paired with Ichigo's brazen cockiness when he has Orihime restore the wounds on both him and Grimmjow so that they are able to fight on even footing. During the fight, Ichigo and Grimmjow destroy several buildings as they display their power. Although they it was a close fought battle, Ichigo is who sustained the majority of the injuries. When he realizes that his injuries are causing Orihime and Nel to worry, he manages to end the battle despite Grimmjow unleashing his ultimate technique.
Even after his loss, Grimmjow attempts to continue fighting Ichigo, not wanting to lose to someone such as Ichigo. It is here that Ichigo shows his profound respect for Grimmjow stating there is no enjoyment in fighting him to the death when he's already lost and extends an offer to fight him as much as he wants when the time is right. A true sign of respect if there ever was one.
4. Sosuke Aizen vs The Gotei 13 & Vizard
In one of the final fights in the Fake Karakura Town, Aizen goes up against all of those that he has betrayed. Despite the fight being seven versus one, Aizen is able to handily dispose of his adversaries. In many ways, this fight showcases exactly how powerful Aizen is: as everyone attacks Aizen he's able to deflect everyone's attack easily.
In the end, Aizen shows everyone exactly what "power" is, when reveals exactly how strong he really is. As the two groups seem to take the upper hand and to even defeat Aizen, he reveals that they were under the effects of his Bankai, and their victory was nothing but an illusion. Aizen ends the battle, providing what is perhaps the most demoralizing defeat in all the of the series
3. Ichigo Kurosaki vs Ulquiorra Cifer
Another rematch that will go down in memoriam. In this second fight between these two, Ulquiorra once again gets the best of Ichigo. Even though Ulquiorra is in control for nearly the entirety of the fight, that doesn't mean Ichigo isn't able to push him to his limit, forcing him to release his second Resurrección, an ability that he hasn't even shown to Aizen.
This fight features what is perhaps Ichigo's most terrifying transformation. In reality, this is one a few key moments that the series has been leading up to Ichigo's hollow finally taking full control. Actually, "Ichigo becomes a hollow" is a better way to put it. This new hollowfied Ichigo easily turns the tide of the battle and shows us the true extent of Ichigo's latent power.
In combination with the revelation of new abilities, and forms this fight features some interesting character developments as well. All in all, it does more than enough to make itself one Bleach's memorable, and worthy of a place in the Top 3
2. Ichigo Kurosaki vs Kenpachi Zaraki
For a fight with nothing on the line, there was so much on the line. Wait... what? This fight takes place towards the end of the Rukia Invasion arc. Ichigo's opponent, however, is not fighting to stop Ichigo's advancement; Kenpachi is only here for the thrill of the fight.
In Ichigo's first fight against a captain-level shinigami, he draws the short stick by coming up against the most sadistic of them all. Much of the start of the fight is Ichigo running, and being overwhelmed by the sheer amount of Kenpachi's reiatsu and killing intent. When Ichigo is able to fight alongside his zanpakutou, Zangetsu, he is able to go toe-to-toe with Kenpachi, forcing him to remove his eyepatch, which served as a limited of his reiatsu.
Throughout the entire fight, we get a taste of what it means to truly have a fearful amount of reiatsu. The two come at each other at full power, in one of Bleach's most epic final clashes.
1. Ichigo Kurosaki vs Byakuya Kuchiki
Another classic fight. What makes this fight truly exhilarating is that this is the first time we see Ichigo's Bankai in this highly anticipated rematch between the substitute shinigami and the head of a noble shinigami clan.
In this rematch, we see Ichigo return from his Bankai training to stop the execution of Rukia Kuchiki. After doing just that, Byakuya confronts Ichigo, and the fight begins. Initially, Ichigo and Byakuya appear to be on even grounds in a truly magnificent battle. Ichigo taunts Byakuya to release his Bankai. At first, Byakuya feels his that his Shika is enough, but after Ichigo reveals that he, a mere human has achieved Bankai, Byakuya releases his own leading to Bleach's most fun and exciting fight.
This fight has it all: Bankai (two to be exact), Hollow Ichigo, a great sword fight, and a fight where the victor never seems to be decided. What more could you ask for? After seeing fights in Bleach become a battle of special abilities that directly counter one another, it's always nice to remember the days the combatants truly duked it out on the battlefield, and this is the pinnacle of that era.
There were easily another ten fights that could have made it onto this list. Like any good battle, however, there can only be one victor... or in this case ten. Some of these fights made the list because of the swordplay displayed between fighters, some because of the special abilities displayed. Whatever the reason, they are definitely ten fights that showcase the best of Bleach.
Any qualms with the list? Let us know in the comments below. You'd better come prepared to fight, though. BANKAI!!!