Bleach: The Best Bankai Designs, Ranked

Most often, Bankai are ranked by strength, but given Bleach’s legacy of great character designs, which Bankai are the best looking?

For most fans of Tite Kubo’s Bleach, their first thought about the series is related to the powerful form taken on by a Shinigami’s Zanpakuto, known as its “Bankai.” This word is so ingrained in every Bleach fan’s mind, it has become an inescapable part of the series’ lore. The term itself represents the second release of a Shinigami’s Zanpakuto following its “Shikai,” unleashing power on a scale that far exceeds the limits of the first release.



Aside from the massive burst in power conferred by the release of a Bankai, the Shinigami’s appearance also usually changes to reflect the true nature of their Zanpakuto, and introduces new abilities to their arsenal. In keeping with the exceptional character designs associated with Bleach, certain Bankai have memorable aesthetic value, either due to how unique they look, or how well they reflect a character’s fighting style. Here are some of the most iconic Bankai designs in the series.

10 Unnamed Bankai (Zaraki Kenpachi)


Throughout the series, Kenpachi Zaraki was an anomaly among the Gotei 13 Captains, having neither achieved his Shikai nor Bankai before ascending to the rank. As the first in history to do so, Zaraki was a monstrous warrior driven by his desire to fight, but he could never hear the voice of his Zanpakuto until his victory against Retsu Unohana.

His Shikai, Nozarashi, took the form of a giant axe or war cleaver. Later, during his fight against Gerard Valkyrie, Zaraki awakened his Bankai, which gives him red skin, horns, and black markings on his forehead. His Zanpakuto also changed form into a jagged cleaver, giving him the appearance of a feral berserker, which is fitting considering his aggressive fighting style.

9 Kokujo Tengen Myo’o (Sajin Komamura)

Komamura Bankai Bleach

Sajin Komamura’s Zanpakuto, Tenken, has one of the most distinctive abilities in the series. Its Shikai conjures up the appendages of an armored spectral giant that mimics all the Shinigami’s movements. Taking this one step further, Komamura’s Bankai manifests the entire armored warrior, which towers over any landscape at nearly 100 meters tall.

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The giant is incredibly powerful and fast, emulating all of Komamura’s movements. In its Dangai Joue form, the giant sheds its armor and is nearly invulnerable to all attacks, for as long as the Shinigami’s Humanization Technique is active.

8 Hihio & Souou Zabimaru (Renji Abarai)

Renji Bankai Bleach

Both Renji’s unrealized and true Bankai have eye-catching designs that build on his Shikai abilities. His unrealized Bankai, Hihio Zabimaru, resembled a skeletal snake, composed of pick like segments resembling vertebrae. In battle, Renji brandished it like a massive whip ending in a skeletal snake-like head. If any segment was damaged, he could separate and reattach them as required.

His true Bankai, Souou Zabimaru, is much more compact. It takes the form of a gauntlet with a blade on his right wrist that can be manipulated at will, along with a green cowl of fur on his shoulders, extending into a massive skeletal hand on his right arm.

7 Kannonbiraki Benihime Aratame (Kisuke Urahara)

urahara kisuke's bankai

The second release of Kisuke Urahara’s Zanpakuto is a giant woman with dark braided hair who materializes behind him. While Urahara retains his normal sword for combat, his Bankai gives him the ability to restructure anything it comes into contact with. He does so by cutting and sewing targets back together.

This offers offensive capabilities with the slicing effect, and supporting abilities such as healing, as seen when Urahara used it to regain his vision. The only downside to this ability is that all effects revert to normal once his Bankai is deactivated.

6 Ryumon Hozukimaru (Ikkaku Madarame)

Ikkaku Bankai Bleach

While his Shikai takes the shape of a spear, Ikkaku’s Bankai is a double-bladed release. It features a Chinese Monk’s spade and a guandao, both featuring horsehair tassels and cylindrical weights as pommels. This aligns with his Shikai ability, which permits him to split his spear into a three-sectioned staff used in the manner of a flail-like weapon. In the center section, there is an axe-like blade which connects to both the blades he wields by means of thick chains, and there is a dragon crest on one side of the blade.

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Ryumon Hozukimaru doesn’t possess any special abilities and is a purely a powerful melee weapon. The only distinctive feature of his Bankai is its capacity to grow in power as a fight drags on.

5 Senbonzakura Kageyoshi (Byakuya Kuchiki)

Bleach Every Bankai Stolen in the Thousand Year Blood War Anime Byakuya Kuchiki and As Nodt

Perhaps the most elegant among the Bankai on this list, Senbonzakura Kageyoshi builds on the power of Byakuya’s Shikai, which scatters his sword into thousands of small blade fragments. The fragments are minuscule and reflect light in a manner reminiscent of cherry blossoms.

When using his Bankai, Byakuya can control these fragments with his mind, whereas he needed the hilt of his sword to guide them in his Shikai. Byakuya activates his Bankai by dropping his sword hilt, which melts into the ground, releasing energy ripples that turn the area dark, after which two rows of giant blades rise up from the ground. Byakuya can manipulate these tiny blades to use them simultaneously for offense and defense. He can even coat his body in them to create a shield.

4 Jakuho Raikoben (Sui-Feng)

Soifon Aiming Her Bankai In Bleach

Sui-Feng’s Shikai alters her Zanpakuto to a gauntlet fitted with a stinger, specializing in short-range combat. On the other hand, her Bankai is a ranged weapon in the style of a missile launcher, encased in golden armor. The armor also extends into a face shield that aids in targeting.

Once activated, Sui-Feng can aim and fire the missile, which launches towards its target with precision, creating a powerful explosion. While the technique and its appearance are both quite incredible, Sui-Feng usually refrains from using it due to its loud and flashy nature, which is not befitting of a covert agent who relies primarily on stealth.

3 Hakka no Togame (Rukia Kuchiki)

Rukia's Using Her Bankai Against As Nodt In Bleach

As an ice type Zanpakuto, Rukia’s Sode no Shirayuki dramatically alters her appearance when she unleashes its Bankai. In this form, she dons an ornate kimono with lined patterns and ribbons tied to her back in loops. The kimono is adorned with an elaborate collar and edges, with an ice flower formation on her chest, and a crown of ice on her head.

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Her hair also turns white, and the blade of her Zanpakuto turns to transparent ice. Anything in her vicinity freezes solid in minutes due to her Bankai’s tendency to lower surrounding temperatures to absolute zero, making her ability extremely deadly.

2 Tensa Zangetsu (Ichigo Kurosaki)

Ichigo Bankai Bleach

Ichigo’s Bankai has taken two forms throughout the series. The first stems from the Zanpakuto formed from his Hollow and Shinigami powers. His second and true Bankai features a khyber knife variation formed by placing his dual Shikai blades together.

This sword features a black blade resembling the original Tensa Zangetsu at its center, with a white edge that takes on a more curved profile. There is a chain attached to the hilt which loops and connects to the tip of the blade. Alternatively, the original form of his Bankai was a slender black daito with a four-pronged cross guard. Ichigo’s appearance also changes with activation, as he dons a long-sleeved, ankle-length black coat with a slit in the middle and ragged edges, completing a look that is nothing short of iconic.

1 Daiguren Hyorinmaru (Toshiro Hitsugaya)

Hitsugaya Bankai Bleach

Hitsugaya’s Bankai also took on two forms in Bleach, the first being its incomplete version. As another ice type Zanpakuto, Hitsugaya’s Bankai takes shape as a pair of dragon wings made from ice as well as a long tail, with the hilt of his sword encased in ice shaped like a dragon’s head. His feet are also encased in ice. Three flowers with four petals each float behind him, with the petals melting away as he fights. He can reform his Bankai as many times as necessary as long as there is moisture in the air, which is one of its best properties.

Later on, Hitsugaya attained the completed form of Daiguren Hyorinmaru through training and allowing his power to mature. This version ages Hitsugaya to an adult, manifesting when all the flowers behind him have melted. As an adult, the Shinigami Captain is tall, lanky, and has ice covering his shoulders and legs.

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