In the Shonen action anime Bleach, high schooler Ichigo Kurosaki is thrust into a supernatural world of spirits, monsters, and plots to conquer the entire world. He fights against, and later alongside, the Soul Reapers and battles many classic Shonen villains.
While Naruto has jutsu and One Piece has a devil fruit combat system, Bleach is all about soul-purifying swords known as zanpakuto. In fact, the most powerful Soul Reapers can activate a zanpakuto’s ultimate form, its bankai. Each bankai is unique and has devastating combat power, and a bankai can easily turn the tide of battle. The fans love such bankai as Senbonzakura Kageyoshi and Tensa Zangetsu and Daiguren Hyorinmaru, and today, we’re going to check out some top-notch Bleach fan art featuring bankai.
10 Elegant and deadly
The aristocratic Byakuya Kuchiki is the Captain of squad 6, and he wields one of the most beautiful but vicious bankai the thirteen Captains have to offer. It’s not the first bankai we see, but it’s among the most memorable.
This artist brought Senbonzakura Kageyoshi to life with restraint, to match Byakuya’s own patient approach to battle. He’s not one to show off his strength or have fun like Kenpachi, and in this fan art, Byakuya’s expression suggests that using bankai is a tragic necessity, not a game. We see his point.
9 The Black Blade
Demon Slayer‘s hero Tankiro Kamado isn’t the only guy with a black sword around here. Ichigo achieved his own bankai in record time, a mere three days rather than years of hard work. Byakuya didn’t even recognize it as bankai… until he fought against it!
But Tensa Zangetsu keeps evolving, and by this point, as shown in this lovely fan art, Ichigo and his blade are truly one, and this form is what it takes to defeat Sosuke Aizen. In this art, we really appreciate how hard Ichigo as worked, and how far he’s come. He’s been hitting the gym, that’s for sure, and we love that serious expression. Clearly, playtime has ended!
8 Who are you?
As a boy, Toshiro Hitsugaya wanted to live an ordinary life with his grandmother and his friend Momo Hinamori. But it was not to be. Over and over, Toshiro heard a strange, icy voice calling out to him, and Rangiku Matsumoto urged him to train and control those powers.
Toshiro, in a one-shot chapter, came face to face with the ice dragon Daiguren Hyorinmaru, and the rest was history. That bankai is realized here with astounding detail, like a real ice sculpture, and the sense of scale is excellent. Toshiro knows there’s no going back now!
7 Mad science and bankai meet
Now this is a creative twist. A fan had a custom cell phone case made, and it stars an oft-overlooked character, Captain Kurotsuchi. His bankai is a truly strange one, taking the form of an infant’s head and arms on the body of a caterpillar.
This is Konjiki Ashisogi Jizo, and Uryu only narrowly escaped a deadly clash against it. On this phone case, both the captain and bankai are drawn with vivid colors and rugged detail, suggesting the heat of combat and Mayuri’s burning desire to win!
6 Baboon King
It’s time for Lieutenant Renji Abarai to take a turn with the bankai fan art. In fact, he is the first non-Captain shown to use a bankai, with Ichigo coming in second. Renji activated his first-ever bankai against his Captain, and he did battle against Byakuya’s shikai.
Renji fought well, but he wasn’t prepared for Byakuya’s own bankai, which sealed the duel in his favor. Still, it was a thrilling battle, and this fan art does an outstanding job, capturing the scene. Look at those intense colors and sense of motion! Byakuya had better watch out.
5 Princess of frost
It took quite a while, but eventually, in the manga, Rukia joined the bankai club. She had her back against the wall during the battle against As Nodt, one of the most terrifying Sternritter of all. Her shikai could only do so much against him.
But once Byakuya arrived, Rukia regained the upper hand, and she introduced us to Hakka no Togame. It struck down As Nodt with one blow. Here, Rukia in bankai form is richly realized, and we love how her body looks tough and muscular but still elegant. The icy look on her hair is outstanding, including her eyelashes.
4 Hitsugaya in battle
Some of the bankai in Bleach are so beautiful, we want to see them more than once! Here is Daiguren Hyorinmaru in battle, and as long as Hitsugaya can properly control it, this bankai manifests as a pair of ice wings and an ice flower in the air behind him.
We can tell from his expression that Hitsugaya is using his bankai with serious intent! No doubt he’s facing down Aizen and preparing to make him for all he’s done. In this art, the wings glow with a gorgeous effect, and thee shadows and light on Hitsugaya’s body perfectly match.
3 Sword and mask
Ichigo unlocks bankai just in time to do battle with Byakuya Kuchiki, but soon, even that is not going to be enough to win the day. Ichigo also struggled against his inner hollow, and only with the hope of the Visoreds did he take control of that inner power.
Now, this stunning fan art gives us Ichigo in full battle mode, from his distinctive bankai robes to his half-formed mask. The stark lighting, Ichigo’s maniacal face, and whirling debris make it clear that this is one intense battle!
2 May I have this dance?
Fan art often depicts the characters in all kinds of what-if situations, from battles that never happened to a fantasy character ending up in our world to two characters managing to say “I love you!” This time around, Ichigo and Rukia, both in bankai mode, are doing an elegant waltz.
The black and white contrast, a visual theme central to Bleach, is in full force here, and it looks like Ichigo and Rukia hare having a wonderful time. This dark-haired version of Ichigo looks a bit like a Disney prince, doesn’t he?
1 Fated duel
One of the most popular battles in all of Bleach is the climactic and dramatic duel between Ichigo and Byakuya, right there on Sogyoku Hill during the day of Rukia’s execution. There, Byakuya showed us the true power of Senbonzakura Kageyoshi, and it was incredible.
Ichigo is doing whatever he can to keep up, and this scene perfectly captures the duel in fine detail. Byakuya stands there, stoic and confident, while Ichigo settles into an aggressive pose, threatening to end this duel quickly. We also love the swirling petals, especially the one near the camera to make this image feel even more 3-D.
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