The Captains of the Gotei 13 in Bleach are among the most interesting personalities in the world of Tite Kubo’s franchise. A captain is the leader of one of the thirteen divisions of the Gotei 13. They are led by the Captain-Commander (or Head-Captain), who is the supreme leader of the Gotei 13. As visible, there are, at one time, usually 13 Captains (including the Captain-Commander), but there have been vacancies during some periods.
The number of captains over the more than thousand years of the existence of the Gotei 13 is enormous, surely, and here is a list of the 15 strongest captains that have been introduced. For this list, we will include the current and former captains from the manga, as well as the non-canon anime captains. They are going to be ranked from 15th to 1st place.
Division: 9th Division
Bankai: Tekken Tachikaze
Of all the Captains on this list, Kensei Mugumura is certainly one of the most physically imposing ones; he is so much focused on his physical strength that even his Bankai reflects that, unlike most other Bankai, which are based on certain elemental powers. Mugumura could probably beat up most of the guys on this list in a fistfight, but he couldn’t do it in full combat.
Division: 3rd Division (formerly)
Bankai: Raika Gōen Kaku
Amagai was an enormously powerful Captain, but without the Bakkōtō, he was only that – sheer power. He did have a lot of tactical genius behind him and he was a solid swordsman, as expected of a Captain, but he was ultimately blinded by his desire for vengeance and actually couldn’t do much against Ichigo, even with the Bakkōtō. While Raika could fire some powerful flames, it couldn’t do much against more powerful opponents.
Division: 7th Division (formerly)
Bankai: Kokujō Tengen Myō’ō
Concluding our mini-series of powerful Captains is Sajin Komamura, who is probably the strongest among the Captains in terms of physical strength. Not only is he quite tall and powerful, but he is also a werewolf Soul, which makes him even stronger.
His strength and endurance have been demonstrated during the Fake Karakura Town fights, and his Bankai is truly formidable in every way. What he lacks, though, is speed, but only when compared to the other Captains on this list.
Division: 12th Division
Zanpakutō: Ashisogi Jizō
Bankai: Konjiki Ashisogi Jizō
Mayuri Kurotsuchi is quite possibly the guy on this list that you’d want to avoid if possible. Sure, he is not the most powerful among the Captains, but he is enormously skilled and dangerous because of his cunning intelligence. He is a proficient kidō and is enormously intelligent, with a lot of special skills up his sleeve.
He also prepares extremely well for a fight. If Mayuri Kurotsuchi gets interested in you and wants to experiment on you, the only thing that would save you is sheer luck.
Division: 5th Division (formerly)
Zanpakutō: Kyōka Suigetsu
Bankai: Not revealed
This might be a controversial pick, but hear us on this one. There’s no denying that Aizen is extremely powerful and dangerous, mostly thanks to his immense Spiritual Powers and his intelligence. But, Aizen is more of a cunning opponent than a powerful one; without the Hōgyoku and without activating his Shikai, Aizen is definitely beatable (as demonstrated by his fights against Urahara, Yoruichi, and Isshin).
He was also depicted as being weaker than both Shinji and Urahara during his early days in the Gotei 13. We honestly think that Aizen can be defeated without the Hōgyoku and without activating his Shikai, which is why we placed him so low on the list. Hōgyoku Aizen would, of course, go higher, but we’re talking about Captains here.
Division: 10th Division (formerly)
Bankai: Not revealed
Isshin Kurosaki was, without a doubt, one of the most powerful Captains and if he had not lost his powers at some point, he would probably be a lot higher on this list.
Still, even when not at his full power, Isshin was able to hold his ground against a powered-up Aizen and has demonstrated his skills when he helped Ichigo achieve the Final Getsuga Tensho. This is why we put Isshin on this spot.
Division: 2nd Division (formerly)
Zanpakutō: Not revealed
Bankai: Not revealed
This small group of Captains, starting with Yoruichi (and ending with Byakuya), contains Captains that are, more or less, on the same level of powers. All of them are extremely powerful and there is very little difference between them, save for the uniqueness and practical applicability of their unique skills.
Yoruichi is certainly among the fastest if not the fastest Bleach character and her additional forms make her extremely dangerous. She is also a skilled kidō user. The reason why we did not put her higher on this list is that we have never seen her with her Zanpakutō, so we don’t know how powerful she is with it.
Division: 5th Division
Bankai: Not revealed
Shinji may look like a gimmick character with his flamboyant personality and the hair, but he is exceptionally strong. Shinji Hirako is not only a Captain, he is also a Visored, which explains the doubled sources of power he has. He was Aizen’s captain and was a Captain on the level of the other ones in this smaller group.
He was shown to possess an extremely dangerous Shikai release, which makes his opponents’ lives hell, as they cannot know where Shinji will come from. He is also extremely insightful and intelligent, which makes him even more dangerous.
Division: 12th Division (formerly)
Bankai: Kannonbiraki Benihime Aratame
As far as Kisuke Urahara is concerned, there is a solid chance that he is even stronger than we are giving him credit here, but the guy is rarely serious and we certainly doubt that he has used the full extent of his powers so far. Urahara is an amazing fighter, extremely skilled and incredibly intelligent, which makes him one of the most formidable fighters in Bleach. On top of that, his knowledge of the world allows him to anticipate almost all of his opponent’s moves.
Division: 6th Division
Bankai: Senbonzakura Kageyoshi
Is there anything we have to say about this pick? Byakuya Kuchiki is one of the strongest Captains in history. He is fast. He is a skilled swordsman. His mastery of Kidō is formidable.
And there is absolutely nothing that we can name that is a disadvantage of Byakuya Kuchiki. Sure, he is not the strongest, but the legacy of this great Shinigami is why we positioned him so high up on our list.
Division: 4th Division (formerly; also 11th Division)
Zanpakutō: Minazuki (肉雫唼)
Bankai: Minazuki (皆尽)
Yes, yes, the eternally-smiling healer woman older than time itself is number five on our list. Why? Because she’s a friggin’ monster. And while you may know Retsu Unohana as the best healer in Soul Society, her real identity, that of Yachiru Unohana, is a bloodthirsty criminal and one of the best fighters in history.
Unohana is the first Kenpachi and was one of the most ruthless fighters in Soul Society before she joined Yamamoto in founding the Gotei 13, and then became a healer.
Division: 11th Division
Bankai: Not named
Were he not a complete beast, Zaraki would quite probably be the strongest character in all of Bleach. Easily. He is easily more powerful than even Yamamoto and Yhwach, but his biggest flaw is that he approaches the fight with not enough brains.
He is not stupid, he simply just wants to cut his opponents and that’s about it. This is why we positioned him before the more intelligent Captains.
Division: 13th Division (formerly)
Zanpakutō: Sōgyo no Kotowari
Bankai: Not revealed
Why do we put Ukitake so high up? Well, he is a Captain that has consistently been paired with Kyōraku, and we truly think that it is not without a reason. The two of them have studied together and are the two most-revered Captains behind Yamamoto.
Sadly, we never got to see the full extent of Ukitake’s powers, but seeing how a character with a disease like his has been able to become a Captain and survive numerous difficult fights, we honestly think that he is in the top three among the Captains.
Division: 1st Division (current; formerly 8th Division)
Zanpakutō: Katen Kyōkotsu
Bankai: Katen Kyōkotsu: Karamatsu Shinjū
Everything we’ve said about Ukitake can be said about Kyōraku as well, since the two are not only the best of friends, they are also formidable fighters. The only advantage Kyōraku has is that he is not ill like Ukitake, so he can actually release his full powers whenever he wants to. His Bankai is so dangerous that he doesn’t want to perform it in front of others, scared for their safety. The fact that it was Kyōraku who succeeded Yamamoto speaks for itself.
Division: 1st Division
Zanpakutō: Ryūjin Jakka
Bankai: Zanka no Tachi
The Commander-Captain has consistently been called the strongest Shinigami in history and despite his looks, Yamamoto was a true fighter in every sense of the word. He enjoyed enormous respect in Soul Society, even among the more maverick Captains of the Gotei 13.
Had his Bankai not been stolen, we’re not certain that he would actually have lost his life in the fight against Yhwach. Be that as it may, he is certainly the most powerful among the Captains.