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Bleach: Who Became the Strongest Soul Reaper After Yamamoto’s Death?

Captain-General Yamamoto was the Soul Society’s strongest warrior in Bleach. After he died, only one Soul Reaper was fit to succeed him.

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Bleach is all about black-robed Soul Reapers and their duty to slay monstrous Hollows and escort the souls of the dead to the afterlife, or the Soul Society. Soul Reapers are all capable fighters who carry soul-cutting swords called zanpakuto, yet some are much more powerful than others.

High-ranking officers include the Captains and their Lieutenants, and for a millennium, the ancient Captain-General Genryusai Shigekuni Yamamoto commanded the Soul Reapers as the wisest and strongest of them all. When he perished in the “Thousand-Year Blood War” arc, he left some big shoes to fill, and only Captain Kyoraku Shunsui could lead the Soul Reapers into a better future.

The Prestige & Leadership Skills Of Captain Kyoraku In Bleach

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Yamamoto’s death left Captain Kyoraku as the Soul Society’s strongest surviving Soul Reaper, and for many reasons, only he was fit to become the new Captain-General of Squad 1. It’s true that Captain Ukitake was almost as experienced and powerful, but he was stricken with an illness and was content to lead Squad 13. Captain Unohana Retsu, meanwhile, had her mind on other matters and was in no position to take command.

Kyoraku Shunsui had the right personality, influence and experience to succeed Yamamoto, with strength of spirit to match his combat prowess. He was born into the noble and distinguished Kyoraku family, giving him a serious head start. Shunsui was also personally connected to the powerful Ise family through his deceased brother, which explains why Lieutenant Ise Nanao is so loyal to him despite their clashing personalities.

Most importantly, Shunsui had centuries of experience as a Soul Reaper officer by the time the “Soul Society” arc took place, and he and Ukitake were among the first Shin’o Academy graduates to become Captains. Even during a Bleach flashback to 110 years ago, Shunsui was already a longtime veteran who was well-liked and respected by everyone around him. Despite his goofball personality and habit of drinking, he took his duty very seriously, and when his personal mentor and friend Yamamoto died at king Yhwach’s hands, Shunsui knew right away what had to be done.

He assumed command at once as the new Captain-General and transferred to Squad 1, to which no one objected. The surviving Captains were shaken by the Wandenreich’s assault and needed a leader, and Shunsui quickly got them in line when they started squabbling among themselves. He had the heart of a true leader and soon led a counterassault on the Sternritter, eventually claiming victory over them with Ichigo’s help. As of the new one-shot Bleach chapter, Shunsui remains Squad 1’s commander and the Soul Society’s strongest Captain.

The Combat Prowess Of Captain Kyoraku In Bleach

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Since Bleach is an action shonen series, the strongest Soul Reaper must also be the most effective fighter, not just the one with the most authority. As expected, Kyoraku Shunsui is enormously powerful, even if he rarely demonstrates his strength compared to the likes of Captain Zaraki Kenpachi or Captain Kuchiki.

As a well-trained veteran and a noble-born soul, Shunsui has immense natural prowess in terms of endurance, speed, swordplay, physical power, his use of kido spells and more. He even wields two zanpakuto at once, and his shikai, Katen Kyokotsu, grants him a variety of unexpected abilities in combat. This shikai can make children’s games real and very dangerous, not unlike Squid Game, and only a talented and instinct-driven opponent like Coyote Starrk stands even the slightest chance of survival against it.

Finally, Shunsui’s complex bankai, Katen Kyokotsu: Karamatsu Shinju, inflicts incredible damage on an opponent based on different phases of a grim story — including drowning them or covering them in wounds — and he can even challenge the elite Quincy, the Schutzstaffel, with this bankai. Time and again during the final battle against Aizen’s army or the Sternritter, Shunsui used his shikai and bankai alike to prove that after Yamamoto’s unfortunate demise, he was truly the #1 Soul Reaper in Bleach — and the only one fit to lead the Gotei 13.