^ But Aizen was talking specifically about being destroyed by those bracelets Urahara put on him. The thing is, Urahara himself points out that before going Hogyoku mode Aizen wouldn't have been so careless as to even let Urahara use something like that, or the Kido that stopped Aizen in the end.
But yeah, @ OP. It's not that clear that bypassing the need for a Zan is a trait of the strongest Shinigami. The only example we have of it actually happening is FGT Ichigo, Aizen may or may not have been correct about doing the same with Kyoka Suigetsu before his power faded. But he did suggest that the Zanpakuto fusing to the wielder's hand like his and Ichigo's both did might be the true form of a Zanpakuto. There might be something there, although no other Shinigami has displayed that yet either. Ichibei (who I'm guessing is the strongest RG member) might not have a Zan, if he happens to be older than Nimaiya, but then there's no reason to believe he wouldn't take an Asauchi later on. If Zanpakutos are so widely used it must be because they're superior to whatever fighting methods were in use before.
Probably Ichigo, I suspect we will find out later that he is like an infinite source of reiatsu, or that his reiatsu keeps reproducing and growing stronger. (Like a reiatsu virus)
As for pure shinigami I'd say Yamamoto, we dunno about the Zero division yet though.
Who knows, if the Spirit King can be considered a shinigami then perhaps he's the strongest...even if he does need protection.
Yama's the strongest, but the others we consider when making this list... it's kinda tricky putting them into a tier list, because most of them have unstable powers or their strengths come from outside sources (I know there's no stipulation placed, but I like to make lists like these based on one's own strengths rather than some sort of enhancement).
Kisuke isn't considered because a lot of his feats are based on gadgetry or trickery. Kenpachi hasn't reached his full potential (hence the reason he's stated to be a war potential. He can potentially become a genuine threat to the higher leveled foes, but hasn't reached that level yet). Aizen was godly even without the Hogyouku, but there's no way to know what level he was prior to the Hogyouku's enhancement. Ichigo is something completely different. I don't even think we should consider him a shinigami anymore. And Ukitake is supposed to be of comparable strength to Shunsui (noticed I didn't say equal. Just comparable).
Of all the godly shinigami who haven't been boosted to beyond natural levels, I think the list goes Yama, then Shunsui, then Unohana OR Ukitake. Base Aizen is likely a little bit ahead of Shunsui.
Kisuke has not needed to exhert himself that much in the fights he has been in, just like Yoroichi and Isshin. Yoroichi relies on hand to hand even when fighting the 4th Espada, Isshin didnt even release his Shikai against Aizen (who would have had to at some point i suppose) and Kisuke we have never seen actually break much of a sweat or be put in a tight spot in any of the skirmishes he has had or fights (bar Hogyouku Aizen).
And on that point, he is a scientist, I mean even with Aizen being a master of the shinigami arts (per his words) he still needed the Hogyouku (which is an object) to get further forward in strength. Mayuri, though not among the strongest, still relies on his own little inventions in order to fight.
In terms of Shinigami arts and disciplines. I guess it would be Yama-Ji hands down..
If we're talking about chars at the time of being pure Shinigami, Yama. Hougyoku'd Aizen doesn't count, because that's a form beyond shinigami. Ichigo doesn't count at all, because he's a hybrid of whatever race exists in Bleachverse. And I don't want to throw guesses about 0th division (or Spirit King, though he's also probably in the non-shinigami group).
As has been said, let's exclude post-hougyoku Aizen and Ichigo, whose power is not coming purely from their shinigami side. My ranking would be :
1. Yamamoto, aka Old Man Genocide. His power is something else. In the FKT arc, it was strongly suggested that he planned to annhilate everyone present, himself and Aizen included, with only his shikai (and would have too had it not been for a trick specifically designed to counter his power). When he went bankai, Hyorinmaru immediately lost its power, despite being the strongest ice type zanpakuto and miles away from him. Unohana said that he should hurry before his power unintentionnally destroyed all of Soul Society.
2. The strongest from the Royal Guard, who is probably either Ichibei or Nimaiya. Since Shunsui stated that the Royal Guard together was stronger than the entire Gotei 13, there has to be at least two RG on roughly the same level of Yama. Since we don't know for sure, I am putting them second.
3. Post-Unohana Kenpachi. Let's not forget that in the SS arc, Kenpachi pretty much pwned two captains, one of which went bankai. He also one-shotted the 6th espada who was not seriously hurt at that time, and is the only captain who besides Yama who killed not one, but 3 SR. Now let's take a moment to imagine shikai Kenpachi, or even bankai.
4. Unohana. Yama may have said that Shunsui + Ukitake are the strongest team, but individually speaking Unoahana was both older and stronger than them. Also she predates the academy, so Yama's statement doesn't even apply to her. They joke about being scared of her, but they show actual respect for her. She was the one captain that Aizen actually avoided fighting in SS arc.
5. Isshin. There is still something shady about his past (how does he know about FGT?), but let's not forget he fought and dominated shinigami Aizen, while maybe not even in shikai, with raw power alone (no tricks like Urahara).
6. Shinigami Aizen. He was strong enough to instantly fodderize bankai Hitsugaya without even using shikai. Hitsugaya may be among the low tier captains, but he is still captain class.
After that comes, in whatever order : Shunsui, Ukitake, Yoruichi, Urahara.
Isshin's ranking is almost entirely based on a short performance against Aizen. Only a few panels over the course of a couple chapters were shown of their battle, and by no means was Isshin dominating it. Shortly before Aizen began his metamorphosis one could clearly see that both had taken hits, and Isshin only commented that Aizen had begun to slow, this later became clear to be the result of the upcoming transformation. The only success we actually see of Isshin against Aizen in a one-on-one is the initial surprise attack on the part of Isshin. Of course, we've yet to see everything from Isshin, but what he has shown isn't good enough to put him on this list right behind the likes of Unohana, he doesn't even have the overwhelming hype of the Royal Guard. He merely has a brief skirmish with Aizen. Some would point to the fact that the other captains had less respectable showings, but unlike the other captains Isshin never had to face the overwhelming advantage granted by Aizen's Kyoka Suigetsu shikai ability.
As a rule, I consider Shinigami Aizen to be overrated. Aizen has a host of feats, some of them overwhelming. Unfortunately, almost every single one of them is the result of the Hogyoku or his plotting that entrapped the Gotei 13 with complete hypnosis before they even suspected a thing. The only 'fair and equal' battle Aizen fought against anyone of note was probably against Isshin. Every other captain, including the Vaizards, were under the effect of his hypnosis before they put a hand to their blades to face Aizen. His feats as a Shinigami, for me, are limited to his skirmish with Isshin, his kido mastery, and his handling of Ichigo during the SS arc. Shinigami Aizen was undoubtedly talented and quite powerful, better than your average captain, but he hasn't shown anything as a Shinigami that would put him on a list with the monsters mentioned above him.
Well this is certainly open for discussion. But still, Aizen did one-shot Hitsugaya back in the SS arc, with no evidence of him using Kyoka Suigetsu :
Like I said, even if Hitsu is among the weakest captains, I'd say that anyone capable of effortlessly one-shotting bankai Hitsu is among the strongest in Bleachverse.
As for Isshin, I did not think that Aizen's remark about reaching his limit as a shinigami had more to do with a timer on his transformation rather than Isshin and co pressuring him, but maybe you're right. Still, if we compare Isshin to Hitsu, we have a guy who fought on equal terms with a partially hougyoku-d Aizen and landed a few good hits, while using at most shikai, vs getting one-shotted in bankai. The difference is huge.
Aizen always used KS. His feats involve trickery to put himself in the situation where he can easily concentrate his power to strike whoever whenever. His pride got him in trouble with Yama. But theres no doubt Yama would find a way around KS. I also think Unohana is up there with him. She was unmatched until Zaraki. On top of it her kaido self healing is nuts. How many times did she 'kill' and heal Zaraki? Theres probably no answer, but it was numerous times with her exerting herself, healing herself, healing him, repeat and repeat.
Last edited by freshseth83; October 08, 2013 at 09:11 PM.
If you mean physical strength, I'd say probably Kenpachi!!! If you mean total power, I'd still say Kenpachi!!! However...
IMO, Kenpachi had always had the greatest physical strength, whereas until recently Yama-Jii had the greatest total power; Kenpachi was amazing at ripping things to pieces and such, but always sucked (as far as we know) at Kido and several other areas of fighting. Yama-Jii didn't have quite as much physical strength (however, I could be wrong), but all-in-all he was much more powerful than Zaraki as an all-rounder. However, now that Yama-Jii is dead, and Ichigo, the Soul King, and Aizen aren't technically Shinigami, I'd say Zaraki is the most powerful overall (assuming his Shikai/Bankai doesn't suck balls, which I very much doubt it will)!!!
Oh, and not forgetting Yama-Jii was terrified of teaching Zaraki any further...that pretty-much proves that Zaraki's a killing machine that could squash Yama-Jii like a bug if he reached his full potential!!!
Now, if we're going for the most powerful protagonist, there's no doubt it'll be Ichigo as he's the main character!!!!!
---------- Post added at 04:15 PM ---------- Previous post was at 04:05 PM ----------
Sorry, didn't mean to nit-pick!!!
Last edited by Lee.J.Baxter; October 09, 2013 at 10:07 AM.
I don't really get why people try to find all those excuses about Aizen always using Kyoka Suigetsu to take down Captains. Actually for the most part he wasn't using it, because if it was otherwise then Ichigo would have reacted earlier, but he didn't... Also Gin's remark, that even without Kyoka Suigetsu Aizen is a monster.
I know that people tend to not trust Databooks, but in the first one Aizen was shown to be just after Yama in strength if we not count Zanpaktou. He was also able to stop Ichigo's Bankai back in SS Arc with two fingers, rape some Captains and Vaizard Captains in FKT Arc with just his pure physical strength and sword slashes. His Reiatsu was so overwhelming that he managed to put Grimjaw on his knees, so I don't get how he can be overrated?
The one who is actually underrated by most of the users is Shunsui. For the God's sake! Yama himself mentioned that Captain Commander is the strongest Shinigami in Gotei and before going to die Yama chose Shunsui and not Unohana to be his sucsessor as a Captain Commander. That clearly shows that Shunsui is above Unohana in strength. I don't understand why people tend to ignore actual manga facts.
No doubt that Shunsui is strong though, but simply saying he is the strongest after getting the CC spot IMO is ridiculous.
The difference in power and ability when it comes to Yama and the rest of the captains is evidently huge. Dont think Kenpachi would have closed that gap to the point of even making Yama sweat. Not wanting to teach him could mean he realised that Kenpachi would be on a rampage and he would be uncontrollable. Shunsui allowed Kenpachi to reach or atleast get close to his potential, he did not seem worried about Kenpachi being the strongest, only that one of them would live or die between Ken and Unohana.
If Shunsui was not worried about being crushed like a bug, Yama sure as hell was not either.
Last edited by jaymizzo; October 09, 2013 at 11:59 AM.