The Quincy had 1,000 years to prepare for their clash against the Shinigami, and, as we see in the anime, they have done their homework properly. Namely, the Sternritter carefully observed and analyzed the Shinigami and created a vast set of information called Daten. And while the Daten were incomplete, they still allowed the Sternritter to properly prepare to fight their enemies. Among the Daten, we also saw information about the five Special War Potentials (Threats), and in this article, we will explain that concept.
The Five Special War Potentials or Special War Threats are a group of five extremely powerful Shinigami whom the Wandenreich considered actual threats because of their abilities. They are: Kenpachi Zaraki because of his enormous fighting potential; Kisuke Urahara because of his unpredictability and cunning; Sosuke Aizen because of his colossal Reiatsu; Ichibei Hyosube because of his wisdom; and Ichigo Kurosaki because of his latent abilities and his nature. The Quincy wanted to recruit some of them to their side, but they were willing to destroy them if they did not accept their offer to join their side.
The rest of this article is going to be divided into two main sections. The first one is going to explain the concept of the Special War Threat, and then we are going to list all five of them and explain why they have been listed as such. We will also answer one bonus question related to a character that should have definitely been on this list but wasn’t, but keep reading to find out whom we are talking about. As far as spoilers are concerned, this article will contain a fair amount of spoilers for Bleach, so be careful how you approach the text as a whole.
The Five Special War Potentials were recognized as threats even by Yhwach
Yhwach is often considered to be the strongest character in Bleach; and while we could argue whether he would have beaten both Yamamoto and Ichibei in a fair fight, this is something best left for another article. Regardless of that, Yhwach was very self-confident, and as the leader of the Wandenreich, he considered himself and his Sternritter superior to the Shinigami of the Gotei 13.
While Yhwach was dormant, the Sternritter collected data on the Shinigami and compiled a large archive known as Daten, which detailed the known abilities, strengths, and weaknesses of the Shinigami; of course, the Daten were incomplete and, from time to time, outdated, but they were definitely a good indicator.
In the Daten, we could find a term called “Special War Potentials,” sometimes cited as “Special War Threats.” The list contained a total of five Shinigami, which were, due to some of their individual qualities, considered as being extremely dangerous.
It was always one trait that made them a Special Threat; alongside, all five names were considered extremely powerful Shinigami. Knowing how self-confident and powerful the Sternritter were, thanks to Yhwach, the fact that they listed a total of five names as threats means that they really did respect their skills and were, in that aspect, somewhat afraid of them.
This caused them to either avoid fighting them directly, fight them collectively, or try to get them to join them. Of course, if they rejected the latter offer, they would be marked for elimination.
The five Shinigami on the list were:
- Kenpachi Zaraki, due to his exceptional fighting potential;
- Sosuke Aizen, due to his colossal Reiatsu;
- Kisuke Urahara, due to his unpredictability and cunning;
- Ichibei Hyosube, due to his wisdom;
- Ichigo Kurosaki, due to his latent abilities.
Now, in the upcoming section of the article, we are going to explain why exactly these characters were put on this list.
The Special War Potentials explained
1. Kenpachi Zaraki
Kenpachi Zaraki is a very powerful CAPTAIN, which he has repeatedly proven in the series, both in the anime and the manga. His appearances, when considering all of the materials, show how powerful he is, as he was able to defeat Nnoitora alone, severely wound Yammy, and kill a total of three Stenritter (Domino, Guizbatt, and Lloyd), all before his training with Retsu Unohana.
There are indications that Zaraki’s potential could allow him to surpass even Yamamoto and destroy the whole Seireitei, which is why Central 46 banned his further training and why his full power was always limited.
Kenpachi Zaraki was considered a Special War Potential because of his fighting abilities. He was a complete animal on the battlefield, and the Wandenreich recognized that; he defeated Gremmy, he was able to hold his own against Gerard, and he killed three of the weaker ones without any problems, which proved his worth.
2. Sosuke Aizen
In the series, it has become clear that Aizen’s spiritual energy is much stronger than a normal Captain’s. Many characters have also commented on how enormous Aizen’s spiritual energy was. After his transformation through Hogyoku, his control over his Reiatsu was so high that he was able to focus his spiritual pressure on just one person.
His Reiatsu was so powerful that a regular human was destroyed because he simply came too close to Aizen. After being defeated, he was sealed by so many restraints that he could not even see or talk, as it was too dangerous to leave him any opening whatsoever. He was able to disrupt Yhwach’s sense of time just by talking to him, and he was able to deflect the Soul King’s Shadows when they were falling down from the Soul King’s Palace. He was even so strong to fool Yhwach with his Shikai.
Aizen’s Reiatsu was truly colossal, possibly even immeasurable, which is why the Strenritter realized just how dangerous he was and why they labeled him as a Special Threat.
3. Kisuke Urahara
Kisuke Urahara was initially introduced as a shady guy, but as the story evolved, it became apparent that he was one of the most dangerous individuals in the whole story, as well as one of the most powerful ones.
He was a former Captain and the founder of the Research and Development Institute, which basically makes him the most intelligent character in the series, a fact that even Sosuke Aizen acknowledged (Mayuri is aware of it but has a habit of denying it).
He has created numerous useful inventions and knows a lot about the very foundations of all the realms, making him one of the most knowledgeable characters in the series. He is also quite resourceful, and his cunning has no known limits.
In fact, he has often been called a monster because of his ability to adequately predict every possible outcome and prepare for each of them, which means that it is night impossible to surprise him. Because of that knowledge and cunning, he has rightfully been labeled as a Special Threat, which was confirmed during his battle against Askin Nakk Le Vaar.
4. Ichibei Hyosube
Ichibei is, like Urahara, a shady character who, because of his vast knowledge, can see far into the future, although not literally – he is just good at deducing and using the knowledge he possesses, but he is not clairvoyant. He is also extremely powerful, as his ability allows him to change the very nature of a being and take away someone’s powers and abilities. Also, he is virtually immortal.
Ichibei Hyosube has been labeled as a Special Threat because of his wisdom, which might seem like a strange reason, but if you look at the whole picture, you can actually see that Ichibei accounted for basically everything that happened in the war (even his own defeat) and that all of his moves were thoroughly calculated, as he had a backup plan for everything. In that aspect, he is similar to Urahara.
5. Ichigo Kurosaki
Ichigo is, in all honesty, the most boring name on this list because he is your typical shonen hero and the protagonist we all know too well. He can use the combined powers of all known groups (Shinigami, Quincy, Fullbringer, Hollow), which makes him so special and powerful. He was listed as a Special Threat due to his latent abilities, but we still think it’s because of the fact that he is the protagonist.
Why was Yamamoto not considered a Special War Potential?
Now that we have explained all of this, you might wonder why Yamamoto was not considered a Special War Potential. There is no doubt that Yamamoto was the strongest Shinigami in 2,000 years and that even Aizen recognized Yamamoto’s superiority. In terms of this, he certainly deserved to be on the list, but he was not. This seems quite strange, seeing how Yamamoto was stronger than all the ones on this list (except, perhaps, Ichibei, but this is also a question for another article), but Yhwach explained it, actually.
Namely, after Yamamoto defeated the fake Yhwach with his Bankai, the real Yhwach appeared and cut his rival down. Yhwach then commented how Yamamoto had softened up since their last encounter, commenting how he refused to endanger others and how he now valued the peace that he was protecting.
He remembered the old Yamamoto and the original Gotei 13 Captains, all of whom were ruthless murderers, and had Yamamoto remained as such. He would certainly have been on that list.
But, Yamamoto has, from his perspective, softened up. He lost that murderous touch he had, and that is why Yhwach did not, despite all of his power, consider him a Special War Potential, as he was certain that he could defeat him.