And while Bleach has offered us a large number of intriguing characters, the Shinigami have always been the focus of the series, and that is why our new comparison is going to be focused on two powerful Shinigami – Genryusai Shigekuni Yamamoto and Ichibei Hyosube. One was the leader of the Gotei 13, while the other is the current leader of the Royal Guard. Who is stronger? Who would win in a fight between these two powerhouses? Keep reading our article to find out!
Ichibei Hyosube and Genruysai Shigekuni Yamamoto are more or less balanced out, and it is impossible to tell the winner objectively, as the outcome would highly depend on the circumstances. Ichibei is far more skilled than Yamamoto and has much more abilities than the late leader of the Gotei 13, but Yamamoto was, at the peak of his power around 1,000 years ago, a true monster, as described by Yhwach, and his raw power is such that it probably surpasses even Ichibei’s. Since these two aspects cancel each other out, it is impossible to give a straightforward answer here.
The rest of this article will further elaborate on the above-given answer as we will compare Genryusai Shigekuni Yamamoto and Ichibei Hyosube in more detail. Through several categories, you will see who the stronger of the two is and why our answer is like it is, i.e., why we think that, at their peak, there would not be an outright winner in a fight between Genruysai Shigekuni Yamamoto and Ichibei Hyosube, as both of them have something up their sleeves, and the winner would highly depend on the circumstances.
As a member of the Royal Guard, Ichibei has a colossally powerful Reiatsu that far surpasses those of an ordinary Gotei 13 Captain. The fact that he was the only opponent to date, alongside Yamamoto, who could keep up with Yhwach for a long time or even gain the upper hand over him, shows his immense strength. Yhwach himself has called him the leader of the Shinigami, implying that Ichibei is superior to the rest of them.
Yamamoto, the Captain-Commander of the Gotei 13, possesses a powerful reserve of Reiatsu, which can stun opponents like Nanao Ise and cause them to lose all hope of winning, as well as make breathing difficult.
Yamamoto once claimed that he had served as Captain General for 1,000 years because no Shinigami stronger than him had appeared since he assumed office. He also claimed that this has been the case for more than 2,000 years, and it appears that he was more than right in both claims.
You have to understand, and this is something that is going to be repeated throughout this article, that it is impossible for us to objectively compare these two, as Yamamoto was, by all means, far more powerful than the series showed us and his abilities have been downplayed a lot, whereas Ichibei’s have been lauded (although, not without reason).
In this category, it was simply impossible to tell the proper difference (if there is any, it is small – just remember that the official Wikia lists both of them as having “immeasurable” Reiatsu, which is the highest epithet), so we decided to split the points.
Points: Ichibei 1, Yamamoto 1
Ichibei’s Zanpakuto is called Ichimonji. When sealed, it takes the form of an oversized calligraphy brush that Ichibei almost always carries on his back. When released, the brush head then forms a short, fairly wide blade. With each swing, the sword sprays a black ink. Anything covered by it literally has its name blackened and thus loses its powers entirely.
According to Ichibei, the very source of Ichimoji’s power is blackness itself, so as long as it exists, Ichimoji is indestructible. The Futen Taisatsuryō is a special technique of his Shikai that summons a large black mausoleum that sucks out all the blackness from his opponent, destroying them until they cannot even be regenerated again.
His Bankai is called Shirafude Ichimonji. In the bankai state, the brush head is entirely wrapped in a long stroke of white paint that winds through the air. It affects those who have been struck by Ichimoji’s black ink and allows Ichibei to write something, and then the ones affected become that. For example, when he wrote “Black Ant” during his fight against Yhwach, Yhwach became as weak as a small black ant.
Ryujin Jakka, Yamamoto’s Zanpakuto, is a regular katana that is kept concealed inside the elderly Shinigami’s walking stick in its sealed form. It is the oldest and most potent of its kind and the one with the strongest attack strength. It is an elemental-type Zanpakuto with a connection to fire. Only strong captains can withstand the flames that the Shikai releases when they surround the Captain.
Zanka no Tachi is the name of his Bankai. The instant the release is made, a drought condition spreads throughout the entire area. In addition, one can tell from the commander’s thinking that if the release were to last for a long time, even his own body would be in danger. One of the strongest Bankai in the series, the Zanka no Tachi has four unique techniques, each linked to a cardinal direction.
In a battle between Ichimoji and Ryujin Jakka, we’d have to give the advantage to Ryujin Jakka. Why? Well, Ryujin Jakka, and especially its Bankai, Zanka no Tachi, are pure destructive power; if you remember correctly if Zanka no Tachi is activated for too long, it will destroy the whole Seireitei due to its exceptionally destructive qualities.
Now, not to say that Ichimoji is weak, but it relies on contact with the enemy, and while it does draw its power from blackness if it doesn’t hit the target, it will still retain its powers, while Ryujin Jakka has no such requirements and it has raw destructive power. The only chance Ichibei would have is the Futen Taisatsuryō, but it is debatable whether he would have the time to activate it.
Points: Ichibei 1, Yamamoto 2
Special abilities and Kido
As with the other members of the Royal Guard, part of his abilities seem to be related to his merit or invention for Seireitei, which gives him the power to manipulate names as symbolical representations of one’s power.
One aspect of these name-related powers is that Ichibei can steal the voice of anyone who calls out his full name if they are deemed unworthy of saying it. On top of that, Ichibei appears to be an expert in both Bakudō and Hadō, summoning Hyapporankan without incantation and also mastering unique, secret spells.
The Senri Tsūtenshō is one unique example of his skills, as he is able to conjure a powerful arm that has the power to blast the opponent far, far away (a distance of 1,000 ri), while Ichibei uses his immense speed to follow immediately. Another example is the Ura Hadō: San no Dō — Teppūsatsu, a secret or modified Hadō spell in which Ichibei is replaced by one Hand edge strike, creating the aura of a huge dragon head. This blows out a strong wind that literally blows away enemy defenses.
And while Yamamoto has no special techniques he can use, his mastery of Kido is enormous, although he does not rely much on it. He is able to use the highest-level Kido spells without incantation, which is proof of his skills. He also manages to retain their powers despite not using an incantation. But, as we have said, he rarely relies on them.
And while Yamamoto’s expertise with Kido cannot be properly evaluated due to the fact that he hasn’t used it that often, we can state that Ichibei is probably more skilled than him in this aspect; there isn’t much debate here, so we’ll just award the final point to Ichibei.
Points: Ichibei 2, Yamamoto 2
Ichibei and Yamamoto both have their strengths and weaknesses, but it is impossible to determine a winner
While the internet will mostly state that Ichibei far surpasses Yamamoto, and we can agree that the conclusion in question is valid in some categories, the situation between them is not straightforward. Okay, we can agree that Ichibei is on a completely different level because he is the Soul King’s last line of defense, but Yamamoto doesn’t deserve to be downplayed as such.
People often state that Ichibei almost defeated Yhwach, who had slashed Yamamoto before that. But people forget that a millennium ago, Yamamoto defeated Yhwach and sent him into a 1,000-year slumber; even Yhwach himself admitted that the Yamamoto from that time was a monster.
But, the Yamamoto from the present timeline was an old man, an angered old man, an old man without one arm, and someone who had exhausted himself by fighting Yhwach’s clone; despite knowing all of this, Yhwach still had to resort to a cheap trick to exhaust Yamamoto.
This one would ultimately come down to who gets the upper hand quickly. We doubt that Yamamoto would be able to avoid Ichimoji’s base ink attack – he is fast enough – and we’re certain that Ichibei could resist Yamamoto’s Shikai. But, if Ichibei would be able to activate his Futen Taisatsuryō, then Yamamoto would stand no chance; on the other hand, if Yamamoto managed to activate Zanka no Tachi before that, Ichibei would probably lose the fight.
This is why it is impossible to simply state one name or the other, as the outcome of this fight would depend on the conditions a lot, so from an objective standpoint – there is no outright winner here.