Looking back at how Tite Kubo’s Bleach influenced the world of anime, along with Naruto and One Piece, one cannot help but remember the epic battles we’ve witnessed over the years. Bleach certainly had its share of amazing battles from the very start and while we’re preparing for new battles to hit the screen during the upcoming Thousand-Year Blood War series, we are going to focus on one such upcoming battle, namely the one between Retsu Unohana and Kenpachi Zaraki. The two of them had one of the most epic and heartbreaking fights in the series, and we are going to tell you how it went down.
Retsu Unohana was once the dreaded killer Yachiru Unohana and in that form, she fought Kenpachi Zaraki so that he could awaken his true potential. She knew that she would end up losing the fight and dying in the process, but this was a necessary sacrifice for Kenpachi to become strong enough to fight the Quincy threat. Unohana knew that Kenpachi was stronger than her at his peak and she allowed him to access it during their fight.
This article is going to be all about comparing Retsu Unohana and Kenpachi Zaraki. You’re going to find out who Unohana and Kenpachi are, as well as what their exact powers and abilities are. In the end, based on what we have presented earlier, we’re going to give our final verdict on who is stronger. It’s promising to be a fun story so keep reading until the end!
Retsu Unohana and her powers
Retsu Unohana, formerly known as Yachiru Unohana, was the previous captain of the Fourth Division of the Gotei 13. She was one of the oldest and most experienced captains and was the best healer in Soul Society, as well as the first person to bear the title of Kenpachi. Her lieutenant was Isane Kotetsu. She previously held the position of Captain of the Eleventh Division. Currently, Unohana is one of the inhabitants of Hell where she bears the name Shiken.
If there is something in which Unohana stands out among all the Shinigami, it is, without a doubt, in her mastery of healing, the mastery of the healing Kidō, and the Bakudo. She is not only considered the best healer in all of Soul Society for her extensive knowledge of the Kidō, but also for her use of more conventional techniques and natural remedies.
Her knowledge is so extensive that despite being under the influence of Aizen’s Complete Hypnosis, she came to suspect that his corpse was fake. As the captain of the 4th Division, Retsu was highly proficient in Kaidō, having taught the technique to members of her division. During her battle, Unohana easily overpowered and fatally wounded Kenpachi multiple times, only losing when Kenpachi became powerful enough to defeat her.
Unohana possesses genuine skill in battle, being one of the few users of the Zanjutsu. In her fight with Kenpachi Zaraki, she is shown to have great skill in Zanjutsu, although according to her comments she was not able to best Zaraki. Although she is the leader of the division dedicated to supplying and healing, Unohana seems to be a formidable adversary, or so it is clear from the comments of other Shinigami who know her well. From some official media, it is known that Unohana, in addition to mastering Shunpo, is an expert in the kendo fighting style, which she considers her specialty.
Minazuki is the name of Unohana’s Zanpakutō. In its sealed form it is more curved and larger than a conventional katana, more closely resembling an odachi. The handle is dark red, while the sheath has an indigo hue. The shape of the guard is oval, without any additional decoration. Upon being released, Minazuki does not maintain the form of a weapon like the rest of the Zanpakutō in their Shikai state, but instead becomes a huge pistachio-green flying creature, somewhat resembling a ray fish with a single eye.
Minazuki is big enough to carry many people on her back and even a few more in her stomach, where their wounds heal at great speed. Minazuki’s abilities in a fight are still unknown. When Unohana decided to reseal her Zanpakutō, it dissolves into a greenish mist that eventually condenses and reverts to the shape of the 4th Division Captain’s weapon katana.
Her Banka is also called Minazuki and upon being released, the blade of Unohana’s Zanpakutō liquefies into a thick, dark red substance that quickly exudes from the blade to cover a large area near the user. The liquid unleashed by Minazuki functions as an extremely strong acid that causes the opponent’s skin and flesh to rapidly disintegrate and is capable of even reducing a physically durable combatant like Kenpachi to a skeleton upon contact with the said substance.
It is even lethal to the owner of the Bankai herself. During their battle, Unohana combined this with her powerful Kaidō to survive the ill effects of her Bankai and drastically speed up the process of killing and reviving Kenpachi in order to remove the psychological barriers to his power after her sealed Zanpakutō proved insufficient to match his newfound strength.
Kenpachi Zaraki and his powers
Kenpachi Zaraki is the captain of the Eleventh Division of the Gotei 13. He is the eleventh Kenpachi in holding such a position. His lieutenant was Yachiru Kusajishi, and his current lieutenant is Ikkaku Madarame.
Kenpachi is introduced as one of the most fearsome Captains, being the most combat-loving among his peers. He has the title of Kenpachi which designates the best fighter of his generation and he honors his title by being able to dominate Kaname Tōsen and Sajin Komamura, both Captains. Due to his excessive strength, Kenpachi imposes handicaps on himself such as fighting with his sword using only one hand or even sealing a large part of his Spiritual Power in his eye patch, which has become iconic.
Prior to the time skip, he even wore bells on several strands of his hair so his opponent could hear him move. On top of that, Kenpachi instinctively holds back in his fights ever since his first fight to the death against Unohana when he was still just a child. It is only by facing opponents powerful enough to kill him that he removes these psychological seals and unfolds his full strength.
After his ultimate fight against Unohana, which changed him by removing all those psychological seals, Kenpachi became an even more formidable fighter, having become so physically powerful that even Gerard Valkyrie, yet an example of raw power, will be unable to fight him. trample and will be lifted when it is of gigantic size. The awakening of his Zanpakutō in the Quincy War will make him a first-rate fighter, further legitimizing his place among the five Shinigami most feared by the Wandenreich.
Kenpachi has been using a Zanpakutō since his childhood when he picked it up from the corpse of Shinigami. He even ended up imprinting his Asauchi on it but found himself unable to hear his Zanpakutō for a very long time due to his personality changing after his loss to Ichigo. The sword is longer than a katana, the size of a nodachi.
Initially, Kenpachi was the only Shinigami who couldn’t hear his Zanpakutō’s voice and therefore couldn’t use it at full power. However, Kenpachi was able to slice through most objects with his sword. After his ultimate fight against Unohana, he finally manages to hear the voice of his Zanpakutō and can finally summon it, drastically increasing his already enormous punching power.
Before Kenpachi named his Zanpakutō, people in Soul Society believed that Kenpachi’s Spirit Power was so powerful that it forced his sword to have a constant shape. His release command is “Swallow”. Kenpachi’s Shikai takes the form of a huge hatchet, with a cap on the top and a green bow on it. Shikai Special Ability: His Shikai drastically increases his punching power, now allowing him to slice through extremely solid objects. He can even slice through the void of space, displaying limitless power.
Completely overwhelmed by Gerard Valkyrie, Kenpachi once again pushed his limits and activated his Bankai. Upon his release, his Spiritual Power releases a huge wave that destroys the landscape. This Bankai greatly affects Kenpachi, starting with his appearance, which makes him look like a demon with horns like an oni.
The blade is also modified a bit, being a shorter version as if broken by the Shikai. His Bankai further boosts his punching power, now being able to cut Gerard Valkyrie in half with a single attack despite the power he has accumulated from his power. With Kenpachi being able to control his Bankai very little or not at all, the Bankai robs him of his sanity, causing the Shinigami to act unconsciously and without concern for the damage, he is inflicting on himself.
Retsu Unohana vs. Kenpachi Zaraki: Who won the duel?
Due to the fact that there was little to compare between Unohana and Kenpachi, as the two were completely different types of fighters, we opted for such an approach, from which you can deduce a lot about them yourselves. But, since we actually saw them fight each other in the manga (and we are going to see it soon in the anime), we are going to bring you a recap of their fight from which you will be able to get all the necessary answers.
After Kenpachi’s defeat against the supposed Yhwach, Royd Lloyd, Unohana is commissioned by the Central 46 to take charge of Kenpachi’s training in Zanjutsu, stating that as the First Kenpachi, she is the only one who can deal with him. After the meeting, Unohana leaves a letter for her Lieutenant Isane, in which she probably says that she will not be able to return. Kenpachi leaves his eyepatch to Yachiru, as a symbol that he may not be able to return as well.
Already in the Muken prison, the only place where his powers will not cause a catastrophe, Unoahana is waiting for Zaraki. The battle begins while elsewhere, Shunsui Kyoraku affirms that despite the nature of both combatants, one of them will not come out alive. Zaraki launches an attack against Retsu Unohana with his Zanpakutō, however, it is stopped by Unohana’s own Zanpakutō.
After several thrusts, Kenpachi jumps on the Captain in a ferocious attack with the aim of killing her. Retsu easily dodges Zaraki’s attack, managing to land a blow on his shoulder; Kenpachi is knocked down for a moment but remains to stand, attacking Unohana again. The Captain jumps on Kenpachi’s arm trying to give him a fatal blow, but a kick from the latter takes her away for a few moments.
Again both Kenpachis collide their swords, however, Unohana sees that Zaraki is reaching his limit and proceeds to attack him, cutting his shoulder again. Retsu tells Zaraki that he is quite weak and that those who wield their swords with one hand and do nothing with the other don’t really enjoy the battle.
Zaraki berates her for cutting him by using a random dagger instead of her Zanpakutō and adds that such tricks show that she has changed a lot from the time he admired her. Retsu Unohana yells at him that he shouldn’t talk like that in the middle of a battle, after cornering him on a rock, him now being at the mercy of her will.
Unohana tells him that he hasn’t changed and that the last time they fought, Kenpachi didn’t have the need to use those cheap tricks. Zaraki asks if he is the one who became weak, stating that he had admired her from the bottom of his heart and that no matter what he cut, it was like swinging his sword in the dark. But when fighting with her, he felt true fear for the first time, adding that he enjoyed every second of that battle and that he had decided to fight like her.
Zaraki sheds tears of despair wondering if he really will die there before defeating her. Zaraki is pierced by Unohana’s Zanpakutō. After that, Zaraki realizes that it is the end, however, apparently, he was imprisoned by an illusion. Returning to reality, Zaraki continues fighting with Retsu Unohana, who asks him what happened a moment ago as, apparently, the latter lost consciousness for a few minutes.
Zaraki tells her to shut her mouth and continues fighting with the Captain. As the battle seems to turn on Retsu’s side, Zaraki is pressured more and more and loses consciousness each time he continues to fight, wondering how many times he has already fallen. Zaraki states that this battle made him quite nostalgic, remembering his first battle with Retsu.
Kenpachi manages to land a cut on Retsu’s shoulder and continues attacking the Captain without letting her react. Kenpachi is wounded in the chest, and while his blood flows with force, he seems to finally fall before Retsu, however, the Captain uses her abilities in the Healing Kidō to regenerate his wounds.
While they continue fighting, Kenpachi keeps falling one time after another, but Retsu Unohana continues to heal his wounds. Kenpachi manages to land a huge thrust on Unohana, turning the fight around. After receiving the great wound from Zaraki, Unohana continues tying him up, dealing a blow to his cheek.
Retsu regenerates the wound with great speed through her medical Kidō and asks Kenpachi if he really thought that she would die from such an attack. Retsu Unohana proceeds to release her Bankai as a large curtain of black liquid covers the place as Unohana utters her Bankai’s name, Minazuki.
Both Kenpachi fight while Zaraki falls, again and again, his flesh starting to detach from his bones. While Kenpachi wonders if he has been dreaming all along, everything returns to normal as they both cross their swords again. Both manage to land blows but it doesn’t come like anyone is ready to quit fighting.
Retsu Unohana thinks that Kenpachi found a way to suppress his power to enjoy the battle, while she found a way to heal wounds and thus make the battle last forever. Retsu states that there can only be one Kenpachi in each time as she remembers her first fight with Kenpachi while telling him that he has been the only man who has made her happy through the battle.
Unohana says goodbye to Kenpachi while being pierced in the neck by his Zanpakutō, leaving Zaraki as the winner of the great battle and the only existing Kenpachi at the time. Unohana is defeated by being impaled by Zaraki’s Zanpakutō. However, Zaraki’s victory is bitter, as he pleaded with Unohana to not dare die at his hands. Unohana tells him that he was the only man to make her feel happy throughout the battle, while at that moment Zaraki manages to make contact with the spiritual side of his Zanpakutō, which is willing to tell him its name.
As you can see, Unohana knew that Kenpachi had more power than her and that he was essentially stronger than her, but a lot of his powers had been either suppressed or sealed, which is why such a duel was necessary for Kenpachi to unlock his true powers. Unohana basically sacrificed herself in order to allow Kenpachi to become stronger, knowing that he would be of much more use to the Gotei 13 at his best than her.