What is life without some quality friendships and partners? Everyone needs a few friends and allies to call their own, and this is true in the anime world too. Many partnerships and friendships are well-known, and many inspire speculation about romantic involvement. If two characters even cross paths briefly, fans will probably ship them!
Love or not, many friendships are essential for a character's survival and personal growth. Tite Kubo's hit series Bleach is no different, and some friendships or makeshift alliances have saved a character's hide more than once. Which friendships and alliances (or even friendly rivalries) really shine in this action series? Let's take a look!
10 Ichigo and Nelliel
Fans of Bleach will pair Ichigo with pretty much anyone that breathes, but his relationship with Nelliel is quite special. They met during Ichigo's invasion of Las Nochas, and Nel the child was a goofy but helpful companion in the white desert. She backed him up during a battle against Dordoni, and Ichigo risked his life to protect her in an ill-fated duel against Ulquiorra.
Later, when Nnoitora had Ichigo on the back foot, Nel became the former Espada Nelliel and repaid Ichigo's kindness... by kicking Nnoitora all over the place! She's a charming and loyal friend, and she even appears again during the Thousand Year Blood War arc.
9 Kisuke and Yoruichi
These two are hysterical together, but they're also good partners in combat when things get heated. Their relationship goes back to Kisuke's first day as a Captain, and when Kisuke faced serious trouble for his Hollow experiments, it was Yoruichi who threw away everything to save him.
They're good friends in Karakura Town among mortals, and they were a fine tag team against the huge Espada Yammy. They're seen together during the final battle against the Wandenreich, too.
8 Hitsugaya and Momo
These two are good friends from their childhood days, and Momo was the first to enter the Soul Reaper academy and learn the ways of the sword. Later, at Rangiku's encouragement, Toshiro Hitsugaya followed suit, and this child prodigy became a Captain in no time! But he's still great friends with Momo, and they gently tease each other and have a solid rapport.
Unfortunately, the illusion of Aizen's death turned Momo against her friend, until matters were cleared up. Cruelly, Aizen later fooled Hitsugaya into piercing Momo with his Zanpakuto! How could you turn friends against each other like that?
7 Soi Fon and Omaeda
What's funny about Soi Fon and her Lieutenant is that they are at once two of a kind (assassins) and also total opposites, and they really get on each other's nerves. Soi Fon is petite and stern, and Omaeda is huge and boastful. More than once, Soi Fon voices her disgust with Omaeda's ways and his attitude, but she trusts him completely in battle.
She counted on him to slice off her arm once Barragan's death-breath dissolved it, and Omaeda, without prompting, assisted Soi Fon in her battle against Ggio Vega. Omaeda acts cowardly and goofy at times, but he'd give his life for the Captain. That's true loyalty!
6 Ichigo and Rukia
Here it is, the juggernaut of the Bleach fandom: Ichigo and Rukia! Also known as "IchiRuki," this pairing has long since captured the imagination of fan artists and fanfiction writers everywhere. On screen, they're a fun pair since they annoy each other endlessly, but their relationship is a true one. Rukia's a great actress, too, and comfortably took up residence in Ichigo's closet while training him.
When Rukia was dragged off to her execution, Ichigo had just one thought: rescue her, at all costs. All throughout Bleach, they have an amicable relationship, and make for good partners in combat. Ultimately, though, their lifespans and lifestyles were too different, and they parted ways to pursue their own lives.
5 Orihime and Tatsuki
This is a very wholesome friendship that appeared early on in Bleach. Orihime Inoue is a harmless and friendly girl, and Tatsuki is her tomboyish best friend and karate enthusiast. These girls share everything together, and Tatsuki considers herself Orihime's personal bodyguard, too.
They're never seen apart until the Espadas capture Orihime from under everyone's noses, and Tatsuki nearly loses her mind with panic and anger when her friend vanishes. Unfortunately, while Ichigo knew what happened, he couldn't share that information with an outsider like Tatsuki.
4 Ichigo and Chad
Now for Ichigo's third and final entry on this list. Chad was once a real bully, a wild child who loved to fight, until he learned to be a pacifist and refused to strike a blow ever again. This got Chad in a tight spot once, when bullies beat him by the river until Ichigo showed up and pummeled them!
The two boys were good friends ever since, and they share a deep bond of trust. Chad, despite not being a Soul Reaper or Quincy, eagerly came along to help rescue Rukia, and again to storm Hueco Mundo with Ichigo and rescue Orihime. Ichigo objected at first, but Chad would have none of it. Wherever Ichigo goes, Chad goes.
3 Stark and Lilynette
These two are villainous Arrancars, but their relationship is a positive one. Stark was once a single entity who roamed Hueco Mundo, terribly lonely because his overwhelming spiritual pressure pulverized any other Hollow that got too close. He formed Lilynette as a companion, and they serve together under Aizen.
They're a lot of fun to watch, with Stark being a total slacker while Lilynette is a hot-headed firecracker of a kid. In fact, Stark's Zanpakuto release comes not from his sword, but from Lilynette herself. In Stark's released form, Lilynette forms a pair of pistols that can fire cero blasts at high speed.
2 Yamamoto and Chujiro
This is a friendship that largely takes place off screen, but some dialogue and source books make it clear how deep the bond between these two men went. Centuries ago, Chujiro was one of Yamamoto's first students, and his Bankai was truly impressive. This earned Chujiro his spot as Yamamoto's trusted Lieutenant, and his devotion and loyalty are absolute.
Later, when the Sternritters attacked, Chujiro was slain, and Yamamoto's grief, according to Shunsui Kyoraku, was beyond anyone else's comprehension. Truly tragic.
1 Ikkaku and Kenpachi
This list concludes with a friendly rivalry. Before either Ikkaku or Kenpachi joined the Gotei 13, they met and crossed swords in an impoverished region of the Rukongai District. Ikkaku demanded death due to losing the duel, until Kenpachi gruffly encouraged him to survive instead and find new heights of combat prowess.
Ikkaku took this advice to heart, and later become Kenpachi's fiercely loyal 3rd seat Lieutenant in Squad 11. To this day, Ikkaku dreams of the day he can prove himself mightier than Kenpachi, a goal that spurs him to new heights.