Tite Kubo's hit anime Bleach stars a colorful cast of characters, some of them noble heroes, and some of them despicable villains. But whoever they may be, each character has something to offer, such as brute strength, cunning intelligence, a rare and fantastic magic power, or even forbidden knowledge and secrets.
Ten Bleach characters stand out as the most intelligent and brilliant in the series, either through mastery of science, plots, or from perfecting tricky techniques to get the edge on their opponents. These are the top 10 most cunning Bleach characters to show that brains beat brawn every time.
10 Kisuke Urahara
At first glance, Kisuke Urahara is just the eccentric owner of Urahara Shoten, a novelty shop in Karakura Town. Ichigo knows him as Mr. Hat-and-Clogs (from his distinctive hat and wooden sandals), and Ichigo doesn't think very highly of him at first. But under Urahara's goofy exterior is a brilliant man with a complex past. 110 years ago, he transferred from Squad 2 to Squad 12, and at once he started innovating some brilliant science. In fact, he's the one who invented gigais, or soulless bodies to carry souls, along with the one and only Hogroku. He's also a kido master, and it was with his help that Ichigo defeated Sosuke Aizen once and for all.
9 Captain Kurotsuchi
He's the mad scientist of the Gotei 13 Captains, and he's got a wild appearance to match. Mayuri Kurotsuchi also has a connection to Kisuke Urahara, as it was the latter who released him from prison to hire him in his newly-built science lab. Mayuri loved it there, and after Kisuke's expulsion, he became Squad 12's captain. He's developed all sorts of mad science from then on, and never stops experimenting. There's always one more specimen to collect, and Mayuri uses all this knowledge (often on the fly) to subdue nearly any opponent. Neither Espadas nor Sternritters last long against the power of science.
8 Szayelaporro Grantz
This is the 8th, or octavo, Espada, and also the evil twin of Captain Kurotsuchi. In fact, his biggest and final battle was against Captain Kurotsuchi, and this is where Szayelaporro's rampage came to an end. He mistakenly tried to become a perfect being, and thus became stagnant. But until then, he was acknowledged as Hueco Mundo's leading expert on spiritual weapons, and like Captain Kurotsuchi, he uses spirit bugs to spy on others and study their spiritual pressure. With that data, he can nullify their abilities should they ever do battle against him. He also modified his many fracciones to become ultra-rapid healing agents. All he has to do is eat them!
7 Coyote Stark
So far, this list has showed a number of science experts, but there's more than one sort of genius out there. Stark wouldn't know his way around a laboratory, but perhaps due to his coyote nature, he's got a keen sense for battle. Despite being lazy, he's a sharp observer, and his intuition for battle is nothing short of astonishing. After seeing a combat trick just once, he fully grasps the full nature of its capabilities. To put it simply, he catches on quick, and even Captains Ukitake and Kyoraku found him difficult to outmaneuver.
6 Uryu Ishida
The first hint of Uryu's brilliant mind is that he placed first in his grade in high school, but Uryu's mental prowess doesn't stop there. He thoroughly understands everything about souls and Quincies, and he can devise clever and highly resourceful techniques against any opponent. He nearly slew Szayelaporro in combat, and he mastered advanced Quincy techniques in a very short time. Even Captain Kurotsuchi was impressed. And in Bleach's final chapter, Uryu has since become a doctor, like his father.
5 Ryuken Ishida
As Uryu's father and often known (incorrectly) as the Last Quincy, Ryuken Ishida has quite a pedigree. He's the head of a hospital, and he's a crack shot, too. While training his son, he fired an arrow that grazed just the right part of Uryu's heart to activate the latter's Quincy powers once again. No ordinary archer could combine incredible aim with surgery like that!
4 Retsu Unohana
A millenium ago, this kind woman was in fact known as Yachiru Unohana, the brutal Captain of Squad 11. Some time later, she renounced her bloodthirsty ways and became the Captain we know today, and she utterly mastered all forms of healing arts. No one is beyond saving when she arrives, and this requires some serious knowledge of human and soul anatomy. She is kind, too, willing to heal an injured foe as well as friends.
3 Sosuke Aizen
The former Captain of Squad 5 is a diabolical mastermind, and he proved this every step of the way. Even as a Lieutenant a century earlier, he devised a perfect plan to hide from Captain Hirako, study the mysteries of hollowfication, and experiment on Captains and Lieutenant alike. Later, he launched his mad scheme to rule all of known creation, and he came perilously close to doing just that. He outmaneuvered the heroes repeatedly until Ichigo and Kisuke Urahara finally cornered him. Not to mention, he's a master at calligraphy, who used to write for the Seireitei Bulletin, and he's a prodigy at kido use.
2 Yoruichi Shihoin
The elusive, playful Yoruichi Shihoin is a combat genius in the same way Coyote Stark is. She's from the noble Shihoin family and used to be Squad 2's Captain, until she helped bail Kisuke out of trouble and went on the run. She's also the "Goddess of Flash," outpacing anyone who attempts Shunpo to catch her. She also knows how to find and use all kinds of rare and unusual spirital items, and she trained Ichigo to use Bankai in just three days. She's also got a sharp intuition and isn't easily duped.
1 Kukaku Shiba
She is the head of the Shiba family, and the sister of Ganju and the deceased Kaien. Kukaku is also Ichigo's cousin, though Ichigo was totally unaware of this fact when they met. This lady is a kido expert, and can easily launch a wide variety of kido, often without the incantation (only masters can do that). What is more, after Ichigo's party failed to storm the gates of the Seireitei, it was Kukaku's idea to fire them out of her house's giant cannon while enveloped in a ball of energy. Now that's creative!