I only have the anime to go on so maybe there's an explanation in the manga. It seems clear that Ichigo is stronger than Rukia was in episode 1 at the point of his first battle with Renji. In fact it seems like Ichigo may have been stronger as soon as he became a soul reaper, but based on Rukia's reaction to the stronger enemies up to that point (Menos Grande, and Grand Fisher) it seems she believes that a single shinigami could hope to win in cases where Ichigo does. This seems to imply that Ichigo is stronger than Rukia ever was at that point. Then Ichigo fights Renji and is at least closely matched. It's difficult to say that at the point where Ichigo gains the upper hand whether he is stronger or weaker than when he was fighting stronger enemies in the past but it does seem like Ichigo and Renji, at their first meeting, are at roughly the same strength which is greater than Rukia's at the beginning of the series.

But in episode 32 where Renji has his flashback to his time in the Rukon district and training to be a shinigami it seems clear that Rukia was always stronger than he was. So then how do we explain this discrepancy? Did Renji get significantly stronger in the few months Rukia was in the world of the living? Is there any particular reason for that? Or am I underestimating how strong Rukia was at the start?

  • obviously training, Rukia lost her shinigami power for certain period of time and Renji is vice captain , he must have some quality that made him vice captain, in a class every student are taught same but everybody is not 1st and Rukia is strong when using Kaidu Commented May 17, 2015 at 7:40
  • @mirroroftruth But it seems like most characters have a fairly stable level of strength at rest, Renji had a few months between Rukia losing her powers and his fight with Ichigo while I believe they had both been shinigami for several decades prior. And if the difference in their strength had only been a few months of training (when they had been training or gaining experience for years) it wouldn't seem to justify the portrayal of Rukia as a prodigy in school.
    – user14505
    Commented May 17, 2015 at 8:23
  • The more you watch Bleach, the more you realize that this series makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. By the time Ichigo goes to Soul Society to save Rukia he has to rely on some sort of magic artifact to fly in, then fly out. Since nobody can fly, nobody could follow him. Once the Soul Society arc is finished, flying becomes part of a Shinigami's nature, as if they were "born" that way. And let's not forget all the characters that will lose their powers, then proceed to receive a new, even more powerful one. If you want to enjoy Bleach, I recommend you stop using your brain.
    – Nolonar
    Commented May 17, 2015 at 12:44
  • This is anime, time period is not the important to be powerful, feeling and condition are, *that feeling directly to my kokoro * Commented May 17, 2015 at 13:06

5 Answers 5


When Rukia stepped into the world of the living, she had to inhabit a "Gigai" (empty body) to be able to interact with the living. That body was provided by Kisuke Urahara. Hidden inside that Gigai was one of his inventions (the Hōgyoku), which by being placed in the same body as a Shinigami would be destroyed, or so he planned. After Rukia gifting her Shinigami power to Ichigo, her powers failed to return, and the Hōgyoku was what was blocking Rikia's powers. Along with the tower she was held in during her wait for execution, she was left with no power. Shortly after she was saved, the Hōgyoku was stolen, and her power began to very slowly return.

In the later episodes, when she has recovered, you can clearly see her strength after she has enough power to call forth her Zanpakutō with its overwhelming ability to freeze enemies.

Just as Ichigo has gotten stronger from numerous fights with Hollow and Shinigami, so has Renji from their fights and his own determination to save Rukia from her execution and later protect her from further harm. Also, his power was boosted considerably with him mastering his Bankai at the same time Ichigo was unlocking his own.

Plus, all Shinigami have their power capped/suppressed when visiting the human world, or they would seriously damage the living.


Because he had the best scores in the academy, Renji was in the the advanced class together with other students, Kira and Hinamori among them. Rukia was in the normal class because her scores were worse.

Besides, the scene in the anime with Rukia making a bigger ball of light than Renji is filler, and it doesn't appear in the manga. Additionally, that wouldn't necessarily indicate that Rukia was stronger, as it can simply mean that Rukia was better at kido.


Renji has always been stronger than Rukia in every arc as he possesses bankai and even in base form Renji would still slightly ahead of Rukia. Obviously, after their training with the zero squad, if they all get the exact same treatment, Renji would be stronger and Byakuya would be stronger than Renji.

In SS arc, Byakuya was stronger than Renji with bankai in just his base/shikai state. even with shikai, Byakuya could have easily defeated Renji's bankai at that time.

During the Blood war arc start Byakuya's shikai was also stronger than Renji's by a lot. Renji was not even able to injure as nodt while Byakuya could.

During the fullbring arc, Ichigo's shikai was stronger than Renji's bankai as seen from his feats against a Mid tier SR opie Ichigo was dominating while he stayed in shikai but Renji could not even injure a mid tier as nodt.

If we say that Rukia after the 2 year time skip was a Peak/Top level Vice captain and Renji a Low tier captain on the same level as SS Byakuya/Bankai Ichigo then the power boost they all receive is 1 tier +.

Rukia would go from Top Vice captain to Top Tier Captain level same level as Gin Ichimaru/Shinji

Renji would go from Low Captain tier to Low Elite/Senior Captain about as strong as Stark/ulquiorra R1, bleach has confirm that Vasto lord are stronger than captain which infact they are, that is why Captain level and Senior captain are different

Byakuya would jump from Mid-high captain tier to Mid Senior captain tier which is about the same level as Shunsui/Unohana

Ichigo in the fullbring arc should be in the same level as top Tier captain so Shinji/Gin while Kensei should be a Mid tier captain, Soi Fon a high tier captain

Aizen would be a high-top Tier Senior Captain while Yamamoto would be Top tier Senior captain or shinigami Limit absolute limit

Ichibei would be a transcendent Level tier fighter as he in shikai was superior to Yamamoto by a landslide given that he gave Yhwach a good beating with ease before plot device came in.


Renji appears stronger in the anime but eventually in the manga when Rukia reaches her bankai and becomes captain of the 13th squad she gains tremendous power and therefore is thought to become stronger than Renji. Her bankai being considerably deadly and strong


You forget Rukia has more spirit energy. She fainted as a kid because of the spiritual pressure of the Shinigami. Renji wasn't able to feel it yet. Also the hogyoku was slowly turning her human or something and after she got locked away with no access to reiki. Wich made it so she wouldn't recover fast. Like she would otherwise.

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