Bleach is a long-running action shonen series, and the star is Ichigo Kurosaki, a human student turned Soul Reaper and hero. Ever since the early days of Season 1, Ichigo has been hard at work fighting all kinds of foes, from monstrous Hollows to the Soul Reapers to the Arrancars and even the elite Quincy.
Time and again, Ichigo has claimed victory in these thrilling battles, but often, it’s a close call. Ichigo must push himself to the limit to defeat his myriad opponents, and many times, he very nearly lost until he claimed victory or forced a draw. One way or another, Ichigo had to overcome incredible odds to win, and these are the fights where he came this close to total defeat.
10 Ichigo’s Final Fight Against Renji Abarai Pushed Him To His Limits
In the earlier days of Bleach, Lieutenant Renji Abarai was one of Ichigo’s worst enemies, and they fought to a draw in Karakura Town until Captain Byakuya Kuchiki intervened. The two warriors had their rematch early in the Soul Society story arc in a clash of shikai vs. shikai.
Renji went all-out in this fight, and he pushed Ichigo to the brink with his flexible and deadly shikai, the melee-based Zabimaru. Ichigo could barely stay on his feet by that point, but he managed to turn the tables and narrowly claim victory. Renji soon became Ichigo’s ally after that.
9 Ichigo Kurosaki Vs. Kenpachi Zaraki Was Scarily Close
Ichigo fought two battle-loving Soul Reapers, Renji and Ikkaku, before he went up against his greatest challenge yet — the brutish Captain Kenpachi Zaraki of squad 11. Kenpachi had been tracking Ichigo and decided that now was the time to fight this worthy foe.
Ichigo couldn’t even scratch Kenpachi at first, and he seemingly lost the fight. That is, until Zangetsu’s spirit became his true partner, boosted his power, and Ichigo got up to continue the fight, much to Kenpachi’s delight. Somehow, someway, Ichigo claimed a very narrow victory, and without bankai at that.
8 Ichigo’s Last Battle With Byakuya Kuchiki Ended In A Draw
This is one of the most iconic battles in all of Bleach, and it served as the climax for the Rukia rescue mission. Ichigo and his sworn nemesis, Captain Kuchiki, met for the final time at Sokyokyu Hill to fight over Rukia’s fate, and they warmed up with their respective shikais.
Ichigo upped the ante with his first-ever use of bankai, and Byakuya matched him with his own bankai and advanced kido spells. Ichigo was soon on the ropes, but his inner Hollow took over, and Ichigo and Byakuya exchanged one final blow before the fight ended in a draw.
7 Ichigo Would Have Lost Grimmjow If Their First Fight Wasn’t Interrupted
Ichigo fought his new nemesis Grimmjow three times, and each fight was a close call for Ichigo. Early in the Arrancar story arc, Ichigo faced the mighty Grimmjow Jeagerjaques, the 6th Espada, who only wanted to fight the very best. Grimmjow had a sense of honor, but he was also brutal and aggressive.
Ichigo fought back with his bankai and a single use of the Getsuga Tensho, but that still wasn’t enough. Grimmjow was about to draw his own zanpakuto when ex-Captain Kaname Tosen arrived to take him back to Las Noches, ending the fight before Ichigo could suffer total defeat.
6 Ichigo’s Second Fight With Grimmjow Was More Evenly Matched, But Still A Close Call
About a month later, Ichigo and Grimmjow crossed blades once again, and this time, Ichigo was ready. By now, Ichigo had learned to control his Hollow mask after training with the eight Visoreds, though he could only keep the mask on for a short time.
All this came as a total surprise to Grimmjow, who found himself on the back foot for a change. Ichigo pressed his advantage until his mask shattered, and Grimmjow regained the upper hand. He almost blew Ichigo’s head off with a cero blast until Rukia and Shinji intervened.
5 Holding Back Almost Caused Ichigo To Lose Against Dordoni
When Ichigo’s friend Orihime Inoue was captured, Ichigo launched a rescue mission to Hueco Mundo to rescue her, and his squad fought many battles inside the mega-fortress of Las Noches. Ichigo’s first major opponent was a fallen Espada named Dordoni, who employed kick-based attacks and whirlwinds in combat.
Ichigo tried to hold back and save his energy for later fights, but that conservative approach backfired, and Dordoni beat him half to death. Finally, Ichigo activated his bankai, and even his Hollow mask for a brief time, and claimed victory.
4 Ichigo And Grimmjow’s Final Fight Was Extremely Close
Ichigo’s final clash with Grimmjow took place in the open desert inside Las Noches, where they had plenty of room to duke it out while Orihime and Nel watched. Both warriors used every trick they had in this fight, from Ichigo’s bankai and Hollow mask to Grimmjow’s zanpakuto release, Pantera.
Ichigo slowly but surely fell behind, and he was on the verge of defeat when Orihime called out to him, pleading with him not to die. Inspired, Ichigo rallied himself and fought on and finally dealt the winning blow against Grimmjow. That was too close.
3 Ichigo Basically Lost Against Ulquiorra
Ichigo had already lost to Ulquiorra once, but when the Fake Karakura Town story arc began, Ichigo was ready to face the 4th Espada once again. Ichigo and Ulquiorra went all out in their final clash, and Ulquiorra inspired true despair with his bat-like release, Murcielago. He was seemingly invincible.
Ichigo suffered what appeared to be a fatal blow as Orihime watched, but that wasn’t the end. Miraculously, Ichigo’s inner Hollow took over once again, with a new form on par with any Vasto Lorde. Ichigo finally defeated Ulquiorra, but he didn’t like winning in such a fashion. It felt unfair.
2 Ichigo Vs. King Yhwach Didn’t Turn Out Well
Later, in the manga’s Thousand-Year Blood War arc, the Quincy empire attacked, and not even Ichigo could win against these foes. Ichigo personally went up against both king Yhwach and Jugram Haschwalth during the Soul Society invasion, but he was outmatched against these elite Quincy.
Yhwach intended to capture Ichigo, but he failed, and he was astonished to see Ichigo use the Blut Vene technique by instinct. Yhwach and Jugram departed, meaning he and Ichigo effectively had a draw. This was oddly similar to Ichigo’s first fight with Grimmjow, in fact.
1 Uryu Helped Ichigo In The Final Battle Against Yhwach
Ichigo’s final battle against king Yhwach was a complicated and intense affair, and the fate of the entire universe was at stake. By now, Yhwach was using his incredible power, The Almighty, to control reality itself and see the future. It seemed there was no way to defeat him, but Ichigo didn’t dare give up.
Ichigo was on the very precipice of defeat, and he might have lost if it weren’t for his Quincy friend, Uryu Ishida. From a distance, Uryu shot Yhwach with a silver arrowhead to nullify The Almighty for a moment, giving Ichigo his chance to deal the final blow at last.
Next: Bleach: 5 Times Ichigo Won Because of His Skills (& 5 Times He Needed Help)