In the world of Tite Kubo’s hit anime series Bleach, hero Ichigo Kurosaki has more than a few enemies to take on. At first, the Soul Reapers Renji and Captain Kuchiki stood in the way of his mission to rescue Rukia, and then Sosuke Aizen outed himself as the real villain. And he’s building an army.
Aizen is now the master of hollows, and he mutated many of them into unmasked arrancars, complete with their own swords. The top ten arrancars are the fearsome Esapadas (Spanish for “swords”), and they are ranked 1-10 in terms of combat power. The lumbering Yammy is ranked #10 (in sealed form) and the ferocious Grimmjow is #6, but at the very top is the man known as Coyote Starrk, who took part in the battle for the replica Karakura Town. His time on screen was fairly brief, but he’s a fascinating character all the same.
10 He Is Lonely
Overall, Coyote Starrk seems to be a tragic figure, and we consider him as one of the more sympathetic villains in Bleach. In fact, according to Barragan, every Espada represents an aspect of death. Guess what Starrk’s is? Solitude.
He was bitterly alone in the Hueco Mundo desert as a hollow, and his power was so incredible, he would overwhelm and kill anything that came within his spiritual pressure’s range. He couldn’t stand it.
9 He Literally Makes Friends
This is an extension of Starrk’s theme of solitude. He grew so lonely, he took the radical step of splitting his being into two bodies; the one known as Coyote Starrk, and the other, Lilynette Gingerbuck. As an arrancar, she serves as Starrk’s fraccione (minion).
So, Starrk literally made a friend, and it doesn’t stop there. In his released form, Los Lobos, Starrk can conjure whole packs of spirit wolves, and these wolves will bite his enemies and explode with terrific force.
8 He’s Sentimental
This is part of what makes Starrk a sympathetic villain: he is sentimental, and he cherishes the other nine Espadas as his dear friends, not just his allies. Other Espadas are quite selfish and cruel, such as Barragan and Nnoitora and Szayelaporro, but not Starrk.
During the battle for Karakura Town, we see this flashback from Starrk’s point of view, where we see him standing behind the other Espadas and admiring them as his friends. Curiously, the 10th Espada, Yammy, isn’t actually seen.
7 He’s A Cero Master
What is a cero? Spanish for “zero,” these are destructive energy blasts that hollows and arrancars can fire from their hands or mouths. They can charge up a ball of energy, then fire it in a wide cone. There are also mega-powerful Gran Rey Cero and Cero Oscuras variants that only Espadas can use.
As for Starrk, his cero usage is a bit odd. He can charge up and fire these blasts from any part of his body, which takes his opponents off-guard, and he can charge then unusually fast. Also, he can fire them from his twin pistols in his released form, lending him outstanding long-ranged firepower.
6 He’s Easygoing
Starrk is a tragic figure, but he still finds the time to be funny. He’s also pretty relaxed, and doesn’t fly into a rage or burst into maniacal laughter like some of the other Espadas do. He, Zommari, and Halibel have the most cool-headed dispositions in this bunch.
When the news of Aaroniero‘s death broke, Starrk’s response was little more than a shrug, and when Barragan suddenly took charge of the Karakura invasion mission, Starrk’s response was an easygoing “I don’t see any problems with that.”
5 His Intuition is Incredible
Despite being so lazy and relaxed, Starrk earned his place as the #1 Espada. He ranks even higher than the death-dealing Barragan or the bat-like Ulquiorra, partly because of his razor-sharp observations and battle intuition.
Captains Kyoraku and Ukitake fought Starrk at the same time with their complex and unusual zanpakuto, but Starrk would see a technique just once and fully figure out its nature and how to deal with it. No one can fool him for long.
4 He Seems To Symbolize Sloth
Fun fact: at first, author Tite Kubo wanted the Espadas to be a group of seven, and have each one represent the seven deadly sins. He changed the total to 10, but several Espadas still represent sins. Yammy is wrath, Aaroniero is gluttony, etc.
Starrk is obviously meant to symbolize sloth, not only from his lack of conviction but his tendency to nap and avoid battle. The sin of sloth is further represented as wasted potential, and indeed, Starrk’s incredible powers are wasted if he’d rather nap than fight!
3 He’s Very Tough
Starrk not only has incredible firepower and combat intuition on his side, but he can survive just about anything on the battlefield. On the defensive, his sword skills are enough to fight on par with Shunsui Kyoraku, who is a peerless swordsman.
On top of that, Starrk has a highly durable body, able to survive devastating blows from Kyoraku’s unusual shikai. And when the Visored named Love struck him with a shikai attack while masked, Starrk was sent crashing to the ground. But he didn’t look hurt at all, nor did he cry out in pain.
2 “Primera Espada”
Hollows and arrancars have a Spanish naming convention, since Tite Kubo liked how bewitching and exotic the language sounds. This extends to the term “Espada,” and the Spanish numbers used for each of them.
Being #1, Starrk is the Primera Espada, and in real-life Spain, that term describes any highly-regarded matador. The term can also describe anyone who is at the top of their profession. And among all arrancar warriors, Starrk is indeed at the top.
1 His Namesake
How did Tite Kubo come up with the names of the Espadas? These colorful names came from real-life architects and interior designers, such as Nicholas Grimshaw and Patricia Urquiola. The same is true of Coyote Starrk.
We can see where “Coyote” came from, and as for “Starrk,” Kubo referred to the French designer Philippe Starck. He has designed all sorts of things, from motorcycles to clocks to furniture, like plastic chairs that sold very well.
Coyote Starrk only had brief screentime in Bleach, but this character was fascinating all the same.