Every shonen anime series needs a few good villains, and in the case of Tite Kubo’s Bleach, Ichigo Kurosaki and the Soul Reapers have more than a few terrifying villains to face. Before the Sternritters came along, there were the arrancars, and two of the most fearsome of them were Coyote Starrk and Szayelaporro Grantz.
They are both Espadas, ranked in the top 10 arrancars, and they have unique personalities and combat abilities. Both died in the line of duty, but which of them makes for a more compelling villain overall? Szayelaporro is a cruel mad scientist and Starrk is a lonely gunman, and neither one will be taken down easily. So, let’s compare their merits as villains.
10 Starrk: Sympathetic
The most compelling villains are often those that are not completely evil, or even partially justified in what they are doing. Thanos of the MCU is a recent example, but hardly the only one. Starrk, meanwhile, is downright cuddly compared to most Bleach villains.
He is not cruel or aggressive, and instead just wants to make friends and have a family to call his own. He even created Lilynette from his original body to literally make a friend, and that makes him quite a fascinating bad guy on-screen. Is he really all bad?
9 Szayelaporro: Mad Science
By contrast, Szayelaporro is a quite cruel villain, but he doesn’t get down and dirty like Yammy and Grimmjow do. Instead, Szayelaporro’s powers are based on science, making him a mirror of Captain Kutotsuchi of the Gotei 13.
This adds some variety to how the Espada fight, and Szayelaporro can analyze his opponent’s techniques and then disable them, making a victim easier to subdue and drag away to his lab for painful experiments. Now that’s horrifying.
8 Starrk: Intense Power
It’s debatable whether Starrk, Grimmjow, or Szayelaporro is the coolest Espada of all, but there is no denying the difference in their sheer power and energy. They are all ranked 1-10 according to strength, and Starrk is #1, no ifs, ands, or buts.
In fact, as a hollow, his spirit pressure was heavy enough to crush and kill any hollow that got too close, and Aizen was the first person who could withstand it and meet Starrk in person. Not even Grimmjow or Szayelaporro have that kind of power.
7 Szayelaporro: Planning Ahead
Ultimately, Captain Kurotsuchi proved himself the better scientist when he and Szayelaporro clashed, but all the same, this Espada has some serious planning skills. Like Captain Kurotsuchi, he doesn’t want to go into battle without some hard data.
He implants spirit insects in other people (such as his arrancar brother), and uses them to collect data on potential enemies. This way, he has all the data necessary to counteract his enemy’s powers from the moment they meet face to face. It’s difficult for his enemies to circumvent that kind of strategy.
6 Starrk: Battlefield Intuition
It’s impressive that Szayelaporro can plan ahead like that, but Coyote Starrk has a different kind of brilliance: his intuition. He’s got a sharp nose for battle, and he can adapt to nearly anything his opponent does, even if he doesn’t have much time to prepare.
This means that Starrk is never caught unprepared, and he even impressed Captains Kyoraku and Ukitake with his razor-sharp insight into how the powers of his enemies work. No strategy will work against him for long for this very reason.
5 Szayelaporro: Medicinal Minions
Who are those odd little fellows? They are to of Szayelaporro’s many fracciones, and they can fight on their master’s behalf, but they serve another purpose. If Szayelaporro gets injured, he can simply eat them.
This is a great backup plan, so Szayelaporro can get back in the fight with unusual speed without a scratch on his body. He was caught in a devastating explosion when fighting Renji and Uryu, but once he ate just one fraccione, he was ready for round two.
4 Starrk: Cero Master
Starrk has a fairly straightforward combat strategy, but that doesn’t make it any less effective. In his sealed mode, he can fire blue cero blasts from any point on his body, not just his mouth or his hands. He can strike from unexpected angles.
If that weren’t enough, Starrk can perform his release, Los Lobos, and fire cero blasts from his twin pistols with each trigger pull. If that’s not going to cut it, he can fire them like a submachine gun, which envelops the entire battlefield in cero blasts. That’s not easy to dodge.
3 Szayelaporro: Toying With His Enemies
This hobby isn’t always tactically sound (it buys the good guys time), it’s always fun to se a villain toy with their opponents for a bit. It gives the villain a chance to show off their cruel side and show more of their twisted personality.
This showmanship is a favorite or Szayelaporro’s, who takes his time crushing Uryu and Renji’s internal organs and tendons and watching them write in pain. Only a true villain could do something like that and find it fun.
2 Starrk: Cool Release Form
All arrancars have a release for their zanpakuto, which restores their original hollow bodies to an extent. Szayelaporro’s looks rather odd, while Coyote Starrk’s looks downright cool. When he releases Los Lobos, Lilynette is absorbed back into his body.
He takes the form of a Wild West gunman of sorts, from his twin pistols to his hollow mask eyepatch and his fur-lined coat and cool boots. It’s a nice and streamlined look, and it’s easy to move around in, too. By contrast, Szayelaporro and Zommari tend to stay in once place while in release mode, which makes them easy targets.
1 Szayelaporro: Rebirth
It seems that Szayelaporro has an answer for everything. No matter what Uryu and Renji do, this Espada has a way out of it, and his bag of tricks is a deep one. Even when Captain Kurotsuchi’s bankai ate him, he had a solution in mind.
Via an ability called Gabriel, Szayelaporro can emerge from an egg and rapidly grow into his full form, and he claims to be a perfect life form as a result, reborn like the phoenix. But is perfection really so desirable? Captain Kurotsuchi doesn’t think so.
Before the Sternritters came to Bleach, there were the arrancars, and two of the most fearsome of them were Coyote Starrk and Szayelaporro Grantz.