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Countless works of fiction have discussed the strength and the resolution of the human spirit. Even when confronted by insurmountable odds and when the truth is hidden in shadow, humanity has found a way to persevere, adapt, and survive into the future. Today, we'll look at two warriors who have taken the power of the human spirit to the extreme. They wield their fighting spirit as a weapon, using it to protect what they hold dear. They are Ichigo Kurosaki, the substitute soul reaper who's going to protect his friends, no matter what, and Yu Narukami, the Persona-user who saved his town from countless supernatural threats! Let's find out which spiritually empowered hero is DEADLIEST!

Ichigo Kurosaki

he's gonna protect his friends
Now I'm Ichigo Kurosaki, substitute Soul Reaper. And I'm combining my powerful spirit energy with this blade in order to protect my friends!
— Ichigo Kurosaki

Ichigo Kurosaki was once an ordinary teenager that loved his family, enjoyed beating up delinquents, and had the power to see ghosts. Everything changed when he met Rukia Kuchiki, a shinigami, or soul reaper, whose job was to guide souls to the afterlife and battle evil spirits known as Hollows. Ichigo and Rukia ended up in a bind and she was forced to temporarily grant Ichigo the powers of a shinigami. The pair and their spiritually-empowered friends hung around Tokyo for a while, battling Hollows as Ichigo learned the ins and outs and being a shinigami, until Rukia was captured and sentenced to death by other shinigami for giving her powers to Ichigo. Refusing to take his friend's upcoming execution sitting down, Ichigo rallied his friends, trained with a mysterious mentor, and snuck into the afterlife, the Soul Society. After numerous encounters with shinigami, Ichigo discovered the first of his many hidden powers, saved Rukia, and returned to the realm of the living, but his trials were only just beginning.

  • Zangetsu: Like all shinigami, Ichigo possesses a zanpakuto, a spiritual weapon. Ichigo's zanpakuto takes the form of a giant blade, as long as Ichigo is tall, closer in shape to a steak knife than a sword. The blade is extremely wide, making it suitable for use as a shield. Instead of a typical hilt, Ichigo holds Zangetsu by a simple length of cloth wrapped around the tang. This cloth seems to change length according to Ichigo's needs, so it can be used as a bandage or to swing Zangetsu as a flail or rope dart. With Ichigo's strength behind it, Zangetsu can cleave a wall apart or upturn the ground with a single stroke. It can theoretically be destroyed, but it's durable enough to survive a blow from the Sokyoku, which holds the power of millions of zanpakuto.
    • Getsuga Tensho: By focusing his spiritual pressure into a single stroke of Zangetsu, Ichigo can launch a crescent-shaped wave of spiritual energy. Getsuga Tensho are extremely powerful and each wave is powerful enough to carve a deep chasm into the ground.
  • Bankai: Tensa Zangetsu: After a period of intense training, Ichigo learned to access his bankai, the ultimate form of a zanpakuto. When Ichigo uses his bankai, a deadly explosion of spiritual pressure is released, Zangetsu transforms into a sleek odachi, and Ichigo's physical and spiritual abilities are boosted to anywhere between five and ten times greater than usual. Upon using his bankai for the first time, Ichigo was strong enough to produce crater-making shockwaves with a clash of his blade and fast enough to defend himself from a storm of millions of razor-sharp petals. The latter feat is doubly impressive considering the thinness of Zangetsu's blade in bankai.
  • Inner Hollow: Ichigo has an evil spirit, or Hollow, within him that vies for control. Typically, this inner Hollow will manifest in battle as a skull-shaped mask somewhere on Ichigo's person, often in convenient locations where it can block otherwise lethal blows. When Ichigo is on the verge of defeat or death, his will can be weak enough for his inner Hollow to take over his body. When this happens, Ichigo's physical and spiritual abilities dramatically increase in power, even in comparison to his bankai. Ichigo's inner Hollow detests his sense of honor and cares only for destroying its enemies.
  • Shunpo: Shunpo, or the flash step, is a technique that allows shinigami to temporarily increase their movement speed for brief distances, like a form of pseudo-teleportation. In a single flash step, Ichigo can cover several dozen meters in the blink of an eye. Using bankai increases shunpo's potency and the frequency at which Ichigo can use it, enabling him to flash step rapidly and appear in dozens in places at once to confuse his enemy.
  • Blut Vene: Ichigo’s mother was a Quincy, a human with spiritual powers. He is unaware of this heritage and untrained in the use of his inherited Quincy abilities, but one of these abilities, Blut Vene, can manifest subconsciously in moments of extreme stress. Blut Vene can instantly close even severe wounds, including impalement.
  • Reishi-Walking: Reishi, or spiritual matter, is a substance that makes up all spiritual beings and naturally exists in the air like oxygen. By focusing the reishi under his feet, Ichigo can create footholds that allow him to walk in the air as if it were the ground.
  • Reikaku: All spiritual beings, including shinigami, possess a sixth sense for detecting spiritual pressure. Ichigo can detect the location of souls and, if he focuses, sense basic information about them, such as whether or not they belong to humans. This ability is powerful enough to detect specific souls in other parts of a massive city.
  • Expert Martial Artist: Ichigo has been trained in martial arts, including karate and judo, since childhood, both professionally and by his father. He beats down groups of delinquents on a regular basis and once defeated Tatsuki Arisawa, a karate champion who once came second in a tournament with a broken arm. When he can't use Zangetsu, he can easily engage his opponent with his knowledge of strikes, counterattacks, throws, takedowns, and body locks.
  • Shinigami Physicality: All shinigami possess superhuman physical abilities, and Ichigo is no exception. In addition to being able to wield Zangetsu without issue, he's strong enough to block strikes from a giant that's six times taller than him and weighs a ton or clash with the blade of a shinigami that could chop buildings in half. He moves and attacks so quickly that most enemies don't have time to react to him, including shinigami that can effortlessly dodge spiritual arrows, and he easily blocks all kinds of projectiles. Ichigo's most impressive physical traits are his endurance and durability. He's found the will to keep fighting even after being thrown through stone walls, being repeatedly struck by beings far stronger than himself, and receiving multiple grievous wounds.

Yu Narukami

certified gigachad... most of the time
At the end of the path you chose lies the truth. Believe in it, and continue without faltering.
— Margaret

When his parents left to work abroad, ordinary high schooler Yu Narukami moved in with his uncle in the small town of Inaba. Yu quickly made friends, but things went awry when a mysterious fog arrived and two murder victims were discovered in the span of a few days. Yu happened to learn that he could access a dimension that existed behind television screens. Deciding to investigate further, Yu and his friends discovered that the TV world was populated by creatures called Shadows, monsters born from negative emotions, and that these creatures were responsible for the deaths of the murder victims. Furthermore, Yu and his friends gained the power to summon Personas, personifications of their personalities. Knowing the police would never believe the truth, Yu and his friends resolved to discover the identity of the killer responsible for forcing the victims into the TV world and protect the future victims.

  • Wild Card Persona-User: Yu is a Persona-user, meaning he can call upon a personification of his personality to aid him in battle. This is done by destroying a tarot card that Yu can summon at will. Personas can move freely through the air with no clear limit. The use of a Persona will drain the user's strength and stamina over time. If a Persona takes damage, the user will be injured as well, but not to the same extent. Uniquely, Yu possesses the Wild Card, the ability to access multiple Personas, but only one Persona can be active at a time.
    • Izanagi: Yu's original and primary Persona is Izanagi, the creator god of Japan. It appears as a large metallic humanoid wielding a naginata. It moves like a blur and can swing its blade dozens of times in less than a second, and each swing is powerful enough to cut through the side of a building. Izanagi commands electricity and can call down bolts of lightning from the sky or blast electric beams and spheres from its hands, all of which are powerful enough to instantly vaporize weaker Shadows or split boulders apart. It can use electricity to empower Yu by electrifying his sword or speeding him up by moving him on trails of lightning, making him almost appear to teleport. It can also form telekinetically-controlled spheres of light that explode on contact; hundreds of these spheres can be created at a time.
      • Izanagi-no-Okami: By channeling the strength derived from the support of his friends, Yu can transform Izanagi into its true form. Izanagi-no-Okami is superior to Izanagi in every way and can use a skill called Myriad Truths, which summons a purifying bolt of lightning that banishes curses and illusions and was powerful enough to defeat Izanami, the goddess of death, in a single strike.
    • Kohryu: The Persona that represents Yu's bond with his uncle is Kohryu, the draconic incarnation of the Yellow Emperor of China. Kohryu appears as a massive Chinese dragon. Like Izanagi, it can summon bolts of lightning, but its main focus is support. It can use spells that fully heal Yu of his wounds and ailments, use spells that increase the power of magical attacks, or protect him by coiling its body around him. Its hide is tough enough to survive a volley of attacks from all of Yu's Persona-using friends without a scratch.
    • Sraosha: The Persona that represents Yu's bond with his cousin is Sraosha, the messenger of the Zoroastrian god. Sraosha appears as an insectile humanoid with a butterfly's wings. It can cast bolts of fire, lightning, and holy magic, but it can also use light spells, which surround an area with glowing runes before flooding it with magical light, having a chance to instantly destroy enemies caught in the blast.
    • Kaguya: The Persona that represents Yu's bond with Marie, his dear friend, is Kaguya, the princess of the moon. It appears as a female humanoid with large, gaudy wings. It can heal Yu like Kohryu, use light spells like Sraosha, or use a spell that protects Yu from one would-be mortal blow. Kaguya is Yu's main spellcaster and can use more spells than usual before tiring Yu out.
    • Yoshitsune: The Persona that represents Yu's bond with a student he tutored is Yoshitsune, the legendary samurai of the Genpei War. Yoshitsune appears as an ethereal samurai wielding two blades. It can call down bolts of lightning from the sky and use spells that empower its attacks and defense. Its ultimate skill is Hassou Tobi, in which it rapidly moves around its target and unleashes eight waves of energy from its blades. While Yoshitsune is active, Yu becomes immune to all kinds of physical attacks.
  • Katana: Yu's signature weapon is a two-handed katana, forged by Inaba's blacksmith. It's sharp enough to slice through wood and bamboo effortlessly and Yu is a decently skilled swordsman. In close combat, he's matched Joker, a talented knife-fighter and user of gun fu, and defeated Sho Minazuki, a swordfighter who defeated Persona-users with skill alone.
  • Superhuman Physicality: The awakening of his Persona granted Yu superhuman physical abilities to compliment his mental strength. He can swing his sword faster than the eye can see and deflect barrages of projectiles with ease. He once kept up with and defeated Akihiko Sanada, who can weave between incoming bullets and send people flying with his punches. The durability of Yu's Personas depends on how much pain he can endure, and he has persisted after his Personas were impaled, beaten, electrocuted, and blown up.

X-Factors

Brutality

As his enemies have all been Hollows and shinigami, Ichigo's never been faced with the prospect of killing anyone. Hollows are freed from the world of the living upon defeat and most shinigami have superhuman endurance, so Ichigo's always been free to hit his opponent as hard as he can.

Most of Yu's enemies have been Shadows, which aren't human and don't die upon being defeated. At the end of the day, Yu and his friends are just a group of teenagers trying to help their town. The only time they've faced the possibility of killing was against the man responsible for the serial murders, and even then they decided to choose justice over revenge.

Experience

Ichigo has only been a shinigami for a couple of months, but he's spent much of those months in combat-heavy sitatutions. For the first half, his life was frequently interrupted by attacks by Hollows, giant spirits that vary in size and shape. He even defeated a Menos Grande, one of the more dangerous classifications of Hollows. After entering the Soul Society, he clashed repeatedly against different professional shinigami, who all possess unique zanpakuto and bankai. Among these shinigami were Kenpachi Zaraki and Byakuya Kuchiki, two of the Soul Society's best warriors.

Yu's investigations and adventures in the TV world took place over the course of a year. Following this, he returned to Inaba twice which resulted in him being forced into tournaments where he fought in a series of one-on-one battles against other Persona-users. He also ventured into two alternate realities where he and his friends battled Shadows alongside other Persona-users, but he has lost the memories of those events. Yu's opponents in all of these adventures were mainly Shadows and Personas, both of which can vary wildly in shape, power, and ability. However, Yu's struggles were not constant and they left him with a lot of downtime to live a normal life. Also, he's spent most of his battles in a team, but his success in the tournaments have proven that he can hold his own alone.

Tactics

Ichigo could hardly be considered a tactician. His strategy is all about moving fast enough to evade or block his enemy's attacks, hitting them as hard as he can, and finding the willpower to endure the most grievous of wounds. However, he is decently good at analyzing patterns and adapting to fighting styles, but his victories have come mainly through being stronger, faster, or tougher than the other guy. Additionally, Ichigo has a sense of honor that compels him to fight in a "proper" way, only using his bankai when it becomes necessary and rejecting the aid of his inner Hollow.

As the appointed leader of the Investigation Team, Yu is their commander in battle. He's quick to take note of his enemies' strengths and weaknesses and effectively apply his own team's powers against them accordingly. Time and time again, Yu's leadership has brought the group to victory against impossible odds. However, most of his feats of strategy have occured with the help of his friends' Personas and the navigator-type Persona of his girlfriend, Rise Kujikawa.

Training

Having suddenly become a shinigami under dire circumstances, Ichigo had little time for formal training. Rukia Kuchiki taught him the basics of combat tactics, which helped him survive his first encounters with Hollows. After resolving to enter the Soul Society, he was trained intensely by two ancient and highly experienced shinigami, Urahara and Yoruichi. However, most of these training sessions were focused on getting Ichigo to unlock new powers that already existed within him rather than learning how to fight effectively.

Yu had no formal training of any kind. He was the first of his friends to gain a Persona, and thus had to figure out the ins and outs of using a Persona and physical combat on the fly. It worked out for him, though, and he became the strongest member of the Investigation Team.

Notes

  • The battle takes place in the TV world, so there should be no doubts about whether or not Yu can summon his Personas.
  • Shinigami and Personas are invisible to ordinary humans. However, Yu should be able to see Ichigo, as shinigami can be seen by those with spiritual abilities and the use of a Persona is an inherently spiritual ability. Ichigo should be able to see Yu's Personas since the battle takes place in the TV world, where Personas can be seen by those without them.
  • Ichigo is as he was following the conclusion of the Soul Society arc because that's as far as I watched.
  • Yu is as he was following the events of Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, the latest chronologically in his appearances in canon. His Personas are the ones he was confirmed to have when he appeared as a cognitive echo of the Velvet Room in Persona 5 Royal.
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