The 16 Strongest Grim Reapers In Anime, Ranked by Power

The 16 Strongest Grim Reapers In Anime, Ranked by Power

There have been countless interpretations of the grim reaper across all forms of media. In the anime medium, personifications of death are usually unconventional, and even when they fit some aspects of the Grim Reaper (or Shinigami), there still tend to be notable differences between their presentation and that of the deathly figure.

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Anime often personifies death as something or someone with great power, resulting in numerous iconic characters that fit the description. Some are experienced combatants and others are deific figures, but all of these individuals share one trait in common: they sow death and/or harvest souls on a regular basis.

Updated on May 29, 2023 by Kennedy King: While the conventions of the anime medium change over time, its emphasis on death never wavers. The Grim Reaper archetype continues to manifest in new characters, and as a result, even more of them deserve recognition.



16 Grelle Sutcliff (Black Butler)

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Though the power of Grim Reapers in the world of Black Butler is relatively limited, they’re still dangerous to all but the most capable targets. Grell Sutcliff, a very eccentric, violent Grim Reaper, is no exception, and she is exceptionally lethal thanks to her trademark death scythe chainsaw.

Sutcliff will go to any measure to collect the soul of her victims, even conspiring with the unknown serial killer, Jack the Ripper. Her bloodthirsty nature is a threat to all, and were she any stronger, she’d be one of the most powerful Grim Reapers in anime history.

15 Rinne Rokudō (RIN-NE)

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Rinne Rokudo, the half-human, half-Shinigami protagonist of RIN-NE

Rinne Rokudō, the half-human, half-Shinigami protagonist of RIN-NE, more or less lives a normal life outside his death god duties. He might not be much compared to the deity of Death itself, but in terms of fighting abilities, he’s still much stronger than the average combatant.

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Rinne is able to exorcise souls and send them to the afterlife, like most Shinigami. However, he also possesses the power of flight, significant prowess with a scythe, a cloak that turns him invisible, and the unique ability to use money in a powerful wind attack.

14 Black Star (Soul Eater)

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Black Star and Tsubaki Soul Eater

There are several great Soul Eater characters, yet few are as memorable as Black Star, the narcissistic — and incredibly powerful — ninja Meister from Death Weapon Meister Academy. Black Star is joined in his missions to reap evil souls by Tsubaki, his partner that is capable of transforming into multiple types of ninja weapons.

Together, Black Star and Tsubaki make a powerful force, able to reap evil souls with great skill, stealth, and precision. Although they are still students throughout Soul Eater, they still sow death on a regular basis due to their jobs as a Meister-weapon duo.

13 Maka Albarn (Soul Eater)

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Anime Attacks Soul Eater Mako Kishin Hunter

As strong as many Soul Eaters are, few can stand their own against a full-fledged, Meister-Death Weapon combo like Maka Albarn and Evans. She is one of the only students at Soul Eater Academy to have earned a Death Weapon, meaning she claimed at least 99 evil souls and one witch soul.

Maka Albarn’s Death Weapon, Soul, is worthy of being used by Lord Death himself, so the pair easily slots among the strongest fighters in the world of Soul Eater. Add to this Soul and Maka’s various special attacks, like the Demon-Hunter, and there’s no denying how strong they are as Grim Reaper-like figures.

12 Kanade Tachibana (Angel Beats!)

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Kanade Tachibana, the president of Angel Beats! Afterlife School

Although one of the most unassuming personifications of Death in anime, Kanade Tachibana (also known as “Angel”) of Angel Beats! is actually one of the most nuanced and powerful Grim Reapers in the medium. Angel Beats!‘s afterlife manifests as a school — one that Kanade works in as the student council president.

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As the Student Council President of the Afterlife School, she helps fellow students deal with their issues postmortem. Though not explicitly stated, Kanade is more or less the Shinigami of the Angel Beats! world, providing her with numerous offensive and defensive capabilities.

11 Death The Kid (Soul Eater)

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Death the Kid dual-wielding guns in Soul Eater

As the appropriately-named son of Death himself, Death the Kid is a young Meister that’s nearly as powerful as his all-knowing father. Kid wields two death weapons, sisters Liz and Patty Thompson, who can turn into supernatural pistols that shred their opposition.

With his Death Weapons, Death the Kid is a force to be reckoned with. He unlocks more of his full Shinigami powers as Soul Eater progresses, eventually taking over the role of Death itself when his father is ultimately defeated.

10 Light Yagami (Death Note)

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Light Yagami smirks as he holds his patented Death note

When it comes to anime’s most prolific mass murderers, Light Yagami, the protagonist of Death Note, is hard to beat. After coming across a mysterious notebook that allows him to take out anyone by writing their name in it, Light decides to become a shadow of Death itself, indiscriminately killing criminals and those he’s deemed evil with frightening frequencys.

Though he is by no means a fighter, Light is incredibly brilliant, avoiding being caught by the authorities for quite some time during his “career.” Additionally, Light’s masterful use of the Death Note puts his abilities as a servant of death above most of his competitors.

9 Shinigami (Naruto)

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>The Shinigami harvesting souls next to Orochimaru during the events of Naruto: Shippuden

The Shinigami is a spiritual entity from Naruto that can be used to seal away other spirits — an ability first seen when the Third Hokage sacrifices his own life to save the Leaf Village from Orochimaru. Although this figure is still shrouded in mystery, it’s obviously as powerful as any character in the Naruto franchise.

Because of the Shinigami’s ability to steal souls and spirits, it naturally functions as a clear parallel to the Grim Reaper. Were characters like Orochimaru not shown to resist the Shingami’s pull, it would almost certainly be the strongest character of its kind in all anime.

8 Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto (Bleach)

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Captain-Commander Genryusai Yamamoto in Bleach

The head of all Soul Reapers in Bleach‘s Soul Society, Captain-Commander Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto, is as storied a fighter as any in the series. His Zanpakuto commands the powers of fire and flame, while its Bankai form can even raise the ashes of the opponents that he’s slain.

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Over the course of several centuries, Yamamoto has laid waste to hordes of Hollows and rogue Shinigami, hardening his blade and adding to his collection of ashes. His advanced age does little to hold him back, and when he’s serious, none wish to incur his wrath.

7 Rory Mercury (Gate)

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Rory Mercury Rory the Reaper from Gate Anime

Gate is an anime about, as its name suggests, a gate that opens up between Japan and a fantasy world full of magic, elves, dragons, and even gods. One such example of the latter is Rory Mercury, a demi-goddess who is on her way to becoming a full-fledged god should she reach her 1,000th birthday.

Rory Mercury isn’t explicitly stated to be the living incarnation of Death, but she’s known as Rory the Reaper due to the massive scythe she carries around and her tendency to slay evil humans with great pleasure. Both of these elements make Rory something of a Grim Reaper — one that is immensely powerful thanks to her immortality, fast healing, and massive strength and speed.

6 Asura (Soul Eater)

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Soul Eater Shinigami Asura

One of the first demon gods to exist in the world of Soul Eater was Asura, a Kishin made from a fragment of Death. Because of his attachment to Death, Asura’s power almost rivals that of the Grim Reaper itself. To make matters worse, the sadistic character was once a Meister who consumed his own Death Weapons to gain their abilities.

The only character that is able to defeat Asura is Lord Death themself, which should say a lot about how strong the former is. In fact, Asura is so dangerous that Death was forced to seal him in a prison of his own skin, preventing him from using his madness-spreading powers again.

5 Sosuke Aizen (Bleach)

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Sosuke Aizen, the former Soul Society Captain, smilingly with an evil grin during Bleach

Sosuke Aizen could very well be one of the strongest, most cunning characters in anime history. He is eventually revealed to be the true villain of Bleach, showing his almost limitless power as the story unfolds. On top of his Soul Reaper powers, which allow him perfect hypnosis, Aizen also gained greater powers by blurring the line between Soul Reapers and Hollows.

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As an undeniable genius, Aizen is so capable of manipulation, planning, and sabotage that he fooled the entirety of the Soul Society for a large portion of his career. The only person who was able to defeat Aizen was Ichigo, and even then, Ichigo was forced to temporarily sacrifice his powers in order to finish the antagonist off.

4 Lord Death (Soul Eater)

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>lord death pointing during soul eater

Lord Death is a measuring stick for almost every character in Soul Eater, so without a doubt, the Grim Reaper himself is a devastatingly strong opponent. The father of the series’ protagonist dwarfs most characters, due in large part to his massive strength.

When measuring the capabilities of a Meister in Soul Eater, one must look at the size of their soul — in regard to Lord Death, his soul is so large that it encompasses the entirety of Death City. This is easily the largest in the entire series, lending credence to his power as a deity.

3 Ryuk (Death Note)

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Ryuk, the main Shinigami of Death Note, staring menacingly

While Light is an effective Grim Reaper in practice, Ryuk, his Shinigami companion, is the bona fide real deal. Ryuk’s powers are much greater than Light, and while he lends his services to the mortal plane, his abilities are truly the work of an otherworldly being.

With his Shinigami Eyes, Ryuk can determine the remaining lifespan of any living being, and by using his Death Note, he can harvest their souls in an instant. His abilities seem to even surpass that of other Shinigami in the series, making him one of the scariest Grim Reapers in anime history.

2 Ichigo Kurosaki (Bleach)

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Ichigo Kurasaki, a substitute Soul Reaper, staring off-screen during the events of Bleach

Death is inherently a frightening concept, but for someone who is already capable of switching between life and death like Ichigo Kurosaki, it slowly becomes second nature. The Substitute Soul Reaper goes from a normal high school student to the Soul Society’s most powerful weapon by the end of Bleach, so it’s safe to say that few could stand in his path.

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Ichigo’s strength comes from a combination of intense training, proper tutelage, and godly heritage. However, by pushing past his natural limitations, he even grows stronger than his parents and mentors, eventually stopping the legendary villain, Sosuke Aizen, by the end of Bleach.

1 Beerus (Dragon Ball Super)

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Beerus, the God of Destruction, effortlessly defeats Goku's Super Saiyan 3 form during the preliminary arc of Dragon Ball Super

Lord Beerus of Dragon Ball Super is a God of Destruction that more-or-less qualifies as the personification of Death itself. Beerus’ job is to oversee the universe by destroying enough mortals to balance out the new life that is constantly emerging, effectively making him the opposite of the Supreme Kai.

In terms of power, Beerus is considered to be the second-strongest person in his universe, with the first being his teacher/attendant, Whis. Considering the power scaling of Dragon Ball Super, this is a massive accomplishment that makes Beerus one of the strongest characters in anime history. He is capable of destroying entire planets without breaking a sweat, and when he and Goku traded blows, they almost ripped apart the entire universe in the process.

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