Okay, so Gyou’Un vs Bananji in terms of just fighting strength, I would say they are virtual equals with almost no advantage either way.
But if you pointed a gun to my head, I’m going with Gyou’Un Sama 10/10 times. Gyou’Un was outright shown to be superior to Akou (slightly) while Bananji was shown fighting equally with Akou multiple times. There’s really no way around this. Bananji could give Gyou’Un a run for his money but there isn’t much denying that Gyou’Un is stronger by a small margin.
Bananji's strength, depends on his mood or rather his "condition" hence Akou was able to fight on par with him. The more into it Bananji gets the stronger he gets, that's exactly what's pointed out to us at the start through Riboku. Even Riboku remarking about him being in normal condition:
The higher his rage the stronger he becomes. With his mood deciding how strong he is, unlike Gyou'un. So Bananji is essentially being set up as a character the more he gets into the fight and the thrill/rage of it the stronger of an opponent he is:
Gyou'un was never shown superior to Akou at all. Akou was shown being on par with a "normal condition" Bananji for just a quick minute. Then Gyou'un comes in with a cheapshot and gets his cheapshot blocked by Akou:
After this Bananji in his normal condition does the same as Gyou'un. Gyou'un never does better than Bananji here.
Then when Akou manages to slash Bananji's forehead, Bananji gets into rage and pretty much ggs Akou with a reflex swing of his glaive:
Akou had a comparison to Gaimou with Shin noting that the last time he probably took such a blow was more than likely with Gaimou. This established Gyou'un as an elite fighter of that level:
The comparison for Bananji was with Renpa himself, at the starting of the war:
Gyou'un displayed his strength outside full on away from his fight with Shin, he left in shock Akou's right hand man:
However, at the climax of the Shukai plains, Bananji leaves the biggest strategist on Qin's side, Ousen, in complete and utter shock at his strength. Despite him already being in action against Qin's right wing previously, so he would've know atleast how strong Bananji was.. but he was nonetheless still shocked:
Even the narrator makes sure to highlight that Bananji's strength was completely out of Ousen's prediction, so much so that Bananji's strength could be described as 'OVERPOWERING':
If you recall Gyou'un's big martial might moment other than the shin fight was when he was breaking through the strategies of Akou's right hand man with just martial might.
Bananji had a similar moment, but against Ousen himself, where he simply couldn't stopped no matter what Ousen's men did:
You see it's not until the very end of the Shukai plains that Bananji reveals his might. That's why Hara put so much stress into through multiple characters (Kaine/Ousen/Ousen's men/ Futei/Mouten/mouten's men) and the narrator itself. Even through Zhao's own men like Futei were sweating and shocked at seeing his monstrous strength:
So while Gyou'un was hyped up early in the Shukai Plains to serve as a growth tool for Ouhon & Shin, Bananji was getting slowly built up in subtle hype during the shukai plains right wing and then received his ultimate hype at the climax of the Shukai Plains, which now sets him up as one of Zhao's big generals for the 2nd Invasion.
And ultimately, this panel cannot be ignored:
You have the weakest to the strongest, with them deciding on to take out the weakest of the 4 Gaku'ei first. We then know Chougaryuu was inferior to Gyou'un. So at that point we have weakest to strongest.. and then in the end we have Bananji. Hara wouldn't just say "ehh gonna put Bananji in the end even though he's weaker than Gyou'un". This imo, made the heirarchy of the Zhao's left wing very clear. Bananji was the top guy.
Post will probably auto-merge but I had to address this quote lol. This quote is both unfair, and untrue.
It’s unfair because Rinshoujou died before he could reach the pinnacle of his career. Rinshoujou (an almost mythical genius) believer he could defeat all of the Qin 6 alongside Renpa, and imagine if he had done it. Such an achievement would be greater than Riboku’s.
It’s untrue, because Bananji is one of Riboku’s vassal generals and that’s really all he is. A mighty warrior general who Riboku can utilize depending on the situation.
Gyou’Un’s hype is beyond that. Gyou’Un was literally Rinshoujou’s Sword. He was, for all intents and purposes, a Great Heaven/Qin 6 level commander in terms of his offensive strength. Bananji does not have that hype or reputation yet.
- You're making this assumption based off of Gyou'un's belief of what his master could've done. In Kingdom every underling overhypes their master, it's simply how it works. As seen when Shin replied to him saying that Rinshoujou could've done w.e but in the end Ouki still would've slain his ass. Rinshoujou died in his prime, Riboku will more than likely die in his as well, Kanmei died in his, so on and so forth. Rinshoujou's case is nothing special here.
- Every general has the confident that he or she could beat the other. But the reality is reality. There's really nothing special about Rinshoujou's genius that we haven't already seen from the likes of Ousen, Renpa, Ouki, Riboku, Hakuki.. hell the Qin 6 are the ones who had a really mythical like strategist, the man who stood on Rinshoujou's level through pure tactics and was rumored to be the mastermind behind the Qin 6.
- Gyou'un was also nothing more than a Vassal General of Rinshoujou. His rival was none other than Kashibou, Renpa's vassal general. They're all vassal generals, even Tou was one lol. So being a vassal general isn't a negative:
The reason Bananji wasn't a big shot like Gyou'un is the same reason the Duke was never a big shot like the Qin 6. Because they spent their time in areas where they didn't get a whole lot of highlighting. With Bananji spending most of his time in the North in the mountains fighting against formidable Xiongnu who came to fear the man and started calling him a Demon.
I think you're underestimating Bananji's role with Riboku though, it's much more than just a mere vassal general. Let's look at his introduction, where the trio of Riboku/Bananji/Shinsuuju is introduced after Kanki war. This is the debut of Riboku's new deputies, much like how Gyou'un & Chougouryou were Rinshoujou's deputies and formed a trio with him:
Then during the meeting with the Qin King, the two are highlighted again:
At that point it's not really much different between the little dude's portrayal to Riboku & Bananji's portrayal..until this, where Bananji walks alongside Riboku while everyone is behind them by a good gap:
What was Riboku known for before the Ouki stuff? Subduing the Xiongu, a feat that wasn't accomplished by any other Zhao general ever. Who is the other famous guy who is related to fighting against the Xiongu? Bananji, the guy who the Xiongu came to fear as the Demon. Riboku & Bananji go way back mate, he's far more than just a vassal general to Riboku. He was the guy Riboku was telling the strategies for his left wing for which the whole wing would implement.
After the Shukai Plains, it's Bananji who takes over the Shukai plains Zhao forces and decides to call a retreat of all the forces, even requesting general Koushou to do the same.
But yea that's how/why I view Bananji > Gyou'un.