The Zangetsu (斬月, Zangetsu) is a zanpakutō from the manga series BLEACH that was created by Tite Kubo. The series first began serialization in Shueisha's Weekly Shonen Jump in August 2001. Zangetsu first appeared in BLEACH Volume 1, CH. 1 "Strawberry & the Soul Reapers".
The zanpakutō (斬魄刀, zanpakutō) is the primary weapon of all Soul Reapers. While normal Soul Reapers are given a base asauchi (浅打ち, asauchi) to impart their soul onto, Ichigo Kurosaki's zanpakutō was manifested from his very soul. This is the first time in history that has happened.
All zanpakutō have three separate forms, but the final two can only be obtained through strict training. Not every Soul Reaper is capable of activating the final two forms.
A sealed for is the first stage of all zanpakutō. This is based from the original asauchi a Soul Reaper is given in the academy. It will often change as the Soul Reaper imparts their soul and power into it. On the other hand, Ichigo's Zangetsu originated as a giant sword from the beginning. The details of how it was formed are unknown.
In Ichigo's first battle with Byakuya Kuchiki, this form of Zangetsu was broken as he sliced through Zangetsu's blade near the guard. After Ichigo unsealed Zangetsu's second form, it has never returned to the sealed form.
Shikai (始解, shikai) is the first of the seals on a zanpakutō. Activating this power is gained by learning the name of the sword. This is done through extensive training. Upon speaking the name of the zanpakutō, it will take on a new form with unique abilities.
Ichigo obtained the shikai form through his training with Urahara. In this form, Zangetsu takes on the appearance of an oversize, black cleaver. It's been described as looking like an unfinished blade, and has never returned to the sealed form after it was released.
It first appeared in BLEACH Vol. 8 Ch. 67 "End of Lessons".
The shikai form of Zangetsu was altered after Ichigo's Soul Reaper powers were returned to him by the Soul Society, after losing them in his fight with Aizen. Zangetsu's entire form was generally altered from before, and appeared to be a completed blade.
It first appeared in BLEACH Vol. 53 Ch. 460 "Deathberry Returns 2".
After the bankai form of Zangetsu was destroyed by Yhwach, it was revealed that a bankai could never be repaired. Zangetsu was thought to be completely lost. Ichigo was then brought to the Soul King Palace to hopefully reforge Zangetsu again by Oh-Etsu Nimaiya, the creator of the zanpakutō. Through using an Asauchi, Zangetsu was reformed and allowed to reach a new form now that Ichigo's powers were no longer bring repressed by the embodiment of Ichigo's Quincy powers. Zangetsu now took on the form of twin swords. One representing Hollow Ichigo, his true Soul Reaper powers; and the other representing Old Man Zangetsu, the Quincy powers.
It first appeared in BLEACH Vol. 61 Ch. 542 "THE BLADE IS ME".
Bankai (卍解, bankai) is the final seal of the zanpakutō. Normally, training to use bakai can take many years. Ichigo obtained this ability with a period of a week using a specialized training technique that was developed by Urahara.
First Tensa Zangetsu
Zangetsu's bankai is known as Tensa Zangetsu (天鎖斬月). In bankai form it essentially compresses and clothes Ichigo in his own power. By compressing his power Ichigo is capable of movement at such high speeds and velocities. This makes Ichigo’s even more potent and extremely difficult to dodge. The sword itself changes shape to a long, black katana.
It first appeared in BLEACH Vol. 19 Ch. 162 "Black Moon Rising".
Second Tensa Zangetsu
As the shikai form changed when Ichigo's powers were returned, the bankai form was also changed. The sword remained black, but the style of the blade was altered, and three serrations are formed at the top of the blade near the tip. Though far more powerful that before, this form of Zangetsu was broken by Yhwach, and a broken bankai can never be revived.
It first appeared in BLEACH Vol. 54 Ch. 475 "Shades of the Bond".
True Tensa Zangetsu
As the second form of Tensa Zangetsu was destroyed by Yhwach, Ichigo had to have Zangetsu completely reforged by Oh-Etsu Nimaiya. With Ichigo's true powers no longer repressed, Zangetsu was able to reach its true form.
The bankai of these Zangetsu has yet to be revealed.
When a Soul Reaper learns the name of their zanpakutō, it is given by the embodiment of the sword that has been created as the Soul Reaper imparts their soul onto the blade. They are the very spirit of the sword. Communicating with the spirit of the zanpakutō is how one trains and obtains their bankai.
Old Man Zangetsu
Old Man Zangetsu was originally thought to be the spiritual embodiment of Zangetsu. He was the one who first appeared to Ichigo and guided him through much of his time in training and fighting. However, it was later revealed that he was only impersonating Zangetsu as he was also repressing Ichigo's full power. He is actually the spirit of Yhwach and the embodiment of Ichigo's inherited Quincy powers.
Ha had always intended to kill Ichigo if he became a Soul Reaper, but found himself helping Ichigo to grow and survive. He would often tap into Ichigo's true Soul Reaper powers to aid him and save his life.
As Oh-Etsu reforged Zangetsu, Old Man Zangetsu finally released Ichigo's full power to use as he faded away. However, Ichigo bonded Old Man Zangetsu from his soul to the shorter of the new Zangetsu blades.
Hollow Ichigo was thought to have only been a side effect of Ichigo's rebooted Soul Reaper powers. It was born from the created Hollow known as White, that had been created by Sosuke Aizen from folding thousands of Soul Reaper souls. White had infected Masaki Kurosaki, Ichigo's mother; and passed on to Ichigo after Masaki's death. It then bonded with Ichigo's latent Soul Reaper powers.
He has always been the true form of Ichigo's Soul Reaper powers and Zangetsu. He had always been repressed by the embodiment of Ichigo's Quincy powers. Old Man Zangetsu would only release Hollow Ichigo to either help train Ichigo or to save Ichigo's life.
When Zangetsu was reforged after being destroyed, Hollow Ichigo was finally released to pass on all of his power to Ichigo. As Ichigo bonded his soul to the new Zangetsu, Hollow Ichigo was formed into the larger of the two swords.
Powers & Abilities
Blut Vane: Forms a defensive barrier of blood beneath the skin that negates damage. It was used to survive a blow from Yhwach. Can also be used to stop bleeding from an existing wound.
Shikai: Ichigos Zampaktou now has two distinct blades, a longer one (hollow) and a shorter one (zangetsu).
Getsuga Tensho: A slash of of concentrated energy used as Ichigos primal attack. Its usually in the form of a crescent moon or a wave when released. Its a powerful technique that can be used fo spell wide-scaled destruction.
Bankai: Ichigos Bankai compressess his spiritual energy for enhanced speed and strength in close ranged combat. He can keep up with Kuchiki Byakuya in terms of speed and Espada Yammy Llargo in terms of strength during his Bankai.
Kuroi Getsuga: This is Getsuga Tensho during Ichigos Bankai. It is black, with red oulining. Kuroi Getsuga is faster, explosive and the trajectory of the blast can be controlled after released. Although commented as an ability from his hollow Ichigo (which is his actual Zampaktou). Ichigo can further use Tensa Zangetsu (the thin black Zampaktou), as a vessel to hold Kuroi Getsuga and release them as bullets for concentrated high impact manuevers.
High Spiritual Energy: Both in Shikai form and Bankai form, Ichigos spiritual energy is vast. At first, his blade appears to be very large. This was a direct result of him being unable to control his spiritual energy. Later in the Final Getsuga form, Aizen has said that Ichigos plane of existence is beyond Shinigami or human, which is why he was not able to feel Ichigos reitsu even when he himself was extremely strong at that point after having fused with Hogyoku. Normal humans would feint in Ichigos presence if he was in Bankai form.
Enhanced Duration: Ichigos Bankai compresses spiritual energy into himself. The expenditure of energy is less than other peoples Bankais. As a result, Ichigo can keep up his Bankai for longer than most captains.
Saigo No Getsuga Tenshou: Otherwise known as the Final Getsuga Tenshou because using it, Ichigo loses all his Shinigami powers, once Mugetsu is used. This form resembles Yhwach more than anything, and can even be commented that it is a Quincy power. Because just like Uryuu Ishidas Letzt Stil, Ichigo loses his Shinigami powers temporarily.
Mugetsu: Ichigo collects black spiritual energy in one hand and swings it at the intended target. Anything and anyone caught in the range of the blast going upwards towards the sky is incinerated.