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14 January 2010 @ 11:33 pm
Zanpakutō and fairy's, what they can tell us.  

Hello folks, this is my first essay for Bleachness, so don't judge me too harshly! >.< What I wish to focus on is Ichigo and Rukia's Zanpakutō's, Rukia possibly Bankai, Sofion Suzumebachi and Orihime's Shun Shun Rikka . Most notable what they can tell us about the characters personality and in Rukia's and Orihime's case, possible future character development.


Zangetsu name means cutting moon or moon cutter according to the Bleach Wiki (which I'm using as my primary source on translations) and there a few way to interpreted this name...


  1. Moon's are often used as a symbol of hope and Ichigo is a figure of hope. (For examples consider the SS arc and Shinji belief in Ichigo in more recent chapters). So on a simple level Zangetsu name could simply mean “the blade of the man who brings hope”.

  2. Another interpretation is that its a direct shout out to Ichigo's connection with Rukia who is sometimes considered the “white moon”. So Zangetsu naming could be taken as that he is a blade of the moon (Rukia). This fits nicely with Ichigo's origin story and funnily enough fits with both platonic/romantic interpretations. of Ichigo and Rukia's relationship.

  3. Its a double meaning name and both theories are correct.


Ichigo special attack name Getsuga Tenshō (Moon Fang Heaven-Pierce) doesn't really add or remove much to either theory, but does suggest one of Ichigo character traits, he will go to any length to complete his objectives (pierce heaven even) . The form the attack takes (a huge blast of energy in a straight line) is also representative of Ichigo straightforward and often overwhelming blunt solution to problems, direct straightforward action. The Heaven-Pierce part of his attack name could also be reference to his SS arc activities, a attack on the heavens, especially when you considerer its Bankai's name...


It Bankai's name is Tensa Zangetsu (Heavenly Chain Moon Cutter or Heavenly Chain Cutting Moon). Heavenly Chain is the new addition here and connects in with his special attack name and shed a little light on it. Since the literal chain on his sword is all but identical to a Chain of Fate of a Plus in appearance, suggesting the “Heavenly Chain” is the Chain of Fate of a Shinigami .


On his swords form. Its Shikai form is a large and rather brutal cleaver like sword who's features are of cloth and no hilt are references to how Ichigo regained his powers under Urahara . Its form also help reinforce the image of who Ichigo is, a uncivilised but scarily powerful warrior who not going to be stopped in his task.


The notable changed it undertakes upon Bankai are clues to a maturing Ichigo. Gone is the huge clever, replaced by a elegant and simple black sword of normal length. His cloths still have a hint of the savage about them, but a somewhat more civilised savage. His new appearance helps put across the image of Ichigo who is far more in control than the one who archived Shikai. It's powers help explain reasons behind this more in control Ichigo as they are speed and endurance, two tools that he needs to save Rukia specifically and people in general.


To put it simply Zangetsu in Shikai shows Ichigo as the unstoppable savage warrior, but his Banki shows him as a more focused protector and a saver of life's. Another interesting feature of Ichigo Zanpakutō is that compared to other Zanpakutō is very simple. It has two special attacks, and the second is nothing but a upgraded form of the first. It doesn't have any fancy tricks like playing with minds or making its opponents blade get heavier. It just hacks things up and sometimes shoots direct beam attacks at people.


It's like Ichigo, simple but effective.


Sode no Shirayuki

Sode no Shirayuki (Sleeved White Snow) is a very contrasting sword to Zangetsu. In fact I go so far as to say that its a deliberate mirror of Zangetsu in the same was as many of Rukia's traits mirror Ichigo's.


But first lets start with a bit of name exploring. The “White Snow” part of its name. I think it is designed to invoke a image of purity and beauty by extension. A theory I believe supported by its pure white Shikai and the fact its been called “the most beautiful Zanpakutō of the Soul Society”. The sleeved part its name to me suggest a hidden aspect to its nature. Its unreleased form has a rather simple and a little ugly brown handle. This “hidden” quality also fits in with its owner personality, a woman who acting skills are quiet good and has a habit of hiding in closets....


So to summarise it name, it could be read as the blade of hidden beauty and purity.


Now on Sode no Shirayuki attacks, it has a fair few when compared to other Zanpakutō of a similar level. So far we seen three dances come out of it with plenty of room in the plot for Rukia to learn more.


They are...

  1. Some no mai, Tsukishiro, (First Dance, White Moon)

  2. Tsugi no mai, Hakuren, ( Next Dance, White Ripple)

  3. San no mai, Shirafune, ( Third Dance, White Sword)


Ok let examine them as a group shall we? There all dances with a white in there title somewhere, and I would argue are deigned to reinforce a image of refined beauty. Her first dance is also called the White Moon, somehow I find the idea that KT forgetting that Ichigo's sword was the Cutting Moon or the Moon Cutter laughable and so I'm inclined to believe this is KT trying to suggest that Sode no Shirayuki and Zangetsu are linked... and since there manifestation of there owners spirit I think this name linking is further evidence of the link between Rukia and Ichigo.


The other interesting thing about Rukia's first two dances in that there complicated and fancy affairs and her first and third dance are what I consider sneaky attacks. To those who's unfamiliar with her abilities, it so very easy to be caught fatally of guard. Just ask Aaroniero Arruruerie!


These abilities also contrast sharply with the no nonsense abilities of Zangetsu. Zangetsu is uncivilised brute force who's designed for toe to toe combat. Sode no Shirayuki is a tricky and civilised blade which does little to improve Rukia''s direct combat abilities and plenty to improve her options and tricks.


Rukia's Banaki?

At the time of writing Rukia has yet to achieve Bankai. However considering her impotences to the plot and general power creep that common in shounen I think the likely hood of Rukia achieving Bankai before the end of Bleach to be pretty high and I think we can have a few wild stabs at what it might be like based on her existing abilities and the mirroring with Zangetsu.

  1. Its going to be pretty. Seriously the likely hood of the fandom going “oooo” is pretty high. Either that or there going to be a lot of bitching with people going “the most beautiful Zanpakutō of the Soul Society my *****! ”.Needless to say I think KT will make a effort to at least make Rukia look dazzling in a dignified manner.

  2. Its going to have a lot of fancy tricks. Special abilities with a sneaky factor are so going to be in. They may be called “x dance” or perhaps some new theme based on her Bankai's form, but there will almost certainly be a clear link in the naming patten.

  3. Its going to be hard for Rukia to maintain. This idea is mostly based on the mirroring angle. Expect it to have real (plot point relevant level of) power, but not last long.

  4. I suspect it might be winged. Rukia likes high places and enjoys the freedom her heart has had since meeting Ichigo. So highly symbolic wings (I suspect of the white feathered variety) are a plausible feature.

  5. There going to be a lot of white.

  6. We might see a scythe as well, based on Fade to Black version of Dark Rukia.

  7. There also be some features that relate to the arc that Rukia acquire it in. Which we can't really guess at this point in time what they might be however.


Sofion and why the arm cannon fits her perfectly

Jakuhō Raikōben (Hornet Thunder Whip) is probably the most controversial Bankai yet seen. The fandom hate of this Bankai is pretty high in some places and many consider it totally unfitting for Sofion, head of the Convert Ops to wield what amounts a siege weapon on her arm.


I disagree.


Its a terrible weapon for assassinating people with and it not a Convert Ops type of weapon at all. But Sofion isn't just assassin, she's fundamentally a three dimensional person as well. A person with quiet a temper and vindictive steak that's scary. She also the a person who quiet willing to use extreme measures.


Her Shikai is Suzumebachi (Hornet). A Zanpakutō which kills in two strikes. Not subdue, kill. There is no knock-out option on this weapon, Releasing her Zanpakutō make it notably harder for Sofion not to bring down her foe none fatally and whats the step up from unforgiving death for one person? Yes you figured it out folks, its unforgiving death for a lot of people!


A second factor to consider when considering Jakuhō Raikōben is that Sofion has a lot of unresolved internal issues(mostly to do with a certain werecat idol disappearing on her), so perhaps her Bankai is literally her release of all that pent up stress at whoever angered her enough to pull out the embarrassing Bankai of mass annihilation....


Orihime's Shun Shun Rikka

I think that when it fundamental comes down to it that Shun Shun Rikka (Six Flowers of the Hibiscus Shield) is basically a sort of Zanpakutō. Its a reflection of Orihime soul in six little fairy's.


While I can't quiet figure out Baigon , I think I may have figured out what the others represent...

  1. Ayame is Orihime's shyness and gentle nature.

  2. Hinagiku is Orihime's drive and enthusiasm.

  3. Lily is Orihime's outgoing side.

  4. Shun'ō is Orihime's quiet confidence.

  5. Tsubaki is Ohirime's aggression and desire to kill... which probably explain his low body count...

While Shun Shun Rikka clearly is a few steps removed from a traditional Zanpakutō, its does share some notable traits, such as being a manifestation of its wielder warrior self and showing the inner character of its owner. It also has a release command.


Now onto the more theory side of things. I believe Shun Shun Rikka is Orihime's powers at there most basic. This is Orihime's version of Ichigo's giant oversized sword of the first arc. She still doesn't really know how to use her powers, she hasn't really woke them up properly and discovered her warrior side. Its not really surprising that her warrior side split into six separate personalities and notable far behind the other characters at anything other than healing.


So my prediction is thus... Orihime will sort out all her insecurity and self confidence issues and Shun Shun Rikka will change into a weapon of some kind (staff looks likely, sword and shield is not pushing it). It will speak with one voice and have a flower theme. I also suspect Orihime's power level will sky-rocket.


I also suspect it won't be too long before we see this, it seems to me that KT has spent the whole HM arc showing all Orihime's failings and weaknesses. He had Orihime in fact say several times that she's angry with all her weaknesses. And the purpose of this is set up. The sun always shine brightest at dawn, so for Orihime to shine brightly and evolve her abilities to the next level.. she got to go through mental of a night of hell first.


Anyway I hope you all enjoy reading this, constructive criticism and debate of points raised encouraged!





bmrjack567 on January 14th, 2010 01:16 am (UTC)
god i hope you're are right about rukia reaching bankai... that would be badass. I really enjoyed how you broke down shun shun rikka into the different aspects of orihime's personality and finally some one who thinks orihime is going to blossom by the end of the arc!
kohi_no_torakohi_no_tora on January 14th, 2010 03:57 am (UTC)
First I wish to mention a slight issue. The generally accepted romaji for the swords' releases are shikai and bankai

Second part, I must disagree somewhat on your analysis on Zangetsu's initial form. Despite initial appearances it's a surprisingly sophisticated weapon, the problem is that Ichigo doesn't use its full array of abilities.

The first of the unexpected issues is that for all that it looks like a giant cleaver giving the impression of pure offence is that its a potent defensive weapon as well. The width of the blade serves a rather effective shield and it allows Ichigo to block blows that other shinigami would be forced to avoid.

The other two bonuses come from the cloth wrapping that serves in place of a sheath. The first is the stated ability to focus Ichigo's already impressive reiatsu for additional power by swing it around by the cloth. Ichigo has used this ability a grand total of once but it's results were... impressive to say the least given the reputed strength of the Sokokyu's execution block.

The other is an ability that only Shirosaki has used in demonstation. Using the cloth as a whip Zangetsu become particularly deadly, able of enganging at a wide varieties of ranges and from unexpected angles. As I said, the problem Ichigo has never used this ability on his own.

Getting off Ichigo for a moment, the strange thing about Suzemebachi/Jakuhou Raikouben is that most of the bankai manifestations so far have simply been their weilder's shikai writ large. Senbonzakura Kageyoshi, Hihiou Zabimaru, Daiguren Hyorinmaru, Kokujou Tengen Myo-oh and to a lesser extend Ryumon Hozukimaru are simply their shikai forms but... more. Tousen's shikai abilities were never all that clearly defined and Ichigo's bankai is noted as odd from the get go.

The complete shift in attack styles is what threw people off when Soi Fon showed off her bankai since no-one else has demonstrated a similar change.
kaibasgirl on January 14th, 2010 06:27 am (UTC)
Hehe, I agree with you about Jakuho Raikoben throwing everyone off, but I think what added to the hatedom was the fact that it was just SO unexpected (well, to be honest, NO ONE could have predicted what Soi's bankai would be XD) and so very conveniently the perfect weapon to destroy Barragon with. And this fandom tends to gripe over everything, so that was just another apple for the basket XD
(Anonymous) on January 14th, 2010 06:28 am (UTC)
This fits nicely with Ichigo's origin story and funnily enough fits with both platonic/romantic interpenetration of Ichigo and Rukia's relationship.

kaibasgirl on January 14th, 2010 07:37 am (UTC)
I liked your analysis very much, especially that one of Sode no Shirayuki.

On Soi Fon's shikai/bankai:

While I do agree on your analysis of how her weapon is a kill-all/no mercy kind of weapon, I would like to add to the contrast between her two weapons.

First thing to note is the fact that just their sizes are completely opposite each other. Suzumebachi fits over Soi Fon's finger perfectly (while giving her the additional prowess of discreetly flipping people off XD), and is, in essence, like an extension of her finger. Like a really long, sharp nail, that does the job she needs done without limit, and does not cause any inconvenience to herself.

Her bankai, on the other hand, is huge. Massive. She can only fire it once every three days (or if she pushes herself hard enough, twice in one day XD), she cannot run with it, and it's weight is a burden on her. Additionally, it's not something subtle, like her shikai. It's glaringly obvious when it's out, wherein with Suzumebachi, it could be easily concealed.

I thik this represents Soi Fon's personality perfectly. Like lackasexical once pointed out, Soi Fon is a character of extremes. She's either one or the other, she doesn't have any 'middle-ground'. If you're her enemy, she'll kill you, doesn't matter if you were once her comrade/friend/whatever. This is shown through the incongruence of her shikai and bankai form.

Not only that, but each form represents a different side of her.

Her shikai, for example, is small, subtle, and you could say it 'kills quietly'. That's the Soi Fon we know as a child, when she still served under Yoruichi. Shy, quiet, even a bit reclusive.

Her bankai, on the other hand, is loud, flashy, and pretty much screams "LOOK AT ME". That's the current Soi Fon, the one we know as captain of the 2nd Division and head of the Omnitsukido. Brash, aggressive, catankerous.

Another interesting thing to note here is that the way her shikai kills is through the use of the homonka. The homonka is, in essence, a tattoo of a butterfly. A butterfly is a beautiful and graceful creature, but also fragile. It's been said that it gives the poetic statement of "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" to her. I would like to add my own thoughts to this. Soi Fon acheived shikai while she was still under Yoruichi's command. Her bankai, however, was acheived after Yoruichi had abandoned her, and she'd been given 100 years to stew in her feelings of hatred and betrayal. Considering the Zanpakuto of the weilder reflects their inner soul, I would say that Soi Fon's bankai is an exact representation of the mask she uses to cover up the shy and quiet girl inside her.
kaibasgirl on January 14th, 2010 07:38 am (UTC)

(two posts cause of character limit)

One more thing (and then I'll shut up--really!) what I always found the most fascinating about the Zanpakuto is their tsuba. Since every shinigami's tsuba is different, it's only logical to say that it also represents an aspect of the wielder's personality/soul.

For instance, take Byakuya's tsuba. It's pretty simple in design, which is strange, considering what an elegant character Byakuya is, you'd expect it to have some sort of artisitic flare. Instead, it's shape is a rectangle, with four open squares--almost like windows. The way I interpret that (own personal opinion here) is that he purposely closes himself off to people (represented by the rectangle, completely closed, no way to get in), because if he doesn't, he's afraid of opening himself up to vulnerability (represented by the open squares). Another interpretation I like is that, despite him coming off as unreadable/cold-hearted jerk most of the time, once you do get inside him, he's a pretty open book. There's not much malice/evil intent there, only a desire to be 'free' if you will, like free to be himself (with all his emotions), but his duties as head of his clan require to hide away his true self from everyone else.

Or take Gin's tsuba. Despite the fact that I really hate his guts, I always found his zanpakuto to be of interest. The tsuba is one long line that's wound around itself, like a snake. Much like Gin is a manipulative character, that's wound up, so you can't figure him out because you can't tell where he begins and where he ends.

So Soi Fon's tsuba always fascinated me, because if you look at it's shape, it looks like that of a caccoon or an egg. But for symbolism's sake, let's say caccoon. Now a caccoon is something that's wrapped up, it's closed, you can't get in. But not only is her tsuba's shape a caccoon, it's also got lines going around it, as though to reinforce the 'seal' if you will, that no one can get in. But anyone who's studied biology knows that a caccoon only hides away a butterfly, and when the time is right, it'll take it's flight, much like Soi Fon herself is always hiding her real personality, and locking it away. Additionally, if you look at the lines, they're all parallel to each other, so it almost looks like you can open it length-wise. Whether Kubo did that on purpose, or it's just the most logical way to draw it, considering there's a blade in the middle there, that's up to interpretation.

Okay, so yah, shutting up now. But I do want to say that I also loved your analysis of Orihime's Shun Shun Rikka. I wholeheartedly agree with it.

(sorry for my ramblings, btw. Soi Fon's just one of my favorite characters XD)
kaibasgirl on January 14th, 2010 08:06 am (UTC)
Oh wait, wanted to add one more thing!

It's speculated in the fandom that Soi Fon's bankai, like Byakuya's, can take on different forms. The reason for this is because when Soi Fon finally took out Jakuho Raikoben, she says "I would have preferred not to use this bankai", which makes people think this is just one form, and maybe she has others ^^

And, I am totally in love with Soi's bankai. I think it's so cool *___* <33
lookoutsunshine: Renjishynishyshallow on January 14th, 2010 07:10 pm (UTC)
...Maybe Kubo just likes moons? You know, Byakuya was called one too. Is he in for some threesome then? ;)

J/k. Seriously though, I think the post has a potential o become a good analysis, but lacks more, hm, insight. For example, all that kohi_no_tora mentioned about Zangetsu. I fully agree. Ichigo hasn't had yet the time to fully develop or get to know Zangetsu better, to have Zangetsu teach him. What we know of Zangetsu is pretty incomplete and Shirosaki shows this quite well. It's just one of the issues, because, ah, I'm a bit tired right now to search for other arguments, sorry. ^^;

Also, SPELLING. Please. Amend that. It made my eye twitch.

Oh, and! Rukia's bankai would indeed be beautiful. I'm really looking forward to seeing it! *cough* About 3 years or more? What's your bet? *cough*
mrdracospirit on January 15th, 2010 10:15 am (UTC)
>.< Ichigo/Rukia/Byakuya threesome that such a wrong thought...

Its nice to hear some other people thoughts on Zangetsu however. The whole Ichigo hasn't fully mastered Zangetsu angle kind of escaped me when writing this essay (bad Draco! >.<) through even if we take into account of future growth you must still admit that compared to some of the very complicated (and underhand) Zanpakutō that we have seen, Zangetsu is still firmly in the straight forward and relative simple in function group?

Anyway on Rukia's Bankai, I think were going to wait ages for it. This isn't a Rukia's focused arc and I doubt we see it in the mini arc KT suppose to be doing next or the Isshin arc that suppose to come after that. Also I feel KT will want to save it for latter rather than sooner so he's got a ace up his sleeve for sorting out a plot point.

I think what we should be looking for is if the story takes a focus on something of note to do with Rukia. Like say Byakuya being kidnapped or the house of Kuchiki being attacked. Also if Ichigo was indisposed or Rukia started having lots of internal monologue about being useless then I be inclined to believe Rukia's Bankai wouldn't be that far away.

So three years or more seems very plausible to me. Sorry about the spelling BTW, I thought I got them all but clearly I didn't >.<. I tidy the essay up a little latter.