Bleach Portal: No Better Bleach Source Than This
Bleach Zanpaku-to Guide
An Explanation of Terms:
Zanpaku-to, Shikai, Bankai Almost as important to the story of Bleach as Ichigo, Rukia, Aizen and the other characters are the swords that they carry; their zanpaku-to. Unlike other series' super-special attacks and weapons, the blades of Bleach are characters in and of themselves, with quirks and personalities of their own.
A zanpaku-to is the direct reflection of the power of its wielder, a shinigami's spiritual pressure given physical form. While they mostly look like any other katana an old-time samurai might carry around, zanpaku-to are far from normal. The foremost difference is the ability of zanpaku-to to harm shinigami. Since shinigami are really a kind of ghost, normal blades and weapons can't touch them. In fact, "zanpaku-to" literally means "soul cutting sword."
The other major point that separates them from plain ol' swords is a zanpaku-to's ability to transform. Each blade has up to three distinct forms which its wielder can acces according to their strength and skill. The first, and one that doesn't take any effort to attain, is the blade's normal form. With a few exceptions, a zanpaku-to's normal form is indistinguishable from that of a plain katana.
The second form is called "Shikai", or "first release". The key to Shikai is learning the zanpaku-to's name. Discovering it is not the easiest thing in the world; some Shinigami never do manage it. But for those that do, they gain a whole new level of power. Easily triggered by an incantation unique to each sword, a shikai zanpaku-to changes immensely, often becoming a weapon far removed from a sword. Also, shikai zanpaku-to usually have special powers a shinigami can use, such as poisons, illusions or power blasts.
"Bankai", the third form, means "all release". Only shinigami at the Captain's rank, or highly powerful Vice-Captains can acquire bankai. Increasing the zanpaku-to's power by as much as a factor of ten, it takes many decades of intense training to learn bankai (or three days of cheating courtesy of Urahara and Yoruichi. ^^) Triggering a zanpaku-to's bankai needs only a one-word incantation: Bankai.
Bankai zanpaku-to get additions to their names, indicating it is New and Special, and it changes even more drastically, usually (presently with only 1 exception) becoming something far, far larger than the wielder.
As of the present (Chapter 183), 26 zanpaku-to have been introduced, and we've seen 7 Bankai. But there are still several Captains and Vice-Captains who haven't shown us what their zanpaku-to can do, and several of the blades we have seen have only given us teasers. So this list is not nearly finished yet.
Asauchi (Shallow Hit)
Wielder: Shinigami Dropouts
First Appearance: Chapter 110, vol. 13, Dark Side of Universe
Soul Society is very adamant about zanpaku-to having names. So much so they even give an overall name to blades so weak they don't have their own; Asauchi. That's what the blank blades carried by Shinigami who are too weak to gain a spot in one of the 13 Divisions are called.Appearance-wise, it's a normal katana with a plain, oval crossguard. Since it's so weak it can't find it's own name, it obviously doesn't have a Shikai, let alone a Bankai. The only thing that sets it apart from a mundane katana is that it is capable of harming a shinigami.
Ashisogi Jizou (Legshredder Priest)
Wielder: Kurotsuchi Mayuri, 12th Div. Captain
First Shikai: Chapter 122, vol. 14, Don't Lose Your Grip On
First Bankai: Chapter 125, vol. 15, Insanity and Genius
In it's plain form, Ashisogi Jizou looks mostly like a normal katana. However, in place of the crossguard are some randomly jutting spikes and a haphazardly wrapped cloth. Captain Kurotsuchi keeps it in a loose, blobby-looking light colored sheath hung from the very front of his belt, dangling from his belly button down to between his knees.
Ashisogi Jizou has one of the freakiest Shikai forms. The blade's hilt is normal, but that's about it. In place of the crossguard are the randomly jutting spikes, but they're longer and have gained trailing cloths. Above the crossguard is the weirdest part: a huge, round, bronze face that looks like a bald, bulging-eyed cross between your typical Area 51 alien and a baby. The thing is at least as big as Kurotsuchi-taicho's own head. The blade itself splits into three wavy prongs that come out at angles from the top and sides of the baby/alien's head, like some crazy set of horns, with the middle prong being the longest. As an ability, Ashisogi Jizou paralyzes the motor nerves of whatever living thing it hits. It doesn't matter what part of the body is struck, the paralysis moves through the body like a poison until the victim is completely immobile. Sadistically, the same poison also amplifies things for the victim's pain receptors, so even the slightest cut hurts like all hell. Captain Kurotsuchi brings about the bizzare change to Shikai with the phrase "kakimushire" (pluck and scratch)
BANKAI: KONJIKI ASHISOGI JIZOU
(GOLDEN LEGSHREDDER PRIEST)
In Bankai, the weird face on Ashisogi's Shikai gets a gargantuan body... of a sort. The head now looks way more alien-like than it does baby-ish, and it has a huge golden hoop with dangling bells circling it like an oversized halo. The body itself is shrouded in a ragged, grayish cloak that makes it look like a floating ghost. Underneath the cloak is a fat, pasty-pale caterpillar-like torso. Mist constantly streams from the corners of its little, pursed mouth. The most dangerous part of the Bankai, that mist is a specialized poison Konjiki Ashisogi Jizou makes from Captain Kurotsuchi's blood. One good lungful of the stuff is lethal to any living thing within almost two hundred yards of him. Captain Kurotsuchi himself is unaffected, of course. If that doesn't get you, it can sprout a forest of swordblades from it's "neck" area and rumble right over you.
Benihime (Crimson Princess)
Wielder: Urahara Kisuke, Racketeer [SPOILER] Former 12th Division, Captain [/SPOILER]
First Shikai: Chapter 65, vol. 8, Collisions
First Bankai: None, yet.
Benihime gets kudos for being one of the more unusual normal-form zanpaku-to; Urahara totes her around as a cane-sword. She also has the flaming skull sigil, which means Urahara can use her to separate souls from bodies.
Benihime doesn't look too much different in Shikai form. Her hilt is a little on the longer side, mostly because the last two or three inches are bent at an angle. A cute little tassel dangles off the end. Instead of a crossguard, there is a decorative string wrapped thrice around the hilt, with a three-loop bow on one side and a folded paper decoration on the other. An almost skirt-like decoration covers the first three or four inches of blade, with a flower petal design right as it meets the string-crossguard. Benihime's blade is straight and slim, though somewhat short, with the tip ending in a slanted razor-like edge instead of being tapered to a point. Urahara triggers the change to Shikai with the word "okiro" (awaken). Not much in the way of Benihime's powers have been shown off yet, but Urahara has given us a glance at one; "Chigasumi no Tate" (Blood-mist Shield). Requiring a little of Urahara's blood and the word "nake" (cry), Benihime can make a thick, red block of a shield in front of Urahara strong enough to hold off one of Zangetsu's Getsuga Tenshou strikes.
Fujikujaku (Wysteria Peacock)
Wielder: Ayasegawa Yumichika, 11th div, 5th Seat
First Shikai: Chapter 147, vol. 17, Countdown to the End 3: [Blind Light, Deaf Beat]
First Bankai: Yumichika is only a 5th-seat, so he is incapable of Bankai.
Fujikujaku is one of the few zanpaku-to which has an unusual normal-form; a sicle. Actually, it's a four-bladed sicle, each blade atop the other and pinned the base of the hilt so that they can slide out into a sharp fan with a flick of Yumichika's wrist. Though, somehow Yumichika manages to carry it around in a normal-looking sword sheath. Hmm... ;>.> Anyway, Fujikujaku's crossguard is more of a fat cross than a regular rectangle, and it has some intricate etchings of peacock feathers on it.
We get a very quick glimpse of Fujikujaku's Shikai form, but not a very good one. What it looks like I don't know, but it does have the nasty ability to leech off its opponent's spiritual pressure and feed that to Yumichika. So you end up exhausted and Yumichika ends up hyper in a very short amount of time.
Gegetsuburi (Five-shapes Head)
Wielder: Ohmaeda Marechiyo, 2nd Div. Vice-captain
First Shikai: Chapter 152, vol. 18, The Speed Phantom
First Bankai: Heck, we've barely even seen it's Shikai...
From what little Kubotite has shown us so far, Gegetsuburi doesn't make any waves with it's normal form, looking just like a regular katana. The crossguard is a hexagon, with the two sides parallel to the blade being tucked inwards in curls.
Ichigo breaks this one really fast, but from what I could tell, Ohmaeda turns Gegetsuburi into a giant mace of some variety with the phrase "Bu-tsubuse!" (Smash it!).
Gonryoumaru (Solemn Spirit)
Wielder: ???????, 1st Div. Vice-captain
First Shikai: Chapter 152, vol. 18, The Speed Phantom
First Bankai: Not Yet.
We see less of this guy's sword than we do of him, and that's saying something. I'm assuming it's a fairly normal, looks-like-regular-katana deal.
Again, a quick glimpse is all we get. I think it turns into a fancy rapier when the vice-captain says "Ugate" (Pierce!).
Haineko (Ash Cat)
Wielder: Morimoto Rangiku, 10th Div. Vice-captain
First Shikai: Chapter 169, vol. ? End of Hypnosis
First Bankai: don't think she can do this one yet...
Haineko breaks no molds with it's normal form, looking just like any other katana. The crossguard is a stylized cat's head, with two triangles on the top half curving into ear-points and the bottom half tapering down into a single point. Rangiku carries Haineko just like any other sword, stuck through her obi at her waist.
Haineko is in the same group as Senbon Zakura in that it's Shikai form is pretty much invisible. With the trip-phrase "Unare!" (Growl!) from Morimoto, Haineko's blade puffs into a cloud of smoke. What that smoke does.... we don't know. Yet. Hurry up, Kubotite!
Wielder: Madarame Ikkaku, 11th div, 3rd Seat
First Shikai: Chapter 87, vol. 10, Dancing With Spears
First Bankai: Ikkaku isn't close to that good yet...
Houzukimaru is nothing unusual in it's normal form, looking like any regular katana. Madarame does hide a small vial of healing ointment in the base of the hilt, though. Houzukimaru's crossguard is an oval, with what look like three small teardrops in relief on both the top and bottom end. Those marks are probably meant to represent "oni-bi" (demon fire), little balls of blue flame that have a thin wisp trailing up off the top, usually found floating in graveyards in Japanese ghost stories and myths.
Madarame fights in an unusual style, using both Houzukimaru's blade and sheath, one in each hand. Madarame thunks the base of his sheath into the top of the hilt and clips out the word "nobiro" (extend). The sheath and hilt join together, morphing into a japanese spear, called a naginata. But that's not all Houzukimaru is. Another short command of "sakero" (split), and it splits into three separate pieces joined by short lengths of chain; in other words, a san-setsu-kon (three-section staff). Madarame can manipulate the two joints at will, popping them open or closed as he needs to.
NOTE: You may have noticed that Houzukimaru's name doesn't change much in English. A "houzuki" is a type of flower in japan that looks more like a little red paper lantern than a real flower. The fruit from the houzuki plant, a ground-cherry, grows inside that "lantern". Houzuki bloom in the fall, and it is culturally associated with "Obon", the Festival of the Dead.
Hyourinmaru (Ice Ring)
Wielder: Hitsugaya Toushiro, 10th div, Captain
First Shikai: Chapter 132, vol 17, Creeping Limit
First Bankai: Chapter 170, vol ?, End of Hypnosis 2; The Galvanizer
Hyourinmaru is not too different from a regular katana in its normal-form. The most outstanding feature is its crossguard, which is in the shape of a golden, four-pointed star. Captain Hitsugaya usually carries Hyourinmaru slung over his back, hilt poking over his right shoulder, instead of at his hip.
With a cry of "Souten ni zase!" (Sit upon the frozen heavens), Captain Hitsugaya doesn't so much make Hyourinmaru itself change as he does summon a giant dragon made of water. An eastern dragon, not the western fire-breathing type, it's probably several hundred gallons of near-freezing water that he can point and send anywhere he wants. Hyourinmaru itself stays pretty much the same, but grows a long chain off the butt of the hilt with a crescent-shaped blade attached to the end. Both dragon and chain radiate such a chill that any water, even the moisture in the air, starts to freeze. So even if you don't drown in the deluge that is the dragon, the water still soaking you will freeze you to your core. All that put together is more than enough to start affecting even the local weather patterns!
BANKAI: DAI GUREN HYOURINMARU
(Great Crimson Ice Ring)
The most powerful known water/ice-elemental zanpaku-to, Dai Guren Hyourinmaru includes not only a moving ice-floe, but also independently mobile ice-stars. Captain Hitsugaya still has a metal blade to hold, the ice flaring over his arm and off his right shoulder. Dai Guren's blade stays almost exactly the same, actually losing the chain and crescent from it's shikai, but the crossguard morphs into a huge multi-pointed golden star. What Captain Hitsugaya can do with this is unfortunately not known, due to the untimely interference of one Captain Aizen.
Itegumo (Frost Cloud)
Wielder: Kotetsu Isane, 4th div. Vice-captain
First Shikai: Chapter 152, vol. 18, The Speed Phantom
First Bankai: None, yet. She's only a vice-captain after all.
It shouldn't surprise you when I say Itegumo's normal form is just like any other katana, and that Isane keeps it tucked in her obi, just like almost every other Shinigami out there. However, the blade's crossguard is a neat one; a hexagon with a short prong sticking off of each point, making it look a little like a snowflake.
Up to this point, we've only gotten a short glimpse at Itegumo's Shikai form. Isane shouts the word "Hashire" (Run!), and Itegumo's blade splits into three, one vertical and two coming out of the hilt at 45-degree angles. What Itegumo can do is as of yet unknown.
Katen Kyoukotsu (Flower Sky, Crazy Bones)
Wielder: Kyouraku Shunsui, 8th div. Captain
First Shikai: Chapter 156, vol 18, Welcome to Purgatory
First Bankai: no sign of one yet.
One of the few slightly odd normal-form zanpaku-to, Katen Kyoukotsu isn't a single blade, but rather a pair-- the traditional samurai set of a katana and wakizashi. Their crossguards are rectangles with the corners cut off, decorated by a pattern of cherry petals and lines.
Katen Kyoukotsu is, along with Sougyo no Kotowari, one of only two zanpaku-to that has a twin-blade Shikai.
Reciting this short poem:
Hanakaze midarete (Flowered breeze flutters)
Kashin naki (Flower god weeps)
Tenpuu midarete (Heaven's gale blows)
Tenma warau (Heaven's demon laughs)
...Captain Kyouraku sets the two blades against each other in a cross, then pulls. When the flash clears, Katen Kyoukotsu has become a pair of huge, heavily curved scimitars. The hilt and crossguards of each are still the same as they were in Katen Kyoukotsu's normal-form, but long, full tassles dangle from the end of each. It's kinda hard to tell, but I do believe that the left-handed blade is slightly larger than the right-handed one.Unfortunately, the manga cuts away at a convenient point, so we don't know what Katen Kyoukotsu can do yet. Drat!
Kyouka Suigetsu (Mirror Flower, Water Moon)
Wielder: Aizen Sousuke, 5th Div. Captain
First Shikai: It's happened, but when? Good question....
First Bankai: Lord help us all if he ever does use it...
Kyouka Suigetsu looks like a normal katana. The only decoration is the crossguard, which is a hexagon instead of a rectangle. The two sides parallel to the blade are long, whereas the four sides above and below the blade are shortened, making it into almost a diamond-like shape.
Kyouka Suigetsu is one of a kind. Aizen has used its Shikai, I think, but due to its power, nobody knows what it really looks like.Y'see, Kyouka Suigetsu gives Aizen the power of 'complete hypnosis'. As long as opponents can see him, he can hypnotize them into seeing or believing anything he wants them to. There's no way to get out of it once it's on you, and even if you know it's going to happen, there's no way you can see through it. The only way to get around it is not to look at Aizen or the blade *at all*, which makes fighting him a lot harder.
Wielder: Unohana Retsu, 4th div. Captain
First Shikai: Chapter 154, vol 18, The God of Flash
First Bankai: I don't ...think we've seen it.
Minazuki's normal form is slightly different than your average zanpaku-to and not really what you'd expect the nice, polite, motherly Captain Unohana to be toting around. A huge, curved no-datchi (the Japanese idea of a claymore), Minazuki is almost as long as Captain Unohana is tall. She normally carries it around in her hands, or slung purse-like over her shoulder with a long strap.
I think this is Minazuki's Shikai, anyway. She's used it a few times too often for it to be her Bankai. However, Kubotite has yet to show us how Captain Unohana summons it, so I don't know what phrase or word she uses to trigger the Shikai. The Shikai itself is hard to miss. It's a giant, stingray-like... thing. The body looks mainly like a stingray, but instead of a small mouth on the bottom, the entire front edge of the thing is it's mouth. One round, lid-less eye pokes up from the middle part of the front of the thing so it can see. It also has two cariacature-like, skinny, three-pronged feet under each of it's "wings". Of course, those feet are way to tiny to move the huge creature (it's big enough for Captain Unohana and maybe a dozen other people to sit on it's back comfortably), so it gets around by flying.You'd think this would be some sort of vicious attack beast, until you remember that Captain Unohana is the highest-ranked *healer* in Soul Society. Instead of eating you, Minazuki *heals* you in its stomach. Of course, you do still get covered with sticky goo and it still has to vomit you out, so it's something I'd rather do when unconscious.
NOTE: There's this one kanji in Minazuki's name that I cannot find no matter how hard I search. Without it, making sense out of the rest of the name is difficult. However, I can tell you that the reading "Minazuki" (with different kanji) is the old Japanese name for the month of June, I believe. Roughly translated, it means "the waterless month". I don't know if the old Japanese had a twisted sense of humor or what, but June is usually the monsoon season. XD
Nejibana (Twist Flower)
Wielder: Shiba Kaien, 13th div. Vice captain (deceased)
First Shikai: Chapter 135, vol. 17, memories in the rain2 op.3 "Affected by the Night"
First Bankai: We'll never see this one, unfortunately.
We don't see much of Kaien's zanpaku-to. It's normal form is a regular katana, just like 95% of all the other zanpaku-to out there. The crossguard is a rectangle with a nice swirl pattern on it, though.
Again, only a tease on this one. As soon as Kaien chanted the shikai release phrase, "Suiten wo sakamake!" (boil the liquid heavens!), Nejibana exploded. The rest of the story is a spoiler, so go read volume 16!
Ryujin Jakka (Flowing Flame Blade)
Wielder: Yamamoto Genryuusai Shigekuni, 1st Div. Captain, overall Captain of entire 13 Divisions.
First Shikai: Chapter 155, vol 18 Redoundable Deeds, Redoubtable Babies
First Bankai: None, yet.
One of the few unusual normal-form zanpaku-to, Ryujin Jakka is similar to Benihime, spending most of its time as a cane, though it is a knarled wood staff to Benihime's tophat-and-tails sort of snazzy cane. The short phrase "tsuukon nari" (with sorrow) strips the harmless guise from Ryuujin Jakka, turning it into a plain-looking longsword with a completely plain, oval crossguard. However, it doesn't stay in that state long before Yama-jii (his full name's too long, so I'm going to use Captain Kyouraku's nick for him. ^^) shifts it into its---
Along with Hyourinmaru, Ryuujin Jakka is an elemental blade, though in this case the element is fire. Reciting the sentence "Banshou issai haijin to nase" (reduce all to ash), Yama-jii sets Ryuujin Jakka on fire. Flame sprouts from the hilt and blade, wrapping around Yama-jii in one huge conflagration. The blade itself remains in his hand, though it's hard to see through all the flame. It doesn't take much imagine to figure out that Yama-jii can probably manipulate all that fire with a craftsman's precision.
Senbon Zakura (Thousand Cherry Trees)
Wielder: Kuchiki Byakuya, 6th div. Captain
First Shikai: Chapter 116, vol. 14, White Tower Rocks
First Bankai: Chapter 142, vol. 17, Tsuki wo torau mono e tsugu (To He Who Would Capture the Moon)
Senbon Zakura doesn't deviate from the norm in its plain form, looking just like a normal katana. Captain Kuchiki isn't inventive in carrying it, either, keeping it slung at his waist. Only the crossguard distinguishes it, mostly by being almost not there. Senbon Zakura's crossguard is a simple open frame, much like a 4-pane window.
It's shikai form in which Senbon Zakura really shines. Er, well, glitters anyway. Speaking the short word "chire" (scatter), Captain Kuchiki makes Senbon Zakura's blade disappear. It isn't gone completely, it has just disintegrated into millions of tiny, razor-thin metal petals you can only see when they catch the light and wink, like the quick flutter of falling cherry petals. Captain Kuchiki mentally controls this razor cloud, and can slice somebody to ribbons without them even seeing what hit them.
BANKAI: SENBON ZAKURA KAGEYOSHI
(Thousand Cherry Trees, Solemn Shadow)
Senbon Zakura Kageyoshi is a souped up version of shikai Senbon Zakura. A stately double row of dozens of swords lines up out of nowhere around Captain Kuchiki and then dissolve into the wind, making that much bigger of a razor-petal cloud for him to use. Captain Kuchiki can also cause the petals to reform into ghost-white blades and sling them around mentally.
Shinsou (God Spear)
Wielder: Ichimaru Gin, 3rd Div. Captain
First Shikai: Chapter 75, vol 9, "Chisame" (Blood Rain)
First Bankai: haven't seen it yet. >.<
Normal form Shinsou is a wakizashi, the Japanese version of a short sword. Its crossguard is elegant, two slim swirls of metal looping around the blade to make an open oval. The blade itself is probably not much longer than a foot and a half, to a normal katana's length of close to 3'. Captain Ichimaru keeps it tucked in his obi, like most other Shinigami do.
Shikai Shinsou isn't so much a form as it is a motion. Captain Ichimaru uses the phrase "ikorose" (shoot to kill) to, essentially, shoot Shinsou. The blade extends at a bullet's speed to whatever length Captain Ichimaru decides. The attack is not just a piercing one, however. Since Captain Ichimaru still has the hilt in his hands the slightest twitch of his wrist can translate into lightning-quick slicing swings by the tip of the blade.
Sougyo no Kotowari (Pisces' Reason)
Wielder: Ukitake Juushirou, 13th Div. Captain
First Shikai: Chapter 156, vol 18 Welcome to Purgatory
First Bankai: Not Yet.
Sougyo no Kotowari is like 95% of the other zanpaku-to out there in that it's normal form looks pretty much like a regular katana.
However, it's Shikai is like but one other blade, Katen Kyoukotsu, in that it is two blades in one set.
Captain Ukitake speaks a phrase for each blade:
Nami kotogotoku (Be as the waves)
Wa ga tate to nare (Become my shield)
Inazuchi kotogotoku (Be as lightning)
Wa ga yaiba to nare (Become my blade)
...and holds Sougyo no Kotowari out in front of him parallel to the ground. Starting at the tip, it then peels apart from itself, curling out into two long, slim blades. About a foot up the length of each, another short blade prongs out and arcs backwards almost to the hilt. A long, heavy strap connects the hilts of each blade to each other. However, it's likely the length of the strap changes with Captain Ukitake's will. Five short rectangular plaques dangle off the strap from their ends.Just what it is Sougyo no Kotowari can do is as of yet shrouded in mystery, due to a convenient cut-away.
Weilder: Soi Fong, 2nd Div. Captain
First Shikai: Chapter 157, vol 18?, Cat and Hornet
First Bankai: still waiting. ;_;
Suzumebachi is not quite the regular katana in normal form. It looks a little more like the shorter, thicker chinese sabers. Captain Soi keeps it strapped lengthwise across her back, so that the hilt and tip stick out from either side of her waist. The crossguard looks like someone took the normal rectangluar one and folded all four points inward to the base of the blade.
One of the more unique, and perhaps the smallest shikai forms, the phrase "Jinteki Shakusetsu" (Stinging death to all enemies) changes Suzumebachi from a sword into a stinger-like claw. Looking like three loosly curled cones fitted together, Shikai Suzumebachi sits snuggly over the middle finger of Captain Soi's right hand. The point itself is about 6 or 7 inches long and wickedly sharp. The uppermost curl of the stinger has a nice black swirl pattern on it, sweeping up to a tip which is connected to a fat, bee-stripped wrist bracelet by a looping chain and a tighter black band.Shikai Suzumebachi's ability is a nasty one. It stings you once and leaves behind a large, butterfly-like mark called a "Houmonka" (Bee Rune Flower) where it hit you. Should it sting you anywhere in that mark again, you keel over dead-- no exceptions. And the marks don't go away until Captain Soi decides they do.
Wielder: Tousen Kaname, 9th div. Captain
First Shikai: Chapter 126, vol. 15, The Last of a Void War
First Bankai: Chapter 146, vol. 17, Demon Loves the Dark
Suzumushi follows convention, looking exactly like a regular katana in it's normal form. The crossguard is in a teardrop shape, with the base of the drop arcing over the top of the blade, and the point of the drop pointing below the cutting edge. A row of several tiny teardrop shaped holes decorates the bottom of the curve, and a small ring, maybe 2" in diameter, dangles off the tip of the teardrop.
I ...think we got to see Suzumushi's Shikai when Captain Tousen comes across Ishida, who's exhausted from his fight with Captain Kurotsuchi. It could also be just an ability, but since the other abilities I've seen from zanpaku-to were all done with the blade in Shikai, I'm assuming that's the case. That puts Suzumushi in the same class as Shinsou, with a Shikai that is a motion instead of a form. Drawing the blade, Captain Tousen speaks the word "nake" (ring), and Suzumushi chimes a single, pure note. Whoever hears it keels over unconscious.We see another of Suzumushi's abilities later, when Captain Tousen and Captain Komamura take on Captain Zaraki. Called "Benihikou" (Crimson Locust), it looks like another ability based on a motion. Captain Tousen kicks it off with the phrase "Suzumushi - Nishiki" (Cricket, 2nd Movement), from what I can tell from the manga, it looks like Suzumushi vibrates. Captain Tousen then sweeps the blade across in front of himself and leaves behind a blur-trail that resolves into a forest of blades, which then hails down on the opponent like a literal blade-rain.
BANKAI: SUZUMUSHI TSUISHIKI - ENMA KOUROGI
(Cricket Final Movement - Enma Grasshopper)
Capitalizing on Captain Tousen's single disability-- his blindness-- Enma Kourogi expands into a giant lightless dome. Not only can no one inside see anything, they also cannot hear, smell or sense anything. Essentially, they're shoved into almost total sensory deprivation. Only by touching Enma Kourogi is anyone exempt from the effects. Oh, they can still feel, however. That way they know when Captain Tousen is cutting them to pieces.
NOTE: According to old Japanese legend, "Enma" is the lord of Hell and the judger of souls.
Tengen (Heaven's Rebuke)
Wielder: Komamura Sajin, 7th Div. Captain
First Shikai: Chapter 139, vol. 16, Drowzy, Bloody, Crazy
First Bankai: Chapter 148, vol. 17, Countdown to the End 2: [Lady Lennon ~ Frankenstein]
Captain Komamura's blade is pretty much the same as everyone else's in it's normal form; just like a normal katana. The crossguard is a rectangle decorated with a pattern of vertical lines, with the long sides pinched in to the middle, so the whole thing looks like a squared-off hourglass.
Captain Komamura cheats a bit when he first uses Tengen's Shikai. He doesn't use any incantation, so for the longest time it seemed like he'd used a plain ability. Anyway, Tengen is in a class with Suzumushi and Shinsou; it's Shikai is more a motion than a form. Actually, it's sort of a combination of both. At Captain Komamura's will, a ginormous version of his own hand and Tengen sweep down on opponents from whatever direction he chooses.
BANKAI: KOKUJOU TENGEN MYOU-OH
(Black Rope Heaven's Rebuke - King of Light)
Kokujou Tengen Myou-oh gives Shikai Tengen a body to go along with the hand, and gets a whole lot bigger to boot. An unbelieveably huge warrior dressed in ancient armor and a horned helmet, Kokujou Tengen looks to mimic Captain Komamura's movements. That's just a guess however, we don't get to see what it really does. ;.;
Tobiume (Flying Plum)
Wielder: Hinamori Momo, 5th div. Vice-captain
First Shikai: Chapter 101, vol 12, Split Under the Red Stalk
First Bankai: Momo hasn't attained Bankai yet.
Unsurprisingly, Tobiume looks just like a regular katana at first glance. The only slight difference is the cute five-petal flower designs stamped on the rectangular crossguard.
One look tells you that Tobiume isn't an attacker-type weapon. It's shikai form looks a lot like a sai, with one sword-length bar and two shorter ones splitting off at right angles from it; one at the base, and one half-way up. But Momo didn't get to be Vice-captain for nothing. Tobiume can spit out fire-balls with enough oomph to put an 8-foot diameter hole in stone walls.
Tsunzaki Garasu (Splitting Crow)
Wielder: Ikkanzaka Jiroubo, 7th div, 4th Seat
First Shikai: Chapter 91, vol 11, King of Frieschutz
First Bankai: For a 4th seat? Heck no...
Tsunzaki Garasu is like any other zanpaku-to in normal form; it looks like a normal katana except for the crossguard. Instead of a rectangle, Tsunzaki has a pair of circles stuck together for a crossguard, each with a little swirl-pattern decoration on them.
Taking a page from Senbon Zakura's book, Tsunzaki Garasu dismantles itself into a cloud of whirling rotor-blades (think shuriken, just with two points instead of 4 or 5) at the phrase "habataki-nasai" (spread your wings). About a hand-span long, Jiroubo mentally controls all the blades, sending them winging at whoever he wishes at high speeds.
Wielder: Kira Izuru, 3rd Div. Vice-captain
First Shikai: Chapter 101, vol. 12, Split Under the Red Stalk
First Bankai: Izuru is a Vice-Captain, but he hasn't attained Bankai yet.
"Wabisuke" is a play on words in many ways. First off, "Wabi" is the first half of the Japanese word "wabiru", which means to apologize. Hence, the English name for his blade. However, the kanji used in the name is slightly different. While still pronounced "wabi", it actually means "to find pleasure in simple, plain things." Accordingly, Wabisuke is very simple and plain in design. Its normal form is indistinguishable from a plain katana. The crossguard is a normal rectangular one, with only an omega design ("omega" as in the Greek letter) on the top and bottom half.
Wabisuke's Shikai form is not an ostentatious one, but it is certainly unusual. With the short phrase "omote wo agero" (show your face), Izuru changes Wabisuke into what looks much like a large, squared off cane. Where a normal katana would end, Wabisuke's blade makes two 90 degree angles, forming three sides of a square. Even more interestingly, it looks like the cutting edge of the blade is on the inside of the angles, not the outside. Just from that, it's hard to guess what makes Wabisuke special, or why it ever earned the name "Apology". Its power is truly devious, however. Any thing or person Wabisuke hits doubles in weight. So if you block his strike with your own blade, yours just got 2x heavier. Continue this across the fight, and your blade will end up weighing several hundred pounds. If he cuts you, *you yourself* double in weight. By the end, Izuru's opponents generally end up plastered to the ground, looking up at him as if in apology. Hence, the name.
Wielder: Abarai Renji, 6th Div. Vice-Captain
First Shikai: Chapter 56, vol 7, Na mo Kikenu Kodomo (the child who can't hear names)
First Bankai: Chapter 141 vol. 17, Kneel to the Baboon King
Like the vast majority of other zanpaku-to, Zabimaru's normal form looks exactly like any old katana, and Renji carries it stuck through his obi, like any samurai would. The only difference is the crossguard, which has a stylized lighting-bolt pattern carved into it.
With a quick shout of "Hoero!" (Howl!), Renji changes Zabimaru from an unassuming katana to a much larger, heavier weapon looking a lot like a sawblade. Zabimaru is comprised of seven rectangular plates that gradually widen from hilt to tip. Jutting out from the sharpened end of each plate is a flat, tooth-like spike, the last one on the last plate being long enough to qualify as a fang. The real surprise comes when opponents figure out that Zabimaru is not a sword, it's a *whip*. The plates are joined with a flexible material that can extend incredible distances. Renji can mentally control the length of the whip, but it still takes some weapons finesse to control it directionally. Shikai Zabimaru has one other ability, which Renji rarely uses. Called "Higa Zekkou" (Monkey Fang Absolute Bite), it allows him to control almost telekenetically the scattered pieces Zabimaru to "bite" into an opponent in one huge pile.
BANKAI: HIHIOU ZABIMARU (Baboon King Snaketail)
Though he's called the "Baboon King" Hihiou Zabimaru is really a giant snake skeleton. Renji holds onto the tip of the tail, which then coils into multitudes of round ribs all the way up into a huge snake head, complete with white furry ruff at the back of the skull-joint and several rows of fangs. Like Shikai Zabimaru, Hihiou Zabimaru is a whip, it just has a much, much larger range. Instead of having a flexible material joining the rib segments, all of Hihiou Zabimaru is held together by Renji's spiritual pressure, so it's nearly impossible for an opponent to sever it. The head can actually search out and bite opponents of it's own will to some extent, as well. Renji himself also changes appearance to a noticeable extent. He gains a white fur mantle over his black shinigami robes, held in place by an animal-fang chain. Decorating his left shoulder is a long, flat baboon skull.
NOTES: Besides Zangetsu, Zabimaru is the only other Zanpaku-to Avatar we've met. A huge (as in stands almost 5ft. tall at the shoulder huge) dignified-looking baboon with a snake for a tail, Zabimaru is actually two personalities in one. Interestingly, the baboon half of Zabimaru sports the long, slim pointed lines of a tatoo across his back and over his shoulders. One branch even snakes (pardon the pun) it's way down each arm almost to the wrist.Personality-wise, Zabimaru has two different voices, but they share the same outlook. The baboon speaks like an old man and the snake like a teenage punk, but both have a touch of irreverance and bossiness, as well as a distinct fondness for a good fight.
Zangetsu (Cutting Moon)
Wielder: Kurosaki Ichigo
First Shikai: Chapter 67, vol. 8, End of Lessons
First Bankai: Chapter 162, vol. ?, Black Moon Rising
Zangetsu, an unorthodox zanpaku-to for an unorthodox shinigami. ^-^ For the first 6 volumes of the manga, Zangetsu looks exactly like a normal katana, except for his size; frickin' HUGE. He was big enough to make claymores jealous, being as long as Ichigo is tall (5'8" or so), and at least a hand in width. His crossguard was the normal rectangle, with a stylized flame pattern on the long sides, and a simple decorative slit on the short ones. Ichigo carried Zangetsu slung over his back, the heavy sheath held in place with a thick leather belt studded with double-rows of metal-ringed holes.Then came the fights with Captain Kuchiki and Urahara. Zangetsu was badly broken and Ichigo thoroghly schooled, but the end result was Ichigo learned Zangetsu's name, and hence learned his---
Shikai Zangetsu looks more like an elegant cleaver than a formal "katana". He has no crossguard and no proper hilt; what Ichigo holds is the cloth-wrapped tang. Zangetsu is still as long as Ichigo is tall, but the blade is a hand-width only at it's base. From there it tapers in one long arc into a sharp, pointed tip. The cloth wrapping on the tang seems to react to Ichigo's will, changing length at a thought or twining about the blade in an impromptu sheath. Instead of the heavy belt for Zangetsu's sheath, a red chain of interconnecting triangles (one that looks a lot like a spinal column if you look right) runs from Ichigo's right shoulder to left hip. There's no connection or anything, he just puts Zangetsu across his back and the blade sticks. Shikai Zangetsu's power is simple but deadly. He can translate Ichigo's spiritual pressure into tangible energy. The resulting crescent moon of light is called "Getsuga Tenshou" (Moonfang Skyshock) and it can slice cleanly through anything; rock, buildings, people. However, Ichigo is still working on mastering this particular power. Strangely, Zangetsu is constantly in his Shikai form. Ichigo has yet to figure out how to get him to transform into a "normal form".
BANKAI: TENSA ZANGETSU (Heaven's Chain Cutting Moon)
The one exception to the "bankai is big" rule, Tensa Zangetsu is comparatively very small. In fact, this is the only form in which Zangetsu looks anything like a normal sword. He is still as long as he always was, but he now has a formal hilt, crossguard and blade. Instead of the cloth his Shikai form had, a short length of chain dangles from the base of the hilt. He finally gets a crossguard, though it isn't normal. Four prongs bend out to form the kanji for "ban", with the base of the blade at it's center. And every last square inch of him is dead black. Even his Getsuga Tenshou are dark as pitch.As for Tensa Zangetsu's ability, he takes everything that most bankai put into being big and translates it into speed boosts for Ichigo. The boosts are big enough that Ichigo can launch Getsuga Tenshou from two totally opposite sides of a target *almost simultaneously*.Like Renji, Ichigo himself also changes appearance, albeit very slightly. The top half of his shinigami blacks becomes a sort of suit topcoat instead of a kimono, pinned together at one spot, then left to flare out into ragged ends.
NOTE: Zangetsu is one of two zanpaku-to Avatars that we get to meet. He looks like any other human, really, though it's sometimes hard to see his body for the long, ragged black cloak he wears. What we do see resembles a suit of some kind, with a white-trimmed, deep v-collar and white cuffs at his sleeves. He has shaggy, black, shoulder length hair and always wears a clear pair of slim sunglasses. He seems like a soft -spoken but intense person, and usually has some wise advice for Ichigo.
Wielder: Kurotsuchi Nemu, 12th div. Vice captain
...does she even HAVE one? Kurotsuchi-taicho doesn't seem nearly that generous.
Wielder: Zaraki Kenpachi, 11th div. Captain
For the longest time, Kenpachi-taicho thought his blade didn't even have a name. However, it looks like he discovered it after his fight with Ichigo. But he has yet to tell us about it. ;-;
Wielder: Kusajishi Yachiru, 11th div. Vice-captain
Yachiru has a cute little sword with a crossguard that looks like the flowers kindergardeners draw. The bottom of the sheath even has a set of cute little wheels so she can pull it around on a string. Now if only she'd tell us it's name.
Wielder: Hisagi Shuuhei, 9th div. Vice-captain
Wow, we know absolutely *nothing* about this blade.
Wielder: Ise Nanao, 8th div. Vice-captain
Now that you mention it, I've never seen Nanao with a sword. But she is always toting around this huge book. Could that be the oddest normal-form zanpaku-to ever?
Wielder: Iba Tetsuzaemon, 7th div. Vice-captain
Though there have been many chances for Iba to show of his blade, he hasn't done so yet. I think it's a short one, since he keeps it tucked inside the front fold of his kimono, rather than at his waist.