First in Bleach, Ichigo met a bearded spirit named Zangetsu, who taught him how to use a sword. But Zangetsu is more than just his looks.
The following contains spoilers for the unrevealed Bleach manga lore in the anime.
The hit shounen anime Bleach stars the main character Ichigo Kurosaki, a good-natured punk teenager who can see spirits. On one fateful night, he became a Shinigami when Rukia Kuchiki lent him her powers to defeat a powerful Hollow, but there was so much more to it. A few episodes later, Ichigo meets a spirit in his inner world who calls himself Zangetsu.
In Bleach, Zangetsu served as one of Ichigo’s first mentors and trainers, and for a while the protagonist was under the impression that the black robed Zangetsu was his true zanpakuto spirit. — but he was wrong. In fact, Zangetsu is one of only two spirits with that name in Ichigo’s inner world, with the hollow Zangetsu being Ichigo’s actual zanpakuto spirit and the original embodying Ichigo’s Quincy legacy.
Who is Zangetsu on Bleach?
There are two Bleach characters named Zangetsu who live in Ichigo’s spirit world, and although both play important roles in Ichigo’s training and development as a shounen hero, they have completely different origin and nature. Both Zangetsus were inherited from Ichigo’s parents, especially the first being the last remaining vestige of Masaki Kurosaki’s love for her son. Masaki may have lost her life to Grand Fisher as a purebred Quincy with no energy, but her protective maternal instincts and Quincy legacy still live inside her son Zangetsu.
Even when he doesn’t talk much, Zangetsu wears a black cape that is very protective of Ichigo, making him a special kind of tsundere character. He can apply harsh training methods and rarely shows warmth when talking, but he genuinely cares for Ichigo. Zangetsu can be understood as the embodiment of Masaki’s protective feelings for his son, and they are further enhanced by his Quincy nature.
Ichigo doesn’t know it at first, but the black robed Zangetsu is an avatar of Quincy’s heritage from the protagonist’s mother, to the point where Zangetsu resembles King Yhwach himself, the lord of all Quincy. This wasn’t apparent until Yhwach himself appeared in Bleach’s “Thousand Year Blood War,” but once Bleach’s lore established that connection, fans couldn’t miss it.
In contrast, the other Zangetsu – the Empty version of Ichigo – has no connection to the Quincy or Yhwach family, instead being a remnant of the Void named White that once poisoned Masaki. It fell into the hands of Captain Shiba Ishin and Kisuke to save Masaki from that Hollow’s deadly power, and it later turned into Ichigo’s real Zangetsu. The two Zangetsus don’t always get along in Bleach’s story, and in the end one wins over the other.
Quincy Zangetsu’s True Form on Bleach
From the very beginning in Bleach, Quincy Zangetsu presents himself as Ichigo’s sole protector and main mentor; he appears at key moments, such as when Ichigo almost lost to Captain Zaraki midway through the “Soul Society” episode. However, whenever Ichigo looks to really power up his zanpakuto and learn more about it, he always finds Hollow Ichigo instead, who also claims to be Zangetsu. The bewildered Ichigo met him while training with the elite Visored, but it wasn’t until later that he learned the whole truth: he had two Zangetsus in him and had to choose one.
Finally, Quincy Zangetsu admits he always intended to protect Ichigo from harm by replacing another Zangetsu and leading the boy out of a life of violence and fighting — possibly motivated by a protective instinct. of Masaki as a Quincy mother. At the time, however, Ichigo needed more power, and Quincy Zangetsu both couldn’t and didn’t want to allow Ichigo to fight in ever more deadly battles. Forced to choose, he nominates Hollow Zangetsu as his sole source of strength.
When he disappeared, Quincy Zangetsu said that he was incredibly proud of all that Ichigo had achieved, almost like a proud father. He and his protective ways are no longer needed as Ichigo enters a new phase in the protagonist’s career, so Quincy Zangetsu makes a graceful appearance. He may be gone, but Ichigo will always remember everything the first Zangetsu – and by extension his mother Masaki – did for him.
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