The Bleach Thousand Year Blood War arc is going on a full swing, Yhwach easily decimated Yamamoto and Ichigo without any extra efforts. Not to forget, Ichigo has lost his bankai, which means he will never regain his powers again.
This has been the rule for every Shinigami since time immemorial. So does that mean Ichigo cannot use his Shinigami powers anymore?
Well not really, if you have forgotten the Arrancar and Fake Karakura Town arc, we know that Ichigo has a hollow inside him. Which enabled him to become a visored. But we never got to know the origins of the hollow.
Today, I am gonna talk about the origins of the hollow and also how will Ichigo get his bankai back?
P.S Manga Spoilers ahead
How Did Ichigo Get His Hollow Powers In Bleach?
Well as we all know, Yhwach called Ichigo his son born in the dark. To find out if he is really Yhwach’s son read the following article:
Also we know that Aizen was experimenting using Shinigami’s and Hollows’ in Soul Society. One such experiment he performed was a hollow he created and named “WHITE”. The hollow from whom the series gets its name “Bleach” which turns things, well, WHITE.
So, White was created using several hundred Shinigami souls and was sent to attack Shinigami’s and humans in human world.
Isshin Kurosaki who was the then captain of the 10th division (before Toshiro Hitsugaya) went to investigate the disappearances of shinigami and was ambushed by White, Aizen and Gin himself.
This caused Masaki Kurosaki, a Royal Quincy, who had her moral compass pointing in the right place, to come and rescue Isshin. However, in her attempt to save Isshin, she was bitten by White, before proceeding to kill it.
Now, as we all know, Hollow particles are poisonous to quincies, and hollows can inject their particles with any and all kinds of damage into other people’s body and soul. That’s how Chad got his hollow powers and everyone who can use Fullbring powers.
Now in order to save the dying Masaki’s life, Urahara found a way that can keep the hollow inside her at bay. This involved Isshin instilling his Shinigami powers inside Masaki. As shinigami powers are balanced compared to hollow and quincy powers, he was able to save Masaki’s life.
However, this meant he would not be able to use his shinigami powers as long as Masaki lives.
Eventually Masaki and Isshin got married and had 3 kids.
Well, remember White? The hollow that Masaki killed to protect Isshin? Yeah, him, as we all know, White bit Masaki before getting blown to smithereens by her.
By biting her, White released hollow particles inside her. Now, as mentioned above Isshin sacrificed his powers to keep the hollow particles from killing Masaki. Though, that didn’t mean they were completely eradicated. They still existed in her body, physically.
These hollow particles were extremely strong, strong enough to keep a captain level shinigami and a quincy engaged in battle for a long time.
So when Masaki was pregnant with Ichigo, WHITE’s hollow particles were absorbed by the fetus Ichigo along with Shinigami and quincy powers from his parents.
That’s where Ichigo gets his hollow powers from. Now Ichigo in his entire life never trained to become a perfect Shinigami nor a quincy nor a hollow.
He just fought battles to the point where he used any power necessary to win. So be it Shinigami powers granted by Rukia initially or the gotei 13 later on or visored or fullbring or the quincy powers in him.
He used to just fight blindly. This led to Ichigo mastering nothing.
So what exactly are Ichigo’s powers?
But before we dwell deep into Ichigo’s actual powers let us first take at look at the hollow forms Ichigo has shown us until now.
What Are Hollow Ichigo Forms?
The first time ever we see Ichigo’s hollow pop out is during his battle against Byakuya Kuchiki in Soul Society. This uncontrolled hollow even manages to take Byakuya by surprise and lands a hit on him.
It is further revealed that Ichigo has hollow inside of him which is due to Aizen’s interference in his mommy and daddy’s life. He trains with the other Vasto Lorde’s to control this hollow to some extent and use its powers for his own benefits. However, this hollow form, though gives a boost in power is still comparitively weaker than Ichigo’s actual strength.
The third and final time we witness Ichigo’s somewhat full manifestation of his inner hollow was during his battle again Ulquoirra when the latter killed the former.
Though somehow Ichigo was able to breakfree from this berserk state, he had acquired enough strength to access the strength of the hollow until he fought Ulquoirra.
However, this newly achieved strength was pale in comparison to Aizen and his wish granting Hogyoku.
Thus, Ichigo had to resort to sacrificing his Shinigami powers which he inherited from his father and gain the Final Getsuga Tenshou mode. A mode which gives massive boost of power in exchange of permanently losing them.
Although, Ichigo later on masters his newly acquired Fullbring powers. But when Ginjo steals them and the Gotei 13 captains give Ichigo some of their reiatsu to become a Shinigami once again. Our berry-boy once again dons the Shinigami title with much more power than he had previously.
But now that he had “mastered” his Fullbring powers which are basically hollow powers. His newly acquired Bankai and Shikai also display the characteristics of it.
Read the following article to know how:
Now that we know how Ichigo’s hollow powers have been shaping his bankai. It was also revealed in the manga by Old Man Zangetsu himself that Ichigo’s actual powers are his hollow powers which are merged with his Shinigami powers.
And that Old Man Zangetsu is just a reflection of his Quincy powers.
So until now all the hollow forms we have seen of Ichigo in Bleach are nothing but glimpses of his actual power.
However, during the TYBW arc, Ichigo finally manages to separate his quincy and hollow powers and use them the way he deemed fit. Though he has not yet mastered it.
So this the first time we see Ichigo’s true Shikai and true Bankai with is hollow, quincy and Shinigami powers combined.
So knowing this now, we can finally jump into what are Ichigo’s actual powers!
What Are Ichigo’s Powers In Bleach TYBW?
Ichigo as a living being is a cocktail of all species in existence in Bleach universe. So he has powers of that of a Shinigami, Quincy, and a hollow.
Ichigo never knew he was a quincy hence he never even tried to learn reishi manipulation. Which is the basic ability of quincies.
However, we now know that the old man Zangetsu which we are all accustomed to is actually Ichigo’s quincy powers. He was only taught by the old man Zangetsu to release reiatsu like a shinigami does and not absorb like a quincy does. Which we cannot even say helped Ichigo even as a shinigami much. Since everytime Ichigo was in grave danger his hollow powers came and saved the day.
That’s why when Ichigo was stuck in Quilge Opie’s Jail and he released a huge amount of reishi continuously and almost exhausted his own reserves of reishi. This depletion of reishi forced his body, which is half quincy, to subconsciously absorb the reishi around it which included Quilge’s Jail.
This influx of quincy reishi started a chain reaction in Ichigo which ultimately led to Ichigo subconsciously using Blut Vene and absorb reishi as well.
These quincy powers are not even 50% of his total powers.
His majority powers come from the hollow inside him. Which merged with his shinigami powers and thus created a new type of power which is hybrid of both Shinigami and hollow powers. Thus creating a power which practically does not have capping.
One of the reasons why Yhwach mentioned Ichigo as one of the 5 special war threats.
This vast potential of Ichigo is further approved by Yhwach himself who had practically became God and broke Ichigo’s bankai on two occassions because he deemed it too strong and dangerous.
If you are wondering what is so great about Ichigo’s potential then let me distract you from his powers to the hax Ichigo has displayed.
Now, I am sure you must remember the iconic moment Ichigo got his powers from Rukia, then him training with Urahara to reveal his actual sword in the cave like place, then Ichigo training to achieve bankai? If you remember correctly, then you must have noticed that Ichigo has always manifested his swords from inside himself?
Like he never picked up an Asauchi, i.e. a sword made by Nimaiya, the one and only Shinigami who can forge swords in all of shinigami history. Nimaiya said it so himself during the TYBW arc.
So until now, what Ichigo has been using were just a physical manifestation of his reiatsu shaped into a sword.
That means, all the Shikai and bankai we saw until now were never his true powers.
He was just using his shinigami reiatsu and stacking it up most of the times with his quincy powers thanks to Old Man Zangetsu being a tsundere. This resulted in the forms of Ichigo we have seen until now.
Then when need arised, Ichigo unknowingly and later knowingly stacked his shinigami reiatsu with his hollow reiatsu and gained a power boost.
This resulted in Ichigo becoming visored and later on fullbring and after receiving his powers from Gotei 13 a merged version of Fullbring and Shinigami. Albeit, still no sword or asauchi of his own which was later broken by Jugram Haschwalth during the invasion of soul society.
Ichigo’s actual zanpakuto which was created by the God of Sword, Nimaiya himself are the two zanpakuto’s you saw above. Wherein, the bigger one accounts for Ichigo’s merged Shinigami and hollow powers, whereas, the smaller one is of his quincy powers.
When they both become one with the larger one encasing the smaller one, Ichigo, subsequently goes into Bankai form. Which is again shown above.
However, after Yhwach breaks Ichigo’s bankai the first time, he also steals the latters quincy and hollow powers, leaving Ichigo with only his shinigami powers.
Although, Tsukishima who died during the Fullbring Arc and went to soul society, altered the past where Yhwach didn’t break Ichigo’s bankai and thus Orihime was able to negate the effect of broken bankai and made it whole again.
Now, this Bankai although it belongs to Ichigo, is made from the remnants of quincy and hollow powers Ichigo had poured into the zanpakuto before Yhwach stole them from him. Or rather it is the sword from the past which Tsukishima altered where Yhwach never broke the sword.
And if you understand Orihime’s powers then she you would know that her powers turn back time. Thus, this newly “healed” bankai zanpakuto still contains Ichigo’s hollow and quincy powers.
However, when Tsukishima helped Ichigo regain his bankai, the current Ichigo doesn’t have his hollow and quincy powers.
That’s why at the end when Ichigo poured his remaining reiatsu, to fire the last getsuga tensho of the series, in his old sword with remnants of hollow and quincy powers, the upper husk of the sword which contained the remnants of the two powers, were chipped away revealing the TRUE SHIKAI of Ichigo when he has only his soul reaper/shinigami powers.
Hence, now we can say that at the end of the Thousand Year Blood War arc, Ichigo is left with only his Shinigami powers and nothing else.
The way Tite Kubo made Ichigo the most powerful being since the beginning of the series also left him as a (not so) lowly shinigami at the end of it.
This is further approved in the one shot Tite Kubo created recently called Bleach- Gokui Meimei-hen, which is basically Bleach-Hell-verse arc where we see Ichigo sporting his last shikai which was revealed against Yhwach.
I hope you understood the intricacies of Ichigo’s powers. Do let us know in the comments if you need any further clarifications.