Rukia Kuchiki has been one of the most integral characters of the story since the inception of Bleach and without a doubt is the reason for Ichigo’s fate going towards the direction of interacting with Heavenly Soul Reapers of the Soul Society!
The dynamics of Rukia’s relationship with people such as Ichigo and Byakuya has been a common trope in Kubo’s classic but we cannot disregard her powers and ability as a fighter who quickly gained ranks during her training and became the lieutenant of the 13th Division.
Her position of authority demands respect and we are here to appreciate it.
With the airing of the TYBW arc and the awaited fight between the terrifying Äs Nödt and Rukia, she takes revenge for her brother Byakuya and uses her Bankai Hakka No Togame to deal the final blow but how does it work?
Because all we see is the surroundings getting covered by ice with a frozen body of Äs Nödt potential second Vollstandig form.
Let’s find out about Rukia’s magnificent yet difficult Bankai! (As referred by Byakuya)
What Is Rukia’s Bankai In Bleach?
Rukia’s Bankai is named Hakka no Togame however before we move on to her bankai let us first understand her zanpakuto!
Rukia’s Zanpakuto: Sode no Shirayuki
The Zanpakuto used by Rukia is the Sode no Shirayuki (袖白雪). Shirayuki (白雪) translates to White Snow and Sode no (袖) translates to of the sleeve, together referred to as Sleeves of White Snow or Sleeved White Snow.
It is an ice-based Zanpakuto that is regarded as one of the most beautiful Zanpakuto in the Soul Society. It is notable for its ice-based abilities.
In its sealed form, it takes the appearance of a regular katana with a white hilt and guard. When released in Shikai, its command is Dance, Sode no Shirayuki.
Upon activation, Sode no Shirayuki takes on a more ethereal appearance with flowing ribbons of snow-like energy.
Rukia holds her Zanpakuto in front of her and circles it counterclockwise. The blade, hilt, and tsuba all turn totally white as she turns it. The tsuba is transformed into a hollow snowflake-like circular, and a white ribbon emerges from the pommel.
Sode no Shirayuki boasts a variety of skills, which Rukia refers to as “dances.” It may be used to freeze a target from a distance or to build a route or platform of ice in midair.
In reality, Sode no Shirayuki’s power is to bring the wielder’s body temperature below freezing rather than spreading frost through its blade. As a result, whatever is touched by its wielder freezes, and the sword itself just extends its reach.
Rukia is capable of temporarily “killing” her body by manipulating her own Reishi as a result of her power.
She totally halts all molecules in her body, prohibiting any material or chemical from attempting to impact her since it cannot enter her body.
Although gradually and carefully, she can keep lowering her temperature even up to absolute zero where everything ceases to exist and entropy becomes zero (Rukia teaching Thermodynamics!!) but she can maintain this temperature for only four seconds.
However, with further training, she has the potential to improve her control over her coldness and master the art of freezing.
As mentioned before, she can use three ‘dances’ which all represent her attacks:
1. The first one is Some no mai, Tsukishiro which translates to First Dance, Moon White. When her victim is in range, she performs a slashing motion with her sword.
She creates a circle with the tip of Sode no Shirayuki and everything within that circle freezes. The circle freezes not only the ground but everything under its effect, including everything above it in the air.
The victim trapped shatters after being frozen solid.
2. Tsugi no mai, Hakuren comes next. Translating to Next Dance, White Ripple; where she punctures the earth once, forming a big ice circle, identical to the first dance.
She makes four semicircle punctures in the earth in front of her. Ice particles begin to pour and the particles that have accumulated at the tip of Sode no Shirayuki are discharged as a massive, strong avalanche of chilly air. It freezes whatever it comes into touch with.
3. San no mai, Shirafune is another dance at her disposal which means Third Dance, White Sword. Gathering all the moisture at the tip of her Zanpakuto, she creates a blade of ice whose length can be changed at will.
When pierced into a target, not only does it start to freeze but it continues to freeze the surroundings of the target.
It is no doubt that her Zanpakuto and Shikai are a sight to behold as well as a cold nightmare to forget but she climbs the ladder of gracefulness and badassery(is that even a word?) by revealing her long-awaited Bankai in her fight against Äs Nödt!
How Strong Is Rukia’s Bankai? Explaining It Through Her Fight With Äs Nödt
Before we actually get to her Bankai, let’s state some important details and facts about this fight and how they are bad opponents for each other.
Äs Nödt is easily one the Strongest Sternritter Quincy due to his power which instils fear into the target’s mind. He showcased his powers against the 6th division captain and Rukia’s brother Byakuya Kuchiki and his lieutenant Renji Abarai and also stole the former’s Bankai using the Wandenreich Medallion.
Rukia then matched up against the Quincy in latest episode where she seemed to have the upper hand at the start by using her ‘deathly state’ to counter fear, as fear is not something that would affect dead people.
Gradually decreasing her body temperature, she countered every move Äs Nödt threw at her as he had to reside to melee attacks.
Even though his fear penetrated through her ice, she wasn’t affected by it at all. She then goes on to continuously lower her body and Zanpakuto’s temperature.
She attacks him with varying temperatures, going below zero degrees Celsius and finally reaching -273.15 degrees Celsius or Absolute Zero which she can control for 4 seconds only, freezing him to death.
But that was not the end of her nightmare as he unleashed his Quincy: Vollstandig – Tatar Foras, which can directly affect the optic nerve with fear instead of using crystals.
Also, Rukia is a kind and sensitive person and her getting affected by that power led to her thinking about the worst nightmares where her loved ones are rotting skeletons, who were pulling her down to the abyss.
It seemed all over for her but a brother’s promise is not to be taken likely as Byakuya comes to the rescue.
Äs Nödt is surprised by the captain’s arrival and use of his Bankai but he corrects him by saying that it was just his Zanpakuto Senbonzakura and it was because of him that Byakuya realized the value of his blade.
As the Quincy used his power again, Rukia tried to shut her eyes closed but it was in vain as the fear affects the brain directly and the mind remembers fear as fragments of memory, but Byakuya was there this time and he cut straight through the line of sight.
Byakuya compliments Rukia and acknowledges her growth which leads to an emotional scene but Äs Nödt was driven with rage.
Byakuya tells her to not fear anything and leaves the fight to her where we find a disfigured yet terrifying Äs Nödt ready to demolish anything, but this very moment left a glow in every viewer’s eyes as she unleashes her Bankai,
Hakka no Togame
With a transformation unmatched in beauty and frost enough to rival the likes of Hitsugaya, Hakka no Togame is Rukia’s long-awaited Bankai which definitely delivered both in the manga as well as the anime.
It translates to White Haze Punishment. Apart from the physical transformation, her Bankai increases the effectiveness of her ability to reach and control absolute zero.
Upon its release, pillars of cold mist rise up in the air from where she stands. Increasing the range of coldness, her surroundings are frozen solid to the core, and similar to the first dance, she can use slashing ice attacks to affect her targets with absolute zero.
She froze his entire body and surrounding buildings to absolute zero and Äs Nödt didn’t have a single chance to retaliate.
As she was done killing the Quincy, Byakuya returned and held her hand, asking her to slowly seal off her Bankai again, claiming it to be a beautiful yet difficult Bankai to control.
As seen in the anime and the manga, Rukia’s bankai has the potential to be one of the strongest ice-type bankai in the soul society. Furthermore, Rukia’s bankai can also be termed as a one-shot bankai.
As she can literally freeze an enemy to death in just a simple cut. The enemy won’t even recognize that they are cut due to the numbness caused by instant freezing.
This makes Rukia’s bankai very fearful as well however it still cannot be compared to Daiguren Hyorinmaru of Hitsugaya Toshiro as Hyorinmaru doesn’t have a negative effect on its users’ life. Whereas Rukia’s bankai does.
However, it is still susceptible to other bankai within the soul society itself like Bankais like Yamamoto’s, Shinsui’s, Hyorinmaru, Ichigo’s and Renji’s.
Thus making Rukia’s bankai one of the most powerful bankai in the entirety of Soul Society.
Also, coming back to Rukia’s fight with As Nodt, she finds happiness in Byakuya’s validation, he tells her that the fight was not over and they proceed to move towards the warzone of the Quincy invasion.
Rukia’s character is core to the story of Bleach and her constant interactions with Ichigo and Byakuya were enjoyable to watch and comprehend.
The long-awaited Hakka no Togame was finally shown and Rukia proved to be a fighter capable of reaching high ranks.
Her different attacks or ‘dances’ left enemies paralyzed in ice and we also get to know the true ability of her Zanpakuto: the ability to decrease the temperature of her body and surroundings to the limit of absolute zero, where everything ceases to exist.
Due to her ability, she can replicate the bodily state of a dead person which allowed her to counter Äs Nödt’s fear technique easily.
Even with him using Vollstandig, she was able to use her Bankai with minimal help from Byakuya. Hakka no Togame was able to freeze the Quincy to the absolute lowest temperature.
Her Bankai is magnificent yet difficult at the same time but if mastered, she easily has the ability to become one of the strongest captains in the Soul Society.
What is your opinion on Rukia and her Bankai? Do you think she can defeat other Sternritter? And where would you rank a Rukia who has mastered her Bankai?
Let’s engage in healthy discussion down below because that’s what we do here!!