In the previous couple of episodes of Bleach, the mighty Kenpachi Zaraki faced off against the captain of the 4th division Retsu Unohana or shall I say Yachiru Unohana, as stated by newly promoted Captain Commander Kyoraku Shunsui. With her newly revealed demeanor of a cold hearted killer, she has accepted to teach Zaraki the “Way of the Sword”.
As the fight goes on, Zaraki and Unohana reminisce of their past events of their meeting and their battle as Unohana reveals her deadly Bankai. Although this being the battle where Zaraki was actually overwhelmed by his opponent for the first time, he realized the thrill of battle again and came out as the victor, but had to kill the previous Kenpachi title holder.
Why did Kenpachi Zaraki Kill Unohana? Why did she have to sacrifice herself for his sake? And what was the idea of the “Way of the Sword”? Let’s find out.
Why did Kenpachi Zaraki kill Unohana?
The Soul Society was left in a terrible state after Yhwach’s invasion with the Quincy Army Wandenreich. After stealing the Bankai of four captains and killing captain commander Yamamoto, Ichigo and company accompanied the Zero Division to the Royal Palace.
Meanwhile the new captain commander of the desecrated Soul Society was decided to be captain of 8th division, Kyoraku Shunsui and the first decision he makes to increase the firepower of the Gotei 13.
This meant that he assigned captain Unohana for bringing out Kenpachi Zaraki’s true potential in order to retaliate and win the war.
Although receiving severe backlash from the Central 46, he points it out to be a last resort and takes full responsibility for attempting to tame the beast who has not even reached his full potential yet.
Kenpachi and Unohana meet down in an underground prison where no one would disturb their final thrilling battle. Kenpachi out of habit starts holding back as usual but this time his opponent is no ordinary foe but the first person to ever hold the title of Kenpachi.
A title given to the strongest warrior of each generation who has killed the most enemies.
Unohana swiftly dodges every attack and puts up a very strong fight which could not be taken as lightly as Kenpachi thought he could. She manages to strike Kenpachi several times and brings him on the verge of death.
This is due to the fact that everytime Kenpachi Zaraki experiences a near death battle he breaks his own shell and achieves a new ceiling of his subconsciously sealed powers.
Coming back to their battle, Unohana reveals her Bankai Minazuki which is a complete 180 degree turn from her Shikai of the same name.
To know more about the history of Unohana and Zaraki and also about her Bankai, this article is highly suggested. Or you can simply click the link below:
As she reveals her deadly Bankai, she overwhelmed Zaraki upto his breaking point by almost killing and reviving him continuously for the battle to carry on.
Although being absolutely dominated, Zaraki was reborn again and again and he also felt invigorated after each death to the point where he realized that this was the moment he was waiting for.
The moment to fight the ultimate battle of his lifetime with the only enemy with whom he could do it. Unohana was the only one to put up such a fight and he knew that he had to give his fullest.
And the feeling of the thrill was mutual as Unohana described in her monologue, that she is the strongest of them all, except the person in front of her and also him being the only man who had been able to satisfy her.
He started exploiting every gap and finally found an opening to stab her into the chest, through the same wound that he had inflicted on her the first time they ever fought, ending the battle in such a poetic way.
This was the moment when he truly claimed the title of Kenpachi.
All of this sacrifice just to teach him this supposed new of way of fighting, which he had never done before. After her defeat and shedding tears, he hears a voice.
A voice that claims that he could finally hear it and has always been beside him. That’s right folks, if you guessed it, hats off as this was the Zanpakuto spirit of Zaraki’s sword, Nozarashi.
What is Kenpachi’s Shikai and Bankai?
Kenpachi’s Shikai is revealed to be Nozarashi when he comes to help Yachiru and Isane while fighting the Sternitter Gremmy Thoumeaux, another beast of a foe and a power so deadly that even the Schutzstaffel feared him; the power to bring anything out of imagination to become reality.
Fun fact: in the novel series Can’t Fear Your Own World where the history of the universe of Bleach and the Soul King is talked about, it is stated that Gremmy Thoumeaux was the candidate for the Soul King’s brain, just like his other limbs function as sentient beings.
Claiming himself to be the strongest, he fights off against Zaraki and puts up a very difficult fight. Kenpachi had to face different kinds of monstrosities from Gremmy’s imagination and when he decided to completely obliterate not only Zaraki but the complete Soul Society by imagining a meteorite hitting the world, Zaraki didn’t even flinch as he was all ready for it.
He unveils his Shikai Nozarashi and completely sucks out the firepower of the meteorite.
His Zanpakuto’s transformed state looks more like a great axe which amplifies his power and the way he defeats Gremmy is just as you would expect someone like Zaraki to do.
Gremmy in order to become strong imagines himself to as strong as Zaraki, so his body starts growing in size and he gains a lot of power but as there is no end to imagination, his power starts growing so much that his body was not able to handle it and bursts itself.
Then Zaraki goes to deliver a badass line about how someone would actually need a body of his level as well to embrace such strength.
But this was not end of the portrayal of his newly found power as while fighting Gerard Valkyrie, arguably the strongest Sternitter under Yhwach and the Heart of the Soul King, Zaraki could not achieve that much domination with just his Shikai but he had one last ray of hope.
You see, ever since his fight with Gremmy, his lieutenant Yachiru was missing and he assigned many people to look for her.
But then she came at the moment of him buried in the ground and telling him to get up. Only if he had used her in the right way, she said as she gives him the power of Bankai.
A sudden surge of Reiatsu distracts everyone towards him as the monster gains even more energy.
With this extreme power boost, he one shots a much stronger Gerard Valkyrie as he gains INSANE amounts of cutting and slashing power. His power levels were so astronomically high that his own body was not able to handle such power as his hand gets ripped off while trying to slash.
But what happened to Yachiru?
The thing is strong Zanpakuto spirits can take physical manifestation as we have seen in the case of Ichigo as his Bankai was a manifestation of a young Yhwach from his Quincy bloodline.
Also we see a flashback where a young Kenpachi meets baby Yachiru supposedly after the fight with Unohana, so that implies that Yachiru is the physical manifestation of Kenpachi’s Zanpakuto and she had been always beside him but was never really ‘used’ by him.
Kenpachi managed to learn to use his powers with his sword and managed to reach the level of a true captain.
Unohana was tasked by Kyoraku Shunsui to take out Zaraki’s full potential by making him learn Bankai and she was the perfect candidate for it due to the history and similarity in attitude between them.
They both fight off and show their full potential but Zaraki came out as the victor and learnt the name of his Zanpakuto Nozarashi which he used to defeat some of the strongest characters to ever exist in Bleach, like the Sternritter Gremmy Thoumeaux and Gerard Valkyrie, the latter being a part of the Schutzstaffel and the heart of Soul King.
His Zanpakuto doesn’t have any flashy or mind boggling abilities but it pays homage to his character by being astronomically powerful that can cut anything. His Bankai goes on to change his own body into that of a monster and further reaches impossible levels of raw power to be able to destroy anything that he decides to touch.
Athough the loss of 4th division captain Unohana and his lieutenant Yachiru is something that he will never forget, however it is only because of their sacrifices the Soul Society was able to prevail.
Do you think there was any other way possible for him to achieve Bankai without him killing Unohana? How strong do you think Bankai level Kenpachi is if he had no restrictions? Do comment your thoughts on this topic below.