Bleach: Zanpakuto, The most disorienting ability
In Bleach, the abilities of zanpakuto are oftentimes very unique and each person can manifest a different ability not even related to their outward personality which makes guessing what they do quite difficult. These abilities range from melee based which are just straight up fighting tools to kido based which allow its users to drain reiatsu or even shoot them in the form of fireballs. Some allow the manipulation of elements like fire or ice and some can even manipulate reality to some extent. There are those however that are categorized as the sensory manipulation type and is the ability of the zanpakuto discussed here, Sakanade, the counter stroke. Sakanade belongs to the Visored and captain of the 5th division, Shinji Hirako, and in its sealed state looks like a normal katana with a dark red handle and a rectangular guard in the shape of an hourglass.
The release command for sakanade is “Collapse” and changes some aspects of its appearance as it enters the shikai state. Firstly the blade itself gains several holes along the length of its blade. The most significant change is to the pommel of the sword where it gains a large looping ring that is big enough for shinji to place his entire fist in which levitates and rotates around the users fist even if there is nothing to hold on to. These changes are not just cosmetic but actually are a part of how the shikai ability works. When the zanpakuto enters its shikai mode, the blade starts producing a pink mist from the holes along its blade that is not easily discernible by sight but has a pleasant aroma and begins to spin with the large ring as its center.
The ability is triggered through the olfactory senses or by smell and once the target has taken notice of this aroma they are already under the effects of the Sakanade’s ability. The targets afflicted are put under an illusion where every sense of direction is reversed, so up is down, left is right and front is back. The illusion also reverses the target’s sense of vision and even where they get injured if they were attacked as well as they reverse the words shinji himself is saying. This reverse world is extremely disorienting for the target and even more so for experienced fighters as shinji explains that they are more prone to rely on their reflexes which is difficult to unlearn in the middle of a fight. The user can also choose who falls under this illusion and thus can choose to only affect certain targets even if others are there as well . This is extremely powerful in battle as most would not be able to reorient themselves let alone fight effectively, the only time where this was countered was by Aizen but even then affected him when he was caught off guard. The only weakness would be if someone’s abilities were more area wide rather than a precision hit in which case reversing their sense of direction wouldn’t really affect them since their attacks would be omnidirectional and not rely on having to precisely discern the location of their target.
Sakanade’s bankai has not officially been revealed in either the manga or anime, however in the novel Bleach: Can’t Fear Your Own World Volume #3 His bankai was revealed to be called Sakasama Yokoshima Happo Fusagari. When activated, shinji would be placed on a circular pedestal with 5 petal looking protrusions coming out from the centre of the circular pedestal and his sword would be replaced with a staff that has a ring at the end of it. The ability of his bankai was described to have followed the theme of reversing things but in this case would reverse an individual’s sense of friend or foe. Unlike his shikai however it seems as though he cannot control who is affected by this thus even allies would be affected by it with no discrimination which obviously would makes this ability highly dangerous to use when allies are within its effective range. It’s not really elaborated as to whether those affected are forced to fight or only their perception is changed nevertheless its likely that shinji would need to be very careful in using this ability and likely can only use it if there were no allies around. Much like some other zanpakuto in Bleach its likely that Shinji may be forbidden from using this ability due to its friendly fire nature especially when in seireitei or around his teammates.
I can’t imagine any combatant being able to continue fighting after having their senses be completely reversed and likely that for 99% of people who aren’t aizen shinji’s shikai alone would be enough to give him victory which is why this is one of the most disorienting abilities a zanpakuto can have in bleach so far.