Bleach: Suzumushi, Kaname Tosen’s zanpakuto
There are many unique zanpakuto and each have their own unique abilities, but few have access to abilities that affect the senses and fewer still have multiple abilities available to its user.
There is however, one zanpakuto in Bleach that has both these unique characteristics, Suzumushi.
In this article, we will cover the very interesting history and characteristics of Suzumushi along with its abilities in shikai and bankai forms.
Suzumushi Appearance & History
As mentioned, Suzumushi belongs to the ex captain of the 5th division Kaname Tosen and in its sealed state takes on the form of a regular katana. The tsuba or handguard is in the shape of a teardrop with about 5 slits or holes on the bottom part of the teardrop while the top part has a small ring attached to it. The handguard is orange in colour and the blade has no unique features and is a regular katana blade.
Some zanpakuto can change their shape and appearance when entering shikai and bankai such as Katen Kyokotsu appearing as a set of scimitars in its shikai state but are katanas in their sealed state. Suzumushi doesnt change much in its shikai or bankai state but certain parts of the zanpakuto can be detached or used to initiate its abilities such as the ring portion of the blade.
Bleach: Suzumushi Shikai Abilities
Suzumushi is a multi ability zanpakuto as its shikai has 2 separate activation commands that gives access to two distinct abilities.
The first ability is activated when tosen uses the command “Cry” which causes his zanpakuto to release a high pitch sound wave that radiates from the zanpakuto. This sound wave spreads to a large area and incapacitates anyone who hears it by overloading their senses. The sound wave is generated by suzumushi vibrating at a high frequency similar to how a cricket generates a sound by vibrating its legs and has other applications such as allowing tosen to free his sword from the chains of kazeshini during his fight with Hisagi.
It’s likely that the ability is actually to vibrate the sword at high frequencies rather than just producing a sound. This ability to vibrate at high frequency presumably also allows the blade to increase its cutting power but this is never seen in the manga.
The second ability is activated when tosen uses the command Suzumushi Nishiki: Benihiko which causes the sword to vibrate after which tosen then moves the sword in a wide arc in front of him. At the end of this motion, hundreds of blades appear which he can then fire at his opponents as a rain of blades.
The blades themselves don’t seem to have any unique properties but the force in which they were launched was strong enough to destroy a building and the blades themselves were sturdy enough to pierce zaraki kenpachi who has a pretty strong reiatsu aura around him at all times.
Suzumushi Bankai Ability: Enma Korogi
Earlier I mentioned that Suzumushi is one of the few zanpakutos that has abilities that affects a person’s senses but so far we’ve only seen one brief example of this where he uses sound to incapacitate opponents. The bankai however exemplifies this trait better and is quite a good reflection of tosen as a person as well.
Suzumushi’s bankai is called Suzumushi Tsuishiki: Enma Korogi.
Tosen activates this bankai by holding the sword upright and placing his palm on the ring that is attached to the sword’s handguard. This causes the ring to spin and release an increasing volume of reiatsu while at the same time growing in size and once sufficiently large, about the size of tosen himself they split into 10 identical rings. Tosen then swings his sword which places the rings around the area of himself and his target which then causes the ring to generate a black energy which grows and covers the entire area in a dome surrounded by the ring.
In this black dome the ability of the bankai to affect the senses is revealed.
The target of this ability while in the dome area loses almost all their senses, even the ability to sense reiatsu except for their sense of touch. Since the dome is created from the rings only, tosen still has access to his sealed zanpakuto that he uses as a weapon but cannot make use of its shikai abilities or rather we have not seen him make use of them. This ability is very much in line with tosen’s personal values as it incapacitates opponents using as little violence as possible and at the same time gives them a taste of how he perceives the world around.
Offensively however, as the target loses all their senses it is difficult for them to defend themselves should tosen choose to attack them but as they still retain their sense of touch they can still feel the pain of being cut. This ability is quite powerful as those born with these senses will undoubtedly rely on them to fight and losing them mid battle may be difficult to adapt to. It can presumably also reduce the effectiveness of other sensory based abilities such Sosuke Aizens Kyoka Suigetsu and Hirako Shinji’s Sakanade.
Bleach: Suzumushi’s unique history
There is one more aspect of Suzumushi that makes it quite unique when compared to other zanpakuto in bleach and its how tosen got it in the first place.
In chapter 148 and as mentioned by tosen himself several times, the zanpakuto he has is one that he took from his friend who had died. As of the final arc and as explained by nimaiya, all shinigami are given a low rank zanpakuto nimaiya himself forged called the asauchi. Shinigami then through many years of training learn to imprint these asauchi with their own souls after which they then start taking shape into the unique zanpakuto of their users.
So it is not explained whether at the time he took this zanpakuto whether a soul had already been imprinted, if we look at the appearance of the sword it looks pretty much how it looks at the present day indicating there maybe be some level of imprinting already happened. As such we don’t know if the abilities tosen is using and described in this video originates from his friend or from himself.
There are 3 ways this can be explained but they are mostly speculation at this point.
The first way is similar to how nanao ise’s family zanpakuto works which indicate that a zanpakuto can be handed from one person to another and could be that tosen inherited the spirit that was imprinted when he took the zanpakuto.
The second way is that it could be that tosen only took the asauchi of his friend and not any imprinted zanpakuto and likely that after death the spirit that could have been imprinted was gone alongside its original owner, in this case tosen merely imprinted his own soul into the asauchi which had the abilities he is currently using.
The third way could be a combination of the two possible explanations in that he inherited part of her soul in the asauchi and added his own soul to create the present day suzumushi. That could be why the abilities of its shikai revolved around vibrations while the bankai was based more on sensory deprivations, two themes that are not typically connected indicating that the shikai may be his friend’s soul but the bankai his. This could be a possibility as he and his friend both had similar values which allowed him to add to an already imprinted asauchi or perhaps retain some of its original characteristics.
We’ve seen an example of this when we compare ichigo and his fathers zanpakuto’s as they were different but both had access to the getsuga tenshou and final getsuga tenshou abilities due the their connection as father and son. The fact that the ring used in bankai was also present on the sword tosen had taken from his friend might indicate that the abilities were actually the same with his friends and that kaname just further discovered the abilities of the soul already in the sword. The fact that it had 2 different commands also lends to this theory of there being more than one soul in the sword or an amalgamation of both kaname and his friends’ souls that make up the zanpakuto.
Bleach: Suzumushi Weaknesses
In Bleach, most powerful zanpakuto have a downside and suzumushi is no different.
As overpowered as this ability seems at first, it has a glaring weakness in that the sensory nullification effects of the bankai is removed for whoever is holding suzumushi. That means that if the enemy was able to grab hold of the blade they too would have their senses returned to them as long as they are holding on to the blade. Now in normal circumstances, losing one’s senses would be difficult to recover from, but for those who are able to adapt and have really good battle sense this weakness would be something they could exploit.
A clear example of this was during tosens fight with zaraki kenpachi where he managed to sense where an attack was coming from solely off of the touch of tosens blade. He then dodged appropriately to minimize damage, reactively countered and eventually caught suzumushi and had his senses returned to him. Moreover, tosen has no control over this and is a glaring weakness to an otherwise strong ability. The dome also only stays up as long as tosen wills it and if he takes too much damage it can be removed as seen after Tosen took a hit from zaraki’s counterattack.
Whatever the case may be, throughout bleach there has not been a zanpakuto similar to Suzumushi.
In that, very few examples exist of zanpakutos being handed down to other users. In the only 2 examples we see this was done only among those who have a familial relationship making Suzumushi likely the only blade in bleach we have seen to be properly handed down amongst comrades. In addition, combine this with the fact that it has abilities related to manipulating senses makes this zanpakuto even rarer in its traits.
This makes Suzumushi quite an interesting zanpakuto with a theme that fits quite well with tosens values of non violence and shows that zanpakuto’s are very unique and almost always a reflection of its user.