Bleach: Tenken Abilities, Sajin Komamura’s Zanpakuto
The unique abilities of a zanpakuto are created when a shinigami spends time imprinting part of their soul into an asauchi, which are basically blank slates which acts as a base for any zanpakuto. When completed, this process creates an entity separate from the shinigami but is bound to them due to it originating from the soul of the shinigami itself. Tenken is a zanpakuto whose owner has such a great connection to it that it has unique properties not seen in any other zanpakuto in Bleach so far. Tenken is the zanpakuto that belongs to the captain of the 7th division Sajin Komamura and appears as a standard katana in its sealed state with a black handle and a handguard or tsuba that has the appearance of a slightly thicker hourglass. In order to enter the shikai state, Komamura uses the command “Roar” which activates its ability but maintains the sealed state as a katana Komamura uses during battle.
In Bleach there are several abilities that can summon golems and giants and Tenken in its shikai can summon parts of a giant that copies the movement komamura makes. Only one body part is seen to be created at any given time so when komamura swings his sword a giant version of a sword and his arm is created that copies his movement. The giant body part itself is not light and acts as though it has the mass of a giant making each blow exponentially much stronger than komamura himself creating blows that could destroy buildings with a single swing. The appearance of the ability is presumably activated by Komumara himself otherwise all actions would result in a more devastating copy shortly after. In combat, Komamura uses the abilities of the shikai to further augment his physical attacks by having the body parts replicate his movements into more devastating attacks. That’s pretty much all there is to the shikai and it is quite straightforward and easy to understand but is still quite powerful as it amplifies komamura’s strikes without much negative repurcussions making it quite a versatile shikai.
The bankai for Tenken is called Kokujo Tengen Myo’o which when used summons the entire giant’s body to take physical shape behind Komamura. The bankai is a giant of living armor which stands roughly 100 feet tall or 30m in height and comes armed with a giant sword with an appearance similar to komamura’s sealed zanpakuto. The armor the giant wears is similar to samurai armor worn by the japanese samurai with some cloth covering half its face making only the eyes and nose visible. Similar to its shikai, the giant will copy the movements of komamura in battle, however due to having the benefit of its entire body and mass the attacks it does in this stage are much more colossal than in its shikai where only one part of the body is replicated.
During the Bleach fake karakura town arc we are shown that Tenken Bankai also make it very durable, able to withstand attacks such as cero’s taking little to no damage as well as Captain Soi Fon’s bankai while only taking a bit of damage. In combat, Komamura uses the giant similar to how he uses his shikai, to augment his attacks, but at times also uses the giant as a stand-in when he is fighting opponents of a larger size than him.
While the attack power and durability of its bankai makes tenken a really powerful zanpakuto, there is one glaring weakness that doesn’t become obvious due to how powerful the zanpakuto is. Earlier I mentioned that the creation of a zanpakuto is as a product of the shinigami imprinting part of their soul into asauchi, that means that to some degree the zanpakuto has an unspoken connection to its shinigami regardless of whether they get along or not, because they are separate entities. In the case of tenken, the connection between komamura and his zanpakuto is so strong that it creates a link between him and his zanpakuto that if any damage were to happen to his bankai, he would take the same damage as well. So if you cut off the hand of the giant that is summoned during his bankai komamura would also experience the same damage.
This weakness becomes very obvious later in the manga when komamura faces opponents that are strong enough to weather the attacks of the giant with Tosen highlighting that because of how powerful the attacks of this zanpakuto were, it was never considered that the weakness would be exploited in a counterattack as komamura assumed that the first blow would be enough to completely destroy its opponent. This double edged sword however also grants his zanpakuto a unique attribute not seen in other zanpakuto. During the 1000 year blood war arc, Mayuri Kurotsuchi explained that a zanpakuto does not recover if it was damaged in its bankai state, if a piece was broken or destroyed it would never regenerate. Komamura’s zanpakuto however is the exception to this rule due to how powerful his connection is as once Komamura himself heals so does his zanpakuto but at the price of sharing the damage during battle. This has never been seen throughout bleach and Tenken is the only zanpakuto that exhibites these abilities.
This unique connection also grants this zanpakuto the ability to evolve just as its master does as it mirrors that change as well. During the 1000 year blood war arc, komamura learnt and used the humanization technique which granted him an immortal body. The humanization technique essentially caused the user to throw away their life and have their body act merely as a lifeless immortal shell.
This change also slightly altered how Komamura’s bankai worked. When Komamura summons his bankai, in the humanized form, the name changes to Kokujo Tengen Myo’o: Dangai Joe. In this form, the giant is summoned but similar to Komamura has shed its life which is its armor and gains a physical form made of pure reishi that takes on the appearance of a demon. It retains the same destructive force that the previous bankai had with the exception of not being able to be destroyed by any means. If the body is damaged in any way, it simply regenerates and continues to fight effectively removing the main weakness of the bankai it had before.
This zanpakuto is unique as Tenken is the only known zanpakuto in Bleach to date that has a symbiotic relationship with its owner. The abilities are tremendously powerful but carries with it a large risk to the user and thus is quite balanced. It’s unfortunate how Komamura’s story concluded at the end of bleach but the power and unique attribute of the relationship it had with its user was a testament to how great of a shinigami komamura was.