Bleach: The oldest zanpakuto – Shirafude Ichimonji

In Bleach, the oldest zanpakuto belongs to the very top of the shinigami hierarchy and is old enough that it existed presumably when the term zanpakuto was first used, maybe even before that. This zanpakuto is Shirafude Ichimonji nad belongs to one of bleach oldest characters, Ichibei Hyousube the leader of the zero squad.

Ichimonji is the zanpakuto belonging to the leader of the zero squad Ichibei Hyosube and has an unconventional appearance as far as zanpakuto’s go. In its sealed state ichimonji takes on the appearance of a giant brush almost as tall as Ichibei himself which is brown in colour with a calligraphy brush as its tip. Due to Ichibei’s ability to manipulate the names of all things, even as a brush he is able to use it offensively or defensively by writing words in the air to achieve different effects. One such instance is when he wrote the words ‘conceal’ which created an illusion to hide the entirety of the soul king’s palace from someone as powerful as Juha Bach. In addition, when he uses it offensively the brush cuts the power of whatever it touches in half so if it were to ‘cut’ an arm it would reduce the strength of a person’s arm to half its usual capability. 

The general ability of Ichimonji revolves around ink and Ichibei’s inherent theme of knowing the names of things as well as being the first to give things names. In order to release Ichimonji into its shikai state, the command “Blacken” is used and when released the brush changes into a blade making the entire weapon resemble more of a glaive or a Chinese Guan Dao only with the handle of a brush. In this state Ichimonji is able to generate black ink from its blade and with each swing Ichimonji releases this black ink. Anything that this black ink touches or covers loses its name and any power or abilities associated with that name. 

At the same time, the shikai also grants ichibei the ability to claim power from anything with the color black even those covered by his ink. It’s not really explained in detail what this specifically means, maybe it absorbs the powers of someone wearing a black shirt or the power from the shirt itself, it’s a bit unclear as to what Ichibei means when he says this but at times it’s also implied to not just be the color but also darkness itself which could also encompass emotions which are seen as dark such as malice or anger. In any case, one ability that we see him use in regards to this is Futen Taisatsuryo where he draws on all the blackness from his surroundings into a cup and drinks it all the while chanting an incantation. Once the incantation is complete a giant building is summoned made of darkness he claims he has taken from a hundred nights from soul society’s future which will drain the darkness and everything else from an opponent including their blood, flesh and bones and completely destroying them into nothingness. 

Like other captain level characters, Ichibei has also achieved bankai with ichimonji but as the oldest zanpakuto in bleach it is rather unique in that it achieved this advanced state even before the term bankai was even used. Instead of calling out bankai, in order for Ichibei to enter this state he instead calls out Shin’uchi which means true blade. When he does this a large white halo appears above him and the blade of Ichimonji turns white and resembles white ink floating in the air. The abilities of this bankai allows Ichibei to now give or change the names of targets that have been hit by Ichimonji’s ink or those that have had their names removed. This effectively allows Ichibei to change the meaning behind a persons being such that it would take the properties of their new name. One such example was when he removed Juha Bach’s name and replaced it with black ant which seemingly reduced the powers of Juha Bach into that of a black ant instead. Now practically speaking, if his opponent were anybody else I doubt they would be able to fight against this as Ichibei could change the names of practically anything he wishes such as even their zanpakuto for example and thus nullifying their abilities. 

The entirety of the abilities afforded by this zanpakuto is quite clearly planned to be inline with the theme of ichibei, as one who knows the name of all things which is one of the few times we see in bleach that a zanpakuto has abilities which tie back to the inherent abilities of its user. I find it rather creative to allow him the ability change the names of things he very well might know due to this ability of knowing the names of all things. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see what other creative applications this bankai could have had such as maybe changing the names of the items in his surrounding or environment to have them behave in other ways or maybe change the meaning of abstract things such as hope or fear as Ichibei was defeated by an enemy that is supposed to win. All in all it was an interesting concept for a zanpakuto and I wished I could have seen more of it unfortunately that’s pretty much all we know about the zanpakuto in its one appearance in battle but nevertheless still holds the title as the first and oldest zanpakuto.   

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.