Bleach has a good power hierarchy within Shinigamis. With the Captain and Vice-captain being the strongest in their squad, the squads themselves are ranked, carrying on the name of the Gotei 13. But beyond the governing 13 squads lies the Royal Guard, aka the Zero Squad. Hyosube Ichibei from Bleach is the captain of this squad, sworn to protect the Soul King from all dangers.
Tasked with such an important task and position, how capable is he? More importantly, how strong is he?
Hyosube Ichibei from Bleach
Hyosube Ichibei was the first shinigami to become the Royal Guard, and as such is the captain of the Zero Squad. He has much historical significance in the story. He was given the title of “Monk Who Calls the Real Name” by the Soul King. He named everything that exists in Soul Society, including Zanpakto, Shikai, and Bankai. He was also the first shinigami to receive the evolved form of his Zanpakto, which is known as Shin’uchi.
He has a very upbeat expression on his face and is very authoritative. He is, however, ruthless and patronizing when in battle, having a constant smile on his face as he cuts down his enemies. Yhwach notes that he is happier when he has decided to kill someone. All these perks make him govern the Royal Guard with an iron hand.
How strong is he?
Being the first Shinigami to ever receive his powers, he has abilities that far surpass those of the Gotei 13 Captains. His abilities allow him to govern all below him.
- True Name Manipulation: He can manipulate the true name of all sentient beings allowing him full control over them.
- Name Identification: He can determine the true name of all the Zanpaktos handed down to the Shinigamis.
- Name Curse: Due to its importance in the world, anyone who is unworthy will lose their ability to speak if they say their name.
- Self-Reconstitution: He can reconstitute his body from scratch if it’s destroyed. He does this by borrowing power from those who say his name, mentally communicating with them to initiate it whenever he needs it.
- Spirit Appendage Manifestation: He can manifest giant representations of his hands and feet in the air. These can copy his movements and exert strength proportionate to their size.
- Shunpo Master: He is highly proficient in Shunpo, appearing immediately next to Yhwach after he blew him away 1000 ri.
- Kido Master: He is the master of Kido, allowing mid-level spells to great effect by simply stating their name, without mentioning the incantation, number, or type.
- Immeasurable Spiritual Power: Being the captain of Squad Zero, his spiritual power is next to only high-level characters such as the Soul King, his organs, Yhwach, Aizen, Ichigo, etc.
- Oken: He has Oken imparted in his bones, allowing him to freely go in and out of the Soul King Palace as he pleases.
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His Zanpakto is named Ichimonji and takes the form of a giant calligraphy brush. It is, however, the sealed formed.
- Ink Manipulation: It allows him to manifest written characters that carry out their meaning. They serve two purposes: to conceal and to seal.
- Name Severing: When used as a weapon, it cuts the name of whatever it slashes, diminishing the true extent of that thing’s potential.
- Shikai Ability: Its shikai command is “Blacken“. It transforms his brush into a short glaive, with the top portion taking the form of a short, single-edged blade attached to a brush handle. a large halo of black ink appears in the air behind Ichibei. It can command all the blackness of this world.
- Shikai Special Ability: It has two special abilities: Power Absorption Immunity, where he is immune to the powers of his Shikai, making it useless against him, and Futen Taisatsuryou, a lethal attack that strips all the blackness from a being making him unable to even reincarnate.
- Shin’uchi: His evolved form is called Shirafude Ichimonji. It turns his brush into white and becomes a long, thick thread that coils in the air around him.
- Shin’uchi Special Ability: With his Shin’uchi, he can give and change the names of the targets that have been struck by its ink. By writing a Kanji, he can force his target to become that word.
His domineering abilities and authoritative personality make him command his subordinates with ease. They also respect him for his seniority and experience. There is probably no one stronger than him, with a few exceptions of plot armor characters.
— Jussdin | Bleach TYBW (@Jussdin_) October 3, 2023
Bleach has countless powerful characters to offer. However, most of the time it felt like those characters were strong because the plot needed them to be strong. Meanwhile, Ichibei’s strength felt natural. He was the system, without him, the entire world of Bleach would collapse. Even if it was not Ichibei, there would be someone else, and we would have been covering that character instead. His existence was needed, not by the plot, but by the very universe the plot exists in.