A Zanpakutō (斬魄刀; literally, soul-cutter sword) is the main weapon of the Shinigami, the Arrancar and the Visored. The Shinigami art of wielding a Zanpakutō is called Zanjutsu (斬術; literally, swordsmanship).


The Zanpakutō of low-ranking Shinigami are called Asauchi and don't have names. But the zanpakutō of Shinigami of rank have names. in its sealed state, a zanpakutō has the form of a Japanese sword. Such weapons are unique swords generated from their owners souls. Its shape differs depending on its owner. Zanpakutō are the trademark weapons of the Shinigami. Capable of cutting spiritual bodies, they are amongst the few weapons which can be used to combat Hollows. Each Shinigami carries a Zanpakutō, and each Zanpakutō is unique: as the swords are both reflections of a Shinigami's soul and power, and sentient beings unto themselves. The Zanpakutō's name is also the name of the living spirit that empowers the sword and lends its strength to the Shinigami who wields it. These beings can vary greatly in appearance and have their own distinct personalities which match their owner's.

A Zanpakutō's shape and abilities are based on their Shinigami's soul. Once a Shinigami learns his/her sword's name, they are able to communicate with one another and grow stronger together. Zanpakutō are born with their Shinigami and they die along with their Shinigami. Shinigami use them in battle as a reflection of their heart. When released, they can display a vibrant power. They are one with the Shinigami, and they share a Shinigami's conviction.

Inside each Zanpakuto is an incarnation that manifests itself upon the Zanpakuto's transformation. The first step is to acquaint oneself with this incarnation.

Arrancar ZanpakutōEdit

Main article: Arrancar Zanpakutō

An Arrancar's primary weapon is the same as a Shinigami's. But unlike a Shinigami's Zanpakutō, the blade is an embodiment of the Hollow's power.

Zanpakutō FactsEdit

  • Because they are part of their owner's soul, a Zanpakutō cannot be replaced, though it will slowly regenerate if it is broken.
  • In order to to fix a broken Zanpakutō, the owner needs to take Reishi and Reiatsu and merge them into his/her Zanpakutō. However, this only applies if it was the Shikai which was damaged, if a Zanpakutō breaks in its Bankai state then it will never return to its former state.
  • The size of the Zanpakutō reflects the amount of the swordsman's spiritual power. Exceptions to this rule are beings of immense power who are required to actively control the size of their Zanpakutō.
  • If a Shinigami pierces the chest of a Human with their Zanpakutō and channels their Reiryoku through it into the Human's body, it will transform that Human into a Shinigami temporarily. The act does not have a high chance of viability even when the Human in question has a high level of spiritual energy, and if the method does fail the Human will die.
  • Every Zanpakutō has its own name.
  • A Zanpakutō can determine whether or not its wielder is worthy of its power.
  • Zanpakutō have a true form.This true form resides inside their Shinigami. A Zanpakutō has a mind, and a body that controls their powers. Shinigami are able to grow more powerful by communicating with them.
  • Zanpakutō possess their own reiatsu, which can be sensed as any reiatsu can and is identical to that of their wielder though with subtle differences.
  • Though rare, it is not impossible for more than one soul to be attuned to the same spirit. In such cases, ancient law of the Soul Society will not allow two beings to wield the same Zanpakutō, in which case, they must duel for ownership of the spirit, with the winner gaining it and the loser being sentenced to death.
  • No matter what form (or size) a Zanpakutō takes, it is always virtually effortless for its owner to wield because it is a part of its owner's soul. Shinigami captains all consciously keep their Zanpakutō in a manageable size, otherwise they would be holding Zanpakutō the size of skyscrapers. Therefore, one cannot judge one's opponent's strength solely by the size of their Zanpakutō.
  • No Zanpakutō in existence has a Shikai and a Bankai that use unrelated abilities.


The Zanpakutō was conceived and invented by Captain Ōetsu Nimaiya of the Royal Guard.[1]

Obtaining A ZanpakutōEdit

Ch523 TheAsauchi

The Asauchi found in Ōetsu's domain.

Asauchi (浅打ち,"Shallow Hit"): The class of nameless Zanpakutō that all low-class Shinigami wield. Shinigami who are still in training - those who do not yet belong to any of the Gotei 13 - all wield generic Zanpakutō. Shinigami who are unable to communicate with their Zanpakutō, the "shallow hit", which refers to the grossly reduced power of a Zanpakutō whose wielder cannot connect with it properly.[2] This way of thinking is partly inaccurate.

Asauchi are the strongest Zanpakutō, as they can become anything.[3] There are over 6,000 Gotei 13, all of whom are given unnamed Zanpakutō upon first entering the academy. All Shinigami must spend every waking moment with their Zanpakutō and as they progress in their training they slowly and methodically imprint the essence of their soul into their Asauchi. It is in this manner they guide and mold 'their own Zanpakutō'.[4]

A wielder knows their Zanpakutō spirit very closely and vice versa. The connection is very deep, though in the beginning the connection is one sided with the wielder being unable to fully hear the spirit communicating with them.[5] It is not uncommon for the introduction of the two (Shinigami and Zanpakutō spirit) to take place in the inner world while the prospective Shinigami sleeps.

A Zanpakutō is generated by its wielder upon the solidification of their Reiryoku into the sword's form.[6]

Ever since the beginning of Soul Society there has never been even one Shinigami that was able to awaken their Zanpakutō without a Asauchi.

Zanpakutō TrainingEdit

It is not enough to simply know the name of one's Zanpakutō. If a wielder were to lend its power to its Zanpakutō then the weapon would become stronger. To fully use a Zanpakutō's power, a wielder must get to know its Zanpakutō's spirit.

Jinzen Hitsugaya Madarame

Hitsugaya and Madarame performing Jinzen

Jinzen (刃禅, Blade Zen): This method is the only way to carry on a proper conversation with one's Zanpakutō. One places their sword over their lap and takes a meditative pose and then forces their mind to become one with the Zanpakutō.

In this form, one can call out the true form of the powers of their Zanpakutō. This form is something that Soul Society has worked out over the thousands of years since its formation. It is entirely about speaking with one's sword. This advanced form of training is far different from attaining abilities by force. In this form it is about entering a state of calm to enter the inner world of the Zanpakutō and engage them there. In this state a wielder will have to fight their Zanpakutō spirit in order to attain access to new abilities, the Zanpakutō spirit does not want to teach these moves and engage the wielder in a battle the likes of which has never taken place before.

In this meditative state, one is so deeply entranced that even sustained wounds are ignored. Any form of injury sustained in the inner world while in this meditative state is reflective in the real world.

Mood & CommunicationEdit

As stated, a Zanpakutō is a being unto itself and tends to be highly temperamental. Its mood is determined by how it is treated by its Shinigami as well as its overall personality. This allows a Shinigami to partially determine whether it will achieve its true power or not.

(For example, Yumichika Ayasegawa normally releases his Zanpakutō with the name Fuji Kujaku (Wisteria Peacock), even though its true name is Ruri'iro Kujaku (Azure Peacock), knowing that its favorite color is azure and that its least favorite is wisteria purple. He does this so that its true power is not seen. Since his Zanpakutō hates the nickname, it becomes moody and only releases a fraction of its power. This allows him to pass off his Zanpakutō as a simple melee-type rather than what it truly is, a Kidō-type, something that is unacceptable in the 11th Division due to an unspoken rule that all Zanpakutō in the 11th Division must be melee-types. Only when its true name is uttered does it achieve full potential).

Inner WorldEdit

Normally, the Zanpakutō spirit can only be seen by its wielder. Otherwise, they dwell in their own "inner world", created within the minds of the Shinigami who wield them. As such, each Shinigami's inner world is drastically different from another Shinigami's and is unique to themselves. A Zanpakutō's spirit can bring its wielder into its inner world, though Shinigami can voluntarily achieve this simply by meditation.

General PowersEdit

  • Konsō (魂葬, Soul Burial): the process by which a Shinigami sends wandering Pluses (souls) in the living world and send them to their respective place. Either Soul Society if they are good in life, or to Hell if their life was full of evil acts (such as murders, theft, etc). Konsō is performed by using the hilt of the Shinigami's Zanpakutō, tapping the soul on the head and transporting them to the afterlife.
  • Hollow Purification: When a Hollow is sliced with a Zanpakutō, it is cleansed of the sins it committed as a Hollow, and is led into the Soul Society. This is called sublimation. Souls that live in the Soul Society are reborn again into the Human world.

Zanpakutō FormsEdit

Depending upon the Shinigami's ability to communicate with and control their Zanpakutō's spirit, a Zanpakutō can manifest itself in two additional forms and revert to a sealed state. These two forms, known as Shikai and Bankai, are akin to "upgrades" for the Zanpakutō, giving it abilities far beyond that of its simple use as a sword. Shinigami usually carry their Zanpakutō in the sealed state and activate the released forms as necessary.

A Zanpakutō can change size and shape depending on the spiritual strength of the owner.

All Zanpakutō have two levels of release. The first one is Shikai (initial release) and the second one is Bankai (final release). One must be able to do both of them to become a captain. The power and forms of Shikai and Bankai are dependent on the Zanpakutō. They also vary according to the wielder's strength and training.


Most Zanpakutō look like regular katana, with slight variations between them as one would expect between different swords. Their variations are commonly:

  • Katana (刀): The term katana may be applied to the standard-size, moderately curved, Japanese sword with a blade length of greater than 60 cm (23.6 inches). The katana is characterized by its distinctive appearance: a curved, slender, single-edged blade, a circular or squared guard, and a hilt long enough to accommodate two hands.

  • Wakizashi (脇差 (わきざし); meaning "side insertion"): A short blade between 30 and 60 cm (12 and 24 inches), with an average of 50 cm (20 inches). It is similar to but shorter than a katana, and usually shorter than the kodachi (小太刀 (こだち); meaning "small sword"). The wakizashi was usually worn together with the katana. When worn together the pair of swords were called daishō, which translates literally as "large and small". The katana was often called the long sword and the wakizashi the companion sword.

  • Nodachi (野太刀 (のだち); meaning "field sword"): The nodachi was more difficult to wield due to its size and weight. The length of the nodachi's hilt varied between twelve to thirteen inches (30 to 33 centimeters). Its cutting capability and range exceeds that of a katana, due to its weight and size.

  • Tantō (短刀?; meaning "short sword"): The tanto is commonly referred to as a knife or dagger. The blade is single or double edged with a length between 15 and 30 cm (6-12 inches, in Japanese 1 shaku). The tantō was designed primarily as a stabbing weapon, but the edge can be used for slashing as well.

Zanpakutō can also be disguised as other objects, though such objects seem to need to be of similar proportions to the sword itself. Kisuke Urahara, Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto and Kagerōza Inaba for example, disguise their Zanpakutō as canes. Yamamoto's cane resembles a large walking stick that dissolves on command to reveal his sheathed Zanpakutō, whilst Urahara's forms a shikomizue, a thin blade hidden within the hollow shaft of a cane and Inaba's as a silver cane, which is immersed in a green light once released.

A Zanpakutō will return to its sealed state when its wielder is knocked unconscious.


Shikai (始解, Initial Release) is the second form (or first "upgraded" form) available to a Zanpakutō. To activate it, the Shinigami needs to learn the name of their Zanpakutō. This is not as easy as simply picking a name, as the living spirit of the Zanpakutō already has its own name. Therefore, the Shinigami must be able to communicate and harmonize with their Zanpakutō effectively, which requires being able to speak to the spirit within its world.

The blade changes shape and gains special abilities by chanting a Kaigo, release incantation. Using the special phrase (incantation) followed by the name of the Zanpakutō actives shikai. It is crucial to memorize each phrase, as every Zanpakutō has a different incantation.

The commands vary between users and range from a simple imperative verb to a short poem. They often relate to the Zanpakutō's signature ability, or hint at the nature of its spirit. This step may be bypassed by expert Shinigami who have learned how to use their Bankai. Sometimes the Shinigami who didn't learn Bankai can release their Zanpakutō only by saying its name.

Achievement of the Shikai is a mark of control of a Zanpakutō, and it appears to be a requirement for advancement within the Shinigami ranks, as presumably most seated officers are capable of Shikai. It is also required in order to achieve the rank of lieutenant; as it is a requirement most captains look for.


Bankai (卍解, Final Release) is the second and final upgraded form of a Zanpakutō. To achieve Bankai, one must be able to materialize and subjugate their Zanpakutō spirit. Materialization means the opposite of getting dragged into the Zanpakutō's inner world. Instead the wielder needs to summon the Zanpakutō's spirit into the physical world. It usually takes 10 years or more to achieve, plus the experience needed to master it.

The power and forms of Shikai and Bankai are dependent on the Zanpakutō. They also vary according to the wielder's strength and training. But in general, one's power can grow 5 to 10 times greater. Only the strongest Shinigami can use it. It is also the ultimate technique of a Zanpakutō. Even the Four noble families, whose members are always exceptionally talented, have a member capable of Bankai only every few generations. Those who achieve Bankai always have remarkable roles in the history of Soul Society.

Ichigo Kurosaki and Kisuke Urahara are the only known individuals that have mastered Bankai through a far shorter, yet much more dangerous method. Using a special device created by Urahara, which forcibly materializes a Zanpakutō spirit (thus bypassing a large portion of the training), they were able to attain their Bankai within three days instead of the normal hundreds of years. After successfully testing the device and achieving Bankai, Urahara stated that training by using this method for more than three consecutive days could prove to be fatal, which is why Ichigo was also forced to achieve his own Bankai within three days.

Weakness: A high enough level of spiritual energy can be used to disrupt the rhythm of a Bankai. The biggest flaw of Bankai lies in the overwhelming power it releases. Its power and form are often far beyond that of a normal weapon. This is the reason that in order for one to become capable of using it completely and effectively, one needs to train at least 10 years with Bankai. Any Bankai before that period of time has been reached should not be used in battle. A broken bankai can never be returned to its former state. The only exception being captain Sajin Komamura's bankai, those two share a bond so strong that when one is injured the other reflects that damage but the bankai is healed when the captain is healed


Resurrección (帰刃 (レスレクシオン), resurekushion; Spanish for "Resurrection", Japanese for "Returning Blade") returns the essence of an Arrancar's offensive Hollow abilities to their humanoid bodies.


There are several types of Zanpakutō though only three types mentioned (Melee, Kidō and Elemental). Kidō has many sub-groups and the Elemental-types while part of Kidō-type grouping, is so big and diverse that is able to stand on its own as its own grouping. (Note, Types are determined by what a Zanpakutō is shown and/or stated to be capable of within the confines of these types and nothing more). These types include:

Melee-Type Zanpakutō

(Are typically designed for various forms of armed melee combat rather than kidō-based abilities.)

Name Sealed Form Release Command Bankai Name Wielder Name
Zangetsu (斬月, Slaying Moon) None None Tensa Zangetsu (天鎖斬月, Heaven Chain Slaying Moon) Ichigo Kurosaki / Hollow Ichigo
Unknown None None None Kenpachi Zaraki
Zabimaru (蛇尾丸, Snake Tail) Katana Howl Hihiō Zabimaru (狒狒王蛇尾丸, Baboon King Snake Tail) Renji Abarai
Hōzukimaru (鬼灯丸, Demon Light) Katana Grow / Split Ryūmon Hōzukimaru (龍紋鬼灯丸, Dragon Crest Demon Light) Ikkaku Madarame
Reppū (烈風, "Gale") Katana Rage Violently None Makoto Kibune
Kazeshini (風死, Wind Death) Katana Reap None Shūhei Hisagi
Gegetsuburi (五形頭; "Five-Formed Head") Katana Crush None Marechiyo Ōmaeda
Tenken (天譴, "Heavenly Punishment") Katana Roar Kokujō Tengen Myō'ō (黒縄天譴明王, Vidyaraja of Kalasutra's Heavenly Punishment) Sajin Komamura

Kidō Sub-TypesEdit

Certain Zanpakutō possess defined abilities and exist in their own category. Due to them being designed around a special ability they are therefore a form of Kidō-Type Zanpakutō.

Kidō-Type Zanpakutō

(Are designed around a special ability rather than close combat potential.)

Name Sealed Form Release Command Bankai Name Wielder Name
Ruri'iro Kujaku (瑠璃色孔雀, Azure Peacock) Katana Bloom / Split and Deviate None Yumichika Ayasegawa
Minazuki (肉雫唼, "Purify the Flesh") Nodachi Unknown Unknown Retsu Unohana
Benihime (紅姫, Crimson Princess) Shikomizue Awaken Unknown Kisuke Urahara
Suzumushi (清虫, Cricket) Katana Cry Suzumushi Tsuishiki: Enma Kōrogi (清虫終式閻魔蟋蟀, Cricket Final Form: Devil Cricket) Kaname Tōsen
Hisagomaru (瓠丸, Gourd) Katana Fulfill None Hanatarō Yamada
Kinshara (金沙羅, Golden Sal Tree) Katana Play Unknown Rōjūrō Ōtoribashi
Katen Kyōkotsu (花天狂骨; Flower Heaven, Crazy Bone) Daisho Flower Wind Rage and Flower God Roar, Heavenly Wind Rage and Heavenly Demon Sneer Unknown Shunsui Kyōraku
Sōgyo no Kotowari (双魚理, Truth of Pisces) Katana All Waves, Rise now and Become my Shield, Lightning, Strike now and Become my Blade Unknown Jūshirō Ukitake
Wabisuke (侘助; the Wretched One) Katana Raise Your Head None Izuru Kira
Sumitsukigasa (墨月牙鎖; Ink Moon Halo) Katana Seethe None Ōko Yushima
Raikū (雷矩; Coming Void) Shikomizue Go Mad None Kagerōza Inaba
Arazome Shigure (退紅時雨; Faded Scarlet Late Autumn Shower) Katana Rain Without End None Nozomi Kujō
Projectile-Type Zanpakutō

(When released separate into many air based blades that the owner can control freely.)

Name Sealed Form Release Command Bankai Name Wielder Name
Tsunzakigarasu (劈烏, Splitting Crow) Katana Flap Away None Jirōbō Ikkanzaka
Defense-Type Zanpakutō

(Are designed around defensive capability with little or no offense.)

Name Sealed Form Release Command Bankai Name Wielder Name
Daichimaru (だいちまる, The Land) Katana Rock None Rusaburō Enkōgawa
Poison-Type Zanpakutō

(Designed to generate and administer poison as a form of attack.)

Name Sealed Form Release Command Bankai Name Wielder Name
Ashisogi Jizō (疋殺地蔵, Leg-Cutting Jizō) Katana Rip Konjiki Ashisogi Jizō (金色疋殺地蔵, Golden Leg-Cutting Jizō) Mayuri Kurotsuchi
Suzumebachi (雀蜂, Hornet) Wakizashi Sting All Enemies To Death Jakuhō Raikōben (雀蜂雷公鞭, Hornet Thunder Whip) Suì-Fēng
Shinsō (神鎗, God Spear) Wakizashi Shoot To Kill Kamishini no Yari (神殺鎗, God-Killing Spear) Gin Ichimaru
Illusion-Type Zanpakutō

(Are designed around the ability to generate and manipulate perceptions via illusions.)

Name Sealed Form Release Command Bankai Name Wielder Name
Kyōka Suigetsu (鏡花水月, Mirror Flower, Water Moon) Katana Shatter Unknown Sōsuke Aizen
Sakanade (逆撫, Counter Stroke) Katana Collapse Unknown Shinji Hirako
Muramasa (村正, Village-Just) Katana Whisper None Kōga Kuchiki

Elemental Sub-TypeEdit

A large amount of the Zanpakutō are classified by elements, generally utilizing their respective elements as forms of attack. Elemental Zanpakutō are all Kidō-sub-type which have an element based as noted by Kenpachi Zaraki and Maki Ichinose during their battle.[7] This is later affirmed by Marechiyo Ōmaeda.[8]

Fire-Type Zanpakutō

(Designed to generate fire and manipulate fire for various forms of attack or defense.)

Name Sealed Form Release Command Bankai Name Wielder Name
Ryūjin Jakka (流刃若火; "Flowing Blade-Like Flame") Katana Reduce All Creation to Ash Unknown Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto
Tengumaru (天狗丸, Long-Nosed Goblin) Katana Crush Down Unknown Love Aikawa
Raika (雷火, Lightning Flash) Kodachi Sever Raika Gōen Kaku (雷火 豪炎殻, Lightning Flash Flame Shell) Shūsuke Amagai
Tobiume (飛梅, "Flying Plum Tree") Katana Snap None Momo Hinamori
Ice-Type Zanpakutō

(Designed to generate water and manipulate it into ice (and related effects) for various forms of attack or defense.)

Name Sealed Form Release Command Bankai Name Wielder Name
Hyōrinmaru (氷輪丸, "Ice Ring") Katana Sit Upon the Frozen Heavens Daiguren Hyōrinmaru (大紅蓮 氷輪丸, Grand Crimson Lotus Ice Ring) Tōshirō Hitsugaya/ Sōjirō Kusaka
Sode no Shirayuki (袖白雪, Sleeved White Snow) Katana Dance None Rukia Kuchiki
Earth-Type Zanpakutō

(Designed to manipulate the ground for various forms of attack or defense.)

Name Sealed Form Release Command Bankai Name Wielder Name
Tsuchinamazu (土鯰, Soil Catfish) Katana Good Morning None Zennosuke Kurumadani
Wind-Type Zanpakutō

(Designed to manipulate wind for various forms of attack or defense.)

Name Sealed Form Release Command Bankai Name Wielder Name
Tachikaze (断地風, Earth-Severing Wind) Kodachi Blow It Away Tekken Tachikaze (鐡拳・断風, Iron Fist Earth-Severing Wind) Kensei Muguruma
Mirokumaru (弥勒丸, Maitreya Circle) Katana Call forth the Twilight None Senna
Water-Type Zanpakutō

(Designed to generate and manipulate water (and related effects) for various forms of attack or defense.)

Name Sealed Form Release Command Bankai Name Wielder Name
Nejibana (捩花, Twisted Flower) Katana Rankle the Seas and the Skies None Kaien Shiba
Plant-Type Zanpakutō

(Designed to generate and manipulate plant(s) for various forms of attack or defense.)

Name Sealed Form Release Command Bankai Name Wielder Name
Benishidare (紅枝垂, Crimson Weeping Bough) Katana Bloom Madly None Ryūsei Kenzaki
Light-Type Zanpakutō

(Designed to generate and manipulate light for various forms of effects.)

Name Sealed Form Release Command Bankai Name Wielder Name
Nijigasumi (虹霞, Rainbow Mist) Katana Shine Brightly None Maki Ichinose

Unclassified TypesEdit

Unclassified Types

(These are the Zanpakutō that while the names and Shikai may be known, their type cannot be readily verified.)

Name Sealed Form Release Command Bankai Name Wielder Name
Senbonzakura (千本桜, Thousand Cherry Blossoms) Katana Scatter Senbonzakura Kageyoshi (千本桜景厳, Vibrant Display of a Thousand Cherry Blossoms) Byakuya Kuchiki
Haineko (灰猫, Ash Cat) Katana variation Growl None Rangiku Matsumoto
Engetsu (弦月, Scathing Moon) Katana Unknown Unknown Isshin Kurosaki
Gonryōmaru (厳霊丸, Solemn Spirit) Katana Bite Unknown Chōjirō Sasakibe
Itegumo (凍雲, Frozen Cloud) Katana Run None Isane Kotetsu
Unknown Tantō Unknown None Tetsuzaemon Iba
Kubikiri Orochi (馘大蛇, Beheading Serpent) Katana Chop Cleanly None Hiyori Sarugaki
Haguro Tonbo (鉄漿蜻蛉, Iron Drink Dragonfly) Nodachi Smash None Lisa Yadōmaru
Hōzan (崩山, Avalanche) Katana Dance Madly None Tatsufusa Enjōji
Katakage (Partial Shadow) Katana Negate None Asuka Katakura
Shunjin (Spring Dust) Katana Whirl up None Rikū Togakushi
Mogaribue (Bamboo Flute) Katana Whistle None Taketsuna Gori

General Sub-TypesEdit

There are a few "sub-types" of Zanpakutō classification such as:

  • Constant-Release Type: Zanpakutō that are always in Shikai form because of the strength of their wielders' spiritual energies, or, more importantly, their lack of control over it.

See AlsoEdit

References Edit

  1. Bleach manga; Chapter 521, page 19
  2. Bleach manga; Chapter 110, page 14
  3. Bleach manga; Chapter 523, page 2
  4. Bleach manga; Chapter 523, page 5
  5. Bleach manga; Chapter 63, page 5-6
  6. Bleach manga; Chapter 66, page 10
  7. Bleach anime; Episode 98
  8. Bleach manga; Chapter 360, page 8