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Bankotsu

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I am Bankotsu, leader of the Band of Seven. And I've never lost a battle to anyone.
~ Bankotsu

Bankotsu is the secondary antagonist of the Mt. Hakurei arc in the anime/ manga series Inuyasha. He was the leader of the Band of Seven and both the youngest and the strongest member of the group. He wielded the halberd Banryū.

He is voiced by Takeshi Kusao in the Japanese version of the anime and Matt Hill in the English version, the former of whom also voices Mao.

History

Before the creation of the Band of Seven, Bankotsu traveled around with Jakotsu, challenging every strong human and demon alike. He meets Naraku while heading to a battle, who made it there before him. Naraku then tells him about the Shikon no Tama before disappearing. Soon after this Bankotsu decides to create the Band of Seven.

Personality

A man who finds excitement and thrill in murder, Bankotsu is known for slaughtering demons and humans alike, which made him feared and hated by both.  Despite his bloodthirsty nature, he generally maintains a relaxed, and laid-back demeanor, even during battle.  Although he is a skilled mercenary and hardened killer, he retains a sense of loyalty, honor and compassion, but only for his six companions.  He exhibits considerable cynicism at times; when a furious Inuyasha demands to know why he attacked Inuyasha's friends, he dismissively notes that Inuyasha's naivety doesn't suit him.  When further accused of using dirty tricks, he retorts that "In a match to the death, there's no such thing as fair or foul."  Later, when confronted by Kikyo after burying several of his dead comrades, he declares that there is no afterlife, and that "once a mortal is dead, that's the end of it."  He states that the reason he fights and kills is simply because its "thoroughly enjoyable."  Though he accepts Kikyo's challenge, he subsequently shoulders his Banryu and departs without bloodshed.  Kkyo accuses him of making excuses for his evil actions, but he replies that "dead people like you and I will probably share the same fate.", before walking off.      

His most distinguishing characteristics are most likely his love of battle, because he enjoys facing strong opponents, and his unswerving loyalty and dedication to his six brothers.  As the Band of Seven is slowly whittled down at the hands of Inuyasha and his friends, Bankotsu buries them and even succumbs momentarily to melancholy, asking their grave how its like to be dead again.  He later kills Renkotsu for his treacherous murder of Jakotsu, Bankotsu's closest friend, for Jakotsu's jewel shard.  Before he dies, Renkotsu accuses Bankotsu of using the Band of Seven in the same manner, and demands to know the difference between his treachery and Bankotsu's actions.  After tearing the jewel shards from Renkotsu's neck, Bankotsu replies that the difference between him and Renkotsu was that "I would never betray my friends."  Following Renkotsu's death, Bankotsu laments the fact that, although he himself is more powerful than ever, all of his brothers are now dead, and he is the last of the Band of Seven.  When faced with the choice of fleeing and saving his own life, or staying to fight Inuyasha, he decides to avenge his six dead comrades by attacking Inuyasha.  Even after being weakened and losing five of his jewel shards, he sneers at Inuyasha's offer of allowing him to escape with his life, declaring that "I'm not going anywhere until I kill you and avenge my brothers."  Naraku later mocks the now-deceased Bankotsu's sense of loyalty, claiming he should have fled with the Shikon jewel shards and lived, rather than staying and giving his life for the sake of his dead brothers.  In a strange moment of irony, an enraged Inuyasha defends his former enemy's honor, declaring that, although Bankotsu had been an evil villan, he was still "hundreds of times more decent than you, Naraku!" Bankotsu also has a sweet side that he only reveals to Jakotsu in the anime.  

Physical description

Bankotsu is a lean-muscled young man due to years of training. He has a tattoo of a four-pointed star on his forehead and is generally very handsome. His eyes are a dark shade of cobalt and has tanned skin.

He wears a white pair of hakamas with a white haori that only has a blue patch on his shoulder. He also wears a type of iron armor over these clothes along with a shoulder guard attached. This is attached to the rest of the armor by a strip of red cloth. The armor is tied at the waist with a red obi or sash. His armor has a purple fern like pattern on it. He does not wear shoes, instead he has the traditional ninja footwear. Along with that he wears black gloves that are held in place by his middle fingers.

Powers and Abilities

Despite being an otherwise normal human, Bankotsu was an extremely powerful warrior. So much so he could defeat demons, which normally only Demon Slayers such as Sango could, or holy men and women like Miroku and Kagome. His strength is such that, despite only being a mere human, he is capable of equaling Inuyasha in battle prowess.  After gaining more jewel shards, he arguably surpasses Inuysha's strength, and even taunts him for being weak.  Upon slaying his 1,000th demon, Bankotsu's Banryū transformed into a powerful, demonic sword that could project the master's hatred into a powerful, destructive energy. Much like the nature of Sesshōmaru's Tōkijin, as noted by Inuyasha. Because of this transformation and the gaining of a demonic aura, Inuyasha was able to use the Bakuryūha which shattered Banryū and defeated Bankotsu. Bankotsu's most well known ability is being able to wield Banryū skillfully. Aside from that, he also seem to posses superhuman strength as seen in episode 110, when the lord mentions that the sword was heavy enough that three strong men were required to lift it. He also possesses great endurance, speed and agility, far above all the other members of his team. 

Though highly proficient with Banryū, his weapon of choice, he also displays formidable skill in unarmed combat, as shown when he easily bests Renkotsu without his halberd, and later fights Inuyasha hand-to-hand.  In the latter instance, it is shown that, despite Inuyasha's claws, Bankotsu holds a clear edge over Inuyasha, even after losing two of his jewel shards.  

Weapon

Banryū (Barbaric Dragon): Nicknamed Bankotsu's "companion," Banryū is a gargantuan halberd that, after being bolstered by the shards of the Shikon Jewel, can manipulate lightning and fire a variety of energy attacks. In the series of episodes that compose the Band of Seven arc, Bankotsu uses several jewel shards that Renkotsu stole from Kagome to strengthen the power of Banryū. The jewel-empowered Banryū is shown to able to effectively counter Inuyasha's Kaze no Kizu attack. The strength of Banryū, enhanced with the Shikon Jewel Shards, is seemingly equal to that of the Tessaiga. In the anime, Bankotsu, desiring yōki, made a wish on his Banryū, vowing to kill both 1,000 yōkai and 1,000 humans, so that it would gain demonic powers. It refers to the legend that, if a human were to ever kill 1,000 yōkai, he would gain powers that yōkai possess.  He succeeds in fulfilling in wish, only to have said accomplishment lead directly to his downfall, as Inuyasha reflects the energy of the now-demonic halberd back at Bankotsu, mortally wounding him and shattering the Banryū.

Relationships

Jakotsu

After Suikotsu is killed, Bankotsu tells that Jakotsu that he's "The only one in the whole world I can trust!", affirming his admiration for his fellow mercenary. Additionally, during a flashback featured only in the anime, it is revealed that before the formation of the band of seven, Jakotsu and Bakotsu had been traveling together. This explains why their bond is so strong, they are friends, more than just comrades.

Renkotsu

Bankotsu acknowledges the fact that, despite Bankotsu's own cleverness, Renkotsu is "the smart one". Having him write the letter to the castle where they were executed, and giving Renkotsu what seems like the title of second in command of the rest of the mercenaries, letting him give his own orders to the others up until the point when Bankotsu is introduced.

During the story

After his resurrection, Bankotsu uses Banryū to kill everyone in the castle whose men originally killed the Band of Seven. The scent of blood draws both Koga and Inuyasha's group to engage in battle, until Naraku summons the Band of Seven back to him.  During the battle, Bankotsu proves himself to be Inuyasha's equal in both strength and swordsmanship, but when Inuyasha unleashes his Kaze no Kizu, Bankotsu is overwhelmed. Although he attempts to block it with Banryū, his halberd is damaged, and Bankotsu himself is only saved by the timely intervention of Ginkotsu.  Retreating on Ginkotsu with his brothers, Bankotsu laments the inconvenience of Naraku's summons.  At Mt. Hakurei, Bankotsu repairs Banryū with the four jewel shards Renkotsu stole from Kagome.  

Following that, he confronts Inuyasha on Hijiri Island, where a sacred barrier prevents Inuyasha from using the Wind Scar and weakens his demonic powers.  Although Bankotsu, being an evil specter, is also weakened by the purifying barrier, he is relatively unaffected due to his purely human heiritage.  After Bankotsu succeeds in wounding Inuyasha on the left arm, the barrier is dispelled by Miroku, rendering the combatants back at full strength.  However, the unwounded and rejuvenated Bankotsu retains his advantage, and proves himself capable of deflecting the Wind Scar with his jewel-shard-strengthened Banryū.  Using his Banryū s "Dragon Thunder", Bankotsu calls down numerous randomly-targeted bolts of lightning, which incapacitate everyone, excluding Inuyasha and Bankotsu.  Bankotsu then battles with the restored Inuyasha at full strength, but neither is able to gain an advantage.  Inuyasha fires a Wind Scar at Bankotsu, who counters with his Dragon Hammer, a similar-looking pink blast; the two energy waves cancel each other out.  After a prolonged exchange of blasts, the vajra (which was projecting the barrier earlier) intervenes, healing everybody on the island and purifying Inuyasha's sword before teleporting Bankotsu away.  Later, after learning that Renkotsu killed Jakotsu for his jewel shard, Bankotsu kills Renkotsu for his betrayal. With seven jewel shards in his body and four in his halberd, Bankotsu goes to confront Inuyasha and avenge his fallen brothers.  

The two battle evenly again, well matched in both energy blasts (this time, Bankotsu uses an orange-red blast of heat to counter the Wind Scar) and swordsmanship.  After a lengthy battle, Inuyasha realizes he is making no headway against the equally-strong Bankotsu, and that, without the Backlash Wave, he cannot break the stalemate.  Instead of continuing the fruitless battle, Inuyasha opts to hurl his sword at Bankotsu and use the distraction to disarm his opponent, cutting out the two jewel shards in Bankotsu's right arm in the process. Confident he possesses the advantage, with demonic claws to Bankotsu's fists, Inuyasha presses forward, declaring he will cut out all of Bankotsu's shards.  An unimpressed Bankotsu dodges several slashes and retaliates by punching Inuyasha in the face with his wounded arm, which nonetheless has the force to send the hanyou sprawling.  Declaring that he's "never lost a battle to anyone", Bankotsu takes control of the bare-knuckle brawl, pummeling Inuyasha mercilessly before a throttled Inuyasha manages to gouge out the shards in Bankotsu's neck.  

In the manga, Inuyasha then gradually cuts the remaining Shikon Jewel shards out of Bankotsu's body as the battle progresses until Bankotsu is cut in two, with Naraku stripping the remaining half of its Shikon shard.

In the anime, however, Bankotsu retrieves his Banryu and attacks the watching demons, slaying 10 of them to bring his demonic kill count from 990 to 1000.  Having slain 1,000 yōkai and 1,000 humans with Banryū, the already-mighty halberd transforms into a demonic weapon that projects its wielder's hatred as powerful yōki.  More powerful than ever, despite losing five jewel shards in the course of the battle, Bankotsu then proceeds to launch a furious assault on Inuyasha, finally rendering him a battered heap against the wall.  Preparing the coup de grace, Bankotsu summons an enormous red ball of energy that he thinks will disintegrate Inuyasha.  However, this proves to be his downfall as Inuyasha reflects Bankotsu's strongest attack with the Bakuryūha (as Banryu has become a demon weapon, Inuyasha is able to reflect its attacks), shattering Banryū and defeating Bankotsu at last.

Trivia

  • His tattoo means Youth, which refers to him being the youngest member of the Band of Seven.
  • Though he did have at least one Shikon Jewel in his body, it is still suggested that his physical strength is comparable to Inuyasha's, a powerful hanyōu in his own right. As Inuyasha has been shown to easily lift several tons with one arm, it's likely that Bankotsu is the strongest human character in the series. 
  • The anime also took Bankotsu and Inuyasha's battle further to show that Bankotsu was the better brawler and grappler in terms of hand-to-hand, with Inuyasha only evening out the playing field with his stamina and resilience. 
  • Despite having a demonic weapon, Bankotsu is the only human that was never overcome by his sword's power where as other humans such as Tōshū and Kōtatsu have been killed and possessed by their own individual demonic weapons. This may be attributed to his jewel shards, though it is uncertain whether or not he would have been possessed had he remained alive. 
  • At the end of episode 111, it shows Bankotsu inserting 4 shards Renkotsu stole from Kagome into Banryū, one of which was the large shard Kagome and Kikyō fused from Kagome's 3 shards in episode 98, making a total of 6 sacred jewel shards in Banryū's blade, and 9 total in Bankotsu's possession at this point in time. In episode 113 however, Kagome states that there are only 2 shards in the halberd. In episode 118, Jakotsu gives Suikotsu's shard to Bankotsu, and at the end of episode 120, Bankotsu takes the 3 shards from Renkotsu, bringing his total to 13.
  • Ironically, despite being the youngest member of the Band of Seven, he is often referred to as 'Big Brother' by the other mercenaries, e.g. Jakotsu and Renkotsu. This is likely a sign of respect, due to the fact that he is the leader.
  • Though Bankotsu initially displays a certain degree of loyalty to Naraku, following his orders without complaint, he later shows no surpirse when Inuyasha reveals Naraku was just using him. He declares that he is fighting Inuyasha for his brothers' sake, not for Naraku's, and that he harbors no loyalty towards the manipulative demon.

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