|“||I'm not gonna have it, Ichigo. I don't know about Zangetsu, but I refuse to carry a king who's weaker than me and get cut to ribbons with him. If you're weaker than me, then I'll destroy you, and take the crown for myself.||„|
|~ Hollow Ichigo speaking to Ichigo|
Zangetsu, or Hollow Ichigo as he's more commonly known, is the Inner Hollow who also acts as the manifestation of Ichigo's Zanpakuto and a villain from Bleach.
Originally, Hollow Ichigo was virtually identical to Ichigo: a fairly tall and lean-built. However, the inner Hollow had white skin and hair with his eyes consisting of black pupils, white irises, and black sclera. He also wears an inverted version of the black Shinigami attire. Like Zangetsu, Hollow Ichigo's form changed while in the Bankai state: becoming an inverted version of Ichigo's full Hollow form.
PersonalityHollow Ichigo is highly psychopathic, demonstrating high brutality and sadism. He exists only to take over Ichigo’s body and his powers, just so he can kill anything around him. Hollow Ichigo calls Ichigo the “king” of their inner world and himself the “horse”, wanting to take the “crown” and become dominant. Hollow Ichigo is also arrogant and has little respect for anyone, often calling Ichigo weak and a pathetic counterpart, though he does seem to respect Zangetsu. Despite his dislike for Ichigo, Hollow Ichigo's nature as a Zanpakuto compels him to protect his wielder, in addition to the fact that he would die if Ichigo did. This aspect appears strongly while melded into Tensa Zangetsu.
Some time ago, Sosuke Aizen created a Hollow that was modeled after a Shinigami in many aspects. This was White and it was sent to Naruki City where it killed various Shinigami before being called out by Captain Isshin Shiba with Aizen giving his creation a advantage. However, White met its end when a Quincy named Misaki Kurosaki intervened and the injury she inflicted on the Hollow caused it to self-destruct. But the victory was short lived as White bit Misaki prior to its death, infecting her to suffer an eventually Hollowfication. Luckily, at the cost of his Shinigami powers, Isshin managed to halt the process as he married into Misaki's family and took her surname. However, White's dormant essence lingered and was inherited by Ichigo Kurosaki in the form of his abilities as a Visored.
Birth and Emergence
When Ichigo was training to gain his own Shinigami powers, he was put through Encroachment, a process that would turn him into a Hollow if he didn’t gain his powers. Ichigo was put in a pit with his Chain of Fate severed and his arms bound by a Bakudo spell so he couldn’t climb out. After three days, Ichigo began transforming with a Hollow Mask starting to form and Tessai Tsukabishi was forced to try using a more advanced version of the Bakudo. Jinta pointed out that would kill Ichigo, but Tessai said he had to restrain him before he fully transformed. However, Ichigo’s Shinigami and Hollow powers awoke before the final part of the spell could finish him. He leaped out of the pit, but emerged wearing Shinigami robes and a Hollow Mask. Ichigo rid himself of it as he though, unaware that something has been born inside him.
During Ichigo's quest to save Rukia Kuchiki, the mask kept reappearing on Ichigo’s body, blocking attacks that would’ve killed him, such as during his fight with Renji Abarai. It blocked Renji’s Zanpakuto, Zabimaru, from striking Ichigo’s heart and Hanataro Yamada found it as he was healing Ichigo. Ichigo wanted to keep it, thinking it might be a good luck charm, but Hanataro got rid of the mask again, afraid of it. Later on, as Ichigo was stabbed in the chest during his fight with Kenpachi Zaraki, he was pulled into his inner world by Zangetsu.
There, Zangetsu introduced him to Hollow Ichigo for the first time and said it was time to see if Ichigo was worthy of wielding him by taking him back. Armed with a random blade, Ichigo was forced to fight Hollow Ichigo, who wielded Zangetsu. The inner Hollow quickly took the advantage and as they fought, he asked Ichigo if he thought controlling his Zanpakuto fully would be so easy as he belittled him over Ichigo's worrying only about getting stronger himself and not relying on Zangetsu, never thinking of drawing out all of the Zanpakuto’s power and making it even stronger. Hollow Ichigo decided to show Ichigo how to really use Zangetsu and attacked. But as they crossed swords, the inner Hollow found himself holding the nameless sword while Ichigo had Zangetsu, who decided Ichigo was worthy. Ichigo then awoke in the real world and Hollow Ichigo, confused, asked the Zanpakuto spirit if Ichigo was gone and if that had been all. Zangetsu said it was and apologized for bothering him, but Hollow Ichigo replied that it hadn’t been a problem and it would’ve been bad if Ichigo was defeated. The inner Hollow asked to be sent back and told Zangetsu to train Ichigo well as he faded away, since Ichigo’s power would one day be his.
After Ichigo managed to win the battle with Kenpachi, Yourichi Shihoin took Ichigo away to heal him and noted that a Hollow mask saved him. Surprised, Ichigo said Hanataro got rid of it and Yourichi was noticeably disturbed by this, before she threw the mask away again. Later, as Ichigo battled Byakuya Kuchiki, Ichigo was about to be finished by him when Hollow Ichigo took over. He managed to catch Byakuya’s sword with his barehands and revealed that a Hollow mask was forming on part of his face and his eyes were all black with yellow irises. The 6th Division captain asked who he was, but Hollow Ichigo replied that he was nobody and had no name. He managed to slash Byakuya, who managed to put some distance between them. Hollow Ichigo said Ichigo was weak, noting that his inexperience with the power and speed of his Bankai made his bones shake. He crushed Byakuya’s sword and said he’d show Ichigo how to really use a Bankai.
The 6th Division captain formed another sword and Hollow Ichigo fired a Getsuga Tenshō at him, then used Shunpo to get behind Byakuya before firing another one. Byakuya survived the blasts and noted that the spiritual energy and mask were like those of a Hollow. Hollow Ichigo told him not to worry about it since he’d be gone soon, when Ichigo regained control, ripping the mask off. However Hollow Ichigo told Ichigo he couldn’t win without his help before being pulled back into Ichigo’s mind.
Battle with the Bounts
Hollow Ichigo remained dormant for some time, but eventually manifested during Ichigo’s fight with Gō Koga and his Doll, Dalk. After the inner Hollow possessed Ichigo again, Koga asked Hollow Ichigo who he was to which he replied “I’m me”. Hollow Ichigo went on to say that he was not as naïve as Ichigo and that even if he didn’t like admitting that Ichigo was a part of him, he couldn’t let Ichigo die. He managed to slash Dalk in half, but Ichigo ripped the mask off again, despite Hollow Ichigo’s protests, regaining control. Later, during Ichigo’s battle against Jin Kariya, Hollow Ichigo’s influence briefly manifested again. Ichigo’s irises turned yellow and he unleashed a black Getsuga Tenshō against Kariya, but Ichigo quickly forced Hollow Ichigo back down.
Fights with the Arrancar
Eventually, the Hollow mask stopped manifesting completely, but Ichigo could constantly hear his inner Hollow calling to him and feel that he was getting harder to keep dormant. At one point, as Ichigo was fighting Yammy Llargo, Hollow Ichigo began trying to take over, interrupting his thought process as he told him to use his power. When Ichigo refused, his inner Hollow made him unable to move to try and make him accept his help. As a result of his inability to fight, many of Ichigo’s friends were hurt and Kisuke Urahara and Yoruichi drove Yammy and Ulquiorra Cifer off. In an attempt to regain his confidence fighting, Ichigo took on a Hollow, but Hollow Ichigo tried again to take over, which caused him to get struck by the Hollow. Later on, when Ichigo was fighting Grimmjow Jaegerjaquez, he was eventually forced to use a black Getsuga Tenshō. Being one of Hollow Ichigo’s moves, this caused the inner Hollow to start taking over, making Ichigo’s eyes start turning black, but was made dormant again. Determined to control Hollow Ichigo, Ichigo tracked down the Visored, Shinigami who could control and even use the power of their inner Hollows. In order to be trained by them, Ichigo had to fight Hiyori Sarugaki and during the fight, Ichigo Hollow took over again. He was about to kill Hiyori Sarugaki, but the rest of the Visored subdued him and decided to train Ichigo to control his inner Hollow, having seen Hollow Ichigo’s untamed power. They placed Ichigo in a spell that caused him to enter his inner world while Hollow Ichigo took over and began mutating Ichigo’s body into a monstrous Hollow form as he fought the Visored. If he couldn’t get control of his inner Hollow, the Visored would have to destroy him.
While in his inner world, Ichigo faced Hollow Ichigo and asked where Zangetsu was as he drew his sword. The inner Hollow asked him if Ichigo meant the one he was holding or the one he held while declaring himself to be Zangetsu. During the fight that followed, the inner Hollow explained that he and Zangetsu were originally one, since they were both the source of Ichigo’s power. Furthermore, as the control changed, the inner Hollow had become the dominant aspect and had been taking over Ichigo the more he called on Zangetsu's power. Ichigo realized that defeating his inner Hollow would put Zangetsu back in control and released his Bankai with his inner Hollow following suit.
The two continued fighting and Ichigo used his Getsuga Tensho, only for Hollow Ichigo to swat it aside. The inner Hollow used his own white Getsuga Tensho and continued to beat Ichigo. Hollow Ichigo began taunting Ichigo about his lack of proficiency and grabbed his Tensa Zangetsu, turning the blade white. The inner Hollow told Ichigo that he couldn’t use Bankai before destroying his sword and attacked again, explaining why he wanted to take over and what true power between two beings was.
Hollow Ichigo stabbed Ichigo in the stomach and said he wouldn’t be the servant of someone weaker than him anymore. However the Shinigami regained his will to fight, grabbing Hollow Ichigo’s Tensa Zangetsu and using it to impale Hollow Ichigo’s stomach. The inner Hollow accepted defeat but vowed to bide his time until the next time Ichigo showed weakness as he disappeared.
In the real world, as the Hollow form of Ichigo prepared to fire a powerful Cero at Love Aikawa, his body broke apart and exploded. When the smoke cleared, Ichigo stood in the husk of what remained of the Hollow form, wearing a Hollow Mask. From then on, Ichigo gained the ability to call on Hollow Ichigo’s power to supplement his own by manifesting his Hollow Mask, but now without losing control to his inner hollow.
Fighting UlquiorraAfter Ichigo was seemingly killed by Ulquiorra Cifer with a Cero Oscuras through his chest. Orihime Inoue tried to heal him while Uryu Ishida fought Ulquiorra, but it didn’t seem to do anything. Panicking as Uryu was defeated, Orihime begged Ichigo to help, when suddenly Ichigo began to transform as his mask reshaped itself. Hollow Ichigo took control of his body again and got his feet in a new Hollow form, much to Ulquiorra’s surprise. He asked who this new foe was, thinking that Ichigo was dead, but Hollow Ichigo just summoned his sword back to him and roared. Ulquiorra fired a Cero Oscuras at him, but Hollow Ichigo fired a Cero of his own, powerful to counter it, surprising the 4th Espada, who refused to believed a human could use a Cero. However Hollow Ichigo appeared behind Ulquiorra and easily cut off his arm, though he was able to regenerate it. The 4th Espada formed his Lanza del Relampago and told Hollow Ichigo not to move, because he didn’t want to use it at close range. It missed, causing a massive explosion and Ulquiorra said it was a difficult technique to control. But when he formed a second spear, Hollow Ichigo showed up next to him using Sonído, much to Ulquiorra’s shock. He threw the 4th Espada’s arm at him, but he slashed it aside, attacking with his spear and Hollow Ichigo caught and broke it. Ulquiorra was shocked by this and Hollow Ichigo slashed him through his torso, smashing into the ground. The 4th Espada said he couldn’t believe he had been beaten by a human turned into a Hollow before Hollow Ichigo stepped on his head and charged another Cero. Ulquiorra noted that his opponent’s lack of mercy was very much like a Hollow, but he had no reason to live because he’d lost to Hollow Ichigo. Hollow Ichigo fired the Cero, generating a huge explosion, and though Ulquiorra survived, his left arm and entire lower body were blasted away. Hollow Ichigo tossed him away and prepared to drive his sword through the 4th Espada’s throat. Uryu tried to stop him from carving up Ulquiorra since such a cruel and merciless act would take away his humanity. However Hollow Ichigo just threw Tensa Zangetsu at Uryu, stabbing him in the stomach, and sending him flying away. Hollow Ichigo prepared to fire another Cero at the Quincy when Ulquiorra, partially regenerated (though he would soon die from the internal damage he couldn’t regenerate), managed to sever one of Hollow Ichigo’s horns, causing his Cero to blow up in his face. This shattered Ichigo’s mask, making him collapse to the ground, but before he changed back completely, the hole in his chest regenerated and Ichigo regained consciousness.
Hollow Ichigo's True Identity
As Ichigo fought Tensa Zangetsu in his inner world to learn the Final Getsuga Tensho, Tensa Zangetsu told him the skyscrapers of his inner world had become a sunken replica of Karakura Town. Tensa Zangetsu told him this was because Ichigo stopped walking forward and fell into despair, before ripping Hollow Ichigo out of Ichigo. Hollow Ichigo was also in Bankai form, resembling the form Ichigo assumed during his fight with Ulquiorra. With Ichigo confused, Tensa Zangetsuexplained that Ichigo was afraid of his inner Hollow due to the overwhelming destructive power. Though Ichigo though he was to fight his Hollow again, Tensa Zangetsu clarified that the human would be fighting both of them. From there, Tensa Zangetsu melded with Hollow Ichigo into their true form, overpowering Ichigo who refused to give up before allowing the being to run him though. Stating that Ichigo obtained the Final Getsuga Tensho by accepting his blade, Tensa Zangetsu lamented that all he wanted was to protect Ichigo and that the Final Getsuga Tensho would purge the human of his Shinigami powers.
Restoration of Zangetsu
However, while meeting the group Xcution, Hollow Ichigo's influence was not fully ceased as it briefly manifested through Ichigo's powers as a Fullbringer before his abilities as a Shinigami were restored. During the Vandereich invasion that followed, Tensa Zangetsu was destroyed in its bankai form.
Not long after Ichigo learned that Zangetsu was not his true Zanpakuto. While getting his weapon repaired, Ichigo entered his inner world and learned that "Zangetsu" was actually Ichigo's untapped Quincy powers with Hollow Ichigo being the real Zangetsu. Explaining his own reasons of protecting the human from being a Shinigami before becoming his ally, Zangetsu revealed to Ichigo that he had been using Hollow Ichigo's power the entire time. Once they were done Ichigo's true Zanpakuto manifested itself as two blades, one representing Zangetsu (Quincy) and the other was the true Zangetsu (Spirit/Hollow).
Conflict with Muramasa
After Ichigo lost Zangetsu to the rogue Zanpakuto Muramasa, Hollow Ichigo took advantage of the situation. He possessed Ichigo, fighting and overwhelming Muramasa before Ichigo regained control.
However, out of curiosity, Muramasa ventured into Ichigo's inner world and met Hollow Ichigo with the intention of drawing him out. But Muramasa's ability had no effect on the inner Hollow as he attacked him. Though the Zanpakuto spirit had the advantage against Muramasa in power and speed, Hollow Ichigo was binded by his opponent before the inner Hollow was saved by Ichigo. Though caught off guard by his human saving him, Hollow Ichigo agreed to aid Ichigo in freeing Zangetsu from Muramasa’s control.
Reigai UprisingDuring the Regai Uprising, Kisuke's attempt to restore Ichigo’s waning powers caused his inner Hollow to attempt another take over of his host's body. He rampaged through the Seireitei before encountering a Reigai copy of Nanao Ise. Despite Ichigo regaining some control when noticed Oko Yushima behind him, Hollow Ichigo reasserted himself and incinerated the Nanao Reigai before being defeated by Yushimura. At the last minute, Rukia saved Hollow Ichigo who loses control over Ichigo when he shielded her from an attack. After the events of the Regai Uprising are resolved, Ichigo's Shinigami powers finally faded.
As Ichigo headed into Hell to save his sister, Yuzu, from the Togabito, his Hollow Mask began materializing without him calling for it, due to the air in Hell bringing out his dormant Hollow powers.
This was what Kokutō and the other Togabito wanted, to force Ichigo to Hollowfy so it could free them from Hell. Eventually Kokutō was able to make Ichigo become possessed by Hollow Ichigo (taking his second full Hollow form) by threatening his sister, Yuzu. Hollow Ichigo, past the point of rational thought, charged a Cero to blast Kokutō, which would break the chains holding him and allow the Togabito to escape. The blast obliterated many of Kokutō’s chains and he asked Hollow Ichigo to destroy the rest. He began charging another Cero and fired it, which destroyed more chains, but the blast caused an explosion, shattering the Hell Gate. However Renji intervened, slashing off one of Hollow Ichigo’s horns and causing the Cero to explode without destroying Kokutō’s last chain.Ichigo then returned to normal as he was pulled out of Hell with Yuzu. Ichigo later had to deal with Hollow Ichigo's presence again during his final battle with Kokutō, which put him at a disadvantage, but was able to overcome his inner Hollow.
Hollow Ichigo has an incredible amount of spiritual power, on par with or even more than that of Ichigo, and has yet to fight with all of his power. He grows in power at the same amazing rate as Ichigo and even learned how to use the black Getsuga Tenshō first. Hollow Ichigo possesses superhuman strength and durability and is extremely skilled at fighting hand-to-hand.
However he mostly relies on fighting with his Zanpakuto and is even more versatile and effective with it than Ichigo. For example, Hollow Ichigo often wields his version of Zangetsu by swinging it around like a flail using the cloth wrappings attached to the handle. When he wields his Zanpakuto in this way, Hollow Ichigo is extremely skilled at aiming and controlling where it hits when he tosses it at his opponent. However he uses a more berserker style as opposed to Ichigo’s deductive and logical fighting style, relying on instinct and ignoring injuries. Hollow Ichigo is a very perceptive and crafty fighter, quickly realizing faults in Ichigo’s tactics and correcting them or quickly adapting to his opponent’s tactics. Beneath Hollow Ichigo’s taunts, one can find a deep intelligence that helps Ichigo understand his power. He is highly skilled at a Shinigami technique called Shunpo, where he moves at incredible speeds, so fast it resembles teleporting. However Hollow Ichigo is much more crafty in his maneuvers and it's very hard to read and follow his attack patterns. Hollow Ichigo wields a version of Ichigo’s Zanpakuto, Zangetsu, which takes the form of a large cleaver-like blade, but with a reversed color scheme of Ichigo’s version. The large blade can be used as a shield and like Ichigo’s Zangetsu, it remains in Shikai form at all times.Hollow Ichigo can use his Zangetsu to unleash Getsuga Tenshou, where he forms a slash-like blast of condensed spiritual energy from the tip of his blade, then releases it at his opponent. Like Ichigo, Hollow Ichigo can release the Bankai form of his Zangetsu, where it shrinks into a smaller katana-like form, capable of blocking even the strongest of attacks, and he gains a long-sleeved, ankle-length coat that is ragged at the end. In Bankai form, Hollow Ichigo gets an increase of spiritual power and an enhanced Getsuga Tensho, which is white in color. He can control this version’s movement and it possesses more explosive power and higher speed. Hollow Ichigo also gains even higher speed because of Tensa Zangetsu's smaller condensed form as opposed to other Bankais. His new speed enhances his skill at Shunpo, letting him create numerous afterimages in battle. Hollow Ichigo’s compressed Bankai also means he can use Tensa Zangetsu much longer as opposed to other Bankais. Hollow Ichigo is able to take over Ichigo’s body and when he’s weakened or rendered unconscious in battle, which usually causes his irises to become golden-yellow while the scelra turn black as a Hollow Mask forms on the left side of his face.
But when Hollow Ichigo gains complete control of Ichigo’s body, Ichigo transforms into a full Hollow form. In the first version of this form, Hollow Ichigo still wields Ichigo’s sword, as opposed to other Hollows, who don’t use weapons, and has greatly increased spiritual power. Even when only partially transformed, he could break a Level 75 Kido spell and while fully transforming, the released power becomes a powerful whirlwind that can damage the surroundings. Hollow Ichigo can regenerate wounds instantly and possesses superhuman strength, speed, and endurance. He can use an enhanced Getsuga Tensho that completely envelops Tensa Zangetsu, but he has never fired it so the power it has is unknown, and a Cero, a powerful energy blast used by Hollows, which is strong enough to prompt Love Aikawa to summon his Hollow Mask. Hollow Ichigo can also grow a large worm-like appendage from parts of his body that will attempt to consume his enemies.
In his second full Hollow form, nearly identical to White in appearance, Hollow Ichigo has a new, more humanoid appearance. He eventually gained this form as his normal form but with a reversed color scheme. In this Hollow form, Hollow Ichigo possesses even higher spiritual power, able to overwhelm Ulquiorra in his second release form, which Ichigo could do nothing against. Hollow Ichigo possesses incredible strength and durability and can regenerate, call his sword to him, and use an even more powerful Cero, which he charges in his horns, and Sonído, an Arrancar counterpart of Shunpo. In the form Hollow Ichigo gained when fused with Tensa Zangetsu, their powers were combined and Ichigo has stated this hybrid could’ve defeated him at the beginning of their fight.
- Hollow Ichigo has said that he doesn’t know what he is and also said that he doesn’t care.
- He is never referred to by name in the series, he is usually called "Hollow Ichigo" or "White Ichigo".
- Hollow Ichigo has been a playable character in a number of Bleach video games, such as Blade of Fate, Dark Soul, the Blade Battlers, and Heat the Soul series.
- In the Zanpakuto Unknown Tales arc, Hollow Ichigo used a black Getsuga Tensho against Zangetsu, even though he was still in his Shikai. This may be because he was in his full Hollow form, which is supported by the fact that Hollow Ichigo created the black Getsuga Tensho, or perhaps it was just an animation error.
- In the manga, Hollow Ichigo had white irises and in the anime, he had yellow irises. Also, in his first appearance, he had black teeth, but they were changed to white in the later episodes.
- In the 82nd episode of the anime, Hollow Ichigo had normal eyes with brown irises in the original Japanese version. This was corrected in the Viz releases, but in a flashback in the 114th episode, his eyes were still the wrong color.
- Hollow Ichigo is very similar to WizarDragon as both are an aspect of the protagonist's power. Hollow Ichigo is also similar to the Little Ogre, being a manifestation of a foreign element that occupies the protagonist's body and can corrupt him if given the chance.
- Hollow Ichigo's simultaneous usage of and/or using Ichigo's own Zanpakuto against him would also foreshadow a similar ability used by Tenjuro Banno as Kamen Rider Gold Drive called "Gold Conversion". Coincidentally, both are voiced by the same voice actor - Masakazu Morita.