|“||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 is more commonly known, is the Inner Hollow who also acts as the manifestation of Ichigo's Zanpakuto and a villain from Bleach.
Originally, Zangetsu 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 Old Man Zangetsu, Zangetsu 's form changed while in the Bankai state: becoming an inverted version of Ichigo's full Hollow form.
PersonalityZangetsu 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. Zangetsu calls Ichigo the “king” of their inner world and himself the “horse”, wanting to take the “crown” and become dominant. Zangetsu is also arrogant and has little respect for anyone, often calling Ichigo weak and a pathetic counterpart, though he does seem to respect Old Man Zangetsu. Despite his dislike for Ichigo, Zangetsu'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 Old Man Zangetsu.
There, Old Man Zangetsu introduced him to Zangetsu 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 Zangetsu, 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. Zangetsu decided to show Ichigo how to really use Zangetsu and attacked. But as they crossed swords, Zangetsu found himself holding the nameless sword while Ichigo had Zangetsu, who decided Ichigo was worthy. Ichigo then awoke in the real world and Zangetsu, confused, asked the Old Man Mainifestation if Ichigo was gone and if that had been all. Old Man Zangetsu said it was and apologized for bothering him, but Zangetsu replied that it hadn’t been a problem and it would’ve been bad if Ichigo was defeated. Zangetsu asked to be sent back and told Old Man 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 Zangetsu 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 Zangetsu replied that he was nobody and had no name. He managed to slash Byakuya, who managed to put some distance between them. Zangetsu 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 Zangetsu 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. Zangetsu told him not to worry about it since he’d be gone soon, when Ichigo regained control, ripping the mask off. However Zangetsu told Ichigo he couldn’t win without his help before being pulled back into Ichigo’s mind.
Battle with the Bounts
Zangetsu remained dormant for some time, but eventually manifested during Ichigo’s fight with Gō Koga and his Doll, Dalk. After Zangetsu possessed Ichigo again, Koga asked Zangetsu who he was to which he replied “I’m me”. Zangetsu 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 Zangetsu’s protests, regaining control. Later, during Ichigo’s battle against Jin Kariya, Zangetsu’s influence briefly manifested again. Ichigo’s irises turned yellow and he unleashed a black Getsuga Tenshō against Kariya, but Ichigo quickly forced Zangetsu back down.
Fights with the Arrancar
Eventually, the Hollow mask stopped manifesting completely, but Ichigo could constantly hear Zangetsu calling to him and feel that he was getting harder to keep dormant. At one point, as Ichigo was fighting Yammy Llargo, Zangetsu began trying to take over, interrupting his thought process as he told him to use his power. When Ichigo refused, Zangetsu 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 Zangetsu 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 Zangetsu’s moves, this caused Zangetsu to start taking over, making Ichigo’s eyes start turning black, but was made dormant again. Determined to control Zangetsu, 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, Zangetsu 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 Zangetsu, having seen Zangetsu’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 Zangetsu and asked where Old Man Zangetsu was as he drew his sword. Zangetsu asked him if Ichigo meant the one he was holding or the one he held while declaring himself to be Zangetsu, Later on during his training in the soul palace Ichigo would discover that Zangetsu was telling the truth. During the fight that followed, Zangetsu explained that he and Old Man Zangetsu were originally one, since they were both the source of Ichigo’s power. Furthermore, as the control changed, Zangetsu had become the dominant aspect and had been taking over Ichigo the more he called on Zangetsu's power. Ichigo realized that defeating Zangetsu would put Old Man 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 Zangetsu to swat it aside. Zangetsu used his own white Getsuga Tensho and continued to beat Ichigo. Zangetsu began taunting Ichigo about his lack of proficiency and grabbed his Tensa Zangetsu, turning the blade white. Zangetsu 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.
Zangetsu 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 Zangetsu’s Tensa Zangetsu and using it to impale Zangetsu’s stomach. Zangetsu 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 Zangetsu’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. Zangetsu 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 Zangetsu just summoned his sword back to him and roared. Ulquiorra fired a Cero Oscuras at him, but Zangetsu 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 Zangetsu 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 Zangetsu 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, Zangetsu 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 Zangetsu caught and broke it. Ulquiorra was shocked by this and Zangetsu 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 Zangetsu 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 Zangetsu. Zangetsu fired the Cero, generating a huge explosion, and though Ulquiorra survived, his left arm and entire lower body were blasted away. Zangetsu 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 Zangetsu just threw Tensa Zangetsu at Uryu, stabbing him in the stomach, and sending him flying away. Zangetsu 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 Zangetsu’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.
Zangetsu's Final Training With Ichigo
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 Zangetsu out of Ichigo. Zangetsu 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 Zangetsu 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, Zangetsu'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. .
The True Identity of Zangetsu
During the Vanderich's first invasion of the soul society, Hashwalth breaks Tena Zangetsu in half. After learning about his mother and how she was a quincy. Ichigo is brought back to Nymaia's place to see if he is truly worthy of having a zanpakuto after learning he doesn't posses a real one, rather a fake or psuedo zanpakuto. After pulling out a asauchi, which are blank slate zanpakuto and seeing it become a hollow version of Ichigo, Nymaia decides to forge a zanpkuto for him.. While getting his weapon repaired, Ichigo entered his inner world and learned that Old Man Zangetsu was actually Ichigo's untapped Quincy powers with Zangetsu and his hollow powers being the real Zangetsu. Explaining his own reasons of protecting the human from being a Shinigami before becoming his ally, Old Man Zangetsu revealed to Ichigo that he had been using Zangetsu's power the entire time. Ichigo thinks back on all the times and realises that what the old man is saying is true. The old man, having become impressed with how strong Ichigo is, decides to let him have the real Zangetsu as up to this point he has only been using a fraction of his true power, Ichigo says he has no idea who Zangetsu really is but in his eyes The old Man and his Hollow half are Zangetsu, he asks the old man if he is OK with this before leaving his inner world. Once they were done Ichigo's true Zanpakuto manifested itself as two blades, one representing Old Man Zangetsu (Quincy) and the other was the true Zangetsu (Spirit/Hollow). After this revelation Ichigo decides not to call upon the powers anymore and instead fight on his own as the old man and Zangetsu are him.
Conflict with Muramasa
After Ichigo lost Old Man Zangetsu to the rogue Zanpakuto Muramasa, Zangetsu 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 Zangetsu with the intention of drawing him out. But Muramasa's ability had no effect on Zangetsu as he attacked him. Though the Zanpakuto spirit had the advantage against Muramasa in power and speed, Zangetsu was binded by his opponent before Zangetsu was saved by Ichigo. Though caught off guard by his human saving him, Zangetsu agreed to aid Ichigo in freeing Old Man Zangetsu from Muramasa’s control.
Reigai UprisingDuring the Regai Uprising, Kisuke's attempt to restore Ichigo’s waning powers caused Zangetsu 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, Zangetsu reasserted himself and incinerated the Nanao Reigai before being defeated by Yushimura. At the last minute, Rukia saved Zangetsu 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.
Hell ChapterAs 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 Zangetsu (taking his second full Hollow form) by threatening his sister, Yuzu. Zangetsu, 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 Zangetsu 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 Zangetsu’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 Zangetsu's presence again during his final battle with Kokutō, which put him at a disadvantage, but was able to overcome his inner Hollow.
Zangetsu 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. Zangetsu 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, Zangetsu 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, Zangetsu 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. Zangetsu 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 Zangetsu’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 Zangetsu is much more crafty in his maneuvers and it's very hard to read and follow his attack patterns. Zangetsu 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. Zangetsu 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, Zangetsu 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, Zangetsu 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. Zangetsu 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. Zangetsu’s compressed Bankai also means he can use Tensa Zangetsu much longer as opposed to other Bankais. Zangetsu 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 Zangetsu gains complete control of Ichigo’s body, Ichigo transforms into a full Hollow form. In the first version of this form, Zangetsu 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. Zangetsu 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. Zangetsu 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, Zangetsu 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, Zangetsu possesses even higher spiritual power, able to overwhelm Ulquiorra in his second release form, which Ichigo could do nothing against. Zangetsu 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 Zangetsu 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.
- Zangetsu 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". However after his true identity is revealed Ichigo starts to refer to him as Zangetsu.
- Zangetsu 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, Zangetsu 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, Zangetsu 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, Zangetsu 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.
- Zangetsu 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.
- Zangetsu'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.