Being part of the ‘Big 3’ trifecta back in the day, Bleach was one of the main driving forces behind the anime boom of the late 2000s. And it wasn’t hard to see why, with its mature character designs and a story that focused more on a protagonist with flaws rather than the power of friendship like its counterparts. Ichigo Kurosaki is one of the more compelling anime main leads in Shonen and his powers evolved with him. So, when he suddenly lost those powers not once, but twice? It was a shock, to say the least.
Yes, Ichigo does regain his Soul Powers back, even after the last time when his powers were drained during the Fullbringer arc. The first time he lost them, he got them back through training with Kisuke Urahara. The second time was faster (and admittedly, more painful), thanks to being stabbed by a sword made of pure spiritual energy. But after the Yhwach incident, he never truly lost his full potential ever again. Their logic is that motivation and determination play a huge role in waking up the dormant Shinigami powers inside Ichigo.
But those aren’t the only subset of powers an individual like Ichigo can hold in Bleach. Bleach is known for its inspiration taken from the mythos of death and rebirth, like that of the grim reapers and the concepts of Heaven and Hell. With abilities like the Hollow powers and the Quincy powers echoing that inspiration. And then, of course, you have the various techniques on brand for most of those in the Soul Society like swordsmanship and the ilk.
Welcome to Lore Analysis – a segment on this website where take a look at the stories being told across the Otakuverse, from anime to manga to even light novels. And then we break them down for fans looking for a better explanation for certain plot points. This could range from important events in the story arcs or even power mechanisms. Today, we’ll be discussing Ichigo Kurosaki and how his power has evolved over the years. Let’s discuss!
Ichigo Kurosaki: Fullbringer, Vizard, Quincy, Or Human?
I think one of the most impressive things about Bleach is the full scope of powers that inhabits its universe. You have the Soul Society, and the Hollows they fight. This makes for very exciting power dynamics, and the combination of one or more makes for an ardent foe.
This is how we get Ichigo Kurosaki, an unassuming human who accidentally gets ‘possessed’ by a wandering Rukia Kuchiki, or well, her spirit. Throughout the show, we are led to believe that he held potential because of Hollow Hybrid-ness when really, it was revealed that his lineage played a huge role in his strength. He was the son of both a captain of a Soul Reaper Division and a pure-blooded Quincy. This gave him a unique edge over others in the Soul business, where he has the empathy and skill of a Shinigami, combined with the intuitive spiritual energy of Quincy.
Then there are his own inherent powers. He had been trained since childhood in martial arts, which aids him well in his battles against the Hollows and other wandering Souls. This coupled with his near-endless reserves of spiritual energy rarely leaves him feeling fatigued in a fight.
It makes sense to term Ichigo the perfect balance between the human realm and the spirit realm. And nothing describes that balance better than when he comes to terms with both his Hollow and Quincy sides. When his Quincy Reiatsu awakened the Hollow side, he could achieve a state where he transforms into a powerful hybrid of the two.
Ichigo After the Fullbring Arc
Both points which are significant for Ichigo losing his powers are, oddly enough, co-related. During a showdown with Yhwach, Ichigo had his Reiatsu drained by the foe. But not before he could land the final blow, using the Final Getsuga, which led to him winning but with his Soul powers drained.
But this is where Ginjō Kūgo comes in, helping him gain mastery of his newly discovered Fullbringer powers. But Ginjō betrayed Ichigo, by going on to steal those same powers to strengthen his own and of his followers. Genryusai Shigekuni Yamamoto, the captain-commander of the Gotei 13, allowed Ichigo to be given something back for his services as a substitute Soul Reaper. And so, a sword was created by Mr. Hats and Clogs, that was powered by the Reiatsu from all the captains and lieutenants, including Rukia.
But of course, Rukia went against the rules as per tradition, and decided to do the ritual of power transference herself, by stabbing Ichigo through the chest with the spiritually charged sword. This jumpstarted his powers, awakening his dormant Shinigami energy.