|“||Ichigo, what's the difference between a king and his horse? I don't mean kiddy shit like "One's a person and one's an animal." or "One has two legs and one has four.". If their form, ability and power were exactly the same, why is it that one becomes the king and controls the battle, while the other becomes the horse and carries the king?! There's only one answer. Instinct! In order for identical beings to get stronger and gain the power they need to become king, they must search for more battles and power! They thirst for battle, and live to mercilessly, crush, shred, and slice their enemies! Deep, deep within our body lies the honed instinct to kill, and slaughter our enemies! But you don't have that! You don't have those pure, base instincts! You fight with your brain. You try to defeat your enemies with logic! And it doesn't work! You're trying to cut them with a sheathed sword! That's why you're weaker than me, Ichigo!||„|
|“||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.||„|
|~ Zangetsu to Ichigo.|
Zangetsu, better known as White Ichigo and Hollow Ichigo, is the Inner Hollow who also acts as the manifestation of Ichigo's Zanpakuto and an antagonist from Bleach. He is an experimental Hollow created by Sosuke Aizen originated from Masaki Kurosaki.
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.
Zangetsu is highly psychopathic, demonstrating high brutality, egomania, 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 disgust 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.
Powers and Abilities
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.