Does Kenpachi Have a Bankai in Bleach? Explained

Does Kenpachi Have a Bankai or Not in Bleach

Kenpachi Zaraki is probably the strongest character in the Bleach verse. Yes, I believe he is even stronger than Ichigo. For his brutal strength, he made it to Yhwach’s five special threats list. Kenpachi is just so wildly strong, he became the first-ever captain in the history of Soul Society with a mere Asauchi. He defeated the 5th strongest Espada without a Shikai. Not only Yhwach, even the central 46 fears him. These all left us imagining, how strong Zaraki might have been if he ever got his Shikai, even better, his Bankai. Does Kenpachi ever activate his Bankai?

Great news for fans, Kenpachi Zaraki does unlock his Bankai in the manga. It has yet to be animated. By far, he has achieved his Shikai, but the name has yet to be revealed in the anime.

There wasn’t much shown in the manga about Kenpachi’s Shikai and Bankai. So let’s discuss whatever information we got from my intense research about Kenpachi’s Shikai and Bankai.

Shunsui Kyouraku’s decision

After Yhwach’s first assault with his Sternritters, Soul Society was in an extremely vulnerable state. Yamamoto Genryuusai was dead, several captains lost their Bankai and many of them were fighting with death. Not to mention Yhwach broke Ichigo’s Zanpakuto like it was nothing. In the midst of all the chaos, the most cool-minded captain was named the new head captain of the Gotei 13— Shunsui Kyouraku. It was his idea to train Zaraki to unlock his Shikai. Of course, the central 46 voted against it stating if Zaraki got more powerful and got out of control, it might be a greater threat. But Shunsui stood strong with his benefit of the doubt and elected Unohana Retsu to train Kenpachi Zaraki.

Unohana vs. Kenpachi Zaraki

Among all the Bleach characters, Unohana has the most shocking backstory. Before she joined the Gotei 13, she was known as Unohana Yachiru, the most notorious criminal in the history of Soul Society. Her Zanpakuto is an extremely unique one whose Shikai is a healing type and Bankai is both an offense and defense type.

Zaraki once fought Unohana when he was a kid. During their fight, though Zaraki lost, he left a nasty scar on Unohana’s chest, and she left a scar on his left eye. And though she won, Unohana firmly believed Zaraki was holding himself back and which refrained him from reaching his full potential even after centuries went by. This was Unohana’s sin. So she took full responsibility voluntarily to help Zaraki achieve his Shikai even if it cost her her life.

During the final battle of Unohana and Zaraki, Unohana’s Bankai was revealed but since she is not a big talker, she did not explain much about Minazuki. But we all know for sure that Bankai Minazuki offers both healing and attacking benefits and Unohana can heal herself and her opponent in the blink of an eye like the wound never even existed. This goes so well given Unohana’s past. Unohana Ychiru’s blood lust was legendary. She used to wound and heal her opponents repeatedly for the sake of prolonging the battle. Also, the reason she learned Kaido in the first place.

Kenpachi awakening his Shikai

At the end of the battle, Unohana died (more like sacrificed herself). Zaraki alone in the Muken, the Central Great Underground Prison’s lowest level, heard a voice. And the voice clearly said, “Kenpachi of Zaraki, it seems my voice has finally reached you. The voice of the one who has been watching you longer and closer than anyone. It’s nice to meet you, Zaraki Kenpachi. My name is…”

Yeah, this is where the scene ended. It was the final episode of Thousand Year Blood War’s first cour. If you want to know the name, you have to either wait for the next season or read the manga. But I don’t like to keep my readers hanging like that. Zaraki’s Zanpakuto/Shikai name is Nozarashi, meaning Weather-Beaten Bones. In its Shikai form, the Zanpakuto takes the shape of a giant cleaver. It is one frightening-looking Shikai if you ask me.

Now, here is an interesting fact. The Shikai achieved by Shinigami share the same gender as their master most of the time. It is rare for a male Shinigami to have a female Zanpakuto or a female Shinigami to have a male one. But just because it’s rare does not mean it is non-existent. A few examples of these rarities are Urahara Kisuke, Kyouraku Shunsui, Souya Azashiro, the 8th Kenpachi, and none other than Kenpachi Zaraki. Nozarashi is a female Zanpakuto spirit and her Shikai command is ‘Drink’.

When does Kenpachi activate his Bankai?

By far, the name of Kenpachi Zaraki is still unknown. There is a possibility that Zaraki’s Shikai and Bankai have the same name just like Unohana’s. When Zaraki first activated his Bankai, he gave out a devilish growl and his whole skin turned bloody red just like a devil. Though it is not clear, there is a big chance Kenpachi’s Bankai would be banned to use after the war ends for the calamities it brings. But Zaraki wouldn’t be the first to be so. Hirako Shinji is also banned from using his Bankai around comrades as his Bankai Sakashima Yokoshima Happōfusagari alters the senses of everyone around the field. The 7th Kenpachi Kuruyashiki’s Bankai Gagaku Kairou was also banned to use in Soul Society as it killed everything around it except its master.

The relationship between Kenpachi’s Bankai and Yachiru Kushajishi

I know it is hard to believe but our beloved vice-captain of the 11th squad, Yachiru Kusajishi is actually the manifestation of Kenpachi’s Bankai. So, when Kenpachi activated his Bankai, Yachiro vanished into thin air leaving some final word. It is also very confusing as Yachiro herself had a Zanpakuto and a well-defined Shikai. Just think about it, a Bankai having her own Shikai. Mad, isn’t it?

The thing is, Yahiru was indeed a form of Zaraki’s Bankai that got separated and took the form of a child. We have seen before how not easy it is to actually differentiate a Zanpakuto from a Shinigami once it takes the form of its spirit. When Zaraki named her as a Shinigami, the spirit identified as a Shinigami too. Thus Yachiru got his own zanpakuto.

Yachiru Kusaji’s Shikai

Yachiru was an unnamed child that Zaraki found before he joined the Gotei 13. He named himself and her at the same time. Yachiru was named after Unohana Yachiru. Since then she and Zaraki have always been together. Since a captain can choose his/her own vice-captain, Zaraki even made Yachiru his vice-captain. 

The first part of Bleach (the one with 366 episodes) ended with a lot of Bankai and Shikai unrevealed. Yachiru’s Shikai is one of them. Deep down inside we all knew Yachiru was powerful but we always wondered what her powers could be. In the manga’s 13th volume, Yachiru’s Zanpakuto name was revealed. Sanpo Kenjuu, meaning Three Step Sword Beast, takes the form of two beasts when called out and they mimic Yachiru’s attacking gestures. One of the beast’s attacks hits quicker than Yachiru’s and the other one’s reaches after. This attacking pattern makes it almost impossible to miss the hit. Though the Shikai command is not official, from the Bleach video game Brave Souls, Yachiru says ‘Come on out’ before releasing Shikai.