And now for something completely different….
If you read my “About” page, you know that I never got into anime/manga. So, you’ll never see anything about that stuff from me — except maybe announcing a live-action movie adaptation — ‘cuz I have no clue. But, as it happens, I have a couple Facebook friends who are HUGE fans and quite knowledgeable. So, I tapped one to write a guest-post that might appeal to my readers who are anime/manga enthusiasts. His name is Evan, and he usually writes about totally different topics over at his blog, “Cerebral Faith”. (Great stuff, there. Check it out!) Sounds like he needed an outlet to share his fan theory about one of his favorite comic/media series, and I was glad to provide that for him. Enjoy!
Bleach Fan Theory: The Twin Zangetsus
by Evan Minton
I’ve been sitting on this fan theory for a while. A good while back, Tite Kubo blew his readers away with a shocking revelation in Bleach chapter 542; Ichigo’s inner hollow (also known as Hollow Ichigo, or Ogihci Shirosaki) is actually Ichigo’s Zanpakuto; Zangetsu! The old man whom we were under the impression was Zangetsu until that point, is actually the Quincy powers Ichigo inherited from his mother Misaki (who was also a Quincy). The personification of Ichigo’s Quincy Powers is what Juha Bach looked like from a thousand years ago. (Juha Bach is the series’ final main villain.)
But, is the old man really not Zangetsu? I have a theory that both Hollow Ichigo and the old man are Ichigo’s Zanpakuto. Please note that this is not confirmed canon information, so it shouldn’t be wholly accepted as fact; this is just a fan theory. However, I do think it’s a plausible fan theory.
I believe that both the Juha Bach Quincy Manifestation and the inner hollow are both Zangetsu. Here are my reasons why I say that:
Reason #1: Twin Zanpakuto Usually Consist Of Two Spirits
First of all, in chapter 542, we find out that Ichigo’s true zanpakuto is a dual wielding type, that is to say, there are two swords instead of one. The only other twin blade Zanpakuto wielding Soul Reapers in the entire history of Soul Society have been Captain Shunsui Kyaoraku and Captain Jushiro Ukitake. Now, in the Zanpakuto rebellion arc, we got to see what each of the Zanpakuto spirits of all of the different soul reapers looked like. Kyoraku’s Zanpakuto (Katen Kyokotsu) and Ukitake’s Zanpakuto (Sogyo no Kotowari) consist of two spirits. There are two different spirits to represent each of the blades. There are two spirits to represent both blades. So, since Katen Kyokotsu and Sogyo no Kotowari are two spirits, and since Zangetsu is also a dual zanpakuto, it stands to reason that there would probably be two spirits to represent each of the Zangetsu blades as well. But, where is the other spirit? Ichigo’s inner hollow is one, but where’s the other? There’s only one other spirit who dwells in Ichigo’s “inner world”, and that’s the Quincy Manifestation who resembles Juha Bach. It could be that he’s the other Zangetsu.
Now, granted, Ichigo’s inner hollow and the Quincy Manifestation look nothing alike; however, that could be due to both of the Zanpakuto spirits fusing together with another spirit. Tite Kubo himself told us that Zangetsu fused with Ichigo’s inner hollow, making him half Zanpakuto, half inner hollow. Since Zangetsu and the inner hollow fused together, it could be that the Quincy Manifestation fused with the other Zangetsu. If it’s possible for a Zanpakuto and an inner hollow to fuse, it doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility for a Zanpakuto and a Quincy Manifestation to fuse. If this is the case, the two Zangetsu spirits would probably look more alike than they in fact do. The Sogyo no Kotowari spirits are identical twins, and while Katen Kyokotsu aren’t identical twins, they still bear resemblance to one another (e.g., same colored hair).
If the freak accident with the two Zangetsu spirits fusing with Ichigo’s inner hollow and Quincy power hadn’t occurred, they would probably be more similar looking. As it is, one Zangetsu looks exactly like Ichigo, and the other looks exactly like Juha Bach!
Reason #2: The Fact That The Quincy Manifestation Came Out During Bankai Training
When Ichigo was trying to rescue Rukia in the Soul Society arc, Yoruichi took him to a secluded place where she and Kisuke Urahara would play when they were kids. It was here that Ichigo was to train for 3 days to learn Bankai, for only if he learned Bankai would he have any hope of defeating Captain Kuchiki, who stood in his way of saving Rukia. Yoruichi brought out this big white silhouette thing and told Ichigo to stab it with his Zanpakuto. She said that this would manifest Zangetsu’s spirit in the external world. This was so they could train together. When Ichigo stabbed it, the Quincy Manifestation came out instead of Ichigo’s inner hollow. If only the inner hollow were Zangetsu, we would have expected him to come out instead of the old man. But, it was in fact the Quincy Personification who appeared, not the inner hollow.
This would make sense if the old man is Zangetsu.
Reason #3: Muramasa Had Control Over The Quincy Manifestation
In the Zanpakuto Rebellion Arc, a rogue Zanpakuto spirit named Muramasa used his special ability to extract all of the zanpakuto spirits from the inner worlds of their soul reaper masters. He used mind control to cause them to fight against their soul reaper masters. When Ichigo came to the Seireitei to fight him, Muramasa extracted Zangetsu from Ichigo’s inner world. But the one who came out was not the inner hollow, but the old man who revealed himself in chapter 542 as the manifestation of Ichigo’s Quincy Powers! How could Muramasa control him if he was only Ichigo’s Quincy abilities and nothing more? Now, if he was also Ichigo’s Zanpakuto, this would make sense.
Moreover, when Ichigo blasted Quincy-Zangetsu away with his Getsuga Tenshou, the old man transformed into the Shikai blade of Zangetsu, then a few seconds later re-assumed the form of the old man. If he were not Zangetsu, why would he transform in Zangetsu’s blade form upon defeat?
But also, this raises another question. If Ichigo’s inner hollow is Zangetsu, why didn’t he also come out when Muramasa called. Both the Katen Kyokotsu and Sogyo no Kotowari spirits came out when Muramasa called them, why did only one Zangetsu come out? We can’t really know for sure, but it may be that his hollow side counteracted the call.
Reason #4: Quincy Manifestation Changed Form When Ichigo Activated Bankai
During the Fake Karakura Town arc, Ichigo went to the Dangai Precipice World to learn how to use the Final Getsuga Tenshou technique which he would use to defeat Aizen. When he got there, he was looking for Zangetsu (i.e., the Quincy Manifestation), and he noticed that he looked like a teenage version of himself. Tensa Zangetsu noted that he changed form whenever Ichigo activated bankai, and that Ichigo had never visited his inner world while his bankai was activated, which was why he was surprised to see him like that.
The old man Juha Bach changes into a teenage looking version of himself whenever Ichigo’s bankai is activated. Why would Ichigo activating bankai have any effect on him unless he was Ichigo’s Zanpakuto spirit.
By the way, it’s noteworthy that the inner hollow also changed form. He looked like the Vasto Lorde form that Ichigo took when he defeated Uquiorra, and when Ichigo fought his inner hollow during the Arrancar Arc, his shihakusho changed like Ichigo’s does when bankai was activated.
Given these pieces of evidence, it seems reasonable to adopt The Twin Zangetsu theory. As Ichigo himself noted in chapter 542, “I’m sure you’re both Zangetsu.”
Now, there are some issues with this theory, such as that the old man expressly told Ichigo “I am not Zangetsu.” It could be that the old man didn’t realize that he was Zangetsu also, and he thought only the inner hollow was, but that doesn’t explain why the inner hollow knew. The inner hollow told Ichigo several times during their battle at the Visoreds’ hangout “I am Zangetsu!” Some may also object that two out of the four reasons I offered are from filler episodes, not canonical material. Although I could probably answer that with another fan theory I have. This fan theory I have is that the ANIME Bleach world and the MANGA Bleach world are alternate universes, and in the former, Ichigo has experiences that he doesn’t share in the latter (e.g., fighting Jin Kariya, Muramasa, Kageroza, etc.). So, all 4 reasons would still apply if we’re considering the anime world’s Zangetsu.
Nevertheless, I find this to be a very plausible theory. What say you?