Ichigo Kurosaki (黒崎 一護, Kurosaki Ichigo) is a Human who has Shinigami powers. He is also a Substitute Shinigami. Ichigo is the son of Isshin and Masaki Kurosaki, older brother of Karin and Yuzu and boyfriend of Orihime Inoue.
Ichigo's most distinguishing feature is his spiky orange hair, a trait he has been ridiculed about for years on end. He is a fairly tall, lean-built young man with peach skin and brown eyes. He likes to wear tight clothes. He has a tendency to wear shirts patterned with the number 15 because his name is a homonym for the number. Since becoming a Shinigami, he has become noticeably more muscular, as noted by his sister Karin. When in his spiritual form, Ichigo wears the standard Shinigami attire, with the addition of a strap across his chest. Initially, it was a thick brown belt to hold his Zanpakutō sheath, but it later became a red rosary-like strap. It is shaped like a kite with a flat top and bottom. Ichigo's appearance has caused several people, including Jūshirō Ukitake, to note a similarity to Kaien Shiba, the former lieutenant of the 13th Division. After training in the Dangai, Ichigo's hair grows considerably, and he is noticeably taller, as stated by his friends. After Ichigo loses his Shinigami powers, his appearance reverts to the way it was before his Dangai training.
Seventeen months after defeating Aizen, Ichigo's overall appearance does not change, but he becomes taller and grows sideburns. After regaining his powers, Ichigo's Shinigami attire consists of a thicker strap across his chest. He has four black vertical lines on his forearms and black, tattoo-like bands crossing over his chest, wrists, and ankles. Similar bands, but with white ends, lie around his neck as collars. After training at the Soul King Palace, Ichigo wears his standard black shihakushō, but with some notable changes: he has two white shoulder plates crossing his chest in an X shape that hold his Shikai blades in place, with the plate on his left shoulder having three scaled sections; a white cloak with black markings tied around his waist; and small strips of black fabric tied around his wrists.
When he was younger, Ichigo considered his mother to be the center of his world, always smiling when he was with Masaki and regularly holding her hand. Despite crying whenever he lost in a match at the dojo he attended, Ichigo started to smile again as soon as he saw Masaki when she came to pick him up. At a very young age, Ichigo heard his father saying his name means "to protect one thing," which instilled in him a desire to protect his mother. When his sisters were born, he began attending a dojo for the sake of protecting them. Since then, the number of people he wishes to protect has continued to grow, causing Ichigo to risk his life to protect both the people close to him and complete strangers.
As a teenager, Ichigo is stubborn, short-tempered, strong-willed, and impulsive. Despite claiming not to care about what other people think about him, he attempts to maintain a detached and "cool" image. He generally keeps his face set in a near-permanent scowl, with his eyebrows drawn together. His outspoken, hot-headed demeanor is a trait Ichigo himself has acknowledged, and if somebody picks a fight with him, he cannot help fighting back. He coldly refers to his teachers as "instructors". He is genuinely compassionate and empathetic towards others, promising to bring a Plus flowers and a toy plane, or soothing others when they become upset.
Ichigo is a capable student, ranked 23rd in his year at school, who studies regularly and does not neglect his schoolwork. He works as hard as he does to overcome the misconceptions many have about him based on his hair color and fighting. Ichigo hates fortune telling, horoscopes, feng shui, psychics, and anyone whose trade involves taking money from people for things they cannot see. He has difficulty remembering people's faces and names. Ichigo becomes extremely shy and uncomfortable around nude or immodestly dressed women, a fact both Yoruichi Shihōin and Rangiku Matsumoto have teased him for. Ichigo is often disrespectful when talking to those older than himself, calling Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto 'gramps' and referring to several of the Shinigami captains by their given names without using honorifics.
When it comes to fighting, Ichigo has a complex sense of honor; he regularly seeks to exact revenge for the cruel actions of his opponent, such as instilling the fear of being murdered in Shrieker and cutting off the right arm of Yammy Llargo in retaliation for him ripping Yasutora Sado's right arm off. He often taunts and belittles his opponents when fighting, sometimes attacking without warning. Ichigo has a strong desire to win his fights, but in what he views as a legitimate manner. To this end, he has often refused the aid of his inner Hollow, even when knowing it would allow him to win. Ichigo's resolve in battle can waver at times, which can impede his fighting prowess, and goes into a state of depression and self-loathing when he loses a major battle or lets a friend down.
Ichigo despises those who mistreat their allies in any way, even if they are his own enemies. He is disgusted when an individual berates his/her own allies, such as when Yammy calls Ulquiorra Cifer, Nnoitra Gilga, and Grimmjow Jaegerjaquez "trash". He expresses anger towards those who go as far as attacking their own allies, stating he cannot forgive those who murder their own comrades.
Ichigo was born on July 15th as the son of Isshin Kurosaki and Masaki Kurosaki, 15 years before he became a Shinigami. His sisters Karin Kurosaki and Yuzu Kurosaki were born a few years later. When he was four, Ichigo joined a karate dojo, where he met and befriended Tatsuki Arisawa. Though Tatsuki beat Ichigo in every match they had, she would help Ichigo if he was being picked on by bullies and cheer him up if he was upset.
Ichigo was able to see Pluses for as long as he could remember. He could see them so clearly, as a child, he could not tell the living from the dead. This resulted in him appearing to other people to be looking at deserted places and talking to himself. This caused people to say he could see ghosts, though when Tatsuki asked him about this, he denied being able to see them.
On June 17th, when Ichigo was nine years old, he and his mother were walking home alongside one of Karakura Town's rivers, which was swollen from heavy rain. Seeing a girl near the river, Ichigo thought she was about to jump into it. Unable to tell the difference between ghosts and living people, Ichigo ran towards her to stop her, unaware the girl was the lure of the Hollow Grand Fisher. Masaki tried to stop him, but he did not listen. After failing to grab hold of the girl, Ichigo lost consciousness for a time. When he awoke, Masaki was lying on top of him, covered in blood. Starting the day after Masaki's death, Ichigo repeatedly skipped school to go to the riverbank where Masaki died. Tatsuki found him there, where he would stay from morning until night, wandering along the bank as if searching for his mother, squatting down if he was tired and then wandering some more.
One day, when Ichigo was twelve, prior to the Kurosaki Clinic opening, he heard the bell ring and answered the door to find a girl with her brother on her back. He had been in a car accident, and was covered in blood. The clinic did not have the equipment necessary to save him, and he died before an ambulance arrived to transfer him to Karakura Hospital. Sometime later, he learned the girl was Orihime Inoue.
Ichigo later entered Mashiba Junior High School. During this time, Ichigo finally defeated Tatsuki in a karate match, and had not had another match with her since. Ichigo regularly got into fights with thugs, due to the unusual color of his hair. During one of these fights, he received help from Yasutora Sado. Shortly after, Ichigo returned the favor when he rescued Sado from two gang members roughing him up. When the thugs later abducted Sado, Ichigo found them and knocked down their leader, Yokochini. Using Yokochini's phone to ring for an ambulance for each of the five thugs, he beat up all of them. After Sado was freed, they made a pact to protect and fight for each other.
Shortly before Ichigo became a Shinigami, he and Sado began attending Karakura High School, and their reputations preceded them. During a fight with a gang led by Reiichi Ōshima, Ichigo and Sado met Keigo Asano and Mizuiro Kojima, saving the former in the process. While Keigo was initially afraid of Ichigo and Sado, both he and Mizuiro later became friends with them.
Agent of the Shinigami Arc
After scaring some skateboarders away from a dead girl's resting place, Ichigo, apologizing to her, promises to bring her some new flowers to replace those damaged by the skaters, telling her to go to heaven quickly. That evening, Ichigo, seeing Rukia Kuchiki in his bedroom, initially mistakes her for a burglar, but when Ichigo realizes only he can see the intruder, he accepts Rukia is a ghost. When he refuses to believe her explanation about Shinigami, Rukia binds him with Kidō. As a Hollow attacks the house, Ichigo, upon hearing his sister's pleas for help, breaks free and rushes to stop the Hollow. Surprised at its monstrous appearance, Ichigo charges at it with a baseball bat in an attempt to release the captive Yuzu. Rukia frees Yuzu, but Ichigo's reckless actions force Rukia to shield him with her body, severely injuring her. Seeing Ichigo's determination to protect his family, Rukia offers to temporarily turn him into a Shinigami by piercing his chest with her Zanpakutō and transferring half of her power to him. Absorbing almost all of Rukia's power, Ichigo, making short work of the Hollow, collapses afterwards.
The following morning, Ichigo is horrified when he discovers Rukia is now a part of his class, and she has altered his family's memories of the attack. She insists he must help her do her job while she awaits the return of her powers. When Ichigo refuses, Rukia, forcing his soul out of his body, takes him to a park where a Hollow is about to attack. She persuades Ichigo to perform her duties. After undergoing some training with Rukia to improve his combat tactics, a Hollow bursts into his room. Rukia, who has taken to staying in his closet, forces Ichigo's soul out of his body. He cuts off part of the Hollow's mask, revealing it to be Sora Inoue. Explaining the origins of Hollows, Rukia states Orihime Inoue is in danger, as Hollows often attack their relatives. They rush to Orihime's apartment, where Ichigo manages to stop the Hollow before it eats Orihime's and Tatsuki's souls.
At Orihime's apartment, Ichigo initially panics when he sees her soul separated from her body, but Rukia explains there is still time to save her. Still intent on eating Orihime, the Hollow attacks. During Ichigo's subsequent fight with Acidwire, Orihime, stepping in between them, gets bitten. Her influence temporarily restores Sora's conscience, prompting him to purify himself with Ichigo's Zanpakutō. Rukia explains to Ichigo Hollows defeated by a Zanpakutō are purified and sent to Soul Society. As Ichigo and Orihime talk, Rukia, healing her, erases her memory of the event.
At school, Ichigo fends off Mizuiro Kojima's suggestions of a relationship with Rukia and Reiichi Ōshima's threats about his hair color. Ichigo notices Sado has a parakeet with him, and there is a spirit inside it. When Rukia confirms it is just a lonely Plus, which they should send to the Soul Society that night, Ichigo complains about missing another night of sleep. Upon returning home, Ichigo helps with the injured from a car accident, among them Sado. Ichigo notes the wound on his back was inflicted by a Hollow. The next morning, Ichigo tracks the spirit inside the parakeet using Reiraku in order to find Sado. When they find Sado, he runs away from them. Telling him it is dangerous to be by himself, Ichigo is distracted by an ill Karin. At Rukia's behest, he brings her home. Karin tells him she saw the Plus' memories, and he saw his mother being murdered. After placing her in her bed, Ichigo, rushing to help Sado, reflects on how long it had been since he last saw Karin cry.
Ichigo arrives to take over fighting Shrieker. When Rukia releases him from his body, he, injuring Shrieker, notices small creatures nearby, and is told they spit out explosive leeches. After asking Shrieker if he was the one who killed the child's parents, which he confirms, Ichigo, catching one of the leeches, slams it into Shrieker's mouth. When the Hollow refuses to trigger them, Ichigo, ripping out its tongue, stabs his sword into Shrieker's leg. Asking him how it feels to be unable to move or fight and if he can savor what it is like to be murdered, Ichigo cuts through his head, and Shrieker is pulled into Hell. After Rukia explains about Hell, she tells the Plus they will send him to Soul Society, and Ichigo says he might see his mother there.
The following day, Ichigo, noting Sado's memory has been erased, receives a Gikongan from Rukia, who, after explaining its purpose, forces him to try one. Unconvinced by the artificial soul's personality, Ichigo is forced to leave it in his body when they receive an order from Soul Society. After defeating the Hollow, a concerned Ichigo, rushing back, sees his body jump out of an upstairs window and run away extremely fast. As they chase after him, Rukia tells him it must be a Mod soul. As Rukia explains what she means to an angry Ichigo, he, asking if Rukia is alright with the idea of the Mod Souls being created and killed all for Soul Society's convenience, wonders how the Mod Soul must feel about being persecuted and gaining his body. Receiving a warning about a Hollow, they, hurrying to its location, find the Mod Soul is fighting it. Rushing to his aid, Ichigo reminds him he is using his body. As the two continue arguing, they defeat the Hollow together. When Kisuke Urahara removes the Mod Soul from Ichigo's body, Ichigo, asking him what he is going to do with it, asks who he is. When Rukia gives the Mod Soul to Ichigo, he thanks her for not throwing him away.
After failing to find a body to place the Mod Soul in, Ichigo, placing him in a plushie, decides to call him Kon. On the 16th of June, Ichigo, woken by Kon, scrambles to hide him and Rukia as Yuzu comes into the room to say Mizuiro is waiting for him. Apologizing to Mizuiro, he, noting his memory has been erased, remembers Rukia had told him Urahara must have worked hard. As Rukia leaves, Ichigo, complaining about Isshin not waking him up as usual, notices the date. That night, the Kurosakis hold a family meeting to discuss their trip to Masaki's grave the following day. Ichigo asks Rukia if he can take the day off from the Shinigami work, as it is the day Masaki was killed.
On the 17th of July, the Kurosaki family visits Masaki's grave. Annoyed that Rukia followed them, Ichigo, becoming angry when she asks if Masaki was killed by a Hollow, notices the same girl he saw the night Masaki died, and, running after her, tells Rukia he killed Masaki. At Masaki's grave, Ichigo, watching his family's antics, reflects on his mother's death and its impact on his family. Sensing the reiatsu of a Hollow, Ichigo realizes the twins are easy targets. As the Hollow attempts to eat Yuzu, Ichigo, arriving, cuts the twins free. Demanding to know why the girl he saw when Masaki died is there, he asks if she is controlled by the Hollow. When Rukia tells him the Hollow is called Grand Fisher and it uses the girl as a lure to trick and devour Humans who have high levels of spiritual power, Ichigo, realizing Grand Fisher killed his mother, lunges at it. Stopping Rukia from interfering, he, insisting on fighting alone, instructs her to mind his sisters.
Struggling against Grand Fisher, Ichigo is subjected to the Hollow's Transcribe ability. Transforming his lure into an image of Masaki, Grand Fisher explains about his ability. As he pierces Ichigo's chest, Ichigo, stabbing the Hollow's chest. grabs his arm, saying he has finally caught him, and slashes open his chest. Transferring its form into the lure, Grand Fisher escapes. As Rukia tries to convince Ichigo he cannot fight him any more, he, insisting he can and the Hollow is still not dead yet, soon collapses. Using most of her strength to heal his stomach wound, Rukia leaves his other injuries. When Ichigo awakens, in his Human body, in great pain, Rukia reminds him the wounds his soul receives will show up when he returns to his body. When Ichigo asks her if he lost, she tells him he won, since the Hollow fled and nobody died. Saying Grand Fisher is not dead, Ichigo walks off.
When Ichigo, at Masaki's grave, apologizes for not being able to avenge her, Isshin notes the time has gone by quickly, and it has already been ten years since Masaki died. When Ichigo corrects his error, Isshin states he was "so close". When Ichigo loudly complains about this, Isshin says Masaki can rest easily if she sees him being so lively. When he starts smoking a cigarette, Ichigo says he thought he quit smoking when Karin and Yuzu were born. Isshin explains he smokes on this one occasion, as the only time Masaki complimented his looks while they were dating is when she saw him smoking. When Ichigo asks why nobody blames him for her death, Isshin, dismissing the suggestion, says Masaki would be mad at him, and she would gladly die to protect her child. Reminding Ichigo he is the one the woman he loved gave her life to protect, he, telling him to live his life well, leaves. Asking Rukia if her powers are returning, Ichigo asks her to allow him to remain a Shinigami for a while longer regardless. He says he wants to become stronger so he can defeat Hollows, protect those who are targeted, and defeat Grand Fisher; otherwise, he will not be able to face Masaki.
While Yuzu and Isshin are watching Don Kanonji's Ghost Bust TV program one Wednesday evening, Ichigo asks Karin why she is not watching it with them. She tells Ichigo she can see spirits about as clearly as he can, and is not interested in the ghost show. Remembering she saw the Hollow who attacked the house when he first met Rukia, Ichigo realizes she might be able to see Shinigami too. The next morning at school, Orihime, performing Don Kanonji's pose as Ichigo arrives in class, asks him to do the pose with her. As Ichigo's friends all do the pose, Ichigo tells Keigo he is not going to the live recording of Ghost Bust at the abandoned hospital in Karakura, despite his attempts to convince him to go. The following Wednesday, Ichigo accompanies his family to watch Ghost Bust being filmed. When Orihime apologizes to him for trying to get him to do Don Kanonji's pose, he, telling her it is okay, reveals Keigo and Mizuiro know he despises it, but yet still do it anyway. When asked why he came, he, stating Isshin and Yuzu are huge fans of the show, says they would look pitiful if just the two of them went. When Orihime tells him he is so kind, Ichigo dismisses it as normal.
Telling him he must be tired from his dual life, Rukia instructs him to use this chance to relax. Surprised she is concerned about his health, Ichigo, asking if there really is a spirit in the hospital, says the Shinigami would have dealt with it already. Rukia says it is likely to be a Jibakurai, a soul on its way to becoming a Hollow. When Ichigo asks Rukia if they should perform Konsō on it to prevent it from becoming a Hollow, she says it takes months to turn into a Hollow. She says to do it after the show to avoid trouble in case of a struggle, but Ichigo is unconvinced. Meanwhile, Don Kanonji jams his staff into the partially open hole in the Jibakurai's chest. As Ichigo tries to stop him, he is caught by security. Urahara frees Ichigo's Shinigami form from his body, allowing him to knock Kanonji away from the Jibakurai. As Ichigo realizes the medium can see him, the Jibakurai vanishes in an explosion. As Kanonji promises to send Ichigo to heaven too, Rukia shouts at him to look up, where they see the spirit reforming into a Hollow on top of the hospital. As Ichigo and Kanonji bicker, the Hollow charges at them. Ichigo fends off its attack, and when the Hollow gets its head stuck in a wall, Ichigo drags Kanonji inside.
Ichigo insists they stay inside to avoid the audience being caught up in the fighting. When the Hollow attacks again, Ichigo's Zanpakutō becomes stuck in the ceiling. Ichigo realizes he never thought about the corridors being too confined to use his sword in. When the Hollow glues Ichigo's hands together, Kanonji, jamming its mouth open with his staff, frees Ichigo's blade. When Ichigo's sword becomes embedded in the Hollow's shoulder, it drags him up to the roof. Freeing himself, Ichigo takes advantage of the open space to defeat the Hollow. When Kanonji praises him, Ichigo, telling him to stop his antics, explains it is the same spirit Kanonji thought he had sent to heaven. Stating regretting it is pointless, as he did not know, Ichigo directs Kanonji to the crowd. Kanonji thanks him, complimenting his courage, quick wits, and strength, and asks that they work together in the future. When Ichigo agrees to help him once in a while, Kanonji forces him to take a Don Kanonji fan club card, signed "to my #1 pupil".
The following day, Rukia helps Ichigo and his friends get out of trouble for their actions at the abandoned hospital when they are brought before the principal and Kagine, who states their escapades were broadcast live nationwide. That afternoon, Ichigo, answering the door, meets Don Kanonji. Closing and locking the door, he demands to know how he found out about his house. When Kanonji reveals he invited Rukia along, Ichigo realizes it was her who told him where he lived. Seeing Kanonji, Yuzu knocks Ichigo over while opening the door. When Rukia's Denreishinki alerts her to a Hollow, they rush off to fight it.
After numerous incidents of arriving at the supposed site of a Hollow attack, only to find there is no Hollow, Ichigo and Rukia bicker. When Ichigo asks if there is another Shinigami defeating the Hollows before him, Rukia tells him Shinigami are strictly sorted, and it should not be the case. Ichigo tries to keep away from Rukia at school to avoid the rumors since their appearance on Ghost Bust. While discussing his high grades with Keigo and Mizuiro, Ichigo notes his orange hair causes him a lot of trouble, as older students pick on him and teachers watch him closely, so he studies so the school does not complain about him. Rukia drags Ichigo off, prompting him to complain about the rumors regarding them. When she tells him to complain later, as there is a Hollow, Ichigo tells her he will not forgive her if it is not there this time, but they find nothing. After another incident following school, Ichigo tells Rukia to do something about the problem as she drags his body from its hiding place. The pair are approached by Uryū Ishida, who asks Ichigo if it is correct he can see spirits, which Ichigo denies is even possible. When a new Hollow appears, Uryū, killing it, introduces himself, saying he hates Shinigami and Ichigo.
At school, Ichigo, reflecting upon his encounter with Uryū, wonders why he would say such things to a complete stranger and why Uryū was angry. Realizing he cannot remember his full name, Ichigo lists off possible names out loud. Overhearing him, Orihime, stating Uryū is in their class, takes him to the handicrafts club to show him Uryū. When Orihime asks what happened between Ichigo and Uryū, Ichigo dismisses it as no big deal. After school, Ichigo follows Uryū as he leaves. Asking him if he intends to follow him home, Uryū notes he had noticed him spying on him from the classroom doorway. When Ichigo applauds him, Uryū states it is due to Ichigo's inability to restrain his spiritual power, and he lacks the ability to sense reiatsu, as evidenced by him not noticing Uryū until that day. Revealing he noticed Ichigo's unusually high spiritual power and his acquisition of Shinigami powers, Uryū, inviting Ichigo to fight him, says Shinigami are unnecessary in the Human World.
Though Ichigo ridicules the idea, Uryū succeeds in convincing him to fight him, and he uses Kon to free his Shinigami form. Using some Hollow bait to cause Hollows to gather in Karakura Town, Uryū states the one who defeats the most Hollows within twenty-four hours wins. When Ichigo, angered by this, demands to know why he is exposing the town's residents to such danger, Uryū tells him not to worry, as they will kill all the Hollows. As Ichigo tries to make him undo it, Uryū tells him Hollows will soon flood the town, and he should try to protect as many people as possible. When Uryū tells him Hollows tend to prefer people with high spiritual power, Ichigo runs off to find Karin. After slaying his third Hollow and saving a pair of Pluses, Ichigo, struggling to remember where Karin is, sends Kon to get Rukia's Denreishinki to aid in reacting to the Hollows. Defeating the Hollows between the Kurosaki Clinic and the last place where he saw Karin, Ichigo thinks it should be safe for her now.
Having found Uryū, Ichigo bickers with Kon when he arrives. Unable to attract their attention by shouting, Uryū fires an arrow at Ichigo, who, blocking it, insists it is a battle between him and Uryū, and the amount of Hollows they beat is irrelevant. As Kon points out there is a large crack forming in the sky, and Uryū begins firing arrows into the group of Hollows, Ichigo tells him there are too many, and they need to come up with a strategy. Asking him if he is afraid, Uryū charges towards the Hollows. When Rukia explains the fall of the Quincy at the hands of the Shinigami, Ichigo, running after Uryū, attacks several Hollows around him. When Ichigo, telling Uryū he does not know or care about whether the Shinigami or Quincy were right, expresses frustration at his methods, Uryū tells him he thought the Shinigami were correct until his sensei was killed in front of him. Telling Ichigo of his sensei's attempts to convince the Shinigami to work together with the remaining Quincy and how he died fighting a group of huge Hollows without achieving that goal, Uryū says he must prove the strength of the Quincy to the Shinigami. Pointing out his sensei's wish was to work together, Ichigo, asking if he will do that now, says fighting back to back is the best way to deal with the situation.
As the two begrudgingly work together, Ichigo, telling him his approach to their fight is endangering the people he wants to protect, says he will not forgive him for that. They agree to beat each other up after the Hollows have been dealt with, but as they prepare attack a horde of Hollows, a Menos Grande appears. As Ururu Tsumugiya, Tessai Tsukabishi, Jinta Hanakari, and Urahara arrive to fight the Hollows, Urahara tells Ichigo to concentrate on fighting the Menos. Seeing its size, Ichigo, questioning if it is in fact a Hollow, is shocked to see it eating the nearby Hollows. Saying there is no way they can figure out how to fight such a monster and they will have to simply cut it repeatedly until it succumbs to its injuries, Ichigo, charging towards the Menos, attacks its leg, but is knocked back by the unfazed Menos.
Noticing Ichigo's power flows into his bow when he touches it, Uryū, planning to fire an enlarged arrow at the Menos, tells Ichigo to increase his power to maximum. Stating he never controls his energy output, Ichigo says it must be at maximum all the time. When the Menos starts to charge a Cero, Ichigo, rushing towards it, blocks the Cero with his Zanpakutō. His power increasing as he resists the Cero, Ichigo repels the attack, injuring the Menos in the process. As the Menos retreats, Ichigo, claiming victory, collapses as his Zanpakutō begins to destabilize. Noting it will explode, Uryū begins to dissipate the energy by firing arrows into the sky, injuring himself. Uryū tells him to make sure he lives so he can beat him later. The following day, when Rukia tells Ichigo not to pay attention to Uryū's injuries, Ichigo denies being worried. Later, when he overhears Keigo telling Mizuiro he saw Uryū talking to himself the previous day, believing it to be related to a theater, Ichigo is thankful Keigo is an idiot. Asking Uryū to join them for lunch, Ichigo later regrets it, due to the atmosphere which prevails over their meal.
That night, Ichigo, taking the leftovers from dinner to give to Rukia, finds she is gone. At 2:00 a.m., Ichigo, wondering whether she is going to return that night, notes it would be nice not to have Shinigami duties to carry out for once. Hearing a muffled noise, Ichigo finds Kon gagged and tied to the back of the toilet bowl. When Ichigo asks why he was tied up, Kon, saying Rukia is in big trouble, shows Ichigo a note she left on his desk. Confused by the message, which tells them she has to leave and they should go into hiding instead of looking for her, Ichigo decides to change into his Shinigami form and find her. Realizing he cannot change form without Rukia, Ichigo demands a reluctant Kon change him into a Shinigami. Appearing at the window, Urahara changes him into his Shinigami form.
As Lieutenant Renji Abarai attacks Rukia, Ichigo, arriving, attacks him. When Renji notes the size of Ichigo's Zanpakutō, Ichigo replies he thought it was large compared to Rukia's, but there had not been anyone else to compare it to. Realizing he is the Human who took Rukia's Shinigami powers, Renji, attacking him, asks Ichigo what the name of his Zanpakutō is. When Ichigo, stating he has not named his sword, asks if they actually give them names, Renji activates his Shikai, surprising Ichigo with the change of form of his Zanpakutō. Leaping into the air, he slashes Ichigo's shoulder.
As Renji, explaining about the Shikai form of Zanpakutō, moves to attack him, Rukia attempts to stop him so Ichigo can flee, but Ichigo's reiatsu increases, and he, injuring the surprised Renji, quickly overwhelms him. As Ichigo attempts to end the fight, Byakuya severs his sword's tip, leaving Ichigo stunned. As he prepares for Byakuya's subsequent attack, Byakuya, appearing behind him, stabs him. Falling to the ground, Ichigo, wondering whether he was attacked from the front or from behind, is stabbed again by Byakuya. As Byakuya and Rukia talk about Ichigo, he, grabbing Byakuya's leg, tells him not to talk about him as if he is dead. As Byakuya tells him to let go, Ichigo instructs the captain to look at him when he is talking so he can hear him. Kicking Ichigo's hand away from her brother, Rukia, telling him he should know his place, tells Byakuya she is ready to leave. As Ichigo protests, Renji tells him to stop making things worse. When Rukia tells Byakuya there is no point in deliberately killing Ichigo, as he will soon stop breathing on his own, Ichigo asks if this is a joke, prompting Rukia to state if he tries to follow her, she will never forgive him. As she tells him to conserve what energy he has left so he may live a moment longer, Byakuya, acquiescing to Rukia's request, states Ichigo should die shortly due to his injuries, but if he does survive, he will no longer possess any Shinigami powers. As they leave, Ichigo, noting he cannot move or speak, reflects upon how he came to protect Rukia, but instead she protected him again. As Ichigo contemplates his injuries in the rain, Urahara approaches him.
When Ichigo awakens in Urahara's shop, Urahara tells him his wounds are not yet fully healed, and if he moves too much, he may die. When Ichigo asks him about Uryū's condition, Urahara states Uryū's injuries were treated on the spot, and when he left, he was worried about Ichigo, stating Ichigo was the only one who could beat the Shinigami and save Rukia. When Ichigo says he cannot do anything, as Rukia has been taken to Soul Society and he cannot follow, Urahara reveals he can send Ichigo there if he trains with Urahara for the next ten days, revealing Soul Society typically allows a grace period of one month before executions. Saying Ichigo will die if he goes there in his current condition, he reveals he purposely allowed Ichigo to fight Renji and Byakuya so he would realize this after having fought them himself. He states it will take seven days to open the gate to Soul Society, leaving Ichigo with thirteen days in Soul Society to rescue Rukia. Though unsure if he can become strong enough in ten days, Ichigo agrees to Urahara's deal.
Giving Ichigo some pills to take every hour, Urahara, saying he will recover from his injuries by dinnertime, sends him to school for the final day of the term. At school, Ichigo notes how nobody appears to remember Rukia. As Misato dismisses the class for summer, Ichigo, noting Uryū's absence, thinks he would remember Rukia. As he walks home after dismissing Keigo's invitation to spend the holiday with him, he meets Orihime, who, asking him where Rukia is, notes everyone has forgotten about her, but she believed Ichigo would know. Explaining the situation to her, Ichigo is surprised she can see his Shinigami form. Noting Ichigo has already made up his mind to rescue Rukia, Orihime, telling him to go save her, insists she does not want her friend to die either. Thanking her, Ichigo, going to the Urahara Shop, shows Urahara his healed wounds. Telling Urahara he told Isshin he would be sleeping over at a friend's house, he asks Urahara to teach him well.
In Urahara's training area, Ichigo's soul form is freed from his body, and he finds it difficult to move. Urahara reveals Byakuya destroyed the source of his power, leaving him without any Shinigami powers, and he must restore these in order to fight the Shinigami. Explaining about Reiryoku, stating the more one's Reiryoku rises, the sharper the movements of their spiritual body become, he says if Ichigo can manage to move even better with his spiritual body than he can with his mortal body, they will have completely recovered his Reiryoku. Urahara has Ururu Tsumugiya attack Ichigo, and she lunges at him, creating a large cloud of dust and debris. Emerging from the dust, Ichigo runs away from Ururu after another near miss. Realizing he is able to run away from her, Ichigo attempts to dodge her attacks directly. Successfully dodging, Ichigo attacks Ururu by trying to hit her headgear lightly, believing the weight difference will do the rest. When he hits and cuts her face, Ururu kicks him into a rocky outcropping. Catching Ichigo before he hits it, Tessai cushions him from the impact.
Congratulating him on clearing the lesson, Urahara asks if Ichigo is still having trouble breathing or moving, which he is not. As Urahara says he has successfully recovered his spirit energy, and the soul tends to gain the Reiryoku faster when it is in danger of being destroyed, Tessai, cutting Ichigo's Chain of Fate, pins him to the ground. Telling him the chain has already begun to corrode from the severed end, Urahara states if it reaches his chest, Ichigo will become a Hollow, but he can avoid this by becoming a Shinigami instead. The point of this lesson, which Urahara calls "Shattered Shaft," is to restore Ichigo's Shinigami powers. Dropped to the bottom of a shaft, he is bound with a Kin spell, and Urahara tells him to scale the vertical sides of the deep shaft. Revealing there is a gas at the bottom of the shaft which speeds up the corrosion process to at most 72 hours, he tells Ichigo to become a Shinigami and climb out of the hole before that, or else he will become a Hollow, and they will destroy him.
After the corrosion of the chain's fifth link, Ichigo notes the process alternates between a few minutes of painful corrosion and a few hours of dormancy. Only able to attempt to escape during the dormant phases, Ichigo unsuccessfully tries to run up the wall. Asking him if he is hungry, Jinta Hanakari explains a soul feeling hungry is a sign they will soon become a Hollow. Later, as Ichigo wonders how long he has been in the hole for and how he can get out of it, Jinta runs down the shaft's wall with a platter of fruit for him. When Ichigo, denying he is hungry, says the chain is still long, Jinta reveals it has been seventy hours since he entered the shaft, and the final corrosion phase is stronger than the earlier ones. As the remaining length of the chain begins to corrode, a hole opens in Ichigo's chest, and a mask begins to form over his face. Urahara explains the mask forming before his body reforms shows Ichigo is resisting the transformation.
Awakening inside his consciousness, Ichigo sees a man standing on a building. Surprised that Ichigo does not recognize him, the man says his name, but Ichigo cannot hear it. Stating it is sad, the man asks how many times he has to tell him his name before he is able to hear it, as he thought nobody in this world knew him better than Ichigo. When Ichigo falls from the building, the man, following him, states he should not worry, as Shinigami control death. As Ichigo tells him he is not currently a Shinigami, the man, telling him to focus the Reishi around him underneath his feet to stand on, urges Ichigo to remember a time when he stopped in mid-air as a Shinigami. He tells Ichigo Byakuya destroyed the powers given to him by Rukia, but Ichigo has his own Shinigami powers, which were hidden deep in his soul and awakened by Rukia's power. As the world crumbles around him, he instructs Ichigo to find it.
With the buildings of his inner world dissolving into countless boxes, Ichigo, falling through a fissure into water, wonders how he can find his own powers. Remembering Uryū stating Shinigami have red Reiraku, he uses this to find a box containing a Zanpakutō's hilt. Telling him this time he ought to hear his name, the man urges him to take the hilt. As Ichigo struggles to pull out the Zanpakutō, back in the shaft, the Kidō restraining Ichigo breaks apart. When Tessai activates the next stage of the Kidō, Bankin, an explosion erupts from the shaft. As the smoke clears, Ichigo, wearing a Hollow mask and Shinigami clothes, uses his still broken Zanpakutō to smash the Hollow mask. Congratulating him on his success, Urahara says he is now a complete Shinigami. Having sworn to kill Urahara when he got out of the shaft, Ichigo hits him in the eye with the sword's hilt. Urahara starts the third lesson, which is simply to knock the hat off of Urahara's head. As Ichigo proposes a five minute time limit, Urahara draws a blade from within his cane.
Overwhelming Ichigo, Urahara, revealing his sword is a Zanpakutō, activates Benihime's Shikai. As Ichigo remembers Renji using his Shikai during their fight, Urahara, telling him every Zanpakutō has a name, cuts through the remains of Ichigo's blade until just the hilt remains, saying if he continues to fight with just the hilt, he will kill him. As Ichigo, thinking he is going to die, runs away, Urahara continues to attack him. Ichigo sees the man from his inner world again, who, asking why Ichigo ran when he has not yet called him, reveals his name is Zangetsu. Stopping in his tracks, Ichigo, turning towards Urahara, calls out Zangetsu, activating his Shikai. Looking at the new form of his Zanpakutō, Ichigo, telling Urahara he might not be able to hold back, swings Zangetsu at him, who uses Chikasumi no Tate. As the dust settles, a hat-less Urahara, stating he would have lost an arm if it were not for Chikasumi no Tate, says he did not expect so much from one swing.
After completing Urahara's training, Ichigo has a relatively normal summer holiday while waiting for the gate to Soul Society to be opened. On the first of August, Ichigo and his friends gather for a fireworks festival, where they catch up. Isshin and the twins, running up to Ichigo, knock him down a bank. When Ichigo asks if they are drunk, Isshin reveals a juice seller used wine to dilute their juice instead of water. Telling the group they saved a seat on the opposite bank of the river that morning, Isshin heads off with the girls and several of Ichigo's friends. Later that night, after complaining to a drunken Isshin about having to carry his sisters, Ichigo tells him he will be leaving soon, and he might not be back until the summer vacation ends.
Seven days after completing his training, Ichigo is summoned to the Urahara Shop. As he leaves, Ichigo says goodbye to his sisters. Isshin lends him an amulet, which he claims Masaki gave to him, stating it will bring him good fortune. On his way to Urahara's, Ichigo meets up with Orihime. Revealing he did not know she was going until Urahara mentioned it, Ichigo asks her if she is sure about it. When they arrive at the shop, they find Sado waiting for them, and Ichigo, asking where Uryū is, says he had heard he was coming too. When Uryū, arriving in a Quincy outfit, promises to show Ichigo how powerful he has become, Ichigo criticizes him for walking the entire way there wearing that outfit. Interrupting them, Urahara invites the group inside.
In the underground training area, Urahara, revealing the Senkaimon they will be using to enter Soul Society, removes Ichigo's Shinigami form from his body. As the others examine his body, Ichigo complains about them touching it freely. Explaining how the Senkaimon works, Urahara says it will only stay open for four minutes. If they do not reach Soul Society in that time, they will become trapped in the Dangai. When Yoruichi tells them only those who are truly ready for the task can go, Ichigo says everyone gathered there has already made their decision and will go to Soul Society. When Yoruichi tells him they will never return if they lose, Ichigo states they simply have to win. When the Senkaimon opens, Ichigo tells Kon to take care of his family. Entering the gate, Ichigo, Uryū, Orihime, Sado, and Yoruichi appear in the Dangai. As they run, Uryū's cape is caught by the Kōryū. Ichigo is warned not to use his Zanpakutō, as the Kōryū will trap it and he will not escape. After Sado frees Uryū, the group are chased by the Kōtotsu, and Orihime uses her shield to protect them from it, propelling them through the exit and into Soul Society.
Soul Society Arc
As Ichigo tries to enter Seireitei, he is stopped by the gatekeeper Jidanbō Ikkanzaka. Facing the giant alone, Ichigo displays his new might by easily defeating him. Upon gaining access to Seireitei, he is repelled outside the gate by Captain Gin Ichimaru. After spending some time in Rukongai, where he encounters and briefly fights Ganju Shiba, Ichigo and the others are brought to Kūkaku Shiba in search of a new means of entering Seireitei. There, Ichigo trains to operate the Reishūkaku they will being using to breach the protective barrier above Seireitei. Joining the group, Ganju helps Ichigo learn how to use the Reishūkaku. At dawn, they are launched from Kūkaku's Kakaku Hō fireworks cannon. Despite Ichigo's struggle to control his power input to the Reishūkaku, they successfully break through the barrier, only to be separated from each other. Grabbing Ichigo, Ganju ensures a safe landing for them, but Ichigo is confronted by Ikkaku Madarame. Beating Ikkaku, Ichigo, sparing his life, learns that as the strongest of the intruders, he will be hunted down by Captain Kenpachi Zaraki.
Accidentally attracting the attention of more Shinigami, Ichigo meets up with Ganju again. Surrounded, they decide to take Hanatarō Yamada hostage as they try to escape. Stuck with Hanatarō, they take advantage of his offer to show them a shortcut through the sewers to Rukia's cell. Upon exiting the sewers, Ichigo is confronted by Renji, who gravely injures Ichigo in their ensuing battle. After a struggle, Ichigo, becoming stronger during the fight, defeats Renji with a Getsuga Tenshō. Renji begs him to rescue Rukia. In the sewers, Ichigo is healed by Hanatarō, who discovers Ichigo's Hollow mask lessened the damage from what would have been fatal blows by Renji. After recovering, Ichigo, encountering Kenpachi, initially struggles to even cut the powerful captain. After Zangetsu helps Ichigo find his resolve, Ichigo manages to injure Kenpachi. Viewing Ichigo as his equal, Kenpachi decides to unleash his full power, prompting Ichigo and Zangetsu to work together to summon his full power. After the fight ends, with both of them incapacitated, Ichigo is rescued by Yoruichi.
After learning of Yoruichi's true Shinigami form and being partly healed, Ichigo rushes to save Hanatarō and Ganju from Byakuya. Upon his arrival, he confronts Byakuya, but, knowing Ichigo is not ready to fight someone of Byakuya's caliber, Yoruichi, stopping the fight, incapacitates Ichigo, swearing to make Ichigo stronger than Byakuya in three days. After escaping, Yoruichi, taking Ichigo to a hidden area, tells Ichigo he cannot save Rukia with his present power, asking him to undergo Bankai Training. Upon completing this training, Ichigo stops the Sōkyoku from killing Rukia, and, after sympathetic Captains Shunsui Kyōraku and Jūshirō Ukitake destroy the Sōkyoku, Ichigo, freeing Rukia, gives her to Renji to protect. After stopping three lieutenants from pursuing them, he is confronted by Byakuya once more. Coercing Byakuya into using his Bankai, Ichigo, unable to keep up just using his Shikai, reveals his own Bankai, Tensa Zangetsu, and uses his increased speed to outmaneuver Byakuya's Bankai. After Byakuya counters with his Senkei technique, after a while, Ichigo begins to slow and weaken, giving Byakuya the chance to immobilize him. As he is about to be struck down, Ichigo's inner Hollow, surfacing, injures Byakuya. After regaining control of himself, Ichigo and Byakuya prepare for one final clash. When Ichigo demands to know why Byakuya will not save his sister, Byakuya promises to answer if Ichigo wins. After they clash, while Ichigo struggles to stand, Byakuya explains himself.
Through a message relayed via Kidō by Isane Kotetsu, Ichigo finds out the events in Soul Society were an elaborate plot masterminded by Sōsuke Aizen. When Renji, refusing to hand over Rukia, is wounded by Aizen, Ichigo arrives to fight against the treacherous captain. oining forces to fight off Aizen, the pair's effort proves to be futile, and Aizen, blocking their attack, cuts through Ichigo's midriff, defeating him. As Aizen takes Rukia by the collar, Ichigo interrupts him, and Aizen tells Ichigo how he had planned every move from the beginning for his goal; obtaining the Hōgyoku. After Aizen defeats Captain Sajin Komamura, Ichigo is dumbstruck at the difference in power. Continuing his explanation, Aizen states Urahara, planting the Hōgyoku inside Rukia's soul to hide it, gave her a Gigai which would ultimately reduce her to a normal Human. Ichigo helplessly looks on as Aizen, extracting the Hōgyoku from within Rukia, departs for Hueco Mundo.
After being healed by Orihime, Ichigo and the others spend a week in Soul Society, where he, sparring with the 11th Division, learns from Rukia she has decided to stay in Soul Society. As they prepare to leave, Ukitake gives Ichigo a Substitute Shinigami badge which serves as a license, allowing him to hunt Hollows in his area officially.
After Ichigo returns from Soul Society, Isshin attacks him in bed. Ichigo blocks the attack, earning praise from Isshin. He returns the protective charm to Isshin, who, saying he does not want it, sews it to Ichigo's school uniform, leaving Ichigo to wonder if he lied about Masaki having given him the charm. At school, he realizes Tatsuki can see his Substitute Shinigami badge, which alerts him to a nearby Hollow, which he rushes to defeat. After having Uryū patch up Kon's ragged plushie, Ichigo realizes he has lost his Quincy powers as a result of going to Soul Society. That night, he is confronted by Shinji Hirako, who reveals both he and Ichigo are Visored. Ichigo shrugs off Shinji's repeated requests to join him. When Ichigo, seeming depressed, returns from school, he, brushing off his family's concerns, goes to his room, where he contemplates still being able to hear his inner Hollow, and how it has been becoming worse lately.
Interrupting his thoughts, Karin reveals she knows he is a Shinigami. As Ichigo tries to dismiss this notion, the arrival of two Arrancar in Karakura Town causes Ichigo to rush off. Upon seeing Sado injured, Ichigo, battling Yammy Llargo with his Bankai, manages to cut off his arm. Ichigo's inner Hollow, interfering, paralyzes Ichigo, allowing Yammy to injure both him and Orihime. Yoruichi and Urahara arrive to protect them, prompting the Arrancar to withdraw.
After his failure against Yammy, Ichigo becomes depressed that he cannot protect his friends. This mood lasts until the arrival of a Gotei 13 expeditionary force under the command of Tōshirō Hitsugaya. Rukia forces Ichigo to defeat a Hollow, all the while chastising him, and forces him to apologize to Orihime. Later that day, Ichigo, discussing the growing Arrancar threat with Hitsugaya's force, learns what the Arrancar actually are. After they discuss the mission, Ichigo, annoyed by their company, asks them when they will be leaving. When Renji tells him they cannot return to Soul Society until after the Arrancar threat is dealt with, Ichigo insists they cannot all stay at his house, and they eventually leave, except for Rukia, who convinces Isshin and Yuzu to allow her to stay in the girls' room using a cover story.
During the night, six Arrancar, lead by Grimmjow Jaegerjaquez invade Karakura Town, seeking targets with spiritual power. Rukia states one of them has already arrived at Sado's house. Sado is attacked by Di Roy Rinker, but Ichigo arrives in time to stops him. Ichigo tells Sado to let him handle the Arrancar, and Sado leaves. When Rukia, arriving, asks Ichigo what he said to Sado, Ichigo tells her he told him to step aside and let him fight. Telling Ichigo to step aside, as he already exceeded his strength when he fought Yammy, Rukia transforms into her Shinigami form, which surprises Ichigo. Chappy, the Artificial Soul possessing Rukia's Gigai, restrains Ichigo while Rukia fights. As Chappy explains Rukia's Zanpakutō to him, they are confronted by Grimmjow. As Rukia yells to Ichigo to retreat, Grimmjow impales her. Charging at Grimmjow, Ichigo, unable to harm him with his Shikai, activates his Bankai, but Grimmjow, blocking Ichigo's strikes unarmed, outmaneuvers him. Grimmjow continues to overwhelm Ichigo until he uses his black Getsuga Tenshō to attack Grimmjow. Blocking it with his arms, the Arrancar takes minimal damage, and Ichigo realizes he is in danger of his inner Hollow taking over. The fight is brought to a close when Kaname Tōsen forces Grimmjow return to Hueco Mundo. When an angry Ichigo demands Grimmjow finish their fight, Grimmjow counters by saying the only reason Ichigo is still alive is because he is leaving before their fight is finished. As the Garganta closes, Ichigo is left to ponder the events which have occurred. When Renji, arriving, asks Ichigo if he won, Ichigo states he lost, but Renji says since he is alive, it means he won. Telling him not to patronize him, as he would not be saying this if he were in Ichigo's position, Ichigo states he cannot protect anyone or even help the wounded.
Feeling unable to control his inner Hollow, Ichigo seeks out the Visored in order to gain control. At their hideout, Hiyori Sarugaki draws out his inner Hollow, which nearly kills her. The other Visored stop Ichigo, who is told he must force the Hollow into the very core of his soul. After a brief period of unappreciated training, Ichigo is sent in to his inner world to face his inner Hollow. While the Visored fight his out of control body, in his inner world, Ichigo, unable to damage the Hollow, is instead stabbed. After a brief discourse with his Hollow and another with a manifestation of Kenpachi, Ichigo learns he lacks pure fighting spirit, instead needing reasons to fight his opponents. His spirit rekindled by this revelation, Ichigo, subduing his inner Hollow, regains consciousness. Ichigo trains with Hiyori to increase the amount of time he can stay in his new masked form. A month later, Ichigo once again fights Grimmjow, though he can only remain in his masked form for eleven seconds. As he overwhelms the 6th Espada, his mask crumbles when the time limit expires, and Grimmjow counterattacks. Pinning his hands to the ground, the Espada tries to kill him with a Cero, but Rukia freezes his arm. As Grimmjow tries to kill her, Shinji, stepping in, fights him until the Arrancar retreat. When tending to Ichigo's wounds, the Visored Hachigen Ushōda reveals Ichigo's spiritual power has been contaminated somewhat by Grimmjow's, and, at his behest, Rukia takes Ichigo home to recover. While in a deep sleep, he is visited by Orihime, who heals his wounds.
When Ichigo awakens, he realizes his wrist has been healed by Orihime. Hitsugaya brings him to Orihime's apartment for an emergency communication with Soul Society. Captain Ukitake tells them Orihime was taken by an Arrancar, and might have been killed. When Ichigo reveals she visited him to heal him the night before, Captain-Commander Yamamoto believes she has betrayed them. Silencing Ichigo's protest, Renji requests permission to go to Hueco Mundo to rescue her, but the request is denied. When Ichigo asks to go save Orihime by himself, Yamamoto, once again denying the request, states Ichigo is a significant asset to Soul Society. The Shinigami are ordered to return to Soul Society to fortify their defenses, leaving Ichigo alone.
While being confronted by Tatsuki over Orihime's disappearance, Ichigo learns Tatsuki can see him in Shinigami form. Trying to distance himself from his friends, Ichigo goes to Urahara's shop. Ichigo is joined by Uryū and Sado, and, after some convincing, the trio agree to help each other rescue Orihime. Urahara opens a Garganta to Hueco Mundo, and they enter the portal.
Hueco Mundo Arc
As Ichigo, Sado, and Uryū enter Hueco Mundo, they are promptly attacked by two Arrancar, Demoura Zodd and Aisslinger Wernarr. Ichigo is told to stay back as Sado and Uryū engage the two Arrancar by themselves. Once they win, the room and passageway collapses around them, forcing the trio to race outside, where they see Las Noches. Seeing Nel Tu being chased by three Hollows, they, intervening, are surprised to learn the child is an Arrancar, and her pursuers are her two "brothers" and their pet playing a game. Travelling toward Las Noches, the expanded group comes under attack by the sand-based Hollow, Runuganga. The Hollow is immune to their attacks, but the group is saved by Renji and Rukia, who defeat it. Breaking into Las Noches, Ichigo and his group split up. Following Ichigo, Nel catches up to him just as he is attacked by Dordoni Alessandro Del Socaccio.
Trying to defeat the Privaron Espada without his Bankai, Ichigo is unable to do so. When Dordoni fires a Cero at Ichigo, Nel, intervening, absorbs the blast before firing it back at him. Dordoni attacks Nel, prompting Ichigo to use his Bankai to save her. Dordoni tries to convince Ichigo to use his Hollow mask, which he ultimately does, defeating Dordoni in an instant upon doing so. Partly healed by Nel, Dordoni attacks Ichigo, who, blocking the attack, runs away with Nel after Dordoni gives his life to keep the Exequias from stopping them. Upon sensing Rukia's defeat, Ichigo is confronted by Ulquiorra.
When Ulquiorra tells Ichigo Rukia has been killed, Ichigo, attempting to leave to save her, reasons he and Ulquiorra have no reason to fight. When Ulquiorra successfully goads Ichigo into fighting, Ichigo delivers an extremely powerful attack, but Ulquiorra, suffering little damage, counterattacks, revealing himself to be the 4th Espada. Impaling Ichigo's chest with his hand, Ulquiorra leaves. Grimmjow, wanting to fight him at full strength, brings Orihime to heal Ichigo.
As their battle ensues, the advantage shifts between the two combatants. When Ichigo uses his Hollow mask to protect Orihime and Nel from Grimmjow's Gran Rey Cero, Grimmjow, seeing Ichigo is finally at his full strength, releases his Resurrección, fiercely attacking Ichigo. As both combatants are heavily injured, Grimmjow prepares to strike down Ichigo, whom Orihime begs not to get hurt anymore. Stopping Grimmjow's attack, Ichigo slashes him. Enraged at the injury, Grimmjow, impaling Ichigo through the stomach, uses his most powerful attack, Desgarrón. Overcoming this, Ichigo defeats Grimmjow. As the 6th Espada tries to attack once more, Ichigo stops him. Nnoitra Gilga, appearing, incapacitates Grimmjow and, attacking Ichigo, reveals he is the 5th Espada.
As they fight, Nnoitra recognizes Nel as the former third Espada, Nelliel Tu Odelschwanck. As Nel denies this, Nnoitra attacks Ichigo again. Seeing Ichigo hurt, Nel, transforming into her adult form, battles Nnoitra, but eventually reverts to her child form. When Nnoitra kicks Nel, the enraged Ichigo, attacking again, is slammed into the ground. As Tesra Lindocruz moves in to kill Ichigo, Kenpachi, arriving, defeats Tesra. As Kenpachi and Nnoitra fight, Orihime heals Ichigo and Nel. As Orihime defends Yachiru Kusajishi, Ichigo, trying to stop Orihime, is stunned when he cannot break through her healing shield.
After Kenpachi defeats Nnoitra, Coyote Starrk recovers Orihime. Trying to stop him, Ichigo is unable to do so. Using Tenteikūra, Aizen, announcing Orihime's location, says he is leaving to destroy Karakura Town. After Kenpachi explains his duty as a Substitute Shinigami, Ichigo, telling Kenpachi his duty is to protect his friends, rushes to rescue Orihime. Upon arriving at the tower where Orihime is being held, he is attacked by the Exequias. Renji, Chad, and Rukia arrive to fight them so Ichigo can continue on. Ichigo finds Orihime under the guard of Ulquiorra, who draws his Zanpakutō to fight him.
Fake Karakura Town Arc
As Ichigo's fight with Ulquiorra continues, Orihime, shielding Ichigo from an attack by Ulquiorra, is ambushed by other Arrancar, and Ulquiorra prevents Ichigo from helping her. When Yammy Llargo and Uryū Ishida battle, Orihime is removed from danger. Telling Uryū to protect her, Ichigo, donning his Hollow mask, gains the upper hand against Ulquiorra. Moving the fight to the top of Las Noches, Ulquiorra releases his Zanpakutō, Murciélago. Surviving his first attack, Ichigo quickly realizes how much stronger and faster Ulquiorra is.
After a series of attacks, Ulquiorra asks Ichigo why he will not give up. Revealing he always knew Ulquiorra was stronger, Ichigo states nothing he sees him do will stop him from fighting. Trying to make Ichigo feel despair, Ulquiorra, activating Resurreccíon: Segunda Etapa, completely overwhelms him before firing a Cero through his chest, seemingly killing him. Trying to heal him, Orihime pleads for Ichigo to help Uryū fight Ulquiorra. Hearing Orihime's desperate cry for help, Ichigo, transforming into a new Hollow form, quickly defeats Ulquiorra. After he injures Uryū, Ulquiorra manages to attack him again, resulting in Ichigo being restored to normal, the hole in his chest healed. Shocked by the devastation he has created, Ichigo looks on as Ulquiorra dies.
After recovering slightly from his battle, Ichigo saves Rukia from Yammy. While noting the strange feeling of his newly altered Hollow mask, he is attacked by Yammy. As Ichigo realizes he is unable to summon his mask again, Byakuya and Kenpachi arrive to take over the fight. As Byakuya tells him protecting Karakura Town is his duty, a Garganta is opened for him and Captain Retsu Unohana to travel to Karakura. On their way through, Unohana, replenishing his energy, explains about Aizen's Shikai, saying he is the only one able to defeat him, due to having not seen it, and he must maintain this advantage.
Jumping out of the Garganta, Ichigo, trying to defeat Aizen in one blow, is blocked by a barrier. As Ichigo thinks he should have used his mask, Aizen tries to unnerve Ichigo. As Ichigo begins to waiver, Sajin Komamura, appearing beside him, tells Ichigo not to be taken in by Aizen's words. As he states the Shinigami and Visored will not let him see Aizen's Shikai, they all gather around him. Reluctantly resolving to trust in his allies and watch for now, Ichigo waits for an opening as Aizen defeats some of the Shinigami.
When the captains and Visored are tricked by Aizen into attacking Momo Hinamori, Ichigo asks them what they are doing as they realize the truth. When the remaining Shinigami are cut down, Captain-Commander Yamamoto, engaging Aizen in battle, tells Ichigo to fall back. At the end of their battle, Ichigo attacks Aizen with a Getsuga Tenshō. As Aizen's wounds are healed by the Hōgyoku, which he has implanted in his chest, he, complementing Ichigo's Reiatsu, says he has grown, just as he had planned. Listing various important moments in the development of Ichigo's power, Aizen tells him all of his battles have taken place exactly as he desired.
An angry Ichigo listens as Aizen, stating he believed Ichigo to be the perfect subject for his research, claims all of Ichigo's victories were by his own doing. Attacking, Ichigo states his claims do not match those he made in Soul Society. Asking why Ichigo believes he told the truth back then, Aizen claims responsibility for the events which have led Ichigo to this point. When Ichigo asks him when he came to the conclusion he would be a perfect research subject, Aizen, stating he has known about Ichigo from the day he was born, is interrupted by Isshin, who, taking his son away, says he will answer any questions later. Saying he has none, Ichigo, stating Isshin must have had a reason to keep things a secret, thanks his father and returns to Aizen's location, where he fights Gin Ichimaru.
When Gin asks if Ichigo remembers their previous fight, Ichigo, explaining his philosophy on battle, notes he could not feel Gin's heart in his blade when they last fought. As Gin releases his Bankai, Kamishini no Yari, Ichigo is able to stop his attacks, and as they continue exchanging attacks, Ichigo determines the speed of Gin's blade is its true danger, seeing beyond Gin's attempts to distract from this. When the Hōgyoku begins to envelop Aizen, a shocked Ichigo asks Isshin what is occurring.
As Ichigo watches Urahara, Isshin, and Yoruichi battle Aizen, Gin stating his back is wide open, tells Ichigo to relax, and the two discuss Aizen and Ichigo's allies. Gin uses his Butō and Butō Renjin techniques, causing Ichigo to don his Hollow mask. Telling him to run away, as he cannot win, Gin, moving to finish Ichigo off, is stopped by Aizen. Ichigo notices Urahara, Yoruichi and Isshin lying on the ground, and when Aizen and Gin leave via Senkaimon, Ichigo protests. Telling Ichigo to open a Senkaimon to follow them and defend the real Karakura Town, Isshin, struggling to persuade the despondent Ichigo to go, eventually succeeds.
In the Dangai, Isshin takes advantage of the absence of the Kōtotsu to allow Ichigo to learn the final Getsuga Tenshō. Explaining about the Dangai's time distortion, Isshin, suppressing the restrictive current, says he can give Ichigo three months to get information from Zangetsu about this ability. Isshin explains about Jinzen, and Ichigo initiates it. Awakening in his inner world, Ichigo, finding himself underwater, is confronted by the spirit of his Bankai, Tensa Zangetsu, who, calming him, notes it is natural for Ichigo not to recognize him, as it is his first time entering this world in Bankai, and attacks him. As Ichigo tries to stop the fight, Tensa Zangetsu, knowing what Ichigo wants, states he cannot teach him such a technique. When Ichigo says he needs it to protect Karakura Town, Tensa Zangetsu says what they want to protect are different.
Surprised at Tensa Zangetsu's reluctance, Ichigo listens as he notes the hope-filled skyscrapers which once filled his inner world now resembles Karakura Town, submerged by constant rain created by Ichigo falling into despair. Forcing Ichigo to confront the source of his despair, his inner Hollow, whom he believed had been defeated, Tensa Zangetsu states Ichigo will fight them together as they merge into one being, which, attacking him, tells Ichigo they are two parts of the same being and they are his power. As they fight, Ichigo, observing the merged spirit's actions, discards his sword, allowing himself to be impaled. Congratulating Ichigo on figuring it out, the merged spirit, crying, reveals all he wanted is to protect Ichigo, stating the essence of the technique will be conveyed to him directly from the blade. Telling Ichigo if he uses Saigo no Getsuga Tenshō, he will lose his Shinigami powers, he bids him farewell.
Later, Ichigo, now taller and with longer hair from his time in the Dangai, arrives with his unconscious father in Karakura Town. Placing Isshin on the ground, he, thanking him, searches for his sisters' Reiatsu to make sure they are safe. Greeting his friends, Ichigo, telling them to stay where they are, grabs Aizen and, bringing him outside Karakura Town, throws him into the ground.
As the two clash, causing significant damage to the surrounding area, Aizen, commenting on their changed appearances, gloats. Stopping Aizen's blade with his bare hand, Ichigo, asking Aizen if his feat is really that hard to believe, asks him if he is scared of what is in front of his eyes right now. When Aizen uses "Kurohitsugi" on him, Ichigo destroys the spell, explaining to a stunned Aizen he did not notice Ichigo is stronger than him, and moves in to strike.
As they fight, Aizen, transforming, fires an immensely powerful blast at Ichigo, who, surviving, sustains some damage. Grabbing him, Aizen gloats, but Ichigo slashes at his chest, forcing Aizen to release him. Tired of Aizen's logic, Ichigo, activating the "Final Getsuga Tenshō", explains the technique, and, using Mugetsu, severely wounds and weakens Aizen. Watching as Aizen, his wounds healing once again, begins to revert to a more normal form, Ichigo, falling to the ground as his Shinigami powers weaken, looks on as Aizen is bound by Urahara's Kidō. After the two converse briefly, Aizen is finally sealed as Ichigo looks away.
After the battle with Aizen, Ichigo, asking Urahara where everyone is, asks if everyone's memories have been erased. Saying no, which relieves Ichigo, Urahara tells him Aizen's punishment will be dealt with by Central 46. Asking him if Aizen was really rejected by the Hōgyoku, Ichigo, wondering if Aizen himself wished to lose his power, explains his theory of Aizen wishing to just be a Shinigami. When Orihime, Uryū, Rukia, Sado, and Renji arrive, Ichigo, greeting them, collapses, screaming in pain.
A month later, Ichigo, regaining consciousness, finds himself back home, surrounded by Orihime, Rukia, Uryū, and Chad. When Rukia reveals Urahara told them he has lost his Shinigami power, Ichigo tells Rukia he will most likely have to give back his Substitute Shinigami title. Revealing the first stage of loss brings intense pain, loss of consciousness, and a reverse flow of the time his body experienced in the Dangai, she further explains he lost his Shinigami powers at that point. In the second stage, his remaining Reiatsu stabilizes, he wakes up, and the remainder of his spiritual power completely disappears. Saying he expected this to happen, Ichigo, asking if he can go outside, notes he can no longer sense spiritual presences any more, and it is becoming harder to see Rukia. As Rukia starts to fade before his eyes, Ichigo, asking her to give his best regards to everyone, says goodbye and thanks her.
The Lost Substitute Shinigami Arc
Seventeen months after defeating Aizen, Ichigo, starting his third year in high school, notes ever since his powers disappeared, Karin's have been getting stronger. Since she has not asked him about it, Ichigo figures she is dealing with it well. At school, Ichigo, finding his Substitute Shinigami Badge in his bag, notes it has lost its abilities. Noticing Uryū running out of the classroom, aware he took over the Hollow extermination he used to cover, he notes to himself it is probably better for Uryū to handle it than Zennosuke Kurumadani. At lunch, Keigo and Ichigo discuss future careers. When Keigo mentions Ichigo's grades were good when he began high school, but started slipping during the second half of his first year, Ichigo states he still did well despite the interference of his Shinigami duties. When Keigo asks about Rukia, Ichigo, asking why he brought her up, states she is not assigned to Karakura Town any more. Ichigo insists he is fine with his now peaceful life.
As he walks home, Ichigo, stopping an armed thief, reflects on how he still has the body and reflexes of someone trained to fight and win. Returning the stolen property to its owner, Kūgo Ginjō, Ichigo asks for him to keep his actions a secret. The next day, Ichigo has a dream in which he sees silhouettes of Renji, Byakuya and Rukia telling him to wake up. When he awakens to the sound of Isshin, who pounces on him, Ichigo dodges, sending Isshin through an open window. Dismissing Isshin's complaints, Ichigo says he would go to Soul Society if he died. Annoyed, Ichigo, blaming the weird dreams he has had recently on his father, demands he apologize to him.
At school, Ichigo rents his services to Satoda, a member of the soccer club. As Ichigo prepares for practice, he bickers with Tatsuki, who reminds him to call his boss, Ikumi Unagiya, or he will be scolded by her again. Rushing out to call Ikumi, Ichigo has a short exchange with her about being fired. As he hangs up his phone, a gang arrives at the school looking for him. Ichigo sees the thief he had previously beaten up with them. When the gang leader demands Ichigo come forth, Uryū confronts the group, prompting Ichigo to rush to him to prevent the incident from worsening. The two bicker at one another as they beat up the gang members. Before they finish, another gangster, Yokochini, appearing, asks Ichigo if he still remembers him. When he fails to remember him, Ichigo states he neither wants to nor cares about his past. Yokochini and his men are beaten by Ikumi, who, taking Ichigo away in a van, takes him to her office.
Inside the Unagiya shop, Ikumi, showing Ichigo a pile of work documents, says he seldom does them, yelling at him to get to work. When Kūgo enters the store, Ichigo recognizes him as the man whose bag he recovered. When Ichigo asks what he wants from him, Kūgo, showing him a picture of Isshin, asks for background information on him. Ichigo says Isshin is his father, and he can tell him anything he wants to know. Questioning whether Ichigo even knows enough to answer, Kūgo says he should not even know about his family yet. When Ichigo tries to ask him what he means, Ikumi, interrupting, says she is closing shop for the day and will consider the job. As he leaves, Kūgo tells Ichigo to go to the Urahara Shop.
There, Ichigo, witnessing Karin leaving, wonders why she was there. Kūgo approaches, calling Urahara a shady character. As Ichigo tries to defend Urahara, Kūgo, questioning how much he knows about Urahara, warns him to act quickly to defend his family. Telling Kūgo he does not trust him, Ichigo is given a business card. Ichigo goes home, where Yuzu greets him with the results of her first exam, which she excelled at. Congratulating her, Ichigo, telling her to show it to Isshin, asks where he is. When she tells him he is not there, Ichigo, going up to his room, states he could find Isshin if he still had his Shinigami powers. Visiting with some leftover bread from her job, Orihime asks him if something happened recently or if he is being followed, which Ichigo denies.
At dinnertime, Ichigo, rushing to Karakura Hospital, looking for the injured Uryū, finds Orihime is already there. When he asks where Sado is, Orihime tells him he did not answer when he was called. After Ryūken Ishida reveals the cause of Uryū's wounds, Ichigo asks what happened. After Uryū states it had nothing to do with him, Ichigo offers to walk Orihime home, but Ryūken, deciding to drive her home instead, tells Ichigo he should get home as well. After thanking him, Ichigo runs off, frustrated there is something going on which he can do nothing about. When he dials the number on the card Kūgo gave him, a voice welcomes him to "Xcution." Ichigo is given a complex dialing sequence to follow, which puts him through to Kūgo. After Ichigo complains about the complicated nature of the phone call, Kūgo arranges a meeting on the following evening at an address in Naruki City. The following day, when Orihime asks Ichigo if he knew what happened to Sado, who is absent from school, Ichigo, stating he does not know, declines an offer to go to Sado's house with her.
That evening, when Ichigo arrives at the meeting place, he is greeted by Kūgo. Ichigo tells him his friend was attacked, and he wants his help. When Kūgo asks if Ichigo trusts him, Ichigo says he is probably not a normal Human. Giving a vague answer, Kūgo notes Ichigo has nobody else to count on. Inside the building, Kūgo, jinges about his request to investigate Isshin, insists it was a ruse to gain Ichigo's interest. As they enter Xcution's hideout, where Ichigo sees some of the other members of the group, Kūgo reveals they aim to restore his Shinigami powers. When Ichigo demands to know how and why they intend to do this, Kūgo, insisting on taking their time, reveals the members of Xcution are Fullbringers, demonstrating their abilities. When a complaining Riruka Dokugamine enters the room, Ichigo asks Kūgo who she is. When he, introducing her, tells her to come in, she is followed inside by Yasutora Sado, surprising Ichigo.
When Ichigo angrily asks Sado why he is there and why he has not been going to school, Kūgo tells him to calm down so he can explain everything. As Ichigo glares at him, Kūgo reveals a Fullbringer is a person who had a parent who was attacked by a Hollow before their birth. Traces of the Hollow's powers remain in their mother's bodies and are passed on to them at birth. These powers are more like Hollow than Shinigami powers. He further explains Fullbringers do not enjoy their powers, similar to the way Ichigo hated his Hollow powers. Kūgo says he wants to erase his powers, and they have learned they can pass their powers on to someone who possesses both Human and Shinigami powers. Ichigo realizes he was not the first person born from a Shinigami and a Human.
Kūgo says they have old allies who have reverted to being Human, and they will help Ichigo get his Shinigami powers back so he can help them become normal Humans. He explains Sado offered to help them because it meant Ichigo getting his powers back. Asking Sado to confirm this, Ichigo listens as he explains he sees the pain Ichigo feels at not being able to protect the people he cares about. He tells Ichigo he does not have to hide it, and his feeling this pain means this is who he is. When Kūgo says they will restore his Shinigami powers and add their own powers on top of that, Ichigo accepts this deal.
After arriving home late for the last two nights, Ichigo returns to the Kurosaki Clinic late once again, to the delight of Karin and Yuzu, whom he urges to go to bed, as it is late. Later, Ichigo is called back to Xcution's hideout, where Riruka uses her Fullbring to miniaturize and place him inside a doll house. Ichigo is confronted by Mr. Pork, a stuffed animal, which he is instructed to defeat by using Fullbring. Mr. Pork, which has a yakuza man trapped inside it, attacks, forcing Ichigo to take evasive action. Shrugging off Riruka's complaints, Ichigo, saying he does not even understand the situation yet, asks how this will help him regain his Shinigami powers, and how he can suddenly use a power he has never used before. The yakuza says if he does not kill Ichigo within fifteen minutes, he will be trapped there permanently. After giving a brief explanation of Fullbring, Riruka leaves Ichigo, who, reflecting on what she said, thinks about how Kūgo transformed his pendant into a sword, concluding he should focus on something he regularly has with him. Arriving, Sado tells Ichigo to use his Substitute Shinigami Badge. Telling him he had just thought of it too, Ichigo holds his badge as the fifteen minutes expire and Mr. Pork, entering "Mad Beast Mode," grows in size.
Sado tells Ichigo it was pride which allowed him to use his Fullbring. When Ichigo thinks of times he was proud to be a Shinigami, his badge begins to take the form of Tensa Zangetsu's tsuba. When Kūgo explains the badge recorded every battle Ichigo ever fought, a shocked Ichigo, testing out a variety of ways to use this new power, successfully launches a large amount of energy shaped like a manji at Mr. Pork, which defeats him. Ichigo wonders if the power will help him get his Shinigami powers back. At Ichigo's behest, Riruka restores him to his normal size. Briefly hearing a voice coming from the badge which he recognizes as Rukia's, Ichigo wonders what is happening.
Listening as the yakuza tries to extort money from Riruka, Ichigo notes he looks exactly like the doll he was inside. When Ichigo asks if he is to stay for further training, he is told Fullbring puts more strain on the body than can be felt. Kūgo advises him not to push himself, as his body will fall to pieces if he wears himself out. Saying a few more days without his powers should be bearable after all this time, he promises to call him when he has recuperated. As Sado and Ichigo walk to Sado's home, the latter tells Ichigo Orihime has been bringing him leftover bread everyday lately. Ichigo tells him she is worried about him, and he should call her. As Sado goes to give half of it to Ichigo, he, noticing something wrong with her Reiatsu, states something has happened to her.
When Ichigo tries to call Orihime, Sado tells him not to, as it could distract her and lead her to her death. He says he cannot quite locate Orihime's exact location, but Ichigo can tell by the direction they are going she is at her apartment. Arriving to find Orihime kneeling in front of her door, they ask her if she is alright. Grabbing her shoulder, seeming distracted, Orihime, noticing Sado and Ichigo, asks why they are there. Hearing their explanation, Orihime tells them nothing happened, and she was with a friend before going into her apartment. As they leave, Ichigo asks Sado about Orihime. Stating he was probably sensing things wrong, Sado tells Ichigo not to worry.
Realizing Sado and Orihime will not tell him anything, Ichigo, going to the Xcution hideout, explains the situation, telling them he believes Orihime was attacked by the same person who attacked Uryū. When Kūgo and Jackie Tristan both suspect it is Shūkurō Tsukishima, Ichigo asks who this is, and Kūgo reveals Tsukishima is a Fullbringer and the former leader of Xcution, who came up with the idea to give their powers to a Substitute Shinigami. When they did so, he, killing the Shinigami and those who gave him their power, disappeared. Showing Ichigo a Substitute Shinigami Badge, he tells him he believes Tsukishima wants to keep Ichigo away from them, and is using his attacks on Uryū and Orihime to get his attention. He tells him to go home until they are ready for the next stage of training. While walking the streets, Ichigo, spotting Isshin meeting with Urahara in an alley, hides. When they leave, Ichigo, contemplating Kūgo's warning about Urahara, wonders if he should follow them, but decides not to. Later, Ichigo returns to Xcution's hideout, where Riruka places him inside a fish tank to fight Jackie.
After an exchange of words between the pair, Jackie activates her Fullbring, Dirty Boots, and they begin to fight. Telling Ichigo he is too lax, and he cannot take his time getting into a battle, Jackie warns Ichigo because he is in a living body, he will die if he keeps taking her attacks with his body. Ichigo fires an energy blast at her, only for Jackie to easily shatter it. Revealing he knows his attack's weakness, Ichigo uses Fullbring to increase his speed and attacks her. After being asked who taught him to fight, Ichigo explains he first learned from Urahara, but he learned from his battles as time went on, saying even though he was only a Shinigami for a brief time, he probably has more experience in battle than Xcution.
As Reiatsu from Ichigo's badge begins to engulf his right arm, Ichigo begins to tire. When Jackie says they will abort the training, as Ichigo's Fullbring is going berserk in a way she has never seen before, Ichigo is adamant in continuing. As Jackie calls for Kūgo to retrieve Riruka to end the training, Ichigo, pinning her to the ground, says his Fullbring is not going berserk and has always been like this. He believes this is his badge's way of telling him to hurry and get his Shinigami powers back soon. Believing it is too dangerous to continue, Jackie decides to stop him by force.
When Tsukishima arrives at the Xcution headquarters, he cuts through the fish tank, and Ichigo emerges, engulfed in Reiatsu shaped similarly to his Shinigami shihakushō. Asking who he is, Ichigo clashes with him. When Sado attacks Tsukishima to protect Ichigo's new powers, Ichigo, learning he was being protected from the truth, realizes Tsukishima attacked both Uryū and Orihime. Managing to surprise Tsukishima in the subsequent clash, Ichigo is swiftly overwhelmed. Protecting him, Kūgo states he cannot let them fight yet.
When Ichigo refuses to cooperate, Kūgo, knocking him to the ground, tells him he is not fine if he can be dropped in his real body. As Ichigo tries to resume fighting, he is stopped by Sado, who tells him Tsukishima is too far ahead of him, and he cannot win in his current state. Disregarding this, Ichigo attacks Tsukishima, who, commenting on his rate of evolution, states he is becoming closer to the heights of his previous powers. Using his Fullbring, Yukio Hans Vorarlberna seals Ichigo, preventing him from interacting with Tsukishima. Later, in Xcution's back-up hideout, Yukio frees Ichigo, who asks what happened with Tsukishima. When Kūgo states he has fled for now, Ichigo asks what Kūgo is worried about. Stating if Tsukishima wanted to harm Xcution, he could have kept going, but it seems his objective is Ichigo, Kūgo tells Yukio to help with Ichigo's training. When Ichigo asks if it will be a live battle, Kūgo, saying that is what seems to work best with him, states he will fight Ichigo himself.
Yukio loads Ichigo and Kūgo into his console. Seeing this, Ichigo realizes this is what happened to him before on the rooftops, and Kūgo explains Yukio's Fullbring. Activating his own Fullbring, Kūgo, saying it would be great if they had rules like a video game, requests Yukio give them six HP each, prompting six crosses to appear above their heads. When Kūgo asks if Ichigo needs a tutorial, he, saying he understands, activates his Fullbring, and they charge at each other. Arriving inside Yukio's game world to find a badly injured Ichigo lying on the ground, Orihime begins to heal him. When Ichigo guesses Sado called her, Sado, arriving, confirms this, saying he knows Ichigo did not want to get Orihime wrapped up in this, but they will need her. When Kūgo, growing impatient, asks Ichigo if he is ready to fight, Ichigo says yes, ignoring Orihime's protest. After Orihime blocks Kūgo's attempted attack, they resume their fight.
Following Orihime's arrival, Ichigo's movements become sharper. As he attacks Kūgo up close to counter the range of his sword, Kūgo, fending him off, injures Ichigo's leg. As they fight, Ichigo notes he cannot feel anything from Kūgo's sword, comparing it with his battle with Gin Ichimaru. He notes while Tsukishima did not look at him, he felt his killing intent. He wonders if he cannot feel anything because they are not using Zanpakutō, or if it is because he does not fully trust Kūgo. Slashing Ichigo's eyes, Kūgo notes when Ichigo lost his powers, he also lost his resolve.
Blind and confused, Ichigo, demanding to know what Kūgo is doing, states he does not trust him, as he is not helping him as he had promised he would. Kūgo states their deal was to get his Shinigami powers back, and if he did not trust him, he should not have agreed to his training. When Yukio prevents Orihime from interfering, an enraged Ichigo, attacking, tries to dodge Kūgo's attacks by sensing the presence and sound of his opponent, but Kūgo, further injuring him, leaves Ichigo lying on the ground, impaled with his sword. Walking away, Kūgo, telling Ichigo he is going to kill Sado and Orihime, further taunts him. Struggling for a moment, Ichigo, reflecting on his inability to see, move, or speak, sees a white shape in the darkness, realizing he is beginning to see Kūgo's Reiatsu. As Ichigo begins to manifest a new form, power explodes from him. Putting his life on the line to control the explosion, Kūgo expresses his pride in Ichigo's accomplishment, stating his villain act is not the best, and welcomes Ichigo to Xcution.
After completing his Fullbring, Ichigo is put through a new training regiment to increase his stamina to meet the demands of using Fullbring. When Kūgo asks if Ichigo saw something when he completed his Fullbring, Ichigo is shocked he knows this. Kūgo says Ichigo saw him bathed in Reiatsu, which is why he cut Ichigo's eyes, as that is proof Ichigo is beginning to regain his Shinigami powers. Kūgo explains when Ichigo lost his Reiatsu, a tiny portion accumulated in a single location inside of him over time, which is why they used the Reiatsu flowing from his badge to jolt that awake. He says all that is left to do is to beef up his new body and powers, and his Fullbring and Shinigami powers will fuse, giving Ichigo a power transcending that of a Shinigami. Taking his badge, Ichigo, trying out his new Fullbring, leaves Yukio's Fullbring, thanking him. Yukio states only 90 minutes have passed, thanks to his Fullbring's abilities. Going home, Ichigo is met at the door by Yuzu, who says they have a surprise guest. He finds Tsukishima, whom Yuzu calls cousin Shū, sitting on the couch. Tsukishima greets Ichigo.
Watching in disbelief, Ichigo, grabbing Tsukishima, demands an explanation for why he is there. As Karin and Yuzu try to pry him off Tsukishima, the doorbell rings. Asking Yuzu to get it, Tsukishima says it must be Keigo and the others. As Tatsuki begins to lecture Ichigo on staying out so late, Tsukishima, telling Ichigo he called everyone, starts to call Sado and Orihime as well. As he is on the phone, Ichigo attacks him, prompting Tatsuki to berate Ichigo for attacking his relative. As Ichigo states she is wrong, everyone asks why he is acting the way he is. Fleeing his house, Ichigo, wondering whether what is going on is Tsukishima's ability, runs into Ikumi, who takes him to her store to let him calm down and talk about it. As Ichigo decides against telling her about Shinigami and Hollows, as it would make her uncomfortable, Tsukishima arrives at the store, and Ichigo, fleeing once again, says he needs someone in their right mind. Finding him, Kūgo says everyone in Xcution has fallen for Tsukishima's trap.
Kūgo takes Ichigo to a location, which he says no members of Xcution know about, to discuss what has transpired. When Ichigo wonders why everyone is acting the way they are, Kūgo tells Ichigo that, thanks to information Sado provided about Tsukishima's attack on Orihime and with what has transpired, his ability may be inserting himself into people's pasts. When Ichigo asks if it would stop if Tsukishima were to die, Kūgo, telling Ichigo he does not know, asks if Ichigo could kill him despite this. Finding them, Yukio takes them to Tsukishima's mansion.
As Ichigo, angrily rushing towards Tsukishima when he spots him, reaches for his badge, Kūgo, stopping him, warns Ichigo if he is correct about Tsukishima's ability, they will be in trouble if he is cut even once. Inviting them inside, Tsukishima says he only wants to talk. As a reluctant Ichigo enters the mansion, his family and friends, greeting him, tell a shocked Ichigo he should be happy Tsukishima is not angry, urging him to apologize. Kūgo tells him not to worry, because even though they view Tsukishima as a friend, they still view Ichigo as their friend. It is too much for Ichigo to handle, and he flees the room. He wants to kill Tsukishima, but he cannot fight him where his friends and family can be dragged into it. Going upstairs, he comes across the other members of Xcution. As Tsukishima appears behind Ichigo, Kūgo appears, having destroyed the stairs so Ichigo's family and friends cannot follow, and tells Ichigo he can now fight without holding back. Ichigo activates his Fullbring, and while Tsukishima is activating his, Ichigo cuts off his left arm. As Tsukishima expresses his surprise at Ichigo mastering his Fullbring in such a short time, Ichigo tells him he arrived to kill him. As Sado bursts through the window, he and Orihime shield Tsukishima.
As Orihime heals Tsukishima's arm, Ichigo is left unable to believe Sado and Orihime have become the same as the others. As Both Orihime and Sado say Ichigo was able to save Rukia and defeat Aizen because Tsukishima helped him do so, Tsukishima, appearing behind Ichigo, asks him if he understands, but Ichigo tries to attack him. As Tsukishima reveals the ability of his Fullbring, Book of the End, is to modify the past of those affected by it, Ichigo tries to attack him, but Orihime stops him with her Santen Kesshun. As Sado, trying to attack Ichigo, says he did not become strong to fight with Ichigo, he attacks again, and Ichigo is pushed outside from the force of the attack. As he, wondering why things turned out this way, says he only wanted to protect his friends, he asks what he got his powers back for. When Tsukishima appears above Ichigo, he charges at him.
As they fight, Tsukishima gets behind Ichigo to attack him, but Kūgo takes the attack instead. When Ichigo rushes to see if Kūgo is alright, Kūgo insists he is a comrade. When Uryū arrives, Ichigo questions his allegiance. Not wanting to fall for a trap, Ichigo is hesitant to listen to Uryū. As Uryū tells Ichigo it was Kūgo who attacked him, Kūgo attacks Ichigo, who asks if Kūgo was turned by Tsukishima's powers. Revealing their allegiance was a ruse, and Tsukishima had just returned him back to normal by cutting him a second time, Kūgo, merging the Substitute Shinigami Badge he had with his sword, tells Ichigo it is time to relieve him of his Fullbring, stabbing Ichigo through his chest.
Kūgo reveals he was the one who actually attacked Uryū, and ordered Tsukishima to cut him, making them "enemies" who betrayed each other. Kūgo further states Tsukishima's ability prevented Ichigo from suspecting him. As Kūgo withdraws his blade from Ichigo's chest and Ichigo's Fullbring disappears, Ichigo thinks about how hard it was for him to go seventeen months without any power, and when he thought he found a way, he was so happy he could protect his friends again. When a distraught Ichigo asks Kūgo to give his power back, Kūgo states it was power he gave to Ichigo, and it belongs to him. Kūgo says he will spare his life, and he should thank him.
After Tsukishima and Kūgo leave, Ichigo is stabbed in the back by Rukia with a special sword containing the Reiatsu of the Gotei 13's senior officers and other Shinigami. Ichigo emerges from the resulting explosion with a new Shinigami outfit and a slightly altered Zangetsu, ready to fight. Greeting Ichigo, Rukia, momentarily berating him, reveals Urahara told her about Tsukishima's ability. Reassuring him about this, she explains about the sword Urahara made to restore Shinigami powers to Ichigo. Returning, Kūgo, disputing this, is cut off by the arrival of more Shinigami. Rukia tells Kūgo he only stole a small portion of Ichigo's power, which had Ichigo's Fullbring, and Ichigo's Shinigami powers well up from deep inside; he could never take that from him. Ichigo fires a Getsuga Tenshō at Kūgo.
As Ichigo's Getsuga Tenshō misses Kūgo and Kūgo tries to retreat, Ichigo, stopping him, attacks Kūgo with another Getsuga Tenshō before asking if it was a crime to transfer Shinigami powers to a Human. As Renji reveals Captain-Commander Yamamoto ordered all captains and lieutenants to put their Reiatsu into Urahara's sword to help bring back Ichigo's Shinigami powers, Hitsugaya tells him he did this because Ichigo was able to change Soul Society through his actions, and he should accept it proudly. As Ichigo notices Kūgo emerging from the dust below, Hitsugaya tells Ichigo Yamamoto also gave the order to stop the original Substitute Shinigami, Kūgo Ginjō. When Ichigo is confused about this, Hitsugaya, reminding him of when Ukitake gave him his badge, tells Ichigo the Substitute Shinigami law was created solely because of Kūgo before stating they need to focus on Kūgo right now. Thanking Ichigo, Kūgo says if he had not taken his powers, he would have been dead by now.
After Kūgo grants the other members of Xcution part of Ichigo's Fullbring, Ichigo attacks them all. Using his Fullbring, Yukio, deceiving Ichigo, protects the Fullbringers from harm. Reminding Ichigo they received his Fullbring powers, which allows for them to wear their powers as a mantle, he says with Ichigo's help, his Invaders Must Die is now able to influence the world outside his console. After Yukio uses his Fullbring to split everyone up into individual rooms, Ichigo and Uryū finds themselves facing Kūgo in a replica of Karakura Town, an environment which Kūgo says he picked so Ichigo could fight easier. When Ichigo asks if Uryū is hurt, the Quincy, saying Rukia healed him, apologizes to Ichigo, saying when he first saw the Substitute Badge, he had thought there were other Substitutes before him. He thought if the previous one was alive, they would have told Ichigo, and if he was dead, they would have said why, leading Uryū to believe Soul Society did not know. Kicking Uryū, Ichigo tells him it does not matter, as they could not have done anything anyhow, and he would have forgotten in a few days. The two momentarily bicker before returning their attention to Kūgo.
While Ichigo and Uryū fight Kūgo, they begin hiding from him. When Ichigo asks Uryū if he has a plan, Uryū tells him he was not trying to come up with one, but rather he was observing Kūgo's reiatsu. Abruptly leaving to confront Kūgo, Ichigo attacks him with a Getsuga Tenshō, but Kūgo, cutting through it with his sword, attacks him with a Getsuga Tenshō as well, surprising Ichigo. Uryū explains Kūgo, in addition to taking his Fullbring and Reiatsu, must have taken Ichigo's full abilities as well. As Kūgo and Ichigo continue to fight, Kūgo asks him what he is fighting for, which confuses Ichigo. Kūgo confirms Tsukishima is dying, and if a Fullbringer dies, all traces of their ability disappear. He asks Ichigo what he is fighting for, but when Ichigo does not answer him, Kūgo informs him of an enemy he should be fighting.
When Ichigo dismisses this as an attempt to shake his resolve. Kūgo, stating the Substitute Shinigami Badge is given out whether the Substitute in question is beneficial to Soul Society or not, explains it has no authority, and its true purpose is to observe and restrict Ichigo's Shinigami powers while he has it with him. When Kūgo says this scheme was designed by Ukitake to control Substitute Shinigami, an enraged Ichigo releases his Bankai, which shatters the pocket dimension. Dismissing Kūgo's words, Ichigo says he knew Ukitake was not trying to mislead him. After Kūgo activates his Bankai, the two clash. Eventually, Kūgo's sword breaks, and he, badly injured, slumps to the ground, unable to continue. As Tsukishima tries to attack Ichigo, Riruka blocks the attack with her body instead. Sometime after the fighting ends, he is at Urahara's shop, waiting for Riruka to wake up so he can make sure she is okay. He tells Riruka none of the other Fullbringers have been found.
Ichigo goes to Soul Society to acquire Kūgo's body so he may bury it in the Human World. Upon arriving at the First Division, he finds the captains waiting for him. He is told to go inside the building by Kensei, whom he is surprised to see in a captain's uniform. After informing Yamamoto of his request, he dismisses Captain Hirako's words about forgiving Kūgo, stating his friends and family are back to normal, and calls Kūgo a "mere Substitute Shinigami." Yamamoto notes he must have thought carefully about using that phrase. Afterwards, Ichigo is asked about his Badge, but he, stating he trusts them, keeps it.
Bount Arc (anime only)
Ichigo, unaware he is unable to perform Bankai outside of Soul Society, faces three Modified Souls in a series of games, set by Urahara, which involve kidnapping Ichigo's friends, all unbeknownst to Ichigo. Ichigo undergoes training with three the Mod Souls, Ririn, Kurōdo, and Noba. After the training, which is unsuccessful, he, finding out about the Bount, confronts Yoshino Sōma. Unable to win, despite the help of Rukia, Ichigo is unintentionally saved by another Bount, Ryō Utagawa. Later, when Utagawa tries to eat Uryū's soul, a battle between him and Ichigo's group ensues. While visiting Uryū in the hospital, the group is met by water-manipulating Bount twins Hō and Ban. Ichigo fights them, but they prove to be tough to beat. He discovers when the twins are separated, their ability to control their Dolls is greatly reduced. With some assistance from Ganju Shiba, the group kills the weakened Dolls with fireworks. Ichigo and company infiltrate Jin Kariya's mansion in search of Uryū.
There, Ichigo engages Utagawa in battle, during which he obliterates a large portion of the house, surprising both Utagawa and Maki Ichinose. When Ichinose confronts Ichigo, the two fight until Kariya, taking over, overpowers Ichigo. As Ichigo is on the brink of defeat, Urahara and his assistants arrive to rescue them. Later, Ichigo fights Gō Koga and his Doll, Dalk, after the Bitto nearly kill Keigo. When Ichigo is beaten, his inner Hollow takes over. Managing to repel his inner Hollow, Ichigo succumbs to his previous injuries. When Izuru Kira, appearing, disables the Doll, Koga retreats.
As Ichigo invades the Bount hideout with Sado, Orihime, Rukia, Renji, and the Mod Souls, four Shinigami lieutenants, who had entered the cave earlier and fought Ugaki's Doll, Gesell, assist them. When Renji and Ichigo, continuing into the depths of the cave, find Ugaki, Renji decides to take on Gesell with his Bankai so Ichigo will have the strength to take on the remaining Bount. As the cave begins to crumble, Yumichika Ayasegawa convinces Ichigo to leave them behind and go further into the cave. When Ichigo finds the remaining Bount, they open a portal to Soul Society. Ichigo starts a battle with Kariya, who, defeating Ichigo, threatens to kill him with Zangetsu, convincing Ichigo to recover his will to fight and regain his ability to use his Bankai. As the fight continues, with both adversaries now evenly matched, they are interrupted by Uryū, who helps the Bount reach Soul Society, believing he will get stronger there and defeat the Bount.
In Soul Society, Ichigo's group, using Kūkaku Shiba's house as a base of operations, splits up to search for the Bounts. When Ichigo asks Byakuya for assistance, he, declining the request, says Ichigo's job is in the Human World. Later, Ichigo, coming across Byakuya and Kariya fighting in a forest, joins in, but they are unable to beat the Bount leader. Ran'Tao, the Shinigami who created the Bounts, steps in and, taking Ichigo and Uryū back to her home in Rukongai, explains how her spirit powers were sealed, and how she was banished for creating the Bount.
After departing from Ran'Tao's home, they meet up with Tōshirō Hitsugaya, Rangiku Matsumoto, and Renji, who are in the middle of a battle with Ichinose. Arriving, Kenpachi challenges Ichinose, allowing the others to pursue the Bount. At the SRDI, Ichigo and Sado, catching up to Kariya, are unable to stop him. Their battle inadvertently unearths the Jōkaishō, a massive energy source, which Kariya had been searching for. Absorbing the energy, Kariya, using its destructive potential as a threat to keep Ichigo at bay, gives the whole of Soul Society a day to think about their impending destruction. With permission from Matsumoto, Ichigo uses the 10th Division as a base of operations during this time.
The next day, Ichigo saves Uryū and Ran'Tao from Kariya. Their fight is interrupted by the arrival of Ichinose, who, initially attacking Ichigo, turns his sword on Kariya before being killed. As Kariya attacks Ichigo, whose inner Hollow momentarily takes over, Ichigo, regaining control of his body, tells Kariya he cannot absorb spirit particles to heal himself because Ran'Tao sealed his absorption ability. After Kariya attempts to detonate a Jōkaishō, Ichigo deals him a fatal blow, and he, questioning what will become of Ichigo in the future, dies. Ichigo, Renji, and Rukia return to the Kuchiki Manor to discuss Kariya, Ichigo remarking on how his life was changed when Rukia gave him her powers. Afterwards, they return to the Human World.
The New Captain Shūsuke Amagai Arc (anime only)
Ichigo and Rukia are alerted to an abnormal amount of Hollow sightings. As they leave to dispatch them, Ichigo encounters Rurichiyo Kasumiōji, who is attacked by Hollows. As Kenryū and Enryū take Rurichiyo away, Ichigo uses his Bankai to defeat the horde of Hollows pursuing them. The following day, the trio, moving into the house next to Ichigo's, become students at his school. Later, he learns their identity, and Kenryū reveals that despite her young age, Rurichiyo is the leader of the Kasumiōji Clan due to her parents' death. They came to Karakura Town to protect Rurichiyo after several suspected assassination attempts on her by Gyōkaku Kumoi, who wants to become the clan's leader. Kenryū asks for Ichigo's help in stopping Kumoi. Later, a group of Bakkōtō-wielding assassins attack. Ichigo fights one of them, who gains the advantage by using his Bakkōtō's mirror to blind Ichigo, but the assassins are stopped. When Rurichiyo goes to Soul Society on her own, Ichigo, Rukia, Kenryū, and Enryū go in search of her. Finding Rurichiyo, Ichigo attempts to defend her from an assassin.
After the group return to Karakura, Hanza Nukui leads another group of assassins to kill Ichigo, his friends, and Rurichiyo. Hanza fights Ichigo using the same mirrored Bakkōtō Ichigo previously fought against. After learning the Bakkōtō, Saiga, becomes stronger by feeding on the Reiatsu of its wielder, Ichigo is saved by Yoruichi, who reveals the remaining assassins have been defeated, prompting Hanza to retreat. Rurichiyo tells Ichigo others would frequently be blamed for her reckless actions, including Kenryū and Enryū. Sensing the arrival of Hanza and his minions, Ichigo and Rukia stay to protect Rurichiyo while the others go out to fight them. Fighting Hanza again, Ichigo, breaking Saiga's mirror, becomes engulfed in its light. He is sealed in a dream-like state, where he is forced to relive his childhood and his mother's death. As the fake Masaki tries to kill him, Ichigo breaks free by making peace with his mother. Donning his Hollow mask, Ichigo, overwhelming Hanza, forces him to allow his Bakkōtō to absorb more of his energy. Ignoring Ichigo's pleas to stop, Hanza is consumed by his Bakkōtō.
Rurichiyo returns to Soul Society on her own, and on the day of her wedding to Shū Kannogi, Ichigo and company enter the family compound to retrieve Rurichiyo, who does not respond to Ichigo's calls. When Captain Suì-Fēng and her troops surround them, Enryū, using his Shikai, destroys the building, and in the confusion, Ichigo, reaching Rurichiyo, tells Shū of Kumoi's intentions, but is attacked by Rurichiyo, who is actually an impostor. As Suì-Fēng begins to fight Ichigo, he and Rukia escape with Shū's help. The three decide to escape by having Shū pose as a hostage, which sparks a manhunt for them. Deciding to rescue Rurichiyo, the trio is attacked by Shūsuke Amagai. Stopping the battle, Shū reveals the truth of Kumoi's intentions to Amagai, who agrees to help them.
Ichigo, Amagai, Rukia, and Shū, evading the patrols, make contact with the 3rd Division members and head towards Rurichiyo's last known location. Pursuing a pair of assassins with Rurichiyo, Ichigo and Amagai discover it is a ruse. The quartet head to the Kasumiōji compound, which Captain Hitsugaya is guarding. As the others fight, Ichigo and Shū enter the compound. After discovering one of Amagai's men is working for Kumoi and has a Bakkōtō, the hunt for them ends. Managing to catch up to Kumoi and Rurichiyo, Ichigo and Rukia witness Amagai striking down Kumoi. Amagai teleports away with Rurichiyo, leaving the dying Kumoi to reveal Amagai is behind the conspiracy. Ichigo arrives at Yamamoto's office, where Amagai is facing off against the Captain-Commander. Armed with a Bakkōtō which can negate all Shinigami and Zanpakutō powers other than his own, he fights Ichigo with his Bankai.
Despite hearing Amagai's allegations against Yamamoto, Ichigo is determined to stop Amagai, whom he states has selfishly caused innocent people to suffer. Unleashing his Bankai, Ichigo eventually uses his Hollow mask. As Amagai begins to attack Ichigo's mask, Ichigo hits Amagai with a Getsuga Tenshō. Injured, Amagai, declaring he is willing to die for his revenge on Yamamoto, starts to draw more on his Bakkōtō's power. With some well-timed maneuvers, Ichigo is finally able to strike and destroy the Bakkōtō power-negation ability before defeating Amagai. As Amagai turns his attention to Yamamoto, Yoruichi, arriving, explains the truth about what happened between Yamamoto and Amagai's father as Ichigo listens. As Ichigo tries to stop Amagai from taking his own life, Byakuya makes Ichigo understand he needs to let Amagai repent the best way he feels possible. Later, Ichigo says he will help Rurichiyo whenever needed, but she says she will try as the head of her clan to handle it with her own power from now on.
Zanpakutō Unknown Tales Arc (anime only)
In his inner world, Ichigo is asked by Zangetsu if he can hear anything other than his voice, which he cannot. When Ichigo asks what is going on, Zangetsu states all is well. Later, Ichigo encounters a seriously injured Rukia being pursued by the spirit of her Zanpakutō, Sode no Shirayuki. As Ichigo forces the spirit back, Rukia reveals all the Zanpakutō Spirits in Soul Society were released from their ties with the Shinigami by Muramasa, and Soul Society is in chaos. Following Rukia back to Soul Society, Ichigo, briefly fighting Sode no Shirayuki, is interrupted by Muramasa, who tells Ichigo his goal is to "free" all Zanpakutō from the control of Shinigami. When he removes Zangetsu's spirit from Ichigo, Zangetsu attacks and overpowers a hesitant Ichigo, whose inner Hollow, taking over, defeats Zangetsu. As Ichigo regains control, he passes out.
Ichigo awakens in his inner world, where he finds Muramasa trying to gain control of his inner Hollow, who attacks Muramasa, leading him to bind it. Seeing through Muramasa's power, Ichigo, saving his inner Hollow, forces Muramasa out of his body. Exiting his inner world, Ichigo faces Zangetsu's Bankai. Telling Ichigo he cannot access his Zanpakutō's true power because it resides with Zangetsu, his inner Hollow offers to lend him his power as long as Ichigo agrees not to use his mask. As they fight, Ichigo learns Zangetsu wants to see how strong Ichigo can become, and if it is enough to defeat him. Using his inner Hollow's power, Ichigo defeats Zangetsu. After Muramasa disappears, Zangetsu, assuring Ichigo he has returned to normal, reveals Muramasa can forcibly unleash one's deepest instincts and warp them so one cares only about those desires, regardless of the consequences.
After Ichigo reports his findings to the captains, he and Ikkaku find Hōzukimaru and Gegetsuburi. They catch Gegetsuburi, but Hōzukimaru escapes, and Ichigo follows him. Ichigo's pursuit is stopped by Byakuya, who disappears. While trying to find Byakuya, he is hindered by Tobiume and Haineko, and later by Hyōrinmaru. Continuing to look for Byakuya, Ichigo, encountering Muramasa again, fights him, gaining the upper hand. Senbonzakura, intervening, fights Ichigo with his Bankai. Having fought Byakuya's Bankai in the past, Ichigo, holding his own against Senbonzakura, overpowers the spirit. Trying to fight back, Senbonzakura is stopped by Byakuya, who attacks him with Kidō. When Ichigo questions Byakuya's actions, Byakuya, revealing he is following his own inner desires, retreats with Muramasa and Senbonzakura.
Ichigo informs the others of Byakuya's betrayal. Later that night, Ichigo, sensing Renji and Rukia's distress, rushes to help them, arriving with Suì-Fēng and other Shinigami to combat the numerous Zanpakutō spirits who have surrounded the pair. Ichigo squares off with Senbonzakura again, but when Izuru falls prey to Wabisuke's power, Ichigo frantically tries to come to Izuru's aid until Kenpachi defeats Wabisuke. After overpowering Senbonzakura, Ichigo rushes to Byakuya and Kenpachi's battle. While Ichigo is distracted by Byakuya, Senbonzakura, reappearing, launches Ichigo into Ashisogi Jizō's path. Poisoned, Ichigo, collapsing, is treated by the 4th Division members, and learns of Yamamoto's whereabouts from Yoruichi.
After being lead into a network of caves by Yoruichi, Ichigo voices his concerns about Byakuya. When the two are attacked by Haineko and Tobiume, Ichigo, at Yoruichi's instruction, carries on while she deals with them. Minazuki draws Ichigo in to the path of Kazeshini, and, after a short struggle, Ichigo, striking down the Zanpakutō, finds Yamamoto inside a barrier. Before Ichigo can do anything, Muramasa, attacking him, coerces Ichigo into using his full power. He uses this power to shatter the barrier surrounding Yamamoto, who, awakening, voices his dread at the turn of events. Ichigo learns the barrier was not Muramasa's doing, but rather something Yamamoto created to keep Muramasa from entering his inner world. Muramasa liberates Ryūjin Jakka, who, covering Muramasa's escape, traps Ichigo and the other Shinigami.
Upon learning of Muramasa's intention to free his former master, Kōga Kuchiki, who is sealed in Karakura Town, Ichigo feels it is his fault the town is in danger. After several failed attempts to escape, Ichigo, freed by the arrival of Captain Hitsugaya, heads to the Human World, where he confronts Muramasa, who has just completed the release of Kōga. Surprised at how powerful Kōga is after being sealed for so long, Ichigo, shocked to see Kōga stab Muramasa, listens as he explains his motive for doing so. As he tries to deliver a finishing blow, Byakuya stops him.
Senbonzakura reveals Byakuya had only been pretending to be in league with Muramasa to find and destroy Kōga. When Kōga destroys his sword, Muramasa, powers going out of control, releases all the Hollows he had absorbed. Understanding Byakuya was trying to restore his family's honor, Ichigo tells him to concentrate on Kōga while he deals with the Hollows. As the amount of Hollows keeps increasing, Muramasa, absorbing all nearby Hollows, becomes a Hollow himself. After he is defeated by Ichigo, he transforms into a huge dome-like creature which engulfs Ichigo as it grows. Ichigo finds himself inside Kōga's inner world, where he defeats the ailing Muramasa. After he escapes from the dome, Muramasa dies, and Byakuya sincerely thanks Ichigo for his efforts.
Beast Swords Arc (anime only)
In the Human World, after Ichigo briefly encounters a Tōjū, which escapes, Hitsugaya tells Ichigo and Urahara about the current situation in Soul Society. After the Tōjū is absorbed by a Hollow and the two fuse together, Ichigo, saving Haineko from it, battles the creature, which Zangetsu reveals is the same Tōjū from before. When Ichigo is thrown back by a Cero, Hitsugaya defeats it with his Shikai. Later, Ichigo encounters Renji and Zabimaru. Noticing the Hebi half is not there, he asks what is going on. Returning home to find Hebi on the floor, Ichigo mentions Renji, causing an argument which wakes Karin and causes Hebi to run off. Later, Hebi, bringing Karin to Ichigo, prepares to leave, telling him not to let her know what has happened. Waking up at home, she asks Ichigo where Hebi is, but he implies she just dreamed the whole thing up.
Gotei 13 Invading Army Arc (anime only)
One month after Aizen's defeat, Ichigo continues his duties as a Substitute Shinigami, with Rukia remaining in Karakura Town. One day, Ichigo is angered to find Kon has brought a sleeping, naked girl named Nozomi Kujō to the house. While Kon explains himself, Rukia, noting she cannot sense the girl's existence, realizes Kon found the girl near the location of a Senkaimon she had noticed earlier, prompting her to send a report to Soul Society. When new orders are received for Rukia to bring Ichigo before the SRDI, she is unable to contact them again. When they go to Urahara for help, they learn Yoruichi went to Soul Society three days previously and has not been heard from since, despite her intending to return immediately. Urahara advises Ichigo against traveling there, as his Shinigami powers will eventually fade away, and overexerting himself will quicken their loss. Ichigo and Rukia travel to Soul Society regardless, and while passing through the Dangai, they are chased by the Kōtotsu. As they run, Ichigo, dropping his Substitute Badge, uses his Bankai's speed to escape the Kōtotsu with Rukia. Upon arriving in Soul Society, Ichigo, feeling faint, falls to the ground, where he is arrested by the Gotei 13 as a material witness.
Later, Rukia, freeing him from his cell, informs him of the current situation. When hey are attacked by Renji and Ikkaku, their fight is brought to a close by Yoruichi, who seals Renji and Ikkaku with Kidō. As the three escape, Ichigo comments upon the strange behavior of Renji and Ikkaku. Stating they were not the real Renji and Ikkaku, Yoruichi, revealing they were Reigai, tells Ichigo she has no idea how many Reigai have infiltrated the Gotei 13, but speculates the 12th Division's SRDI may have something to do with it. Going to the 12th Division barracks, Ichigo and Rukia come across information regarding Nozomi, who was present in the Dangai.
Upon arriving at the Senkaimon, they discover the area is being guarded by Reigai copies of several high-level Shinigami, including several captains. Choosing to attack them directly, the trio, charging in, make use of Urahara's portable Gigai to distract the Reigai long enough for them to make it through the Senkaimon. When Ichigo shatters the gate with a Getsuga Tenshō, they almost make it through, but Yoruichi is flung back by Reigai-Byakuya Kuchiki. Making a stand against the Reigai, Yoruichi gives Ichigo and Rukia time to escape to the Human World, where Ichigo saves Orihime from the mastermind behind the Reigai incident, Kagerōza Inaba. After a short skirmish, where Ichigo's powers fluctuate due to him overexerting himself, the real members of the Gotei 13, arriving, save Ichigo from Inaba, who flees.
Ichigo and the Gotei 13 members, who are now trapped in the Human World, have a meeting, during which Mayuri Kurotsuchi informs them of Inaba's identity and what Nozomi's role in recent events may be. Ichigo assists in defending of Nozomi and Kon from an attacking Reigai. Later, when Nozomi runs away, Ichigo is among the group which searches for her. After separating from the group, he finds Nozomi attempting to seal herself away permanently in the Dangai, only to be stopped by several Reigai. Despite being outnumbered and having diminishing powers, Ichigo, refusing to let them take her, uses his Bankai to destroy them. After explaining his reasons for helping Nozomi, he convinces her to abandon her plans to run.
After a run-in with a Reigai, Ichigo, Kon, and Nozomi arrive at the Urahara Shop, where Ichigo, inquiring about the state of the injured Shinigami, asks Tessai to take a look at Nozomi. While bickering with Kon, Ichigo, beginning to get weak, falls back. Catching him, Orihime says she will treat him. When Ichigo brushes it off as nothing, Kenpachi kicks him away, "proving" it to be more than nothing. Angrily dismissing this, Ichigo asks why Kenpachi has not left for Soul Society yet. When Kenpachi, saying he is leaving now, refuses to allow Ichigo to accompany him, Ichigo tells Kenpachi not to die, prompting him and Yachiru to reassure him he will not die before he fights Ichigo again.
After Urahara reveals the captains have safely made it to Soul Society, Ichigo, pleading with Urahara to send him too, says he cannot sit idly by. Kon and Orihime try to talk him out of this. When Nozomi asks why everyone is trying to protect her, Ichigo, reassuring her, says if she does not want to tell, that is fine, but she knew something bad would happen if Inaba caught her, telling her she is not alone. After their conversation, Nozomi, healing Ichigo with Kidō, restores some of his Reiatsu before collapsing. Helping her up, Ichigo asks once more to go to Soul Society, thinking it best to take the fight to them before his powers fade altogether. Agreeing to it, Urahara says this entry will be much riskier than his first. The group see Ichigo off as he leaves through the Senkaimon.
Arriving in Soul Society, Ichigo, noticing he is not where he is supposed to be, spots Inaba and, attacking, questions Inaba about many things before Inaba, backing off, says he summoned Ichigo there by tweaking the Dangai so he could erase his existence. Using his Shikai to envelop him in a portal, Inaba says Ichigo should not exist, as he is not Human, nor is he is pure Shinigami or Hollow. As he calls Ichigo an anomaly, saying since he cannot create a Reigai of him he is getting rid of a variable, Ichigo, swallowed by the portal, is trapped inside the Dangai.
In the Dangai, Ichigo, overrun by the Kōtotsu, awakens, floating on his back and surrounded in purple light. As a bright light appears above him, a mysterious figure reaches for him. Ichigo reaches up to grab their hand, but is too far away. Later, Urahara and Renji find Ichigo. As he wakes up in the Urahara Shop, Ichigo finds his friends sitting before him. When Nozomi becomes angry with him for not defeating Inaba, he says she should not be so tough on him, and at least he made it back alright. When he asks Renji if he had rescued him from the Dangai, Renji says he had not, leaving Ichigo to wonder who it could have been. Hearing he had been swallowed by the Kōtotsu, Urahara, stating what Ichigo did is impossible, says he will find out how it happened and reveals Inaba was after information about Mod Souls.
Some time after introducing Nozomi to his family using a cover story, Ichigo, encountering a Hollow, is unable to transform himself into his Shinigami form, and so evades the Hollow until Uryū kills it. Thanking him, Ichigo invites him over for dinner, saying Kon needs to be cheered up. Later, Ichigo talks with Renji, Ikkaku, and Yumichika, who want to question Nozomi, as they know too little about her. When Ichigo asks them if it is not enough that he protects her, he is told the Gotei 13 captains were defeated by Inaba's invasion force, which they will now have to face in Karakura Town. Ichigo tells them as long as someone is born into the world, they have a right to continue existing.
As Nozomi's powers are debated, Ichigo suggests that if her Zanpakutō is dormant, then they should awaken it. Along with, Rukia, Uryū, and Sado, Ichigo spars with Nozomi, who absorbs some of the incoming attacks. Activating his Bankai, Ichigo fires a Getsuga Tenshō at Nozomi, who, attempting to block it, successfully activates her Zanpakutō's Shikai in the process. When Nozomi rushes off to help the others fight against the newly-arrived Reigai, Ichigo pursues her. Ichigo catches up to an exhausted Nozomi, who has seemingly defeated Reigai-Kenpachi. As she explains her Zanpakutō's Reiatsu-absorbing powers, the Reigai emerges unfazed. Yumichika covers Ichigo as he retreats with an injured Ikkaku. After leaving him with Orihime, Ichigo, finding Nozomi, convinces her to retreat. When they are found by several Reigai, Ichigo, with his fluctuating Reiatsu continuing to impair him, agrees to rely on Nozomi's Zanpakutō. Ichigo, his friends, and the Shinigami all direct their attacks on her, allowing her to absorb the power and release a powerful blast which defeats most of the Reigai, with Yamamoto finishing off the sole survivor.
As Ichigo and Rukia attempt to convince Yamamoto to accept Nozomi as an ally, they are attacked by two powerful Reigai. Hindered by his weakening powers, Ichigo, using his Bankai, continues fighting. Arriving, Inaba has the Reigai stand down while he finishes things. When Ichigo warns Yamamoto about Inaba's power to copy attacks, Yamamoto states he is aware of this. Volunteering to act as a decoy, Nozomi attacks Inaba. Finding an opening, Ichigo and Yamamoto launch two attacks from different sides, but Inaba manages to counter their attacks. Having reached his limit, Ichigo, collapsing, plummets to the ground, where he is caught by Renji.
After awakening to find an unconscious Yamamoto, Ichigo joins Renji and Rukia in defending him. During the battle, Inaba reveals Nozomi and himself were created from the Reiatsu of the same Shinigami. Refusing to believe this, Ichigo, charging at Inaba, is beaten. As Nozomi escapes and is pursued by Inaba, Ichigo, following, finds them and gathers his remaining strength for a Getsuga Tenshō, which annihilates a duplicate of Inaba. The real Inaba strikes down Ichigo, knocking him out and draining the last of his Reiatsu, which causes his shihakushō to turn white. Inaba leaves with Nozomi.
Roughly half a day later, a healed but powerless Ichigo awakens in Urahara's shop. After clearing his mind, he and the group discuss the best course to take. When Ichigo recalls how Inaba repeatedly used the Kōtotsu on him, Urahara speculates that by obtaining Ichigo's remaining Reishi swallowed by the Kōtotsu, they can restore his powers. Urahara reveals because Ichigo has no Reiatsu, he can move freely through the Dangai. Determined to rejoin the fight, Ichigo, entering the Dangai with a Reishi collector, is swallowed by the Kōtotsu. He manages to find and collect his Reishi, but before leaving, he is surprised to find an unconscious version of himself. Confused, he, grabbing his other self, escapes the Kōtotsu, only to find his other self has disappeared. After returning to the Human World, Ichigo tells the others about this. Surmising it was Ichigo from the past, Urahara realizes the present-day Ichigo saved himself during his previous encounter with the Kōtotsu. Satisfied with this, Ichigo wishes get on with restoring his powers.
Urahara brings Ichigo and Kon to the natural Senkaimon which Nozomi previously attempted to use to seal herself in the Dangai. Upon arriving in Soul Society, they, sneaking into the SRDI, find Inaba's lab, the technology of which Urahara uses to restore Ichigo's Reishi in the form of a Mod Soul pill. He tells Ichigo it might put a serious strain on his soul. As the process nears completion, a trap in the system is set off, causing it to begin self-destructing. Before the explosion occurs, Ichigo ingests the Mod Soul, which restores his Reiatsu. The process is incomplete, leaving his Reiatsu very weak and causing his inner Hollow to start growing out of control. When Ichigo fears he might transform again, they go in search of another of Inaba's labs and his research so they can use it to stabilize Ichigo. As they leave the building, they are surrounded by several Reigai captains. Yoruichi and the real captains come to their aid.
Ichigo, Urahara, and Kon are able to escape, but Ichigo's inner Hollow begins to act up again, leading Urahara and Kon to insist he stay behind to be safe. After Ichigo half-heartedly agrees, Urahara makes an extra precaution of binding Ichigo with a Kin spell, but Ichigo, transforming into a Hollow, breaks free. As he rampages through the area, several Shinigami, finding him, attempt to subdue him, only for Ichigo to easily overwhelm them. He notices a Shinigami, Ōko Yushima, behind him.
Ichigo attacks Yushima, who escapes. Later, he, finding Yushima again, attacks him, but Yushima binds him with Kidō. As Yushima prepares to finish him off, Rukia forces him back, and Ichigo's other friends arrive. Effortlessly defeating them, Yushima frees Ichigo in the process. As Yushima moves to kill Rukia, the Hollowfied Ichigo blocks the attack with his body. As Ichigo, gaining control of himself, loses the rest of his Reiatsu, he realizes Nozomi is still alive inside Yushima. Defending him from Yushima, Ichigo's friends are defeated. Stopping Yushima from moving, Nozomi asks Ichigo to kill him, but he refuses, as it will also kill her. When Yushima regains control, the pair mock each other until Kon, posing as a Reigai bringing medicine to Inaba, kicks him back and gives Ichigo a complete Mod Soul pill of his Reishi, restoring his Shinigami powers and manifesting Zangetsu. Ichigo activates his Bankai.
As the two begin fighting evenly, Ichigo's friends join in the fight, and Ichigo, finding an opening, exploits it by using his Hollow mask. Unable to absorb Hollow-based Reishi, Yushima is completely overwhelmed. Ichigo reveals while his powers are not fully restored, his attacks are much stronger than their last encounters because he refuses to fight with regret from fear of losing his powers. Re-emerging, Nozomi begs Ichigo to finish her and Yushima off, but Ichigo still hesitates. When Kon tells Ichigo to strike for her Soul Chain to break the fusion, Ichigo attacks, but Yushima, regaining control, blocks and activates his Renzan Hajokuri technique to destroy all of Soul Society. Unable to break through the technique, Ichigo is aided by the Reigai, who, overcoming the technique, are destroyed in the process. As Ichigo's Reiatsu weakens, he deactivates his Bankai. Emerging, Yushima attacks Ichigo, who, defeating him, ends the fusion and restores Nozomi and Inaba. After Inaba dies, Nozomi begins to vanish as well, having earlier stabbed Yushima's body with a Reishi blade. Later, Ichigo, given back his Shinigami badge, returns home with his friends.
Days later, Ichigo's Reiatsu falters again, and he becomes so weak he struggles against low-level Hollows and cannot to perform Shunpo. While knowing his powers are nearing the limit, Ichigo calmly continues his duties as a Substitute Shinigami and daily life as normal. One night, while struggling to fight a huge Hollow, Ichigo, realizing he is beyond his limit, summons his remaining strength to launch a Getsuga Tenshō, which, destroying the Hollow, overtaxes Ichigo, causing him to faint. The next day, he wakes up, surrounded by his friends. Revealing he knew Rukia was ordered to prevent him from fighting any longer, Ichigo realizes he cannot feel the presence of anything. As Rukia begins to fade from his sight, Ichigo, telling her to give everybody his regards, thanks her before she completely disappears.
- Substitute Shinigami Badge (代行証 死神代行, Daikōshō Shinigami Daikō): Given to Ichigo by Ukitake before leaving Soul Society for the first time, the pendant he commonly carries on his belt signifies his position as a Substitute Shinigami, allowing him to remain active in the Human World. The pendant gives Ichigo the ability to separate his soul from his body in the absence of Rukia's glove or Kon. It alerts him to the presence of Hollows in Karakura Town, much like Rukia's Denreishinki. Ukitake informs Ichigo the badge can also be dangerous, and thus it has built-in protection making it invisible to normal Humans. Zennosuke Kurumadani tells Ichigo he has never heard of his "Seal of Approval", causing Ichigo to refer to it as useless before Shinji's arrival. When Ichigo loses his powers, all of the mentioned abilities of the badge are lost as well. Kūgo Ginjō tells Ichigo the true purpose of the badge is to observe and restrict the owner. It is at once a surveillance device for Soul Society and a device to absorb, analyze, and control the user's Reiatsu. It is also a device for communicating with Soul Society, as Ichigo could hear Rukia's voice coming from it. As the badge absorbed and stored Ichigo's Reiatsu, Ichigo used it as his Fullbring focus.
- Protective Charm: A Kidō-based charm given to him by his father. If the owner is attacked by hostile forces, it acts as a defense by forming a barrier, as displayed when Kon (while in Ichigo's body) was attacked by the Arrancar Grand Fisher. Ichigo was unaware of the charm's power, and was told it once belonged to his mother. The latter is proven to be a lie, as Isshin later reveals he created the charm recently.
- Ōken Clothing: After training with the Royal Guard, Ichigo dons special clothing in order to safely return to the Seireitei. These clothes are made from the bones and hair of the members of the Royal Guard, and they possess incredible defensive power, allowing Ichigo to withstand the friction that results from breaking through the 72 barriers between Soul Society and the Soul King Palace without suffering any damage; Yhwach notes that no Shinigami could hope to wear greater garb. These clothes take the form of a white cloth, a floral-patterned bandanna, and a black cloth around the top of Ichigo's head; large, black-outlined weights on either shoulder; a long, double-breasted white cloak; a black sash and a floral-patterned strip of fabric around his waist; and white pants. They are destroyed when Candice Catnipp attacks Ichigo with Galvano Blast.
Powers & Abilities
Expert Hand-to-Hand Combatant: Physically, Ichigo's Human body is in top form. Ichigo has been trained in martial arts since he was a small child, both professionally and by his father. He has repeatedly shown great agility and coordination in his attacks. In addition to having powerful kicks and punches, Ichigo is proficient in counterattacks, takedowns, and body locks. He has repeatedly caught an opponent's weapon strikes with a single hand. He effortlessly defeats multiple bullies and gangsters on a regular basis, and is a better martial artist than Tatsuki Arisawa, who is ranked the second strongest girl in all of Japan despite her fighting with a broken arm. He effortlessly knocked out three lieutenants in rapid succession, while bare-handed, with a single strike each. While he has stopped training, constant attacks from bullies and his father keep his skills fresh.
Enhanced Strength: Even while not in his Shinigami form, Ichigo is deceptively strong, smashing a man's head through a concrete road with a single kick, and later kicking Asguiaro Ebern from his bedroom into the street without injuring his leg from the man's Hierro.
Enhanced Speed & Reflexes: Even before learning Shunpo, Ichigo is a very fast and agile fighter. Ichigo possesses great reflexes, dodging a strike with no wasted effort and immediately counterattacking. He can strike quickly, without warning, and in rapid succession. His speed allows him to follow the movements of faster opponents to better analyze their movements, and block otherwise fatal strikes. Even when struck by surprise by Tenjirō Kirinji, who is fast enough to outpace Suì-Fēng, Ichigo counterattacked and injured said attacker without anybody else noticing.
Enhanced Durability: While only a teenage Human, Ichigo is a highly resilient young man, safely breaking free from a binding spell (albeit a low-level one) and withstanding an assault from a large Hollow.
Advanced Growth Rate: According to both Aizen and Urahara, Ichigo's most astounding ability is his growth rate; he grasps the basic control of advanced techniques in days where it would take several years for even the most gifted Shinigami. Shortly after gaining Shinigami powers and with no previous training, he began learning advanced spiritual energy sensing techniques by sheer instinct. While it takes most Shinigami at least 10 years to achieve Bankai, he did so in two days (albeit with the assistance of a special device invented by Urahara which was originally intended for three days). He gains considerable experience in the use of Shunpo while training with Yoruichi, which was done over the same period as his Bankai. Besides his improvements in his Shinigami abilities, Ichigo greatly increased the time he could maintain his Hollow mask, from eleven seconds to considerably longer amounts of time. During his first fight with Ulquiorra, he is instantly incapacitated by one Cero blast, even with his Hollow mask (which broke within a second), but only a few hours later, he withstands another Cero from Ulquiorra without undergoing Hollowfication, and can analyze Ulquiorra's movements much better than before, when he had "felt like [he] was fighting a machine or a statue" and failed to predict and counter his attacks.
Keen Intellect: Despite his somewhat punkish attitude, Ichigo is analytical, perceptive, and deductive. In his high school, Ichigo's grades are almost always near the top, despite his work as a Substitute Shinigami. Aside from that, Ichigo can determine the pattern of his opponent's battle methods and form a proper counter-strategy to defeat his opponent's attacks.
Spiritual Awareness: Since he was a child, Ichigo has had an innate ability to clearly see spiritual beings and sense their presence. After becoming a Shinigami, his senses have continued to improve with time, learning various advanced sensing techniques, such as using a spirit ribbon to find Yūichi Shibata (in bird form). Even from a considerable distance, he can detect the condition of a being with spiritual power. During his intense fight against Kenpachi Zaraki, he clearly sensed and recognized Sado's energy signature even as it weakened, despite the considerable distance between them.