Yachiru Kusajishi was the former Lieutenant of the 11th Division under Kenpachi Zaraki. The small, pink-haired girl was very close to Kenpachi, who found her when she was a baby and had been taking care of her as if she were his daughter. The Quincy Blood War finally revealed Yachiru’s true nature, but also her Shikai, and in light of that fact, we have decided to see how it was even possible for Yachiru to use a Shikai, seeing that she was, herself, a Zanpakuto spirit.
And while Yachiru was actually a Zanpakuto spirit, she was able to use her own Shikai, which isn’t really too strange for Zanpakuto spirits, as we’ve seen in Ichigo’s case, but also the whole Zanpakuto Rebellion (filler) arc. The strangest thing is that her Shikai was unique and wholly different from Nozarashi, which wasn’t the case with other Zanpakuto spirits, but this could be explained by the fact that Yachiru was only part of Nozarashi, who was actually a grown woman, and not the complete Zanpakuto spirit, which enabled her to develop some powers that were wholly unique to her and are, thus, different from Nozarashi.
The rest of this article will tell you about Yachiru Kusajishi and her Shikai, Sanpo Kenjū. The focus of the article won’t be so much on the Shikai itself, as much as it is going to be on Yachiru’s true nature and how that fact relates to her even having the ability to activate a Shikai, especially one that is so much different from Kenpachi’s Nozarashi, which is quite unique as far as Bleach is concerned. The article will contain a fair amount of spoilers, so we have to warn you about that so that you know how to approach it.
It is not strange for a Zanpakuto spirit to have a Shikai, but Yachiru’s case is truly unique in that aspect
We actually had some trouble coming up with a structure for this article because Yachiru’s case is unique, and in order to fully explain everything, we actually have to explain two peculiarities about her as a character. Yachiru Kusajishi was introduced as Kenpachi’s Lieutenant in the 11th Division, that much we know. But she was always much more to him, as he saved her when she was just a baby and he loved her as a daughter; we’re absolutely certain that Kenpachi would have given up his life for Yachiru without even blinking, and we can also confirm that Yachiru cared for Ken-chan with the same intensity.
The two of them were a truly unique and special combination. But, it always seemed as if the bond was too special and that Yachiru was actually hiding a dark secret, which turned out to be correct in the end.
Yachiru’s true nature was never a major concern in the first part of the manga because she was only seen as Kenpachi’s lieutenant. Even while there were some sequences that we may now, in retrospect, interpret as hints, nobody truly realized this at the time the story was first published (yes, we’re referring to the scene when Kenpachi asks Yachiru who she is, when he first meets her, and she reaches out to his blade, which was – as Kubo confirmed – a foreshadowing of her true nature).
This hypothesis didn’t become popular until the Quincy War, and only when Kenpachi learned the name of his blade. Given that Kenpachi saw Yachiru as a tiny girl he needed to protect rather than the true source of his powers, Zangetsu’s initial observation that Kenpachi was at odds with his sword would make sense in this situation.
According to this theory, Yachiru’s existence is actually the manifested spirit of Kenpachi’s Zanpakuto, and knowing Bleach, such a manifestation is neither odd nor improbable. She remained by Kenpachi’s side the entire time, showing him love, encouraging him, and hoping he would grow stronger, which is what a Zanpakuto spirit does; she also seemed to know him better than anyone.
And when Kenpachi finally activated his Shikai, not long after hearing the name of his Zanpakuto, Yachiru abruptly vanished, leaving only her uniform and badge behind.
And while we thought she wouldn’t appear again, she did make a brief after Kenpachi was struck down by Gerard Valkyrie, again to help Kenpachi. At that very moment, Nozarashi, who once again manifested as Yachiru, appeared before Kenpachi and gave him the necessary power to activate his Bankai. Kubo later confirmed that this is true and that Yachiru is a partial manifestation of Kenpachi’s Zanpakuto.
Knowing that fact, we have to return to her battle against Guenaell Lee and his creator, Gremmy Thoumeaux. During that battle, Yachiru actually activated her Shikai, Sanpo Kenjū. Her Zanpakuto remains unchanged once she releases it, but she summons two monsters from it to fight with her. The two monsters in question are Boney, a sizable, hollow-like creature, and Lumpy, a little, chubby monster coated in yellow fur. When Yachiru launches her attack, the two of them nearly immediately follow suit because they each have their own weapons. It is called the three-step technique because the three of them attack basically at the same time: Yachiru launches the attack, one of the monsters attacks moments before her, while the other attacks right after.
This makes it almost impossible to dodge her attack, as it is nearly impossible to effectively dodge three almost simultaneous attacks, especially when one does not expect them.
Now, we have to be honest, a Zanpakuto spirit having a Shikai and even a Bankai is nothing strange. Hollow Ichigo could use both, and the Zanpakuto Rebellion filler arc was full of such scenes, despite being a filler story. A similar bond was also suggested when Kyoraku was concerned.
But, Yachiru’s case is still specific. Namely, Isane Kotetsu, upon seeing her Shikai, commented how such a Shikai was unheard of in Soul Society, and indeed, Sanpo Kenjū was wholly unique in that aspect, but even that is not the issue here. Namely, the main problem is how Yachiru’s Shikai is different from Kenpachi’s. All the other Zanpakuto Spirits had the same Shikai and Bankai as the Shinigami, but Yachiru’s has nothing to do with Kenpachi’s.
There are two theories here. One, Kubo simply wanted to make Yachiru unique in every way possible, which would make sense, seeing how special Yachiru actually was, but it wouldn’t be a proper in-universe explanation. The second theory could account for that as well.
Namely, we know that Yachiru is only a portion of Nozarashi; Nozarashi’s true form is that of a woman, while Yachiru was a child. In that aspect, she was only a fragment of Nozarashi’s full power, and as such, she could probably have her powers, which would account for a Shikai that is so much different from Kenpachi’s own Shikai. This theory makes sense if you look at it, but until Kubo eventually confirms it, we cannot confirm that it is true.