The term “ship” in terms of anime is actually a shortened version of the word “relationship” and represents fan-based relationships between the characters in the series. So, if you think that two characters would be great as a couple, you’re “shipping” them together. Bleach has provided us with numerous ships throughout its run, and while some have become canon in the meantime (Ichigo and Orihime, Renji and Rukia, etc.), some have remained in the realm of fan ships. One such ship is the one between Captains Unohana and Zaraki, who had a major fight during the Quincy Blood War Saga; the goal of the fight was to enhance Zaraki’s powers. But what was the exact nature of that relationship? Keep reading to find out, as this article will give you the necessary answers.
No, Kenpachi and Unohana were not in love. We don’t really know about Unohana, as we don’t know much about her history, but Kenpachi certainly wasn’t capable of such emotions. They respected each other, and they admired one another, that much is sure. They were also a source of joy to each other because of how they perceived fighting and were willing to die fighting, but there were no romantic emotions between them.
The rest of this article will explore the nature of the relationship between Retsu (or Yachiru) Unohana and Kenpachi Zaraki, two of the series’ strongest characters, both Captains of the Gotei 13. We will explore Unohana’s and Zaraki’s personalities in more detail, as well as the nature of their relationship in the world of Bleach. This article won’t contain too many spoilers, but still, be careful how you approach it if you don’t know the whole story.
Unohana’s personality is still an enigma, while Zaraki never seemed like the type
As usual, we will start this article by telling you about the personalities of these two characters. But, before we actually do it, we should tell you how they first met. Okay, they were both Captains of the Gotei 13 and knew each other from there, but a kid named Zaraki met a younger Captain Unohana many years ago when the two of them clashed for the first time.
It was a fierce battle, and a kid Zaraki was at the time already able to parry the extremely powerful Captain Unohana. She did not kill him, but using her experience and training, she was able to defeat him. Many years later, they would become part of the same organization, but the Unohana that Kenpachi met then vastly differed from the Unohana he had fought earlier. Now, let us examine their personalities.
Unohana has a friendly, polite, and warm personality that matches her demeanor, and speaks very calmly. She comes off as a very caring person. She rarely shows negative emotions, such as dismay or despair. She is also a very capable healer and has a strong sense of duty, as shown by ordering Hanatarō’s arrest for helping Ichigo and Ganju and the pursuit of Renji after he flees with Rukia, who is sentenced to death.
Unohana lets other people know with her friendly manners that although she is a friendly person, she should not be underestimated because, despite her polite manner, many members of the 11th Division, in particular, are afraid of her, especially the Captain of this company, Kenpachi Zaraki.
The other Captains also similarly respect them. Judging by the faces of some of the 5th and 7th Division members, they would never get in the way of her “evil side” because then she can be very scary too.
These Shinigami felt that death at the hands of Yamamoto’s Bankai would be a more desirable fate. Although almost everyone, even Shunsui Kyōraku and Jūshirō Ukitake, who have been Captains for a similar length of time, is afraid of her, Kenpachi’s Lieutenant, Yachiru Kusajishi, is the only one who doesn’t seem to fear her, as she regularly comes to her ikebana classes only to eat the sweets and Unohana doesn’t seem to mind it.
However, during the fight with Zaraki Kenpachi after the attack on Soul Society, she shows her true colors, those that the other Shinigami of Soul Society seem to fear. Her personality is far darker, more violent, and bloodthirsty than before, and she is described as a bloodthirsty and ruthless killer who enjoys fighting to the death, much like Zaraki himself.
As for Kenpachi, he has many similarities with Unohana’s darker side but not with her pleasant side. Despite his initial introduction as Ichigo Kurosaki’s enemy, Kenpachi seems to play more of the funny anti-hero in later episodes.
Though he’s still self-centered and brutal, his actions are meant only for the best. Kenpachi’s relationship with the members of his Division is also often portrayed as funny, as is his relationship with his second-in-command, Yachiru because Kenpachi has no sense of direction and constantly asks Yachiru for directions, which she then chooses at random.
Kenpachi loves a good fight; in fact, he loves it more than anything else and lives for the fight (as evidenced by how he has risen to his current position). He purposefully makes himself more vulnerable to prolong a conflict.
He also maintains that the only true benefits of a good fight are harm and demise. Despite being the bloodthirsty Division in the entire Soul Society, Kenpachi’s Division does not have morals that are incompatible with those of the Soul Society. Nevertheless, he has human feelings and worries about several people and things: his vice-commander Yachiru, 3rd officer Ikkaku Madarame, and 5th officer Yumichika Ayasegawa.
After fighting Ichigo, he experienced a rare moment of remorse, lamenting the anguish of not having a name of his own (since he went his entire life without one) and feeling regretful that he didn’t know the name of his Zanpakuto.
Since his fight against Ichigo, he longs for revenge or at least another fight with him since Ichigo presents a challenge, but Kenpachi also sees Ichigo as part of his Division.
Also, Kenpachi believes that pleasure comes before work, as he tries to get as much pleasure as possible from every fight, for example. Kenpachi also seems to sometimes contradict his own logic, trying to increase his power while limiting it with various items.
To a certain extent, Kenpachi is one of the most complex characters in Bleach, displaying many traits: light-heartedness, ruthless bloodlust, odd kinds of affection for his subordinates, and even hints of wisdom in the form of terse cheers he occasionally offers to his opponents or in a fight there. All of these criteria are very similar to Ichigo’s character and show the inner struggle he seems to be managing.
As you can see, there are many similarities between Kenpachi and Unohana’s darker side, which became evident during their fight. As we’ve said, Kenpachi is not a bad guy, but he is a complex and layered character in more ways than one. Unohana, on the other side, has shown to polar opposites to her personality.
And although we can say that Kenpachi both feared and respected Unohana, the pleasure that both of them showed during their fight to the death was something that indicated that there might be more to just respect between them, especially since Kenpachi begged Unohana not to die, while Unohana called Kenpachi the only man who ever brought her joy.
But, while there certainly was more between them than just pure admiration, we wouldn’t call it love. Their relationship, since it was based on violence and fighting, transcended traditional labels so it is impossible for us to properly analyze it, but we wouldn’t say that they like-liked each other, although their bond was quite deep.