The 6th Division Captain, Byakuya Kuchiki, is one of the most important and popular Bleach characters in the whole series. Kubo has intentionally given him a lot of time in the plot, which is what helped Byakuya become so popular. He was consistently present in all the major arcs, both canon, and filler, and he, thus, plays a vital role in the Quincy War arc as well. But, his story in this arc did not start off well, as he lost his Bankai early in the story to Äs Nödt, the Sternritter “F”. In this article, we are going to tell you whether Byakuya Kuchiki regains his Bankai and when that actually happens in the story.
Byaukya Kuchiki had his Bankai stolen by Äs Nödt when he came to help Renji against the latter and Mask De Masculine. Thanks to the Bankai Plundering ability, Byakuya was left without his Bankai and was almost killed. Still, he regained it thanks to Urahara’s Shin’eiyaku, which allowed the Shinigami who had their Bankai stolen to regain them.
The rest of this article is going to tell you two things – you’re going to find out how and why Byakuya Kuchiki lost his Bankai during the Thousand-Year Blood War arc, as well as how he regained it, but also why Byakuya’s Bankai is so special and one of the best in the series. As far as spoilers are concerned, they are going to be present in this article so be careful how you approach it.
How and when did Byakuya Kuchiki lose his Bankai?
The story of how Byakuya Kuchiki lost his Bankai brings us to the Quincy War arc and its very beginning. Namely, as Ichigo Kurosaki was busy fighting Quilge Opie in Hueco Mundo, Yhwach launched a grand-scale invasion of Soul Society, using Ichigo’s absence to his advantage. The original plan was to wait for five days, but Yhwach is a slick villain and he does not really hold to his word.
Now, as the various Sternritter engaged the Shinigami in various areas of the Sereitei, Byakuya’s 6th Division was horrified by the appearance of Äs Nödt, the Sternritter “F” – The Fear. Äs Nödt was one of the creepiest villains in the whole series and the fact that he silently slaughtered his enemies spoke for itself. He also had the ability to induce inhuman fear in his opponents, as well as take their fear away from them. Just as he was about to slaughter some members of Division 6, Lieutenant Renji Abarai intervened and faced Äs Nödt. The latter was then helped by Mask De Masculine, but his intervention was stopped by the arrival of Captain Byakuya Kuchiki.
Byakuya quickly got rid of Masculine and went on to face Äs Nödt together with Renji. Although Byakuya was able to injure Äs Nödt, his Blut technique was still strong enough to fend off Byakusa’s and Renji’s attacks. At that point, Byakuya decided to take a risk and activate his Bankai in order to test his opponent’s powers. Namely, the Gotei 13, at the time, thought that the Quincy were only sealing their Bankai, which is something that Mayuri Kurotsuchi was testing out during the fighting.
Byakuya, as well as three other Captains throughout the Sereitei, activated their Bankai only to be faced with a horrible revelation – the Sternritter did not seal their Bankai, they were stealing them from them. Mayuri Kurotsuchi came to the same conclusion almost simultaneously, which is why he was furious with the four Captains who had already had their Bankai stolen by the Sternritter.
Byakuya was shocked to see his Bankai being stolen and although he still went on to face Äs Nödt with Renji, the two never stood a chance against the already powerful Quincy, especially without Byakuya’s Bankai. The fight was almost fatal for Byakuya, who was fatally injured by Äs Nödt, although he managed to survive and recover later. At that point, it was important for Byakuya and the other Captains to regain their Bankai, which is where Kisuke Urahara’s genius stepped in, as we are going to reveal in the next section of this article.
This was the story of how and when Byakuya Kuchiki lost his Bankai, Senbonzakura Kageyoshi, to the Sternritter Äs Nödt. What follows is the story of how he got it back, as well as why his Bankai is so special and important for the story.
How and when did Byakuya Kuchiki regain his Bankai?
The process of Byakuya’s Bankai being returned to him involved, as in many cases, a bit of genius from Kisuke Urahara, Bleach‘s most prominent scientist (it is a known fact that Urahara is superior to Mayuri, which is why Mayuri despised him, and that even Aizen feared Urahara’s intelligence). Namely, after analyzing the Quincy Medallions as well as their Bankai Plundering abilities, Urahara developed a set of pills known as the Shin’eiyaku.
The Shin’eiyaku is a very interesting invention. Namely, after physical consumption, the Shin’eiyaku causes the user of a Bankai to temporarily Hollowfy, which is why it effectively acted as a form of poison for the Quincy. Urahara used his knowledge of the Quincy and the fact that they could not absorb the Reiatsu of Hollows without having their Souls destroyed in the process to come up with this interesting little pill.
The effects were first seen when Tōshirō Hitsugaya’s stolen Bankai, Daiguren Hyōrinmaru, broke out of Cang Du and severely injured him in the process. Daiguren Hyōrinmaru, as well as the other Bankai, eventually “leak out” of the Quincy and return to their original Shinigami companions; Shin’eiyaku thus has two effects – injuring the Quincy and returning the Bankai to its owner. The downside is that it Hollowfies the Shinigami, but the process is only temporary.
This is actually how Byakuya regained his Bankai back from Äs Nödt. This is how all the other Shinigami regained theirs as well and how they were able to overpower most of the Sternritter in the end.
Byakuya Kuchiki’s Bankai explained: Meet Senbonzakura Kageyoshi!
Senbonzakura Kageyoshi is essentially a much larger version of Byakuya’s Shikai, Senbonzakura. During his release, Byakuya releases his Zanpakutō, which plunges into the ground slowly, being replaced by two rows of huge katana blades arranged behind Byakuya or around him and his opponent, in a chilling spectacle. Next, the edges of the giant swords are undone in the same way that it happened in the Shikai, now obtaining a much larger number of small blades with even more devastating effects.
Byakuya can control the movement of these blades with both his mind and his hands (thus multiplying his speed), and use them for both defense and attack. To date, Byakuya’s Bankai has proven to be one of the most effective and powerful of a Shinigami, and only combatants with the most experience, except Ichigo Kurosaki, and speed have been able to stand up to him.
Also, in the Lost Agent Arc, it has been shown that Byakuya can activate his Bankai even when his Zanpakutō is broken, dropping Senbonzakura’s tip followed by its hilt. As if this were not enough, his release is one of the most developed to date, having shown up to three different techniques.