Most Bleach characters are actually popular because they are canon or have been present in the anime filler episodes, gaining notoriety despite the criticisms directed towards these episodes. Still, the Bleach universe also contains several light novels that supplement the canon story, most of which have been (semi-officially) confirmed as canon by Kubo. One such work is Bleach: Spirits Are Forever With You by Ryōgo Narita, which features the character of Sōya Azashiro, who was the eighth Kenpachi at one point. In this article, we are going to tell you just how strong Azashiro was.
The article is going to be divided into two major sections. The first one is going to be a representation of Azashiro’s powers and abilities, while the other one is going to be a short comparison of Azashiro’s powers and abilities to the powers and abilities of other characters, divided into several subsections. These are not going to be detailed analyses, just brief comments so you can understand Azashiro’s position in the Bleach lore.
Sōya Azashiro in Bleach: Powers and abilities explained
In the Gotei 13, Sōya Azashiro, also known as Kenpachi Azashiro, served as the 11th Division’s captain. He succeeded Kenpachi Kuruyashiki as the eighth Kenpachi, taking the title from him. He belonged to the illustrious Azashiro Family. Azashiro seems to be a proud, courteous, and well-mannered individual.
He despises weakness, though, as evidenced by his mocking remarks to Sōsuke Aizen in the Muken when he tells him that he did not respect him for losing to Ichigo Kurosaki and that he is unable to comprehend how a loss can be advantageous. He also appears to possess a similar level of patience to Aizen, who waited 200 years while imprisoned before carrying out his objectives. He is also a tough fighter, as befits a Kenpachi.
Azashiro became one of the most powerful Captains in Soul Society, to the point of defeating his previous Captain and murdering other captains during their rebellion 200 years ago. Also, holding a position as Captain of the Gotei 13, Azashiro had one of the 13 largest Spiritual Pressures in the Soul Society. His Reiatsu was so great that he didn’t even flinch after feeling the power of Hundred Grantz, whose Reiatsu is comparable to that of a Vasto Lorde.
Despite being a former member of the 11th Division, Azashiro is very proficient in the use of Kidō; thanks to the special ability of his Bankai, Azashiro is able to throw high-level Kidō without any incantations and uses a fighting system that centers around his ability with the Kidō. He can invoke dozens of high-level Kidō spells such as Hadō #96, Ittō Kasō, and Hadō #90, Kurohitsugi.
Being a bearer of the Kenpachi title (he was known as the 8th Kenpachi), he indicates that he is quite a monster when it comes to the use of Zanjutsu. However, unlike the other members of the 11th Division and especially those who have held the title of Kenpachi, Azashiro is not very adept at hand-to-hand combat, coming to recognize that his strength lies in his special ability.
Currently, both the name and the sealed form of Azashiro’s Zanpakutō are unknown; all that is known is the name of his Bankai, which is Urozakuro. It has been revealed in the light novel that Azashiro’s Zanpakutō is permanently in the Bankai state, which is an exceptionally rare phenomenon. Due to the fact that Azashiro’s Zanpakutō is always in his Bankai state, the ability of his Shikai cannot be known for certain; this is because, at the time of getting his Zanpakutō, Azashiro was so strong that he could activate his Bankai immediately. For this reason, the release command of his Shikai is not known; in fact, Azashiro himself has no idea what the release command is.
His Shikai’s abilities are largely unknown, except for one, which is his greatest offensive ability and is also part of his Bankai as well, and that is Azashiro’s ultimate technique. In order to use it, Azashiro must nullify his Bankai and, therefore, fuse it with the Seireitei, materializing in his hand a sword whose appearance is that of a normal Asauchi, without any distinguishing characteristics. However, in this sword, the Reishi of everything that Azashiro had previously fused with is concentrated.
In this way, he discards the great defensive ability of his Bankai to obtain a powerful offensive weapon in his Shikai, with which he is able to face Kenpachi Zaraki.
His Bankai’s name is Urozakuro, as we have said. Azashiro’s Bankai’s main ability consists of a fusion between any type of material or living being and its master. In addition, it assimilates and penetrates the material or subjects designated for fusion. His range reaches the circumference of Soul Society. Due to the fact that he has merged with the Seireitei itself, Azashiro can understand any event that happens in his area of influence, listen to conversations, and even teleport anywhere within the Seireitei.
This ability allowed him to fully comprehend Kyōka Suigetsu’s Total Hypnosis in just two days. In Aizen’s own words, his Zanpakutō would be useless against Azashiro. In addition to these terrifying abilities, he also has the ability to modify any type of weapon or living being. Another special ability is the Utsusu, through which Azashiro is able to recreate multiple copies of his mouth, hands, and other body parts, in several different places at once. By doing this, Azashiro is able to perform numerous high-level Kidō at the same time and at different places, such as the Ittō Kasō and Kurohitsugi.
Seitai Yūgō is one of the last techniques of his Bankai; Azashiro used this exact ability to murder Kuruyashiki in just one move. While many details about this technique are unknown, it is known that this technique enables him to fuse with his enemy’s body and be able to destroy it from within; however, doing so makes it quite vulnerable to Azashiro.
However, his Bankai has certain weaknesses. If he is affected by abilities like Yumichika’s Shikai or Quincy’s more basic ability to absorb or collect Reishi, Azashiro would take a ton of damage. It took him a year to fuse with the Seireitei once his initial Fusion was broken. While he is in the fusion state, Azashiro’s bodily features drop sharply.
How powerful is Sōya Azashiro compared to other Bleach characters?
In this section, we are going to compare Sōya Azashiro to some other prominent Bleach characters. These are going to be brief comparisons whose main goal is to give you a general idea of his powers and abilities.
Sōya Azashiro vs. Ichigo Kurosaki
This is a comparison we cannot actually evaluate properly. On a general level, Azashiro was certainly more powerful than Ichigo, that much is obvious, but Ichigo’s Quincy nature is something that has to be considered here, as Azashiro’s powerful Bankai was weak against some basic Quincy powers. This is why we’re unsure how a duel between Sōya Azashiro and Ichigo Kurosaki would end, as Ichigo has some abilities and traits with which he could younger Azashiro’s powerful Bankai.
Sōya Azashiro vs. Kenpachi Zaraki
As the light novel suggests, Azashiro was able to face a younger Kenpachi due to his immense skills and abilities. But, the fight between Kenpachi and Unohana from the Quincy War showed that Kenpachi was, at the time, consciously holding back. This means that despite Azashiro’s abilities, there is no way he could defeat a fully-powered Kenpachi, especially not what he has achieved Bankai himself. Kenpachi Zaraki is simply too powerful, even for Azashiro, which was recognized by Unohana herself.
Sōya Azashiro vs. the Royal Guard
Sōya Azashiro is not stronger than the Royal Guard. Now, we’re not sure that he wouldn’t be able to defeat one or two of them individually, but he would certainly lose to Ichibē Hyōsube and the Zero Division as a whole. We have definitive proof of this because when Sōya Azashiro heard that the Royal Guard was preparing to come down to the Seireitei to bring him down, he knew that would happen so he ceased his rebellion and simply gave himself up to the Central 46, ending up imprisoned in the Muken. He would rather face prison and failure than the Royal Guard.
Sōya Azashiro vs. Sōsuke Aizen
Now, this is an interesting comparison because Azashiro seems to be a much more insightful and intelligent character than Aizen, as the light novel suggests. Not only was he able to break through Aizen’s Shikai ability, but he also knew about Ichigo Kurosaki and Aizen’s plan long before Aizen did. Still, Aizen is a cunning villain and a very powerful one, so we ultimately do think that he would be able to defeat Azashiro, although it would be very difficult for him to do so.
Sōya Azashiro vs. Retsu Unohana
Retsu Unohana was the first Kenpachi, and she was never killed by the second Kenpachi, which means that all the later Kenpachi, until Zaraki, weren’t quite official. Retsu Unohana acknowledged that Zaraki was the only one stronger than her and that he was the only one to deserve the title of Kenpachi after her. This would imply that Sōya Azashiro was not stronger than Unohana, and we can only agree, knowing what a beast Unohana was, as was demonstrated in her battle against Zaraki himself.
Sōya Azashiro vs. Yhwach
As the leader of the Quincy who possesses all of the abilities inherent to the Quincy as a group, Ywhach is an exceptionally powerful character and someone who could easily defeat Sōya Azashiro. The fact is that Azashiro’s weaknesses include the inability to properly fight the Quincy due to their powers, which is why there is absolutely no doubt that Yhwach would be able to defeat Azashiro quite quickly.
Sōya Azashiro vs. Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto
Yamamoto himself said, on numerous occasions, that he was the strongest Shinigami in two millennia, and he has proven that to be true. He has amazing skills and powers, and the things he managed to survive are absolutely amazing. So, while Azashiro would be able to somehow deal damage to Yamamoto in a direct clash, the Captain-Commander would be able to defeat him in the end, probably without even having to resort to the use of his Bankai.
Sōya Azashiro vs. Shunsui Kyōraku
Yamamoto considered Kyōraku and Ukitake to be his most talented pupils, and Kyōraku has consistently proven that he is worthy of Yamamoto’s praise. Despite his laid-back nature, Kyōraku is exceptionally powerful, and as the new Captain-Commander of the Gotei 13, he is certainly its most powerful Shinigami. Based on what we know about his powers and abilities, Kyōraku would definitely be able to defeat Azashiro in a fight, although it would not be easy, and he would probably have to use his Bankai.
Sōya Azashiro vs. Jūshirō Ukitake
The same could be said about Ukitake. Sure, Ukitake had a disease that reduced his powers, and we never learned his Bankai, but he was an exceptionally skilled Shinigami, and there is no doubt that he would be able to counter Azashiro in a direct fight, especially due to the ability of his Shikai to counter non-physical attacks, which are Azashiro’s specialty. This is why Ukitake would ultimately manage to defeat Azashiro, as he is a much more skilled swordsman than him and would be able to counter his Kido powers.
Sōya Azashiro vs. Kisuke Urahara
Urahara is probably the most intelligent character in the whole series and is as skilled as he is unpredictable. He is also enormously powerful, although he does look like a clog-and-hat-weating schumuck. His Bankai is one of the most powerful in the whole series, and despite Azashiro’s insightfulness, Urahara would definitely be able to find a way to defeat him in a battle, as he is a much more versatile fighter and someone who could quickly adapt to the altered conditions that Azashiro’s skills would constantly create. Similarly to Aizen, Urahara would triumph thanks to his cunning intellect.