The Hollows are an essential group in Tite Kubo’s Bleach and they have played a vital role in the first half of the story. After Aizen’s downfall, their role has diminished, but they are still a vital element of the lore, especially due to their connection to Ichigo Kurosaki, the story’s main protagonist. Namely, fans of Bleach will know that Ichigo has Hollow powers thanks to an earlier incident that almost turned his mother into a Hollow, but does he ever turn into one? Fully, partially? In this article, we are going to bring you all the instances when Ichigo turned into a Hollow and tell you in which episodes the transformations happened.
Ichigo became a Hollow only once in the series, and that was in Episode 271, during his fight against Ulquiorra Cifer. He did almost become a Hollow twice, the first time during Urahara’s training in Episode 19 of the anime, and the other during the Visored’s training in Episode 125. In both these cases, he managed to fight off the Inner Hollow and return to normal without having been turned into one.
This article is, thus, going to be more about Ichigo Kurosaki and his Hollow powers, as we are going to explain how and when he turned into a Hollow. This article is going to give you details from the story and several arcs, so be careful how you approach it as it is going to contain a lot of spoilers. Nevertheless, we want to explain everything to you so – here we go!
In what episode does Ichigo turn into a Hollow?
The only time that Ichigo fully became a Hollow was in Hueco Mundo, during his fight against Ulquiorra Cifer. Ulquiorra was such a difficult opponent and with his friends being in danger as well, Ichigo lost control and finally became a Hollow, which enabled him to defeat Ulquiorra but the price was almost too great. The transformation itself occurred in Episode 271 of the anime, titled “Ichigo Dies! Orihime, the Cry of Sorrow!”. The episode premiered on May 18, 2010 and here is the story of how Ichigo became a Hollow.
At the start of the fight, both appear to be evenly matched, however, Loly and Melony show up to torture Orihime. Ichigo wants to protect Orhime, but Ulquiorra says that in order to help her, Ichigo must first defeat him. Ichigo has to endure some attacks because he repeatedly fails to help Orihime. Suddenly, Yammy Llargo shows up and easily defeats Loly and Melony.
He then wants to kill Orihime as well, but Uryū Ishida appears at that moment and stops him. Now that Orihime is safe again, Ichigo can focus on fighting Ulquiorra again and dons his mask. Realizing how strong Ichigo is, Ulquiorra takes the fight outside and assumes his true form to show the difference in power between the two. In the ensuing fight, Ulquiorra pierces Ichigo with a Cero, and while Orihime tries to heal him, the Hollow within him awakens.
This one is now more humanoid in shape than it was when transformed during training with the Visored, and is significantly stronger than a regular Hollow or even an Adjuchas-class Menos (possibly even more powerful than a Vasto Lorde. However, this is more speculation given the magnitude of the powers of a Vasto Lord, especially since we don’t know whether Ulquiorra was a Vasto Lord before his life with Aizen). He injures Ulquiorra so badly that he dies as a result of the injuries, as even his exceptional regenerative skills were of no use here. However, after Ichigo regains consciousness, he no longer remembers what he did in his Hollow form.
In what episodes did Ichigo almost turn into a Hollow?
The first time that Ichigo almost turns into a Hollow, but is “saved” (by himself) in the last moment was during Urahara’s training, as was shown in Episode 19 of the anime, titled “Ichigo Becomes a Hollow!”. The episode premiered on February 15, 2005. Here is what happened in that episode, as well as during Urahara’s training in general.
When Ichigo wakes up in Urahara’s shop after almost being killed by Byakuya, Urahara tells him that his wounds haven’t fully healed and that if he moves too much, he would die. When Ichigo questions him about Uryū’s condition, Urahara states that Uryū’s injuries were treated on the spot, and when he left he was worried about Ichigo, stating that Ichigo was the only one who could beat the Shinigami and save Rukia. When Ichigo says he can’t do anything, as Rukia has been taken to Soul Society and he can’t follow her, Urahara reveals that he can send Ichigo there if he trains with him for the ten coming days, revealing that Soul Society generally allows a month-long grace period before executions.
Adding that Ichigo will die if he goes there in his current state, he reveals that he deliberately let Ichigo fight Renji and Byakuya only for him to realize that after fighting them himself. He states that it will take seven more days to open a door leading to Soul Society, thus giving Ichigo thirteen days in Soul Society to save Rukia. Although unsure if he can become strong enough in ten days, Ichigo accepts Urahara’s proposal.
Giving Ichigo pills to take every hour, Urahara, saying he will recover from his injuries by dinnertime, sends him to school for the last day of the term. At school, Ichigo notes that no one seems to remember Rukia, save for Orihime. He then leaves for the shop, where he asks Urahara to teach him well what he knows. Descending into a gigantic training area below the store, Urahara releases the powerless Ichigo’s soul from his body.
Struggling to move and breathe, Urahara reveals that Byakuya destroyed the source of his power, leaving him without Shinigami powers, and he must restore them in order to fight the Shinigami. Explained to him what Spiritual Power is, and he explains to him that he will have to recover it. Urahara, therefore, asks Ururu to attack Ichigo, and she lunges at him, creating a large cloud of dust and debris; surviving the hit, Ichigo flees from the onslaught of Ururu, who continues to attack him.
Ichigo tries to directly avoid her assaults after realizing he can flee from her. Ichigo successfully avoids being hit and then hits Ururu, hoping to lightly knock his harness, reasoning that the weight difference will take care of the rest. She knocks him into the background as he unintentionally hits her in the face, scratching her, and forcing Tessai to grab him to save him from a deadly injury. Urahara congratulates him on finishing the first stage and inquires whether he’s still having problems breathing or moving, which he’s not.
Finally prepared for the second stage, he then declares. Tessai then places Ichigo in a large hole after severing his Chain of Fate and binding his arms with Bakudō #99 – Kin. Ichigo is informed by Urahara that he has been given 72 hours to join him at the top of the hole. He will become a Shinigami if he succeeds. He will turn into a Hollow if he is not successful in time and his Chain of Fate is entirely destroyed. And they would have to kill him if that happened.
Ichigo, after the chain’s fifth link, starts to corrode, observes that the process consists of two phases, one that manifests as a few minutes of agonizing corrosion and the other, which is a few hours of dormant nothingness. Ichigo makes a futile attempt to sprint along the wall, only able to do so during the slumber moments. Jinta Hanakari asks him if he’s hungry and tells him that a hungry soul is a sign that it’s about to become a Hollow.
Later, Jinta runs along the wall with a fruit dish for Ichigo as he is contemplating how long he has been in the hole and how he can escape. Jinta admits that seventy hours have elapsed since he entered the pit and that the final corrosion phase is greater than the previous ones when Ichigo, who denies needing food, remarks that the chain is still long. Ichigo’s chest develops a hole, and a mask starts to take shape over his face as the remaining chain starts to rust.
Urahara explains that Ichigo is fighting the transformation since the mask appeared before his body did. Ichigo notices a man standing on top of a structure after coming. The man speaks his name, surprised that Ichigo doesn’t recognize him, but Ichigo doesn’t hear him. The man says it’s sad and inquires as to how many times he must say his name before he can hear it, as he believed Ichigo was the only person in the world who knew him well. The man who is following Ichigo says that he shouldn’t be concerned because Shinigami have power over death when Ichigo crashes down from the building.
The guy asks Ichigo to remember the moment when he stopped in mid-air as a Shinigami while Ichigo protests that he is not a Shinigami, and instructs him to focus on the Spiritual Power beneath his feet to stand. The man reveals to Ichigo that Byakuya destroyed the powers that Rukia had given him, but he also possesses his own Shinigami abilities that Rukia’s strength helped to awaken from deep within his soul. He commands Ichigo to find him while the world around him disintegrates.
Ichigo wonders how he may discover his own powers as the structures in his inner world collapse into innumerable boxes as he falls into the ocean. He utilizes his spiritual perception to locate a box carrying the handle of a Zanpakut after recalling what Uryū said about the color red signifying the spiritual energy of Shinigami. The man urges him to accept the handle, telling him that he should hear his name this time. Actually, the Kid who was carrying Ichigo snaps. Ae explosion occurs as Tessai ignites Bankin, the second step of Bakudō #99.
After the smoke has cleared, Ichigo uses his still-broken Zanpakutō to smash his Hollow mask, which is covered in a Shihakushō. Urahara congratulates him and informs him that he is now a full Shinigami.
The second time that Ichigo almost turned into a Hollow was when he was training with the Visoreds to increase the time he can use Hollowfication. Ichigo knew that this would be essential in defeating the Espada, which is why he went to Shinji and the others to train with them. The training lasted for a while but the almost complete Hollowfication of Ichigo happened in Episode 125 of the anime, titled “Urgent Report! Aizen’s Terrifying Plan!”; the episode premiered on May 9, 2007, and here is what happened.
After his fight against Grimmjow, Ichigo realized the importance of gaining control of his Inner Hollow and sought out Shinji and the Visored to accept their offer to join them. In a practice match with Hiyori Sarugaki, he once again loses control of his Inner Hollow, which nearly kills her. After regaining control of himself, Ichigo learns from the Visored that he cannot control his Hollow through sheer physical strength or willpower but must force it into the core of his soul. After a short training, Ichigo is supposed to face his inner hollow in his inner world. When the fight begins, Ichigo hasn’t been able to hurt the hollow even after many exchanges of blows while he himself is injured and stabbed.
Ultimately, Ichigo is defeated and his sword breaks. After a brief conversation with his inner Hollow and another with an inner manifestation of Kenpachi Zaraki (the anime also features Jin Kariya and Byakuya Kuchiki), Ichigo realizes that what he lacks in combat is the pure fighting spirit. Realizing this, Ichigo stands up again, grabs the Hollow’s sword, and impales him with it. Ichigo slips back into reality, his hollow subdued, at least for the moment. There, Ichigo learns that he had transformed into a Hollow being held in check by the Visored. Afterward, Ichigo trains to use his mask for longer than just 4 seconds.