Retsu Unohana is, if you’ve only seen the anime, one of the more curious characters from Tite Kubo’s Bleach. Older than any other Captain except Yamamoto, Unohana has been portrayed as one of the best healers in Soul Society, but we have never seen her fight (save for a filler arc, but she mainly used Kido there). Now, this changed in the final arc of the manga (and the upcoming anime), as we finally see Unohana use her Zanpakutō in battle. We also find out that she is actually Yachiru Unohana, one of the strongest Shinigami in history, and a brutal and violent fighter.
During her fight with Zaraki Kenpachi, Unohana used her Bankai, Minazuki, for the last time. Since Minazuki is one of the most powerful Bankai in the series, we have decided to write an article explaining its powers and abilities to you.
Retsu Unohana’s Bankai, Minazuki, explained
Minazuki (meaning “Flesh-Drops’ Gorge”) is the name of Unohana’s Zanpakutō. In its sealed form, it is more curved and taller than a traditional katana, and more closely resembles an odachi. The hilt is dark red while the scabbard is an indigo hue. The shape of the protector is oval, without additional ornaments.
Minazuki is the only known Zanpakutō that never changes its name. In all three forms (sealed, Shikai, and Bankai) it is simply called Minazuki. Upon being released, the blade of Unohana’s Zanpakutō liquefies into a thick, dark red substance that quickly exudes from the blade to cover a large area near the user.
The liquid unleashed by Minazuki functions as an extremely strong acid that causes the opponent’s skin and flesh to rapidly disappear, and is capable of even reducing a physically durable combatant like Kenpachi to a skeleton upon contact with the said substance; it is even lethal to the owner of the Bankai herself.
During their battle, Unohana combined this with her powerful Kaidō to survive the ill effects of her Bankai and drastically speed up the process of killing and reviving Kenpachi in order to remove the psychological barriers to his power after her sealed Zanpakutō proved insufficient to match his newfound strength.
What is the difference between Minazuki (Shikai) and Minazuki (Bankai)?
Due to the fact that both her Shikai and Bankai have the same name, we thought it wise to explain the differences between the Shikai and Bankai forms of Minazuki, so that you can completely understand the whole concept behind this quite peculiar Zanpakutō.
Upon release, Minazuki does not retain the form of a weapon like the rest of Zanpakutō in their Shikai state. Instead, it transforms into a giant green and yellow flying creature, resembling a one-eyed stingray fish. Minazuki is big enough to carry many people on his back and even a few more on his stomach, where his wounds heal at high speed.
Minazuki’s abilities in a fight still remain hidden. When Unohana decides to reseal her Zanpakutō, it dissipates into a greenish mist that eventually thickens, resuming the shape of the blade of the 4th Division Captain’s weapon. It is possible that his Zanpakutō is of molecular creation and for that reason, Unohana was able to create a very advanced medical instrument and also created a large creature resembling a manta ray. Author Tite Kubo said his Zanpakutō is one of the most powerful in all of Soul Society.
What are Unohana’s powers and abilities?
Unohana is a Kidō master, and apparently, masters healing Kidō perfectly, which she learned to enjoy fights longer, she said. She is the best healer in all of Soul Society and even realized that Sōsuke Aizen’s dead body was not the real thing due to her high level of knowledge. She also seems to be able to heal more than just Shinigami, as she also heals Yasutora Sado (Human) and Gantenbainne Mosqueda (Arrancar) in Hueco Mundo.
As a Captain, she also masters Hohō at a level appropriate for her rank. Although she has never been seen in combat, her personal specialty is known to be zanjutsu, or sword fighting, particularly the kendo style of fighting. Since she was the first shinigami to hold the title of Kenpachi, it can be assumed that she can be an extremely dangerous opponent.
Highly intelligent, Unohana can recognize, at first glance, what kind of treatment is needed and figure out that fake bodies are fake bodies. In addition to that fact, in the case of Aizen, she also realized that Aizen was most likely planning something bigger. Furthermore, she often seems to be able to look behind the scenes and see the truth, so she healed Renji after his defeat by Byakuya Kuchiki, as she already seemed to suspect something in the background of Rukia’s execution at that point.
Another proof of her outstanding intelligence is the fact that Sōsuke Aizen, who is considered to be one of the smartest characters and could fool all the Shinigami, told her that she was the one who came closest to discovering his plans. Holding the title of Kenpachi, she was the strongest shinigami after the Commander-Captain of Soul Society. Zaraki Kenpachi was the only Kenpachi stronger than her, ever since he was a child.
Ultimately, Retsu Unohana is undoubtedly one of the strongest Captain in Soul Society, although she may not look the role. And while you may know Retsu Unohana as the best healer in Soul Society, her real identity, that of Yachiru Unohana, is a bloodthirsty criminal and one of the best fighters in history. Unohana is the first Kenpachi and was one of the most ruthless fighters in Soul Society before she joined Yamamoto in founding the Gotei 13, and then became a healer.
She only ever once reactivated her original powers and that was to help Zaraki unlock his full potential so that the Shinigami could fight off the threat of the upcoming Quincy invasion, but even, she was an extremely dangerous opponent and her fight against Kenpachi is one of the best ones in the whole series.