If you know your Bleach history, you’ll probably remember when the scene when Grand Fisher returned to the World of the Living to kill Ichigo but found Kon in Ichigo’s body and attacked him. Kon then had help from a person no one expected to help him, namely, Ichigo’s father, Isshin Kurosaki, who appeared in Shinigami uniform and quickly killed Grand Fisher. This was one of the most shocking revelations in the story and it was all the more significant as Ichigo was not aware that his father was, or rather had been, a Shinigami. In this article, we are going to explore how and when Ichigo found out that his father was a Shinigami.
Ichigo found out that his father, Isshin Kurosaki, or rather, Isshin Shiba, was a Shinigami during the battle of Fake Karakura Town, when Isshin suddenly appeared in his Shinigami uniform to interrupt Aizen revealing everything to Ichigo. Ichigo later replied that he trusted his reasons for keeping it a secret from him and father and son would later go on working together to defeat Aizen.
The rest of this article is going to bring you the story of Isshin Shiba, or Isshin Kurosaki, whichever you prefer. We are going to tell you about his history, as well as how and when he lost his Shinigami powers, but also how he got them back and how his son found out that he was a Shinigami in the first place. This article is going to contain a lot of spoilers so be careful how you approach it.
Who is Isshin Kurosaki and why did he lose his Shinigami powers?
Known as Isshin Shiba at the beginning of the story, Isshin was the head of the Shiba clan and Captain of Division 10 of the Gotei 13, with Matsumoto as his second-in-command at the time. He mostly shied away from his work, which is why Matsumoto, who is actually lazy herself, mostly had to do it to her annoyance. That’s why there were more scenes that were very reminiscent of Nanao Ise and Shunsui Kyoraku.
About 20 years before the beginning of the story, Isshin received a report that several Shinigami were missing from Karakura Town. Realizing the danger, he went alone, without permission, into the World of the Living to investigate. He encountered the Hollow White, which was an experiment by Aizen. White was extremely strong and wild, which is why there was a fight between the two.
Unable to allow Isshin to interfere, Aizen ambushed Isshin, leaving Isshin in no physical condition to activate his Bankai. At that moment, Isshin was rescued by Quincy Masaki Kurosaki. She tricked the hollow into attacking her so she could shoot an arrow at him at close range, killing him. Isshin thanked her for rescuing him and in his report for Soul Society didn’t mention that he had seen a Quincy. Isshin thought a lot about Masaki after that and wanted to see her again.
He made another unauthorized visit to the human world where he met Ryūken Ishida and saved him from a hollow attack. But Ryuken was not grateful but angry at Isshin. Isshin then realized that Ryuken was carrying the comatose Masaki, who was hollowed out. Ryuken explained that this was Isshin’s fault as Masaki owed it to her injury from White, which she received solely because of him.
At that moment, Kisuke Urahara appeared and offered the two men a solution. At his home, Kisuke explained that Masaki was suffering from a case of hollowfication. While he could eventually save her life thanks to his research into hollowfication (like in the case of Shinji and the other Visored), he needed something stronger to complete a complete cure.
Stabilizing the soul of Masaki, which was now half Quincy, half Hollow, required the counterpart of both, a soul that is half Shingami, half human. For this, Kisuke had developed a special Gigai, which takes away all the abilities of a Shinigami, even the abilities of spirits/souls were increasing. Isshin knew what was going on but agreed, since Misaki had saved his life earlier, it was now time to save her life.
Isshin thus underwent Kisuke’s treatment, becoming a normal human with the power to suppress Misaki’s Hollow. Isshin and Misaki fell in love and later married. Isshin himself became a doctor in Karakura Town. Masaki had three children from him, a son and two daughters. Isshin had not regretted his decision to give up his shinigami life for a single day.
About 14 years after leaving Gotei 13, Masaki is killed by a hollow named Grand Fisher. From then on, on every anniversary of his wife’s death, he and his children go to her grave. Isshin always smokes a cigarette there because Masaki told him when they first met him that it made him look cool. After a moment’s thought, he says that’s probably the only time she’s given him a compliment of that kind.
How did Isshin Kurosaki get his powers back?
At the beginning of the Arrancar Saga, as Kon walked around in Ichigo’s body, Grand Fisher pursued him as he wanted revenge on Ichigo. Just before Grand Fisher, now an Arrancar, attacks Kon, Isshin throws the talisman he gave to Ichigo in between, which creates a barrier and protects Kon. Isshin throws the talisman to Kon after introducing himself to Grand Fisher, saying that the talisman was meant for him anyway. Isshin’s shinigami powers had returned, which is why he now wanted to kill Grand Fisher.
Grand Fisher hits Isshin with his own enormous Zapankuto after making fun of both his little Zanpakutō and his statement. Grand Fisher is sliced through by Isshin with a single stroke of his sealed Zanpakutō before he can finish his strike. He claims that Captain-class Shinigami are able to manage the size of their Zanpakutō, which prevents them from carrying massive swords about.
After that, Kisuke Urahara suddenly appeared and chatted with Isshin for a while, as they both seemed to know each other well. Kisuke also noted Isshin’s powers, saying that they only returned gradually. Kisuke points out that the Visored has made contact with Ichigo and that this is a sign that they too have noticed the Arrancar’s change and that they too are preparing for the upcoming battle, just like all the other factions. Isshin then asked Kon not to tell Ichigo about what happened.
As you can see, the exact mechanism through which Isshin’s powers returned was never explained, but it could be that he was powerful enough to retain at least a portion of his original powers, which is why he was able to get them back over time.
How and when did Ichigo find out his father was a Shinigami?
Shortly after Aizen told Ichigo that he had been watching Ichigo from the very day he was born because he was half human and half Shinigami, Isshin appears in his Shihakushō and confronts his son, stating that Aizen talks too much. Isshin briefly retires with Ichigo. When Isshin now felt obligated to tell his son everything, he only said that this was not necessary and that he would wait until Isshin was really ready to tell him everything, trusting him with his reasons to keep it all a secret from him for so many years. Shortly thereafter, they plan an attack strategy to engage Aizen as father and son, since it would take all of their powers to defeat the rogue Captain.
While Ichigo fought Gin, Isshin fought Aizen. Isshin even managed to knock Aizen out of breath, but from then on Aizen’s transformations started, brought on by the Hōgyoku. In his fight, Isshin got help from Kisuke and Yoruichi. He uses the Getsuga Tenshou, which looks quite similar to Ichigo’s. However, even with combined forces, they could not defeat Aizen, who then went to the real Karakura.
After Isshin regained consciousness, he and his son took up the pursuit to protect the people they care about. But inside the dangai, Isshin had an idea. He wanted to train with Ichigo there because time passes differently within the dangai. Isshin showed Ichigo how to learn the finale Getsuga Tenshou, in which you gain incredible power for a short time but then lose your Shinigami powers. During training, Isshin maintained the dangai, which was very draining for him. After Ichigo finished, he took his father, who has since passed out and brought him to Karakura Town.