The Royal Guard has, for a long time, been an enigma in the world of Tite Kubo’s Bleach, but with the threat of Yhwach’s Sternritter becoming real, the Royal Guard descended from the Soul King Palace to help rebuild the Seireitei. Thus, we saw its five Captains for the first time, and among them was Ichibē Hyōsube, the leader of the Royal Guard and the one who gave the name to every segment of the lore. Hyōsube had a very specific role in the story and a very specific personality, which is why we have decided to write about this Royal Guard member here on Fiction Horizon.
Ichibē Hyōsube is the leader of the Roal Guard, i.e., Zero Division, also known as the “Monk Who Calls the Real Name.” Ichibē is credited with giving names to most, if not all, aspects of the Bleach role and has a special ability with which he can change the very nature of things by simply renaming them. He is immortal as long as there remains anyone who knows his name and calls it out.
The rest of this article is going to focus, as you’ve probably deduced for yourselves, on Ichibē Hyōsube, the leader of Zero Division and a member of the Royal Guard. He is a very interesting character who appeared late in the story and had a major impact on the story, which is why we are going to tell you everything you need to know about him. Spoilers from the manga are going to be present, so be careful how you approach the article.
Who is Ichibē Hyōsube in Bleach?
Ichibē Hyōsube is a member of the Royal Guard and first appeared after the Wandenreich attacked Soul Society. He is titled the “Monk Who Calls the Real Name”. He also appears to hold the position of leader among the Royal Guard, or so Yhwach refers to him as such. Like all members of the Royal Guard, he was probably a member of the Gotei 13. However, it is unknown to which of the 13th Divisions he once belonged.
After Soul Society was attacked by the Wandenreich, killing Yamamoto and several other Shinigami, the Royal Guard appeared to help build Soul Society. The surviving commanders saluted the members of the royal guard. Ichibei Hyōsube greeted the commanders warmly and explained the reason for their visit. He also wanted Ichigo to accompany them to their realms. When Ichigo asked if they could help him fix Zangetsu, Ichibē explained that while they couldn’t, they could reforge the Zanpakutō.
Back in the Reiōkyū, Ichibē explained to Ichigo that before he could go to the Soul King or back to Soul Society or Hueco Mundo, he would first have to visit all of their realms (where the respective members of the Royal Guard rule) so that he could prepare sufficiently is. He further explained that the Royal Key, which grants access to the Royal Dimension, is contained in the bones of members of the Royal Guard. After everything was settled, Ichigo left. The last of the five kingdoms was the kingdom of Ichibei. Renji and Rukia arrived there first. After learning to deal with the extremely high concentration of Reishi, Ichibei wanted to start his training with them. Among other things, Renji learned from him the true name of his Zanpakutō.
While the other members are tasked with stopping the invaders at what appears to be the entrance to the Soul King Palance, Ichibē Hyōsube has taken up his post at the real gate to the Royal Palace, waiting in case Yhwach manages to get past the rest of the Royal Guard. With such a turn of events, a clash between the leaders of the Quincy and the Royal Guard seemed inevitable and it actually happened, with Ichibē having a slight advantage over the Quincy Emperor.
After Nimaiya is defeated, Yhwach stands in front of Ichibē, asking if he’ll let him through, calling him by his full name. The Monk, therefore, gets up and retorts to him to be careful with the pronunciation of his name because he could crush his throat. The Monk then draws a line on the ground telling him that he will kill him here, prompting Yhwach to tell him that he is the one who will die three steps in front of it calling him by his name again.
Angered, Ichibē summons a huge hand that pushes Yhwach back a very long distance. Then appearing above him thanks to the Shunpō, he tells him that this palm will throw him over 1000 Ri to make him repent. The Quincy Emperor then tries to speak but finds himself unable to. He then crushes his throat with his fingers and restores his speech before summoning a huge bow and returning to Ichibē’s height with the momentum of an arrow. The head of the Royal Guard is surprised to see Quincy alive and decides to kill him. He then draws his brush and challenges Yhwach.
The two then clash and the Quincy notices that the Monk is happier than he expected. When the Emperor pushes the brush away with his arm, Ichibē then remarks to him that he has decided to sacrifice his arm. He explains his ability to her before slicing him again, sarcastically asking how he feels with half his power. Yhwach gets up and restores himself, explaining to him that he can always bring his power back, no matter how many times Ichibē takes it away.
He then explains to him that “everything in this world is there for him to seize” before shooting arrows at the Monk, which he easily breaks. Saying he was trying to save face by beating him with half his power, he attacks him again with Bakudō #62 – Hyapporankan which Quincy counters with Blut Vene Anhaben. He then decides to cast the secret spell Ura Hadō: Sannodō—Teppūsatsu, which shatters Yhwach’s shell and grabs him by the throat. The Quincy technique then begins to consume the Monk’s body which tenses his muscles, and he is damn pissed off that Yhwach tried to enter his body and releases his Shikai, Ichimonji.
Ichibē asks Yhwach if he can distinguish between a brush and a sword when he expresses amazement at the Shikai’s arrival. The two combatants square off once more, with the Quincy threatening to return any powers taken from him before he can finish pronouncing the name of his saber before going silent. telling Yhwach that his Shikai wipes the name off of anything his ink touches. When Yhwach hears this, he uses the Sankt Altar to try and take Ichibē’s power but fails and ends up getting inked all over his face.
Ichibē believes Yhwach must be upset about losing his name when it is covered up, so he plans to offer him a new one. He names his Bankai, Shirafude Ichimonji “Black Ant” before activating it. When Yhwach cries out, “I would never have believed,” Ichibē responds, “I would not have been able to predict such a power differential.” He then summons a giant foot, smashes it through the floor, and then smashes it again between his giant palms.
However, Yhwach falls back to the floor just behind Ichibē and attacks him with a huge attack, piercing him. The Monk sees his Bankai’s writing dissipate and is confused. Quincy explains to him about his power, The Almighty, and how it enabled him to survive. Retorting that he still possesses black on his body and couldn’t escape its influence, Ichibē summons Futen Taisatsuryō in order to completely destroy Yhwach.
However, the latter recites the last of his incantation at the same time as him and tells him that his techniques are now powerless against him before tearing him to pieces, leaving him for dead three steps in front of the line he had drawn, as he had predicted it. After the fight, Ichigo and his group arrive on the scene and Ichibē’s conscience calls for the Substitute Shinigami to speak his name in order to save him.
Once spoken, the Monk manages to regenerate and begs Ichigo to stop Yhwach before he kills the Soul King, explaining that the latter is the pillar of this world and that his death will cause the complete and utter destruction of the known world, namely the Real World, Soul Society, Hueco Mundo, and even Dangai. Later, he remarks that it is too late and apologizes to the group as they won’t be able to stop Yhwach, but they don’t have to worry as this is called “peace.” The Can’t Fear Your Own World light novel revealed that Ichibē was alive and well after the war against Yhwach and that he even resurrected the other members of the Royal Guard thanks to his amazing powers.
What are Ichibē Hyōsube’s powers and abilities?
As a member of the Royal Guard, Ichibei wields powerful reiatsu and martial skills far beyond those of a Gotei 13 Captain. The fact that he was the only opponent to date who was able to keep up with Yhwach for a long time or even gain the upper hand over him shows his immense strength. Yhwach himself called him the leader of the Royal Guard and thus theoretically the strongest of all Shinigami.
In addition, Ichibei has an extremely fast Shunpo, so he was able to catch up with Yhwach, who was thrown away by the Senri Tsūtenshō. His defense is also formidable, as he could intercept some of Yhwach’s kido-like missiles at half power between his bare palms, or force his blood vein back from the veins on his left side with sheer effort. Finally, he can summon high-level kido spells without incantation, which are still strong enough to do damage even against an enemy like Yhwach.
As with the other members of the Royal Guard, some of his abilities appear to be related to his merit/inventions for the Seireitei. One aspect of these name-related powers is that Ichibei can steal the voice of anyone who calls out their full name. His Zanpakutō also plays a part in relation to these abilities: when sealed, the brush, rather than cutting through flesh, “cleaves” the essence of the name of everything it touches.
The effect of this is that the object in question is conceptually reduced by half its existence – and thus its power. Should Ichibei die, he can still telepathically contact anyone who approaches his remains. The latter must then call out his full name, allowing Ichibei to absorb a fraction of that person’s power and use it to fully restore his body (similar to Orihime’s restorative abilities), no matter how much of it is left.
It is unclear exactly how much power Ichibei has to absorb for this or whether this only works with extremely strong “donors”. In any case, Ichigo didn’t show any signs of weakening after the trial and didn’t seem to notice the loss of his power at all.
Ichibei seems to be an expert in both Bakudō and Hadō, summoning Hyapporankan without an incantation and also mastering unique secret spells. Senri Tsūtenshō is one such technique, where Ichibei causes a giant image of his own hand made of pure reiatsu to appear in mid-air (similar to Tenken), which then throws the opponent back a distance of 1000 ri (an antiquated unit of measurement, equivalent to approximately 3.927 km). However, Yhwach was able to intercept his flight by shooting himself from behind with his own technique.
There are also two variations of this technique: in one, Ichibei creates a gigantic foot instead of a hand and uses it to stomp the opponent, and in the other, he uses Senri Tsūtenshō with both hands to crush the opponent between the massive palms. Ura Hadō: San no Dō — Teppūsatsu is also a special technique, a secret or modified Hadō spell in which Ichibei creates the aura of a massive dragon’s head with a hand swipe. This blows out a strong wind that literally blows away enemy defenses.