Remember the small, yet brilliant Turn Back the Pendulum Arc in Bleach, when we saw the Soul Society as it was 100 years ago? Well, if you do, you’ll probably remember that the name Kirio Hikifune was mentioned in connection to Urahara becoming the 12th Division’s new Captain, as former Captain Hikifune seemingly retired. Now, later on in the manga – and recently in the anime – we finally saw former Captain Hikifune, who never retired, but was actually promoted to the Royal Guard because of her achievements.
The rest of this article is going to focus on Kirio Hikifune, former 12th Division Captain and a current member of the Royal Guard. She is a very interesting character who was mentioned early in the story and appeared later, which is why we are going to tell you everything you need to know about her. Spoilers from the manga are going to be present, so be careful how you approach the article.
Who is Kirio Hikifune in Bleach?
Kirio Hikifune was the former Captain of the 12th Division and is now a member of the Royal Guard. She is titled “Ruler of Grain”. Kirio seems to be quite a nice woman who immediately struck up a chat with Shinji when she saw him again. However, when she became a member of the Royal Guard, she appears to have succumbed to a minor food addiction.
Very little is known about her, except that shortly before the Turn back the Pendulum arc, she left Soul Society under the pretext of retiring. However, she only did so to join the Royal Guard. Her then Lieutenant Hiyori Sarugaki was very sad about this development because she had a mother-daughter-like relationship with Kirio Hikifune. Her successor was Kisuke Urahara. During her time in the Royal Guard, she had to shed a few pounds due to her cooking methods using a lot of reiatsu, which is why even Shinji hardly recognized her later.
Kirio first appears in Soul Society along with the rest of Division Zero after the devastating invasion by the Wandenreich who are sent by the Soul King himself to rebuild the 13 Divisions and bring Ichigo to the Royal Palace. Shortly after his arrival, Kirio approaches Shinji and punches him to get his attention, and asks how he and “Hiyori-chan” are doing. Shinji doesn’t recognize her at first, but hearing him call Hiyori, he remembers her.
She asks him why he doesn’t remember her if she hasn’t changed much, yelling that she’s a little hungry. Once in the Reiōkyū, Kirio proceeds to explain that although the entire area is usually called that. The correct way to name the place where they are is Reiōkyū Omotesando, which is basically the Entrance to the Royal Palace.
She then points to a structure in front that she says has the appearance of a nest, which she calls the Great Spirit Palace, the place where the Spirit King resides. She recognizes five tray-like structures below it, like his Headquarters, in short, his Castles. In each of them, there is a city that is entrusted to each of them by the King. After leaving the hot springs, Ichigo, Renji, and Kon arrive at Hikifune’s headquarters, where they regain their strength and eat all the food that she herself prepares for them.
At a certain point, Kirio appears thin and explains that she consumes spiritual energy cooking, and therefore she appears thin. She mentions that she, like all members of Division 0, has brought something of value to Soul Society; in her case, a variation on the use of the Gikongan. Finally, she prepares them for the next headquarters, that of the member who contributed to the birth of the Zanpakutō, Ōetsu Nimaiya.
Sometime later, at the time of Ichigo’s departure to the Seireitei to help the Gotei 13, Kirio appears asking where Ichigo is, Kirinji replies that he just left, so he approaches the stairs and throws a rice ball at him. in case he gets angry on the way; Ichigo tells her that if she gets angry in the middle of the fight she will eat her. Seeing Ichigo’s reaction, Kirio comments that Ichigo changed, becoming stronger, stating that her wavering reiatsu is now just a memory.
Ichibē corrects her, stating that he didn’t get stronger, he just grew, in other words, he got stronger, leaving nothing but redundancy for everyone else, however, adding that he’s not just talking about power, but his soul and body became stronger becoming a true Shinigami. Kirio appears together with his other companions of the Royal Guard to face the Quincys that have reached that instance, when Lille Barro sees how some huge trees are coming out of the ground, she is very surprised. Kirio tells her that it was a long time ago that it did not create such a large cage and that it is something very tedious.
Lille Barro proceeds to attack the cage, however, nothing seems to affect the cage so Kirio explains that manipulating food is manipulating life itself. He goes on to explain that she dabbled in the kitchen to shape life and the ingredients are created by her own body and proceed to show him a small tree that is growing from his hand. He explains that this tree is consuming his Reiatsu to produce fruit and that his bullets compress an extremely high amount of Reishi and that this tree will not let such delicious snacks escape. If he manages to get through them with his bullets it will only exponentially accelerate their growth and very cheerfully tells them that they can hold on to their goal and try to do their best. Only by using their abilities will it be impossible for them to escape from the Cage of life.
Faced with Lille’s attack on Ōetsu, Kirio and Kirinji proceed to help him by shielding him with a large spoon and Kirinji’s wooden oar, but this was to no avail, as Lille’s attack went through both objects and injured Ōetsu. After Yhwach defeats Ichibē, she is shown defeated on the ground in her slender form. She was later revived by Ichibē after Yhwach’s defeat.
Why is Kirio Hikifune so important?
Aside from the fact that she is a member of the Royal Guard and that she played a major role in battling the Wandenreich, Kirio Hikifune had a very important role in the history of Soul Society, a role which ultimately earned her a promotion to the Royal Guard. She is, namely, responsible for the invention of the Gikon, the Artificial Souls used by Shinigami to separate body from soul. They are used to separate a Shinigami’s spirit from a Gigai, if they are inside one, or evict stubborn spirits who do not want to leave their corpses if necessary.
How strong is Kirio Hikifune?
Kirio Hikifune is, as a member of the Royal Guard, one of the most powerful characters in the entire Bleach universe, possessing a large amount of Reiryoku. In addition to her immense spiritual power, Hikifune possesses several other powerful abilities. One of her trademark moves is the Cage of Life. By infusing the remains of his own Reiatsu with the remains of a tree, Hikifune can make the tree’s branches grow into a cage-like form, splitting the tree’s branches apart. This tree feeds on any kind of Reiatsu so if the branches of the tree are attacked with Reiatsu, the attack will be absorbed, this makes the Tree of Life a structure with an almost infallible defense against attacks that contain Reiatsu.
Kirio is a fantastic cook who can turn any cuisine, including insects, into something incredibly delectable. Kirio can impart her reiatsu into the food she prepares, using the same reasoning that she employed in the construction of the Artificial Souls, which will give anyone who consumes it unimaginable strength. But, Kirio must eat a lot and put on weight before cooking again because the way which she cooks drains all of her Reiatsu, forcing her to lose a lot of weight while cooking, which he has to put on back again before cooking again.
Hikifune has demonstrated his mastery of the Shunpo by being able to quickly deflect a strike from Lille Barro. Her Zanpakutō’s abilities are fully unknown, but she is shaped like a large thick wooden ladle in allusion to her status as a cook.