Bleach fans will undoubtedly that Ichigo is the only character in the series that had access to the powers of all major groups – the Shinigami, the Quincies, the Fullbrnigers, and the Hollows. Now, this is a unique trait given to Ichigo because he is the protagonist of the series, bur regardless of that, these elements need some explanation. And while the Quincy and the Shinigami aspects are more-or-less clear, and the Fullbringer aspect needs some further explanation after Can’t Fear Your Own World, all that needs explaining are Ichigo’s Hollow powers and we are going to do that in this article.
Ichigo inherited his Hollow powers from his mother, Masaki, who also gave him her Quincy powers. Namely, as a Quincy, Masaki was infected by a Hollow and was about to turn into one but then-Captain Isshin Kurosaki of Division 10 gave up his own Shinigami powers to save Masaki, thus becoming a normal human. And while Masaki was saved, she transferred her Hollow energy to Ichigo at birth.
This article is, thus, going to be more about Masaki Kurosaki and her role in the evolution of Ichigo’s powers rather than about Ichigo himself. This article is going to give you details from the Quincy War arc, 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!
Why does Ichigo have Hollow powers and how did he get them?
As we have said, the story of why and how Ichigo got his Hollow powers is actually a story about Ichigo’s mother and her youth, before Ichigo was even born. We are going to tell you what happened. Masaki was the last of the Kurosaki family, which was one of the few “pure” Quincy families. She was adopted into the Ishida family by Ryūken Ishida’s mother, which is why she always called Ryūken’s mother aunt from then on.
But this was not an act of sheer selflessness. In return, Masaki should marry Ryūken so that the Ishida family remains a “pure” Quincy family. During a rainy night, Masaki felt two great Reiatsu converging in the vicinity. She couldn’t sit idly by and wanted to see if she could help. Ryūken initially wanted to stop her but couldn’t. Masaki encountered the wounded Captain Isshin Shiba of the Gotei 13’s Division 10.
This was in a fight with the Hollow White. With her abilities, Masaki was unable to hit the Hollow, so she let him attack her. White bit Masaki’s shoulder and Masaki took the opportunity to kill White with an arrow. Isshin thanked his rescuer, who introduced herself as a Quincy. Both then returned to their homes but still thought of each other for days.
A few days later, when she was just getting home from school, she met Kisuke Urahara, who noticed something about her. When Masaki returned to the Ishida family mansion, she was confronted by her aunt, who heard from Katagiri about Masaki’s trip helping a Shinigami. Before Masaki could explain herself, she suddenly collapsed and a Hollow hole slowly opened on her chest. Ryūken ran with her, desperate for help.
He met Isshin, who in turn snuck out of Soul Society to see Masaki again. Ryūken blamed everything on Isshin when Kisuke showed up, explaining that Masaki was suffering from a case of Hollowfication caused by White’s bite. At that time, the Hollow had probably sent some of his Reiatsu into Masaki’s body, whereupon she slowly started to transform into a Hollow.
In his lair, Kisuke explained that he couldn’t fully heal the process, but he could stop it. However, this would require the Reiatsu of a counterpart to Masaki’s current Hollow-Quincy soul. The counterpart would be a human-Shinigami combination, after which Kisuke explained that he could equip Isshin with a Gigai that suppresses Masaki’s Hollow, but robs him of his Shinigami powers and turns him into a normal human.
Isshin agreed without a second thought, wanting to save Masaki now as she had saved him. After the treatment was successful, Isshin stayed in the human world and, with Kisuke’s help, set up a small private clinic where he was frequently visited by Masaki. Isshin and Masaki then fell in love and moved in together after Masaki finished high school.
Masaki couldn’t remain in the Ishida family either way as her half Quincy/half Hollow Reiatsu would have polluted the family’s bloodline, which is why her engagement to Ryūken was broken off as well. Isshin initially tried to lie to Masaki that the reason he didn’t have Shinigami powers was that he was banished for not being able to defeat the Hollow on his own.
However, Masaki saw through the lie, but was not angry with him. A year or two later, Isshin and Masaki had Ichigo. Masaki passed away when Ichigo was 9 years old. They were walking together when Ichigo saw a girl who seemed to be in danger, but this was just a trap set by the Hollow Grand Fisher who wanted to eat Ichigo, but Masaki was protecting Ichigo and was killed by Grand Fisher.
Officially, Masaki was run over by a car. At first, Ichigo blamed himself for her death, until the day he found out the Hollow was responsible. Almost two years later, Isshin told Ichigo that someone else was to blame for Masaki’s death and it was Yhwach. He had used his “Auswählen” technique at the time to restore his lost powers, stealing the powers of all “impure” Quincys. Normally, Masaki would have survived Grand Fisher’s attack with no problem. However, through Yhwachs’ interference, her powers were also taken away, which led to her death.
And with this, the story of Masaki Kurosaki is over. Now you know how she was infected by a Hollow and since the Hollow’s Reiatsu remained with her in her body, she transferred these powers to Ichigo when he was born. This explains why Ichigo has both Quincy and Hollow powers, alongside his other ones.