Bleach: Thousand-year Blood War finally gives Renji the upgrade he deserves

Renji
Renji's new Bankai as seen in Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War (Image via Pierrot)

The latest episode of Bleach: Thousand-year Blood War titled Rages at Ringside was released on August 5, 2023. It saw one of the most anticipated moments from the Bleach manga brought to life in anime form.

Renji Abarai with his new Bankai So-Oh Zabimaru, has become the talk of the town in the anime community. The Lieutenant of the 6th Division of the Gotei 13, introduced himself as a Villain to the Sternritter Mask de Masculine when he stepped onto the battlefield.

In this clash between the Hero and the Villain, Renji overwhelms the Superstar Mask de Masculine with his Bankai So-Oh Zabimaru and disintegrates him with the final attack, Zaga Teppo. However, the question is, how did Renji acquire his new Bankai?


Bleach: Thousand-year Blood War - Renji learns the true name of his Bankai from Ichibei Hyosube

In a cinematic fashion, Renji Abarai makes his grand entrance in Bleach: Thousand-year Blood War and immediately makes an impact by deflecting the Superstar Sternritter Mask de Masculine's Star Flash.

Infuriated by the 'Villain' Renji, the Sternritter awakened his Vollstandig and shot his strongest technique, Supernova, onto the ground from above. However, he was bewildered to see that Renji was able to withstand the power easily, by releasing his Bankai.

A visual of Renji's bankai in Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War (Image via Pierrot)
A visual of Renji's bankai in Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War (Image via Pierrot)

In Bleach: Thousand-year Blood War, fans witnessed Renji's new power, as he unlocked the true nature of his Bankai, following his intense training at the Royal Palace. However, the question remains: How did he acquire this new Bankai?

A flashback in the latest episode of Bleach: Thousand-year Blood War takes fans back to Ichibei Hyosube's Riden. Ichibei, one of the royal guards of the Royal Palace explained to Renji that the name of his Bankai, Hihio Zabimaru, was a lie. According to Hyosube, Hihio Zabimaru was only half of its name.

Ichibei Hyosube as seen in Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War (Image via Pierrot)
Ichibei Hyosube as seen in Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War (Image via Pierrot)

Renij's Zanpakuto spirit, Zabimaru, couldn't fully acknowledge its user, even though they had fought together for a long time. When the Shinigami questioned Ichibei about how he knew all this, the latter mentioned that he was the one who came up with the name Zanpakuto.

Among the five Royal Guards, Ichibei Hyosube was given the name Manako Osho. The phrase 'Manako Osho' means 'Speaking the true name.' Ichibei was the one who came up with the concept of Shikai and Bankai. In other words, he was the one who named all Zanpakutos.

Hence, it was normal for him to know the true name of Renji's Bankai. However, only knowing the name of the true Bankai wasn't going to be enough for Renji to acquire his true Bankai. He had to prove his strength and worth to his Zanpakuto spirit Zabimaru and gain its trust to be able to use it.

While it wasn't shown in Bleach: Thousand-year Blood War's latest episode, it was implied that Renji was able to gain Zabimaru's trust. His Zanpakuto spirit finally acknowledged Renji as its user and granted him all of its Bankai abilities. This is how Renji Abarai was able to acquire the true power of his Bankai, So-Oh Zabimaru.


Explaining why Zabimaru only partially acknowledged Renji

Bleach: Thousand-year Blood War's new episode was Renji's moment to shine, as he awakened the true power of his Bankai. However, as mentioned before, his earlier Bankai named Hihio Zabimaru used only half of its original power. There's a theory that explains why Zabimaru didn't acknowledge its user.

Throughout his life as a Shinigami, one of Renji's prime goals has been to surpass his Captain, Byakuya Kuchiki.

Renji and Byakuya as seen in Bleach (Image via Pierrot)
Renji and Byakuya as seen in Bleach (Image via Pierrot)

However, in Renji's heart, it was an elusive goal. He constantly tried to grab hold of his target, only to fail every single time. As a result, he developed a feeling of insecurity.

In Bleach, it is known that a Zanpakuto spirit is linked to a Shinigami's soul, and as a result, it shares its user's personality and other traits. Renji wanted to surpass his Captain, but he was insecure about it.

This feeling in his heart molded his Zanpakuto's powers, albeit, an incomplete one. This is why Zanpakuto's spirit didn't fully trust him, and only gave him half of its powers. Renji's Bankai in its initial release could only extend and pull his targets toward himself, and blast Reishi bombs.

Renji never realized that he could also grab his targets, instead of reaching for them. His half-powered Bankai, Hihio Zabimaru, was a representation of what Renji felt.

However, in the Bleach TYBW arc, Renji was able to overcome his insecurity. He finally understood that he could reach his target if he tried. As a result, the Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War arc saw him harmonizing with his Zanpakuto spirit. Renji wore his Bankai, instead of wielding it, and unlocked its full potential.


Renji's new Bankai powers explained

SO-OU Zabimaru in Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War (Image via Pierrot)
SO-OU Zabimaru in Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War (Image via Pierrot)

The highlight of Bleach: Thousand-year Blood War episode 18 was Renji Abarai's Bankai, So-oh Zabimaru. While his Bankai powers weren't given much of a description, it was evident that there were three primary techniques that he used against Mask de Masculine.

So-Oh Zabimaru's first technique, Hihio, transforms the fur portion of the Bankai into a skeletal arm and follows the movement of Renji's hand. With sheer vehemence, Hihio can crush its opponent's arm. In other words, it was an ideal technique to be used for close-range combat.

Orochi-Ou as seen in the anime (Image via Pierrot)
Orochi-Ou as seen in the anime (Image via Pierrot)

The next technique of So-Oh Zabimaru is called Orochi-Oh. When activated, this technique unfurls the vertebrae-like structure from Renji's waist and extends like a snake. With this technique, Renji can pierce his opponent with ease.

As seen in Bleach: Thousand-year Blood War, the ultimate technique of So-Oh Zabimaru is called Zaga Teppo. After stabbing his opponent with his Orochi-Oh, Renji activates his Zaga Teppo, which creates an enormous jaw of a snake made of Reiatsu.

Soo Zabimaru Zaga Teppo (Image via Pierrot)
Soo Zabimaru Zaga Teppo (Image via Pierrot)

With a twist of his wrist, Renji makes the Jaw close on the opponent and crushes them with sheer power. Additionally, Zaga Teppo fires a blast of Reishi that disintegrates his foes.


Be sure to keep up with more anime news and manga updates as 2023 progresses.