Being one of the Big 3 Shonen anime, Bleach has always been surrounded by so many questions that still remain unanswered. Bleach originally began as an interquel series where so many of the puzzling questions of the past are left to be wondered about, and some of them aren’t even addressed in the only original series, which spanned from 2004 to 2012.
Out of all the questions, one of the most intriguing is about the protagonist of the Bleach, Ichigo Kurosaki, and the origin of the hollow powers within him. Although Ichigo’s shinigami powers were unveiled in the Fake Karakura Town arc, his hollow abilities still remain a mystery.
Exploring how Ichigo got his hollow powers in Bleach
In Bleach's Agent of Shinigami arc, when Kisuke Urahara helps Ichigo regain his shinigami powers by cutting his Chain of Fate, he notices that something doesn’t sit right with the latter. Urahara stops Ururu from entering the rescue mode and explains that:
"When a Plus becomes a Hollow, the spiritual body first explodes and then reforms. But in the Ichigo’s case, the order is all mixed up as his body is still a Plus, while the mask is being created first, which means he is resisting the hollowfication’s effects with his willpower."
Urahara was aware of Ichigo’s condition and the actual cause of his strange hollowfication, but he liked to keep that a secret and pretended to be witnessing it for the first time in his life. Destroying Ichigo’s Chain of Fate just sparked the awakening process of his hollow powers, as the real cause of it dates back to before he was even born.
Ichigo got his hollow powers through his mother Masaki Kurosaki, but she was not an Arrancar. Masaki was Quincy, who left Sternritter's side and wanted to spend the rest of her life with Ichigo’s father Isshin Kurosaki, who was the captain of 13 Court Guard Squads. After Masaki was attacked by a strange hollow creature, she somehow assimilated the latter entirely.
A few days later, a hole started forming on Masaki’s chest and Ryuken was startled. As Ryuken ran off picking up Masaki, he crossed his path with Isshin and started berating him. Out of the blue, Urahara appeared and explained that he’s been researching Masaki’s condition for 100 years, and if the latter’s hollowfication completes, then no one can stop the soul suicide, which will end her life.
Urahara offered to help Masaki by suppressing the hollowfication, but on one condition that someone with strong spiritual power must remain by the latter’s side until her death. Ryuken refused to do so, but as Isshin owed Masaki his life, he agreed to leave his shinigami status and live a normal life.
After Masaki and Isshin got married, they gave birth to Ichigo, who assimilated his mother’s hollow powers. With the combined powers of a shinigami, Quincy, and hollow, Ichigo was able to see souls and hollow creatures from a very tender age. This ability of Ichigo’s became a curse to him, as one fated day he saw the Grand Fisher, who killed Masaki whilst she was saving Ichigo.
Later Ichigo meets his inner hollow and gets to know that he carried both Zangetsu and his hollow inside him since his birth. As Rukia triggered Ichigo’s Shinigami powers, similarly, Urahara and the Vizards helped Ichigo awaken his hollow.
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