Ichigo Kurosaki vs. Kenpachi Zaraki marks Ichigo Kurosaki's third fight inside Seireitei during the Ryoka Invasion, his first fight against a captain-class Shinigami, and him learning the name of his Zanpakutō.
PreludeAs Ichigo, Ganju Shiba, and 4th Division 7th Seat Hanatarō Yamada move towards the Shishinrō in order to rescue Rukia Kuchiki, they are stopped in their tracks by a monstrous Reiatsu. As Ganju wonders who it belongs to, Ichigo, stating someone strong is nearby, says they should run as far as possible before they find them. On top of a building, a mysterious man, stating they are finally here, tries to remember which one was the "one". As Ichigo runs, he thinks to himself about how even though though they have been running for a while, he still feels very close to the source of the Reiatsu, and it feels like its owner is constantly holding a sword to his neck. When Hanatarō, stopping, says he has run out of energy, Ganju, saying he is a troublesome guy, carries him on his shoulders. Looking at each member of the group, the man states neither Ganju nor Hanatarō are the one. His eye lands on Ichigo, who hears a voice asking if he is "it". Turing around, Ichigo sees the man sitting on a rooftop. As the man says to not just stand there and stare, Ichigo is seemingly impaled by a sword. When he sees he has not been impaled, Ichigo realizes it was an illusion generated by the man's killing intent. Moving behind him, the man asks if he is Kurosaki Ichigo. When Ichigo asks how he knows his name and who he is, the man reminds him of how Ikkaku told him about him. As Ichigo, recalling his conversation with Ikkaku, tries to remember his name, the man, revealing himself to be Captain Kenpachi Zaraki of the 11th Division, states he has come here to kill him.
Thinking to himself it is no wonder Kenpachi's Reiatsu is so great, Ichigo says he is completely different from anyone else he has met thus far. Reiterating his previous declaration of being here to kill Ichigo, Kenpachi asks if Ichigo, having not said anything in response, is ready to start now. Reaching for his Zanpakutō, Ichigo sees Hanatarō and Ganju on the ground behind him. Saying they are just shaken by the Reiatsu, Ganju tells Ichigo to not worry about them and instead look ahead, as if he does not, he will be beaten in an instant. When a small girl, popping up from behind Kenpachi, tries to move over to Hanatarō, Ichigo knocks her back. Telling Ganju to take Hanatarō out of there, he states he will try to stop Kenpachi. When Ganju questions him doing this by himself, Ichigo tells him to shut up and go. When Ichigo states he is surprised Kenpachi is not chasing them, for the captains' objective is to stop the Ryoka, Kenpachi, repeating himself once again, says he does not care about his friends or Rukia, who can die anywhere they want for all he cares.
BattleSeeing Ichigo's battle stance, Kenpachi, complimenting him on it, says though it still has openings, it has high Reiatsu. Acknowledging he understands why Ikkaku lost to him, Kenpachi, stating Ichigo is still weaker than him, decides to give Ichigo a fighting chance. Baring his chest, Kenpachi tells Ichigo to cut him anywhere and not hold back. When Ichigo refuses to attack a unarmed opponent, Kenpachi, commending him, states it is simply a handicap, and while he appreciates the thought, Ichigo should save his sympathy for someone else. Kenpachi warns him to either kill or be killed. Attacking Kenpachi's exposed chest, Ichigo creates no injury with his Zanpakutō, much to his confusion. Disappointed, Kenpachi, beginning to unsheathe his Zanpakutō, tells Ichigo it is his turn, asking him not to die too quickly.
When Ichigo's hand starts to bleed, Kenpachi, asking him why he seems to be surprised his sword cannot cut him, pushes Ichigo back with his arm against Ichigo's blade. When the girl states Ichigo's sword is the same as a bladeless sword to Kenpachi, Ichigo is confused. Stating Ichigo's sword cannot scratch him because his Reiatsu is not as strong as his own, Kenpachi, expressing disappointment at having "camped out all night for this", takes out his own Zanpakutō and asks Ichigo to, at the very least, place a dent upon his sword. Trying to run away from Kenpachi, Ichigo, unable to shake him, ends up running into him at every turn. Getting bored of chasing after him, Kenpachi sits down. Happy when Ichigo confronts him, Kenpachi asks if Ichigo is preparing to die, or if he is surrendering. Refusing to do either, Ichigo, attacking, finally succeeds in injuring Kenpachi. Extremely excited at Ichigo being able to injure him, Kenpachi, telling Ichigo to not relax and to keep his Reiatsu up, attacks him.
The battle continues with Kenpachi, having the upper hand, happy to see Ichigo improving, commenting on how Ichigo is using the sounds of his bells to determine his position. When Ichigo asks if Kenpachi is underestimating him, having not released his Zanpakutō, Kenpachi reveals his Zanpakutō has no name and has never had a seal on it, so it is currently in its true form. Relieved to hear this, Ichigo goes to attack once again, but Kenpachi, stopping him, explains further about his Zanpakutō's state, stating it is always in its true form because his Reiatsu is so strong, no seal would work on it. He atabs his Zanpakutō through Ichigo's, breaking right through it and stabbing Ichigo in the chest, and tells Ichigo he warned him not to relax his Reiatsu, and it has become weak because he saw a chance to win. Retracting his sword, Kenpachi is frustrated the battle was so easy and is now over. As Kenpachi walks away, saying him being able to cut him or hear his bells does not matter if he cannot keep fighting, Ichigo thinks to himself he must not lose here, he must get up and fight, and he must save Rukia. As he watches Kenpachi walk away with his Zanpakutō over his shoulder, the mysterious man from his inner world walks towards him. Asking him if he wants to fight, the man says to choose between fighting and living. As Ichigo says he wants to win, the man says he cannot hear him. Saying it is pointless to just fight or live, Ichigo yells that he wants to win. Accepting this, the man, saying he will take him there, envelops him in darkness. After learning the name of the man - Zangetsu - Ichigo gets up, accompanied by a large burst of Reiatsu, to Kenpachi's surprise. Attacking Kenpachi, surprising him further, Ichigo slashes him down the torso. Deflecting Ichigo's next attack, Kenpachi, stabbing his sword into a nearby building, begins to laugh, becoming extremely excited, and says now the fight is just getting started, noting they should drag out the fight. Lunging at Ichigo, he allows his face to get cut by the blade just to get close to Ichigo. As the battle escalates even more, with Kenpachi continuing to fight regardless of his injuries, Ichigo learns of the drive behind Kenpachi's personality.
Realizing he and Ichigo are evenly matched and he enjoys the feeling and euphoria of the moment, Kenpachi takes off his eyepatch, noting because he considers Ichigo a worthy opponent, it only makes sense to fight him at full power. As Kenpachi's Reiatsu rises as he removes his eyepatch, Ichigo wonders what is going on. Explaining to him what the eyepatch does, Kenpachi, taking out his Zanpakutō, and cuts a nearby building in half with one slash. He tells Ichigo he will use all his power to kill him. When Ichigo increases his power, he greatly impresses Kenpachi. When Ichigo, explaining how he can do so by borrowing Zangetsu's power and fighting side by side with him, states he will never lose to someone like him who only fights by himself, Kenpachi, asking if Zangetsu is Ichigo's Zanpakutō, says he finds it ridiculous to fight side by side with it and borrow its power. He believes Zanpakutō are just tools of war and fighting side by side with one are words for weak losers who are afraid to fight on their own. Simultaneously releasing their Reiatsu, they run at each other for a final clash, which releases enough Reiatsu to destroy all the buildings around them.
The battle ends in a draw, with Ichigo falling first and Kenpachi shortly after, both admitting defeat. After carrying Kenpachi to another location, the girl calls for Retsu Unohana to heal him. Telling her he lost but needs to pay him back, Kenpachi, raising his sword, acknowledges he ignored it for a long time, and wants to communicate with it. Not hearing it speak, Kenpachi faints, scaring Yachiru.
- ↑ Bleach Official Character Book Souls, Page 262
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 103, pages 6-17
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 104, pages 1-9
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 104, page 13-17
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 104, page 20-22
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 105, page 1-8
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 108, page 13-27
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 109, page 1-5
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 109, page 11-19
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 112, page 5-15
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 112, page 18-19
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 113, page 3-7
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 113, page 10-14
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 113, page 15-18
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter 114, page 1-18