Jordi Ribes (Spain) Christian Strempler (Latin America)
Byakuya Kuchiki (朽木 白哉, Kuchiki Byakuya) is the 28th head of the Kuchiki Clan, one of the four great noble clans in Soul Society. He is also the captain of the 6th Division in the Gotei 13, and his lieutenant is Renji Abarai.
Byakuya has slate gray eyes and long black hair, which he keeps up in intricate white headpieces called kenseikan, which symbolize his nobility as the head of the Kuchiki Clan, wearing one on top of his head and another two on the right side. In addition to the standard captain uniform, he wears a white scarf, which is woven by the master weaver Tsujishirō Kuroemon III. The scarf is made from silver-white, windflower light silk (ginpaku kazahana no uzuginu) and is a family heirloom, having been handed down from generation to generation and given to each head of the Kuchiki Clan. The scarf alone is worth ten mansions in the Seireitei. He wears fingerless white tekkō which only cover the back of his hands.
17 months after Aizen's defeat, Byakuya wears hairpieces at the back of his head, but it is noted that these hairpieces are not kenseikan. He wears a variation of the captain haori, featuring a high collar with light gold edges and small, light gold tassels attached to the corners. The white scarf is no longer part of his attire.
As the 28th Head of the Kuchiki Clan, Byakuya acts in an aristocratic manner. He always seems serene and apathetic towards other people, even while actually deeply conflicted. He is notably calm, even in battle. He generally acts indifferent, bordering on arrogance, to most situations he is faced with, and rarely views his opponent as being worth his time. Byakuya is easily offended if his name is not used properly. As such, he views Ichigo Kurosaki with disdain for always referring to him improperly. When Byakuya talks with Ichigo, he calls him by his full name. Byakuya is very perceptive, fully aware of the limits of his abilities, and anything he states in comparison to an opponent is usually justified. Despite consistently stating himself to be far stronger than opponents like Zommari, Byakuya retains a formal tone, always using "watashi" which is a formal way of referring to oneself. When he was younger, he was quick to anger and very hot-headed, as noted by his grandfather.
Byakuya strongly believes in law and order. As a captain of the Gotei 13 and head of one of the great noble families, he works hard for a peaceful society. He feels that if someone in his position does not follow the rules as a good example, no one else will. He believes that to maintain the order, all law-breakers must be punished, even if it goes against his own wishes. Byakuya feels that "part of a captain's responsibilities is to make sure that the lieutenant's responsibilities are taken care of". In spite of his icy and regal manner, Byakuya cares for and protects those important to him. After the events of the Aizen incident, he admits law isn't perfect, and becomes more lenient towards his adoptive sister, Rukia. Because of his promise to Hisana, Byakuya smothered Rukia despite his pride by making sure she would never become a seated officer because of the risks that involve missions for such positions.
Byakuya is popular among the female Shinigami of Soul Society, and was voted number one in the "captain we desire to release a photo book for" poll taken by the Shinigami Women's Association. He likes Japanese cherry blossoms, night-time walks, spicy food, and bananas, but does not like sweets. Byakuya excels in calligraphy.
Byakuya was born into the Kuchiki Clan, and grew up in the Kuchiki Mansion in Seireitei. He would spend countless hours training, preparing to take over the leadership of the Kuchiki family.
Yoruichi Shihōin would often visit the Kuchiki Manor to play a game of tag with Byakuya. On one such occasion, approximately 110 years ago, she is presented to a training Byakuya by his grandfather, Ginrei Kuchiki. Upon seeing Yoruichi, he attacked and insulted her. Yoruichi playfully teased him, complaining about his greeting after coming all the way there to see him. Byakuya, expressing his displeasure at seeing her, stated he would be the head of the Kuchiki Clan soon enough, so he had no time to waste on her. Yoruichi, stealing his hair tie, exclaimed that if the head of the Kuchiki Clan could get his hair tie stolen by a girl at play, she is worried about its future. She used Shunpo to escape from him, leaving an angry Byakuya, claiming his superiority, promising to make her see the error of her ways.
Fifty-five years ago, Byakuya married Hisana Kuchiki, a commoner from Rukongai, breaking the rules by accepting her into the noble Kuchiki Clan. Five years after the marriage, she became sick and was near death. Hisana asked Byakuya to find and adopt her biological sister, Rukia, whom she had abandoned as a baby, as her final wish. She made him promise he would not tell Rukia she is her sister. One year later, Byakuya, finding Rukia at the Shin'ō Academy, immediately adopted her into the Kuchiki Clan. By adopting her, Byakuya respected his late wife's final wish, but had broken the rules of his clan again. He later swore upon his parents' graves he would never break the rules again, no matter what.
Less than 49 years ago, not long before Rukia joined the Gotei 13, Byakuya became the captain of the 6th Division. Gin Ichimaru, becoming captain of the 3rd Division at the same time, would often start conversations with Byakuya when they crossed paths.
When Isshin Shiba, captain of the 10th Division, makes his report concerning the mysterious Hollow and the string of events occurring in Naruki City, Byakuya is present to hear his speech, along with all of the other captains of the Gotei 13.
Agent of the Shinigami arc
Byakuya first appears on a mission with his lieutenant, Renji Abarai, to capture and return Rukia Kuchiki to Soul Society and kill Ichigo Kurosaki. He watches as Renji attacks Rukia, and stands by as Uryū Ishida enters into the conflict between the two. Shortly after Renji defeats Ishida, Byakuya, bearing witness to the arrival of Ichigo, watches as Renji engages him. When Renji is almost hit by Ichigo, Byakuya tells his lieutenant he is being too careless, but Renji simply states Ichigo is nothing to worry about. Byakuya explains he knew Ichigo looked familiar, as 33 hours ago, Special Forces obtained his image after he fought a Menos Grande, giving it a scar.
Eventually, Ichigo gains the upper hand against Renji. As he prepares for a finishing strike, Byakuya cuts Ichigo's sword in two, and subsequently inflicts a grievous wound on his chest. Byakuya asks Renji if something is wrong, who tells him there was no need for him to directly attack Ichigo, as he could have finished him. Byakuya tells him not to be like that, for if he is always the spectator, his skills may degrade. When Rukia runs to Ichigo's body, Byakuya asks her if she would still go to Ichigo's side after all that has just happened, and tells her he understands, as he does resemble "him". Ichigo, coming to, grabs Byakuya's leg. Byakuya tells him to let go, but Ichigo defiantly tells him he can’t hear him, and he should look at him when talking to him. Kicking his arm away, Rukia scolds Ichigo, and tells Byakuya she is ready to leave. She asks Byakuya to leave Ichigo be, to which he agrees. He states Ichigo should die from his injuries in a half hour, and if he does survive, his Shinigami powers will be gone. He has Renji open a Senkaimon back to Soul Society.
Later, in Soul Society, Byakuya informs Rukia she is to be executed for her crimes. Later, he comes across 11th Division Captain Kenpachi Zaraki and 3rd Division Captain Gin Ichimaru, both of them teasing him about Rukia being sentenced to death as a criminal. Byakuya says he didn't think lower-class people could understand the feelings of nobles. Byakuya and Kenpachi bicker and threaten each other, but Gin steps in, ending the dispute, and they leave.
Soul Society arc
Byakuya is present during the captain's emergency meeting called by Captain-Commander Yamamoto, where he remains silent throughout the bickering between his fellow captains. Upon Renji's defeat by Ichigo, Renji is brought to a secure location and watched over by Lieutenants Izuru Kira and Momo Hinamori, who discuss calling for the 4th Division's medics. Byakuya tells them there is no need, as Renji is to be thrown in jail. When Momo pleads with him, Byakuya tells her that since Renji went alone to fight, it is unacceptable that he lost. Momo asks him how he can say that, but she is stopped by Izuru, who apologizes to Byakuya before a reluctant Momo does the same.
Byakuya later interrupts Ganju Shiba and Hanatarō Yamada's attempt to rescue Rukia from the Shishinrō. Byakuya tells Ganju he had sensed some faint spiritual pressure going toward Shishinrō, initially thinking it was someone strong hiding their Reiatsu, but it turned out to be a big fat bug. When Ganju attacks, Byakuya, severely damaging Ganju's arm, tells him to be gone. Ganju tells him a coward who could be scared away by such an attack does not exist in the Shiba family.
Upon hearing his family name, Byakuya, apologizing for not hitting Ganju harder, ignores Rukia's plea and releases his Shikai, severely injuring Ganju. As Byakuya prepares to finish off Ganju, he is stopped by Jūshirō Ukitake, who states the release of a Zanpakutō in Konnatokoru is a first class offense. Byakuya informs him of the special war time orders, which had been activated, lifting this ban. Byakuya and Ukitake sense the arrival of a strong spiritual pressure at the level of a captain.Ichigo, showing up, attempts to engage Byakuya in combat. Ukitake asks Byakuya who Ichigo is, but Byakuya says he is no one.
After a brief exchange of words, Byakuya states he doesn't know how Ichigo has reacquired Shinigami powers, but he should have resumed his normal Human life. After failing in an attempt to use Senka on Ichigo, Byakuya releases Senbonzakura's Shikai, but is stopped by Yoruichi. Byakuya, recognizing her, watches as she knocks Ichigo out. When Byakuya states she will not be able to escape easily, Yoruichi asks him if he ever won even one time against her in a game of tag, and Byakuya asks if they should try again. The two engage in a test of speed using Shunpo, with Yoruichi, carrying an unconscious Ichigo, staying a step ahead of Byakuya. Yoruichi, moving to the top of a nearby building, yells down to Byakuya that in three days, she will make Ichigo stronger than him, and that their fight is on hold until then. She flees with Ichigo. Byakuya, leaving the area, tells Ukitake he has lost interest, and that Ukitake can do whatever he wants to do with the Ryoka.
After the date of Rukia's execution is moved up, Ukitake tries to convince Byakuya to try to stop it. Byakuya simply brushes him off, saying he will honor Central 46's decision. When Ukitake's illness flairs up, Byakuya tells him not to become worked up over it, reminding him of the loss of his former lieutenant. Stating Rukia is a member of his family and not Ukitake's, he insists it does not concern Ukitake.
On the morning of Rukia's execution, Byakuya is in his quarters, praying at the shrine to his wife, when he is told the execution is about to commence. He, saying goodbye to Hisana's picture, departs for the execution grounds. Before reaching Sōkyoku Hill, he encounters Renji, who, having escaped from jail, has fought his way through his fellow 6th Division members in a bid to save Rukia. Upon learning of Renji's intentions, Byakuya states he will not allow him to do so. Byakuya tries to use Senka to defeat Renji swiftly, but his lieutenant blocks the attack. Byakuya attempts to release his Shikai, but Renji stops it with his own Shikai. Renji, telling Byakuya of his long standing desire to surpass him, activates his Bankai.
Byakuya, somewhat surprised, asks Renji when he acquired Bankai. Renji tells him he will never know, since he never cared about his subordinates. Renji attacks his captain, who affirms he is indeed using Bankai. Byakuya uses his Shikai to attack Renji's Bankai, seemingly breaking it apart. However, it reconstitutes itself, briefly forcing Byakuya to his knee. As Renji tries to attack again, Byakuya uses Sōkatsui, disrupting the movements of his Bankai, before binding Renji with Rikujōkōrō. Byakuya, releasing his Bankai, grievously injures Renji.
Byakuya tells Renji he should be proud to still retain the form of his body after being struck by his Bankai. Renji, refusing to give up, lunges at Byakuya, who uses his Bankai to immobilize him. Commenting on the disappearance of Renji's Bankai, he threatens to kill him. Renji, telling him he swore on his soul to save Rukia, attempts to attack him again, but his sword breaks upon contact, and he falls to the ground, defeated. Byakuya throws his scarf on top of Renji, congratulating him on having given Byakuya a superficial injury, before leaving.
Byakuya, arriving at Rukia's execution, refuses to look at his sister. As Rukia's execution commences, Byakuya is greatly surprised at the arrival and interference of Ichigo. Byakuya looks on as Ichigo saves Rukia, and after Ichigo easily dispatches three lieutenants, Byakuya attacks him. When Ichigo asks Byakuya why he is not trying to save Rukia, Byakuya, brushing it off, states Ichigo would not understand. The two clash, and Byakuya states he will kill Ichigo and execute Rukia himself.
Byakuya, taunted by Ichigo, releases his Shikai, only for Ichigo to counter it with a Getsuga Tenshō, which injures Byakuya's left hand. Byakuya, activating his Bankai, injures Ichigo, who admits his error of using only his Shikai. Unimpressed, Byakuya says he is talking as though he has achieved Bankai, which Ichigo claims is the case. Byakuya, not believing him, looks on in disbelief as Ichigo activates his Bankai, Tensa Zangetsu. Before Byakuya, who is confused by the small size of the Bankai, can attack, Ichigo, getting up close, points the tip of his blade at Byakuya's throat. He asks Byakuya if pride has anything to do with Rukia's execution, because if so, he will step all over it.
When Ichigo backs off, Byakuya calls him arrogant for not attacking when he had the chance. They continue fighting, until Ichigo becomes so fast Senbonzakura Kageyoshi is unable keep up with him. Byakuya begins using his hand to direct his Bankai, causing it to move even faster. However, Ichigo fends it off and, before Byakuya realizes it, appears behind him and stabs the captain. Realizing the power of Ichigo's Bankai, Byakuya, promising to destroy it, activates his Senkei technique. As they continue, Byakuya notes Ichigo's movements are becoming slower. Byakuya, calling forth one of the surrounding swords to stab Ichigo in the foot, pierces Ichigo's shoulder with Byakurai. Byakuya, commending him on having made it as far as he did, says he must realize by now this is the end. He prepares for a finishing blow, but Ichigo's inner Hollow, taking over, stops Byakuya's attack.
A stunned Byakuya is slashed across his chest. Regaining his composure, he dodges a black Getsuga Tenshō. Seeing the Hollow mask, Byakuya asks if he is a Hollow, but Ichigo, ripping off the mask, apologizes for the Hollow’s interference. Byakuya, agreeing to ignore what just transpired, points out neither of them have the strength to continue this for much longer. They agree to end the battle with the next blow. When Ichigo asks Byakuya why he won’t save Rukia, Byakuya tells him he will answer that question if Ichigo defeats him. Byakuya uses the technique Shūkei, Hakuteiken, and the two, charging at each other, release a torrent of powerful Reiatsu.
Both are badly wounded by this, and Byakuya reveals his reasons for not saving Rukia. Ichigo tells him that if he was in his position, he would fight the rules. Byakuya realizes Ichigo was fighting Soul Society's rules rather than him personally, and muses that Ichigo has the same personality as Kaien Shiba. Byakuya, telling Ichigo his ferocity has shattered his blade and he will no longer pursue Rukia's death, leaves the area.
Later, when Sōsuke Aizen orders Gin Ichimaru to kill Rukia, Byakuya, saving her life, takes the attack with his body instead. Overwhelmed by his injuries, Byakuya collapses in Rukia's arms. While Captain Unohana treats him for his massive injuries, Byakuya, telling Rukia the truth of her past, explains why he was conflicted for so long between his promises to Hisana and his parents, making it hard for him to determine the role he should take when she was sentenced to be executed. He thanks Ichigo for helping him make his decision to save Rukia in the end, and apologizes to Rukia.
Bount arc (anime only)
Note: Events occurring in this arc are only in the anime and do not constitute canon material.
Click "show" to read the arc plot.
When the Bount threat to Soul Society becomes serious, Byakuya, receiving a message from Captain-Commander Yamamoto, leaves to meet up with him. The next morning, Byakuya arrives at the First Division barracks. While there, Yamamoto tells Byakuya he believes Captain Kurotsuchi may have betrayed them. He asks Byakuya to check if there is any information on the Bount in the Kuchiki Clan's archive, which Byakuya agrees to do.
Byakuya later attends a captains meeting, where Yamamoto informs the other captains of what Byakuya's search revealed. He is present when a messenger arrives, reporting Rukia is currently fighting a Bount. Byakuya, arriving at the fight, saves Rukia from Yoshi, and has Rukia taken to the Kuchiki Manor to recuperate. After a brief exchange, Ichigo asks Byakuya to join with him to defeat the Bount, but Byakuya tells him to go back to his world, as the Gotei 13 will take care of the situation in Soul Society. Later, in a forest in Rukongai, Byakuya encounters the Bount leader Jin Kariya, and the two begin to fight.
When Byakuya asks Kariya about his intentions, Kariya tells him he is the most famous captain, and as such, his defeat would shock and demoralize all of Seireitei. Byakuya, dismissing this as nonsense, attacks Kariya, who responds with wind-based attacks, causing Byakuya to become enveloped in a tornado. Byakuya responds with Kidō, but Kariya evades his attacks. Continuing to attack relentlessly, they are both enveloped in a tornado of Senbonzakura's blades. Ichigo, arriving, disrupts the tornado with a Getsuga Tenshō, freeing the two combatants. Byakuya, noticing Kariya absorbing Reishi, listens as he explains how Bount can use the abundant Reishi in Soul Society to empower and heal themselves. Byakuya watches as Ichigo attacks Kariya with his Bankai, and while they are distracted, Byakuya uses his own Bankai to attack, telling Ichigo he is in the way.
Kariya admits Byakuya is much better than he thought, but reminds him he can continuously heal. As the trio battle, a large blast catches their attention. When the smoke clears, Ran'Tao, the creator of the Bounts, emerges. After a brief exchange between Ran'Tao, Ichigo, and Kariya, Byakuya continues to attack Kariya. They are all at a stalemate until Koga's doll, Dalk, attacks them. As Koga and Kariya make their escape, Dalk attacks, but Byakuya uses Shunpo to dodge every attack. After the battle, Byakuya, preparing to leave, is asked by Ichigo if Kariya should be followed. Byakuya tells him he is already gone, and there will be another time to catch him. Later, Byakuya watches Ichigo's final battle with Kariya, fully confident in Ichigo's ability to defeat him.
Some time after attending an emergency captains meeting, Byakuya travels to the Human World to retrieve Tōshirō Hitsugaya's team on Captain-Commander Yamamoto's order. He secretly allows Rukia and Renji to return to the Human World to assist in the rescue of Orihime Inoue, stating he was only ordered to bring them back to Soul Society, and what they chose to do afterwards was none of his concern.
Hueco Mundo arc
Byakuya is told Rukia and Renji have disappeared, and that the Second Division is looking for them throughout Seireitei. Byakuya later arrives in Las Noches just in time to save Rukia from the 7th Espada, Zommari Rureaux. Byakuya, refusing to tell the enemy who he is, asks him if he is the one who injured Rukia. Zommari tells him he is not the one, but he was going to finish the job.
The pair demonstrate their speed, with Zommari, claiming to have the fastest Sonído among the Espada, explaining his Gemelos Sonído allows him to create quasi-clones. Byakuya, criticizing him for revealing his ability, uses Utsusemi to escape one of Zommari's attacks. After the pair exchange criticisms and taunts, Zommari, releasing his Zanpakutō, uses his Amor ability to take control of Byakuya's left leg. Byakuya responds by severing the tendons of his left leg. Zommari turns his attention to the unconscious Rukia, but Byakuya shields her body with his own.Hanatarō Yamada follows Byakuya onto the battlefield, but Byakuya orders Hanatarō back to avoid him getting caught up in the battle.
When Byakuya realizes Zommari has taken possession of his left hand, he, cutting the tendons, uses Shō to free Rukia from the ice, instructing Hanatarō to fall back with her. Zommari, revealing he has taken control of Rukia's head and thus controls her entire body, has her slash Hanatarō across the chest. He warns Byakuya to drop his sword, or he will force Rukia to slit her own throat. Byakuya, restraining Rukia with Rikujōkōrō, releases his Bankai. Zommari, becoming desperate, tries to use the full range of his power to control Byakuya's Bankai, but Byakuya, stating there are too many blades for Zommari to control, activates his "Gōkei" technique to crush Zommari.
Surviving, Zommari tries to use his power to gain control of Byakuya, who counters by using Dankū. Byakuya explains that when he used Kidō to stop Rukia's possession, he deduced Zommari's ability to possess was somewhat similar to Kidō, so it could be canceled out by Kidō. Zommari, begging for mercy, asks him to show some compassion. He angrily shouts at Byakuya that Shinigami are arrogant, taking an unnatural authority to proclaim Hollows as evil. Byakuya, impassive, states he fought him because Zommari attacked Byakuya's pride (referring to Rukia) and kills him. Byakuya instructs Isane Kotetsu to come out of her hiding place and take care of Rukia and Hanatarō. When Rukia wakes up while being healed, Byakuya, brushing off her concern, tells her to rest, as there is a much bigger fight coming.
The New Captain Shūsuke Amagai arc (anime only)
Note: Events occurring in this arc are only in the anime and do not constitute canon material.
Click "show" to read the arc plot.
Byakuya is present at a captains meeting where the new captain of the 3rd Division, Shūsuke Amagai is introduced. Byakuya has a lack of interest in the new captain, and when the meeting is over, he simply leaves. He is later sent a Jigokuchō by the Captain-Commander, which states Menos are invading the Dangai. Some time later, Byakuya asks Renji if he is in charge of the search party for Rukia and Ichigo, which Renji confirms to be the case. Renji asks Byakuya what he is going to do about them, saying there has to be a reason for their actions. Byakuya tells him it does not matter, as he has no compassion for those who would violate the peace of Soul Society. He gives Renji sole authority over the search party.
Upon realization of the treasonous actions of the Kasumiōji Clan, Yamamoto orders Byakuya and the 6th Division to lead the infiltration of the Kasumiōji Clan's compound. Byakuya, arriving in the middle of the fight between Shūsuke Amagai and Captain Tōshirō Hitsugaya, relays the order to subdue the Kasumiōji Clan. Shortly thereafter, Hitsugaya and Byakuya are waiting atop of a roof when the 10th Division Lieutenant Rangiku Matsumoto arrives, asking what is going on. Byakuya explains that since the Kasumiōji Clan are a noble family with special status, the Gotei 13 could never interfere with them unless they violated a serious law.
He later watches the battle between Amagai and Ichigo. He bears witness to Yoruichi explaining the details behind what truly happened to Amagai's father. Byakuya prevents Ichigo from stopping Amagai from taking his own life, claiming that Amagai "has pride as well". He and the others watch as Amagai destroys himself because of his disgraceful actions.
Fake Karakura Town arc
As Yammy Llargo is about to crush Ichigo, Byakuya fires Sōkatsui at the Espada, while Kenpachi Zaraki cuts off one of Yammy's legs. The two captains bicker for a while. As Kenpachi begins to fight Yammy on his own, Byakuya stops Ichigo from joining the fight, telling him he has to return to the Human World. Mayuri Kurotsuchi appears with a cart, which Byakuya asks him about, before opening a Garganta. Ichigo begins to protest again, but Byakuya reminds him that his true duty is to protect Karakura Town, convincing Ichigo to go. He asks Mayuri why he chose to remain in Hueco Mundo when there must have been more things on Earth which would have piqued his curiosity. Mayuri, assuring him he is not plotting anything, states there are "more interesting" corpses in Hueco Mundo, and he will examine the Human World later. Byakuya says he is surprised to hear such words coming from Mayuri, since it sounds like he believes in Ichigo and his ability to end the war.
As Byakuya watches Kenpachi take down Yammy, the battle-crazed captain asks Byakuya to finish off Yammy. Byakuya tells him that is a job for a barbarian like Kenpachi. Yammy, getting back up, fires a Cero at them. They both dodge the Cero, and as they continue to bicker, Byakuya releases his Bankai. Yammy's huge form is knocked off-balance by their powerful attack, and he uses his anger to transform. He warns the captains that making him angrier is the last thing they want to do, as his release increases in strength the angrier he becomes.
After defeating Yammy, Byakuya and Kenpachi exit a Garganta in Soul Society. The 4th Division immediately responds to their arrival, taking note that while both are standing, they are horribly injured. After their injuries are treated, Byakuya and Kenpachi, along with Shunsui, are scolded by Yamamoto for losing their respective haori. When the captains take the matter lightly, with Byakuya saying he can easily replace the cheap material, Yamamoto grows even angrier.
Zanpakutō Unknown Tales arc (anime only)
Note: Events occurring in this arc are only in the anime and do not constitute canon material.
Click "show" to read the arc plot.
Byakuya and Renji duel, with many Shinigami looking on. When Byakuya activates Bankai, Muramasa calls out to his Zanpakutō, telling it to hear his voice, causing one of the blades to cut Byakuya's arm. After a couple of attacks, he seals his Zanpakutō, and Renji notes something is wrong. Byakuya dismisses him, saying they are done for the day. He is later called to Sōkyoku Hill for an emergency meeting, where he and the other Shinigami are confronted by Muramasa. He witnesses his Zanpakutō's spirit materializing and joining Muramasa's side. Asking Muramasa who he is, he watches as the new enemy declares war on the Shinigami. Byakuya later stops Gonryōmaru from attacking Rukia. He is attacked by Senbonzakura, whose Shikai swallows up Byakuya.
Later, Byakuya (without his captain haori) knocks out a group of guards at the Seireitei records building. Sometime after this, he, standing on top of a building, watches as Ichigo is attacked by Senbonzakura. When Ichigo notices him, he uses Shunpo and disappears. While Senbonzakura and Ichigo are fighting, he reappears, stopping Senbonzakura from continuing. Appearing to be defecting, he states he is following his inner desires to protect his pride. Byakuya warns Ichigo to stay away from Muramasa, or he will die. Senbonzakura, Muramasa, and Byakuya depart.
Byakuya arrives in the Zanpakutō Spirits' hideout, where he is questioned about his reasons for defecting. Some of the spirits do not want to work with him, as they feel it would go against their original purpose of betraying the Shinigami. Senbonzakura commands his former master to destroy Sode no Shirayuki to prove his loyalty. Thinking he would not do this, the others prepare to attack him. Byakuya surprises them by fighting and defeating Sode no Shirayuki. Kazeshini is enraged, but Muramasa commends Byakuya's resolve, and the other Zanpakutō accept him. Muramasa gives Byakuya a task. Later, in the partially-destroyed Sixth Division offices, Byakuya is found among a pile of bodies by Rukia. Senbonzakura tosses the broken fragments of her sword to Rukia. Renji questions Byakuya before trying to arrest him as a co-conspirator. Byakuya defeats him, and is subsequently asked by the Zanpakutō spirits why he did not finish Renji off. Kazeshini prepares to step in to do the job, but the Onmitsukidō, several senior Gotei 13 officers, and Ichigo surround them.
As the fight between Shinigami and Zanpakutō begins, Byakuya watches silently. Eventually, Kenpachi engages Byakuya. After it becomes clear he may lose if he doesn't fight seriously, after just managing to dodge a massive blow's full impact, Byakuya unleashes his Shikai. Before they can finish their fight, Ashisogi Jizō ravages the battlefield, allowing Byakuya to escape with Senbonzakura. Upon returning to Muramasa's hideout, he witnesses a Jigokuchō communicating with Muramasa, and asks if the Zanpakutō Spirit intends to travel to the Human World. Instead, Muramasa brings Byakuya to the location of Yamamoto.
He approaches the Captain-Commander, but is impeded by a burst of fiery spiritual energy. Byakuya later witnesses the return of an injured Kazeshini, who openly expresses his unwillingness to risk his life for a Shinigami. Byakuya later accompanies Muramasa and Senbonzakura to the Human World. Muramasa thanks Byakuya for leading him to Karakura Town, saying he likely would not have found it without his aid. Byakuya leaves Muramasa's side to confirm that there are no Hollows nearby. After Muramasa frees Kōga Kuchiki, the rogue Shinigami tries to strike down Muramasa. Before he can do so, however, Byakuya appears and blocks his sword, expressing his shock at how Kōga calls his own Zanpakutō a "tool" and attacks it. He says Kōga does not deserve to be called a Shinigami.
It is revealed Byakuya only pretended to be a traitor in order to fulfill his promise to his grandfather to find and destroy Kōga should he ever resurface. With Ichigo and Rukia dealing with the unstable Muramasa and the Hollows he is releasing, Byakuya concentrates on Kōga. Kōga grabs one of the spears which sealed him, and the two quickly show themselves to be well matched in swordsmanship, Shunpo, and Kidō. When Kōga tries to utilize his unique powers to bind and mislead Byakuya, Senbonzakura lends his vision and power to Byakuya. They activate their Bankai's Senkei form, and as Kōga becomes enraged that Byakuya is able to fight as his equal, Byakuya explains it is only natural, as Kōga arrogantly restricted his full potential by abandoning his Zanpakutō, while Byakuya learned to trust in his Zanpakutō and hence unleash his true potential. Byakuya unleashes his Bankai's Shūkei form, and charges at Kōga for a final clash, defeating him. Pitying Kōga for falling so much to his ego, Byakuya goes to aid the others in dealing with Muramasa, where he discovers Muramasa's unstable energy has opened a Garganta, caused him to fuse with all the Hollows which came out, and transformed him into a giant dome-like structure which continues to grow.
Byakuya, with Senbonzakura's assistance, succeeds in destroying several Gillians. Soon, the other Shinigami and their recently freed Zanpakutō spirits join in the fight. Knowing the only way to stop the Gillians is to seal the Garganta, Byakuya decides to use his spiritual energy, reinforced by Senbonzakura's, to seal the portal. Their allies, upon realizing what they are attempting, join in and add their own Reiatsu, eventually closing the Garganta. After finishing off the last of the Gillians, Byakuya and the other Shinigami watch as the dome collapses, revealing Ichigo and a dying Muramasa. After Muramasa dies and apologizes for his mistakes, Byakuya, approaching Ichigo, sincerely thanks him for all he has done.
Beast Swords arc (anime only)
Note: Events occurring in this arc are only in the anime and do not constitute canon material.
Click "show" to read the arc plot.
Back in Soul Society, the Gotei 13 is given a day off to party and recover from the recent chaos. Byakuya uses his clan's connections and money to greatly speed up the repairs to Seireitei, and allows his Division to celebrate at his mansion. Two creatures, attacking the manor, are fought off by Zanpakutō Spirits, surprising Byakuya, who wonders how the spirits can still materialize. After the spirits dispatch one of the intruders and the other flees, Byakuya and Rukia go to Mayuri Kurotsuchi for answers. Mayuri explains that several of the remaining rogue spirits succeeded in killing their masters, but rather than dying with their master, they became what Mayuri calls "Tōjū." Still having duties to take care of, Byakuya, putting Rukia in charge of this ordeal, has Senbonzakura join her.
Gotei 13 Invading Army arc (anime only)
Note: Events occurring in this arc are only in the anime and do not constitute canon material.
Click "show" to read the arc plot.
Having entered the Dangai as part of a survey team, Byakuya emerges from the Senkaimon in Soul Society with Renji and Hitsugaya. They immediately enter the office of Captain-Commander Yamamoto, presenting him with the Substitute Shinigami Badge of Ichigo Kurosaki, which they found in the Dangai. They explain how they lost contact with the original search team in the Dangai, and that the badge was found at the rendezvous site. Along with several other Shinigami, Byakuya apprehends Ichigo. Some time later, upon arriving in the Human World, Byakuya saves Ichigo from Kagerōza Inaba. The next day, Byakuya and the Shinigami hold a meeting about the current situation in Ichigo's room.
Along with Komamura, Hitsugaya, and Kenpachi, Byakuya decides to travel back to Soul Society in order to take out Inaba. He deduces that the Kōtotsu will appear any time a Shinigami enters the Dangai, a theory Urahara agrees with. While the captains are running behind the Kōtotsu, the Kōryū closes in on them, forcing Komamura to stay behind and unleash his Bankai so the others can complete their journey. The remaining three captains split up in order to infiltrate the Twelfth Division's barracks. Byakuya encounters the Reigai counterpart of Hitsugaya. The two battle intensely, and Byakuya is forced to use his Gōkei technique to defeat the Reigai. He is then confronted by a Reigai copy of himself."
As the skirmish goes on, Byakuya is forced to fall back. As the Reigai's Shikai pursues him, it proceeds to cut him multiple times, much to his surprise. Later, as Byakuya perches atop a tower, his Reigai counterpart states his wounds are too severe to allow him to fight any longer. Byakuya continues to fight, releasing his Bankai, and defeats the Reigai. He rejoins the other captains as they confront Inaba. Byakuya, pulling back as several Reigai appear before them, uses his Bankai to surround the Reigai, which creates an opening for the other Shinigami to attack, as he tells them to follow through.
Byakuya and the other Shinigami watch as Mayuri fights Inaba. As Inaba releases the Reigai's true power, Byakuya and the other Shinigami prepare to fight them. As the Reigai jump down to attack the captains, Byakuya dodges their initial blows, coming face-to-face with the remade Reigai-Byakuya. Eventually, Byakuya and the other captains are forced to retreat. They return in time to help Ichigo and Kisuke against the Reigai. Determined to settle things once and for all, Byakuya, facing his Reigai counterpart, insists on proving who is the true head of the Kuchiki Clan.
As the battle continues, the Reigai, increasing in numbers, become much more dangerous, attacking whomever they see. The lieutenants arrive and aid the captains, which allows Byakuya to save Yoruichi from a surprise attack by Reigai-Shunsui, despite becoming injured in the process. As the battle progresses, Byakuya realizes the Reigai value self-preservation the most, and will not attack first in fear of being outnumbered. Byakuya deduces these ideals of relying on nobody and never truly trusting even their allies are traits the Reigai acquired from Inaba. While Reigai-Hitsugaya is surprised by the captains fighting together, Byakuya states they will do what they must to protect Soul Society. Later, Byakuya watches as the Reigai help stop Yushima.
The Lost Substitute Shinigami arc
Byakuya is among those who placed their energy into the sword prepared by Kisuke Urahara to help restore Ichigo's powers. After Rukia stabs Ichigo with this sword, Byakuya exits a Senkaimon with several other Shinigami. Byakuya interrupts Hitsugaya as he explains Kūgo Ginjō's status as the first Substitute Shinigami to Ichigo. Hitsugaya states he will leave the details until later. As Yukio brings each of the duels into different pocket dimensions, Byakuya is paired with Tsukishima. Byakuya says he is lucky he is the one fighting him, as Ichigo is too lenient and he cannot imagine Ichigo killing Tsukishima. Byakuya, blocking Tsukishima's attack with his Shikai, states he despises the way Tsukishima fights, stealing the bonds of camaraderie and torturing opponents, which he views as the height of cowardice.
Tsukishima inserts his presence into a part of the ground using Book of the End, creating a trap which Byakuya subsequently triggers. Byakuya, managing to escape from it, learns Tsukishima inserted himself into his Zanpakutō's past when he blocked a previous attack, thus making him aware of all its techniques. Tsukishima, slashing Byakuya across the chest, reveals he is fully aware of Byakuya's "Hurtless Area," knowing that the best tactic against his Shikai and Bankai is to get close to Byakuya to avoid damage. Amazed Tsukishima has learned so much about his abilities, Byakuya surmises that even his Bankai attacks will have no effect on Tsukishima, to which the Fullbringer agrees. Byakuya reseals Senbonzakura to remove the "Hurtless Area", but Tsukishima, displaying the immense cutting power of his Fullbring, slices Byakuya's blade in two. While Tsukishima mocks Byakuya, he calmly picks up the severed blade and drops it with his sword, activating his Bankai.
Knowing where Tsukishima will strike, Byakuya takes the risk of allowing his blades to enter the "Hurtless Area". While Tsukishima applauds Byakuya's ingenuity and improved speed with his Bankai, he exploits the Bankai's speed by moving close enough to let the blades injure Byakuya's arm. Byakuya, grabbing some of Senbonzakura's blades, throws them through Tsukishima's chest. Admitting he enjoyed fighting in a situation where preparation was irrelevant, Byakuya thanks Tsukishima for a joyful battle as the Fullbringer collapses. Acknowledging defeat, Tsukishima asks Byakuya if he has any remorse for killing the man he claims he is thankful to before he can repay him. Byakuya admits he regrets not being able to repay him, but has no remorse for Tsukishima, as he is Ichigo's enemy. He later finds the unconscious Rukia.
Along with the other captains, he looks on as Ichigo breaks apart the last remaining pocket dimension with his Bankai. To Rukia's surprise, Byakuya and the others turn to leave. Byakuya reminds her they were only tasked with observing Ichigo and his decision. When Ichigo subsequently goes to Soul Society to seek the return of Kūgo's body, Byakuya, informed of his arrival, is among the captains present to hear Ichigo's request.
The Thousand-Year Blood War arc
Byakuya and Renji attend the official funeral of Lieutenant Chōjirō Sasakibe. While waiting for the cremation to begin, Byakuya tells Renji of Chōjirō's abilities and loyalty to Yamamoto. He later attends a captain's meeting, where he is informed about Wandenreich's infiltration, and, along with the other captains, is ordered to prepare for war. When the Wandenreich attack the Seireitei again, Byakuya is seated in front of a group of Shinigami when they notice the assault. He later arrives to assist Renji in his fight against Äs Nödt and Mask De Masculine, promptly incapacitating the latter. He prepares to activate his Bankai in an attempt to discover what seal the Wandenreich use to suppress them. However, upon activating Senbonzakura Kageyoshi, it is immediately stolen by Äs, who used his Medallion. Byakuya stops Renji from using his Bankai, stating he must not lose it as well. Byakuya is later notified via transmitter swords, along with the other captains and lieutenants, by Rin Tsubokura that Ichigo is currently heading to Soul Society.
As Byakuya is attacked by Äs Nödt's arrows, he relays to a worried Renji they would be foolish to attack together, and he should stand back and watch the fight so he can gain information on how to take down the enemy. Äs Nödt asks Byakuya if he realizes he is experiencing fear, which is what is making it hard for him to mount an effective attack or defense against him. He further details that this fear is a result of a unique ability administered by its Heilig Pfeil. Äs Nödt goes into a speech, detailing the nature of fear, and commends Byakuya for holding out as long as he has against it. Byakuya attempts to strike the Quincy, but Äs, dodging the attack, counters by impaling his hand through Byakuya's chest, grievously wounding him. The Quincy explains that this fear is real and not based on reason, and therefore it is not something one can overcome. Byakuya moves to strike Äs, but he, moving out of the way, activates his medallion, bringing forth a ring of blades from "Senbonzakura Kageyoshi", which float about the Quincy. He uses the blades to attack Byakuya, shredding the captain with his own power.
Äs states there is nothing Byakuya can do, as there is no way he can win against his own Bankai using his Shikai. Renji attempts to intervene using his own Shikai. While Renji attacks, Byakuya attempts to use his Shikai against the Quincy, who counters with a storm of blades. The storm of blades is so powerful, it sends Byakuya crashing into a nearby wall. As Byakuya asks Renji and Rukia to forgive him, his Zanpakutō breaks into pieces, and he passes out from his wounds.
Ichigo arrives in Soul Society and immediately speaks to Byakuya about Rukia and Renji, assuring him they are alive. Knowing he will succumb to his wounds soon, Byakuya admits to Ichigo he is ashamed of letting the enemy invade Soul Society, and regrets letting them kill many Shinigami, causing them, their subordinates, and their families to suffer. Despite Ichigo being a Human, who should not be involved in the affairs of Soul Society, Byakuya asks Ichigo to protect Soul Society. After Ichigo leaves, Byakuya thinks about the Substitute Shinigami's lack of a reply, noting that it is typical of him and he understands. He drops his Zanpakutō, which disintegrates.
After the battle for Soul Society ends, Byakuya is reported to have narrowly escaped death, despite being left in a comatose state.Senjumaru Shutara later brings the comatose Byakuya to the Royal Guard's Tenchūren, along with Rukia and Renji, so he can be taken to the Royal Palace. Unohana notes their condition is too critical for them to leave Seireitei, but the Royal Guard insist on taking them, saying Byakuya will die if he remains there.
Upon arriving in Reiōkyū, Byakuya and the other wounded are taken to Tenjirō Kirinji's headquarters, where they are placed in his "Blood Hell Pond" hot springs, allowing their unique healing properties to treat the wounded Shinigami. He takes the longest to heal among all who visited there, as well as the longest anyone has been in the hot springs, according to Kirinji. When asked if he is dizzy, Byakuya states that he is far too weak to be headstrong. He then states that he will use this time to be at the level where he can justify the pride he once held.
Later, having completed his training with the Royal Guard, Byakuya returns to Soul Society and regains his Bankai through Kisuke Urahara's Shin'eiyaku. He then arrives to save Rukia as she is overwhelmed by Äs' Tatarforas ability by cutting through the eyes that the ability generates, saving Rukia.
Äs begins mocking Byakuya for his previous defeat at his hands. Äs then unleashes his attack on Byakuya, only for the captain to repel with a more solid construct of his Shikai. When Äs believes it to be Byakuya's Bankai, he corrects the Quincy, explaining that during his loss of Bankai, he sought to obtain a deeper and more refined understanding of his Zanpakutō, and Byakuya thanks his opponent for it. Taking this as an insult, Äs becomes infuriated and determined to drive Byakuya into the deepest levels of fear, transforming yet again. Byakuya calmly turns his attention to Rukia, applauding her for growing so strong. Insisting that fear is only a choice, he helps Rukia overcome her immobilizing fear and entrusts Rukia with finishing Äs.
After Rukia freezes Äs to death, Byakuya tells her to slowly melt out of her Bankai so she does not damage herself. Commenting on how splendid Rukia's Bankai is, Byakuya remarks on how dangerous it is and how Rukia must always use it carefully before saying they should head out and protect Soul Society. Later on, seeing lighting in the distance, the two head towards the location of the defeated Kenpachi Zaraki. On their way, they sense the Reiatsu of the arriving Ichigo Kurosaki. Soon afterward, Byakuya uses Senbonzakura to stop Bazz-B and NaNaNa Najahkoop from chasing after Ichigo, and then joins Rukia, Renji, Hisagi, Ikkaku, and Yumichika confront the Sternritter gathered at Ichigo's location.
After the combatants are separated by an explosion, Byakuya battles Liltotto Lamperd, Meninas McAllon, NaNaNa, Candice Catnipp and Robert Accutrone, swiftly defeating the latter three. Hisagi walks up and informs Byakuya that he has defeated one of the Sternritter, only to see that the captain has already defeated three. Byakuya then blocks an attack from Hisagi, and asks the lieutenant if he is under someone's control or an imposter, to which Hisagi replies that he is doing it for PePe Waccabrada before attacking Byakuya.
After incapacitating Hisagi, Byakuya confronts PePe and deduces that killing PePe will free his puppets, prompting PePe to proclaim he is scary before attempting to hit him with The Love. After avoiding several of PePe's attacks, Byakuya seemingly deflects one with his Zanpakutō and points out how PePe cannot take control of anything that does not possess a heart, only for PePe to reveal he can take control of Zanpakutō as Senbonzakura attacks Byakuya and draws blood. Byakuya throws Senbonzakura into a wall to protect himself, but Hisagi pulls it out and begins attacking Byakuya with both Senbonzakura and Kazeshini, forcing Byakuya to defend himself with Hakuda because he does not believe he could use Kidō without killing Hisagi. When PePe uses Love Kiss on him, Byakuya remains unaffected, prompting an angered PePe to activate his Quincy: Vollständig, Gudoero, before immobilizing Byakuya with Love Rope. However, Byakuya is saved by the arrival of the zombified Kensei Muguruma and Rōjūrō Ōtoribashi, the former of whom kicks PePe in the side of the head.
As Byakuya wonders what has happened to Kensei and Rose, Kensei incapacitates Hisagi before handing Senbonzakura to a surprised Byakuya. When Mayuri arrives and comments on how the situation will be perfect for testing out his new squadron of corpses, Byakuya demands to know what he did to Kensei and Rose, prompting Mayuri to explain how he gained control of them with his Blood Realignment Drug. Stating he understands, Byakuya points out how Mayuri has chosen to toy with their lives instead of letting them die in peace and says Mayuri is twisting the truth when the latter claims that it is the wish of every Shinigami to serve the Seireitei even in death. Later, upon observing Auswählen, Byakuya notes the light is rising up from the Seireitei and wonders what it is.
Soon afterward, Byakuya arrives at the lab that Urahara has taken over and informs the latter that Kensei and Rose will be moving with the 12th Division. When black creatures begin pouring into the Seireitei, Byakuya attempts to wipe them out with Senbonzakura, but to no avail.
Upon reaching Wahrwelt, along with his comrades, Byakuya quickly begins moving through the city in search of their target. Neither he, nor the others, notice Lille Barro in his vantage point as the Quincy begins targeting those of the group who are lagging behind. Soon afterwards, Byakuya and Renji confront Gerard Valkyrie, and combining their attacks, manage to injure the Quincy and send him flying into some rubble.  After Gerard comments that it would take a miracle for him to defeat them, Byakuya abruptly uses Senbonzakura to finish off the Quincy and knock his helmet off. After dealing a final blow, Byakuya prepares to head off, but a giant foot suddenly appears and slams onto the ground.
A giant Gerard then rises up, explaining how his Schrift helps him turn his wounds into power and blows the Shinigami back with his voice. Gerard then throws an obelisk at the Shinigami, splitting them up. After Gerard attacks Shinji and Momo, Byakuya attacks him with Senbonzakura, but Gerard easily stops the blade shards with his hand before slamming Byakuya into the ground with his shield.
Ōken Clothing: After training with the Royal Guard, Byakuya dons special clothing in order to safely return to the Seireitei. These clothes are made from the bones and hair of the members of the Royal Guard, and they possess incredible defensive power, allowing Byakuya to withstand the friction that results from breaking through the 72 barriers between Soul Society and the Soul King Palace without suffering any damage; Yhwach notes that no Shinigami could hope to wear greater garb. These clothes take the form of a white, turban-like headpiece covering the upper half of his head and trailing off to his shoulders; a tasseled muffler covering his mouth; and a white cape with a thick, light-colored hem worn over his shihakushō.
Powers & Abilities
Master Swordsman: Byakuya is a master of swordsmanship, possessing flawless precision and performing lethal attacks with little effort.
Shunpo Master: Byakuya is arguably best known for his skill in Shunpo. Having been taught by, but never beating "Goddess of Flash" Yoruichi Shihōin, he is easily one of the most proficient users of this skill in all of Soul Society. He remained able to use Shunpo after severing the muscles and tendons in his left leg.
Senka (閃花, Flash Blossom): A Shunpo technique where one, moving to their opponent's back, directly attacks and seals one's "Saketsu" and "Hakusui" in two rapid strikes, effectively cutting them off from their spiritual energy flow. This attack is his favorite to use. The technique is so fast, an opponent may not be able to tell whether they were attacked from the front or the back, and even an outside observer may find it impossible see the movements.
Utsusemi (空蝉, Cast-Off Cicada Shell): Way of Onmitsu, 3rd of the Shihō. It allows for movement at great speed, leaving an afterimage behind. It is a technique taught to Byakuya by Yoruichi Shihōin.
Kidō Master: Byakuya has considerable knowledge of high level Kidō spells, casting several in quick succession, with no incantation and almost no effort, and still possessing formidable power. He has used spells up to level 81, and possesses advanced knowledge of Kidō application and consistency. He can use a low-level spell repeatedly in rapid succession and with devastating effects, as well as a counter to attacks. He uses a low-level lightning spell to burn a hole right through Ichigo's shoulder.
Hakuda Combatant: While used less often, Byakuya is highly proficient in this area. Byakuya stealthily knocked out several Shinigami guards with a single strike each. After discarding his Zanpakutō during the battle against PePe, Byakuya used Hakuda to defend himself from Shūhei Hisagi's rapid attacks with both Senbonzakura and Kazeshini.
Master Tactician: Byakuya is a highly perceptive fighter, almost immediately determining an opponent's attack patterns and weaknesses. He is a crafty tactician, effectively using Kidō to confuse his opponents. He can discern the motives and abilities of his opponents, and effectively uses his knowledge to end the battle in his favor.
Immense Spiritual Power: He can exert an immense amount of Spiritual Pressure, which, in addition to his already admirable combat skills and finesse, makes him one of the most formidable captains. His spiritual pressure can be felt from a great distance, and it has the tendency to make people perspire in fear.Ganju Shiba has stated Byakuya is the strongest leader in the entire history of the Kuchiki Clan, and Kōga Kuchiki has stated few, if any, of the Kuchiki Clan leaders have been as powerful as Byakuya is, further elaborating on his power level. His Reiatsu is white. Following his training within the Royal Palace, Byakuya easily dispatched three Sternritter while fighting five of them simultaneously.
Enhanced Endurance: While not having the most imposing appearance compared to other Shinigami captains like Kenpachi Zaraki, Byakuya is a very resilient fighter. During his fight against Ichigo, despite gaining severe injuries, Byakuya continued fighting effectively, even ignoring his wounds to the point where he seemed unfazed by them. At the end of the fight, he performed an impressive Flash Step to leave. During his fight with the 7th Espada Zommari Rureaux, Byakuya willingly damaged himself to escape from his enemy's possession attack, and continued to fight as though unaffected, eventually obtaining victory. During his fight with Tsukishima, he had his entire left arm mutilated by Senbonzakura, and still defeated the Fullbringer. Byakuya managed to survive a multitude of devastating injuries during his battle with Äs Nödt, including having his stomach ripped out and being viciously attacked by his own Bankai.
Enhanced Durability: Byakuya was able to resist the unique healing properties of Tenjirō Kirinji's hot springs without rotting away after being fully healed; Kirinji even stated he stayed in longer than anyone else.
Senbonzakura (千本桜, Thousand Cherry Blossoms): Senbonzakura is a regular katana. It has a simple cross guard, with an open frame much like a four-pane window. It has a bronze guard, with lavender hilt-wrapping, and a white sheath.
Shikai: It is triggered by the command "Scatter" (散れ, chire).
Shikai Special Ability: In its Shikai, Senbonzakura's blade separates into a thousand tiny, slender blade fragments, which fly away from the hilt, leaving only the sword's handle in Byakuya's hand. The release can be negated before it completes, such as when Yoruichi Shihōin wrapped the blade in cloth during Byakuya's short battle with Ichigo. However, if the release completes itself, Senbonzakura is rendered near unstoppable. While the blades are supposedly too small to be seen normally, they reflect light in such a way as to resemble cherry blossom petals. By swinging Senbonzakura's hilt, Byakuya can control the blade fragments, allowing him to shred opponents at a distance and break through almost any defense. The blades can be used for defensive purposes, as they can protect Byakuya from an incoming sword swing. In order to protect Byakuya from his own attacks in both Shikai and Bankai, Senbonzakura possesses a Hurtless Area (無傷圏, mushōken; lit. "Woundless Zone") where it does not cut anything within 85 cm of Byakuya unless he himself allows the blades to enter the area. During Byakuya's training with the Royal Guard, he obtained a finer understanding of his Shikai, granting him greater control and the ability to form more solid constructs at a greater scale.
Bankai: Senbonzakura Kageyoshi (千本桜景厳, Vibrant Display of a Thousand Cherry Blossoms): Byakuya's Bankai is a much larger version of Senbonzakura's Shikai. To activate it, Byakuya drops his sword straight down. The sword phases into the ground, as though it were a pool of water. Energy ripples expand out, turning the surrounding area dark, and within seconds, two rows of a thousand giant blades rise up from the ground. Those thousand swords scatter, and countless flying blades pierce the enemy. No one knows the exact number of blades generated, and no one can dodge or even see the movements of these blades. The number of blades is great enough that Byakuya can simultaneously use them for offense and defense. He commonly forms them into large masses to obliterate opponents instantaneously. As they move through the air like torrents of waves, they give the appearance of cherry blossoms flowing swiftly along the wind. Senbonzakura Kageyoshi's defensive use allows Byakuya to cover himself entirely in these tiny blades, forming a body shield. Unlike his Shikai, his Bankai is mentally controlled. While Byakuya can control the blades with his mind alone, using his hands allows him to do so more effectively, making the blades increase in speed threefold. Similar to his Shikai, its attack is triggered with the phrase Scatter.
Bankai Special Ability: Byakuya's Bankai has several forms, achieved by arranging the blades in different patterns. Each form presents a different advantage, such as increasing offense at the expense of defense. This variety of techniques makes Senbonzakura Kageyoshi extremely versatile. These techniques are activated by saying the name of the technique, followed by the name of his Bankai, Senbonzakura Kageyoshi.
Senkei (殲景, Slaughterscape; Viz "Annihilate"): The true form of Senbonzakura. This unites the scattered petals into complete glowing swords, numbering in the thousands, which form four rows. These rows float just above each other, and circle around Byakuya and his opponent in a continuously moving, column-like array. It abandons defense in favor of a concentrated offense. Though visually menacing, this form is not meant for attack from all sides; rather, it concentrates his Bankai into fewer blades, thus increasing his attack power. While Byakuya can mentally control these swords, he commonly calls them to his hands for actual melee combat. When in his hand, they lose their glow, and take the form of his sealed Zanpakutō. While they seem solid in this state, the swords can just as easily dissipate back into the multitude of tiny blades they are made up of. It seems to take fewer blows from a Senkei blade to gravely injure an opponent than the multiple cuts needed from the unfocused Bankai. Senkei seals Byakuya in with his enemy, allowing neither combatant to move very far from each other, though the area is still large enough for maneuverability. The deadliest aspect of the Senkei form is that it allows for use of all the swords at the same attack level, making it a way to effectively defeat an enemy unaware of the danger of the situation. It is extremely rare for Byakuya to use this ability, doing so only when he has sworn to cut down the opponent with his very own hands. Ichigo is the second being to ever witness the ability. This technique requires Byakuya's blood to activate.
Gōkei (吭景, Mawscape): This form increases the number of tiny blades immensely. It creates a spherical formation of innumerable blade fragments, which swirl around the opponent like a cloud before flying into them from every possible angle, leaving no blind spots and no possibility of escape. It proceeds to collapse in on itself, obliterating the opponent. When used, it completely obliterated a very large building from the inside out, and the resulting shockwave generated by the attack forced Byakuya himself to Flash Step away.
Shūkei: Hakuteiken (終景: 白帝剣, Endscape: White Emperor Sword; Viz "Last Sight: White Emperor Sword"): This condenses each and every one of his blades into a single, potent sword, drastically increasing its cutting power. The spiritual energy and pressure released by this form is immense. The blade appears bright white, and its aura takes the form of a bird, earning it the name Hakuteiken (白帝剣, White Imperial Sword; Viz: "White Emperor Sword"). Pure white wings form on Byakuya's back, as well as a halo-like circle, made of concentrated spiritual energy. This form's blade can create aggravated injuries in a single blow. The wings can be used for flight.
Appearances in Other Media
Byakuya is playable in most Bleach video games, many having his Bankai available as well. In Bleach: Soul Resurrección, Byakuya can use an attack called Ōkajin (桜花刃, Blade of Sakura Flowers), where he summons three Senkei swords to his side before throwing them at the enemy. He has appeared in every movie released to this date. He has a Bleach Beat Collection with Rukia, singing Yozora No Kawa by himself and Listen to One Story with Rukia.
In the manga, his scarf, kenseikan, and tekkou are shown to be silver white, but in the anime, they are all shown to be light green.
Byakuya has created an imaginary character named Wakame Ambassador (ワカメ大使; Wakame Taishi) who he is particularly fond of and often creates themes based around him. He suggests the character become his divisions entry into the Jump Fiesta, creates food and snacks of the same shape as the creature along with a sand sculptor at the beach and has been known to dress up as the ambassador.
(About Renji Abarai) "I don't want excuses. Since he was fighting alone, there's no reason that he should have lost. I don't want an idiot that can't even understand this. He's just getting in the way. Hurry and move him somewhere else."
(To Renji Abarai) "Shall I tell you the difference between you and I? It's level. It's like the story of the monkey trying to capture the moon. No matter how he struggles, it's just the moon's reflection on the water he sees. So he only sinks into the water. Time after time, he sinks."
(To Renji Abarai) "With your ability, you will find it impossible to make me fall on even one knee."
(To Renji Abarai) "Be proud, as someone who, after being struck by this power, is still able to retain the form of his body."
(To Renji Abarai) "Congratulations. Very admirable. That time, your fang definitely reached me."
(To Rukia Kuchiki) "After adopting you, I swore in front of my parents' grave that it would be my last time in breaking the rules, and from that time on, no matter what happens, I would follow and defend the rules to the very end."
(To Rukia Kuchiki) "When you were sentenced to death, I was dumbfounded. The oath to my parents to follow and defend the rules, or the promise to Hisana to protect her sister. Which one should I keep? Ichigo Kurosaki, you have my gratitude. Rukia, I am sorry."
(To Jin Kariya) "Regardless of who or what they are, anyone who disturbs Soul Society will be cut down."
(To Zommari Rureaux) "I have already told you. You and I, our levels are as distant as the earth from the heavens. Must I spell it out for you? I have discarded my left arm, discarded my left leg, and yet even so, I have not nearly lowered myself to your level."
(To Zommari Rureaux) "At what point did I ever claim that I was cutting you down in my capacity as a Shinigami? To justify the actions I have taken I need but one reason. You raised your blade in contempt of my pride."
(To Muramasa) "It is really quite simple. My desire is to uphold my self-respect. That is all."
(To Kōga Kuchiki) "I can't believe you called your own sword a tool and attacked it. You don't deserve the title of ‘Shinigami’."
(To Ichigo Kurosaki) "Do not overestimate yourself, Ichigo Kurosaki. There is none among the captains of the Gotei 13 to whom the aid of one such as yourself could be considered significant."
(To Kenpachi Zaraki) "I decline. Finishing off a weakened opponent is a job better suited for a barbarian such as yourself."
(To Shūkurō Tsukishima) "I have nothing but contempt for the way you do battle. Rather than face your opponent in fair combat, you prefer to toy with your enemy, stealing away the things they hold dear. You are a coward. A shameless coward who deserves to die. Now, face me like a man. Before you have even finished swinging down your blade, I will strike you down and toss your worthless body aside."
(To Shūkurō Tsukishima) "I had always believed that battle was an art to be perfected through meticulous training and preparation. But today, for the first time, I was able to comprehend the thrill of indulging one's more primal instincts. You have my thanks. This battle was an enjoyable one."
(To Shūkurō Tsukishima) "True enough, I owe you a great debt. And you have my thanks. However, you are Ichigo Kurosaki's enemy. And thus, no matter the debt you are owed, I will strike you down without hesitation."
(To Ichigo Kurosaki) "I fear I will not last much longer. As a Captain of the Gotei 13, to be unable to defeat the foul intruders who dirty the soil of Seireitei, who have brought about the deaths of many soldiers and brought sadness to those soldiers' subordinates and families... to lose my life in defeat at the hands of such wretches brings me great shame. You, meanwhile, are a human. By all rights, you should never have become involved in this conflict. Indeed, you should never even have come to this place. Yet now, at the end of my life, I ask you to forgive me the vile hubris of making one request of you. Please... protect Soul Society."
(To Tenjirō Kirinji) "I have learned all too well that I am still far too weak to allow myself to grow headstrong. As I have been lucky enough to survive, I must strive to once more achieve strength enough to justify the pride I once held."
(To Rukia Kuchiki) "Fear is never born from nothing. It is born from the tiny insecurities that linger within our hearts."
(To Rukia Kuchiki) "If you wield your blade without regard for your own life, you will find yourself unable to protect anything."