|Previous Affiliation||Soul Society|
|Partner||Yin and Yang|
|Previous Partner||Tōshirō Hitsugaya|
|Base of Operations||None|
|Anime Debut||Bleach: The DiamondDust Rebellion|
|Video Game Debut||Bleach: Heat the Soul 5|
|Japanese Voice||Akira Ishida|
|English Voice||Keith Silverstein|
Sōjirō Kusaka (草冠 宗次郎, Kusaka Sōjirō) was an old friend and rival of Tōshirō Hitsugaya when they were younger in the Shin'ō Academy. Unfortunately, he is killed due to the unusual circumstances surrounding the two, only to be revived and is later encountered by Hitsugaya while the latter is searching for the thieves who stole the Ōin. He has the same Zanpakutō, Hyōrinmaru, as Hitsugaya.
Kusaka is a tall Shinigami with long, black hair tied into a bun at the back and bangs hanging over the right side of his face. He had violet eyes which were then turned red after being revived, and a large scar running the length of the right side of his face. He wears a light brown cape that is similar to the one worn by Hitsugaya and a mask that resembles a Hollow's mask in order to conceal his identity.
Kusaka started out as an idealist who wished to protect and uphold Soul Society. He met Hitsugaya at the academy. The two were friends and rivals, often competing in school work and practicing together to better themselves. Kusaka's sudden, forced battle with Hitsugaya and subsequent summary execution unbalanced him. Once he resurfaced, he grew bitter and became determined to exact revenge upon Soul Society for their arbitrary and harsh codes of conduct.
During his days in the Shin'ō Academy, he was in the same class as Tōshirō Hitsugaya and the two of them quickly became friends. He had regarded Hitsugaya as a genius and strove to be better than him. He also swore his allegiance to Soul Society and worked hard to become a successful Shinigami, devoting his life to them. When Kusaka met his Zanpakutō's spirit in a cave, he met Hitsugaya there who had also met the same spirit. They were overjoyed to know that both of them had exactly the same power and their friendship deepened as a result.
However, the Central 46 members ruled that two Shinigami cannot possess the same Zanpakutō. By the ancient laws of the Shinigami, such a situation was not permissible, although neither Kusaka or Hitsugaya had intended to violate the law. Hitsugaya offered to abandon Hyōrinmaru instead of fighting Kusaka, but the council forced Kusaka and Hitsugaya to fight for the honor of bearing Hyōrinmaru. It was ultimately Kusaka who drew his sword and charged at Hitsugaya, shouting that he wanted Hyōrinmaru for himself. This cost him, as it was never meant to be a duel to the death, but a test to see who would raise their blade first.
Before the battle was concluded, the Central 46 members ruled that Hyōrinmaru belonged to Hitsugaya and Kusaka was sentenced to be killed immediately. Though no one had won at the time of the decision, Hitsugaya appeared uninjured, while Kusaka was covered in ice. Numerous Onmitsukidō members appeared and restrained Hitsugaya while surrounding Kusaka. Several of them stabbed Kusaka in the gut to weaken him before one dealt the fatal blow by slicing open the right half of his face. This is hinted at by his scar, which he somehow retains despite being given a new body.
As Kusaka's Zanpakutō dissolved, he asked why he had to die and exclaimed that he had fought for Soul Society. His execution was kept secret and his academy records were destroyed afterwards. Almost no one in Soul Society knew of his existence. However, the cover-up was not complete, ultimately enabling Nanao Ise to find a picture of him from his time in Rukongai.
Though the complete process was not shown in the movie, Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto mentioned that the Ōin (王印, King's Seal) had given him new life and that Hueco Mundo had raised him, even though he was not a Hollow. During this time, he gained two loyal Arrancar subordinates named Yin and Yang with the powers of fire and electricity. They would help him with his future plans. Returning to Soul Society seeking revenge, he donned a mask and a tattered cape matching that of Hitsugaya's own. He assaulted Shunsui Kyōraku using Hyōrinmaru, leading Soul Society to believe that it was Hitsugaya who did it and labeled him as a traitor. Later, he went to the Human world with his followers to kill Ichigo Kurosaki and Rukia Kuchiki, to get them out of the way. He clashes with Ichigo, who manages to see glimpses of Kusaka's past. He manages to overpower Ichigo with his Shikai, freezing him in solid ice and then leaves Rukia to his minions. Kusaka then meets Hitsugaya again, blaming Momo Hinamori for Hitsugaya becoming a Shinigami. He shows him the power of the Ōin, teleporting both of them to the Sōkyoku Hill in Soul Society.
Kusaka wanted to use the Ōin to become the new King of Soul Society. Kusaka tried to get Hitsugaya to cut the Ōin with his Zanpakutō, but Hitsugaya refused. The Shinigami then arrived to capture them both, but before they could accomplish this, Ichigo Kurosaki and Rukia Kuchiki arrived at Sōkyoku Hill and stopped them. Hitsugaya then took advantage of Ichigo's interruption and turned on Kusaka having a short battle with him. Kusaka then learns from Ichigo and Rukia's explanation of Hitsugaya's intentions that Hitsugaya had never really intended to help him. When Hitsugaya refused to use the power of his Bankai to cut the Ōin to release its power, Kusaka remarked that "I can do it myself now" and sliced it into two using his own Zanpakutō. He transformed into a purple dragon echoing that of Hyōrinmaru and effectively became a god, regenerating instantly even being cut into two by Kenpachi Zaraki. He became indestructible and wielded immense power, exclaiming that "this power is spectacular".
Kusaka "took root" on a tall building, encasing it in ice and merging with it. It evolved into a gigantic tree, but he blew it up soon after to stop Shinigami from approaching him via its branches. At this point in time, the Ōin went berserk as since Kusaka had not mastered his Bankai he could not control the Ōin immense power. It created a rapidly expanding hemisphere in which Kusaka created a castle with him immobile atop an ice tower in the center of the castle. The castle spawned numerous Hollows and Menos Grande which all had the same high-speed regeneration abilities of Kusaka, due to his ability to manipulate time and matter, thus letting him reconstruct their bodies. Only very powerful or multiple attacks usually got through and finally killed these opponents.
Renji Abarai and Ikkaku Madarame use their respective Bankai to open a path for Ichigo and Hitsugaya to proceed forth. Ichigo dons his Hollow mask and dashes towards the ice tower while Hitsugaya proceeds forth as well. The two encounter Kusaka's ice dragons while speeding up the tower. Hitsugaya deals with the dragons while Ichigo attempts to attack Kusaka with Zangetsu. Kusaka counters the attack with his energy blast and the two reach a stalemate. Hitsugaya's ice dragon bursts forth and stuns Kusaka long enough for Ichigo to impale Kusaka in the head with Zangetsu and then release the power of his Getsuga Tenshō, defeating him. After Ichigo destroyed the ice tower and the Ōin returned to normal, the ice dragon dissolved, revealing Kusaka. Kusaka and Hitsugaya charged at each other for one last time to finish the battle which they had left off. Hitsugaya won and Kusaka told him that his existence will continue, that he would never die, while Hitsugaya stated that they would be friends forever, before Kusaka dissolved completely, leaving behind his broken Zanpakutō and his cape. Ichigo said that all Kusaka wanted to do was to finish his fight with Hitsugaya.
Powers & Abilities
Master Swordsman: While never fully mastering his sword's power, Kusaka showed himself a highly proficient swordsman, seen from his fights against Ichigo and Hitsugaya. His attacks have much strength behind them, giving his opponents more difficulty to counter.
Shunpo Expert: Kusaka has shown himself to be highly proficient in Flash Steps, being able to keep up with fellow experts such as Hitsugaya and Ichigo.
Immense Spiritual Power: While not having an official rank as a Shinigami, Kusaka has spiritual energy that appears to be of captain-level, as shown from its ability to startle Hitsugaya upon their first meeting in years.
Kusaka has the same Zanpakutō as Hitsugaya, Hyōrinmaru (氷輪丸, literally "Ice Ring", idiomatically "Frozen Full Moon"). When sealed, Hyōrinmaru looks just like a normal katana with the exception of the guard, which is shaped like a four-pointed star and a light purple handle. The sheath is red and disappears whenever the sword is drawn.
- Shikai: Hyōrinmaru's release command is "Sit Upon the Frozen Heavens" (霜天に坐せ, sōten ni zase; English dub: Reign over the Frosted Heavens). In its Shikai, Hyōrinmaru extends slightly in length, and gains a crescent-shaped blade attached to its hilt by a long metal chain, which can extend greatly if necessary by force of will.
- Shikai Special Ability: Hyōrinmaru allows Kusaka to control water and ice. His slashes create an immense amount of spiritual power which overflows from the tip of the blade, creating a flow of ice shaped like a Chinese dragon. The dragon flies at opponents and instantly freezes anything it touches. Kusaka can also direct his slashes towards the ground and form a wave of ice which rushes over his opponents overwhelming and freezing them. The chain-blade also freezes anything Kusaka traps with it. The power it expels is so overwhelming that in Soul Society, its mere release affects the weather within the immediate vicinity, creating a thunderstorm or a blizzard.
- Bankai: Not Achieved
Ice Dragon Form
After cutting the Ōin with his Zanpakutō, Kusaka transforms into a large dragon composed entirely of ice. With the power of the Ōin, Kusaka gains new abilities.
Enhanced Strength: Kusaka is exceptionally strong, as he is able to deflect the blade of Kenpachi Zaraki. He is even able to slash a large wound upon Kenpachi Zaraki's body.
Enhanced Durability: Kusaka's body is also highly durable, as his midsection was destroyed by Kenpachi Zaraki; yet, he was still able to speak and move as if he was not damaged.
Regeneration: Although his body is composed entirely of ice, Kusaka is able to regenerate lost parts of his body.
Ice Projectiles: Kusaka is able to fire numerous ice projectiles from his mouth, which are powerful.
- Ice Dragon Projectiles: Kusaka can also fire powerful ice dragon-shaped projectiles, which all resemble Hyōrinmaru's Shikai.
Ice Manipulation: Kusaka is able to freeze anything he comes in contact with, as he freezes a large structure within the Seireitei upon landing on it.
Dimensional Expansion: With the Ōin going out of control, Kusaka generates a dimension which is constantly expanding.
- Summon Hollows: Within the dimension, Kusaka is able to summon a large amount of Hollows, including Gillian-class Menos.
- Resurrection: Kusaka is able to resurrect the lives of anyone within the dimension, evident when one of his subordinates was "killed" by Suì-Fēng.
Energy Blast: Kusaka is able to release a powerful yellow blast of energy from his mouth, much like a dragon breathing fire. This energy blast is extremely powerful, as it is able to halt Ichigo's advance in his Bankai state while he was wearing his Hollow mask.
Appearances in Other Media
- Despite Sōjirō and Hitsugaya having twin blades, there are several subtle differences between their respective swords. Sōjirō's sword has a dark red sheath as opposed to Hitsugaya's being blue. Also, the blade is more standard-sized compared to Hitsugaya's longer one and the guard of Sōjirō's sword is hollow with outward curved points giving it more of a flower-shaped appearance. In addition, Hitsuguya's Shikai ice dragon is white-blue, while Sōjirō's is made of a light purple ice.