Kenpachi Zaraki (更木 剣八 About this sound Zaraki Kenpachi (help·info)?) is a fictional character and supporting anti-hero in the anime and manga series Bleach created by Tite Kubo. He is the captain of the 11th Division within the Gotei 13. His lieutenant is Yachiru Kusajishi.
Prior to entering the Soul Reaper ranks, Zaraki resided in District 80, the most lawless district surrounding Soul Society. He became very proficient with swordsmanship, or at least fighting, while he was there, and eventually adopted the district's name, "Zaraki", as his surname. After leaving the district he found a small girl who, despite her young age, did not fear his sword. Since she had no name, he named her Yachiru (やちる) in remembrance of the only person he ever admired. At the same time he also took on a name for himself: Kenpachi, the title bestowed upon the strongest swordsman, the one who has killed the most, and a tradition amongst captains of the 11th Division. Yachiru became inseparable from Zaraki from that point further, following him wherever he went, usually clinging to his back.
After some time had passed, Zaraki found his way into Soul Society and killed the previous captain of the 11th Division, thus gaining his seat in the Gotei 13. As a new captain, Zaraki was begrudgingly forced to learn Kendo, something he hated because it personified his sword, though he did agree on one point: a blade swung with both arms is more powerful than with one arm. As such he makes it a point to avoid using it in battle in order to prolong the experience of fighting as long as possible.
In an interview, Tite Kubo noted that he would like to go into more depth about Zaraki.
Kenpachi is the only captain of the Gotei 13 who doesn't know the name of his sword, nor can he use his bankai as a result. In addition, he never uses kidō and rarely uses flash steps. The Bleach Official Bootleg databook ranks his talent in the former as zero. However, he more than makes up for his faults in sheer power. His spiritual pressure is such that, even when wearing the energy-sealing eyepatch, Kenpachi can fight on-par with and defeat other captain-level opponents, even when they release their zanpakutō in either shikai or bankai form. Its concentration is so great that it acts like armor against weaker opponents. During their first duel, he allowed Ichigo one free attack before the duel began. That attack failed to pierce his body, and Ichigo's left hand was wounded in the process. By releasing the bulk of his spiritual pressure, he was also able to cancel out the strongest attack of Maki Ichinose's Nijigasumi during their battle in the Bount Arc.
Despite his seeming disregard for any strategy in his fights and his self-admitted aversion to thinking during battle, Kenpachi is adept at finding and exploiting weaknesses in his opponents' techniques. While he claims to have no sanity or common sense, Kenpachi is actually very perceptive and notices traits in people that others wouldn't notice. For example, he correctly singles out Kaname Tōsen and Gin Ichimaru as the only captains who are afraid to die. He observes that Maki Ichinose is "..like an ivy vine, clinging to the trees." an observation on the latter's overarching trait of fighting for others causes while having none of his own. During his battles with both Tōsen and Nnoitora, he formulates strategies to work around his disadvantages, such as losing most of his senses or fighting an opponent with six arms.
Kenpachi has tremendous quantities of physical strength, proving able to both kick Tōsen through a building in their battle, and grab Ichigo's giant sword barehanded to reel both him and it in for an attack. His physical strength is matched by his endurance; Kenpachi has been shown to easily ignore most of the injuries he sustains in battle, not suffering any debilitation despite suffering multiple lacerations that would disable normal humans. He even allowed himself to be stabbed just to grab Tōsen's blade and break his bankai's effect. The majority of his fight with Nnoitora was a one-sided brawl in Nnoitora's favor, with Kenpachi only taking things seriously when he finds himself in actual danger of dying from the sheer number of lacerations he had received. Kenpachi was proven strong enough to stop Nnoitora's Cero with his bare hands, effortlessly, without showing any sign of injury in the process.
Zaraki's sword's hilt looks like a cross between a multi-sided diamond and a puffed up shirt sleeve. The blade is very knotched because of the numerous battles he's been in, representing Zaraki's love of battle. Unlike most Captains and Soul Reapers, Kenpachi's Zanpakuto does not have a name. As such, his Zanpakutō is constantly in its released state (not unlike Ichigo's Zangetsu) and neither can Zaraki use a bankai. Kenpachi has only asked his Zanpakto for its name once, right after his defeat with Ichigo, but receives no answer. Although Zarakai's sword doesn't seem to have any particular abilities, his over-flowing spirit energy can make his swings more powerful, causing huge explosions sometimes.
Appearances in other media
Kenpachi's lust for battle has made the fights he appears in enjoyable for various critics. Calling him the "toughest Soul Reaper in business," IGN comments that "any battle with Kenpachi is always fun to watch just because of the fact that he has so much fun in his battles" and adds "almost every battle seems [lopsided in Kenpachi's favor] due to the fact that Kenpachi enjoys the battle all the way through".
- Kubo, Tite (2008). "Chapter -108". Bleach, Volume 36. Shueisha. ISBN 4-08-874603-6 Check
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- Kubo, Tite (2008). Bleach SOULs. Official Character Book. Viz Media. p. 244. ISBN 1-4215-2053-2.
- IGN: Gin Ichimaru's Temptation, Resolution Shattered Review
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