Renji Abarai (阿散井 恋次 Abarai Renji?) is a fictional character and major figure in the anime and manga series Bleach created by Tite Kubo. He is the lieutenant of the 6th Division in the Gotei 13 under captain Byakuya Kuchiki.
Renji is about as eccentric as any other Soul Reaper. He varies from smug and cocky in his first appearances to depressed after his major defeats, but shows himself to be an incredibly serious and determined fighter when confronted with an actual challenge. Willing to fight, kill, and die for whatever he believes in, Renji is a dangerous man to those who stand in his way. He's also one of the only Vice Captains to achieve bankai. Many Bleach fans speculated that he's the most powerful Vice Captain and non-captain position in the Soul Society, but this is often refuted due to the fact that he has lost a greater number of fights than he has won. He is similar to Ichigo Kurosaki in many aspects, and the two are mistaken for brothers in the anime's Bount arc. Ichigo claims they are cousins to keep things simple, allowing many hilarious situations to occur later, including comments over their unusually colored hair. A continuing gag in the series is Renji's nick name, red pineapple, referring to his crimson hair kept in a pineapple top-like ponytail. During a filler arc before the invasion of Las Noches, Renji wears a shirt with 'Red Pineapple' printed on the front, supposedly bought by Ichigo Kurosaki as a joke. He's even referred as "Aka Pine" during the Shinigami Cup segments.
- Animal form: Voiced by: Toru Furusawa (Japanese), Vic Mignogna (English)
- Spirit: Voiced by: Mitsuki Saiga and Asami Sanada
Renji's zanpakutō is Zabimaru (蛇尾丸?, roughly "snake tail"). Zabimaru is a nue (a baboon with a snake tail), hence his name. Zabimaru's spirit is portrayed as battle-loving and proud, similar in personality to Renji. Both the snake and baboon are capable of speaking, though the baboon is usually the more dominant one. In Zabimaru's "true form," the baboon takes the form of a woman and the snake becomes a child.
Zabimaru's shikai command is "Roar" (咆えろ hoero?), or "howl" in other English translations. In such state, it transforms into a segmented blade with a pick-like protrusion on each segment. The segments are connected by a stretchable thread, making Zabimaru more useful as a whip than an actual sword. While Zabimaru can be stretched to incredible lengths in its whip form, Renji has a limit of three consecutive attacks before having to bring the segments of Zabimaru back together for recovery. Renji can also use his spiritual power to separate the segments and surround an opponent with them, allowing him to execute a one-shot omnidirectional attack called higa zekkō (狒牙絶咬?, "bite of a baboon's broken fang").
Zabimaru's bankai is Hihiō Zabimaru (狒狒王蛇尾丸?, "baboon king snake tail") and transforms Zabimaru into a massive version of its shikai form resembling a skeletal snake. Unlike its shikai, Zabimaru's segments are held together by Renji's spiritual power, allowing him to separate and reattach them at will. Even if a segment is damaged, Renji can simply detach it and reform Zabimaru. Zabimaru itself, in bankai form, does not literally "cut", Renji usually catches his opponent with the snake-head of his weapon and smashes his opponent into the ground with it. Zabimaru also gains a special technique known as hikōtsu taihō (狒骨大砲?, "baboon bone cannon") after Renji becomes more adept with using his bankai. The technique fires a dense blast of spiritual energy from Zabimaru's mouth. He can also use a much more powerful higa zekkō, where all the segments detach and sharpen using spiritual energy.
Renji and his captain, Byakuya Kuchiki, are sent to the human world to find Rukia Kuchiki and bring her back to Soul Society. Once they find Rukia and prepare to return home, Ichigo Kurosaki arrives to save Rukia. Renji and Ichigo fight briefly, however, Ichigo was easily defeating him after a sudden release of reiatsu, which was actually random bursts of resolve. Byakuya steps in to mortally wound Ichigo. After they return to Soul Society and Rukia is imprisoned, Renji periodically checks up on her, trying to keep her spirits high despite her impending execution.
Ichigo soon arrives in Soul Society to continue his attempted rescue of Rukia. Renji, feeling Ichigo is to blame for Rukia's sentence, goes to fight him. Despite his best efforts, Renji is defeated and subsequently imprisoned for his failure. Before Ichigo leaves, Renji pleads for Ichigo to save Rukia. Once he recovers he escapes from his confinement and begins training to achieve bankai of his zanpakutō. After completing his training, Renji sets out to free Rukia. Before he can do so, however, he is stopped by Byakuya. The two clash with their respective bankai, though Renji's inexperience with the ability allows Byakuya to claim victory.
Once recovering from his wounds, Renji goes to the site of Rukia's execution in a last attempt to save her. Ichigo, having beaten him there, entrusts Rukia's safety to Renji and the two try to escape. Along the way they are met by Kaname Tōsen, who teleports them back to the execution site. Upon learning that Tōsen and Sōsuke Aizen are traitors that intend to kill Rukia, Renji fights to defend her, yet is quickly defeated by Aizen. Rukia is ultimately saved by Byakuya, though Aizen is able to escape Soul Society.
As Aizen's arrancars begin to threaten the human world, Renji is one of a group of Soul Reapers sent to help defend against the arrancar attacks. During the second arrancar invasion, Renji fights against Ilfort Grantz, who he is able to defeat once his power limit is lifted. After the battle, Renji is recruited by Kisuke Urahara to help train Yasutora Sado. Upon Orihime Inoue's capture by the arrancar, however, Renji and the other Soul Reapers are recalled to Soul Society.
Unwilling to abandon Orihime, Renji and Rukia go to Hueco Mundo to join Ichigo, Chad, and Uryū Ishida in rescuing her. After their group splits up, Renji is joined by Dondochakka Bilstin in traveling through the arrancar base. They eventually encounter the Octava Espada, Szayelaporro Grantz. Upon being drawn into battle with the Espada, Renji discovers that Szayelaporro has nullified all of his abilities as a result of Szayelaporro's earlier research. Uryū soon arrives to lend assistance, though his attacks are also rendered inert by Szayelaporro. No longer able to attack, Renji and Uryū are left at Szayelaporro's mercy until Mayuri Kurotsuchi arrives to save and heal them. He, Rukia, and Chad, are currently being confronted by the Cero Espada Yammy, the only Espada who's number changes from 10 to 0. He is later shown to have been defeated and knocked out during the battle leaving Rukia fighting alone.
A side note: many believe that Renji is in love with Rukia. However it is unclear whether she shares those feelings or not.
Appearances in other media
Renji has made several appearances outside of the Bleach anime and manga. He fights the Dark Ones with various Soul Reaper in Bleach: Memories of Nobody and help in the search for Tōshirō Hitsugaya in Bleach: The DiamondDust Rebellion. He is also featured in, Bleach: Fade to Black, I Call Your Name when he, along with all the other Soul Reapers, loses his memories from Rukia and Ichigo, and ends confronting the latter. He is also present in the original video animations The Sealed Sword Frenzy combating the rogue Soul Reaper Baishin. In the Bleach video games, Renji is a playable character in most games with shikai and bankai states.
Renji has ranked relatively high in the Shōnen Jump popularity votes, once making 3rd place and once 4th place, More recently, he is no longer in the top 10, being displaced in favor of newer characters such as Grimmjow Jeagerjaques and Ulquiorra Cifer. IGN called Renji's debut into the anime "stylish and cool" and added that the short battle between Ichigo and Renji was "nicely done," noting that from the moment he was introduced, his style and weapon made him a character "[they] want to see more of." They later added in another review about Renji's change in character saying: "...It's nice to see a nicer Renji compared to the jerkish character we were introduced to. Renji's determination to save Rukia is admirable; really makes him a much more likeable character..." By the end of the Soul Society arc, Renji was "still cocky, but we've at least gotten to see that he has weaknesses just like everyone else," having "totally changed since he attacked Ichigo in the very first season." Animeondvd.com also praised Renji's development in the story praising Tite Kubo's way of telling his background making the readers change their ideas of the character. Wally Wingert, Renji's English voice actor, has found Renji to be the "coolest" part of the series he could ever had, having liked his design and skills. He also liked his development in the series, such as his relation with Rukia.
- Bleach manga; volume 7 tankōbon, page 43 (chapter 54, page 13)
- "Vic Mignogna". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2009-07-17.
- (DVD) Bleach: Memories of Nobody. Viz Media. 2008.
- (DVD) 劇場版BLEACH The DiamondDust Rebellion もう一つの氷輪丸. TV Tokyo. 2008.
- "Third Bleach Film, First Major Film Have Titles, Dates". Anime News Network. 2008-07-15. Retrieved 2009-03-24.
- (DVD) Bleach: Memories in the Rain. TV Tokyo. 2006.
- (DVD) Bleach - The Sealed Sword Frenzy. TV Tokyo. 2006.
- SCEI, ed. (2007). Bleach: Heat the Soul 4 Japanese instruction manual (in Japanese). SCEI.
- Bleach manga Character Poll; volume 24 tankōbon.
- IGN: Encounter: Abarai Renji Review
- IGN: Gin Ichimaru's Temptation, Resolution Shattered Review
- IGN: Reality of the Despair, the Assassin's Dagger is Swung Review
- "Bleach Vol. #11 review". Mania. Retrieved 2008-07-03.
- Bleach Uncut Season 2 Box Set; Behind the scenes of Bleach. [DVD]. Viz Media. August 19, 2008.
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