|It is said that the Bankai is the mirror that reflects the heart and mind of the user, drawing out their truest self that had been sleeping inside them. Once the Zanpakutō spirit and the heart of the user are forged together, a Bankai blossoms.|
|— Bleach: Can't Fear Your Own World|
Bankai (卍解, Final Release), originally known as Shinuchi (真打, True Strike), is the second and final form of a Shinigami's Zanpakutō. It is the ultimate technique of Captain-class Shinigami. Those who achieve it are said to be in possession of an "evolved Zanpakutō" (進化した斬魄刀, shinkashita Zanpakutō).
Bankai is the second and final evolved stage of the Zanpakutō. It is said to be an expression of a Shinigami's truest self. It is also a demonstration that the Shinigami and their Zanpakutō are of one mind and spirit. The Bankai is said to possess five to ten times the fighting power of Shikai. While Shikai is obtained by harmonizing and conversing with the Zanpakutō, Bankai is achieved through externalizing and then subjugating it.
To achieve Bankai, a Shinigami must typically train upward of ten years to both subjugate and materialize their Zanpakutō spirit in the real world. Afterwards, they must complete additional training to fully master their Bankai before it is useable in combat. Kenpachi Zaraki is a notable exception to the first rule — rather than subjugate the spirit of Nozarashi, she gave him access to Bankai in a moment of dire need. The spirit learns Bankai at the same moment as its Shinigami wielder, but it can withhold power from its Shinigami if it deems them to be unworthy. Recently obtained Bankai can continue to evolve as their Shinigami grows until the Zanpakutō is completely mastered.
Bankai typically create a large effect, though this is not always the case, such as Ichigo Kurosaki's Tensa Zangetsu. They also typically increase their wielder's strength from anywhere between five and ten times their base level. A Bankai's form and power will only disappear if a Shinigami wills it or if they are on the verge of death.
Every Bankai has a weakness specific to itself, but there are other weaknesses inherent to Bankai in general:
- Breaking: A broken Bankai can never be naturally returned to its former state. Even if one cosmetically fixes their Bankai, the resulting power loss can never be amended. A few Bankai are an exception to this rule, such as Sajin Komamura and Tōshiro Hitsugaya's Bankai. Broken Bankai that are not finished evolving can seemingly be fixed by completing them, such as in the case of Renji Abarai and Ichigo Kurosaki.
- By both Byakuya Kuchiki and Jugram Haschwalth's observations, Bankai which result in "small blades" are considered odd — both Ichigo Kurosaki and Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto's Bankai were considered odd for Bankai due to this reason. Interestingly, both of these Bankai also focus on "compression" — with Ichigo's original Tensa Zangetsu compressing all of his power into his blade, and Genryūsai's Bankai compressing all of the flames into his blade.
- Despite appearing to no longer be in possession of his Zanpakutō or Shinigami abilities, Kūgo Ginjō displayed the ability to utilise a Bankai. Ichigo attributed this to his status as a former Shinigami Agent.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Bleach: Can't Fear Your Own World III
- ↑ Bleach chapter 609
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Bleach: Official Character Book of SOULs
- ↑ Bleach chapter 127
- ↑ Bleach chapter 142
- ↑ Bleach chapter 669
- ↑ Bleach chapter 219
- ↑ Bleach chapter 564
- ↑ Bleach chapter 509
- ↑ Bleach chapter 120
- ↑ Bleach chapter 143
- ↑ Bleach: Can't Fear Your Own World
- ↑ Bleach chapter 516
- ↑ Bleach chapter 522
- ↑ 15.0 15.1 Bleach chapter 163
- ↑ 16.0 16.1 Bleach chapter 507
- ↑ Bleach chapter 476