In a battle against the self-proclaimed strongest Quincy, Zaraki unleashes his Zanpakuto’s Shikai for the very first time.
- Kenpachi’s fight against Gremmy showcases the Quincy’s ability to create anything he imagines and Kenpachi’s resilience and excitement for the battle.
- The activation of Kenpachi’s Zanpakutō, Nozarashi, during the fight against the meteor demonstrates the immense power and potential that Kenpachi possesses.
- Kenpachi’s connection with Yachiru and the significance of Nozarashi’s weathered appearance highlight his unique and powerful journey as a Shinigami.
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The following contains spoilers for BLEACH: Thousand-Year Blood War, available for streaming on Hulu and Disney+.
The seventh episode of the second cours of BLEACH: Thousand-Year Blood War, titled, “I Am The Edge” had some significant highlights, including a popular battle shonen catastrophe – the meteor. Gremmy Thoumeaux, the self-proclaimed strongest Quincy was pushed to the brink by a relentless Kenpachi Zaraki, and unleashed what would be considered an insurmountable obstacle under normal circumstances. However, the Kenpachi was only excited by the premise of cutting something he’s never had the chance to before, gleefully readying the once-nameless Zanpakutō: Nozarashi.
What does this mean for the BLEACH narrative going forward, now that one of the most powerful combatants in the Seireitei has finally reached the first milestone for the average Shinigami?
Gremmy Summons a Meteor – BLEACH Thousand-Year Blood War Part 2 Episode 7
Kenpachi’s fight against Gremmy is largely a display of the Quincy’s ability to make into reality that which he imagines, and the former’s ability to not only survive each attack but relish them as part of a clash between two “strongest”. While Gremmy is mostly blasé throughout the encounter due to his ability to instantaneously harden or heal himself depending on what the situation requires – sporting what comes to be a characteristic deadness in his eyes – there are various moments where he finds himself moved by Kenpachi’s attitude and fighting spirit. Kenpachi being able to dish out heavy attacks that fully connect with Gremmy despite his attempts to thwart them begins to whittle away at his initial confidence, and panic sets into his eyes as he starts to imagine himself losing.
He eventually comes to relish the fight and understand his desire to prove his strength to his powerful opponent, and creates a second Gremmy to “double” the power of his imagination. At this point, Gremmy² summon the episode’s main event – a meteor over the Seireitei that would demolish everything if it isn’t stopped. The Quincy’s confidence bubbles over at this point as he can’t imagine someone being able to somehow send it off course, let alone destroy it, and he happily shares that killing him wouldn’t change a thing because the meteor is real. The part of the fight after Gremmy realizes his enjoyment of the encounter is scored with the soundtrack “What Can You See in Their Eyes”, which stops briefly as Kenpachi meets the meteor.
Exciting, Isn’t It?
Child Zaraki Kenpachi – BLEACH Thousand-Year Blood War Part 2 Episode 7
The first time we hear Kenpachi call his Zanpakutō by name is while the meteor looms overhead as Kenpachi struggles to contain his happiness at the chance to cut something new. He exclaims, “Exciting, isn’t it, Nozarashi?”, holding the weathered blade up in anticipation before dragging it across the ground as he runs up to meet the meteor in the sky. With the command, “Drink”, Kenpachi unleashes Nozarashi’s Shikai, which isn’t seen at first as he swings to make contact with the meteor. The seconds before impact show the happy Kenpachi regress to his childhood appearance as the animation goes black and white to indicate the immense brightness of the object. The following scene is a flashback to Kenpachi and Yachiru’s first meeting, among the corpses of countless people he killed. The next thing we see is the meteor, cleaved in two, before exploding dramatically and sending debris flying everywhere. The soundtrack swells again as we see it – the Shikai of Nozarashi in the form of a gigantic cleaver, resting on Kenpachi’s shoulder.
Gremmy’s reaction to seeing it for the first time is one of the few moments he reacts with genuine emotion in his eyes, and upon seeing it, he calls Kenpachi a monster. The sentiment was largely catalyzed by the Shikai activation; however, throughout the battle, Gremmy developed what could almost be a reverence for Kenpachi’s strength. The man survived all manner of death-inducing manifestations, pining to see more of what Gremmy had to offer, and some of those situations were ones he thought would be certain victory, but they weren’t. With Kenpachi constantly reminding him that there’s nothing he can’t cut, Gremmy creates several selves and plots to use something without form to kill him. Sending him into space, the Gremmys boast about the various processes that lead to certain death when a person is exposed to a vacuum. Despite suffering greatly, Kenpachi emerges from a giant crack in the sky with the same eerie aura as a Menos Grande.
Yachiru Kusajishi Sanpo Kenju – BLEACH Thousand-Year Blood War Part 2 Episode 7
Nozarashi (野晒) translates to “Weather-Beaten One” (as in, exposed to the sun), which is perhaps based on the physical form of the sword in its sealed state, which is that of a badly chipped and worn sword, a characteristic that may communicate Kenpachi’s huge wealth of battle experience as well as his violent nature and the unusual manner in which he got his Zanpakutō. As a result of the uniqueness of Zaraki and the unique manner in which he obtains his sword, his development as a Shinigami was completely different, with his extreme competence in combat going as far as to pardon him from the usual requirement that Captains should have mastered Bankai. Having taken the blade from the corpse of a Shinigami, both Zaraki and his Zanpakutō start off as nameless vagabonds, and his life of perpetual battle eventually leads to the unconscious manifestation of what appeared to be a nameless little girl unfazed by the sight of carnage and a bloodied sword – foreshadowing for the events of what would come to be known as the Thousand-Year Blood War.
Due to being named by Kenpachi as a Shinigami, Yachiru effectively played the part of one, and it’s for that reason that her Shikai activation phrase is not heard; because it isn’t a Shikai at all. The weapons wielded by the creatures summoned by her Sanpo Kenjū appear to combine to create the large cleaver, and much like its sealed form, the edge is weathered. A fan theory on Reddit understands the creatures themselves – not their armaments, to be representative of Nozarashi, the weapon. The childishness of Yachiru was perhaps a reflection of the infancy of Kenpachi’s relationship with the Zanpakutō, and his own almost childish glee at the thought of fighting a strong opponent. While the anime is yet to outright tell us that Yachiru is an aspect of Nozarashi, during “I Am The Edge”, Yachiru had a completely different demeanour as she watched Kenpachi’s battle from a distance, and wasn’t seen afterward.
In this battle against someone whose strength is their imagination, Kenpachi still did not need to unleash his full power by removing his limiter eyepatch. The power-up is so immense that it enables Kenpachi to cut through the vacuum of space. Essentially, learning Nozarashi’s name makes Kenpachi an even bigger monster, but also shows the severity of the Quincy invasion given that there was great resistance to Yamamoto’s decision to have Kenpachi learn swordsmanship long ago, because of the grave danger it posed to give lessons to a fighting savant. The relationship between Kenpachi and Yachiru finally draws to a close as he can now truly communicate with his own Zanpakutō.