Exploring Shunsui Kyoraku’s Bankai and its Abilities in Bleach

The excitement for Shunsui Kyoraku’s Bankai has reached its peak after the unveiling of the Bleach: Thousand-year Blood War part 3 trailer at Anime Expo 2024. As revealed in the short clip, the new captain commander of Gotei 13 will finally reveal his Bankai in the next installment of the series.

Fans who have already read the manga are familiar with Shunsui Kyoraku’s Bankai and its immense power. However, for those who have not yet delved into Tite Kubo’s manga, there is something exciting in store. With the release of the trailer, many fans turned to online forums to inquire about Shunsui’s Bankai.

Based on the manga, Shunsui’s Bankai is known as Katen Kyokotsu: Karamatsu Shinju and revolves around the theme of theatre. The Bankai is divided into four acts or Dan, each with unique abilities that affect his opponents through a shared destiny. In Bleach TYBW, Shunsui utilizes his Bankai against Lille Barro as a final measure.

Note: This article contains spoilers from the Bleach manga.

Shunsui’s Bankai and the Concept of Melancholic Theatre in Bleach

In the 647th chapter of Bleach, Shunsui Kyoraku uses his Bankai against the Schutzstaffel member Lille Barro, making sure that there are no bystanders within a certain range. The Captain Commander then holds his Katen Kyokotsu in front of him with the blades facing downwards and recites the name of his Bankai, Katen Kyokotsu: Karamatsu Shinju.

As the Zanpakuto’s Spirit, Katen Kyokotsu, appears behind the Commander, black, root-like tendrils start to spread from the blades. It is worth noting that Shunsui only employs his Bankai ability when his comrades are at a distance, as being too close to its effects would ensnare them.

Shunsui activates his Bankai (Image via Pierrot FILMS)
Shunsui activates his Bankai (Image via Pierrot FILMS)

Shunsui’s Bankai immediately alters the atmosphere and shifts the perception of the surrounding environment. Everyone, including Ichigo, Ganju, Orihime, Chad, and Askin Nakk Le Vaar, experiences a chilling and melancholic sensation, despite not being within the Bankai’s range.

In Bleach chapter 648, Shunsui inquires of Lille Barro if he perceives the world as hazy. It is later disclosed that Shunsui Kyoraku’s Bankai, Katen Kyokotsu Karamatsu Shinju, is centered around the concept of theatre. This is hinted at by the chapter’s title, The Theatre Suicide.

The Abilities of Shunsui Kyoraku’s Bankai

As previously mentioned, Shunsui Kyoraku’s Bankai embodies the concept of theatre, featuring distinct acts. Chapter 648 of Bleach unveils that Katen Kyokotsu Karamatsu Shinju is comprised of four acts, each centered around the interconnected dynamic between Shunsui and his adversaries.

Shunsui proceeds to orchestrate terrifying deeds, having already established a desolate atmosphere. The initial act, known as Tameraikizu no Wakachiai, involves the sharing and division of wounds caused by hesitation.

The First Act of Shunsui's Bankai (Image via Tite Kubo/Shueisha)
The First Act of Shunsui’s Bankai (Image via Tite Kubo/Shueisha)

According to this act, any injury inflicted by the Captain Commander or his opponents on each other’s bodies will also appear on the other’s body. The initial act of the Bankai recounts the story of a man who experiences the same injury as his partner but is unable to succumb to it.

The second act (Act II) is known as Zanki no Shitone, also referred to as The Pillow of Shame. During this act, Shunsui’s adversaries are plagued by dark marks which result in heavy bleeding. The Captain Commander compares this act to a tale of a remorseful man who reflects on the harm he caused to his loved one.

The Second Act's effect on Lille Barro in chapter 648 (Image via Tite Kubo/Shueisha)
The Second Act’s effect on Lille Barro in chapter 648 (Image via Tite Kubo/Shueisha)

As a result, he finds himself lying in bed, consumed with overwhelming shame and suffering from an incurable illness. The third and final act, known as Dangyo no Fuchi (The Severing Abyss), takes place as Shunsui and his adversary are submerged in water. They both endure in the depths until one of them exhausts their Spiritual Pressure and succumbs to the watery abyss.

The third act of Shunsui’s Bankai in Bleach follows the same pattern as the first two acts, as it narrates the story of two characters plunging into rushing waters. This somber tale comes to an end in the fourth and final act, known as Itokiribasami Chizome no Nodobue (Thread-Cutting Scissors Upon a Blood-Streaked Throat).

The Final Act of the Bankai (Image via Tite Kubo/Shueisha)
The Final Act of the Bankai (Image via Tite Kubo/Shueisha)

In the final act, Shunsui’s Zanpakuto spirit, Katen Kyokotsu, known as Ohana, makes an appearance and embraces the Commander from behind. In the fourth act, Shunsui shares the story of a savage and untamed individual who is unable to understand a woman’s love.

Therefore, both the man and Shunsui’s opponent suffer the same fate of having their ears cut off and their throats ruthlessly sliced by a white thread. This gruesome ending is also witnessed in the final showdown as the Captain Commander uses a white thread to sever his adversary’s throat.

Conclusion

Shunsui, as seen in the anime (Image via Studio Pierrot)
Shunsui, as seen in the anime (Image via Studio Pierrot)

Similarly to his Shikai powers, Shunsui’s Bankai in Bleach also possesses shared characteristics. This means that whenever Shunsui employs his Bankai, he puts his life on the line. Although he effectively utilized its abilities against Lille Barro, the Schutzstaffel’s immortality prevented him from being defeated.

Despite this, the Bankai: Katen Kyokotsu Karamatsu Shinju exemplifies why Shunsui was selected as the Captain Commander. If it had been someone without the ability to live forever, it likely would have killed them.

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