Byakuya Kuchiki is a centuries-old Shinigami, a form of spirit being, and legendary Captain of the Gotei 13's Sixth Division. Brought to Genesis by an unnatural portal he encountered on an investigation of unusual spiritual pressure readings in the human world, he has set himself to battling against the many present evils on this strange world while he discovers exactly what's happening and if there exists a way to get back to his own world.
Standing at 5'11", with slate grey eyes and long black hair, Byakuya maintains a composed, regal demeanour befitting his status as head of one of the Seireitei's noble families. He wears a set of hairpieces at the back of his head to keep his hair up; these are different from the symbolic keisenkan headpieces he used to wear. Over the traditional Shinigami shihakusho uniform, he wears a variation of the Captain's haori with a high collar which has light gold edging and small, light gold tassels attached to the corners.
The 28th head of the Kuchiki clan, and a staunch believer in the value and necessity of the rule of law, Byakuya acts in an aristocratic manner — he always seems serene and apathetic towards other people, even while actually deeply conflicted. He is also notably calm, even in battle. He generally acts indifferent, bordering on arrogance, to most situations that he is faced with as shown from how he rarely views his opponent as being worth his time. Byakuya is easily offended if his name is not used properly. As such, he views Ichigo Kurosaki in disdain for always referring to him improperly. When Byakuya talks with Ichigo, he calls him by his full name. Byakuya is very perceptive and is fully aware of the limits of his abilities and usually anything he states in comparison to an opponent is justified.
Byakuya was born into the Kuchiki family and grew up in the Kuchiki mansion in Seireitei. He would spend countless hours training, in preparation of taking over the leadership of the Kuchiki family.
Yoruichi Shihoin would often visit the Kuchiki manor to play tag with Byakuya. On one such occasion, approximately 110 years ago, she is presented to a training Byakuya by his grandfather Ginrei Kuchiki. Upon seeing the arrival of Yoruichi, he attacked and insulted her. Yoruichi playfully began to tease him, complaining about his greeting after she came all the way there to see him. Byakuya expressed his displeasure at seeing her and stated that he would be the head of the Kuchiki clan soon enough, so he has no time to waste on her. After Yoruichi stole his hair tie, she exclaimed that if the head of Kuchiki clan could get his hair tie stolen by a girl at play, then she would worry about its future. She then used Shunpo to escape from him, leaving an angry Byakuya to claim his superiority and promise to make her see the error of her ways.
Fifty-five years ago, Byakuya married Hisana Kuchiki, who was a commoner from Rukongai, thus breaking the rules by accepting her into the noble Kuchiki family. Five years later, she became sick and was near death. Shortly before her passing, Hisana asked Byakuya to find and adopt her biological sister, Rukia, whom she had abandoned as a baby. She also made him promise that he would not tell Rukia about her real family. One year later, Byakuya found Rukia at the Shino Academy and immediately adopted her into the Kuchiki clan. By adopting her, Byakuya respected his late wife's final wish, but had broken the rules of his clan again. He later swore upon his parents' graves that he would never break the rules again, no matter what.
Byakuya first appears on a mission with his lieutenant, Renji Abarai, to capture Rukia Kuchiki and kill Ichigo Kurosaki. They succeed in retrieving Rukia, and would have easily killed Ichigo, if not for Rukia's intervention, pleading for Byakuya not to give the finishing blow. Byakuya later interrupts Ganju Shiba and Hanataro Yamada's attempt to rescue Rukia and, later on, Renji's attempt to do the same. He then engages Ichigo in an extended battle where both use their bankai. However, Ichigo's inexperience with his new release and Byakuya switching to a more powerful form leaves Ichigo at a disadvantage, with the temporary emergence of Ichigo's inner hollow evening the odds out once more. Following Ichigo's inner hollow's forced submission, both channel all their remaining power into one final attack, resulting in Byakuya's sword temporarily breaking while Ichigo uses up all his energy and falls down. Byakuya is informed by Ichigo that Ichigo's "actual" enemy is not him but the "law" of the Soul Society. Byakuya walks away from the fight and promises that he will not catch Rukia again. Later, when Sosuke Aizen orders Gin Ichimaru to kill Rukia, Byakuya pulls her out of the attack and takes it instead. While being treated, Byakuya tells Rukia why she was adopted, apologizes to her and thanks Ichigo. Afterwards, Byakuya's attitude toward Rukia changes significantly. He is seen to care for Rukia in an indirect manner and displays a new view on the idea that the law is never perfect. However, he still appears to view Ichigo with disdain.
Byakuya reappears to retrieve Toshiro Hitsugaya's team on General Yamamoto's order near the end of the Arrancar Arc, but he secretly allows Rukia and Renji to assist in Orihime's rescue. He reasons that he was only ordered to bring them back to Soul Society and that what they chose to do afterwards was none of his concern, though Ichigo and Rukia suspect otherwise. Byakuya appears later in Hueco Mundo to save Rukia from the 7th Espada, Zommari Leroux. After a quick clash using their speed, in which Byakuya is proven superior, Zommari releases his Zanpakuto; and takes control of Byakuya's body parts. When Byakuya cuts his left leg and arm tendons to negate the effect, Zommari turns his attention to Rukia, taking control of her body and forcing her own Zanpakuto to her neck. Byakuya uses a binding spell to prevent Rukia's movement, then activates his Bankai, engulfing Zommari with the millions of blades it creates. Zommari survives the attack, but finds himself powerless before Byakuya. He accuses Byakuya and all Soul Reaper of aristocratic pride, claiming that they "slay hollows as if it were their birthright", deeming Byakuya's actions as unjust. To this, Byakuya replies that he will kill Zommari, not because of "Soul Reaper protocol", but because he aspired to kill Rukia. He is finished off by a single strike from Byakuya's blade. Once Rukia is revived, Byakuya tells her to rest for the more important battles to come, and refuses treatment from the 4th squad lieutenant, captain, and 7th seat until Rukia is fully healed. He later appears to save Ichigo in his fight against the Cero Espada Yammy using a Kido spell to damage him, and then further engaging him in combat with Kenpachi Zaraki. When it seems that Byakuya and Kenpachi are about to defeat him, Yammy undergoes a monstrous new transformation. He and Kenpachi succeed but sustain some injuries in the process.
Seventeen months later, Byakuya and several other high-ranking Soul Reapers appear before Ichigo in the Human world after the latter is robbed of his Fullbring and stabbed by Rukia. It is revealed that he and the Soul Reapers channelled their power into the blade that stabbed Ichigo so that he could regain his lost Soul Reaper powers. He fights Shukuro Tsukishima, while stating that he finds the Fullbringer's ability despicable for turning people against their comrades. Despite Tsukishima learning the weaknesses of his abilities, Byakuya is able to defeat him by improvisation, grabbing a handful of Senbonzakura's blades and throwing them through Tsukishima's chest.
Along with the other captains, he looks on as Ichigo breaks apart the last remaining pocket dimension with his Bankai. To Rukia's surprise, Byakuya and the others turn to leave. Byakuya reminds her that they were only tasked with observing Ichigo and his decision. When Ichigo subsequently goes to Soul Society to seek the return of Kugo's body, Byakuya is informed of his arrival and is among the captains present to hear Ichigo's request.
Some time later, investigating reports of unusual spiritual pressure readings in the human world and worrying numbers of disappearing souls, Byakuya encountered a strange light in the midst of the Dangai Precipice, a barrier between the Soul Society and the world of the living; touching it dragged the Shinigami through some manner of dimensional anomaly, depositing him in the entirely unfamiliar world of Genesis. His incorporeal form manifested as a physical body, but the entirety of his powers inexplicably remaining, the stalwart Captain set about finding out what had happened to him.
"I have already told you. You and I, our levels are as distant as the earth from the heavens. Must I spell it out for you? I have discarded my left arm, discarded my left leg, and yet I have not nearly lowered myself to your level."
- -Byakuya to Zommari Rureaux
Master Swordsmanship SpecialistEdit
Byakuya is masterful at swordsmanship, capable of flawless precision and lethal attacks without much effort.
Byakuya is probably best known for his usage of Shunpo; also known as the Flash Step, the high-speed movement technique of the Shinigami. Although having been taught by, but never beating "Flash Queen" Yoruichi Shihoin, he is still easily one of the most proficient users of this skill in all of the Soul Society.
--- Utsusemi: An extremely short-range, high-speed Shunpo that leaves an afterimage behind to fool opponents. It is a technique taught to him by Yoruichi Shihoin. His skill with it is so great, Byakuya can even Flash Step out of his clothes, as shown when he left his old haori behind as part of the afterimage to further fool Zommari Rureaux.
Kido are "magic" techniques employed by the Shinigami, powered by their strong reiryoku - spiritual energy. They come in two varieties; Hado, for offence, and Bakudo, for support and the binding of enemies. They are classified by their power levels from 1 to 99, the latter generally being the most powerful and difficult to cast, and each spell has a corresponding incantation which usually must be spoken; however, highly proficient users can cast Kido without their incantations and still maintain high levels of power, which would usually suffer from the skipping of the incantation.
Byakuya has displayed his knowledge of high level Kido spells, able to cast several in quick succession without the incantation and with almost no effort and still possessing formidable power. He has been shown to use spells up to level 81 and possesses advanced knowledge of Kido application and consistency. He can use low-level spells with devastating effects, as well as a counter to attacks. He even uses a low-level lightning spell to burn a hole right through Ichigo Kurosaki's shoulder.
Hakuda refers to the Shinigami's close-combat fighting style, a combination of several martial arts. While used less often, Byakuya has shown a highly proficient skill in this area, once demonstrated by effortlessly knocking out several Shinigami guards stealthily with a single strike each.
Immense Spiritual PowerEdit
He is capable of exerting a vast spiritual pressure, which, in league with his already admirable combat skills and finesse, makes him one of the most formidable captains. His spiritual pressure is so great it can be felt from a great distance and it has the tendency to make enemies perspire in fear. When physically visible, his spiritual pressure is white. It is implied by Koga Kuchiki that he is among the few immensely strong heads of the Kuchiki clan, further elaborating on his power level.
Byakuya is a highly perceptive fighter, being able to almost immediately determine an opponent's attack patterns and weaknesses. He is also a crafty tactician, as demonstrated from how effectively he uses his Kido to confuse his opponents. He can discern the motives and abilities of his opponents and effectively uses his knowledge to end the battle in his favour.
While not having the most imposing appearance compared to other Shinigami captains like Kenpachi Zaraki, Byakuya has shown to be a very resilient fighter. During his fight against Ichigo, despite gaining several major injuries, Byakuya was still able to continue fighting effectively and even ignored his wounds to the point that he seemed unfazed by them. At the end of the fight, he was still able to perform an impressive Flash Step to leave. During his fight with the 7th Espada, Byakuya's durability proved great enough for him to willingly damage himself to escape from his enemy's possession attack and continued to fight as if he was unaffected. During his fight with Tsukishima, he had his entire left arm mutilated by Senbonzakura, and still was able to defeat the Fullbringer.
Zanpakuto Release StatesEdit
The Zanpakuto, the signature weapon of the Shinigami, are sentient spirit swords with unique abilities. These manifest in two release states, called Shikai and Bankai. Shikai is released by the utterance of a specific word or phrase, followed by the name of the Zanpakuto. Senbonzakura's release word is "scatter." Bankai is a much more powerful second stage, unlocking new repertoires of abilities or strengthening those demonstrated in Shikai, and is known to each Shinigami by a variation on their Zanpakuto's name. Byakuya's Bankai is known as Senbonzakura Kageyoshi.
--- Shikai: Senbonzakura’s blade separates into a thousand slender, tiny blade fragments, which then fly away from the hilt, leaving only the sword's handle in Byakuya's hand. The release can be negated before it completes, such as when Yoruichi Shihoin wrapped the blade in cloth during Byakuya's short battle with Ichigo. However, if the release completes itself, then Senbonzakura is rendered near-unstoppable. While the blades are supposedly too small to be seen normally, they reflect light in such a way as to glint with a pink colour, appearing like cherry blossom petals. By swinging Senbonzakura's hilt, Byakuya can control the blade fragments at will, allowing him to shred opponents at a distance and break through almost any defence. The blades are also used for defensive purposes, as they can even protect Byakuya from an incoming sword swing. In order to protect Byakuya from his own attacks in both Shikai and Bankai, Senbonzakura possesses a "Hurtless Area", an 85cm radius centered on Byakuya that none of the blades may enter unless he himself allows it.
--- Bankai: This is essentially a much larger version of Senbonzakura's Shikai. To activate it, Byakuya needs to drop his sword straight down. The sword phases into the ground, as though it were a pool of water. Energy ripples expand out, turning the surrounding area dark, and within seconds, two rows of a thousand giant blades rise up from the ground. Those thousand swords then scatter and countless flying blades pierce the enemy. No one knows the exact number of blades generated, but it is great enough that Byakuya can use them for defence as well as offence at the same time. He commonly forms them into large masses, designed to obliterate opponents instantaneously. As it moves through the air like torrents of waves, it gives the appearance of cherry blossoms flowing swiftly along with the wind. Byakuya's defensive use allows him to cover himself entirely in these tiny blades, and form a bodily shield. Unlike his Shikai, his Bankai is entirely mentally controlled. While Byakuya can control the blades with his mind alone, using his hands allows him to do so more effectively, making the blades increase in speed three fold to keep up with some of his fastest foes.
--- Bankai Special Abilities: Byakuya's Bankai has several forms, achieved by arranging the blades in different patterns. Each form presents a different advantage, such as increasing offence at the expense of defence. This makes Senbonzakura Kageyoshi one of the most versatile Bankai in the Soul Society. These techniques are activated by saying the name of the technique, followed by the name of his Bankai.
- - - Senkei (Slaughterscape): The true form of Senbonzakura is created by his blood, which glows and turns into spiritual energy, mixing with the tiny blades of his Bankai. This unites the scattered petals into complete glowing swords, numbering in the thousands, that form four rows. These rows float just above the other, and circle around Byakuya and his opponent in a continuously moving, column-like array. It abandons defence in favour of a concentrated offence. Though visually menacing, this form is not meant for attack from all sides; rather, it is to concentrate his power into fewer blades, thus increasing his attack power. While Byakuya can mentally control these swords as he does his regular blades, he commonly calls them to his hands for actual melee combat. When in his hand, they lose their glow, and take the form of his sealed Zanpakuto. While they seem solid in this state, the swords can just as easily dissipate back into the multitude of tiny blades that they are made up of. It seems to take fewer blows from a Senkei blade to gravely injure an opponent than the multiple cuts needed from the unfocused Bankai. The Senkei also cages him in with his enemy, allowing neither combatant to move very far from each other, though the area is still large enough for manoeuvrability. The most effective use of the Senkei form is that it allows for use of all the swords at the same attack level, making it highly versatile as a way to effectively defeat an enemy unaware of the danger of the situation. It is extremely rare for him to use this ability, doing so only when he has sworn to cut down the opponent with his very own hands. Ichigo was the second being to ever witness the ability.
- - - Gokei (Mawscape): This form increases the number of tiny blades immensely. It creates a spherical formation of innumerable blade fragments, which swirl around the opponent like a cloud. It then flies into them from every possible angle, leaving no blind spots and no possibility to escape, then collapses on itself, obliterating the opponent. It was strong enough to completely obliterate a very large building from the inside out, and the resulting shockwave generated by the attack is so powerful that Byakuya himself has to Flash Step away to safety.
- - - Shukei: Hakuteiken (Endscape: White Emperor Sword): This condenses each and every single one of his blades into a single, potent sword, drastically increasing its cutting power. The spiritual energy and pressure of this form released is immense. The blade appears bright white and its aura takes the form of a bird, hence the name. Pure white wings form on Byakuya's back, as well as a halo-like circle, made of concentrated spiritual energy. The blade in this form is dangerous enough to inflict grievous injuries on the hardiest enemies with a single blow. The wings are capable of being used for flight. Whether or not this form allows only one single attack or more is as yet unknown.