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Ichigo is an orange-haired 15-year-old teenager able to see spirits. He meets Soul Reaper Rukia Kuchiki in the midst of a hollow attack. After Rukia is heavily injured by the hollow, she is forced to transfer her Soul Reaper powers to Ichigo so that he can kill the hollow and save their lives and his family. Though he defeats the hollow, Ichigo absorbs almost all of Rukia’s spiritual power, and he is forced to perform her Soul Reaper duties until she recovers her powers. When Ichigo was nine, he tried to save a spirit to be eaten by the hollow Grand Fisher, and his mother, Masaki Kurosaki, was killed by the hollow while protecting Ichigo. Masaki’s death continues to influence Ichigo by causing him to feel guilt for his inability to protect those close to him and therefore, he thanks Rukia for giving him the powers to protect them. When his actions eventually attract the attention of Soul Society, Rukia is taken back to the spirit world to be executed, and Ichigo leads an effort to save her. To rescue her, Kisuke Urahara trains him to become a Soul Reaper with his own powers allowing him to release his zanpakutō’s true form named Zangetsu (斬月?, literally “cutting moon”). Zangetsu’s spirit takes the form of a middle-aged man, voiced by Takayuki Sugo in the Japanese anime and by Richard Epcar in the English dub. While in bankai mode, Zangetsu appears as a young man with same appearances as the middle-aged man but with slightly shorter hair. Zangetsu’s special ability is the Getsuga Tenshō (月牙天衝?, literally “heaven-slicing lunar fang”, translated in the English anime as “piercer of heaven”), a wave of spirit particles released from his blade. However, Ichigo partially becomes a hollow in the same training. This leaves him with an insane inner hollow spirit that tries to take control of his body to fight. Within Ichigo’s inner world, the hollow mirrors his appearance. Upon Ichigo’s arrival in Soul Society, he repeatedly clashes with high-ranking Soul Reapers as he approaches Rukia’s location. In order to defeat them, Ichigo learns his bankai form, named Tensa Zangetsu (天鎖斬月?, literally “heavenly chain cutting the moon”), which changes his uniform and sword in order to move at incredibly high speeds. With the assistance of Ichigo’s newfound allies, Rukia is saved, though she quickly falls into the hands of Sōsuke Aizen. Aizen, the mastermind behind Rukia’s execution, fulfills his plans by removing the Hōgyoku from her body. In the aftermath, Ichigo is made a “Substitute Soul Reaper” and is allowed to return home with his friends.
Ichigo’s appearance while performing bankai and using his hollow mask. Aizen, through the use of the Hōgyoku, creates an army of arrancar that attacks Ichigo and his friends in the human world. In order to fight the arrancar Ichigo is taught to control his hollow by the Visored, Soul Reapers with hollow powers, allowing him to call upon his hollow powers at will and without sacrificing control by donning a hollow mask through a limited time. Although they fend off the arrancar with the bolstered defenses, they are unable to prevent the abduction of Ichigo’s friend, Orihime Inoue. When Soul Society refuses to save her, Ichigo and his friends go to Hueco Mundo to rescue her on their own. Ichigo engages Ulquiorra Cifer, the arrancar taking her hostage, in combat and subsequently kills him in his new hollow form. He later goes to Karakura Town to protect it from Aizen. Upon his failure, Ichigo begins training with his father Isshin to defeat Aizen. Concluding his training, Ichigo fights Aizen, weakening him at the expense of his Soul Reaper powers. As Ichigo’s powers fade away, Urahara seals Aizen within a kidō barrier, intending to allow Central 46 to decide his fate. Seventeen months later, Ichigo becomes a senior in high school. He meets Kūgo Ginjō from the group Xcution who presents Ichigo with a chance to regain his Soul Reaper powers in return of helping Ginjō and his group be free of their own “Fullbringer” powers. With their help, Ichigo unlocks his own Fullbring powers through his Substitute Soul Reaper Badge. However, when Ichigo is attacked by Shūkurō Tsukishima, one of Ginjō’s allies who changed his memories to trick Ichigo, his Fullbring powers are stolen. He regains his Soul Reaper powers by a decision made by the captain commander Shigekuni Yamamoto, as an act to repay Ichigo’s deeds to the Soul Society. Ichigo then engages Ginjō in combat, alongside Uryu.