Ichibei is a powerful Shinigami in service to the Soul King himself, serving as both the commanding officer of the Royal Guard and one of the oldest and most powerful Shinigami to have ever lived.
Ichibei is one of the first and most powerful Shinigami, and due to his power and status, he was bestowed the title "Monk Who Calls the Real Name" by the Soul King himself, and inducted into the Royal Guard. Ichibei is credited with granting names to every single thing in the current existence of the Soul Society, including every name of all the Shinigamis Zanpakuto, Shikai and Bankai. He was also the very first Shinigami to have achieved Bankai, or what was known at the time as the evolved form of a Zanpakuto, Shinuchi.
Ichibei was created by Tite Kubo to serve as one of the major supporting characters of the Thousand Years Blood War Arc, in his manga series Bleach. His first appearance was during the manga Volume 58, Chapter 516, THE SQUAD ZERO.
Despite being one of the oldest Shinigami in existence, Ichibeis appearance is that of a somewhat tall middle aged man with a rather stocky physical build, and a bald head. His eyes are coloured a deep red and he sports a rather long black beard. His overall facial features are rounded to some degree and quite hard in appearance, with a notably large jaw and mouth, large nose and a very large pair of bushy eyebrows.
For attire, Ichibei choses to wear the standard Shinigami outfit with a few personal variations of his own, including the Royal Guards personalized Haori, a notable set of large red prayer beads and a pair of single-toothed Tengu Geta.
Ichibeis personality is that or a rather upbeat, but authorities individual. He speaks in a rather loud, boisterous manner, and always maintains a happy outlook regardless of the situation. Even in battle, he maintains his happy outlook, however the reason behind it changes somewhat, as he appears to become far more violent and sadistic overall, even gloating over his opponents misfortune in battle against him.
Ichibei first appears shortly after the end of the first invasion of the Soul Society by the Quincy Empire, The Wandenreich, and the death of Captain-Commander Yamamoto. He and the other members of the Royal Guard arrive from the Soul Kings Palace by way of the Tenchuren, falling from the sky with a great amount of force. Upon exiting out of the Tenchuren, Ichibei and the other Royal Guardsmen are greeted by the majority of the remaining members of the Gotei 13, as well as Ichigo Kurosaki. After a few members of the Royal Guard exchange introductions with member of the Gotei 13, Ichibei interrupts them and reminds them they are not here to chat, informing everyone present that they are here in order to bring Ichigo Kurosaki, and a select few of the wounded Gotei 13 members, back with them to the Soul Kings Palace. Captain Sui-Feng attempts to interrupt him, but she is quickly silenced by Tenjiro Kirinji, who berates her for her arrogance. Ichibei then hits Tenjiro across the head and tells him once again that they can talk later, and reminds them that they still have business to take care of.
At that moment Senjumaru Shutara arrives at the scene, carrying with her Renji Abarai, Rukia Kuchiki, Byakuya Kuchiki and the shattered Tensa Zangetsu, informing Ichibei that they are ready to leave for the Soul Kings Palace once more. Ichigo attempts to interrupt them himself, stating that his injuries are far too minor for them to waste their time healing, but Ichibei informs Ichigo that his reason for admittance is completely different. After Kisuke Urahara interrupted the conversation and spoke with Ichigo, Ichibei informed him that they planned on reforging Tensa Zangetsu into something new for him and that required him to come with them back to the Soul Kings Palace. The group then left for Kukaku Shibas estate, where Ichibei informs Ichigo that in order to get back to the Soul Kings Palace, they must enlist the help of Kukaku Shiba and her cannon.
After a short journey through the 72 Barriers protecting the Soul Kings Palace, they Royal Guard and their guests arrive at the foot of the Soul Kings Palace. Ichibei proceeds to educate Ichigo about the Oken, and how t's used to enter into the Soul Kings Palace when the latter inquired about it, informing Ichigo that the Oken itself is engrained into the members of the Royal Guards very bodies and bones by the Soul King himself, telling Ichigo that when Sosuke Aizen attempted to create an Oken for himself, he was in fact attempting to recreate one of the Royal Guards.
Ichibei is not seen again until deep into the training of Rukia and Renji, in order to master their newfound powers. He interrupts their mutual training session and invites them to train with him in his inner room. While there, Ichibei muses over Renjis Zanpakuto, Zabimaru, and informs Renji that Zabimaru only told him a portion of the name of his Bankai, and that it was due to him not being fully worthy to master its full power. Ichibei then informs Renji of his title, bestowed to him by the Soul King, and tells him that he has the ability to see the names of everything in existence, including the true names of all Zanpakuto. He proceeds to tell Renji the true name of his Bankai, knowing that he now has the power to master it for himself.
Later on after Renji and Rukia had already left for the Soul Society, Ichibei arrives at the Vestibule-Road in order to see Ichigo off on his journey back down to the Soul Society, notifying him that the Wandenreich began their attack on the Soul Society sometime before, prompting Ichigo to jump straight down through the barriers as fast as he could. After he had left, Ichibei muses to himself and the other members of the Royal Guard that Ichigos time with them had made him far stronger than he was previously, noting that Ichigo had finally become a true Shinigami.
The very next day, Ichibei, and the other members of the Royal Guard, senses the presence of Yhwach, Jugram Haschwalth and Uryuu Ishida, who finally succeeded in bypassing the 72 Barriers protecting the Soul Kings Palace and enters into the Royal Realm. Quickly jumping into action, Ichibei and the members of the Royal Guard enact a plan in order to protect the Soul King and the Royal Realm for the invading Quincy.
Ichibei is not seen again until Senjumaru reveals that the Soul King Palace they were currently standing in was a fake one created by her, and that the true palace had been concealed by Ichibei, at which point he reveals a large circular seal with the symbol for "hidden" inked into the air around the entrance to the true Soul Kings Palace. Ichibei wonders to himself why she revealed the plan so soon after the attack, before surmising that Kirio must have finished her preparations for the Cage of Life. Once the Quincy are trapped inside the Cage of Life, Ichibei bears witness to the battles that follow between Yhwachs Elite Sternritter and his own Royal Guardsmen.
At some point during the battle, Sternritter member Pernida Parnkgjas utilized his power in order to breach through the Cage of Life, at which point the Quincy Emperor Yhwach himself, confronted Ichibei directly, even calling him by his name courteously. Stepping up to the challenge, Ichibei rose up in order to do battle with Yhwach, telling him that he should be wary of using his name so casually. Ichibei proceeds to quickly draw line markers on the ground, signifying to Yhwach that they will fight between these two points and he will not cross any further into the Soul Kings Palace. Yhwach then addresses him once more, mocking him in the process. Ichibei however warns Yhwach once more that he should not use his name so casually, before summoning a giant Reishi hand in front of Yhwach and blasting him straight off the Vestibule-Road and out into the open space around the Soul Kings Palace.
Ichibei then quickly jumps after Yhwach, catching up to him mid-flight and begins to explain the technique to the Quincy, for hitting him once more in an attempt to send him straight back down to the Soul Society. The attack fails however, which Yhwach managed to counter the downward force with his own Sankt Bogen, firing a Holy Arrow through his own chest in order to propel himself back up to Ichibei. Ichibei proceeds to berate Yhwach for his arrogance, stating that he has no choice but to kill him for it, and then proceeds to draw out his own Zanpakuto in order to do battle, clashing with Yhwach in a powerful burst of strength.
Exchanging blow for blow, the elder Shinigami and the Quincy Emperor battle across the open space of the Royal Realm, before Yhwach attempts to block and counter Ichibeis large calligraphy brush with his own arm. Ichibei quickly informs Yhwach that his Zanpakuto doesn't cut flesh, but the name of anything it hits, telling Yhwach that his arms have now been reduced to half of their original power, mocking him in the process by asking if it has become tough to swing his sword around. Ichibei attacks Yhwach once again due to the latter’s shock, and cuts him straight down the middle, before blasting the Quincy Emperor straight back to the Vestibule-Road once more. Ichibei begins to mock Yhwach once again, before the Quincy reveals that he has the power to restore any strength taken from him, and he displays this by attacking Ichibei with multiple sharpened Reishi constructs, which Ichibei manages to deal with effectively before they can cause him serious injury. Informing Yhwach that he was merely trying to save the Quincy reputation by taking only half of his strength from him, before proceeding to jump straight at the Quincy and activate the kido, Bakudo 62 - Hyapporankan, which is swiftly blocked by Yhwachs Blut Vene Anhaben shield. Ichibei then quickly activates another kido, Ura hado - Sannodo - Tepusatsu, which completely breaches the Quincys shield, and enables Ichibei to grab Yhwach by his throat directly.
This however backfires, and Ichibei suddenly finds his power being absorbed by Yhwach, who reveals the unique nature of Blut Vene Anhaben, and its ability to absorb anything that touches Yhwach in order to fuel itself. Ichibei however manages to overpower the effects through sheer strength, and manages to rip out Yhwachs throat in the process, causing a great deal of damage to the Quincy. Ichibei quickly informs Yhwach how insolent he was to attempt to defile the body of one of the Servants of the Soul King, before finally releasing his Shikai, Ichimonji.
Ichibei begins his attack once more, clashing with Yhwach multiple times with his Shikai, causing a large amount of black ink to slash out and over the surrounding area. Yhwach questions this himself, but refocuses and begins to state that he will still emerge victorious thanks to his sword. However Yhwach finds himself unable to utter the word sword, which prompts Ichibei to explain to him that anything his ink covers simply loses its name, and by effect the power it once hand, further mocking Yhwach in the process. In another defiant attempt to regain his lost power, Yhwach activates Sankt Altar, but once again Ichibei manages to overpower it with his own strength. Explaining the details behind his Shikai to Yhwach, Ichibei bids a short farewell to Yhwach before striking him with his Shikai, covering his entire body in a large amount of black ink.
Ichibei mocks Yhwach once again and proceeds to activate his Bankai, Shirafude Ichimonji, informing Yhwach that he will bestow upon him a brand new name. Explaining to the Quincy the effects of his Bankai, Ichibei swiftly renames Yhwach to "Black Ant", mocking him all the while before summoning a massive Reishi based leg high above his head and crushing Yhwach under it, knocking the Quincy through the Vestibule-Road and down towards the Soul Society once more. To add further insult, Ichibei then proceeds to generate two more hands on either side of Yhwach, and crushes him between them, bidding farewell to the “Mighty King of the Insects”.
At that very moment however, Yhwach unleashes an incredible level of power and suddenly appears behind Ichibei in a column of pure Reishi, blasting a deep cut into Ichibei chest by way of a sharpened Reishi column. Shocked by this Ichibei asks him how it was possible for him to undo the name he gave him, prompting Yhwach to reveal the power of his Schrift, the letter "A" - "The Almighty", informing Ichibei that it's impossible for him to lose now that his eyes have finally opened.
Ichibei, laughing at Yhwach for claiming such a thing, proceeds to activate his powerful sealing technique Futen daisatsuryou, telling Yhwach that he stole 100 nights from the future Soul Society in order to create this tomb for him, explaining that the technique destroys the very soul and essence of any caught in it, removing them from the reincarnation cycle completely. Before Ichibei had the chance to activate it however, Yhwach reminds him that he now has the ability to see into the future, mocking Ichibei one final time he proudly proclaims that he will be taking everything from Ichibei, causing Ichibei to explode into multiple pieces and fall down onto the ground seemingly defeated.
It's not until Ichigo and his team finally arrive at the Soul Kings Palace once more that they discover the ravaged remains of Ichibei lying on the ground in pieces. Orihime quickly attempts to heal him with her powers, but at that moment Ichibei speaks out into Ichigos mind, asking him to utter his name out loud. When Ichigo finally does call out for Ichibei, the Shinigami quickly begins to reconstitute and regenerate his broken body, rising up once more alive and well. Ichibei quickly informs them about the power behind a name, and explains to them that he is able to rebuild his body by taking a portion of power from anyone who speaks his name. Ichibei then regrettably asks Ichigo and his team to proceed on to the Soul Kings Central Palace and stop Yhwach, noting that he and the Royal Guard failed in their duty, and he currently doesn't have the strength to assist them in the battle.
After Ichigo and his team head off in order to find and stop Yhwach, Ichibei, looking shocked, begins to apologise to the humans of the world, stating that they can't possibly defeat Yhwach, but notes that that is all there was to the so-called peace, before addressing Yhwach directly.
As a member of the elite Royal Guard, and one of the oldest and most skilled Shinigami in history, Ichibei is likely the greatest and most powerful adversary the Shinigami have. The nature surrounding his promotion to Royal Guard status is unknown, but it was likely due in part to his incredible level of power and skill, so much so that he was the first Shinigami in history to completely attune with his Zanpakuto, Ichimonji, and allow it to ascend to a higher level of being, also known as a Shinuchi or Bankai in current terminology. Ichibei has displayed a multitude of skills in his battle with the Quincy Emperor Yhwach, including a high degree of proficiency in the art of Kido, utilizing multiple kido high level kido such as Bakudo 62 - Hyapporankan and Ura Hado: Sannodo-Teppusatsu in quick succession without the usage of either incantation, the latter of which proved strong enough to instantly destroy the Blut Vene Anhaben of Yhwach himself. His skill with his calligraphy brush is also great, being able to fend off attacks with a high degree of efficiency despite its large and bulky nature. The brush itself also allows Ichibei to use a signature skill of his own which revolves around the empowerment of calligraphy based seals, infusing the power of the seal with the meaning behind it. With this skill he was able to both hide and seal the true Soul King Palace from the invading Quincy, however it was shown that a sufficient level of power is able to breach through these seals with little effort.
Ichibei is also the only Shinigami in history to be capable of manipulating reishi itself, similar to how the Quincy do so. This is shown when he is able to both create and use large spiritual appendages for usage in both offensive and defensive techniques, the most notable example of which is his technique Senri Tsutensho, which launches the target at high speeds a vast distance away from Ichibei.
As the unofficial commander of the Royal Guard, Ichibeis bones are also infused with The Oken, otherwise known as the Kings Key, which allows him to unlock the barriers into and out of the Soul Kings Palace at will. The Oken itself is also noted to have a high level of durability, as clothes crafted from the hair and bones of the Royal Guard are able to breach through the 72 barriers protecting the Soul King Palace and still remain in pristine condition. As a side effect of this, it's likely Ichibei is also extremely durable due to the inclusion of the Oken in his body. Ichibeis physical condition is of a high calibre despite his highly advanced age, showing a vast level of physical strength during his clashes with Yhwach, and a high level of speed when he displayed the ability to utilize Shunpo to cross large distances in a matter of seconds.
Ichibeis true power however, lies in his control and understanding of words. His understanding is so great that he is credited as the man who gave names to everything in the Soul Society to date, including the names of every Shikai and Bankai currently residing in the hands of a Shinigami. This power of understanding is further exemplified through his Zanpakuto, being able to manipulate the name of any object he hits in order to reduce its overall power, or completely remove the name itself through the usage of his Shikai. However his most fearsome trait in this regard, is his ability to completely rename anything which he has already taken the name from, which is achieved through his Shinuchi, or Bankai, Shirafude Ichimonji.
|The Ōken - The Ōken, otherwise known as the Kings Key, is entity which allows entry into the Soul King Palace. Obtaining it is the sole way in which one can enter into and out of, the Soul King Palace. Previously thought to be a physical object, it is revealed that the Ōken is simply a power granted to members of the Royal Guard, which literally make their very bones the Ōken itself. As Oh-Etsu is a member of the Royal Guard, his bones are the Ōken, and it's likely his durability is increased to a level where he is able to break all 72 barriers protecting the Soul King Palace unaided.|
|True Name Indentification - As the "Monk Who Calls the Real Name", Ichibei has an innate ability to know the true name of any object, person or thing in the entire world simply by looking at them. He is the one who gave names to every single thing currently residing in the Soul Society, including the names of every Shinigamis Zanpakuto. He displayed this power when he informed Renji Abarai about the true name of his Bankai as well as the power itself.|
|Name Curse - Likely due to own ability to manipulate the power behind names, Ichibeis name carries with it a powerful curse, rendering those who are unworthy to speak it mute as a side effect of uttering his name. This was shown when Yhwach said his name and lost the ability to use his voice shortly after. The process however can be reversed if one has the power and skill to do so.|
|Name Severing - An inherent ability that Ichibei utilizes with his Sealed Zanpakuto. When Ichibei hits a target with his Sealed Zanpakuto, he is able to "sever" their name, reducing that targets overall power by half of its original value. He explains this after hitting Yhwach in his arm, claiming that the power in Yhwachs arm was now reduced to half of its original power, noting that its name had also severed from "arm" to "ar" to reflect this. This ability is an extension of Ichibeis unique control over the "names" of things, and it allows him to harm an opponent without causing any notable exterior damage.|
|Self-Reconstitution - Directly linked to Ichibeis power over the names of things, Ichibei is able to reconstitute or resurrect himself after death simply by having someone say his name aloud while they are close to his remains. In doing so, Ichibei takes a small portion of the person’s power and uses it to bring himself back to life once more, even regenerating grievous bodily wounds and rebuilding his body should it be in pieces. He displayed this ability after his defeat at the hands of Yhwach, having Ichigo say his name shortly after the latter’s arrival in the Soul King palace in order to bring himself back.|
|Empowered Calligraphy - Using his sealed Zanpakuto as an calligraphy ink brush, Ichibei is able to create large symbols in the air which also carry the power behind the meaning of the symbol itself. He displayed this ability twice, once when he used the symbol for "Conceal" and hid the entirety of the Soul King Palace from the invading Quincy, and the second time was when he used the symbol for "Seal" and restricted access to the Central Soul King Palace from Yhwach. These symbols are not absolute however, as one with sufficient power is able to breach through them should they be aware of their existence.|
|Senri Tsutensho - A powerful technique in which Ichibei is able to create spiritual appendages manifested out of pure reishi and utilize them for combat. The manifested appendages also have a unique ability to propel any target they hit at high speeds to a maximum distance of around 1000 Spiritual Ri (Roughly 300 miles according to the official translation) away from Ichibei. He utilized this technique multiple times during his battle with Yhwach, however Yhwach showed the capability to counter the techniques incredible propulsion with his own abilities.|
|Ichimonji - When the release command of "Blacken" is spoken by Ichibei, the brush portion of his calligraphy brush disappears to reveal a large bladed edge. Ichimonjis unique ability is that when the Zanpakuto is swung, it releases a spray of black ink in the general area, and anything that the black ink touches or covers loses its name, and consequently the power it has. This is shown during Ichibeis battle with Yhwach, having covered his blade in ink, Yhwach found that his sword no longer had a name or the power associated with it. Ichimonjis power is derived from the colour black and upon its release, Ichimonji begins to absorb everything that has the colour black in the entire world itself. This blackness that is absorbed by Ichibei is also unable to be stolen from him by any means the Quincy possessed, as once the power is taken from him, it immediately retunes to him due to the unique power of Ichimonji and its absolute control over the colour black.|
|Futen Daisatsuryou - A powerful sealing technique derived from Ichimonji. Upon activation, Ichibei begins to summon vast quantities of black ink in the general vicinity and then starts to recite an incantation, during which he consumes some of the black ink from a small cup. Once the incantation is complete, a large mausoleum with large fence posts of pure black ink forms around and behind him. Ichibei stated that he had taken 100 nights from the Soul Society itself in order to generate this seal, and upon its activation, Ichibei states that it will begin to absorb all of the darkness in the target, even stripping down their flesh and bones in the process. This seal is so powerful that it is also able to completely destroy the soul of anyone unfortunate enough to be caught in it, removing them from the reincarnation cycle itself. The full extent and display of this ability is thwarted by Yhwach however, before it could be fully activated by Ichibei|
|Shirafude Ichimonji - The ascended form of Ichimonji, also known as a Shinuchi. Ichimonji is the first Zanpakuto in history to have achieved an ascended form, also known as Bankai to the current Shinigami residing in the Soul Society. Upon activation of Shirafude Ichimonji, the bladed section of Ichibeis Zanpakuto glows pure white and begins to extend into a large thread like coil of white ink, encompassing his body. In keeping with Ichibeis ability to manipulate names and the power that resides within them, Shirafude Ichimonji allows Ichibei to bestow a brand new name on anything that has already been blotted out with his Shikais black ink. When the new name i bestowed on the person or object, that thing then takes on the properties of the name. This was shown when Ichibei renamed Yhwach to "Black Ant", bestowing the Quincy with the same powers as that of an ant itself.|
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Monk Who Calls the Real Name