A Zanpakutō (斬魄刀; literally, soul-cutter sword) is the main weapon of the Shinigami, the Arrancar and theVisored. The Shinigami art of wielding a Zanpakutō is called Zanjutsu (斬術; literally, swordsmanship).
The Zanpakutō of low-ranking Shinigami are called Asauchi and don’t have names, but the Zanpakutō of Shinigami of rank have names. In its sealed state, a Zanpakutō has the form of a Japanese sword. Such weapons are unique swords generated from their owners souls. Its shape differs depending on its owner.
Zanpakutō are the trademark weapons of the Shinigami. Capable of cutting spiritual bodies, they are amongst the few weapons which can be used to combat Hollows. Each Shinigami carries a Zanpakutō, and each Zanpakutō is unique: as the swords are both reflections of a Shinigami’s soul and power, and sentient beings unto themselves. The Zanpakutō’s name is also the name of the living spirit that empowers the sword and lends its strength to the Shinigami who wields it. These beings can vary greatly in appearance and have their own distinct personalities which match their owner’s.
A Zanpakutō’s shape and abilities are based on their Shinigami’s soul. Once a Shinigami learns his/her sword’s name, they are able to communicate with one another and grow stronger together. Zanpakutō are born with their Shinigami and they die along with their Shinigami. Shinigami use them in battle as a reflection of their heart. When released, they can display a vibrant power. They are one with the Shinigami, and they share a Shinigami’s conviction.
Inside each Zanpakuto is an incarnation that manifests itself upon the Zanpakuto’s transformation. The first step is to acquaint oneself with this incarnation.
- Because they are part of their owner’s soul, a Zanpakutō cannot be replaced, though it will slowly regenerate if it is broken.
- The size of the Zanpakutō reflects the amount of the swordsman’s spiritual power. Exceptions to this rule are beings of immense power who are required to actively control the size of their Zanpakutō.
- If a Shinigami pierces the chest of a Human with their Zanpakutō and channels their Reiryoku through it into the Human’s body, it will transform that Human into a Shinigami temporarily. The act does not have a high chance of viability even when the Human in question has a high level of spiritual energy, and if the method does fail the Human will die.
- Every Zanpakutō has its own name.
- Zanpakutō have a true form. This true form resides inside their Shinigami. A Zanpakutō has a mind, and a body that controls their powers. Shinigami are able to grow more powerful by communicating with them.
- Zanpakutō possess their own reiatsu, which can be sensed as any reiatsu can and is identical to that of their wielder though with subtle differences.
- Though rare, it is not impossible for more than one soul to be attuned to the same spirit. In such cases, ancient law of the Soul Society will not allow two beings to wield the same Zanpakutō, in which case, they must duel for ownership of the spirit, with the winner gaining it and the loser being sentenced to death.
- No matter what form (or size) a Zanpakutō takes, it is always virtually effortless for its owner to wield because it is a part of its owner’s soul. Shinigami captains all consciously keep their Zanpakutō in a manageable size, otherwise they would be holding Zanpakutō the size of skyscrapers. Therefore, one cannot judge one’s opponent’s strength solely by the size of their Zanpakutō.
- No Zanpakutō in existence has a Shikai and a Bankai that use unrelated abilities
A wielder knows their Zanpakutō spirit very closely and vice versa. The connection is very deep, though in the beginning the connection is one sided with the wielder being unable to fully hear the spirit communicating with them. It is not uncommon for the introduction of the two (Shinigami and Zanpakutō spirit) to take place in theinner world while the prospective Shinigami sleeps.
It is not enough to simply know the name of one’s Zanpakutō. If a wielder were to lend its power to its Zanpakutō then the weapon would become stronger. To fully use a Zanpakutō’s power, a wielder must get to know its Zanpakutō’s spirit.