When Bleach protagonist Ichigo Kurosaki and his friends were frantically searching for a way to rescue Rukia Kuchiki from execution, the reputation of Squad 11 had set the group apart from the rest of the Gotei 13 squads. Why? The reason is none other than the Captain of the 11th Division, Kenpachi Zaraki.
Although the man is itself a legend within the Soul Society, the hype he deserves from his peers are just. Kenpachi is incredibly strong as a Captain – a fact that is acknowledged by everyone. In fact, he is the only Captain to have made it to Gotei 13 without having a Bankai, a primary requisite to attaining that prestigious position. However, a peculiar style about Kenpachi Zaraki’s everyday getup (before the Aizen’s defeat) is styling his hair into long stiff strands, on which he attaches small bells. Another accessory that he uses to achieve his regular intimidating look is his black eyepatch. However, why does he include these when other Captains don’t? The answer may be in his idealistic motive to fight on equal grounds.
Note: This article contains spoilers from the Bleach series.
Bleach character Kenpachi Zaraki’s need for challenges prompts him to gives his targets two leeways while fighting him
The eleventh generation Kenpachi and current captain of Squad 11. He usually wears a special eyepatch that suppresses his power so that he can enjoy fighting for a long time. pic.twitter.com/xSsVxgaLuy
— Bleach: Brave Souls (@bleachbrs_en) April 27, 2022
The suspense around the Captain of the strongest squad members, 11th Division, has been teased ever since Ichigo and his friends got separated following their attempt to enter Soul Society. Moreover, the knowledge became even more important when the Bleach protagonist defeated Ikakau Madarame, the then-3rd Seat Officer of 11th Division, and the latter revealed to Ichigo to be aware of his Captain, who was already on the lookout for him.
Although Kenpachi Zaraki was introduced first in Bleach episode 20 alongside Gin Ichimaru, no elaboration was made about his strength and abilities. In the Soul Society arc, after following Yachiru’s directions and ending up at wrong places, Kenpachi finally meets Ichigo. But before that, the audience briefly sees his back as the small bells in his hair strands move and he smirks. As such, it becomes clear that the man spells danger. So, when Kenpachi Zaraki is seen facing the Shinigami Ichigo for the first time, his height, stature, swordsmanship, spiritual pressure (Reiatsu), and strength becomes even more prominent.
Kenpachi is so intimidating that his presence alone had Ichigo reacting as such their first meeting. Long before he ever swung his sword. pic.twitter.com/9GQMfQ4YtX
— Brycepticon (@Hollownecyrb) June 5, 2023
After a brief game of chase between Ichigo and Kenpachi, they finally face off. Then, amidst some sword slashing, Kenpachi, who finds his zeal in the battle, reveals to Ichigo that to give his opponents/targets a headstart of the sort, he wears bells and an eyepatch. He says to Ichigo (Netflix sub),
“There’s no reason for me to wear them if you don’t take advantage of them.”
It is later revealed that Kenpachi takes his time during bath hours to style his in a specific manner. Although not necessary, the purpose of attaching the tiny bells at the end of the long, stiff hair strands is to make his opponents aware of his presence.
So i reread the Gremmy vs Kenny fight and i got me thinking.
Kenpachi destroyed a meteor with just a no effort slash with his shikai and eyepatch(makes him weaker).
Now imagine the power if he puts effort in his slash, no eyepatch, bankai, kendo and 10 year timeskip training💀 pic.twitter.com/vwCly8oSFC
— 🌗 (@TensaLala) July 14, 2020
Life as a Shinigami is unpredictable, more so if one is part of the infamous Gotei 13. As expected, the unpredictability of peace and conflict within Soul Society is a grey line, so the members must always be prepared. Kenpachi just takes extra ‘me time’ to make the effort so that his opponents can provide him a challenge during fights that is initiated due to his movements’ sounds. And what’s better than the sound of bells? Moreover, as an experienced Captain, Kenpachi can easily move around suppressing his spiritual pressure or making any sounds, but the thrill is knowing that his targets can easily find him as he lures them to him.
Now, about the black eyepatch. At some point in the past, upon the Captain’s request, the Technological Development team at Soul Society had made the accessory exclusively for Kenpachi to suppress his immense spiritual pressure. The inside of the black eyepatch contains two small pairs of eyes and four mouths with sharp teeth, which he refers to as “a monster that consumes spiritual energy.” If Kenpachi lets out his Reiatsu at full efficiency, it will be hazardous to the people around him, as seen when the full release of his spiritual pressure condensed the tension in the air as a golden beam reached the heavens and the swing of his chipped sword cut an entire block of building.
Though the victor of the battle was Ichigo, the immense strength and energy of Bleach’s Kenpachi Zaraki established his reputation as one of the strongest Gotei 13 captains. An individual may have their own way of fighting, but Kenpachi’s use of bells and eyepatch has a less humanitarian purpose and more to regulate his energy. In some cases, the suppression of his full strength may backfire, which may have been the reason why 17 years later, following the Arrancar’s defeat, he started wearing his hair normal and without bells. But the eyepatch stayed, albeit without the black straps to keep his spiritual powers in check.