Shunsui Sōzōsuke Jirō Kyōraku (京楽 次郎 総蔵佐 春水 Kyōraku no Jirō Sōzōsuke Shunsui?) was originally Squad Eight's captain for most of the storyline. One of the oldest captains alongside his friend Jūshirō Ukitake, Shunsui was trained under Head Captain Yamamoto whom he called Old-man Yama (山じい Yama-jii?). Shunsui is a laid-back and flamboyant man as seen in his attire, wearing a straw hat and a pink flowered haori over his captain's uniform. In his off time, he can be seen drinking sake and napping. Other times, he likes to chase after women, particularly his lieutenant Nanao Ise. Shunsui tends to use a more familiar speech style than most other characters in Bleach; he generally refers to his fellow captains and Soul Reapers by their first name, usually followed by an honorific. Kyōraku is a peace-loving man who will always try to find a nonviolent solution, though he does not wish to insult opponents by refusing to fight. But he is also an adept fighter, able to defeat Coyote Starrk by using only his shikai. After Yamamoto's death, Shunsui becomes the new Head Captain, and chooses Genshirō Okikiba and Nanao as his Squad One lieutenants.
Shunsui is voiced by Akio Ōtsuka in the Japanese version and by Steve Kramer in the English dub.
Shunsui Kyōraku is a tall, light-skinned Shinigami with high cheekbones, grey eyes and long wavy brown hair. His hair is tied in a long ponytail and has long bangs that frame the left side of his face. He also has a noticeable amount of body hair on his chest, feet, and arms. He wears a Sugegasa straw hat and a pink, flowered lady's kimono, which he drapes across his shoulders and over his captain's uniform. Although his haori and obi sash are cheap, his pin-wheel hairpins are very expensive. He does not wear tabi with his sandals. He has thin facial hair around his mouth and on his cheeks. Over a hundred years before Sōsuke Aizen's defection, Shunsui only had facial hair on his upper mouth. After the battle with the Wandenreich, Shunsui is shown to wear an eyepatch over his right eye that was damaged during the conflict. The top half of his right ear is sliced off at a slight tilt with a scar along his right temple.
As a child, Shunsui is shown to have shorter and messier hair. He wore a flower patterned kimono.
Shunsui is has a very laid back and nonchalant personality. He is seen almost always with a smile on his face. He is usually found drinking saki or taking a nap. He is a known womanizer and often chases after women. He is a peace-loving man and he dislikes violence. He particularly dislike taking the life of an innocent. He usually tries to talk his way out of a fight, but can become very serious and engage in battle when the situation is dire. Shunsui maintains a level of humbleness, even though he comes from one of the noble families and is one of the oldest and strongest captains in Soul Society. He is polite and tends to use familiar speech with most of the other characters.
Powers & Abilities
Master Swordsman: While hating the concept of having to engage in a fight, Shunsui is one of the most proficient swordsmen in all of Soul Society. He is a highly adaptable combatant, as his two swords have allowed him to become ambidextrous, letting him switch them between his hands. Kyōraku usually swings with more strength in his left hand than his right, however, he can easily switch or balance the strength between his two hands, allowing him to surprise his opponent. Kyōraku states that he only uses his wakizashi in situations where his katana is too difficult to use. He claims that he does not use them together on a regular basis. The best example of Shunsui's prowess is his ability to fight on even grounds with an unreleased Starrk, the 1st Espada, with only his sealed Zanpakutō, while other captain-level Shinigami have been seen requiring at least their Shikai to fight against an Espada. Shunsui's fighting style involves evasion and attacking an opponent either in the front or back, using the element of surprise to overwhelm them. His two swords move at a different pace, something he takes advantage of while fighting. While the enemy is at the mercy of his wakizashi's speed, his tachi swoops in for the final blow, which is the most common use of swords like his.
Immense Spiritual Power: As one of the oldest and strongest captains in the Gotei 13, Kyōraku has tremendous spiritual power. He, alongside his best friend Jūshirō Ukitake, are said to possess Reiatsu unmatched by their peers or predecessors. He is not overwhelmed by the Reiatsu of Captain-Commander Yamamoto, though most people would be in such a situation. His power is further displayed in his ability to defeat Coyote Starrk's released form with only his Shikai. His might was also later recognized by being promoted to the status of Captain-Commander.
Master Strategist & Tactician: Despite his laid-back attitude, Shunsui has repeatedly shown himself to be a perceptive and insightful man. According to Yamamoto, even when he was younger, Shunsui has always had an eye for seeing the true character of anyone he meets. Shunsui easily saw through Kurotsuchi's attempt to hide being used by the Bounts. He was also one of the few people to suspect that Aizen was hiding something. In battle, Shunsui has proven to be very adept at noticing and understanding details in an opponent's skills or attack patterns. During his battle against Chad, he quickly determined the basics behind Chad's Reiryoku blasts, warning him about those kinds of techniques, and even explaining that his energy blasts would eventually use up his life energy. Shunsui has also proven himself very persuasive. Shortly after becoming Captain-Commander, he was able to convince Central 46 to agree to all his new requests.
Katen Kyōkotsu: His Zanpakutō is unique in that it exists as a daisho sword pair, consisting of a tachi and a wakizashi. Their cross guards are rectangles, with the corners cut off, decorated by a pattern of cherry petals and lines, and each sports a dark-blue handle. He usually keeps them sheathed through his waist tie at his left side; however, during battle, the swords have been placed on both sides of his sash. Like other Zanpakutō, Katen Kyōkotsu has a personality of her own. However, unlike other Zanpakutō, this personality shines through in battle and prevents Shunsui from fighting at full power until Katen Kyōkotsu is in the mood for it. Because of this, Shunsui does not like to "play" with "her".
Shikai: Its Shikai command is "Flower Wind Rage and Flower God Roar, Heavenly Wind Rage and Heavenly Demon Sneer", hana kaze midarete, kashin naki, tenpū midarete, tenma warau; Viz "When the Flower Wind Rages, the Flower God Roars, When the Wind of Heaven Rages, the God of the Underworld Sneers"). Kyōraku sets the two blades against each other in a cross, and then pulls after uttering the poem-like command. When the flash clears, Katen Kyōkotsu has become a pair of huge, black, heavily curved Chinese scimitars with silver edges. The hilt and tsuba of each are still the same as they were in Katen Kyōkotsu's sealed-form, but they now sport long red tassels dangling from the end. Despite the two swords becoming identical in this state, Shunsui has stated they still work the same way; one (the wakizashi) is used mainly for speed strikes, and the other (the tachi) is used mainly for power strikes. Thusly, they still exist as a daisho sword pair, with the wakizashi being slightly smaller in size than the tachi.
Bankai: Katen Kyōkotsu: Karamatsu Shinjū, Bones of Heavenly Blooming Madness: Withered Pine Lovers' Suicide): While holding his Shikai out in front of him with the blades pointing down, Shunsui activates his Bankai, causing black, root-like tendrils to spread out from him as his Zanpakutō Spirit, Katen Kyōkotsu, appears behind him. Shunsui considers this his last resort, and will only use it if his allies are far enough away from him so that they do not get caught in its effects.
Bankai Special Ability: Upon release, an aura covers a large area around Shunsui. This aura changes others' perception of the surrounding environment, making them perceive it as darkened, bleak and gloomy, and causes others to feel varying levels of melancholy and despair.
- Ichidanme: Tameraikizu no Wakachiai, Act the First: Hesitance and Apportionment of Wounds: Any wounds that Shunsui or his opponent inflict on each other's body will emerge on their body as well, as if shared.
- Nidanme: Zanki no Shitone, Act the Second: The Pillow of Shame: Black spots appear all over the body of Shunsui's opponent, causing them to bleed profusely. Shunsui compares this to a story of a warrior who felt shame over inflicting wounds on his enemy on the battlefield, causing him to collapse in shame and become incurably ill.
- Sandanme: Dangyo no Fuchi, Act the Third: The Severing Abyss: A massive amount of water engulfs both Shunsui and his opponent, who remain within it until one of them runs out of Reiatsu and drowns.
- Shime no Dan: Itokiribasami Chizome no Nodobue, Final Act: Thread-Cutting Scissors upon a Blood-Streaked Throat): After sheathing his swords, Shunsui winds a white thread around his opponent's throat multiple times before pulling it taut, leaving a deep cut in their throat that expands before blowing up their head.
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