• The title of "Kenpachi" is earned through a deadly duel witnessed by 200 members. Zaraki is the current holder.
  • The 8th Kenpachi, Sōya Azashiro, was imprisoned for his powerful abilities and deemed a major threat.
  • Sōya Azashiro's Zanpakutō, Urozakuro, can control his surroundings and fuse with them, making him incredibly formidable.

The following contains spoilers for BLEACH: Thousand-Year Blood War, available for streaming on Hulu and Disney+.

The title of "Kenpachi" is granted only to the Seireitei's most powerful combatant. The title is earned solely through killing its current holder in a duel witnessed by at least 200 members of the 11th Squad, and the 11th and current holder is Zaraki.

Neither the manga nor the anime explores other wielders of the title throughout Soul Society's history; however, the Spirits Are Forever With You novels by Durarara!! author Ryohgo Narita, reveals one Kenpachi who had abilities that were so powerful, that he ended up being imprisoned in the same darkness as Soul Society's greatest criminal: Sōsuke Aizen. Just who was the 8th Kenpachi, Sōya Azashiro, and why was he deemed such a profound threat?

He Defeated His Predecessor in An Instant


During the events of BLEACH: Thousand-Year Blood War, it is revealed that Zaraki became the 11th titleholder whilst a previous holder was still alive. With the revelation that 4th Squad Captain Retsu Unohana, real name Yachiru Unohana, was the very first Captain of the 11th Squad, she and Zaraki engaged in a thrilling final battle.

In the Spirits Are Forever With You novels, which are set during the 17 months after Aizen's defeat, the 8th Kenpachi is the primary antagonist. He was a bit of a mismatch for Squad 11 given his rather quiet and introspective personality, as well as his obsession with justice and fulfilling his true role as a Soul Reaper. He earns his title in dramatic fashion when he challenges Kuruyashiki, a Kenpachi so powerful he defeated a Vasto Lorde Hollow by himself, and even refused promotion to the Zero Squad. Azashiro's defeat of the 7th Kenpachi was never fully accepted by the 11th Squad because he pulled off the victory without even touching Kuruyashiki. Through unknown means, Sōya Azashiro was able to eviscerate Kuruyashiki, ending the match instantly.

His Bankai Is Permanently Activated


Sōya Azashiro lived in a rougher time in the Soul Society, when noble families were vying for prominence and power. The Azashiro Clan was a prominent noble family that was collectively framed for crimes that they didn't commit. During the Soul Society arc in BLEACH, a retired form of execution was introduced, one in which the convicted would be thrown into a deep pit to fight against a Hollow as a form of entertainment.

What was particularly barbaric about Sōya's past is that this incident led to the decimation of his entire family, and despite promising to allow any survivors to live, the nobles sent in more Hollows against Sōya. With him and his older sister being the sole survivors, her death in the pit caused him to snap, manifesting his Zanpakutō spirit, Urozakuro. With this unique development, Sōya Azashiro is a unique Shinigami whose Zanpakutō is referred to by the name of the Bankai since its Shikai activation is unknown.

He Can Control His Surroundings


Urozakuro is capable of manifesting herself, and acts independently of her wielder. It can fuse with its surroundings and control them. This extends to the ground or the air, and this connection is permanent as Azashiro's inner world is constantly fused together with the outside. That which fuses with Urozakuro becomes an extension of Azashiro himself, and this can even extend to his perception. Through this ability, Azashiro is even able to mitigate the effects of Aizen's Kyōka Suigetsu, which is an incredible feat considering that not even Yhwach's omniscience could see through Kyōka Suigetsu's Perfect Hypnosis.

How Azashiro killed his predecessor was through Living Body Fusion, forcibly fusing with his opponent's body and destroying it from the inside. The fusion is limitless, and he can maintain connections to multiple realms at once, as Urozakuro made connections in the Seireitei and the Human World. The only weakness Azashiro has is tactics that rely on absorption, like Ayasegawa Yumichika's Ruri'iro Kojaku. The absolute limitlessness of this ability made Azashiro a huge threat, and when he sought to alter the universal balance, the Central 46 considered him a major criminal because of it.

He Was Imprisoned In Muken


Muken is the lowest-level of the Central Great Underground Prison, which is located under the barracks of the 1st Squad and reserved only for some of the most heinous and dangerous criminals the Soul Society cannot execute. Aizen was sentenced to 20 000 years for his myriad of crimes including the use of various heinous means to gain Hollow powers (an act which is a crime itself), his defection from Soul Society and his leading of the Arrancars in an attempt to invade the Soul King's Palace and replace the Soul King as the linchpin of existence. Azashiro was given 20 000 years in the Muken for seeking to destroy the balance established through the cycle of souls protected by the Shinigami, through his desire to completely purify the Hollows of Hueco Mundo and alter the hearts of human beings in the Human World to destroy the negative aspects of humanity that are the seeds of Hollowfication – much like the tragic journey of JUJUTSU KAISEN character Suguru Getō. Due to the fact that he could not be touched during his arrest,

From the depths of prison, Azashiro kept track of the various things that took place in Soul Society leading up to his escape, which had only happened because a number of seals had come loose when Roca, an Arrancar created by the Espada Szayel-Aporo Grantz, infiltrated Soul Society through manipulation of threads of Negación, the beam used by Gillian-class Hollows to rescue their comrades. The ability mirrors Urozakuro's assimilation with her surroundings, and enables Roca to store information about the things that are connected to her threads. Whenever Roca connects with things in the Human World, she becomes visible to those who lack spiritual awareness. Since Azashiro lacked a traditional Zanpakutō, it had never been taken away from him during his arrest, which was only possible because he complied when the Zero Squad arrived. 250 Shinigami officers tried to take him in and could not even touch him.

His Shikai Is Incredibly Powerful


Due to the connection he has with his Zanpakutō, Azashiro is still able to request Urozakuro to revert to her Shikai state, which turns her into a simple Asauchi; however, all the reishi accumulated through the connections made by Urozakuro are condensed into the blade in exchange for the connections made up to that point. When he used it in a fight against Zaraki, the Zanpakutō was thought to have more power concentrated in its blade than the Sōkyoku, which is claimed to have the power of a million Zanpakutō – enough to vaporize a soul from existence. Despite his absolutely overpowered Zanpakutō, Azashiro still has two major weaknesses: absorption abilities, and the fact that his body hasn't been hardened by training or intense battle, so he is surprisingly weak – weak enough to be badly wounded by an attack by Don Kanonji. After accepting defeat, Azashiro is once again imprisoned in Muken, this time, determined to take the time to learn about his Zanpakutō.