Desperation! The Broken Zangetsu
Kanji 絶対絶命! 折られた斬月
Romanji Zettaizetsumei! Orareta Zangetsu
Episode Number 38
Manga Chapters Chapter 108, Chapter 109, Chapter 110
Arc Soul Society: The Sneak Entry arc
Previous Episode Motive of the Fist
Next Episode The Immortal Man
Japanese June 28, 2005
English June 24, 2007
Theme Music
Opening D-tecnoLife
Ending Houkiboshi
Episode 38 Screenshots

Desperation! The Broken Zangetsu is the thirty-eighth episode of the Bleach anime.

As the high-ranking members of the Gotei 13 continue to react to 5th Division Captain Sōsuke Aizen's murder, Ichigo Kurosaki continues his battle with 11th Division Captain Kenpachi Zaraki.



A Riteitai delivers a message to Nanao Ise.

In the Eighth Division compound, Lieutenant Nanao Ise stands atop a damaged wall and inquires what the Riteitai wants with her because an order could have been delivered via Jigokuchō. Kneeling on the ground behind her, a Riteitai affirms this before revealing that his message is signed by both Captain-Commander Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto and 10th Division Captain Tōshirō Hitsugaya, prompting a surprised Nanao to wonder if it is a top-secret order.


Kenpachi Zaraki attacks Ichigo Kurosaki.

Meanwhile, in the Senzaikyū compound, Ichigo Kurosaki frantically runs through the alleys between the buildings away from 11th Division Captain Kenpachi Zaraki, who follows in pursuit. Upon being confronted by Kenpachi when he rounds a corner in front of him, a frightened Ichigo barely manages to block Kenpachi's subsequent slash with his Shikai, Zangetsu, and struggles to hold Kenpachi back before angling Zangetsu so Kenpachi's Zanpakutō slides off it and slams into the ground next to him, leaving Kenpachi to glare at Ichigo.


Kenpachi bursts through a wall to confront Ichigo.

As Ichigo runs off, Kenpachi questions if running away is the only thing he can do. With Rukia Kuchiki standing silently in the Shishinrō within Senzaikyū, Ichigo continues to run through the compound and tells himself to calm down, as he knows that he can cut Kenpachi. After recalling his prior failure to even scratch Kenpachi with a full-force attack that cut open his hand instead, Ichigo grips his shaking sword hand and asserts that he is not scared. Suddenly, a wall near Ichigo begins to crack, and as Ichigo comes to a halt in front of it and assumes a battle stance, Kenpachi bursts through the wall and criticizes him for running around so much.


Kenpachi strikes Ichigo with enough force to crater the ground.

With Ichigo intimidated by this, Kenpachi states that he does not like to chase down weaklings and swings his Zanpakutō at Ichigo, who dodges before clashing with him. Pushed back several meters by the force of Kenpachi's blow, Ichigo leaps into the air and comes down onto Kenpachi with another slash, only for the latter to effortlessly block this. As he lands, Ichigo attacks Kenpachi twice more, and Kenpachi blocks each strike before slashing at Ichigo, who has the ground underneath him cratered by the force of the blow. Ichigo and Kenpachi clash once more, and as he glares at Ichigo, Kenpachi sends him skidding back with a forceful slash of his Zanpakutō.


Ichigo fails to cut Kenpachi once more.

Though intimidated by this, Ichigo simply curses and resumes his attack on Kenpachi while the latter's lieutenant, Yachiru Kusajishi, watches from a rooftop above in concern. After seemingly pushing Kenpachi back, Ichigo strikes at him, but Kenpachi merely smiles and allows Zangetsu to hit his left shoulder, once again not being harmed by it. Stepping back from Kenpachi in astonishment, Ichigo runs off, leaving Kenpachi to express his annoyance at this, and stumbles into an alleyway, where he jams Zangetsu into the ground and leans on it while panting heavily. Ichigo recalls his failure to cut Kenpachi and wonders if this means there is that great a power difference between them.


Ichigo senses the disappearance of Yasutora Sado's Reiatsu.

Despite this, Ichigo forces himself to calm down and notes that there is no reason for him to not be able to cut Kenpachi because he is simply overwhelmed by the latter's Reiatsu. Theorizing that he should be able to cut Kenpachi if he simply sharpens his own Reiatsu, Ichigo repeatedly tells himself to calm down and remembers Zangetsu's words about dying if he hesitates or retreats, allowing him to find his resolve. However, as Ichigo pulls Zangetsu out of the ground and prepares to resume the fight, he is shocked to sense the disappearance of Yasutora Sado's Reiatsu and wonders if he lost or died, which Ichigo refuses to believe.


Shunsui Kyōraku stands over a defeated Sado.

Back at the Eighth Division compound, Captain Shunsui Kyōraku looks over the damage inflicted to the compound by Sado's final attack and admits that he would have been in trouble if it had hit him as he stands over a defeated Sado, who lies on the ground with a blood spatter on either side of his body. While Shunsui muses on how impressive it is for any Human to fight so well on top of entering the Seireitei to begin with, Nanao frantically runs over to him and declares that they have received a message. With Shunsui inquiring why she is so out of breath and observing that a Riteitai was here earlier, Nanao reveals that 5th Division Captain Sōsuke Aizen has died.


Nanao informs Shunsui of Sōsuke Aizen's murder.

Nanao elaborates that Aizen was killed by having his Saketsu and Hakusui removed, as well as his heart destroyed, and concludes that he was murdered by an unknown assailant before asserting that she believes the message is accurate because it was signed by Yamamoto and Hitsugaya. Acknowledging this, Shunsui decides that they should pay their respects and begins walking away, but as she starts to follow him, Nanao stops and narrows her eyes upon noticing Sado. Meanwhile, at the Senzaikyū compound, a nervous Ichigo concentrates his spiritual perception and realizes that Sado is still alive with a flicker of Reiatsu left.


Nanao prepares to deal the finishing blow to Sado.

Back at the Eighth Division compound, Nanao asks Shunsui what is wrong and points out how Sado is still alive before offering to deal the finishing blow as her hand glows with Kidō. Suddenly, Shunsui grabs Nanao's hand and calmly states that this is not something which girls should do, and when Nanao claims that Aizen was likely murdered by one of the Ryoka, Shunsui expresses doubt of this being an absolute certainty. With Nanao confused by this, Shunsui clarifies that he is talking about possibilities and orders her to have the Fourth Division take him to a cell because it is all the more important for him to stay alive if one of the Ryoka really is the killer.


Ichigo confronts Kenpachi after finding his resolve.

Apologizing for her attempt to interfere, Nanao promises to contact the Fourth Division immediately, leaving Shunsui to sigh as he notes that things have gotten out of hand. Meanwhile, at the Senzaikyū compound, Ichigo expresses relief at Sado still being alive and berates himself for his hesitation due to all his allies being put at risk if he fails. After declaring that he does not have time to be afraid, Ichigo confronts Kenpachi, who is sitting against a nearby building. When Kenpachi stands up and inquires if he has come back to die or give up, Ichigo proclaims that both of these are wrong before rushing at Kenpachi with Zangetsu held out.


Ichigo successfully cuts Kenpachi's chest.

As Kenpachi raises his Zanpakutō in an attempt to block, Ichigo knocks it aside with his first swing and mentally promises to come for Sado once he wins as he slashes Kenpachi across the center of his chest, successfully cutting him. Kenpachi stares at the blood spurting from his wound while Ichigo apologizes and states that he cannot die because everything on his shoulders will be destroyed if he does. However, with Ichigo mentally observing that he can actually cut him, Kenpachi merely grins and claims that he knew Ichigo could do it before approaching a surprised Ichigo as he instructs the latter to stay sharpened and not let his guard down yet due to the fun beginning here.


Kaname Tōsen and Sajin Komamura visit Retsu Unohana.

Holding up his Zanpakutō, Kenpachi exerts his Reiatsu, causing Yachiru to smile and note that he seems happy as Ichigo and Kenpachi clash once more. In the Sōgō Kyūgo Tsumesho within the Fourth Division barracks, Captain Retsu Unohana kneels in front of a bed containing Aizen's corpse as she informs 9th Division Captain Kaname Tōsen and 7th Division Captain Sajin Komamura that Aizen has passed away. With her lieutenant, Isane Kotetsu, standing to the side, Unohana elaborates that Aizen was no longer breathing when he was lowered from the East Holy Wall, and when Tōsen suggests the possibility of a Gigai being used, Unohana acknowledges it.


Tōsen and Komamura are met by their lieutenants.

However, Unohana reveals that her efforts to investigate all other possibilities, including a Gigai being used to fake death, only resulted in her confirming the truth of his death. After noting that a new 5th Division Captain will be selected by the Central 46 and the other captains after the wartime operations are concluded, Unohana requests that Tōsen and Komamura return to their divisions before promising to join the front lines soon as she stands up with her sheathed Zanpakutō in hand. Upon exiting the barracks, Tōsen and Komamura are met by their lieutenants, Shūhei Hisagi and Tetsuzaemon Iba, who appear before them with Shunpo.


Tōsen reveals that he will be joining the battle.

When Hisagi thanks them for their efforts and asks them how Aizen was, Tōsen simply shakes his head, and when a saddened Hisagi inquires what Unohana said, Tōsen relays her statement of Aizen's passing as he observes that the quickest route to learning the truth behind Aizen's death lies in ending this fighting. With Hisagi realizing what he means, Tōsen confirms that he will be joining the fight and walks past the two lieutenants while admitting that he would prefer to not fight at all before noting that things will not go so smoothly. Tōsen asserts that fighting is the reason that people are misled by ugly emotions and that such tragedies occur to begin with.


Ichigo and Kenpachi clash, creating a shockwave.

As Hisagi watches this and observes that Tōsen's Suzumushi will finally get to cry out, Tōsen walks out of the pavilion as he concludes that he wholeheartedly detests fighting. Back in the Senzaikyū compound, Kenpachi drags his Zanpakutō through the ground and Ichigo swings Zangetsu downward through the air as they clash, causing a shockwave to ripple outward around them. Grabbing Zangetsu by the blade as it cuts into his hand, Kenpachi twists it around, yanking Ichigo off his feet and into the air, and thrusts his Zanpakutō forward, prompting Ichigo to let go of Zangetsu with his right hand so he can narrowly evade this attack.


Kenpachi suddenly attacks Ichigo from behind.

With Kenpachi's Zanpakutō ripping through the collar of his shihakushō, Ichigo kicks Kenpachi's hand off Zangetsu and flips over in midair as he lands several feet away, only to discover that Kenpachi has vanished when he looks at where the latter was standing. Suddenly, Ichigo hears the chime of the bells in Kenpachi's hair and holds Zangetsu above his head just as Kenpachi brings his Zanpakutō down on him from behind, resulting in another struggling clash as Kenpachi praises Ichigo's reaction speed. Ichigo pushes Kenpachi's Zanpakutō away and leaps several feet back as Kenpachi notes that his concentration is improving if he can hear Kenpachi's bells.


Kenpachi explains why he wears his bells and eyepatch.

Explaining how he wears the bells and his eyepatch so he can get more enjoyment out of his battles, Kenpachi asserts that there is no point in doing so if Ichigo does not take advantage of them. However, when Ichigo assumes that Kenpachi is mocking him by not releasing his Zanpakutō either and warns him to not let his guard down because Zangetsu can cut him now, Kenpachi claims that his Zanpakutō does not have a name, surprising Ichigo, and details how it has never had a sealed form to begin with. With Ichigo grinning and deciding that this is good to hear because it means Kenpachi's Zanpakutō will not get any stronger, Kenpachi swiftly jabs his Zanpakutō at Ichigo.


Ichigo is stabbed in the chest by Kenpachi.

While Ichigo blocks this with the broad side of Zangetsu at the last second, Kenpachi inquires if he was thinking that this would allow him to win soon and elaborates that he does not seal his Zanpakutō because his Reiatsu is so powerful that he actually cannot do so. As Kenpachi concludes that he constantly holds back while fighting so he has time to enjoy his battles rather than instantly crushing his weak enemies, his Zanpakutō pierces Zangetsu and stabs a stunned Ichigo in the chest, prompting Kenpachi to remind Ichigo of his instruction to not lose his concentration and focused Reiatsu just because he found an opportunity for victory.


Ichigo collapses as Zangetsu snaps in two.

Kenpachi pulls his bloodied Zanpakutō out of Ichigo's chest and through Zangetsu, which snaps in two along the puncture it created, leaving Ichigo to fall to his knees and collapse as Kenpachi expresses his disappointment in this conclusion. Observing that it had been a long time since he met someone who could give him a real fight and hear his bells, Kenpachi stares down at Ichigo and wonders if this is the end before turning around and walking away as he moves his Zanpakutō to his right hand. As he repeatedly curses and mentally asserts that he does not want to die in a place like this, Ichigo claims that he cannot afford to die yet while coughing up blood.


Zangetsu appears next to Kenpachi.

With Ichigo mentally urging his body to move and stop bleeding because he still has to save Rukia, Kenpachi swings his Zanpakutō over his shoulder, only to stop as time comes to a halt around a confused Ichigo. Suddenly, Zangetsu walks past Kenpachi, and as Ichigo stares at him in shock, Zangetsu's cape flares out toward Ichigo.

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When 11th Division 3rd Seat Ikkaku Madarame proclaims that this is the power of their captain, Kenpachi Zaraki, Ichigo Kurosaki asserts that he is going to turn things around because the fight is not over yet, and upon being asked by Ikkaku how he will does this, Ichigo does not have an answer, prompting Kenpachi to declare that he is looking forward to this as well while his lieutenant, Yachiru Kusajishi, comments on how happy he looks.

Characters in Order of Appearance


Powers and Techniques Used

Hohō Techniques:

Zanpakutō released:



Motive of the FistThe Immortal Man
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