"Ideals? Don't make me laugh. There are no ideals in this world. We're all left with only one thing: the despair of not being able to make those ideals come true."
Kōga is a well-toned man with piercing green eyes, shoulder-length black hair, and a long ponytail of red hair, with bangs hanging on the right side of his face to frame it. When he was a member of the Gotei 13, he wore a standard Shinigami shihakushō with the addition of a long red scarf, a light lavender obi sash, and a beaded necklace with a pendant. He also wore an intricate white headpiece called kenseikan, which symbolized his nobility, on the left side of his head to hold his ponytail in place with red tufts of hair sticking out, though he later cut it off to relinquish his status as a Kuchiki.
While originally his appearance was youthful and fit, after being sealed away for several hundred years, Kōga's physical form has been reduced to a withered and malnourished version of his former self. While he was imprisoned, he was adorned with a mouth mask and gauntlet-like shackles around his wrists. These remained on him after his jailbreak, but the mask was cut, with only the part on the bridge of his nose remained. While his scarf and necklace remain, his shihakushō is torn, leaving him bare-chested.
Originally, Kōga was a very headstrong man, willing to rush headlong into battle at any moment in order to turn the tide. He had a habit of referring to his father-in-law, Ginrei Kuchiki, informally during battle, but was apologetic about it when Ginrei pointed it out. He was confident in his own power, and was confused by Ginrei reprimanding him for this, but was usually humble about his actions. Kōga believed strongly in his mission of achieving peace, and was willing to lay down his life in order to see his goal realized. He frequently went to Muramasa for counsel on his affairs. Deep down, Kōga wished for Ginrei to openly acknowledge his achievements, and was saddened and angered when he did not. Despite his pride, Kōga prioritized the pacification of Soul Society over recognition, as he reprimanded his comrades for their over-flattery and comments of their increasing fame. He also possessed enough self-control to listen to reason, surrendering to the Onmitsukidō instead of fighting back when he was framed for murder. However, his overconfidence eventually led to Kōga being betrayed by allied officers, and his resulting imprisonment and announced punishment led Kōga to believe that Ginrei did not have faith in him. Kōga was convinced by Muramasa that he should use his power to change the world, but asserted that he was the master and would not be controlled by his Zanpakutō Spirit, marking the start of his downward spiral into madness.
After being freed from prison, Kōga is much more ruthless, mercilessly attacking and killing the conspirators who put him in jail. However, he still retained enough morality to give them the benefit of the doubt and believe they may have been misguided, though he was proven wrong upon finding them laughing at his imprisonment. Additionally, Kōga initially regrets his violent actions because he realizes it did not change anything, and is horrified to learn he can no longer prove his innocence before a tribunal. However, Kōga's conversation with Ginrei proves to be the tipping point for his sanity, and he begins to believe everyone hates him and is jealous of his power, leading to him renouncing his ties to the Kuchiki Clan by cutting off his kenseikan; he even makes a baseless accusation of Ginrei creating a fake friendly front to get Kōga to drop his guard out of jealousy. Initially, Kōga only kills those who attack him on a principle of kill or be killed, but eventually begins slaughtering helpless Rukongai denizens, which he justifies by claiming he is sending a message of hopelessness to Soul Society. Additionally, Kōga's paranoia and hatred lead to his bond with Muramasa slowly degrading over time, which is further worsened when Kōga physically abuses him over a perceived insult, leading to Kōga being unable to release his Zanpakutō at all. Kōga comes to enjoy despair, and claims it unleashes his true power by making him realize there are no ideals in the world. He believes power maintains all order in the world, and asserts that his evil will become good if he is the most powerful. Kōga firmly believes a Zanpakutō is simply a tool for killing, and should not be treated on an equal level to its master, a belief which he follows when he attempts to kill Muramasa.
Even after Muramasa frees him from his seal several hundred years later, Kōga is very disrespectful, making light of the event of Ginrei's death to his grandson, Byakuya Kuchiki, and frequently referring to Byakuya as "youngster". He holds a particular grudge against the Kuchiki Clan, agreeing to fight Byakuya solely because he is the current Head of the Kuchiki Clan and claiming the clan is full of arrogance. Additionally, Kōga's own confidence grows to the point where he intentionally severs his bond with Muramasa because he believes his own power is enough to handle Byakuya. He believes Zanpakutō are simply tools for which there are countless replacements, and accused Muramasa of being too unstable to be of any use to him. Kōga is incredibly proud of his own power; he claims his illusions are more than simple illusions, and believes that he is the most powerful Shinigami to ever live, which is why he does not need a Zanpakutō.
Several hundred years ago, Kōga was welcomed into the Kuchiki Clan as the son-in-law of Ginrei Kuchiki, and soon gained much respect throughout Soul Society. He, in his capacity as the 3rd Seat of the 6th Division, participated in a battle between the loyalist and rebel factions of Soul Society, winning a decisive victory for the loyalist side by himself. For his performance, Kōga was given much praise and many accolades from Captain-Commander Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto himself.
Ginrei grew increasingly concerned about Kōga's overconfidence in his powers, and made a point to address how he needed to control himself. Kōga took this in stride, but could never understand why Ginrei never acknowledged any of his achievements. He would frequently speak to Muramasa about this, but Muramasa's reassurance only increased his overconfidence. As he engaged in battle after battle, winning each one with ease, Kōga was given a special position by Yamamoto for his efforts, making him the captain of a special force directly under his authority that was completely dedicated to wiping out the remaining rebels.
When it became clear that Kōga might very well be the key to winning the war, three elites from a rival faction, who feared Kōga would take the glory away from them, came up with a plan to frame him as a traitor. They achieved this by having their own men attack Kōga, whom they knew would easily dispatch them, and then charging Kōga with murder and having him arrested. Ginrei arrived to see what happened, and remained skeptical when the elites framed Kōga based on the scene of the crime, but upon a fallen soldier's claim that Kōga killed them to show off, Ginrei had no choice but to allow Kōga's arrest until he could determine a way to clear his name. While Kōga tried to explain his side of the story, the Keigun ignored it and moved in to make the arrest, which led him attempting to retaliate. Ginrei immediately persuaded him to stand down for the moment and go quietly, which Kōga did reluctantly.
Ginrei visited Kōga in jail, and detailed that his punishment had been handed down: Kōga was to be suspended from his seat in the 6th Division, and Muramasa would be neutralized because its powers were too dangerous. Admitting he did not believe any of it, Ginrei revealed higher-ranking official had a problem with Kōga's Zanpakutō and its ability, and explained that they were not afraid of Kōga, but of Muramasa getting out of control. After Ginrei left him there to learn patience as he went to rectify the situation, Kōga was freed by Muramasa, who inspired him to take control of his life again.
That night, Kōga killed the elites who framed him. Upon hearing of this, Ginrei went in search of Kōga, and found him in the outskirts of Soul Society. When Ginrei confronted him about his actions, Kōga explained how he had hoped that deep down, the officials would regret their choice to frame him, but he had killed them when he found them laughing. Kōga admitted that even after killing them, he was still filled with anger for what they had done to him and the humiliation he had endured.
When Ginrei remarked that any chance at proving his innocence was gone and that his rash decisions now put him in line to be executed, Kōga suffered a breakdown and accused Ginrei of being like all the others and being jealous of him. Kōga decided to stage a personal revolt against Soul Society and all his enemies; before departing, he cut off his kenseikan and rudely threw it back at Ginrei, severing his bond with the family. As he killed more people, Kōga's instability grew. When Muramasa noticed that Kōga's heart has become turbulent, he tried to tell Kōga to forget the past and focus on the future, but Kōga became too obsessed with the idea that everyone hated him and that he could not understand why.
While fighting against a group of Shinigami, Kōga attempted to release Muramasa and found there was no response, though Muramasa appeared when he tried again. Eventually, Kōga escalated to killing innocent civilians in Rukongai. While Kōga sitting alone in a cave, Muramasa appeared and asked him why he would kill innocent bystanders, which prompted Kōga to claim he was teaching Soul Society a lesson for exiling him from their world. Soon, Kōga was even abusing Muramasa when he was anything less than absolutely obedient. This disharmony between them gradually caused Kōga to lose his ability to communicate with Muramasa, or even access his power.
Eventually, Yamamoto and Ginrei confronted Kōga, and after an exchange of words, they realized that they could not get through to him. They engaged in a minor battle, and Kōga tried to release Muramasa with no results. The two captains decided to take advantage of the situation, and sealed Kōga away when they realized he had lost total access to Muramasa's power. Kōga's revolt was never recorded in Soul Society's history.
Zanpakutō Unknown Tales arc (anime only)
Note: Events occurring in this arc are only in the anime and do not constitute canon material.
Kōga was sealed away, but Muramasa eventually resurfaces and initiates a Zanpakutō Rebellion. When Ichigo Kurosaki encounters Muramasa, he claims he already killed his master. However, after Muramasa gains control over Ryūjin Jakka, Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto reveals Muramasa is planning to break Kōga's seal. He also states that Muramasa is heading to Karakura Town, where Kōga was sealed.
Muramasa eventually arrives at the location where Kōga was sealed, but comes into conflict with Orihime Inoue, Uryū Ishida, Yasutora Sado, and Rukia Kuchiki. However, he ultimately succeeds in breaking Kōga's seal. As Ichigo arrives to stop him, Kōga begins to awaken. Though Muramasa is ecstatic that his master is finally free, Kōga immediately stabs him in anger, leaving a shocked Muramasa to ask him why. Believing that Muramasa abandoned him before being sealed, Kōga decides to reinforce his status as master by making Muramasa pay with his life. However, Byakuya appears, blocking Kōga's strike and berating him.
Noticing Byakuya is wearing a windflower-silk scarf and a kenseikan, Kōga asks him if he is a member of the Kuchiki Clan, prompting Byakuya to reveal his name and position as the 28th Head of the Kuchiki Clan. When Kōga wonders if Ginrei has finally died, Byakuya reprimands him for even saying the name because he has no right to speak it after he soiled the Kuchiki Clan's name. Byakuya reveals he came here so he could put the shame of Kōga to rest by killing him. After learning that Byakuya is the current head of the Kuchiki Clan, Kōga becomes determined to destroy his association with the Kuchiki Clan by killing its leader. Though Muramasa insists that Kōga use his power, Kōga instead destroys the remainder of his sword, casting Muramasa away completely, and claims he does not need such a useless weapon.
Grabbing one of the halberds that sealed him, Kōga engages Byakuya, fighting him on even grounds. After several skirmishes, they leave melee combat in order to face off against each other with Kidō, with Kōga using Kongōbaku, Gaki Rekkō, and Hyōga Seiran in rapid succession. After freezing the surrounding lake with Hyōga Seiran, Kōga succeeds in encasing Byakuya in ice. When Byakuya breaks free with Senbonzakura, Kōga immobilizes him in midair with his Spiritual Threads. Releasing Senbonzakura once more, Byakuya frees himself and attacks Kōga, who shatters his halberd in the process of trying to deflect the blade petals.
Byakuya uses the opening to finish him off, but after cutting Kōga, he realizes that it was just an illusion, leaving him open to attack. Using his illusions to show Byakuya he is no match for him, Kōga explains his ability and notes he would not have been able to use this technique if Byakuya closed his heart like Ginrei and Yamamoto did when he was challenged by them. When Kōga taunts him for letting down his guard down when Kōga discarded Muramasa, Byakuya reveals he did not close his heart because his intent was to kill him, which he could not do if his heart was closed. When Byakuya attempts to release Senbonzakura, Kōga throws another halberd at him while using his illusion ability to confuse Byakuya.
This allows the halberd to catch Byakuya's sword hand, knocking Senbonzakura out of his hand and across the frozen lake. When Byakuya dodges another halberd, Kōga uses Hyōga Seiran again, prompting Byakuya to try to block it with Bakudō #81. Dankū. However, Byakuya realizes it was an illusion as he is hit from the side, encasing him in ice and putting him at the mercy of Kōga. Gloating over how great his power is, Kōga attempts to finish off the incapacitated Byakuya, only to have his weapon stopped by Senbonzakura, causing him to express disbelief at a Zanpakutō releasing itself.
Byakuya breaks free and readies himself against Kōga, who is determined to use his illusions on Senbonzakura as well. Before he can attempt to do so, Byakuya activates his Bankai, Senbonzakura Kageyoshi, and uses Senkei, which Byakuya notes will allow him to overcome Kōga's illusions because his blades will always find Kōga. The two clash evenly several times until Kōga uses his Spiritual Threads to bind Byakuya once more. However, Senbonzakura has several Senkei blades rain down and cut the threads, to Kōga's surprise. Byakuya attacks him, but Kōga moves out of the way and wonders how Byakuya can be so powerful. Though Byakuya and Senbonzakura explain how their working in unison allows them to unleash their full power, Kōga refuses to listen and proclaims his greatness was never acknowledged.
Kōga expresses his desire to create a new world and become king of it, prompting Byakuya to call him foolish because his real tragedy is his failure to see where true power lies. When Byakuya states the power Kōga needed was to communicate with others as well as his Zanpakutō spirit, Kōga refuses to believe it, as he believes his unique powers make him superior to others. Deciding it is pointless to try to reason with Kōga, Byakuya activates Shūkei: Hakuteiken, prompting Kōga to commend him for being so powerful. After Byakuya explains how he is using this technique on him as a final act of respect to him as a former member of the Kuchiki Clan, the two clash in a huge explosion of Reiatsu.
In the aftermath, Kōga is left heavily wounded. Refusing to admit defeat, he calls for Muramasa to aid him, and, having forgotten that he severed their bond, is shocked when Muramasa does not respond. Failing to see the truth, Kōga falls into the depths of the lake and dies.
- Halberds: After severing his bond with his Zanpakutō, Kōga uses the four halberds that were once used to stake him down for sealing him, claiming that his skills are not restricted to a single weapon. Kōga can use the hooked inside of the halberd's axe-blade joint to lock an opponent's sword and slash like a sword, while the opposite end has a sharp dagger-like point that he can use as well. Kōga can fire Kidō spells through the tip of his shaft. He picked up the first one to clash with Byakuya until it shattered against Senbonzakura, and used two more as throwing projectiles, imbued with his Reiatsu, to immobilize Byakuya, while wielding the last one as a replacement for the first. The last one eventually shattered when it clashed with Byakuya's Shūkei: Hakuteiken.
Powers & Abilities
Master Swordsman: Kōga is incredibly proficient in swordsmanship. During his days as the 3rd Seat of the 6th Division, he effortlessly cut down three unseated Shinigami with a single attack, and easily defended himself when several unseated Shinigami all attacked him at once. Kōga easily cut down all Shinigami who were sent to kill him, and clashed evenly with Ginrei and Yamamoto, both captain-level combatants, during their short battle, proving his mastery even further.
Halberd Master: After severing his bond with Muramasa by shattering the remnants of his sword, Kōga resorted to using the halberds used to keep him trapped in his seal, and proved his prowess by fighting evenly against Byakuya, a Zanjutsu master. He can perform powerful two-handed strikes, easily block sword attacks, and use the shape of his halberd to his advantage while wielding them.
Shunpo Master: Kōga is an extremely fast combatant. During his days as the 3rd Seat of the 6th Division, he cut down three unseated Shinigami with a single attack before any of them even noticed. He effortlessly kept up with Byakuya, a Shunpo master, during their battle, and even managed to dodge a point-blank attack from Byakuya at the last possible second on several occasions.
Kidō Expert: Kōga possesses great skill in using Kidō in battle. During his battle against Byakuya, he used three powerful, unique Kidō spells in rapid succession without incantation and to great effect.
Immense Spiritual Power: Despite not being born from a noble clan and having been only the 3rd Seat officer at the time, Kōga possesses an enormous amount of Reiryoku. Ginrei Kuchiki, the 6th Division captain at the time, admitted that Kōga's sheer power far surpassed his own, and Muramasa himself admitted that Kōga's power had not even reached its full potential yet. His Reiatsu is powerful enough to intimidate dozens of unseated Shinigami simply by being exerted, and Kōga can effortlessly kill unseated Shinigami without even releasing his Shikai. Occasionally, Kōga's Reiatsu will flow along the blade of his Zanpakutō when he fights. He is powerful enough to clash evenly with both Ginrei and Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto, who were the only ones with enough power to confront him at the time. Several centuries after being sealed away, Kōga still possesses a huge amount of Reiryoku, and managed to blow Ichigo Kurosaki and Rukia Kuchiki away simply by exerting his Reiatsu. Kōga is powerful enough to fight evenly against and wound Byakuya Kuchiki, one of the most powerful captains of the Gotei 13 and the strongest Head of the Kuchiki Clan to ever live, and nearly killed him at one point. Uniquely, because of his power, Kōga cannot be killed unless his attacker opens their heart to him; otherwise, he can only be sealed away. His Reiatsu is blue. Like Muramasa, Kōga can use his Reiryoku for two unique abilities, which he claims he gave to Muramasa:
- Spiritual Threads: By pointing one of his halberds at his opponent, Kōga can create spiritual threads and manipulate them to immobilize his opponent. Though these spiritual threads are invisible to the naked eye, they can be seen in the shadows cast on nearby surfaces, and Kōga states they work by capturing his opponent's shadow instead of simply their reflection, preventing them from being easily destroyed by a reflection being distorted. (Unnamed)
- Illusions: By sending his Reiryoku into his opponent, Kōga can confuse all five of their senses. This allows him to fake oncoming attacks, create clones of himself to avoid attacks, and make himself appear to be further away than he actually is in order to perform surprise attacks at close range. Kōga claims these are far more than illusions, which he considers "simplistic", and can infuse weapons with his Reiatsu in order to create illusory clones of them when attacking. (Unnamed)
Enhanced Strength: Kōga possesses a considerable amount of physical strength. He sent four Shinigami flying back with a single slash of his sword, and sent Ginrei flying away with a single kick. Even in his physically withered state, Kōga is strong enough to shatter the remainder of his Zanpakutō with a single downward chop.
Muramasa (村正, Village-Just): Kōga's Zanpakutō takes the form of a normal katana with a dull red sheath, a purple hilt, and a guard consisting of a circle with a pentagon-like shape in the center and three evenly-spaced points protruding from the edges. Muramasa is an illusion-type Zanpakutō. As Kōga descended into insanity, his harmony with Muramasa deteriorated more and more, leading to him losing access to Muramasa's powers. Eventually, Kōga shattered the blade with his bare hand, permanently severing his bond with his Zanpakutō.
- Shikai Special Ability: Upon release, Muramasa glows purple and releases a 360-degree wave of purple energy into the surrounding area, causing all Zanpakutō in the area to turn on their wielder. The Zanpakutō will move on their own against their wielder's will, attack their allies, or even turn against their own wielder, allowing Kōga to end conflicts without ever attacking anyone himself. Additionally, Kōga can temporarily summon Muramasa to attack his foes by releasing his Zanpakutō.
- Bankai: Mukōjōchū Muramasa (無鉤条誅村正, Nil-Stinger Streaked-Death Penalty Village-Just): Upon activation, a large explosion of spiritual energy engulfs the surrounding area as Muramasa manifests himself into the real world.
- Bankai Special Ability: Muramasa has the ability to manifest in his true form, and can even manifest himself at a distance from his master because he can hear Kōga's call from wherever he is. Muramasa can also manifest his sealed sword form and engage his powers independently of Kōga's command.
- Zanpakutō Spirit Manifestation: Muramasa generates a burst of energy that affects the Zanpakutō of all in the vicinity. When this takes place, the Zanpakutō of other wielders glow with a blue light as their Zanpakutō spirits manifest, typically as tangible shadowy figures from weaker Shinigami and with greater individuality and power from stronger Shinigami. Muramasa can break into the inner world of his targets and force their Zanpakutō spirits to bend to his will. This is done by removing the energy stability between Shinigami and Zanpakutō spirit, leaving the spirit confused and allowing Muramasa to forcibly release their negative emotions. (Unnamed)
Spiritual Threads: The threads formed from his spiritual powers can be severed with sufficient cutting by a physical blade.
Illusions: The perception distorting illusions created by Kōga's spiritual powers can be nullified if another being acts as a victim's eyes and limbs, such as a Shinigami's Zanpakutō spirit. Additionally, Kōga can only use this ability if his opponent opens their mind to him or lets their guard down. It can also be blocked if the opponent closes their heart against him beforehand; however, in addition to remaining able to fight in this state, one must have incredible Reiryoku and mental fortitude in order to block the attack itself.
Closing One's Heart: Muramasa's ability works by intruding onto the opponent's heart. The only way to combat its power is by understanding how the Zanpakutō works and sealing one's heart against it. However, in addition to remaining able to fight in this state, one must have incredible Reiryoku and mental fortitude in order to block the attack itself.
Deteriorating Bond: As Kōga suffered a mental breakdown, his bond with Muramasa weakened overtime, leading the Zanpakutō spirit unable to hear Kōga's calls. During one battle against a group of Shinigami sent to kill him, he had to call twice for Muramasa to appear. The bond between the two degraded further when Kōga started to directly abuse Muramasa, leading his voice to unable to reach him at all. Eventually, Kōga permanently severed his ties with Muramasa by breaking the sword, forever losing his Zanpakutō.
Appearances in Other Media
|Video Game Appearances|
- (To Muramasa) "You're right. Trusting in myself is the answer, and that in turn will lead to peace."
- (To Muramasa) "Let me make one thing clear, Muramasa. I am the master here, and as such I am in charge. I will not be ordered around by a Zanpakutō spirit!"
- (To Ginrei Kuchiki) "I thought they were misguided. I assumed they had made a mistake about my intentions and were feeling guilty about their behavior. I was wrong! They knew what they had done, and were laughing about it! Killing them was the only option, but it didn't help! Even though it was just, it didn't make the empty feeling go away! I still feel like an outcast!"
- (To Ginrei Kuchiki) "I get it now. You have the same attitude. You're just like those other men! You pretend you're on my side, you befriend me, put me off-guard! However, that's not how you really feel! The truth is, you hate me! You and the others are jealous of my power!"
- "I'm surrounded by enemies. It's obvious everyone hates me. I'll have to kill them, all of them. I have to do whatever is necessary to survive. Why does everyone around here hate me so much? Is it because they're all jealous of my power? That has to be the reason. They want to bring me down. I'll just have to strike back at them first. There is only one way to deal with these people..."
- (To Muramasa) "Our vision? What do you mean by the word 'our'? You've got a lot of nerve! Tell me something: do you actually consider yourself my equal? Let me remind you: you're my sword, so don't get too cocky! Just do as you're told and keep your mouth shut!"
- (To Ginrei Kuchiki) "Ideals? Don't make me laugh. There are no ideals in this world. We're all left with only one thing: the despair of not being able to make those ideals come true. But I've now discovered that despair releases my true power. Despair is the force that breaks my shackles and frees my heart to do as it truly wishes!"
- (To Ginrei Kuchiki) "Those with power are the ones who get to impose order on this world, and in the midst of chaos, that order prevails right or wrong! If that power is victorious, even if it's dark, black will become the color of what's right!"
- (To Muramasa) "As a Shinigami and your master, I was the one who gave birth to your power! All you ever needed to do in your life after that was simply obey me! To me, you've always been nothing more than a sword, simply a mere tool of mine...and a mere tool shouldn't be so conceited!"
- (To Muramasa) "You've become nothing more than a hindrance to me. I don't need to use a pathetic, unstable sword like you. My power alone is enough."
- (To Byakuya Kuchiki) "My enemies' skills are so irrelevant! Everyone falls to their knees before me, and it's all because of my own power! I don't need anything from a Zanpakutō! I'm the most powerful Shinigami to ever live!"
- (To Senbonzakura) "No one acknowledged what I did despite all my successes. Instead, they branded me a traitor and tried to seal me away! If that was going to be the case, I had to create a place for myself somewhere! Order is created by power! With my power, I'm going to become king of the new world!"
- (To Byakuya Kuchiki) "My power is like no other! It is an absolute power that has no equal, not here or anywhere else in the universe!"
- Bleach anime; Episode 250
- Bleach anime; Episode 251
- Bleach anime; Episode 252
- Bleach anime; Episode 248
- Bleach anime; Episode 230
- Bleach anime; Episode 234
- Bleach anime; Episode 249
- Bleach anime; Episode 253
- Bleach Drama CD 11: Dysnomia
- Bleach anime; Episode 257