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Renji Abarai vs. Byakuya Kuchiki is a battle taking place during the Ryoka Invasion between 6th Division Lieutenant Renji Abarai and his captain, Byakuya Kuchiki, acting as the culmination of Renji's efforts to surpass Byakuya and being catalyzed by his attempt to rescue Rukia Kuchiki from her execution.


127Renji breaks out

A healed Renji Abarai breaks out of his cell.

After having his injuries from his previous fight tended to in prison, 6th Division Lieutenant Renji Abarai incapacitates the guard outside his cell and destroys several of the bars before stepping through as he tells Zabimaru that they are going.[2] The next day, Renji arrives at the base of Sōkyoku Hill and observes that it is definitely Ichigo Kurosaki's Reiatsu that he is sensing. Shortly afterward, Renji breaks into the Study Chamber inside Sōkyoku Hill, where Ichigo is clashing fiercely with Zangetsu as he continues his Bankai training.[3]


Renji joins Ichigo Kurosaki in the Study Chamber.

As he states that he was wondering what Ichigo was doing down here and inquires if Zangetsu is his Zanpakutō Spirit, Renji crashes down onto the ground near Ichigo and notes that Ichigo seems to be having fun training to achieve Bankai in secret before inquiring if he can join while holding his Shikai, Zabimaru, over his shoulder, surprising Ichigo with his presence. Renji predicts that Ichigo is wondering why he is here and explains that he simply needs a place to focus on training now that there is not much time left.[4]


Renji manifests Zabimaru to begin his own Bankai training.

With Ichigo questioning what this means, Renji realizes that he should clarify this and reveals that the time of Rukia Kuchiki's execution has been changed once more to noon tomorrow, stunning those present. Admitting that he is not strong enough to save Rukia yet and this is why he is here, Renji walks to the other side of the Study Chamber and promises to not interfere with Ichigo's training because he already knows how to manifest his Zanpakutō Spirit before asserting that he will be training over here as Zabimaru appears next to him.[5] After training for a full day, Renji speaks with Yoruichi about Ichigo's Bankai capability before departing.[6]

140Renji defeats

Renji defeats several Shinigami from his own division on his way to Senzaikyū.

Shortly afterward, Renji runs toward Senzaikyū and mentally tells Rukia to hold on because he is coming to save her while his captain, Byakuya Kuchiki, watches him from a rooftop.[7] Approaching Senzaikyū through the Sixth Division compound, Renji defeats multiple Shinigami in a row, including Rikichi Yuki, by cutting through their Zanpakutō with his own and sending them flying with blows that leave them incapacitated on the ground. While he watches Renji leap over a nearby wall, Rikichi wonders why he is doing this. Renji continues running toward Senzaikyū and mentally promises Rukia that he will have her out of there soon before asserting that he will not let them execute her as he recalls their childhood together.[8]


Byakuya Kuchiki confronts Renji on the bridge.

Suddenly, upon passing through an arch, Renji experiences an intense Reiatsu bearing down on him from above, and as he begins sweating profusely, Renji looks up to see Byakuya standing on the roof of one of the towers connected to the arch far above him. With Byakuya inquiring where he is going, Renji declares that he is going to save Rukia, but Byakuya simply states that he will not. Renji reiterates his goal and questions if there is no way that Byakuya will let him pass, prompting Byakuya to conclude that he will not repeat himself before disappearing from the rooftop with Shunpo, causing Renji to realize that he is approaching.[9]


140Byakuya's Zanpakuto is bound

Byakuya's Zanpakutō is bound by Renji's Shikai, Zabimaru, before he can release it.

However, when Byakuya appears behind him and attempts to perform Senka, Renji turns and intercepts Byakuya's Zanpakutō with his own, which leaves Byakuya shocked as their clash produces a shockwave of force around them. After identifying the move, Renji details how Senka consists of striking the enemy from behind to destroy their Saketsu and Hakusui in one strike each, making it Byakuya's best move, and describes how he has seen it many times in his mind, allowing him to use logic to foresee Byakuya's moves, before proclaiming that Byakuya's blade can no longer kill him because he can finally follow all of Byakuya's moves. Despite this, Byakuya merely notes that Renji is very talkative and decries him for thinking he could surpass Byakuya's blade with just that as he releases his Shikai, Senbonzakura, only to find Renji's Zabimaru wrapping itself around the blade of his Zanpakutō before it can complete its release, further shocking him.[10]

141Renji's Bankai, Hihio Zabimaru

Renji activates his Bankai, Hihiō Zabimaru.

Renji reiterates that Byakuya's blade cannot kill him and clarifies this is not due to him becoming a lieutenant, but because he has dreamed of surpassing Byakuya long before he ever joined the Gotei 13. With a stunned Byakuya realizing what Renji being able to release his Zanpakutō without calling its name means, Renji concludes he will surpass Byakuya now and retracts Zabimaru before activating his Bankai,[11] releasing a torrent of Reiatsu from Zabimaru that surges through the surrounding area. While Byakuya watches impassively, the resulting swirling dust cloud clears to reveal Renji standing with his Bankai, Hihiō Zabimaru, an enormous skeletal snake with a large mane of fur around its skull, while wearing furred pauldrons with a baboon skull on his left shoulder and a tooth necklace connecting the two, with the end of the snake's tail in his hand as the handle of the Bankai.[12]

141Hihio Zabimaru slams

Hihiō Zabimaru smashes through multiple towers toward Byakuya.

When Byakuya admits that he did not know Renji had achieved Bankai, Renji questions how he could have known because he does not pay any heed to what is beneath him and reiterates that he is going to save Rukia, but Byakuya simply states that he will not repeat himself once again, prompting Renji to promise to kill Byakuya if he does not let Renji pass. Byakuya asserts that this is impossible and that Renji could not even force him to one knee, and as Renji sends Hihiō Zabimaru hurtling toward him, Byakuya moves to the roof of one of the towers lining the bridge they are fighting on with Shunpo right before the fangs close in on him, leaving the impact to damage a large chunk of the bridge and kick up a cloud of dust. Upon seeing Byakuya, Renji swings Hihiō Zabimaru through several of the towers toward the one Byakuya is standing on, where it crashes into the roof.[13]

141Byakuya releases

Byakuya seemingly breaks apart Hihiō Zabimaru with Senbonzakura.

While the broken towers fall to the ground below the bridge, Hihiō Zabimaru hurtles toward the ground with Byakuya blocking its front fangs with his Zanpakutō. Though he admits that Hihiō Zabimaru is worthy of being called a Bankai, Byakuya declares that this battle ends here and releases Senbonzakura, seemingly breaking apart the segments making up the skeletal snake with his blade petals and causing them to crash into the ground. However, as Byakuya lands on the ground and looks back at the segments, he is astonished to see them moving and watches as the bone segments reassemble in bursts of Reiatsu into Hihiō Zabimaru, which coils itself around Renji as he details how Senbonzakura is comprised of a thousand slender shards too swift to be seen by the naked eye and resembling a mass of petals on the wind when they catch the light as they rise.[14]

141Renji observes

Renji brings Byakuya to one knee despite the latter's claim.

Renji explains that the joints of Hihiō Zabimaru are held together by his Reiatsu, preventing Byakuya's blade from shattering it because he can simply separate the joints in order to evade Senbonzakura. With Renji concluding that he can see all the blade petals of Senbonzakura, two more segments of Hihiō Zabimaru break through the ground underneath Byakuya, who leaps back and skids along the ground on one knee. After appearing behind a stunned Byakuya, Renji observes that he is down on one knee and asserts that he will defeat Byakuya before declaring that it is time to draw the curtain on this duel.[15] When Byakuya stands up and promises to draw the curtain with his sword, Renji questions if Byakuya already forgot what he said.[16]


Byakuya unleashes Hadō #33. Sōkatsui.

After reiterating that he can see Byakuya's moves now and proclaiming that his sword will draw the curtain, Renji sends Hihiō Zabimaru hurtling toward Byakuya, who simply raises his left hand toward it and uses Hadō #33. Sōkatsui, leaving a shocked Renji to brace himself against a massive blast of energy that rips through the nearby buildings. While Renji expresses disbelief at Byakuya being able to unleash such powerful Kidō while forgoing incantations through Eishōhaki, Byakuya becomes visible in the gap between the segments of Hihiō Zabimaru encircling him, which prompts Renji to demand to know if Byakuya thought he could hide behind that spell.[17]

142Hihio Zabimaru crashes

Hihiō Zabimaru crashes into one of its own segments.

With Renji angrily dispersing the resulting dust cloud and sending Hihiō Zabimaru hurtling toward Byakuya once more, one of the segments of Hihiō Zabimaru suddenly rises between the approaching snake head and Byakuya, and as Hihiō Zabimaru crashes into that segment, shattering it on impact, Renji curses having missed Byakuya, who appears behind him and clarifies that he cast Hadō #33. Sōkatsui to disrupt Hihiō Zabimaru rather than to blind Renji himself before revealing that the central problem with any given Bankai is its enormous size proportionate to its powerful Reiatsu, both far greater than those of its corresponding Shikai.[18]

142Swords rise

Byakuya activates his Bankai, Senbonzakura Kageyoshi, after restraining Renji with Bakudō #61. Rikujōkōrō.

Byakuya explains how the size of a Bankai requires one to train for an additional ten years after achieving Bankai in order to master all its movements and asserts that Renji is not ready to use his Bankai in battle. Despite this, Renji claims that a missing segment will not make a difference since his Zanpakutō is tough and attacks Byakuya once more, but Byakuya casts Bakudō #61. Rikujōkōrō, restraining Renji with six tapered flat beams of light that slam into his waist. After stating that Renji should have withdrawn his sword, Byakuya inquires if Renji really thought he could beat him and reminds Renji that he has also achieved Bankai before dropping his Zanpakutō, which sinks into the ground in front of him as though it were water, and activating his Bankai, Senbonzakura Kageyoshi, causing two long rows of massive swords to rise up on either side of him.[19]

142Renji falls

Renji is grievously wounded by Senbonzakura Kageyoshi.

Watching in shock as the swords separate into innumerable blade petals at Byakuya's command, Renji finds his restraints and the upper half of the building behind him suddenly destroyed while the bandanna tying his hair is shredded and Renji himself is slashed on multiple areas of his body, leaving him to fall forward in a shower of blood. As he observes this, Byakuya decides to explain the difference between the two of them and approaches Renji while stating that the difference lies in their class, which he compares to the tale of the monkey and the moon where that which shines in the eyes of the beast is just the reflection of the moon on the water.[20]

143Byakuya prepares

Byakuya prepares to leave Renji to die after destroying his Bankai.

Concluding Renji will only sink to the bottom if he tries to capture the moon, Byakuya asserts Renji's fangs will never reach him and prepares to depart.[21] Byakuya describes Senbonzakura Kageyoshi as a thousand steel petals rising from his feet that separate into razor-like shards of a shattered blade too numerous to comprehend, track, or evade. After noting it is like watching the wind blow and all which stands before them becomes dust, Byakuya tells Renji to be proud of retaining his human form despite taking his blade while the latter lies behind him in a pool of blood surrounded by the shards of Hihiō Zabimaru. Upon noticing Renji's right hand twitch as it holds the handle of Hihiō Zabimaru, Byakuya notes that he is still alive.[22]

143Renji is pinned

Renji is pinned to the ground by several swords.

When Renji begins dragging his fist through the ground and pushing himself up, Byakuya advises him to not move because it will only hasten his death. Suddenly, the remnants of Hihiō Zabimaru dissipate into Reiatsu and return to the hilt in Renji's hand, which reverts to the sealed form of his Zanpakutō while he asserts that it is not over and that he can still fight. However, when Renji rushes at him, Byakuya reiterates his command to not move and forms thirteen blades with Senbonzakura Kageyoshi that embed themselves in the ground around Renji, two of which pierce his sword arm and pin it to the ground. Though he admits his respect for a screaming Renji still being able to breath after enduring Senbonzakura Kageyoshi, Byakuya refuses to hold back if Renji moves again and pulls one of the swords out of Renji's arm as he promises to turn the latter's body to dust.[23]

143Renji shatters

Renji shatters the sword restraining him after proclaiming that he swore on his soul to save Rukia Kuchiki alongside Ichigo.

With Byakuya holding the sword near his head, Renji swallows in fear while Byakuya details how the disappearance of Renji's Bankai against his will means that he is near death. After observing that Renji is dying and that he will kill Renji anyway if he stands, Byakuya asks Renji if he still insists on rescuing Rukia. Internally, Renji notes that he cannot breathe or even move a finger because it feels like Byakuya's Reiatsu is pulverizing him and curses how far beyond his reach Byakuya was, to the point of never having had a chance to defeat him. Suddenly, Renji envisions a wounded Ichigo kneeling before Zangetsu with a broken sword, and when Zangetsu questions if Ichigo is getting up again, the latter merely grins alongside Renji, who responds to Byakuya's inquiry by confirming that he is still intent on saving Rukia. When Ichigo and Renji assert in unison that they swore they would save Rukia, and when Byakuya inquires whom Renji swore this to, Ichigo and Renji declare that they swore on their own souls while Renji crushes the other sword pinning his arm with his free hand and throws the shattered remnants at a stunned Byakuya before rushing forward with his Zanpakutō, resulting in a spray of blood.[24]


144Renji collapses

Renji collapses in a spray of blood after his final attack against Byakuya fails.

A large amount of blood spurts into the air behind Renji, who stands as the broken portion of his Zanpakutō's blade falls past his hand and embeds itself in the ground next to his feet. Having broken on contact with Byakuya, most of the remainder of Renji's blade shatters, and Renji himself begins bleeding profusely from his back and ankle before gripping the remainder of his Zanpakutō once more and swinging at Byakuya, only for the rest of the blade and the entirety of the hilt to crumble as well upon reaching Byakuya. Renji curses and collapses before Byakuya, who, having received a minor injury to his chest from Renji's final attack, removes his bloodied scarf and throws it onto Renji before congratulating him for his fangs reaching as he departs, leaving Renji to begin losing consciousness.[25]


Hanatarō Yamada heals Renji after being broken out of the Sōgō Kyūgo Tsumesho and brought to him by Rikichi Yuki.

Renji recalls 3rd Division Lieutenant Izuru Kira advising him to stay away from Rukia Kuchiki for the sake of both of them since she likely realizes that she is not like them, 11th Division 3rd Seat Ikkaku Madarame drinking sake and expressing surprise at Renji's difficult goal of surpassing Byakuya, and 11th Division 5th Seat Yumichika Ayasegawa commenting on how discouraging it is that tearing down is always easier than building up is, as well as how much more difficult it is to tie than it is to untie. With his last thought being of the day Rukia left him at the Shin'ō Academy, Renji loses consciousness.[26] Some time later, as Rukia's execution commences, Renji opens his eyes, and as he realizes that he is alive, Renji discovers that he is being healed by 4th Division 7th Seat Hanatarō Yamada.[27]

149Rikichi explains

Rikichi explains why he is helping Renji, his personal idol, despite the latter's actions.

When Renji sits up and demands to know why Hanatarō is healing him after identifying the latter as one of Ichigo's companions, Rikichi reveals that he brought Hanatarō here as he stands nearby. With a stunned Renji wondering why, Rikichi details how he figured Hanatarō might treat someone who got hurt trying to save Rukia Kuchiki after he got thrown in jail for doing the same thing. Hanatarō explains that the Sōgō Kyūgo Tsumesho was destroyed by the Eleventh Division while the Fourth Division was out, allowing Rikichi to sneak in and open the lock to his cell, and a distressed Rikichi relays how he could not believe Renji lost to a Ryoka or escaped and started helping them, to the point of pointing his sword at his comrades for their sake. However, Rikichi calms down and reveals that he remembered how he joined the Gotei 13 because of Renji while pointing to the tattoo above his left eyebrow, surprising Renji, and concludes that he wants Renji to live no matter what so he can fight the way he likes because Rikichi finds it cool, leaving Renji stunned.[28]

149Hanataro asks

Hanatarō asks Renji to save Rukia.

While Rikichi gives Renji a new shihakushō, towel, and headband to wear, Hanatarō admits that he did not want to get anyone else involved and was hoping he would find a way to save Rukia by himself, but observes that this seems to be beyond his abilities now. With a bowing Hanatarō asking him to save Rukia, a revitalized Renji declares that he will.[29]


  1. Bleach manga; Chapter 132, page 16
  2. Bleach manga; Chapter 127, page 14
  3. Bleach manga; Chapter 133, pages 8 & 10
  4. Bleach manga; Chapter 133, pages 10-12
  5. Bleach manga; Chapter 133, pages 12-14
  6. Bleach manga; Chapter 137, pages 14-20
  7. Bleach manga; Chapter 139, pages 18-19
  8. Bleach manga; Chapter 140, pages 4-6
  9. Bleach manga; Chapter 140, pages 6-13
  10. Bleach manga; Chapter 140, pages 14-19
  11. Bleach manga; Chapter 140, pages 19-20
  12. Bleach manga; Chapter 141, pages 2-5
  13. Bleach manga; Chapter 141, pages 6-11
  14. Bleach manga; Chapter 141, pages 12-17
  15. Bleach manga; Chapter 141, pages 17-19
  16. Bleach manga; Chapter 142, pages 1-3
  17. Bleach manga; Chapter 142, pages 3-6
  18. Bleach manga; Chapter 142, pages 6-8
  19. Bleach manga; Chapter 142, pages 8-13
  20. Bleach manga; Chapter 142, pages 14-18
  21. Bleach manga; Chapter 142, page 19
  22. Bleach manga; Chapter 143, pages 6-8
  23. Bleach manga; Chapter 143, pages 8-11
  24. Bleach manga; Chapter 143, pages 12-21
  25. Bleach manga; Chapter 144, pages 1-13
  26. Bleach manga; Chapter 144, pages 14-15
  27. Bleach manga; Chapter 149, pages 13-14
  28. Bleach manga; Chapter 149, pages 14-15
  29. Bleach manga; Chapter 149, pages 16-17