I have gone through many different speculations and crack theories concerning Ichigo's favorite ramen-eating buddy. Recently i had a random intriguing thought, and took a stab (pun intended; sorry, Ichigo D;) at giving it some expansion. Turns out, it wasn't a theory that i alone had devised.
So this isn't a totally new theory. I'm just chronicling my reasoning and my own points as to why i think it's the most likely speculation concerning a certain aspect of one of my top three favorite characters.
So, many people wonder why Ginjo could attain Bankai if he never had a Shikai or for the fact that he didn't wield a Zanpakuto, but rather a sword made from a Fullbring ability. Another question i'll address is how he used Bankai while still in human form.
We saw Ginjo attach and then fully fuse his own SSB to his CoS, transforming his CoS into a new form. What if this new look to his CoS is actually the true Shikai form of the Zanpakuto he had from when he was a Substitute Shinigami?
I believe Ginjo has indeed merged his Shinigami powers with his Fullbring.
Recall that the SSB has a strong connection to its user's soul and powers and Reiatsu. Refer to how Ichigo was able to achieve his own Fullbring.
My suggestion is that CoS in its first Fullbring form could be a stripped version of his Shikai that he was able to re-manifest and modify by Fullbring, via his SSB providing access to the unaltered original Shikai.
And with Ginjo storing away his CoS as his necklace pendant, consider this: Ginjo essentially did the same thing with his SSB; first he withdrew the soul of his Zanpakuto, modified it with Fullbring, and then incorporated it into his Fullbring abilities as a weapon; this leaving the aspects he stripped away from the full original, still held within the SSB.
So he has the pendant for his Fullbring half of the two powers (Fullbring-modified re-manifestation of his Zanpakuto blade in Shikai mode), and then the original Shinigami half being held by the SSB.
This hypothesis is an attempt to explain what exactly happened when Ginjo attached his SSB to his CoS: Ginjo's true and unaltered Zanpakuto was unleashed, and now his Shinigami and Fullbring powers were fully combined.
In short, i'm suggesting that Ginjo found a way to use his Fullbring nature to gain access to his Zanpakuto blade from his SSB. Thus his ability to use Bankai while still in human form. It's all due to use of Fullbring.
And just as an additional detail, i theorize that Ginjo went straight to Shikai by affixing his SSB to CoS (this combination being the "release command" as an action), and thus was left with actually verbally calling upon his Bankai.
Now for an ending side note....
Many people wonder if Ginjo's power-stealing/sharing ability was exclusive to him, or something that all Fullbringers could perform. What if it's true that it was only his ability? If such is the case, then maybe that is the power of his Zanpakuto? Which suggests an explanation for why he stole and shared power only after attaching his SSB to his CoS.
This could also explain the reference to when he went rogue in Soul Society and killed other Shinigami to steal their power. Though, if it wasn't his Zanpakuto power, then it would have been (the way i see it) him using his Fullbring powers during his Shinigami days.
Sorry for such a long post; i like to explain myself thoroughly to get my reasoning fully across. Thank you for reading all the way, to those who did. ;P
I'll be the first to comment so as to address the first question that comes to mind.
So if Ginjo had used Fullbring to access his Zanpakuto, thne what about the Zanpakuto Spirit?
It might be possible that he still had contact with the Zanpakuto Spirit. If he wasn't, then maybe it just had to do with him not being in Shinigami form.
This is to suggest that his power-stealing/sharing ability was unique to him and also his original Zanpakuto power. If that is not the case (and it's just a Fullbring power -- his exclusively or otherwise), then aside from maybe his Energy Blast (as an attack), he really doesn't show any sign of having a Zanpakuto type of power -- other than the ability to enter a Shikai and Bankai type of mode.
So in that scenario, i figure Ginjo maybe could have overrode the original power with his own Fullbring.
Either case, this could likely be why he didn't use the Zanpakuto/Shikai/Bankai name.
So let's take this theory and apply it to another aspect of the story.
So we know that Ginjo and Tsukishima have a bond. And the only glimpse we've been shown of their past was when a younger shihakusho-clad Ginjo first met and reassured little Tsukishima. Notice that Ginjo's scabbard is holding his Zanpakuto in a sealed katana form.
My theory suggests that Ginjo merged his Shinigami powers to his Fullbring, and that his CoS is really his Shikai blade form, modified by Fullbring. So what happened to the sealed form?
He gave it to Tsukishima.
The story tells that Ginjo always had Tsukishima at his side from the moment he met him, and that he trained him and taught him how to use his power and fight. My theory is that, in order to help him learn his power, Ginjo gave him the left over sealed form of his Zanpakuto as a vessel for manifesting his ability.
This, of course, would have been something that had to have happened after Ginjo -- in theory -- removed and kept for himself the released form of his Zanpakuto separately.
As for Tsukishima's response to Orihime's inquiry: If the released form could be removed from the sealed form, then the latter would become an empty blade, therefore losing its definition as a Zanpakuto. Plus, it would have also been modified by use of Fullbring ability. So maybe it used to be one, but now... it is not a Zanpakuto.
This theory of mine is one i thought of when taking note of the fact that Ginjo and Tsukishima are the only Fullbringers who have blades as their Fullbring weapons. That, and considering the fact that their backstories are connected and they are very close to each other.
Might be a stretch, but i think it would be a nice twist to tie things together.
Okay, now i'll share my mild theory concerning Ginjo's Bankai. It doesn't affect my aforementioned theories, but i'll jot it down anyway.
I'm wondering if Ginjo possibly didn't achieve Bankai until after his disappearance from Soul Society. He was so determined to strike back at the Gotei 13, this could have been something he learned by training himself while in hiding, prior to initiating the plan involving Ichigo. This adding to his boost in confidence in believing he was capable enough for his mission of revenge.
Alternatively, maybe he achieved Bankai through his own training while still a Substitute Shinigami. Having it then, and appearing very Hollow-infused/influenced while in Bankai, could have been a factor in Ginjo feeling betrayed (by means of feeling judged) by everyone around him.
I think that he may never have achieved bankai on his own and that may have been one of the things he specifically wanted to steal from Ichigo, after all bankai usually takes at least a century for even those raised as shinigami and he didn't have an Urahara to speed up the process like Ichigo did. Also, is there any proof that he stole other shinigami's powers? Soul society doesn't have that good a reputation for not lying and if he had taken other shinigami abilities wouldn't he have used them in his fight with Ichigo? I think they just turned on him after he manifested fullbring and acted like they would've at the time to a vizard, which would explain why he was almost suicidally determined to carry out a grudge against the shinigami for their betrayal
I've thought about the idea that he stole Ichigo's Bankai (or at least that aspect as a stage of power). And i wouldn't rule it out as still being a good possibility. Like you said, it may have been a large piece of Ichigo's powers that Ginjo was after, all along.
Which leads into the next issue you bring up. I too always wondered, if it was true that he stole the powers of Shinigami prior to his hiding, then why have we never seen him use a plethora of various powers? I considered that maybe he just chose to not use them, and focused on using Ichigo's own attack against him during their battle.
There's also the notion i had, that maybe the reference to him stealing "power" actually translates to him stealing Reiatsu, just to add to his own and spike his power (this could maybe coincide with my suggestion that he attained Bankai during the short amount of time that he was still a Substitute Shinigami). After all, part of Fullbring offers manipulation of the souls of inanimate objects; maybe a Shinigami -- being a soul form -- would be susceptible to this ability only affecting their Reiatsu. All only in theory, of course; but is it a possibility?
I really like your twist to the perspective of the whole situation of Ginjo versus the Soul Society. It could very well be that they turned against him unfairly, and that's why he's so (seemingly unreasonably) adamant to take revenge on them all.
Something i just thought of, and this goes along with the previous couple of comments.
What if Ginjo's power to steal other powers (whether or not it was his original Zanpakuto power; doesn't matter here) allows him to use the powers, only as long as the victim is still alive? This could offer explanation for why he only used Ichigo's powers during their fight, and not an arsenal of other powers he stole from the Shinigami he was said to have killed.
Well then it wouldn't make sense to steal their power and then kill them.
To counter that, you could say that Ginjo's ability was to steal their Reiatsu, and Ginjo just absorbed the powers attached respectively therein. Suggesting that he was mainly after the Reiatsu, with the powers just being a bonus. And this is to say that he killed them as he found their Reiatsu useful, but not their powers. Or something else happened along the way and he killed them later on for some reason.
With stealing Ichigo's power, he wanted both the Reiatsu as well as the powers. Which is why he was going to leave Ichigo to either die or just live powerless for the rest of his life.
Just a little notion i had randomly thought up, and wanted to add it to the mix.
I just thought of something. Could Ginjo, if he were to stab Yhwach, steal his powers of omniscience and omnipotence? And if he were able to do you think he would be able to share it with Ichigo, Chad, Orihime, etc.? I feel like it would be a great turning point in the story and I feel like it would be very possible.
Whoa. You pose quite the scenario, there. Never thought of that. ;)
Well... i guess it may be possible. It could be that Ginjo may very well try it (because, after all, we know he's gonna return, and likely fight alongside Ichigo -- at least i believe so).
I like that for a suggestion, but it would definitely be a matter of Ginjo getting even remotely near enough to do so to Yhwach, hah. But still, very interesting proposition. I can see it being brought into consideration for an attack plan by our heroes.