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"I finally understand why my father respected Ashido so much. As far as duty and commitment goes there's quite a few Captains I've met who could learn a great deal from him. It's amazing. I trained under one Ashido but I can honestly say I barely knew him. I'm glad I got this chance to rectify that."
—Akira expressing his opinion of Ashido.[src]
Ashido Kanō
Yoshiro Kazuki 2
Name Ashido Kanō
Kanji 狩能 雅忘人
Romanji Kanō Ashido
Characteristics
Race Soul
Gender Male
Professional Status
Affiliation Soul Society
Occupation Shinigami
Partner Akira Hiroshi
Previous Partner Rukia Kuchiki
Base of Operations Hueco Mundo
Personal Status
Marital Status Single
Status Active
Zanpakutō
Shikai Unknown
Bankai Not revealed

Ashido Kanō (狩能 雅忘人) is a Shinigami formerly of the Gotei 13. He resides in the Forest of Menos under the desert sands of Hueco Mundo, having been trapped in the land of Hollows centuries ago. Having lost his companions one-by-one he survived alone, hoping to kill as many Hollow as possible to protect Humans and keep his promise to his fallen friends. Over the years he remained alone but he did serve as a guide for Rukia Kuchiki during her own travels through the Forest of Menos, and intended to leave with her and her friends, but ultimately stayed behind to cover their retreat. Ashido survived yet again and continued his solo crusade to dispatch as many Hollow as he could.

In the year following the Blood War, Ashido once more found himself acting the part of a guide. After fleeing from his twin brother, Akira Hiroshi purposefully escaped to Hueco Mundo, where he was found by Ashido. Rather than leave immediately Akira remained with Ashido to hone his skills. During Akira's tutelage the pair encountered reclusive former Espada member Gundinger Drelairn, developing something of a complex relationship with the Arrancar. For the last nine years of Akira's exile Ashido likewise protected Asuka Natsume, who was one of Hotaru's followers who tried to kill Gundinger and ended up trapped in the Forest as a result.

When Akira left the Forest and formed the Ryū Order to stop Hotaru, Ashido remained behind in the Forest with Gundinger to monitor the escalating situation between the Tres Pilares and the remnants of the Wandenreich.

Appearance

Ashido concept 2

Ashido wearing his preferred Hollow mask and fur cloak.

Ashido is a tall broad-shouldered man of little expression with brownish-red hair and straight eyebrows, who wears a ragged Shinigami uniform with no footwear, with a fur cloak draped over his shoulders adorned with various Hollow masks.[1] He commonly uses these masks as shields to deflect Cero.[2] Prior to its destruction protecting Rukia, Ashido wore a gazelle-shaped Hollow mask.[3] This mask held sentimental value for Ashido, for it belonged to the Hollow who killed his best friend.[4] Before coming to Hueco Mundo Ashido wore an untarnished Shinigami uniform and during one fantasy of the future had he escaped the Forest with Rukia and her friends, he saw himself in this same uniform living a life of peace in Soul Society.[5]

Personality

Ashido concept 1

Ashido's expressions show little deviation.

Ashido's existence is one of constant battle with little deviation.[5] When he fights he does not become excited nor does he engage in reckless action, and he is quick to point out when others do -- namely Ichigo, Renji and Akira.[4][6] He has been alone for so long, with few exceptions over centuries, that he has essentially lost all facial expression. Whether he is at peace or in battle his overall mood stays the same.[1] Despite his isolation Ashido did not shun company.[7][8] He attacked Rukia not because he wanted to harm her but simply to determine her strength, claiming that the weak do not survive long in the Forest, and opened up to her very quickly regarding his past.[3][4] Had things been different Ashido would have willingly left the Forest with Rukia and company.[2]

Since meeting Rukia, however, he has begun to fantasise about a life outside the Forest. In one instance he saw himself as a member of an unspecified Division, though he struggled to deal with the attention he was receiving. His musings where interrupted by the unexpected arrival of Akira Hiroshi.[5] At first Ashido didn't quite know what to think of his new companion -- Akira's knowledge of Ashido's counterpart gave him an insight into Ashido's history and motivation, which was information Ashido himself had not provided him with. After a frank discussion the two reached something resembling an understanding and Ashido agreed to take Akira under his wing.[9] It took roughly two years for the two to be completely at ease in one-another's company. It was during these two years that Akira got to truly know Ashido, realising why Kenji respected his counterpart so much, for Akira claimed that some Captains in the Gotei 13 could learn a great deal about duty and commitment from Ashido based on his example.[10] Ashido initially held the view that Akira was childish and naive.[11]

Ashido came to hold a humorous view on how often he saw company after Rukia's visit, considering he had been alone before that for centuries. Not only did Akira and Asuka gravitate towards the elder Shinigami but Ashido also found himself forming a strange form of friendship with Gundinger Drelairn.[12] The latter surprised even Ashido -- Gundinger being an Arrancar -- because he initially met Gundinger when the latter attempted to kill Akira,[13] but the pair eventually worked together to kill Quincy who had been attacking Gundinger.[10] By the time Akira was ready to leave the Forest, Gundinger actually informed Ashido and Akira of potential shifts in the balance of power in the Forest to better avoid conflict.[14]

Ashidobrokenmask

Ashido's rarely seen shocked expression.

A consummate survivor, Ashido has been forced to adapt to his surroundings: he would either thrive or die and thrive he did. He collects Hollow masks and uses them as shields to deflect Cero, which is a function unseen elsewhere.[2] In addition he carries these masks on his cloak like trophies of the hunt,[1] and he actually became upset when his favourite mask was broken.[4] He quickly discovered that the trees within the Forest aren't plants but are rather composed of a quartz-like mineral, thus making them inedible.[15] One edible source Ashido discovered was snow grass.[16] Akira has speculated that the meat Ashido has been noted to eat is, in fact, Hollow meat.[7]

Despite his situation Ashido has a rarely seen sense of humor and is more than capable of cracking a smile under the right circumstances, one case being when Akira managed to successfully decorate a makeshift Christmas tree.[17] Akira and he also created "Hollow Ricochet": a game involving Ashido redirecting Akira's Cero to hit marked targets to earn points which, according to Ashido, doubled as a training-aid for Akira.[18] In later years he also enjoyed making fun at Akira's expense, once calling his young charge "clueless" when the conversation turned to Asuka Natsume.[19]

History

"In order to protect Human souls, and keep the promise I made with those who lost their lives, I’ve stayed here and fought."
—Ashido stating his reasons for staying in Hueco Mundo.

Ashido graduated the Shin'ō Academy when the curriculum still covered information regarding the Quincy. He came to hold the view that they posed a significant danger to the Cycle of Souls.[10] Unlike his counterpart, who had heard of the Yuengiri prior to meeting Kenji Hiroshi, this Ashido had no knowledge of the philosophy.[20]

Ashidopast

Ashido prior to being trapped in the Forest of Menos.

Centuries before the events of the Winter War, Ashido was an average Shinigami attached to an unspecified Division in the Gotei 13. His unit, which comprised a number of close and personal friends, fought a group of Hollow. He and his friends pursued the retreating Hollow through a Garganta, which led them into the Forest of Menos. Despite their best efforts however Ashido's friends where killed one-by-one until only Ashido himself remained. Taking up the mask of the Hollow who killed the last of his friends Ashido, enraged, killed the surrounding Hollow and resolved himself to a life of constant battle in order to protect Human souls.[2][4]

Forestguardianpast

The Guardian of the Forest of Menos.

The Soul Society was aware of Ashido's disappearance, with one report claiming that he and his unit had been missing for quite some time. In actuality Ashido had been MIA for almost two-hundred-fifty years.[21] Ashido's life consequently became one of constant battles against Hollow with little deviation over centuries.[5] He became quite well-known amongst certain Hollow, chief amongst them the Forest's Guardian, with whom Ashido had fought numerous times over the years.[4] Many years later he refused to leave the Forest before he could settle matters with the Guardian, stating his last duty in the Forest would be to kill him.[2]

Despite his familiarity with the Forest there where areas he either avoided or did not explore. One such area was the territory of Gundinger Drelairn.[13]

Ashidopast2

Ashido stayed behind so Rukia and her friends could escape the Forest.

Around the time of the Winter War Ashido began noticing changes in the resident Hollow. Shortly after he came to the rescue of another Shinigami in the Forest and took her back to his hideout, where he quickly tested her strength.[3] This Shinigami introduced herself as Rukia Kuchiki, and Ashido was quick to explain his past and motivations, with him even taking Rukia to the site where his friends had lost their lives.[4] Ashido agreed to lead Rukia to the exit and help her find her friends, and would have fled the Forest with them had the group not come under attack by the Adjuchas.[2]

Ashido stayed behind to cover Rukia and her friend's retreat. He survived and once more resolved himself to a life of battle.[5]

Synopsis

Renascence Beginning

Main article -- Renascence Beginning.

9th Division Assault arc

Intervening Years

Bleach Renascence

Main article -- Bleach Renascence.

Hueco Mundo chapter

Equipment

Ashidoshield

Ashido shielding Ichigo and Renji with one of his masks.

  • Hollow masks: Ashido carries several Hollow masks attached to his fur coat.[1] These masks have the potent effect of deflecting incoming Cero, and have thus far been shown deflecting Cero blasts from Menos-class Hollow, full-blown Adjuchas, and even Visored.[4][18] One of these masks, shaped like that of a gazelle, was worn over Ashido's own face.[3] This particular mask held sentimental value for Ashido as it belonged to the Hollow who killed his best friend.[4] By subtlety shifting his own position and angle of defence Ashido could partially control the trajectory of the reflected Cero.[2] Akira and he created a game based around Ashido's ability to deflect Cero, which the pair dubbed "Hollow Ricochet".[18]

Powers and Abilities

Great Spiritual Energy: Several centuries worth of battle against Hollow in the Forest of Menos saw Ashido's power grow significantly. By the time of the Winter War and Blood War that followed he was easily at Captain-level, with Rukia mentioning that he was strong even without using Bankai.[3][4] Akira noted that Ashido was almost exactly alike to the counterpart he trained under, who was stated on several occasions to be Captain-level.[5] He stated with confidence that he could defeat Gundinger but admitted that the effort would draw far too much attention.[13]

Zanjutsu Mastery: Ashido's preferred combat form is swordsmanship. Even without releasing his Zanpakutō Ashido dispatches Hollow of varying levels, from Gillian to Adjuchas, with swordplay alone.[4] Amongst Shinigami he employs a "sword-and-board" style, frequently fighting one-handed whilst employing a Hollow mask capable of deflecting Cero in his off-hand.[4][2] He possesses the requisite strength, skill, and speed to instantly dispatch multiple Gillian at range with the mere force of his swing.[3] His skill extends to engaging other swordsman, including those formerly of the Espada,[13] and he was more than capable of easily dispatching former Soldat of the Wandenreich.[10] In a reversal of established role Ashido learned the Wan'nesu from Akira in the first year of the latter's exile.[20]

Enhanced Senses: Ashido is remarkably perceptive.[9] He was capable of sensing Ichigo and Renji's battle with several Hollow from a considerable distance.[4] He later proved himself capable of discerning the unique feel of Akira's reiatsu during the brief time his Hollow mask was donned and determine his location from that alone.[5]

Stealth: Although not being known to possess a former affiliation with the Onmitsukidō, Ashido has lived, fought, and stalked his way through the Forest of Menos for centuries.[9] He was able to evade the surrounding Hollow after rescuing Rukia easily,[3] and remarked that Ichigo and Renji where reckless in their manner of battle, inferring that their recklessness attracted unwanted attention.[4]

Hollow Knowledge: Ashido possesses unique knowledge regarding the combating of Hollow unseen elsewhere. Though initially an accident he learned that Hollow masks have the ability to deflect Cero, a trait he has exploited with abandon over centuries.[2] He also demonstrates advanced knowledge of Hollow classifications which includes the rare Vasto Lorde class, which he explained to Rukia.[4] After encountering Akira he came to know the various strengths and weaknesses of Visored,[5][9] and later added knowledge of Arrancar.[13] His ability to redirect Cero saw marked improvement through the development of a game alongside Akira referred to as "Hollow Ricochet". Ashido became fit to redirect Cero with the needed finesse to hit marked targets with ease.[18]

Kidō: Although his full skill has gone unseen thus far, Rukia stated that Ashido's hideout was lit by Kidō.[3] He later admitted that it was "an easy trick of Kidō".[9] He frequently experimented with his Kidō abilities as a way to distract himself.[8]

Enhanced Strength: Ashido possesses notable strength and the force of his attacks quickly tired Rukia.[3] When putting forward sufficient effort he has been known to create a tornado-like blast some have mistaken for Tenran.[22]

Hohō Expertise: Ashido is capable of employing Shunpo with enough skill to swiftly remove himself from an area even whilst carrying a passenger and remain undetected by countless Hollow.[3] Travelling alone he is able to swiftly travel through the Forest without alerting nearby Hollow, and attack by exploiting the element of surprise.[5] In battle he is capable of swift movements to evade an opponent's attacks whilst simultaneously closing the distance to strike in close-quarters, or move quickly to shield allies.[4] He was swiftly fit to appear in-front of Ichigo and Renji to defend them from several Cero, whilst deflecting every blast effectively.[2]

Zanpakutō

Ashido possesses a Zanpakutō whose sealed form is that of a katana with green-coloured hilt-wrapping and a chipped guard.[3] The sheath is brown.[4]

Alternate world counterpart

Main article -- Ashido Kanō.

This version of Ashido was noted to be very similar to the version later encountered by Akira.[5] He joined the Ryū Order created by Kenji Hiroshi and went on to become a master of the Wan'nesu style alongside Shiju Shūdō.[23]

Author's notes

Behind the scenes

Trivia

  • Ashido was supposed to appear in the manga but was cut due to time constraints.[1]

References & notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Bleach manga; Volume 29, The Slashing Opera
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 Bleach anime; Episode 149
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 Bleach anime; Episode 147
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 Bleach anime; Episode 148
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 Morning Prince Exiled
  6. Journal entry: June, 2012
  7. 7.0 7.1 Journal entry: October, 2003
  8. 8.0 8.1 Journal entry: November, 2003
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 Reaper Abroad: The Forest of Menos
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Journal entry: May, 2005
  11. Journal entry: January, 2019
  12. Journal entry: July, 2010
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 Journal entry: February, 2005
  14. Journal entry: September, 2018
  15. Bleach Official Character Book 2 MASKED, page 130
  16. Bleach light novel; Can't Fear You're Own World Volume 3, pages 396-404
  17. Journal entry: December, 2003
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 Journal entry: March, 2009
  19. Journal entry: August, 2015
  20. 20.0 20.1 Journal entry: April, 2004
  21. Bleach novel; Spirits Are Forever With You
  22. Bleach game; Brave Soul, Ashido (Speed)
  23. 23.0 23.1 Ashido's counterpart
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