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"I wouldn't be so surprised if I where you. You pushed in here without a plan of attack, hoping sheer numbers would prevail? Don't underestimate us. Of course we cut your Hollow to ribbons."
—Kenji to Arturo.
Rōnin Shiba
Kenprofile
Race Soul
Gender Male
Professional Status
Previous Affiliation Gotei 13, Soul Society
Profession Shinigami
Previous Position Lieutenant, 3rd Seat, 4th Seat
Previous Division 13th Division
Previous Partner Kaien Shiba
Base of Operations Soul Society
Personal Status
Relatives Kentaro Shiba (son)
Miyako Kato
Kaien Shiba (clansmen)
Education Shinō Academy
Zanpakutō
Shikai Amaterasu
Bankai Amaterasu Retsujitsu
First Appearance
Story Debut Bleach: Tower of Night

Rōnin Shiba (浪人芝, Shiba Ronin), known to his friends as Kenji (健児, Stalwart youth) and Kenny, was a Shinigami who inhabited an alternate world. His counterpart in the primary world was known as Kenji Hiroshi.

Rōnin was a member of the 13th Division under Captains Jūshirō Ukitake and Kaien Shiba. Rōnin was the husband of Miyoko Kato, the father of Kentaro Shiba, the brother-in-law of Shuji Kato, and the brother of Kireina Shiba; he was likewise the commanding officer of Fujimaru and Matsuri Kudō.

During his career he served first as a seated officer under Captain Ukitake and secondly as a Lieutenant under Kaien. During his life he was one of the few Shinigami who crossed blades with Averian and Arturo Plateado and lived to tell the tale, but he lost his life during the events of The Collapse.

His power, memories, and combat abilities lived on in the hands of Arturo, who used said Rōnin's own memories and abilities against Rōnin's son in a form of psychological warfare.

Appearance

Rōnin appeared very similar to Kaien Shiba with the only readily apparent difference being the colour of their eyes. Rōnin's were blood-red whilst Kaien had green eyes. Rōnin was the same height as Kaien but had a slighter build; he also sported the same spiked black-coloured hair as his clansman. During his academy years Rōnin wore the standard blue and white attire and kept his hair long and tied it up in a ponytail. After becoming a Shinigami he cut his hair short and began wearing a sleeveless kosode with a hood-attachment, though he was also seen with a sleeved kosode as well. After becoming Lieutenant he wore the badge secured to his ōbi on the right-hand side.

Personality

"Kaien. Promise me... Promise me you'll look after Kentaro."
"I will."
"Then I can... die without regrets.
"
—Rōnin's final words to Kaien.

Rōnin was a likeable and approachable man whose only true vices where gambling and alcohol, for he often turned up to work hungover and broke. As a follower and master of the Yuengiri doctrine Rōnin was rarely seen to be taken by surprise; he wore calmness like a second skin, and was noted to speak in a quiet and neutral tone-of-voice, even when he was making fun of his friends. He was very close to Kaien and viewed the latter as a brother; when the latter fought Metastacia Rōnin was only stopped leaping to Kaien's aid by Captain Jūshirō Ukitake, who explained Kaien's resolve. Prior to his death Rōnin imparted his final words to Kaien and asked him to look after his son, which Kaien agreed to do. Rōnin then remarked that he could die without any regrets, content that he could leave everything in Kaien's hands.

History

Main article -- Rōnin's world.

Early childhood

Roninchildhood1

Rōnin conversing with his father regarding his dream.

Rōnin was born into one of the branch families of the illustrious Shiba clan and grew up alongside his cousins Kaien, Kūkaku and Ganju. Kaien and he viewed one another as siblings and dreamed of becoming Shinigami together, though Kaien's prodigious talents meant he achieved this dream long before Rōnin ever could. Shortly after Kaien entered the Shinō Academy Rōnin's father approached him and asked what he planned to do now, considering that Kaien had left him in his dust. Rōnin, knowing he could not compete with Kaien in traditional fields, but still wishing to catch-up with his friend, asked his father's permission to go on a pilgrimage throughout the vast Rukongai. Rōnin's father, curious as to what his son intended, grants his permission.

Before Rōnin leaves his father and he play a game of chess, which his father wins. Rōnin then travels to several shrines throughout Rukongai over a four-year period in hopes of studying both the Yuengiri philosophy and the martial art known as Keidō, which was the precursor to modern Kidō utilized by the Shinigami.

Yoripast

Rōnin meets Miyoko Kato at the Shunyōdō temple in western Rukongai.

At the Shunyōdō temple, which was located within the twenty-seventh district of western Rukongai, Rōnin met fellow-student Miyoko Kato. Like him Miyoko wished to implement the older styles of combat with the new to catch up with someone close, in her case her older brother, who had already entered the Shinō Academy. The duo bonded over their shared goal and became close friends. One night Rōnin asked her about the earring she always wore. Miyoko explained that it was symbolic of a promise made between herself and her brother. Rōnin likened it to the dream he and Kaien once shared, and wished Miyoko well in her endeavour.

Kenjiearlypart1

Rōnin during his tenure within the Shinō Academy.

Rōnin, following his successful integration of both the Yuengiri philosophy and Keidō practices into a single art-form, returns to his home, where he speaks with Kūkaku and Ganju to get a general idea on how Kaien is doing and progressing. He is both shocked and delighted to learn of Kaien's swift ascent of the ranks within the 13th Division. Later that evening he is greeted by his father who makes note of Rōnin's inability to grasp the complex mechanics of letter-writing, with Rōnin remarking that it is good to see him well. His father asks after his progress, with Rōnin stating they can discuss it all over a drink and a game of chess. His father laughs upon hearing of his son's meeting with Miyoko and claims that he's a chip off the old block, and then asks if his son is ready to enter the Shinō Academy and begin closing the gap on Kaien. Rōnin claims he is. In response his father declares check-mate and implores his son to keep improving, and suggests they play again when he graduates. Shortly after Rōnin successfully passes the entrance exam and is placed within the advanced accelerated class based on his scores, where he once again meets Miyoko. Rōnin, like Kaien before him, proved himself a quick study, as did Miyoko. They imprinted themselves upon their Asauchi and achieved Shikai in only two years, and they graduated the academy itself in only three years. Rōnin's combat skills where particularly high, specifically in regards to Zanjutsu, which was the class he performed in with distinction. Upon graduation he and Miyoko said their goodbyes; Rōnin applied to join the 13th Division, whilst she applied to join the 10th Division. The night he graduated he took his father up on his earlier offer and played him at chess, but was beaten once again. His father told him that he was not to rest on his laurels and continue to better himself as a member of the Gotei 13.

Early career

Rōnin re-establishes his childhood friendship with Kaien, who has since been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant, with the two training together frequently as the months progress. Rōnin is eventually named the 4th Seated Officer of the 13th Division. Following the promotion Kaien points out that they've finally achieved their dream. Rōnin claims that it is time to forge a new dream and states his desire to catch up with Kaien. Captain Jūshirō Ukitake overhears the two and comments on their friendship, explaining that it is a wonderful thing. He implores them not to forget that friendship as they compete against each other. The duo assure him that they won't. Later that night Rōnin receives an emergency report from a junior member of the 13th Division: Kaien's wife, Miyako Shiba, has attacked and killed a number of her fellow squad-mates. Rōnin, after telling the junior member to find Kaien, is the first to arrive on-scene and he successfully incapacitates Miyako. He then intercepts Kaien when he arrives at the squad-station and brings him up-to speed. As Kaien goes to be with his wife Rōnin watches from the sidelines.

Miyako, coming to, flees, with Kaien and a fellow squad-mate giving chase. Rōnin intends to follow but Captain Ukitake requests that he bring him up-to speed first. Rōnin agrees to the request but tells Ukitake that he will do so as they follow Kaien, and the two give chase. When they arrive on-scene Kaien is fighting for his life against a tentacled Hollow who claims to have devoured Miyako. The squad-mate who left with Kaien is lying dead, seemingly with his Zanpakutō destroyed. Drawing his own Zanpakutō Rōnin moves to help his cousin but is stopped by Ukitake, who informs him that this is a battle Kaien needs to fight alone regardless of its outcome. He further states that he is fighting for his own and Miyako's pride and as his friend he should understand that. Rōnin watches on as Kaien, rallying, defeats the Hollow using Kidō. He stands at Kaien's side during Miyako's funeral. In the wake of the incident Rōnin is promoted to the vacant 3rd Seated Officer's position and becomes Kaien's direct aide, with many likening him to a Lieutenant due to Kaien often taking on the mantle of leadership when Ukitake is incapacitated by illness.

Arturo's Invasion

Rōnin is present at Kaien's side when the latter takes temporary command of the 13th Division due to Ukitake's illness. He pokes fun at Fujimaru Kudō, saying he should have stayed in bed this morning, when he and his sister, Matsuri Kudō, are tasked to patrol the outer districts of Rukongai over the next few days. Fujimaru responds by yawning, leading Matsuri to admonish both him and Rōnin for slacking off. Fujimaru tells his sister no one will marry her with an attitude like that. Rōnin watches the pair depart and returns to his duties, and comments to Kaien that the odd behaviour of the Hollow has him worried. Kaien claims Hollow that operate in groups is a worrisome prospect and further states that even Captain Ukitake was apprehensive regarding the whole affair. Rōnin asks if this has ever happened in the past, with Kaien remarking that, according to their Captain, it has and it was trouble.

In the course of Fujimaru and Matsuri's mission the twins rescue an Onmitsukidō operative from Hollow and direct her back to the 13th Division for help. Rōnin bears witness to the operative returning with news that the twins have gone ahead to aid her superior officer, who was surrounded by Hollow after suffering a debilitating injury rescuing her subordinate. The operative then requests reinforcements. Captain Seigen Suzunami of the 55th Division, who had been looking for the twins at the 13th Division's barracks, agrees to lead the mission, with Kaien assisting. The squad is left in Rōnin's hands who assumes temporary command. Upon the safe return of all involved Kaien takes Ukitake's place in a Captain's meeting. Rōnin is told by Kaien afterwards that the likely cause of the Hollow's strange behaviour can be attributed to an Arrancar: a Hollow who has evolved by removing its mask and gaining the powers of a Shinigami.

Several days later Ukitake makes his return and discusses matters with Kaien in private. Outside the barracks Rōnin is enjoying some downtime with Fujimaru and Matsuri, though talk soon turns to the so-called Arrancar. Rōnin passes it off as a bluff, with Fujimaru admitting that the news has him worried. Matsuri assures them that the higher-ups will sort something out. At this Kaien interjects himself by stating that they are the higher-ups response. He explains that they are to be sorted into a specialized patrol team and asks if they have any suggestions for personnel, noting that Shuji Kato of the Kidō Corps will be assisting. Matsuri points out that Miyoko Kato would also be a solid candidate, which Rōnin notes will create a close-knit unit even if he dislikes the Kidō Corps. Rōnin is left behind along with Fujimaru to sort the teams equipment for the upcoming mission.

Rōnin and company spend the next month patrolling the Rukongai. They set up checkpoints, coordinate the reports of other patrolling Shinigami, and gradually widen their net until they have the entire Rukongai under surveillance. They are the first to encounter an entity with turquoise-coloured hair and a mask-fragment on his jaw whom they quickly determine to be the Arrancar they heard about, for the Hollow around him seem to owe him loyalty and follow his commands. Rōnin, scouting ahead, finds this supposed Arrancar at the head of a literal army of Hollow. Fujimaru admits that they cannot stop so many on their own. Shuji, explaining they do not need to, puts forward a plan to use Kidō to contact their superiors. Kaien agrees but before the party can put their plan in motion the Arrancar appears amongst them, stating he has little time to deal with lowly worms. Rōnin and Kaien team-up to intercept the figure's blade whilst Fujimaru lunges at him from behind, but the Arrancar outmanoeuvres the three easily. He repels Rōnin and Kaian and moves to attack Fujimaru from behind, stating that he is full of openings, but is stopped by Matsuri and Miyoko. Miyoko shields her comrade with a Kidō barrier whilst Matsuri, releasing a surge of fiery spiritual energy from her Zanpakutō, successfully pushes the Arrancar back. Shuji, utilizing Kidō, transports himself and his team back to the Seireitei. Kaien proceeds to the offices of the Captain-Commander to make his report. Miyoko confirms to Rōnin that Shuji used forbidden Kidō to save them. Kaien tells Rōnin to accompany him.

Arturo's Second Invasion

Tower of Night Incident

Main article -- Bleach: Tower of Night.

Later career

Pre-Collapse

Death and legacy

Rōnin lost his life during the events of The Collapse when he used his own body as a shield to protect his son, Kentaro Shiba, and Captain, Kaien Shiba, from the catastrophe. Rōnin imparted his final words to Kaien and implored him to look after Kentaro, which Kaien agreed to. Rōnin passes soon after; his final words are that he can die with no regrets knowing that everything is in Kaien's hands.

Through means currently unknown Rōnin's Zanpakutō, Amaterasu, as well as his memories and personality, later resurfaced in the hands of the alternate Arturo Plateado. Kentaro found this strange for Arturo usually needed to land the killing blow to steal his victims powers, suggesting that Rōnin survived the initial events of The Collapse only to meet his final demise at the hands of Arturo. Furthering the complication is that Rōnin died in his sons arms after imparting his final words to Kentaro and Kaien. The two would later confide in each other that they had not sensed Arturo's presence at the time.

Rōnin, appearing as an echo visible to Kentaro following his departure from the Blades of Night's Veil, expressed his pride in his son. Although he suspected his father's appearance was a trick of the mind Kentaro nevertheless took the opportunity to thank his father for shielding him during The Collapse, prompting Rōnin to claim that he would always have made that call. When Kentaro asked his friends if they saw what he had everyone but Kaien, who saw Rōnin as well, had no idea what Kentaro was talking about.

Synopsis

Main Article -- Bleach (Kenji Hiroshi).

Resurgent Phantom

Main article -- Bleach: Resurgent Phantom.

3rd Phantom

Tower of Night

Main article -- Bleach: Tower of Night.

Tower of Night Incident

Cataclysm

Legacy

Specials

Main article -- Specials and Omakes.

Powers and Abilities

Kenjishunko

Rōnin's reiatsu expressed through his Battle Aura.

High Spiritual Energy: As a Lieutenant in the Gotei 13, Rōnin possessed particularly high levels of spiritual energy. Prior to the Collapse he was the only Lieutenant capable of Bankai. Rōnin's spiritual energy was white.

Hohō Expertise: Rōnin possessed the necessary level of speed to match his fellow Lieutenants.

Kidō: Despite being a Lieutenant Rōnin was barely able to produce a stable Shakkahō. His skills instead lay in the ancient Keidō form, which allowed him to produce a number of elemental spells separate from Kidō.

Hakuda: Rōnin rarely engaged in hand-to-hand combat but favoured kicks. He expressed Hakuda most notably through his Battle Aura through manipulation of his so-called "claws of the tiger".

Zanjutsu Mastery: Rōnin's greatest skill lay in Zanjutsu. He specialized in swordsmanship almost to the exclusion of all else, routinely clashing with Kaien in training. He was regarded as the finest swordsman amongst the Lieutenant-ranked Shinigami in the Gotei 13, and was fit to incapacitate Miyako Shiba easily when he was only a 4th Seat. His skill-level, coupled with his achievement of Bankai, qualified Rōnin for a Captaincy position had he desired to leave the 13th Division; he was, after all, capable of contending with Captain-level Shinigami. He and Kaien where also the only non-Captain-level Shinigami capable of crossing blades with Arturo Plateado during his invasion of Soul Society without being quickly dispatched. Rōnin's mastery extended to practices outside the expertise of the Shinō Academy. He was one of the few masters of the philosophical Yuengiri doctrine, which enabled him to accelerate his achievement of Bankai by mastering Jinzen. When engaging in combat he was noted to be dogged and aggressively defensive-minded, with a strong penchants for counter-strokes; Rōnin only required the barest of openings in his opponent's form to turn the tide against them.

Kenjibyakko

Rōnin's Battle Aura seizing his opponent.

Battle Aura (一戦霊気, Issenreiki): Rōnin was one of the few capable of utilizing the Battle Aura of the Yuengiri, which could be further strengthened through release of his Zanpakutō. When in use his white-coloured reiatsu surrounded his body in a similar manner to Shunkō, and could be manipulated as he saw fit for any number of purposes. He commonly manipulated his Battle Aura to form tangible arms of spiritual energy or, in Rōnin's words, "claws of the tiger", that vastly supplemented his swordsmanship through adding the possibility of striking from next-to-impossible angles, including his enemies' blind spots. He most often utilized his Battle Aura before resorting to use of his Zanpakutō's released stages. Rōnin commonly wields a katana fashioned in the shape of his sealed Zanpakutō from the energy produced by his Battle Aura instead of his actual Zanpakutō.

Zanpakutō

Kenzan

Kenji's sealed Zanpakutō prior to his learning of Shikai.

Amaterasu (天照, Illuminating Heaven). Rōnin's Zanpakutō took the form of a katana with a circular guard and yellow hilt-wrapping, but when Rōnin finally heard the voice of his Zanpakutō and learned its name its sealed form became that of a nodachi, which was bound into the sheath with cloth; this prevented him from using it in traditional swordsmanship without first releasing it into Shikai. He refers to his Zanpakutō as "she", and further explains that she is an aloof and mysterious type who rarely speaks.

Kenshikai

Kenji releases Amaterasu by forcibly tearing her bindings and pulling her free of the sheath.

  • Shikai: Rōnin releases Amaterasu with the command "Light the Way" (道を照らす, Michi o Terasu), followed by him forcibly tearing the bindings on the sheath and pulling her free. After learning Bankai Rōnin rarely verbalized the release and instead simply tore her free of the sheath.
Shikai Special Ability: Amaterasu is a Kidō-type Zanpakutō that expels tremendous amounts of light upon release. Her abilities deal with the projection of light for various purposes. Rōnin has demonstrated but is not limited to; a flash of blinding light to render a foes eyesight useless whilst Rōnin moves in to attack, an array of damaging light that attacks in all directions, twinkling lights Rōnin can use as projectiles, and the surrounding of a small location in light to give him an edge by literally forcing an opponent to engage him in his own element. This latter usage also prevents outside forces directly intervening and can also be used to protect allies or set up safe-zones for healing; Rōnin also does not need to remain inside for this particular effect, aiding greatly in team combat.
Kenlight

Hiōda.

  • Hiōda (日殴打, Sunshine Strike): an offensive light-based attack Rōnin can fire in the form of a wave, ball and whip-like stream, which burns away an opponent with intense light; leaving behind scorch-marks in its wake. The power, range and speed of this attack is directly controllable and is done so based on the level of reiryoku expended to create it.
  • Higaitō (日外套, Sunshine Cloak): a defensive and supplementary technique which allows Rōnin to don the intense light created by Amaterasu as a form of cloak, which protects him by making it extremely difficult for anyone to come within range to strike without being blinded by said cloak. It also cushions spiritual attacks against him, such as Cero.
  • Bankai: Amaterasu Retsujitsu (天照烈日, Illuminating Heaven Scorching Sun). Rōnin's Bankai is massive in scope; it's range extends to several kilometres in each direction and takes the form of a massive sphere constructed of pure light. Rōnin and anyone unfortunate enough to be within its range are ensnared within the sphere, which becomes closed off from the outside world. Its mere release renders an individual incapable of utilizing their sense of sight, for the inside of the sphere is simply too bright.
Bankai Special Ability: Rōnin is fit to manipulate the light within the sphere for any number of purposes; his most favoured however appears to be the discharge of light from his fingertips in sphere-shaped projectiles. His attacks are as hot and luminous as a star. The one downside is the massive energy requirement. Kaien revealed that Rōnin can only maintain his Bankai for a few minutes at best.

Behind the Scenes

  • This article, Rōnin Shiba, has undergone a major shift in focus since his creation. The version of this page which passed the RPCQ Exam can be found here for reference.

References & Notes

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