"The most frightening part of childrens' play is when they decide on a whim what to play next. You'd have to be a mind reader to know what was coming next. No matter what fun or pleasure they bring, once they take hold of your hand, that's the end... They're going to suck you in, come hell or high water. Since I've already gotten hold of your hand... we may as well play until one of us drops dead."
|Prior to Injury - Current|
|Height||192 cm (6'3½")|
|Weight||87 kg (191 lbs)|
|Occupation||Captain of the First Division|
Gotei 13 Captain-Commander
|Previous Occupation||Captain of the Eighth Division|
|Previous Team||Eighth Division|
|Previous Partner||Lisa Yadōmaru|
|Base of Operations||Seireitei|
|Bankai||Not Yet Revealed|
- "If it's me, it would be a waste not to dance no matter what." - Tito Kubo
Shunsui Sōzōsa Kyōraku no Jirō (京楽 次郎 総蔵佐 春水, Kyouraku no Jirou Souzousa Shunsui) is the Captain of the First Division and the Captain-Commander of the entire Gotei 13, serving as the worthy successor to the great Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto. He was once the Captain of the Eighth Division, having inherited this position from Seireitou Kawahiru after the latter's defection well over a thousand years ago.
Kyōraku is a tall light-skinned Shinigami with high cheekbones, grey eyes and long wavy brown hair. His hair is tied in a long ponytail and has long bangs that frame the left side of his face. He also has a noticeable amount of body hair on his chest, feet, and arms. He wears a straw hat (called a sakkat) and a pink, flowered ladies kimono, which he drapes across his shoulders and over his captain's uniform. Although his haori and obi sash are cheap, his pin-wheel hairpins are very expensive. He does not wear tabi with his sandals. He has thin facial hair around his mouth and on his cheeks. Over a hundred years before Aizen's defection, Shunsui only had facial hair on his upper mouth.
After the battle with the Wandenreich and the subsequent to the Thousand-Year Blood War, Shunsui is shown to wear an eyepatch over his right eye that was damaged during the conflict. The top half of his right ear is sliced off at a slight tilt. When he is promoted to Captain-Commander, his appearance remains unchanged, save for the symbol on his haori being the kanji for "first" instead of "eighth".
As a child, Shunsui is shown to have shorter and messier hair. He wore a flower patterned kimino.
- "It's not good to keep forcing this characteristic thing, Espada-san. And if you're going to talk about characteristic, not having a characteristic behavior is characteristic of me."
- —Kyōraku speaking with Coyote Starrk.
An enigmatic individual, bordering between the extremes of persona, Captain-Commander Kyōraku's most defining characteristic is ironically that he is truly uncharacteristic. He presents himself as a man that values peace above all else. Flamboyant and laid back, the humble Shunsui carries himself throughout the day as a being without a care in the world. The Captain traipses about Seireitei, engaging fellow officers in the drink of choice, sake, and also enjoying confections such as steamed buns and other delicacies. Shirking his duties and opting to take a nap does not escape the realm of possibilities. He is not above using his own staff to acquire whatever may strike his palate that particular day. It is nearly impossible to see this man without a smile plastered onto his unshaven face. Shunsui fancies himself something of a ladies' man as well. In particular, his repeated interactions with Nanao Ise, whom he was known to have addressed as "my Nanao-chan", and Lisa Yadōmaru, both of whom had once served him as subordinates, demonstrate his affections for the opposite sex. It is actually not uncommon to find the man lounging about in red light districts throughout Rukongai; definitely engaging in many acts unbecoming of a squad leader or even Shinigami in general. And what ties together this man's playful demeanor is his indiscriminate familiarity with all those that cross his path, be they ally or foe; evident by his speech pattern as shown when he would even address Coyote Starrk as "Espada-san" and Sōsuke Aizen as "Aizen-taichō". He demonstrates great respect to all people before him, addressing his fellow officers and colleagues with appropriate honorifics. One could say that it is quite a mystery why this peaceful pervert of a man was selected as the fearsome sword demon's successor as the Gotei's Captain-Commander. But there is a deepness to Kyōraku that would greatly disturb those that dared to go looking into his consciousness.
Regardless of what others may view him as, the peace-loving drunkard is but a cover — nay, a lie that he attempts to feed himself time and time again. Kyōraku is a pragmatist at his core. What is truly frightening, however, is what exactly his pragmatism is centered around. And it is here that one begins to find the resemblances between him and the late Yamamoto. He finds his duty to the defense of Seireitei, first and foremost, as his main priority. All his actions deviate from this purpose. In his youth, perhaps Kyōraku had aspirations pertaining to his personal ambitions; the love of a beautiful woman, raising a family in a peaceful world, and being able to enjoy his sake together with Jūshirō Ukitake, his closest friend that he deemed to be like that of a brother. But his view of the world was hopelessly scarred when he witnessed the atrocities of war. Watching loved ones perish like roadkill and the horrible acts perpetrated by those engaging in war for selfish reasons and desires, the pain was simply too great for the two friends to bear. He and Ukitake reflected upon the war in different ways. While Ukitake exhibited physical illness, thus dealing with these scars on the outside, Kyōraku internalized his pain and the result was a changed man. Sure, he may attempt to hide these changes with a guise of peace-loving perverseness and casual drinking, but ultimately, Kyōraku was no longer the same person. Having once opposed the evils of war, he had begun to understand the reasoning behind them. When two sides enter into a war, they are both in the wrong. There is no "right" side. And thus, as Kyōraku began to absorb this train of thought, he came to the conclusion that atrocities are simply the way the world works. When a goal must be reached, it must be done no matter what evils one must stain their hands with to do so. In some cases, he can be considered an even darker individual than his predecessor, Yamamoto, himself. While the Gotei founder always presented him straightforwardly about the evils he committed, Kyōraku had done what he always did; he internalized the evils he was willing to commit. He would present a smile while holding his blades, and be you child or woman, he will slay you without it weighing upon his mind. No longer does he dwell upon it like the youngsters; no, he has matured to a point where he recognizes the demands of his occupation as a god of death and has dismissed the idea of regret. There is no turning back.
This mindset carries over into his method of fighting as well. His pragmatism shows itself whenever he attempts to talk his way out of a fight. Unlike his warhawk of a mentor, Kyōraku recognizes the need that not all altercations require violence. To that end, perhaps he is an even greater leader than that of his predecessor. He advised the ryōka boy, Yasutora Sado, to put down his fists and simply join him in a round of sake. An ingenious move that many perhaps miss. Avoiding an unnecessary expenditure of force while also making sure to keep the human's attention, he assured that the human would be kept under his thumb without the latter having even realized this. Of course, even when the boy refused to take the nonviolent approach, Kyōraku refused to actually take his life. Many would chalk this up to a preconceived sense of mercy that Kyōraku may still retain. However, they would be incorrect. This was an invader. A trespasser who had arrived with other criminals, and as such, there was still information that had to be gleaned. Furthermore, given this human's reckless actions, Kyōraku could not afford allowing the Seireitei to suffer any more damage that it had already succumbed. Kyōraku carries himself with a false presentation, often hiding the true maliciousness of his intentions. The truth of this nature would show itself only in small cracks, like light flooding into a dark room in iotas at a time. Against the powerful Coyote Starrk, despite having a chance to go toward a nonviolent approach in dealing with the Espada, Kyōraku did not indulge the offer and stated that he simply could not afford to do that this time around. This vandal was a part of a rebel army against Soul Society, and as such, he was to be terminated. Period. The situation was far too grave to allow any easy going to take the lead. Furthermore, given the strength of the Primera Espada, it was clear that forcing an opening on the man was not easy. And in the interest of pushing Starrk to reveal an opening, he even implicitly suggested offing Lilynette Gingerbuck personally — actually proposing to kill an innocent and harmless child — if only because it was under his belief that "even he [Stark] could not remain calm if she was in trouble". On the opposite end of the spectrum, however, if it becomes inconvenient, he will opt for children to not be around the battlefield. Adding to his pragmatism, even his emotional state is one born of convenience. He has reached a point where he can even joke around and make small talk with adversaries as dangerous as Sōsuke Aizen and Robert Accutrone. Despite being aware of his superiority in strength, he will downplay his skills to his opponents in order to give them a false sense of security and leading them to underestimate Kyōraku's actual skill; shown when he suggested that Tōshirō Hitsugaya would eventually surpass him in about a hundred years. Perhaps his words were genuine, but even so, their intentions were simply to misguide his opponent rather than display humbleness. Ultimately, the truth of his nature revealed itself when he allowed Love Aikawa and Rōjūrō Ōtoribashi to handle Starrk, despite being at a severe disadvantage and nearly losing their lives in the process, all to await an opening where Kyōraku would be able to deliver a devastating wound. Love would subsequently remark that his tendency to ignore the terms of engagement had still not changed, to which Kyōraku merely responded that Captains do not have that luxury; in a war, both sides are in the wrong, and Kyōraku is absolutely no stranger to this ideal.
Kyōraku also wrote a romance novel titled "Rose-Colored Path", which runs in Seireitei Communication, but is very unpopular. Kyōraku does not receive a single fan letter or gift for his birthday from his readers but he is also not bothered by this at all. Like with many other captains, the Shinigami Women's Association released a photo collection on Kyōraku. His collection was titled "Using Arms as My Pillow". It quickly sold out, partially because it came out in lesser number of copies than similar collections by the other captains. However, it has not been re-printed but Kyōraku is unaware of this.
Powers & Abilities
Master Swordsmanship Specialist: While in battle, his power is said to be stronger than any other. His power is unrivaled by anyone who came before him or anyone since. While hating the concept of having to engage in a fight, Kyōraku is presumably one of the most proficient swordsmen in all of Soul Society. He is a highly adaptable combatant as his two swords have allowed him to become ambidextrous, meaning that he is able to switch hands between the two swords. Kyōraku usually swings with more strength in his left hand than his right hand; however, he can easily switch or balance the strength between his two hands, much to the surprise of his opponent. Kyōraku states that he only uses his wakizashi in situations where his katana is too difficult to use. He claims that he does not use them together on a regular basis. The best example of Shunsui's prowess is shown from his ability to fight on even grounds with an unreleased Starrk, the 1st Espada, with only his sealed Zanpakutō while other captain-level Shinigami have been seen requiring at least their Shikai against an Espada. Shunsui's fighting style involves evasion and attacking an opponent either in the front or back using the element of surprise to overwhelm them. His two swords move at a different pace. He takes advantage of that while fighting. While the enemy is at the mercy of his wakizashi’s speed, his tachi swoops in for the final blow. That is the most common method used for swords like his.
Kidō Master: While not his preferred style of combat, Shunsui has high prowess in Kidō combat. During his battle against Chad, he was able to effortlessly launch his opponent several yards away with a seemingly small blast from his finger similarly to the Kidō spell Shō.
Shunpo Master: He is masterful in the art of Flash Steps as a captain. He notably makes a massive leap in Flash Steps within mere moments to remove Nanao from the battlefield and return almost instantly, commended even by Yamamoto prior to battle. Shunsui's skill is proficient enough for him to effortlessly dodge Starrk's attacks without mussing his hat or Kimono.
Master Strategist & Tactician: Despite his laid back attitude, Shunsui has repeatedly shown himself to be a perceptive and insightful man. According to Yamamoto, even when he was younger, Shunsui has always had an eye for seeing the true character of anyone he meets. Shunsui easily saw through Kurotsuchi's attempt to hide being used by the Bounts. He was also one of the few people to suspect that Aizen was hiding something. In battle, Shunsui has proven to be very adept at noticing and understanding details in an opponent's skills or attack patterns. During his battle against Chad, he quickly determined the basics behind Chad's Reiryoku blasts, warning him about the kinds of techniques, and even explaining that his energy blasts would eventually use up his life energy.
Immense Spiritual Power: As one of the strongest and oldest Captains in the Gotei 13, Kyōraku has tremendous spiritual power. He is not overwhelmed by the Spiritual Pressure of Captain-Commander Yamamoto as most people would be in such a situation. His strength is shown even further as he was able to defeat Coyote Starrk, the Primera Espada, with only the use of his Shikai.
Enhanced Strength: Shunsui has shown that he is very powerful in terms of strength, as shown when he cracked a barrier that Aizen put up to protect his blind spot with just his Shikai attack, while Ichigo in Bankai and using his Getsuga Tenshō could not even damage a similar barrier.
Enhanced Durability: Shunsui has the ability to survive seemingly unscathed from devastating attacks after taking on Captain-Commander Yamamoto, whose Zanpakutō is the most devastating in all of Soul Society in terms of destructive power. He was also able to withstand a Cero at point-blank range from Starrk, the Primera Espada, in his released form without any noticeable injuries.
Katen Kyōkotsu (花天狂骨, Flower Heaven, Crazy Bone, literally "Flower-Heaven Bone of Madness"): His Zanpakutō is unique in that it exists as two completely separate swords, existing as a daisho sword pair, consisting of a tachi and a wakizashi. Their cross guards are rectangles, with the corners cut off, decorated by a pattern of cherry petals and lines, and each sports a dark-blue handle. He keeps them sheathed through his waist tie at his left side; although, during battle, the swords have been shown to be placed on both sides of his sash. Like other Zanpakutō, Katen Kyōkotsu has a personality of her own. However, unlike other Zanpakutō, this personality shines through in battle and prevents Shunsui from fighting with his full powers until Katen Kyōkotsu is in the mood for it. Because of this, Shunsui does not like to "play" with "her".
The release command of Katen Kyōkotsu is "Flower Wind Rage and Flower God Roar, Heavenly Wind Rage and Heavenly Demon Sneer" (花風紊れて花神啼き天風紊れて天魔嗤う, hana kaze midarete, kashin naki, tenpū midarete, tenma warau; literally "When the Flower Wind Rages, the Flower God Roars, When the Wind of Heaven Rages, the God of the Underworld Sneers"). Kyōraku sets the two blades against each other in a cross, and then pulls after uttering the poem-like command. When the flash clears, Katen Kyōkotsu has become a pair of huge, heavily-curved, black Chinese scimitars with silver edges. The hilt and tsuba of each are still the same as they were in Katen Kyōkotsu's sealed-form, but they now sport long red tassels dangling from the end. Despite the two swords becoming identical in this state, Shunsui has stated they still serve as one (the wakizashi) being used mainly for speed strikes, and the other (the tachi) being used mainly for power strikes. Hence that they still exist as a daisho sword pair, with the wakizashi being slightly smaller in size than the tachi.
Its power is to "make children's games real". The Zanpakutō makes the rules and anyone who steps within the boundaries of its spiritual pressure is forced to play by those rules, including Shunsui himself. According to Shunsui, "if you win you live, if you lose you die".
Bushōgoma (不精独楽, Lazy Spinning Top): Shunsui rotates with both blades facing in opposite directions creating large wind blades that fire toward an opponent from Katen Kyōkotsu. The wind blades join together forming a spinning circle of wind that upon contact with a target envelops the target with tornado-like intensity. The attack is not only dangerous but can disorient an opponent trapped within it. The technique is powerful enough to counteract high-powered Cero blasts. The game this technique represents is a spinning top game.
Kageoni (影鬼, Shadow Demon): The rule of this game is that whoever gets their shadow stepped on "loses." The game itself allows competitors to manipulate shadows to their advantage. For example, Shunsui has demonstrated the ability to hide himself in shadows by using this technique, and he can also control the shadows and use them to attack an opponent by attacking the shadow they are currently standing upon.
Takaoni (嶄鬼, Mountain Demon): This move was also used in Shunsui's battle with Starrk, but Starrk's attack hid the nature of the attack. However, Shunsui later explains that with this "game" whoever is higher up "wins."
Irooni (艶鬼, Colorful Demon): This is a color-based game where you say the name of the color you want to cut with your sword and you cannot cut anything else. If the color that you call does not exist on your body, the damage is minimal, even if the attack would normally inflict a much more severe wound. The opposite is true; by calling out a color you're wearing and attacking, the damage given is proportional to the amount of that color on you. To maximize damage, you have to use a color that maximizes the risks to your person as well as your enemy's. For example, by wearing black robes and calling "black," one would inflict massive damage on an enemy if struck even if the actual blow itself was minimal or minor, but the caller would also suffer serious damage if he/she is struck by the enemy in return.
Soraoni (空鬼, Sky Demon): Shunsui points one of his blades upwards, as massive black clouds are formed above all those within Katen Kyōkotsu's spiritual pressure. These form cumulonimbus clouds, which shoot massive lightning bolts at random. The object of the game is to dodge the bolts without getting hit whatsoever. The lightning causes devastating pain, and even capable of paralysis. Getting hit three times will cause you to lose the game, and ultimately die. However, unlike the other games, this one has a predetermined time-limit. Raian Getsueikirite recognized this game as the Human World's classic Dodgeball game.
Daruma-san ga Koronda (だるまさん が ころんだ, "The Dharma Doll Fell Down")
Kageokuri (影送り, "Shadow Sending")
Yubikiri Genman (指切り拳万, "Pinky Swear"): Often shortened to just 'Yubikiri', this is a game in which the players are not allowed to tell lies. If you lie to each other, your fingers will be paralyzed on the first lie. On the second lie, it will feel as though the entire body is being crushed. Finally, on the third lie, the liar will feel unimaginable pain during battle. Kyōraku demonstrated this technique against Tokinada Tsunayashiro, so as to garner information from him that he knew would be truthful.
Ukitake warned Shunsui not to release his Bankai "where others can see." Perhaps unique only to her, Katen Kyōkotsu does not possess a single Bankai release. In the same manner as the games that she chooses with her Shikai powers, the Bankai manifests as a reflection of her emotional state of mind. There is no Zanpakutō with a Shikai and Bankai that wield completely unrelated abilities, and as such, Katen Kyōkotsu's powers in this state are of a similar nature to her previous release form. In simple terms, if her Shikai is one that makes that which children enjoy — games, in other words — a reality, then her Bankai power is to make real the sort of poetic activity that can only be appreciated by an adult: the theater. Katen Kyōkotsu's Bankai takes on the name of whatever theatrical play she intends to perform, subjecting both her master and the opponent to the progression of events in the story of that play, designated as "acts" (段目, danme; literally "stage"). Anyone within the vicinity of her power is subject to the play, making it extremely dangerous to use within range of innocent bystanders. What transpires to those in her play often depends on the story she has chosen, with any sort of circumstance being a possibility. Given that Katen Kyōkotsu has a fondness for tragedies, the final act of her plays typically end with either her master or her opponent dead. Without question, she is truly a malicious yet elegant Zanpakutō spirit.
Katen Kyōkotsu: Karamatsu Shinjū (花天狂骨枯松心中, "Bones of Heavenly Blooming Madness: Withering Pine Lovers' Suicide")
- "Getting caught up in style and throwing away victory is something for the lower ranks to do. Captains can't even think about doing such a carefree thing. Don't try to be a good guy. It doesn't matter who owes who. From the instant they enter into a war, both sides are evil."
- (To Yasutora Sado) "Then it can't be helped. Drink, my friend! Since you won't turn back, at least stay here for a while. Just a little while. All the other captains must have made their moves by now. This battle should be over soon. Until then, please stay here and drink to your heart's content."
- (To Sado) "Rescue Rukia-chan? She has only been gone since spring. Time's too short. The friendship is not strong enough. You should have no reason to give up your life for her."
- (To Sado) "Since you are so determined, it was impolite of me to try to dissuade you. I apologize for that. Very well then. I have no choice but to take your life."
- (To Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto) "But a huge matter like this isn't something you encounter every day, right? It's that fatherly love where you want to get your subordinate some experience."
- (To Kisuke Urahara) "Waiting and having faith is also a captain's duty."
- (To Nanao Ise) "It's because you're the youngest in our Division right now. I remember the names of all the young girls."
- (To Coyote Starrk regarding Tōshirō Hitsugaya's strength) "Hmm, I wonder. Captain Hitsugaya is a genius, you know. So in a hundred years he might surpass me."
- (To Coyote Starrk) "It's not good to keep forcing this characteristic thing, Espada-san. And if you're going to talk about characteristic, not having a characteristic behaviour is characteristic of me."
- (To Sōsuke Aizen) "I guess I'm not a very good listener when my opponent is male. I get bored just listening."
- (To Lille Barro) "You'd be wise to remember who it is you're talking to. I am the Captain Commander of the Gotei 13. Shunsui Kyōraku."
Behind the Scenes
While Shunsui is his first name and Kyōraku is his last name, his full name is Shunsui Sōzōsa Kyōraku no Jirō. Kyōraku no Jirō means "second son of the Kyōraku family" whilst Sōzōsa means "assistant who conceals all" or "assistant who possesses all."