|Full Name||Takashi Sakuma|
|Age||25 (physical) |
|Height||176 cm (5’9")|
|Weight||68 kg (150 lbs)|
|Sign||Year of the Ox, Leo|
|Previous Affiliation||Sakuma Family |
|Partner||Byakuya Kuchiki |
|Previous Partner||Issei Endō (mentor, deceased) |
|Base of Operations||Sixth Division Headquarters, Soul Society|
|Education||Traditional (privately tutored) |
|Family||Kenta Sakuma (father, deceased), |
Asayumi Sakuma (mother, deceased),
Chieko Sakuma (younger sister, deceased)
|Shikai||Aka no Tsume|
|“||I may be measured by my failures, but I am not defined by them. Every loss I’ve suffered has been painful to endure, but they provided me with clarity, and a reason to act. In the end, the only thing that can be done after crippling defeat is to walk, and if that is not possible then to crawl forward on your hands and knees until, finally, you are able to stand.||”|
- "Temperance and severity are revealed in the keen edge of a polished blade."
- —Character tagline
Takashi Sakuma (佐久間 孝, Sakuma Takashi) is a Shinigami and the current third seat of the Sixth Division under Captain Byakuya Kuchiki and Lieutenant Megumi Kuchiki. He was promoted to the position by the previous lieutenant, Renji Abarai, following the Wandenreich Invasion. Since then, he has proven to be a skilled and dependable officer in his own right who takes his duties as a Shinigami seriously. Considered to be the last living member of the Sakuma Family, a lesser-noble house, Takashi nevertheless reflects more humble origins as he spent a large extent of his years in the Rukongai as a wandering swordsman. At present, his underlying goal appears to be the reconciliation between Shinigami and the citizens of the Rukongai, as he possesses great compassion and empathy for the plight of common souls. Whether on duty or leave, Takashi is rarely seen without his hawk, Kohaku, who is also the vessel of his Zanpakutō spirit.
Takashi has a tall, narrow build and appears to be in his early twenties. Despite being rather lean, he has some definition to his muscles, although it seems as though he is still recovering from his years spent in malnutrition. This often leads opponents to underestimate him, perceiving him to be weak, but he possesses a surprising amount of raw strength that has been honed by the need for survival.
Others often describe Takashi as “having a long face,” but in reality his features are rather delicate. His skin tone is naturally light, but because of his near-constant exposure to the elements it has become tanned and weathered. He has a square chin and soft jaw-line, a small sharp nose, and long, thin eyebrows that slant down towards his eyes. His eyes have a slight curve to them and are amber in color. His pupils are notably small, and they appear to be in a constant constricted state. His most striking feature is the thin, jagged scar that runs diagonally across the bridge of his nose and between his eyes, stretching from his forehead to his cheek.
Takashi has short, light brown hair that has a messy and somewhat “feathery” look to it. He has a slender, shoulder-length braid behind his left ear that he tightly wraps with cloth and weaves feathers into. Before becoming a Shinigami, his hair was longer and much more un-kept. Now, he keeps himself much more presentable as a seated officer. He wears the standard Shinigami Shihakushō along with a leather shoulder pad and gauntlet to accommodate his hawk.
Takashi is a calm and perceptive individual. He is unassuming, both in his view of others and in his bearing. This means that he is generally very respectful of others, whether they are his superiors or his subordinates, and is mild in manner and speech. However, this does not mean he respects them on a personal level, but that he is capable of demonstrating external decorum regardless of his true feelings. Nevertheless, he is essentially humble in disposition, taking pride in the honor of his position but not considering himself above those he has sworn to protect. Because of this, he finds it much easier to interact with the lower ranked members of his division as well as citizens of the Rukongai, as they more readily accept him as one of their own.
Takashi is solemn in expression and serious about his responsibility as a Shinigami. This no-nonsense and sober bearing allowed him to reach the position of 3rd Seat almost immediately after joining the Sixth Division. His keen intelligence also helped him to rise in rank. Although not skilled in philosophy or abstract concepts, he is perceptive of others and easily grasps the true nature of a situation. His intuition as a swordsman in battle is often disconcertingly accurate, enabling him to make critical decisions quickly and strategically. He is also capable of separating his emotions from duty, and is analytical and unemotional during a mission.
This ability to emotionally detach himself from a situation has both negative and positive consequences. It is his automatic response to crisis because of the trauma he experienced as a young soul. When taken to extremes he can lose himself as he becomes entirely consumed with achieving his objective. This psychological distance allows him to become incredibly violent, completely unaware or apathetic towards the consequences of his actions. In the past, this has also led to suicidal tendencies as he would throw himself into battle, heedless of danger.
Fortunately, Takashi has become much more mellow in recent years. This has been in part because he has learned to accept his past. He is generally thick-skinned and slow to anger, but he can be provoked, and when he loses his temper it is difficult for him to become calm again. He has a sharp eye for detail and is resourceful, mainly owing to the way he lived before becoming a Shinigami. He also has a gentle and caring side, as revealed by the manner in which he treats his hawk. Above all, Takashi is committed to achieving the greater good for the most people. He has an immense capacity to empathize with others, and will always but someone else's needs above his own. Because of his ideals of selfless honor and honesty, he has most often been described by others as being “a man of great personal integrity.”
- Kohaku: Takashi gave the name of Kohaku (琥珀, lit. "amber") to his hawk when she was a juvenile and possessed lighter, yellowish chest feathers. He still calls her this even after the spirit of his Zanpakutō came to inhabit the bird. Takashi loves his hawk and has risked his life for her on several occasions, as she has been the most constant companion in his lonesome wanderings. He fondly refers to her as “little one." Most interesting about his relationship with his hawk is that he is able to form a telepathic mind link with her (outside of his Tsubasa Shoji technique), which allows him to see and feel what she is seeing and feeling, and vice versa. This allows him to communicate rather fluidly with the spirit of his Zanpakutō that inhabits the hawk’s body. Additionally, Takashi has a set of calls that he can use to communicate with his bird over longer distances.
- Byakuya Kuchiki: As Byakuya is distant and apathetic towards other people, Takashi has been unable to bond with him. He serves him out of a sense of duty, and obeys without question. He shows deep respect and deference for his Captain, and always addresses him properly. As a result, it is easy for Byakuya to ignore his Lieutenant, as Takashi always completes his tasks and never offends him. This suggests that Byakuya trusts Takashi to a certain extent, as it has been stated that he feels that "part of a Captain's duty is to make sure that the Lieutenant's responsibilities are taken care of." Takashi also fears his Captain, both because of the power he possesses and because Takashi is aware of the fact that if he loses himself in a battle his violent and uncontrolled actions may not be tolerated. For the most part however, the relationship between Takashi and his Captain is entirely perfunctory and defined by obligation to each one’s duties.
- Naomi Shirogane:
- Kishō Hōsōshi
- Issei Endō:
Takashi is first seen in Corrupted Shadow on the veranda outside his office at the Sixth Division's headquarters, drinking tea as he reminisces about his kenjutsu instructor. A Jigokuchō then appears with a summons from Glacies Fidus, the lieutenant of the 13th Division, who informs him that he has been assigned to an official task force that is to be sent to the Rukongai to investigate a mysterious series of murders. After asking the 4th seat of the division, Masaharu Sasada, to accompany him, they meet with the other members of the task force in front of the East Seireimon. Takashi assures Glacies that, while he can vouch for Masaharu's reliability, he cannot speak for the other member of the task force, Tyler Ryūdō, a member of the 5th Division. Glacies tells the task force that the murders were presumably committed by a Hollow, but that a "mysterious presence" had been reported by the common souls living in the district, and so the Gotei 13 had decided to more closely investigate the incidents.
After the briefing, the task force leaves for the East Rukongai. Upon reaching the twelfth district, Nikkō, the squad splits up to gather supplies for the mission and to search out any rumors or information related to the murders. Takashi goes off on his own to ask the Rukongai inhabitants if they have information related to the murders. He meets with little success as he is distracted by an unidentifiable spiritual presence that he notices following him. Finally, he is approached by Naomi Shirogane, the lieutenant of the 8th Division who had been tracking him for some time. Naomi questions him about the nature of his mission, but Takashi is angered that Naomi followed the task force without permission, and tries his best to discourage her from following him any further. In response, Naomi states that Takashi and Byakuya are "perfect for each other" because of their cold exteriors, and insists on calling Takashi by his first name, which greatly annoys him. Naomi insists that she can be of assistance, which prompts Takashi to inform her about the nature of the assignment in hopes that it will satisfy her curiosity. But this results in Naomi becoming even more determined to help in the investigation, and Takashi finally allows her to accompany him.
Naomi tells Takashi that she knows of a good source of information, and leads them to a bakuto parlor where she used to frequent for leads. After they fail to convince the bouncer at the door to let them through, Naomi knocks him unconscious using Shō, which shocks Takashi. After entering the gambling establishment, Naomi searches out Junpei Katsura. A drunk patron directs them to a private room in the back, and Naomi and Takashi enter and begin to talk with Junpei. Junpei, the apparent manager of the gambling outfit in Nikkō, tells them what he knows about the recent murders after Takashi explains the situation to him. He tells them that the common souls in the area believe the murders are related to the legend of the Nageki On'na, or wailing woman, who inhabits the dry riverbed that runs through the area where the murders took place. Takashi, however, realizes that the only reason the murders are related to the strange change in weather is because the farmers are staying out later at night in an attempt to bring in the crops before the rains come, providing the assassin with more chances to strike.
After telling them the rumors he's heard, Junpei demands payment—but with Naomi's former "services" she once provided when she lived in the Rukongai, not with kan. Naomi reacts by kicking Junpei in the face, and the two Shinigami are forced to escape the ensuing battle in the bakuto parlor. Takashi takes advantage of the fight to lecture Naomi about the dangers of reacting with violence to every provocation, at which Naomi tells him to shut up. However, once they escape, they agree that they make a good combat team.
Takashi and Naomi regroup with Glacies at the Emerald Lotus Teahouse, and after the latter scolds both of them, the three Shinigami leave to find Tyler and Masaharu, who did not meet at the agreed-upon time. Their search leads them to the central market place, and there they are attacked by three Rukon souls who seem to be under the control of an external force. After a brief struggle, they manage to subdue the hypnotized farmers, whose names are Anzu, Ren, and Tsuguo. However, the mysterious force possessing them causes them to attack yet again despite their injuries. Anzu surprises Takashi and holds a knife to his throat, causing the fight to come to a halt. However, he is saved by the sudden appearance of Tyler, and is able to break free of Anzu's hold. Switching tactics, the manic woman drives the blade towards her own throat to commit suicide, but Glacies intervenes and prevents her from carrying through with the act. After capturing her, Glacies breaks the woman's hypnosis by dragging everyone into his Bibliotecha.
Anzu finally regains her senses, and tells the Shinigami that the last thing she remembers was washing laundry in the river in her home district. She has no memory of her attack on the Shinigami, nor even how she reached Nikkō. They realize that the farmers are from Bankawa, the district where the murders have been taking place. Anzu offers to serve as their guide, and the Shinigami set off.
Blade without Edge
Takashi is on mission in the South Rukongai when the Wandenreich attacks the Soul Society. He is unable to reach the Seireitei in time to intervene in the battle, and knowing this he instead uses his Tsubasa Shoji technique to spy on the battlefield. He witnesses the death of his Lieutenant, Renji Abarai, first-hand. By the time he returns to the Seireitei, Ichigo Kurosaki has defeated Yhwach and the Wandenreich has been defeated. The Soul Society is in shambles. Takashi manages to find his Captain, who had been badly wounded in the fight. The Sixth Division’s forces have been significantly cut down, and so Takashi becomes one of the key players in the reconstruction efforts.
Nine years later, after the Visored are massacred in the World of the Living, Takashi is recommended by Kazuya Kuchiki as one of the members for the investigation task force. He is assigned to the Human World along with Aiken Kuchiki, Ichimaru Fuyutama, and Nisshou Ichijouji.
(To be continued.)
EquipmentFalconer’s Protection: Kohaku closely resembles a Japanese Sparrowhawk, and is on the larger side of the species, being about 30cm in length with a 62cm wingspan. Although she is not too heavy, (Takashi mentions that she weighs almost the same as his Zanpakutō) a leather shoulder pad and gauntlet protect Takashi from being injured by her sharp talons.
Powers and Abilities
High Spiritual Pressure: As a Lieutenant, Takashi boasts a high amount of spiritual energy. His Reiatsu is a deep crimson. Despite the fact that he is only a Lieutenant and does not possess a Bankai, he has a considerable amount of experience and power that puts him just slightly below the level of a Captain when it comes to raw fighting ability.
Keen Intellect: Takashi is very perceptive, and he often relies on his intuition in battle. He has an excellent memory, able to recall even obscure or easily dismissed details. He is also able to analyze and deduce the basic mechanics behind an opponent’s attacks, quickly adjusting for their strengths and weaknesses in order to counter them. He has also shown creative and nontraditional use of his Shikai, due to its somewhat limited abilities.
- Skilled Tactician and Strategist: Perhaps due to his use of the Tsubasa Shoji technique, Takashi is an excellent battle strategist. He can judge the general attacks of an enemy force, along with their direction, motivation, and plan from a even a simple overview of the battle. The ability to observe such complicated maneuvers also requires that he be able to utilize the information effectively. Takashi can make astute observations and decisions almost immediately after receiving such information, and can adjust his plans accordingly. He is also skilled in more distant or long-term battle planning.
Master Swordsman: Since Takashi’s primary weapon of attack is his Zanpakutō he is very skilled in its use. He demonstrated natural prowess from an early age, having first learned basic Kenjutsu from his father and later being able to overcome the Miura Clan without a Shikai. As a master, Takashi professes skill in swordsmanship above all else. When wielding his sword his power and determination are evident in both in his movements and in the very edge of the blade itself, which emanates a strong resolve. While he has largely expanded and personalized the form of his sword-fighting he first learned most of what constitutes as traditional technique while studying in the Akakusa Dōjō, where he was trained in House of Hidden Leaves (葉隠流 Hagakure-ryu) style. Originally Hagakure was defined by “the art of dying,” that is, to live as if already dead and to become so focused on cutting through a target not even death can prevent the strike. Its focus is on cutting away to the essence of all things. It is not concerned with “technique” in the rigid sense of the term or even spiritual with finding paths, seeking enlightenment, or communication with one’s sword. It is about striking to kill. All spiritual elements are stripped away, with the exception of one’s complete infusion into the act of attack. Essentially, the user becomes the blade. Devoid of all emotion. Attacking as if already dead. The techniques of Hagakure are incredibly effective due to their bare simplicity. The movements are stripped of all unnecessary additions, as everything is sacrificed in order to cut through a target. There are eight basic forms of Hagakure, and the two most powerful are:
- Sanbankage: (三番影 “third shadow”) Whatever cut or injury he inflicts on an enemy will triple in effect the instant of impact. Meaning, even if he only makes one cut, the opponent will have been cut three times in total. (The two supplementary cuts or wounds being parallel and congruent to the original.) By concentrating Reiatsu in the cutting edge of the blade, it becomes sharp enough to cut through the very Reishi in the air. This Reishi continues to follow the path of the blade (following the laws of cohesion or attraction) creating two secondary or shadowing “blades” that land a split second after the initial strike.
- Muyō: (無影 “shadowless”) The Muyo is the ultimate technique of Hagakure. According to the school’s founder “the wielder must become an emotionless vessel to the spirit of their blade, they must become the blade.” Reiatsu is focused in the cutting edge of the blade, so refined and so controlled it has been known to cut through thick steel and even Zanpakutō.
Shunpo Expert: Hohō (歩法, “Step Method”) refers to the combat skill of footwork, its speed and agility can be enhanced and improved through concentration and intense training. The most skilled practitioners of Hohō are often assigned to the Onmitsukidō. As Takashi was a former member of the Stealth Force, he boasts considerable proficiency and skill in the art of Hohō, particularly Shunpo (瞬歩, “Flash step”), which is the greatest expression of the Hohō technique. Shunpo allows the user to move at speeds faster than the eye can follow, and the method is best described by how fast one can move between two points with the least amount of steps. Takashi has trained extensively in the art of Shunpo, both during his time in the 2nd Division as well as currently serving under Byakuya Kuchiki, as both positions demanded that he be able to skillfully utilize the technique. Furthermore, because his Shikai’s abilities focus around speed, he must be able to compensate in control and efficiency. He has been shown to be capable of keeping up with his Captain, who is widely known for his prowess in Shunpo. As Takashi is an expert in the technique he is considerably fast, and can maintain high-speed movement for an indeterminate amount of time, although his speed will gradually begin to decrease with extended use. While not as fast as a master such as Byakuya, he can keep up effectively, and although some may be much faster than he is, his application of the technique is nevertheless highly advanced.
Skilled Hakuda Combatant: Takashi prefers to use his Zanpakutō in combat and rarely, if ever, employs Hakuda. However, due to his position in the Detention Unit of Squad 2 he was forced to become proficient in unarmed combat, as he could not enter the Nest of Maggots otherwise. He can take on average armed opponents and make decent efforts against those many times his size, often supplementing his Hakuda with the use of Hohō. Even so, he avoids such direct hand-to-hand combat as much as possible. Takashi utilizes a form that bears close resemblance to Jujutsu, as such circumstances that required Hakuda would likely mean he had become unarmed during a fight against an armed opponent and would quickly need to reverse the situation. This is usually expressed by “yielding” to an opponent’s attack and manipulating it in both force and direction, allowing the user to control the balance of their opponent and prevent them from resisting a counter attack. The typical emphasis is on redirection, immobilization, and targeting of fatal points, but also includes more general striking and kicking techniques, as well as how to break falls and reduce damage to one’s own body. Understandably, this style is frequently employed by the Onmitsukidō, and as such Takashi was trained in its use. However, he himself has admitted that while he understood the reasoning and the form, and can perhaps predict such movements if used by an opponent, he had little skill in practicing unarmed combat. He has improved to a certain degree over the years, and due to his training and experience now boasts and average level of strength in Hakuda.
Competent Kidō Practitioner: Takashi has been known to use Bakudō to aid in combat, but he rarely uses Hadō functionally. He does not prefer to use Kidō during a fight, as “it takes too much time and effort to be practical.” Instead, he tends to use Kidō in day-to-day operations, such as healing (Kaidō), providing light, or communication. He does not normally use spells, but only because the Kidō he uses is low-level and does not require an incantation to be effective.
Aka no Tsume (赤の爪, "Red Talon") The sealed form of the sword resembles that of a normal katana, with a bronze tsuba and a red saya and hilt. He inherited the sword from his father, who was able to utilize similar attacks to the Aka no Tsume, but possessed a different Asasuchi and form. Since the spirit of Takashi’s Zanpakutō has linked with that of his hawk it is able to observe the outside world more directly than other Zanpakutō.
- Tsubasa Shoji: (翼所持, “Wing Possession”) Over the years the soul of Takashi’s Zanpakutō became linked with that of his hawk, allowing for a “transfer of consciousness.” The Tsubasa Shoji is a technique is used for espionage and reconnaissance (it is not a fighting technique.) Takashi first enters a state similar to that of Jinzen, and instead transfers his “consciousness” to the body of hawk while the spirit of his Zanpakutō acting as the connecting medium. He leaves his unconscious body and can move about in the body of the hawk at will. However, this leaves his own body completely defenseless. He is vulnerable inside the body of the hawk as well, as he is unable to fight.
The release command is "Tear" (劈く, tsunzaku). The sword does not change its shape, but the blade edge turns a blood red. Takashi utilizes the Shikai by striking an opponent and drawing blood. Each additional mark after that increases his speed and perception of his opponent in small increments. Eventually, he is able to move at much higher speeds than before and react to high-speed attacks from his opponents. His Shikai also grants him a few additional abilities:
- Enhanced Instinct: After his blade makes contact with an opponent he can track them anywhere, even if they use Shunpo or concealment techniques. This is even effective if they utilize teleportation, but only up to a certain distance.
- Karafuru: (降る, "Sky Fall") This is Takashi’s ultimate technique and is rarely, if ever, employed in battle. It involves the complete synthesis of his swordsmanship and Shikai. By infusing his blade and body with Reiatsu, he can, for a split second in time, becomes so keen to his opponent, he can almost "phase out" and deliver an incredibly fast "death swoop," causing a single grievous wound on an opponent, even enemies at full-power. However, if he fails in delivering this technique the results can be crippling.
- "August Wind" (風を恐れる, kaze o osoreru):
- (To Kazuo Hanazawa) "My bond to Kohaku is both my greatest strength, and my greatest weakness. I haven’t found a way to protect her while I’m engaged in combat… Hanazawa-san, until I find a way to protect her… may I ask that you attack only me.”
- (To Kishō Hōsōshi) "... A Shinigami who fears baring himself to his own sword has no right to bare a sword.”
- (To Jurō Henkō) "I was taught long ago that the sword that kills is also the sword that gives life. Meaning is found in death. It may seem meager to you, but in this brief existence called life, the only satisfaction I have found is to protect such fragile life wherever it is found... To live for a cause greater than self-gain."
- Takashi's theme song is Fuyu no Sakura, by the Yoshida Brothers
- Takashi's given name (孝) means "filial piety." His surname roughly translates to "long-time place of the assistant."
- The way that Takashi interacts with his hawk is based off of Takagari (traditional Japanese falconry.)
- Takashi's penmanship has been praised by Byakuya Kuchiki himself, who noted how nice it was to "have a Lieutenant capable of producing legible reports."
- The first two images of Takashi appearing on this article were created by the author.