|Height||193.04 cm (6'4")|
|Weight||85.30 kg (187.7 lb.)|
|Previous Affiliation||Gotei 13|
|Previous Division||Third Division|
|Base of Operations||Hell|
|Relatives||Shigeru Kurohana† (Father)|
Asuka Kurohana† (Mother)
|Story Debut||Black Sun: Nadir|
|Roleplay Debut||Chiaroscuro: Trepidation|
"You may think of me as a monster. But know that no Soul is born evil. It is the society which creates its own monsters."
Zetsubō Usuguraiboshi (薄暗い星絶望, Dim Star of Despair), born Kaoru Kurohana (黒華薫, "Fragrance of the Black Flower"), used to be the Shinigami Captain of the Third Division of the Gotei 13 at the time of its founding.
He is also known as "Lord Bane" (致命傷さま, Chimeishō-sama).
A very tall and broad-shouldered man, Zetsubō's physique is as imposing as it is intimidating. Extremely well-built, there is nary a trace of fat to detract from his large and well-defined, rather sinewy muscles. Ever since his conversion into a Tsumikami his formerly unhealthy pale complexion has become merely fair. Regardless, most of his upper body is covered in an intricate web of numerous battle scars. He has long unkempt hair of jet black colour, with a thick fringe that tends to partially stick up.
One of his signature traits is the mask he wears at all times to conceal his face, the features of which are largely unknown. In fact, Zetsubō has worn a number of different masks throughout his lifetime starting from soon after the beginning of his career as a Shinigami. Each time a mask is broken he is capable of replacing it with the use of his own spiritual energy. Even though every mask has a slightly different design, there are several constants such as the roughly triangular shape, narrow eye slits and ivory colour.
Furthermore, Zetsubō wears a long, black coat with a high collar and wrapped with a number of leather straps and belts. In addition, he wears black pearl earrings and a pair of combat boots. He does not require a sheath to carry his Karadawaru for he may summon its physical form at will.
In short, Zetsubō is a ruthless and eerily taciturn individual. He enjoys intimidating others in a number of more or less subtle ways and tends to make both enemies and allies feel uneasy in his presence. Furthermore, he usually gives off an impression of being absent-minded, which contrasts sharply with his unnerving remarks and often abrupt actions. He is an observative and attentive person who pays heed to any relevant details, however minor they might be.
Rather interestingly, while he frequently attempts to intimidate people he interacts with, he himself appears to be utterly fearless. He never falters or shows any signs of apprehension when faced with unexpected turns of events, and tends to pursue whatever his goals may be with inhuman persistence. Moreover, he is a very grim and cynical person. Whilst his sombre disposition is readily apparent instances when he displays his peculiar kind of black humour are very rare. His perception of the world is twisted, yet he finds some sort of dark entertainment in that perceived hopelessness of existence.
Somewhat ironically, Usuguraiboshi states that he hates fire, even though his trusted second-in-command and only genuine friend, Tōru Yōshanai, wields fire-elemental powers. In addition, it seems that he suffers from haphephobia. In general, his overall behaviour strongly implies schizophrenia.
Zetsubō Usuguraiboshi used to live in a poor Rukongai district more than 1,500 years ago while still a child. Local people refused to live anywhere near his hut, and some of them were disappearing from time to time in unknown circumstances. At some point he was approached by a Shinigami platoon following the rumours and taken to the Seireitei.
In a period of constant wars strong men were desparately needed, and because he had great potential, no inquires were made regarding his past. Zetsubō completed his training and resurfaced some time later, already an infamous beast of war. He was renowned for his relentlessness and the fact that enemy forces often retreated at his mere sight.
When Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto at last organised the Shinigami by establishing the Gotei 13 about 1,200 years ago, Usuguraiboshi was chosen as the founding Captain of the Third Division. Universally feared among his own colleagues, he was disliked and treated with overt anxiety and aversion by most of his peers.
Then, one day a Captain was to be promoted to the Royal Guard. For reasons unknown that decision prompted Zetsubō to assault and murder the Captain. Soon afterward, just as the commotion caused by his deed reached its peak, Usuguraiboshi assembled his entire Division, his Lieutenant Tōru Yōshanai included, and led it against the rest of Gotei 13 in what came to be known as Black Autumn. Tens of thousands of civilians were slaughtered and numerous Shinigami perished in the conflict, three Captains amongst the casualties. In the end, however, Genryūsai himself confronted Zetsubō and killed him with his Bankai, Zanka no Tachi.
That was not his end, though. Once in Hell, he was able to withstand the torments inflicted upon the damned by the Kushanāda and over time assembled an army of Togabito followers. Approximately a millennium after his demise he procured the means to temporarily escape Hell with the help of Hikari Maebure.
Zetsubō, together with three of his Togabito generals, is present in the 6th South Rukongai district as a group of lesser Sinners ambushes and slaughters a fairly large Ninth Division patrol. He watches silently as Third Seat Officer Yemon Himura and Lieutenant Norio Nishimura trample the Sinners in retaliation only for Tōru Yōshanai to step up and challenge the two remaining Shinigami. Yōshanai easily kills Himura and overwhelms Nishimura. However, Usuguraiboshi stops him from executing the Lieutenant with a simple "No", and Tōru yields immediately. Then, Zetsubō addresses Nishimura, instructing him to go back to the Seireitei and inform the Gotei 13 that Lord Bane has returned.
The Gotei 13 respond to the warning. Captain-Commander Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto appears in the 15th East Rukongai district at night, supported by forces of the Third, Fifth and Eleventh Divisions, including their top officers. The first Togabito come relatively soon to announce the return of Lord Bane, but are met with sudden death at the hands of the Captain-Commander. Unexpectedly, Zetsubō and his generals emerge from the flames. The Togabito and Shinigami leader acknowledge each other's presence. Then, the two begin a grim, tense conversation and exchange threats.
As they advance toward each other, their respective forces begin the battle and the two release their Zanpakutō. The silent activation of Usuguraiboshi's Shikai is met with Yamamoto's Bankai, Zanka no Tachi. Great shroud of darkness emanates from Zetsubō's body only to immerse the Captain-Commander. Once the shroud disperses they have seemingly vanished.
The Sinners outmatch the Soul Reaper forces, and all three Captains are killed in their duels with the Togabito commanders. Usuguraiboshi and Yamamoto materialise out of thin air soon afterward. Zetsubō lacks his black cloak and is moderately wounded whilst the Captain-Commander has lost his arm and is all but defeated. Usuguraiboshi asks whether the horrible battlefield reminds Yamamoto of something, to which the latter replies that it reminds him that Zetsubō is a monster. Usuguraiboshi states that while he was defeated 1000 years ago, he is victorious now and the time to restore "balance" has come. The Captain-Commander sniggers; he retorts that he has done enough already and there are still many more obstacles on Zetsubō's path to victory. When he mocks Usuguraiboshi for biting more than he can chew, the Togabito tells him to be silent. Then, he bids him farewell as he decapitates the venerable Shinigami, ending his life with a swift broad slash of his scythe.
Some time later, Zetsubō rests upon his skeletal throne located somewhere in Hell. Anders Schäfer informs him that he has eliminated the Central 46 during their initial attack on the Soul Society. Tōru adds that the Royal Guard have arrived as well. Usuguraiboshi stands up and is about to depart, claiming that their mysterious "benefactor" will not mind if he scouts the Seireitei. When Tinieblas asks him about the benefactor's identity Usuguraiboshi startles her with his reaction at first, but simply replies that they will get to meet him soon enough.
Usuguraiboshi is present at the ruins of the Ninth Division Barracks the next night, walking amongst the debris and corpses. He is stealthily approached Satō Shingen, a member of the Royal Guard and Grandmaster of Zanjutsu. However, the Togabito easily senses his presence anyway, and once the Royal Guardsman approaches him, he abruptly asks him whether he smells something. Undisturbed, Shingen inquires if it is the smell of rot, to which Zetsubō confirms and goes on to say that the foetor of death has been accompanying him throughout the entirety of his life. Then, he casually draws his Zanpakutō. Claiming that his life is death, he suddenly attacks Shingen with Senka.
The Royal Guardsman evades with a single Shunpo step. Suspended a few metres above the ground, he points out that it is a tradition to introduce oneself before a fight. When he identifies himself for a start, Zetsubō remarks that he is "different", then states that names are meaningless only to introduce himself anyway. With those words he once again attacks with no warning, attempting to grab the Shinigami with Hōrin.
Shingen nullifies the Bakudō spell with a Shakkahō blast only to follow up quickly with Shitotsu Sansen. The binding spell seems to successfully incapacitate Usuguraiboshi. However, it soon turns out it was nothing else but an Utsusemi afterimage that has been struck whilst the real Zetsubō manoeuvres behind Satō to strike with Agitowari. Shingen blocks the slash, noting aloud that it is a Zanjutsu technique. When he counters with Senmaioroshi, Usuguraiboshi mirrors the attack achieving a temporary stalemate until the sheer impetus of the flurries of blades deflects both of them. Zetsubō mutters a mysterious "Yes", in truth merely expressing his conviction that Satō is indeed an unusual type of opponent. Afterward, the darkness around Usuguraiboshi seems to change and intensify as he releases his Shikai, Kūgeki.
The Zanpakutō changes shape from an ebony ōdachi to a nightmarish scythe with serrated blade. Time appears to slow down and crimson-hued emanations from Kūgeki bleed all over the surroundings. Zetsubō telepathically tells Shingen to prepare, but the Royal Guardsman remains largely unperturbed. In the meantime, the effects of Usuguraiboshi's Shikai escalate gradually, changing the already sombre scenery into a nightmarish landscape. Zetsubō asks whether it is hesitation or caution that keeps Satō from acting, although rather than wait for a response he claims that no matter what it is the result will be the same. He seemingly dissipates as the world starts spinning around Shingen.
Then, Usuguraiboshi emerges abruptly from the swirling madness to strike his opponent. However, Satō manages to stay composed and decides to release his own Shikai to counter the powerful Togabito. The ensuing volatile emission of Reiatsu vapourises the shadowy entity, which turns out be an illusion. Zetsubō expresses his satisfaction, his voice resounding across Shingen's mind. In truth stationary since the release of his Zanpakutō, he examines Satō's blade from the distance before moving his own and unleashing even more ghastly streaks of dark energy. He lifts the scythe over his head and begins rotating it, the world around the two combatants responding with the same with each turn. Zetsubō prepares to strike, manifesting three shadowy Speed Clones who are used to draw attention away from the Sekizui strike of his Zanpakutō. Satō employs Jikangire to give himself time to react, which he subsequently uses to unleash a potent Jitsuga Tensai wave. The Speed Clones are erased and the Sekizui strike is halted when it collides with Shingen's technique.
Usuguraiboshi pulls back the cord within his scythe and prepares for a bload slash in spite of the distance between the fighters. All of a sudden everything seems to slow down drastically in a matter of moments. Then, the reality around Satō appears to bend as he is drawn closer to Zetsubō, whose Zanpakutō rises to strike him down. The Royal Guardsman utilises Jikangire again to partially counteract the effects of the illusion, but still receives a small cut to his cheek due to a minor timing mistake. He moves away with a Shunpo leap all the while leaving several Jitsuga Tensai behind. The attacks burst forth toward Usuguraiboshi once the time stop ends. The Togabito ostensibly manages to evade the multiple techniques, but inspection of his right arm shortly afterward reveals a deep inscised wound.
Zetsubō stays unworried. He casually undoes the belts strapping his cloak and casts it aside to expose his very muscular, but horribly scarred and pale torso. With a single motion of his finger he uses a Kaidō to close the wound, obtaining a new scar. Then, he brushes aside the fringe concealing the right side of his mask, revealing six eye slits arranged vertically. He utters "Fear" gravely, only for miniature tendrils to unexpectedly and painfully emerge from the injury on Shingen's cheek. Satō still stays composed. With the use of Jikangire he succeeds to cast Hiryū Gekizoku Shinten Raihō with a full incantantion uninterrupted, resuming the regular flow of time only as he finishes. Due to the extremely close proximity Usuguraiboshi seems to be consumed by the extremely powerful Hadō, which flies farther away and explodes violently in the distance. The feelers growing from Satō's wound vanish without a trace, and for a while it seems that he has defeated his opponent with the considerable exertion.
The Royal Guardsman turns around rapidly, sensing Zetsubō's presence nearby. The Togabito has escaped the enormous blast, but his right arm remains little more than bones covered with charred tendons and muscles. The limb appears to function, though, and he outstretches it toward Shingen as if trying to reach him. With that gesture he channels Kūgeki to share the pain of a severely scorched arm with Satō, an illusion that feels terribly real. The arm actually seems to be burnt, and the world starts spinning madly again. Usuguraiboshi plunges at him. The two lock blades. Zetsubō pressures the Royal Guardsman with his inhuman physical strength and peeks at him from between the clashing blades. All seven eye slits of his ivory mask lit up, he inquires which is that Satō fears.
Ever calm, Shingen pushes the Togabito back even though the effort exacerbates the pain he feels in his allegedly burning hand. Then, he exploits the numerous "scars" embedded across the battlefield and the one still in Usuguraiboshi's arm to transfer the blade of his sword, striking simultaneously from multiple directions, stating that Zetsubō cannot possibly frighten him because that event has already occurred. Usuguraiboshi blurs as he evades the impromptu death trap with Shunpo. The damage and suffering inflicted upon Shingen's arm disappears completely, leaving only a residual feeling of numbness, and Usuguraiboshi finishes his manoeuvre with his right arm cut off.
He admits that Satō is an exceptional individual, but adds that so used to be Shigekuni Yamamoto. The stub of his limb produces a gross stream of ichor and then a large blister which spawns a number of writhing tentacles in lieu of the cut off forearm. Zetsubō states that Shingen misunderstands the special ability of Kūgeki, for to overwhelm the opponent with primal fear is not a question of "whether" but "when". He comments that very few enemies who had faced his Shikai lived to tell the tale, and that none of them remains currently. As his Zanpakutō increases the influence it has on the area, Usuguraiboshi mockingly asks the Royal Guardsman if he wishes to join them or if he prefers to struggle for a while longer. However, he does not wait for a reply and charges at the opponent in a lightning-fast attack using a feint.
The hit seems to connect, but is in fact rendered nil with another feint in the form of Utsusemi. Shingen inquires how many of the aforementioned warriors ranked amongst the Royal Guard before attacking Zetsubō with powerful Jitsuga Tensai. The Togabito dexterously dodges the techniques spawned behind his back, though ends up intercepted by the second, much stronger one descending upon him. Still, he succeeds to erect a Dankū. The hasty Bakudō shatters upon impact, but manages to cancel out the strike. In the meantime, skeletal arms emerge from the ground to grasp at Shingen when Usuguraiboshi answers the Guardsman's question with "One".
Then, he takes advantage of the temporary incapacitation to launch Gaki Rekkō. Satō frees himself with two swings and evades a direct hit with Shunpo. Nevertheless, he is unable to escape from the resultant explosions which inflict moderate burns to his face. He proceeds to move onward, toward Usuguraiboshi, and attacks with a powerful overhead slash. Zetsubō blocks. He sways slightly under the immense pressure of the strike as the blades scrape against each other, casting a shower of sparks. In the end he is able to deflect the opponent and follows up immediately with a rapid roundhouse kick. Shingen blocks the attack and tosses the Togabito toward the ground. The Royal Guardsman launches a vicious counter offensive using Shunpo, Jikingare, Jitsuga Tensai and then a Shakkahō in an attempt to overwhelm the plummeting adversary. Usuguraiboshi lands heavily but rebounds instantly, coiling past the golden waves and swatting the Hadō aside on his way toward Shingen. With a Shunpo-powered motion he appears right in front of the Royal Guardsman, preparing to cleave him in half with a single two-handed swing of the scythe. However, Satō anticipates him, epmloying two golden crescents to transport Zetsubō's twinned blade behind the latter's back. With no other option left, Usuguraiboshi uses Kageho to escape.
The Togabito vanishes. Satō remains vigilant, but the enemy does not seem to return. After a short while he hears Usuguraiboshi's voice revealing that his time has come, and that they will meet again. Then, Zetsubō's oppressive presence disappears abruptly without a trace as he comes back to Hell.
Back in the volcanic landscape of the Fifth Circle there is a massive gathering of Sinners. Zetsubō, accompanied by his generals, addresses the crowd of lesser Togabito below in an ominous inspirational speech. When the Togabito cheer at the prospect of escaping from Hell and invading the Soul Society, a mysterious cloaked man appears to take over the speech. Then, the individual destroys the chains binding the Sinners with an arcane technique. A tremendous portal leading to the Soul Society opens up above them and the army moves in to begin the invasion.
The battle rages across the Seireitei. Most of the Gotei 13 forces and the Royal Guard are heavily occupied with the fighting, allowing Zetsubō to remain unperturbed upon the top of the Sōkyoku Hill where he has been channeling his dark energy to open a tremendous, permanent portal leading straight to Hell. However, Captain Ikiryō Kuragari, Grand Kidō Chief Kurokawa Tadayoshi and the Royal Guardsman Satō Shingen are all able to finish their strenuous fights in time to intervene. With the help of Captains Retsu Unohana, Haruka Mewokuramasu and Sakamoto Risa they regain some of their strength and reach the summit.
Zetsubō reacts immediately to their arrival. When he greets Shingen, Kuragari asks whether the two have met already. Satō confirms and jokingly remarks that the Togabito has a knack for theatrics. Irritated, Usuguraiboshi inquires why have they come. When Kurokawa points out that he has endangered the entire Soul Society and states the three have come to stop him, Zetsubō calls them fools and accuses them of ignorance, clearly furious. Kuragari replies that they have not come here to argue, after which he attacks abruptly. The two clash in the blink of an eye, suddenly both of them emerging with their Zanpakutō drawn and the light wounds they have sustained being the only solid indication that something has transpired at all. Usuguraiboshi announces that he will show the three Shinigami what is suffering and what is fear. They plunge at him, but he anticipates them with the release of his Bankai, Mugen Kūgeki, which engulfs them with pitch black darkness.
Trapped within the pocket dimension created by Mugen Kūgeki, the three Shinigami are then subjected to horrific visions. Zetsubō employs his Zanpakutō to gradually extract the greatest fears plaguing the subconscious of his enemies. The Shinigami are repeatedly insulted only to be forced to fight their inner daemons made manifest.
Their struggle appears to be futile. The illusions escalate and methodically overwhelm them, instilling a sense of powerlessness and despair.
In the end, the Zanpakutō spirits of the three Shinigami emerge to offer succour. With their help the influence of Mugen Kūgeki decreases slightly, and the motivation they provide allows the two Captains and Royal Guardsman to overcome the horrific visions. Having lost the first stage, Usuguraiboshi plunges all three into his Inner World.
The three Shinigami end up in the middle of a vast, desolate plain with no landmarks to speak of and an alien sky above. Shortly after they regroup they are approached by a little hooded girl, in truth the manifested Mugen Kūgeki. She converses with them in an eerie manner for a while. However, her disturbing antics are interrupted as she senses Zetsubō himself coming, prompting the spirit to run away. When the nightmarish world around the Shinigami starts shaking, Usuguraiboshi emerges from a black hole that has formed upon the weird sky and lands nearby with tremendous force. Amethyst currents travel across the air and the debris begins levitating.
Zetsubō stands in the middle of the crater punched by his destructive descent. His body partially deforms into a mass of writhing darkness due to his inhuman rage. The Togabito bellows "Suffer" and attacks with a number of black tendrils. Ikiryō, his Bankai still active after the previous "battle", intercepts the appendages with Bunkatsu Genjitsu, though he merely deflects them rather than cut them off. Satō unleashes a powerful Jitsuga Tensai when Usuguraiboshi charges at the trio. However, Zetsubō uses Kageho to evade the crescent of golden energy. He reappears immediately, whacking all of his opponents with long tentacles, launching them high into the air.
The Shinigami are scattered amongst the hovering mass of rubble. Usuguraiboshi attacks Tadayoshi. The Grand Kidō Chief activates Shikai and attempts to fend the enemy off with an Aikadan blast, but to no avail. Kuragari intervenes with a punch to the Togabito's face. Zetsubō attacks with his tentacles, but Kuragari dodges them with Shunpo and casts Tenran. Usuguraiboshi employs Kageho again to maneouvre behind Ikiryō, then strike him unexpectedly. Afterward, he turns toward Shingen.
The Royal Guardsman states that they need more light, unleashing his golden Reiatsu. Usuguraiboshi attacks with a mass of dark appendages, some of them assuming the shape of howling faces. Although, Kurokawa appears and slices many of them with his Bankai. He slashes at the Togabito right afterward, but hits nothing but a shadow. When he states that they need to hurry, Zetsubō returns and separates the two Shinigami from one another. Unperturbed, Shingen reacts by activating his Bankai. The release summons a large castle, the light it emanates illuminating a sizeable area. When Satō apologises for his Zanpakutō's pervasive nature and moves in to strike Usuguraiboshi down, the Togabito anticipates him with a mass of blackness. He begins constricting the Royal Guardsman, bellowing that this is his world, his pain, his solitude and his fear. However, Ikiryō attacks him, freeing Shingen from his grasp.
There is a defeaning noise as the castle summoned by Satō's Bankai starts collapsing. Usuguraiboshi reappears, now little more than a shadowy wraith, yelling at the top of his lungs with animalistic fury. He strikes all three Shinigami with his dark tendrils. The Royal Guardsman is the first to recover, and he quickly grabs the two young Captains as his Jikangire technique stops time. Then, he casts Sentan Hakuja to escape from the abysmal Inner World. Unable to counteract that due to the time freeze, Zetsubō cannot stop the three from successfully evacuating.
The Shinigami reappear back at the Sōkyoku Hill's summit. Usuguraiboshi screams terribly, black liquid gushing out from his forehead, shattering his mask in the process. The energy backlash between Zetsubō, his Inner World and the portal to Hell being opened above transform the Togabito into a creature of darkness not unlike the manifestation which has faced the three Shinigami within his mind. The dimensional gateway to Hell expands, its progress sped up. When Ikiryō comments that this cannot be good and summons his Hollow mask, Usuguraiboshi strikes. His tendrils miss the escaping Shinigami, but cut off a big portion of the Sōkyoku Hill's peak.
Kuragari pounces upon the Togabito, employing Bōrei to phase through his tentacles and throw a successful punch to the latter's now exposed face. The hit connects and prompts Usuguraiboshi to sway. Still, he retaliates at once, attacking with his scythe emerging from the shifting mass of blackness. The first hit is blocked, but the next one almost connects only to be intercepted by Tadayoshi who is then cast aside with the sheer impetus. Ikiryō uses Shunpo to move behind Zetsubō, then fires a Cero at his back. The beam of energy is absorbed by a wall of darkness. Right afterward, the Captain has to leap backward to escape retaliation. Kurokawa strikes with Reiatsu Douka, which manages to cut off one of the tendrils. Be that as it may, another appendage attacks him from a side, shattering half of his Hollow mask as it hits him.
Shingen has set up a number of golden crescents with the use of his Zanpakutō. He attacks the Togabito, urging the two young Captains to do the same. They react immediately, Kuragari launching Shōkyo Taihō and Tadayoshi firing Hiryū Gekizoku Shinten Raihō. The joint attack results in an enormous explosion, followed up shortly afterward with Shinsei Namida planted by Kurokawa. The Grand Kidō Chief's Hollow mask disperses and his Bankai reverts to Shikai. Zetsubō emerges from the extremely powerful attack heavily injured, but still alive. The darkness swirling around his body plunges upon the Shinigami facing him. Shingen blocks the desperate strike with Dankū. Kuragari readies himself to continue fighting, but his Hollow mask shatters and his arms tremble visibly from overexertion. Usuguraiboshi himself charges at the Shinigami, but is suddenly stopped.
The portal to Hell has vanished, but an actual Gate of Hell has opened up. A mysterious Yōkai constrains Zetsubō with a considerable number of Hell's Chains. Usuguraiboshi does not resist as he is being pulled upward. He gazes upon the three Shinigami who have been fighting him and utters that while they may think of him as a monster, they should know that no Soul is born evil, and it is the society which creates its own monsters. With those words he disappears within the Gate of Hell.
Zetsubō spends a couple of decades imprisoned in the dungeon of Kōken'nin, the Warden of Fifth Circle of Hell, constantly tortured both physically and mentally. However, Hikari Maebure defeats the Warden and comes to his fortress specifically to meet Usuguraiboshi. The two converse briefly. Maebure is glad that in spite of the unspeakable suffering inflicted upon him, Zetsubō's will has remained strong. As such, he offers to free him if he agrees to become his disciple. Usuguraiboshi accepts.
A week later the two are present at Maebure's miniature fortress located in the Ninth Circle. Hikari states that he has moved past his desperation and once again sees the Soul King within his grasp. Then, he turns to the silent Zetsubō and speaks about his training. When he reveals that he is going to convert Usuguraiboshi to a Tsumikami Zetsubō agrees, addressing him as master.
Many years later, due to a significant dimensional rift caused by the eradication of Gotei 13 from one of the universes, four Marshals of the Balancers of Souls travel to the Ninth Circle instead of their own version of the Hell's lowermost level in order to retrieve their leader, Force-Marshal Xiang Yu. They encounter Hikari Maebure on their path, and due to their indifference and arrogance toward his person they cause a chaotic battle to erupt.
Agitated, the Tsumikami proves unable to stand his ground against the powerful opponents, who eventually outmatch him. However, before they finish him off, Usuguraiboshi appears on the battlefield unnoticed. With the power of his Karadawaru Zetsubō succeeds to ambush and knock out one of the Marshals, Mamoru Nakatani, thus letting Hikari free himself from the techniques which have bound him. The tables seem to abruptly turn in the Tsumikamis' favour, however, all of the combatants are then surprised by the unexpected arrival of the awoken Xiang Yu.
Not only her subordinates but also Hikari Maebure, who has visited the site of her imprisonment previously, are temporarily paralysed by the power of her Reiatsu and Jiūkǔndao. However, Zetsubō remains unaffected. Curious, he steps over the unconscious body of Mamoru Nakatani and walks toward the Force-Marshal, asking her what has she done. The Force-Marshal is slightly surprised by his presence. Then, she decides to "show him", only to strike Usuguraiboshi with a lightning fast slash of her sword. The severe injury forces Zetsubō on his knees.
He remains silent from this moment onward, merely listening as Hikari recovers and subsequently converses with the supreme Balancer commander. Then, Maebure grabs Usuguraiboshi with Hōrin and tosses him inside Enkaiō Sakeme in order to escape. After they travel to the Seireitei, the two Tsumikami discover they have moved to an alternate dimension where the realm is occupied by the Quincy of the Wandenreich.
Soon, they interrupt a gathering of the Sternritter. Whilst Maebure introduces them to the Quincy and proceeds to negotiate with them, offering help to defeat the Balancers of Souls, Usuguraiboshi remains silent. In fact, he does not speak even when mentioned or addressed. However, he abruptly summons an Enkaiō Sakeme once Vitor Zeferino inquires about their means of travel to Hell. Hikari and Roshan Bamshad, the Quincy Regent, decide to cooperate. When the team of Sternritter is assembled, Zetsubō agrees to act as their guide.
The group discuss their plan, Timothy Jones acting as the leader. Zetsubō reveals that the Enkaiō Sakeme can take them only to the Limbo at first. Then, he adds that the Kushanāda will assault the Quincy as soon as they arrive. When asked about himself, he states that the Guardians of Hell know better than to attack him. Anyway, they will catch up to the group faster than it takes to recharge the portal. When Girado Riendo Mariposa agrees with HK-105 that they should go already the Arrancar draws Zetsubō's attention, but nothing happens.
Usuguraiboshi summons the Enkaiō Sakeme. Kerri Byrne voices her distrust of the Tsumikami, though she follows into the portal for want of a better option. Soon all the Sternritter appear in the First Level of Hell. They are uneasy due to the unsettling nature of the ambient Reiatsu. Soon, a Kushanāda emerges to apprehend them. When the Quincy prepare to face the entity and Girado asks for how long they have to endure, Zetsubō simply steps forward to confront the creature. He summons his Karadawaru to seemingly successfully strike the Kushanāda down with the Sekizui technique. Attributing its unusually aggressive behaviour in spite of his presence to lack of awareness, he chortles.
The triumph is short-lived, for the Kushanāda gets up soon afterward. Zetsubō realises this is the alternate dimension's Hell and that the Guardians are stronger here. However, he is not alarmed by the unexpected turn of events. The Sternritter begin a disjointed, futile attempt to stop the Kushanāda as its peers converge, slowly but surely, from all directions. In the middle of the scuffle Usuguraiboshi suggests simply jumping down, after which he does precisely that. The rest of the group follows him quickly to escape the Guardians. Once they get past the shroud of yellow clouds, they arrive in the Second Level.
Zetsubō casts a Tsuriboshi to make a safe landing, with some of the Sternritter using it as well. The team reassembles, and Timothy inquires whether it is possible to summon a portal now. Usuguraiboshi replies that he could have done it some time ago, but enjoyed watching the senseless struggle with the Kushanāda. Byrne scolds the Tsumikami after once again expressing her distrust. Zetsubō approaches to confront her verbally. He plays with the Quincy, who nonetheless manages to keep her calm despite his intimidating presence. The rest remind them of the mission at hand. Usuguraiboshi laughs, stating that he likes Kerri for her guts. Then, he summons Enkaiō Sakeme only to be suddenly blindsided by an unknown individual.
Balancer officers Dan Tai Sin and Daisuke Takeda attack the Quincy team in an attempt to stall them. Timothy and HK engage the two, who are content with being able to occupy them. Not long later Zetsubō recovers and urges the Sternritter to kill the enemies, just in time to witness Timothy activate his Quincy: Vollständig. The other Sternritter decide to move on, however, and leave the Balancers to Jones and his automaton.
The group emerge in the Third Level of Hell. Usuguraiboshi threatens Girado, who has forcibly pushed him to plummet toward the realm beforehand. In an act of spite the Arrancar attempts to touch him again, only for Kerri to "intercept" his finger with her ear. Potentially volatile situation defused, they halt for a short while. When asked, Usuguraiboshi states he can summon a portal to the immediate lower level. The rest agree and soon they travel to the boundless desert of the Fourth Level.
Kaede Kiseki inquires whether the skeletal assembly in the distance is the next pathway. Zetsubō replies that the Quincy should stay away from that place. Then, he casts Bakudō #58, Kakushitsuijaku, to determine their direction. The team marches for a time, the Sternritter chatting whilst Usuguraiboshi remains silent and focussed. However, the Tsumikami stops abruptly, sensing something. The Quincy do not ask superfluous questions and prepare themselves. Soon, the desert in the distance explodes as an unbelievably powerful beam of energy bursts from below in a column of devastating light. A massive, reptilian creature emerges from the hole, its vast Reiatsu stifling. Since Girado's reaction indicates that he recognises the gargantuan monster, Zetsubō asks him about it. The Arrancar reveals this is indeed his past creation, Black.
The sea of oppressive spiritual pressure intensifies, prompting Usuguraiboshi to emanate more of his own power to counteract this. Somewhat cynically, he remarks that the giant does not seem to be friendly. Suddenly, all Human Quincy of the group vomit spontaneously due to the sheer exertion of force unleashed by Black's roar, although Zetsubō himself is only mildly nauseated. When they express their annoyance, the gargantuan Hollow attacks with a barrage of Cero. Usuguraiboshi reacts instantly, dodging the initial onslaught with Shunpo as he leaves several Speed Clones to conceal his movements. However, Black continues, now specifically targeting the Tsumikami with a hail of explosions. In the end Zetsubō is hit. Still, he recovers quickly. Commencing his evasive maneouvres he fires Hadō #73, Sōren Sōkatsui on the move. Even though Haiiro Hoshi supports his attack with a long burst of Heilige Pfeile, their efforts are ineffective.
Regardless, Kaede has been able to exploit the barrage to travel atop the creature in the form of a silver arrow. She prepares a Gintō spell and urges the pair to attack the gleaming mark it summons. Zetsubō reacts quickly, casting Hadō #70, Hisame Akahi, whilst Haiiro once again fires a long burst of spiritual arrows. Kiseki contributes as well. The spell absorbs the energy and then unleashes all of it in a single explosion that shakes he monster's head. Black swings its massive arm, but Usuguraiboshi evades with Shunpo. Ever tenacious, the gargantuan Hollow unleashes another volley of Cero as the fighters are retreating. Rather than dodge, Zetsubō chooses to defend himself with Dankū. The barrier just barely withstands the ensuing explosion, but succeeds to protect him. However, Black itself smashes the remanants of the shield with its head. Usuguraiboshi appears to have been cut in half by the blade-shaped muzzle of the creature, but in fact conceals his evasive manoeuvre with Utsusemi.
The Tsumikami jumps on the monster's head and immediately moves onward, using Shunpo to gain some distance. Then, he is intercepted by a Cero pillar which rises from one of the many spikes protruding from Black's back. Several other Cero surround him to cut off his potential escape routes. When he is trapped, the last Cero forms directly beneath him, the slowest and most powerful of the beams. With no other options left, Zetsubō simply unleashes his immense Reiatsu in order to counteract the pillar of energy. While he sustains moderate burns nonetheless, the release of spiritual pressure proves sufficient to significantly reduce the potential damage.
Black's attention is diverted by the rest of the group. Once Girado at last confronts his creation, Kaede approaches Usuguraiboshi to tell him that they need to regroup. His curiosity piqued by the special abilities of Girado's Resurrección, Zetsubō does not mind and simply follows the young woman in spite of his very recent outburst. He and the remaining Quincy find cover in a canyon as the Arrancar engages the gargantuan Hollow.
Powers and Abilities
Advanced Master Swordsman: Born in the age of incessant wars, Usuguraiboshi has honed his skill in swordsmanship to a truly masterly level during his service in the Gotei 13 and beyond. This is because of his close bond with his former Zanpakutō, now a Karadawaru, and general reliance upon the spiritual weapon for the purpose of combat. As an excellent practitioner of azamukidō his fighting style is a fairly versatile if rather unpredictable one. It maintains a form of balance between defence and offence. Normally, he begins combat in a rather passive manner, limiting himself to blocks and parries in order to lead the enemy to a false sense of security. Once the time comes, however, Zetsubō instantly switches to an overwhelming offensive style that makes heavy use of sweeping, crushing slashes and strikes. The peculiar design of his Karadawaru allows him to perform rending slashes, powerful thrusts and abrupt sallies. In addition, he might follow up bold attacks with unexpected reverse strikes. Every enemy attack is immediately parried and countered, with Usuguraiboshi pressing constantly to overpower them. Although Zetsubō relies mostly on the special ability of his Karadawaru to overcome the opponents, he employs Zanjutsu to deal the fatal blows. As a matter of fact, his skill in swordsmanship is so great that he was able to stand his ground against the very Grandmaster Swordsman, Satō Shingen.
Wonders of the Blade (斬驚異, kikyōi):
Hakuda Combatant: Whereas used rather infrequently, he is still a capable unarmed combatant with a good understanding of the basics of the martial art. Normally, he employs it to occasionally supplement his sword-fighting skills in close combat engagements by throwing abrupt punches and kicks whilst pressing the enemy.
Monstrous Strength: Due to his well-developed muscles, conditioned body and ample Reiatsu, Zetsubō displays an impressive level of physical strength. He uses it frequently during combat to power his characteristic sweeping strikes.
Immense Durability: In addition to his inhuman tolerance of pain, he is also quite a sturdy individual, as fairly powerful attacks inflict little damage to him even when he is unprotected.
Intense Speed & Reflexes:
Highly Perceptive Combatant: Usuguraiboshi is noted for being a particularly perceptive and analytically-thinking individual. He is also an expert in terms of psychological warfare, and usually has easy time figuring out his enemies' personalities in order to exploit them. What is arguably the most dangerous about this fact is that he is also insane at the same time. Consequently, it is very difficult to predict his course of action, for it might change at any given moment and be followed through immediately with extreme relentlessness no matter its nature.
Unwavering Resolve: In spite of his mental instability there is one definite constant as far as Usuguraiboshi's personality is concerned: his resolution. Whilst he is prone to unpredictably shift his approach to a task at hand or experience wildly differing emotions within a short timespan he remains dauntless. As a born tormentor and a dreadful person he himself is, for all intents and purposes, fearless. Consequently, it is nigh impossible to deter him with any words, tricks or techniques that target morale. Whatever his purpose is he is certain to relentlessly pursue his goals, even against incredible odds.
Massive Spiritual Power: The amount of spiritual energy at Zetsubō's disposal is, and has always been, truly enormous. When he was a child his power would leak out uncontrollably and torment the ordinary Souls who were in the vicinity, forcing him to seek refuge and live in exile. With professional Shinigami training at the Shin'ō Academy, then through the bloody trials of battle, his power grew further as did his ability to harness that vast expanse of energy. He was one of the original Gotei 13 Captains, some of the mightiest and most notorious warriors in the history of Soul Society. He was feared, called the personification of despair, and for good reason. Zetsubō vastly outclasses a modern Captain-class. He uses that dreadful power to utterly destroy his enemies, both physically and psychologically. When visible, his aura assumes the form of a ghastly tempest of amethyst hue.
Ikanda (根性種, "Seed of Will and Emotion"): one of the four Ōda, the Seed imbues the creation with thought and emotion. Zetsubō is the most recent incarnation of the Seed's carrier. Ikanda is embedded deep within his soul and constitutes an integral part of his existence. The Seed boasts unimaginable power and grants a number of distinct supernatural traits associated with its aspect of creation. The effects it has on Usuguraiboshi, whilst profound, are passive and cannot be consciously controlled. As a result of its peculiar nature Ikanda may not be perceived through conventional means.
Kūgeki (空隙, "Void"): When sealed, it assumes the form of a ōdachi with a tsuba in the shape of a concave octagon with downward-curved tips. There is a short chain attached to the pommel of the black hilt. The sealed state is notable for having a completely black blade.
Former Powers and Abilities
Hohō Master: He frequently utilises his substantial skills in the art of Hohō to catch his opponents off-guard with his incredibly fast, swift and silent manoeuvres, and evade otherwise difficult to dodge attacks. He is significantly faster than an average Shinigami Captain.
Kidō Master: Zetsubō may casually use low- and mid-level spells without uttering a single word, but requires to state the number and name of a high-level one to maintain its effectiveness. He is competent in the use of healing Kidō. His proficiency in the art has recently increased due to Hikari Maebure's training. Even though a far cry from that of his mentor, he is nonetheless capable of using such advanced spells as Hadō #88 and, consequently, can now be considered a master-level user.
Hakkyō (発狂, "Madness"): After his conversion into a Tsumikami, Usuguraiboshi's Karadawaru retained the appearance of its released Zanpakutō state: a nightmarish scythe with multiple sharp protrusions, which appears to be made from a black bone-like material.
- Zetsubō is the anti-villain counterpart to Satoru Kyōfu.
- Zetsubō's battle theme is Blue Gender OST - Glow.
- His name had been based on Amatsu-Mikaboshi, a Japanese god of evil and stars, but then changed into its current form per User:Silver-Haired Seireitou's request.
- Unlike many characters of his class, Zetsubō relies primarily on his Illusion-type powers and psychological warfare to combat powerful enemies. In fact, his dependence on this way of fighting is so high that limiting himself to brute force and other kinds of techniques is considered atypical, as evidenced during the battle with Black.
- Many of the considerable number of important reveals regarding Zetsubō included in the Black Flower story arc were planned during the conception of him as a character. Throughout his appearances preceding the publication of that story arc there have been subtle hints pertaining to "Zetsubō's" name, his ability to understand his opponents as well as the peculiar nature of his Visored-like mask.
- Chiaroscuro: Premonition
- Chiaroscuro: Annihilation
- Chiaroscuro: Trepidation
- Chiaroscuro: Complication (Mentioned only)
- Chiaroscuro: Aggravation (Mentioned only)
- Chiaroscuro: Retribution (Mentioned only)
- Chiaroscuro: Conclusion
|Zetsubō Usuguraiboshi vs. Would-be Royal Guardsman||Chiaroscuro: Trepidation (Mentioned only)||Win|
|Zetsubō Usuguraiboshi vs. Unnamed Gotei 13 Captain||Chiaroscuro: Trepidation (Mentioned only)||Win|
|Zetsubō Usuguraiboshi vs. Unnamed Gotei 13 Captain||Chiaroscuro: Trepidation (Mentioned only)||Win|
|Zetsubō Usuguraiboshi vs. Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto||Chiaroscuro: Trepidation (Mentioned only)||Loss|
|Zetsubō Usuguraiboshi vs. Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto||Chiaroscuro: Annihilation||Win|
|Zetsubō Usuguraiboshi vs. Satō Shingen||Chiaroscuro: Trepidation||Inconclusive|
|Zetsubō Usuguraiboshi vs. Ikiryō Kuragari, Kurokawa Tadayoshi & Satō Shingen||Chiaroscuro: Conclusion||Loss|
|Zetsubō Usuguraiboshi vs. Mamoru Nakatani||Balance of Souls: Restitution||Win|
|Zetsubō Usuguraiboshi & Sternritter vs. Kushanāda||Balance of Souls: Incursion||Inconclusive|
|Zetsubō Usuguraiboshi & Kaede Kiseki, Haiiro Hoshi, Kerri Byrne, Girado Riendo Mariposa vs. Black||Balance of Souls: Incursion||Win|