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It occurred to me that there are a LOT of Shinigami whose Bankai have been heavily damaged who (AFAWK) haven't had their Zanpakutou reforged!!! Going off the top of my head...
- Mayuri - Big effing arrow blast cleaved his Bankai into 2 halves!!! It was also blown up when it tried to attack Mayuri!!!
- Byakuya - Ichigo sliced through every one of his Bankai's petals!!! Surely that caused some damage!!! (Possibly reforged in the Royal Realm)
- Renji - Numerous battles have dealt damage to his Bankai!!! (Reforged in the Royal Dimension)
- Komamura - Poor Komamura!!! 'Nuff said!!!
- Hitsugaya - His Bankai's had its wings smashed more times than Orihime's yelled "Kurosaki-kun!!!"
So it's kinda disappointing, but we probably won't get to see most of these Shinigami fighting in top form!!!...
I always wondered about byakuya.... I have thought about this before but it could really go either way. Either his bankai took severe damage from the clash with ichigo's or since the technique was a simple compression of petals he simply has to compress them again. Unfortunately byakuya has not had an enemy that would warrant the use of hakuteiken or the chance to use it.
Mayuri already made the point that komamura's bankai is the only one that can heal itself because of its connection to komamura's own body. Komamura's bankai will invariably be in top form.
Hitsugaya has something like an abstract bankai. His bankai is all the ice which he control and manipulates. Destroying the wings does not actually damage the bankai. So hitsugaya is basically in a pretty convenient situation in this regard. Perhaps the way to break his bankai in a more relevant context would be to break his actual zampakuto while in bankai. Although the manga has not really given much grounds to suggest this would be enough considering the abstract part of his abilities.... IMHO it would do the trick though.
I do wonder if there is a way to actually break byakuya's bankai. Perhaps cutting a petal would result in the bankai being permanently broken however cutting a petal in half would not really hamper a bankai which is made of millions of petals to begin with. Then again cutting up the concentrated forms of the petals is still an ambiguous subject....
You forgot one... Perhaps the one that will suffer the most from being broken (or will at least break the most often?)...
Ikkaku is a weird case.... He has not really developed his bankai so its likely even mayuri does not have very correct information on it. Based on what the manga said ikkaku's bankai was brittle because of the overwhelming power it released. It sounds kinda absurd considering how much work it took to defeat edoras however if that explanation is accurate then the issue here is that its in the bankai's nature to be broken that easily. It is also strange that ikkaku mentioned his bankai takes a while to reach full power and if I recall correctly it even needs to to take damage to get to its full power. Still, all in all it is very strange that ikkaku was not called for the royal dimension to have his bankai fixed. Even byakuya apparently got his sword checked up and he did not even have a broken bankai. I don't think ikkaku would have been left behind solely because he did not need healing.... I think there must be a very specific reason for ikkaku to not have been taken to the royal guard which has not yet been revealed. Anyways, I can imagine two reasons for this to be the case:
1.- Ikkaku does not have a proper relation with his zampakuto and lacks interest in one. Ikkaku specifically did not want to use his bankai so perhaps this is why nimaiya did not have him come.
2.- Ikkaku does not need to have his bankai fixed. Think about it... with SS being in such a severe need of warriors why would nimaiya ignore a bankai user? Its not like there is a chance of nimaiya not knowing of the bankai, he keeps tabs on every asauchi ever made... Ikkaku has at large been unfamiliar with his bankai and the fragility it has was implied to be an inherent trait of sorts. It is plausible the fragility is a result of a poor relationship with his zampakuto due to his attitude however if the fragility is a result of an inherent trait of hozukimaru then it means there must be a way for the fragility in itself to not be a long term issue for ikkaku and the guy has simply been too much of an idiot to simply ask about it due to his lack of interest in bankai. Nimaiya would be aware that the bankai does not need fixing, he was even able to peek into ichigo's quincy powers so peeking into shinigami powers should at worst be equally simple for him.
Regarding Byakuya: Did his petals actually break or did Ichigo just knock them aside?
Remember two things about Senbonzakura: 1) Breaks into small petals. 2) Each petal is actually a sword and thus made of metal (metal from spirit energy anyway.)
Generally in my experience, your more likely to if someone tosses a small obect at you. Your more likely to knock it aside instead of breaking it.
Even if some petals break, won't it just be marginal damage? I mean, there sure as a heck a lot of them... Unlike Renji's bankai, where a large chunk of the bankai broke.
It actually seems quite hard to damage Byakuya's bankai to the point of the damage being servere enough to handicap him a little or a lot, unlike Renji who has big chunks of pieces that you can almost count the numbers in a quick estimate with the blink of an eye.
I suppose a weak relationship with your bankai is why it breaks so easily?
Perhaps this is why Byakuya said that a bankai shouldn't be used in real battle until it's mastered which usually takes 10 years?
Since a nonmastered bankai breaks easily, and bankais that are not damaged like Hitsugay's and Komamura's seem more rare.
Mayiru's bankai is puzzling me o.O
Even if he can modify it, it seems a bit likle a stretch... is it really a natural ability he has with his bankai? Othervice he should be able to repair other people's bankai as well, so perhaps it's a natural ability he has, given that he has a personality of a scientist *shrug*
My guess is that individual petals from the bankai represent such a small portion of the thing that a petal breaking is not a big deal. Even then, the petals are supposed to be little blades, getting cut into a smaller petal won't necessarily have an effect on its function or even power. Maybe if many petals were cut into very small small pieces there would be an issue but such a development seems unlikely at this point.
What I have always wondered about is hakuteiken. Maybe it getting broken against ichigo did have a long term effect in its use. Which would be something nimaiya could fix and perhaps due to the nature of the technique it will be ideal to actually get past a quincy's blutz.
As for mayuri, I don't think modifying a bankai is a natural ability it has. Rather I would argue it is something mayuri can do because his bankai is made out of flesh and blood so modifying it is something he can do with pretty much the same ease with which he modifies his own body. Perhaps he could do that to other people's bankais but I doubt they would be happy about mayuri fiddling with their souls. If anything the idea of allowing mayuri anywhere near your soul is terrifying and disturbing.
There are some issues regarding the mechanics of bankai. Like said the petals of Byakuyas were sliced but they get sliced a lot *1000s of blades* or whatever. Another thing is that bankai is an ability that takes its form after the personality or personal ability someone has. Its vague at best. Ichigos bankai is his entire suit around his body during all the arcs up till now. But eversince we know bankai breaks the fuck up we havnt seen him use it. And its now explained its not bankai? 0_0? As in his Zangetsu faked the funk.
I still think Ichigos bankai is bankai, but its rather confusing. Also the entire part of his bankai not being able to be fixed, that would be a joke since if its not bankai how would they know it cannot be fixed? And wasnt his entire shroud part of his bankai? So it got healed many times and it was back. It just doesnt make sense.
Also Komamuras was an exception of some sorts explained by mayuri. Wow as if we didnt figure that out already. I mean his armor suit giant was back up many times and didnt looked patched up.
Another problem too me would be what if your bankai is water? Its safe to asume that if Kaien ever had bankai it would be water based. Water cannot break. His bankai would be hax?
Or what if your bankai is wind?
And what about the capt-commanders bankai? It was fire, you cant really break that. I just feel that breaking a bankai and then not being able to fix it is weird. Since the typ of bankai makes it painfully clear some are easily breakable and others are not. If your bankai is like Renjis or Ikakus its practically prone to break at some point. And since the author chose that bankai that break once cannot be reforged with the same power. It kills a lot of their potential. In my view its almost as if their bankai is bankai lvl 1 and the capt-commanders is lvl 100. And im not talking about experience or pure power. But just the ability itself. Awfully weak in my eyes.
As far as we know bankai does not take form based on the personality of the user. The manga has made the point bankai and shinigami powers are overall inherent to the user. The asauchi itself is merely a channel for what is within to take form in the real world.
As far as ichigo's bankai, I don't think the manga has said it is not a real bankai. I would argue ichigo got it originally from old man zangetsu because the old man was using shirosaki's power at the time. It has always been white zangetsu that taught ichigo how to use his bankai and its abilities which means that while ichigo's bankai was being limited by old man zangetsu it was still an actual bankai. All zangetsu did was pose as shinigami powers and restrain them, however the actual abilities ichigo used where definitely shinigami at their core.
I would argue the issue is the physical part of the bankai breaking. As example of what you suggest would be hitsugaya. His ice breaks constantly but it does not affect him. The case can be made that if his blade breaks while in bankai things won't go so smoothly. If there is a bankai that does not have an actual physical form then obviously it wouldn't be subjected to the risk of being broken. Same thing could be said for yamamoto's bankai.
I don't think Byakuya's bankai was damaged genuinely, because it's power is that it breaks apart anyway. Gokei is a form where he breaks those already tiny blades into tinier blades to make even more of them to completely close off the opponent. And when Ichigo cut through his Hakuteiken and they disappeared, I don't think that was the sword itself exploding. I think it was just his bankai disappearing because he was at near death. Like when Renji's bankai shattered and his sword went back to being a sealed one. He could still reactivate his bankai later.
And when Ichigo cut them all down the first time, that was just deflecting them away most likely.
I think that its something else thats being highlighted underneath all the talk with Ichigo in regard to his bankai, the Royal guard did not take him with them for a grand tour. Nor were they initially interested in restoring his zanpakuto.
What they were interested in is seeing how gifted he was, its rather simple. When talking about Zangetsu the weirdo talks about it as if it = a zanpakuto. He applied all rules of a zanpakuto on it as well. Specially the part of being reforged.If Zangetsu is not a zanpakuto then how could he know if it can or cannot be reforged? My argument is that Ichigo re-invented the wheel. He made a assauchi from scratch. He simply doesnt know why or how he did it. It simply appeared for him. He still lacks the understanding of his own power.
Another thing is that if he did know what he did. Ichigo would be a threat to Soul Society. Imagine someone who can pop out assauchi like the Royals can. Most secrets are kept up in the Royal realm. And basically contained. Those that do not follow the lead of the organization are either killed or imprisoned.
What is being overshadowed is the fact that there is no answer as to why the Royals aplied the same rules to Zangetsu as if it were a zanpakuto. And what i think is that it was one. A real one. Even now Ichigo still calls his *power* zangetsu. It is not a lie that it is. Also Quincy dont use swords. So even if it were pure quincy power then it would not be a sword. Most important is that Zangetsu (the bach one) said he never helped him but his own powers did. So safe to say its his zangetsu that did. And if it were just his quincy powers it would not have been.