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Translations: Bleach 595 (2)
So.... anyone ever wondered what happened to ichigo's mask? So far he has neglected using it which is kinda weird. Could he have lost it after using saigo no getsuga tengo 2 years ago? Or perhaps rather than a mask he simply has that fullbring related armor (which has hollow origins since fullbring is a hollow originated power)? Or perhaps he has not seen the need to use it so far? I mean, bankai was enough to deal with kujo and he did best Kirge without his mask. Alternatively, it is plausible he does not want to use it? Fullbring would have potentially strengthened shirosaki as it was a hollow related power which would add to his share of power so perhaps there is some risk in ichigo using his hollow powers? Or perhaps it has something to do with zangetsu ripping shirosaki out of him. Ichigo got use of his hollow powers when he defeated shirosaki and absorbed him into his body. Of course, that would not quite explain why he was able to meet zangetsu during his training as back zangetsu was supposed to be a part of shirosaki earlier. Any thoughts? Will we see another mask?
As you mentioned, there are many possibilities. My current view on the matter is that Zangetsu and Shirosaki merged to make a perfect shinigami/hollow hybrid and Ichigo doesn't need a mask anymore to make use of his hollow powers. In other words he's in a permanent masked state without having to wear a mask. Judging by the length of chain on his zanpakuto's hilt, he seems to have gotten a lot stronger even though he hasn't trained since he lost his powers, IMHO this is the reason why. I believe the effect of fullbring on his shinigami and/or hollow powers is marginal though because it was stolen by Ginjou.
I am of the opinion that the reason we did not see his mask when he fought the fullbringers was because his shinigami side and hollow side remained in balance after the FGT. He lost his powers, but then got them recharged. they were depleted but in balance- as is evidenced by his white colored Getsuga tenshou.
now- when the quincy appear and try to seal his bankai, only a part of his bankai filled the medallion and from that point onward ichigos getsuga tenshou remains black. This suggests to me that the balance he had created in the training to get the FGT was upset. Ichigo as of yet, has not restored the balance nor even entered his inner world. - I personally would have tried to enter my inner world to regain my power (*but ichigo isnt that smart) and even he could have entered his inner world after he got his powers back from SS and defeated the Fullbringers.
I think now that he is in jail, and is becoming upset mentally, his hollow side, is going to manifest. I think this is when we will see the mask again or perhaps a more hollowfied fullbring suit or something. I think that Urahara is facing Hichigo version that we have not seen yet but then the story just stopped there and we get to see whats happening in SS.
Also, since ichigo was in jail and can hear the battles, I think it is remotely possible that he heard the Captain commander get his ass handed to him and that was the final straw that unleashed ichigos inner uberness.
Just some speculation- but I think its got at least some possibility.
It should be noted that Ichigo, while in that Jail of Kirge's, has a very suspicious line of blood on his face. I believe you can clearly make it out here:
This makes me wonder if in his desperation we'll see the Hollow side again or not? The blood is simply too far precise and similar to the markings we see on his mask to assume that we'll never see the mask or shirosaki again. I'm really hoping the next time we see Ichigo this will be resolved.
Well, when Ichigo did his Dangai training and learned the FGT, he seemed to achieve perfect balance between his Hollow and Shinigami powers. Then he learned Fullbring to get the powers back, which as you say are Hollow-based powers. When he finally got his true Shinigami powers back, they were slightly different, so it looks like they were affected by his Fullbring. I would guess that his new powers have retained a combination of Hollow and Shinigami powers like before, but now he's got a better grip on his Hollow side through learning Fullbring, so they're kind of blended. So basically, his powers have been in a state of harmony since he regained them. But then we got this page:
And some odd things are going on there. We can see Bringer light, and a pattern appearing on Ichigo's face resembling that of his latest Hollow mask. I think what's happening is that the despair of being helpless whilst hearing Soul Society being torn apart is throwing Ichigo's powers out of balance. It's interesting that the pattern is forming directly on his face rather than on a mask, though. Since Fullbring is a Hollow-based ability, learning it must have affected Ichigo's Hollow powers somehow. Maybe they've been refined in some way.
Actually, I've just had a thought. The markings appearing on Ichigo's face remind me of this:
Ginjou was a human-shinigami hybrid with Hollow powers who mastered Fullbring - which is exactly what Ichigo is now. When he went bankai, his Hollow powers also sprang out, and that's what he ended up looking like. So to answer your question, I think Ichigo's Hollow powers are now going to manifest through his entire body, rather than just in the form of a mask.
We can see traces of his Fullbring (Hollow power) in his new Shinigami form, so I think the reverse is also true. His Hollow powers might be somewhat 'Shinigamified' - something like an Arrancar. Hollow power, but wrapped around his whole body, like his Fullbring was, rather than just a mask. It could certainly be more effective that way, remember how Gin dealt with Ichigo off panel by simply breaking off his mask?
But hopefully we'll see what's going on with Ichigo soon enough...