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But the difference between him and other "geniuses" is that they all seemed to work hard to fulfil their potential. Hitsugaya comes across as a hard worker in general, and Gin always had the motivation of one day slaying Aizen. Kaien on the other hand seemed content with his position and was hesitant to even accept the role of VC. It's possible that he could have been on his way to achieving Bankai, but just wasn't particularly driven to do so. Maybe he had a "slow and steady" approach to things.
Being a genius doesn't necessarily mean having outrageously high potential though, just a keen ability to grasp what potential you have. Being VC level still puts Kaien in the top tiers of Shinigami power. But I suppose we'll never know how much he could have grown given the time.
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I think that 'genuis' has much less to do with achieving bankai than reiatsu/spiritual pressure. In his battle with Ichigo, when Ichigo first goes bankai, Byakuya muses to himself that 'even among the noble clans, whose members tend to have greater spiritual pressure, only one in a generation will achieve bankai. If the spiritual pressure isn't there, no bankai, so that's the most primary need for bankai.
Genuis doesn't really come second either. Look at Ichigo. He is not a genius, but a young man with extreme motivation/determination to protect his loved ones. He didn't train like crazy the way he did and achieve bankai because he was a genuis, but because of his high spiritual pressure, determination, and because Urahara and Yoruichi used their unique methods to speed up his development. So, it seems to me that high spiritual pressure, extreme motivation and training are the keys to bankai. If any are not there, no bankai.
Ichigo's motivation is to protect
Renji's is to surpass the man who 'stole' Rukia (although after their battle, he more looked up to Byakuya as a mentor)
Ikkaku's is to be worthy to fight and die alongside Zaraki
Byakuya's is to protect the pride of his clan
Gin's was to kill Aizen
All of these had high spiritual pressure, extreme motivation and someone to train them.
But Ichigo is a completely different case. The training he underwent wasn't there for any of other characters mentioned. So, I wouldn't include it as a key to Bankai.
Also, I'd certainly not think someone who puts his pride over his life can be that easy going with his training. Every character has a certain ambition and Kaien should also have had his. Then again, he turned down an offer to become a vice-captain (offered or possibly had the chance to become one and wasn't interested, not quite sure here), so, that's a bit of bold of me to say he really was ambitious.
Reiatsu looks like the most legitimate difference maker, but I don't know. Why did they call someone a genius that doesn't have standout reiatsu in the first place?
That's why I don't find this sensible within the entirety of the story.
I wasn't suggesting that the others had the same training that Ichigo had, only that they had some guidance. I think we can agree that left to his own devices, Ichigo would not have achieved bankai. Without Ikakku, Renji wouldn't have had the guidance he needed either. So SOMEONE or several someones had to provide guidance for the person of power and ambition to achieve bankai. Thus, again, spiritual pressure, extreme motivation and some kind of guidance are all necessary for bankai. Genius is secondary. That was my point.
Why else can he be considered a genius, I wonder.
Maybe it was just that he didn't care that much about achieving bankai or whatever, he seemed like the sort of carefree guy. Or he didn't want to get any stronger than VC because they'd want him to be a captain, and that's too much responsibility. Heck, maybe he'd be made a captain against his own will if he had a bankai!
Well... Ukitake wouldn't want him to become captain if he didn't have one. He had, but he didn't use it. And he didn't want to become a captain, because he didn't think, that this position would suit him. ;P
Then again, someone without Bankai probably wouldn't be worthy of such praise, so, it's a pretty strong indication.
Kaien was above Byakuya and Soi fon at that point. He might be at Renji or Ikkaku's level at the time. Rukia is a vice captain, but she wasn't able to keep up with Arr's copy of Kaien (which I doubt is as strong as the original). If he were alive, he might become stronger than the young captains.
Last edited by Duniak; December 17, 2012 at 12:39 PM.