Gin Ichimaru (市丸 ギン Ichimaru Gin?) is a fictional character and a major antagonist in the anime and manga series Bleach created by Tite Kubo. He is the captain of the 3rd Division in the Gotei 13 until he betrays Soul Society, and after that becomes a commander in Sōsuke Aizen's arrancar army. Later on, his initial betrayal turns out to be a trick to get close to Aizen, and he attempts to kill him. His lieutenant was Izuru Kira.
Gin's most prominent characteristic is his expression; with his slitted eyes and ever-present grin, his face looks like that of a snake. Ichigo derisively nicknames him "fox-face" in their first meeting because of this (in the English dub, he instead replies with a more generalized insult). He also has unusual silver hair, which has a purple tint to it in the anime; his name refers to his hair color, gin "silver". Gin rarely removes his smile or opens his eyes; his eyes open when he is significantly annoyed, angry or surprised. There are only a few times when he opens his eyes: once in a flashback when he and Aizen rescued Momo Hinamori, Izuru Kira, Renji Abarai, Shuhei Hisagi, and other students from hollows, during a battle with 10th Division Captain Tōshirō Hitsugaya and a further two more times during his fight with Ichigo Kurosaki after releasing his bankai. His eyes are alternately portrayed in the anime as blood red  because his eye color was not yet known. In episode 270, during the special feature at the end, his eyes are shown as a pale blue color,  which is the same as the color he had on the manga.  In contrast, there are far more moments when he stops smiling, those usually being lesser degrees of annoyance, genuinely apologetic moments, or in deep contemplation over a sudden epiphany.
Gin's constant happy façade tends to have the opposite effect on those he meets, making them instantly distrust him. His use of sarcasm only further encourages this, especially in those who have known him for a long time. Rukia comments on how she felt like snakes were wrapping around her neck whenever Gin spoke, despite the fact that he was speaking to her brother at the time. Kaname Tōsen notes that Gin has a similar effect on just about everyone when explaining Wonderweiss Margera's frightened reaction to Gin. In both manga and anime, Gin speaks with a distinct Kyoto dialect, which is indirect and polite. His English dubbed voice is also formal and polite, but with a rather mocking and facetious undertone.
After betraying Soul Society, Gin switches his captain's attire for a similar but unmarked garment. He now wears a long, white robe over his normal Soul Reaper hakama. The hilt of his zanpakutō visibly protrudes from under the robe through the opening down to his waist. Later, Ichimaru is seen wearing a white hakama like the arrancar, instead of the black one he first appears in. Gin wears his robe open in a narrow 'V' down to his waist, closed to below the hips, then open again to the hem, which falls about mid-calf. His robe has long bell sleeves where he hides his hands as is done with kimono sleeves. The lining of the robe and edges or layers of the under-robe(s) appear black. From other examples, it is likely he is also wearing black tabi with white waraji. His zanpakutō is not visible with this outfit.
Gin saved Rangiku Matsumoto from death when they were children, and the two have been good friends since then. Rangiku is the only person Gin seems to truly care about, if not love, although he seems to "disappear" often, as Rangiku puts it. He also never tells her where he's going. Gin's feelings for Rangiku are the result of him witnessing her near death at the hands of some of Sōsuke Aizen's minions and therefore swore revenge for her. Gin was considered a child prodigy since he graduated from the academy within a year and was assigned to a seated position in the 5th Division. Gin killed the 3rd seat of the division with ease, which aroused Aizen's interest in him. Before he became captain of the 3rd Division, he served under Captain Sōsuke Aizen as the lieutenant of 5th Division. A lesser point is his constant talks with Byakuya Kuchiki, which Rukia believes he did specifically to unsettle her since she was afraid of him. Gin swore his loyalty to Aizen from the day they met, though only so he could discover Aizen's weakness and avenge Rangiku's near death when the time came. His unsettling appearance, apparent ruthlessness in battle, and betrayal of the Soul Society were necessary to facilitate this.
Gin's very first appearance is alongside Captain Kenpachi Zaraki when the two catch and converse with Captain Byakuya Kuchiki after the latter delivers Rukia Kuchiki's sentence. He then appears at the gates leading into the Seireitei, following Jidanbō's defeat by Ichigo Kurosaki. He easily repels the two without killing them, simultaneously closing the gate which Jidanbō was holding open (it is later revealed by Aizen that he ordered Gin to do so). The other captains question his failure to kill opponents whom he should have had no trouble killing, but a second intrusion by Ichigo's group, followed by the supposed death of Aizen, leaves them with bigger concerns. Aizen, having faked his death, has Gin deliberately cast suspicion on himself, thereby drawing attention away from Aizen's activities. After Aizen's plot is revealed and they retreat to Hueco Mundo, Gin bids Rangiku Matsumoto farewell and apologizes to her in one of the rare moments in which he doesn't smile.
In Hueco Mundo, Gin jokingly chides Aizen over his habit of playing around with his subordinates. When Ichigo's group breaks into Las Noches, he observes them, even altering the position of the halls when no one is around. When Ulquiorra Cifer catches him in the act, Gin denies changing anything, saying that he wouldn't do that to "those kids" and that he does not like "sad stories". He later appears alongside Aizen and Tosen in Karakura Town, commenting on Kira's sudden change in emotion to Tōsen and remarks that he is glad Kira is 'doing well'. After the arrival of the Vizards, Gin cuts Hiyori Sarugaki in half at the waist with his shikai when Hiyori gives into one of Aizen's taunts. He is later seen observing Sosuke Aizen engaging the Soul Reapers, commenting on Aizen's true power, before personally fighting Ichigo with his Bankai. Easily overpowering his opponent, Gin gives Ichigo several attempts to run, mocking his lack of determination, before traveling to the Soul Society with Aizen in order to destroy it.
In Karakura town, Gin is confronted briefly by Rangiku who, after questioning his motives, is immobilized by Gin's kidō as she is "in the way". He then returns to Aizen's side, claiming that he had killed her. Once Aizen says that he will kill Ichigo's human friends before destroying Karakura town, Gin restrains Aizen's sword, saying that he will kill the humans himself, activates his zanpakutō and pierces through Aizen, explaining that he discovered after decades of observation that he could stop Aizen's Kyōka Suigetsu by touching his sword before the hypnosis starts. He then explains that he lied about his Bankai earlier and that its true power is to produce a poison capable of eroding human cells.
As Aizen slowly dissolves away, Gin removes the Hogyōku from Aizen's chest, thinking that without it, Aizen cannot survive. He is proven wrong when Aizen revives and assumes a new form, stating that whether the Hogyōku is inside of him or not is irrelevant, as it has already chosen him. Aizen then grievously injures Gin in front of Ichigo's friends. Rangiku awakens and rushes to his side, and as he lays in Rangiku's arms, Gin silently apologizes for being unable to return what Aizen had taken from Rangiku as a child. When Ichigo arrives and Gin sees his determination to stop Aizen, he decides to entrust Ichigo with his goal. Later it appears that Gin survived and left without leaving anything behind for Rangiku.
Gin Ichimaru's zanpakutō is Shinsō (神鎗?, literally "God spear"). It takes the form of a wakizashi when sealed. The guard is shaped like an 'S'. Shinsō's shikai is triggered by the phrase "Shoot 'em Dead" (射殺せ ikorose?); in the anime, this was slightly changed to the declarative ikorosu. In the English translation of the series, the phrase is inconsistent between uses, but mostly describes stabbing (slay, impale, pierce). Another trigger phrase, used in the first Soul Society arc, was "Shoot 'em dead". Its first rendering in the Viz translation was "skewer that punk".
In its shikai, Shinsō's blade glows white and extends up to the length of one hundred sword blades and at high speed to impale Gin's opponents. In addition to making it a deadly long-range weapon, the extending blade also carries tremendous force without affecting Gin, making it useful for dislodging heavy objects, as seen when Gin pushes both Ichigo Kurosaki and the giant Jidanbō out from under the Seireitei gate, despite Jidanbō being firmly braced under it. Once extended, Gin can maintain the blade's length and swing Shinsō in wide arcs, simultaneously attacking multiple targets with speed and ease.
In his rematch with Ichigo he reveals his bankai, Kamishini no Yari (神殺鎗?, literally "God-slaying spear"). While in bankai, Gin originally said that his blade can extend to up to 13 kilometers or 8.07 miles, making him capable of bisecting a whole block of large buildings with a single swing while far away. The speed at which the sword extends and contracts is originally said to have been increased to 500 times the speed of sound (171,500 meters per second), reaching its full length in less than 1/10th of a second as well as making it the fastest zanpakutō. His bankais technique Buto (無踏 literally "Dancing Step"?) uses his zanpakutōs speed and length properties to an amazing extent. By holding his zanpakutō to his chest with both hands, the blade extends and contracts at blinding speeds. A form of this technique Buto Renjin (無踏連刃 literally "Dancing Step: Serial Blade"?) is the same technique as buto, but repeats the action in rapid succession many times over, appearing as a wave of blades attacking the opponent. The blade's extension and contraction speed makes the technique so fast, that the individual movements involved are unseen by the opponent, leaving little time for evasion. It also appears that after he extends the blade it must shrink to around the size of a wakizashi.
When Gin turns on Aizen, he reveals that he lied about his bankai and that its true power is to release a poisonous substance into whomever or whatever Gin stabs. Upon the command, "Kill", the poison activates, dissolving the victim from the inside-out. Gin hid this ability from Aizen for decades, intending to use it to kill the latter after learning the weakness of his zanpakutō.
Before it was revealed in the actual series, various Bleach console games have depicted Shinsō as having additional abilities. In Bleach: The Blade of Fate, Bleach: Dark Souls, Bleach: Shattered Blade, and Bleach: The 3rd Phantom Gin fires Shinsō into the sky and swords similar to Shinsō's unreleased state rain all around him. In Bleach: Blade Battlers Gin shoots Shinsō into the ground and the blade hits the opponent from underneath, whereas in Bleach: Heat the Soul 5, a wave of blades instead shoots up from the ground to hit the opponent.
Although only heard in two episodes, Gin's "bye bye" has been very popular with audiences.
In both the 2nd and 3rd popularity polls, Ichimaru placed 5th. However, like Renji Abarai, he missed the top 10 of the most recent poll, being replaced with newer characters like Grimmjow Jeagerjaques and Ulquiorra Cifer. Gin was among the 4 Bleach characters to make the top 100 list in Newtype Japan's 2007 list of the most popular anime characters. Tite Kubo remarked in a 2004 Shōnen Jump character commentary that Gin's popularity, especially among women, was a great surprise to him, as he had attempted to make Gin creepy and offputting in appearance.
Critics seem to take note of Gin's "interesting design;" IGN says he "has always been a rather odd character with his squinty eyes and cheesy smile" and adds "...he can swing a Zanpakutō like it is nobody's business as well, but it is his smile that gets us more than anything else...". Another IGN review of Bleach volume 17 used Gin as an example of Bleach's colorful and well-developed supporting cast, and remarked that his story would be capable of filling a manga series of its own.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Bleach manga; volume 9 tankōbon, page 103 (chapter 75, page 12)
- ↑ Bleach anime; episode 48
- ↑ As portrayed in Bleach: The Blade of Fate
- ↑ Bleach manga, Volume 20 cover
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter-129 page 1
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter -105, page 17
- ↑ Bleach manga; Chapter -105 page 18-19
- ↑ Bleach manga; volume 15 tankōbon, page 176 (chapter -17, page 30)
- ↑ Bleach manga; chapter 145 Anime; episode 53
- ↑ Bleach manga Character Poll; volume 24 tankōbon.
- ↑ IGN: Gin Ichimaru's Temptation, Resolution Shattered Review
- ↑ IGN: The Man Who Hates Shinigami! Review
- ↑ IGN: Bleach Vol. 17 Review