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Tōshirō Hitsugaya (日番谷 冬獅郎 Hitsugaya Toushirou?) is a fictional character in the anime and manga series Bleach created by Tite Kubo. He is the captain of the 10th Division in the Gotei 13. His lieutenant is Rangiku Matsumoto. Hitsugaya is the lead character of the Bleach-based film The DiamondDust Rebellion.

Character outline

Background

Hitsugaya’s early life was spent in Junrinan, District 1 of Rukongai. There he lived with his grandmother.

As a child, Hitsugaya had an icy demeanor that estranged himself from others, with the exception of his grandmother and Hinamori. She would call him “Shiro-chan” (Lil’ Shiro in the English dub) and he would retort by calling her “Bed-wetter Momo.” The three were very close, and Hitsugaya was irritated when Hinamori left to join the Soul Reaper academy. Throughout his childhood, he was always aware of what seemed to be an icy presence within himself and had continuous dreams about a plain of ice. He claims or believes he died on that plain. [5] Five years after Hinamori’s departure, Hitsugaya encountered Rangiku Matsumoto, then a normal, unranked Soul Reaper, in a marketplace, when she stood up to a merchant who left his change on the counter, rather than handing it to him. The two got into an argument, and Rangiku noticed Hitsugaya’s enormous latent spiritual power.

That night, Hitsugaya dreamt again of the icy plain and finally met Hyorinmaru for the first time, though he could not hear the spirit’s name. He woke up to find Rangiku admonishing him for not being able to control his power, which had been freezing his grandmother. She told him that power like his needed to be controlled, and had to convince him to become a Soul Reaper.[6] With Hitsugaya’s natural talent, he entered the Soul Reaper academy in spite of his age and became known as a prodigy, quickly ascending to captain of the 10th Division, ironically making him Rangiku’s superior.

Hinamori has continued to call Hitsugaya “Shiro-chan” out of habit, and still feels protective of him. Because of a promise she had made, she only began to call him by name after he had achieved his zanpakuto’s shikai and was recognized as a Soul Reaper. Highly capable and knowledgeable, he remains the youngest of the captains within the Gotei 13.

Personality

Tōshirō Hitsugaya is very young by Soul Society standards. Born in Rukongai,[1] he became the youngest ever to reach captain rank.[1] Thus, he is called a "boy genius" or a "child prodigy" by many. Hitsugaya is generally mature and serious, in contrast to his free-spirited lieutenant, Rangiku Matsumoto, although he can sometimes be short-tempered and irritable. Despite their personality differences, he and Matsumoto seem to be very close. Hitsugaya is shown to also be easily irked by others goofing off or drawing unneeded attention to themselves, as shown when he led a team of Soul Reapers (himself, Rangiku Matsumoto, Renji Abarai, Ikkaku Madarame, and Yumichika Ayasegawa) into Ichigo Kurosaki's school. He hates anything that he deems childish and hates being described as something close to a child, evident in a filler episode when he meets Ichigo's sister, Karin, who pats him over the head further angering him.[2] This is also shown more in the omake chapters, where he is repeatedly mistaken for a child, much to his annoyance. Despite calling it a child's game, he is shown to be extremely good at soccer, easily beating a jr. high school team.

Hitsugaya's intuition is extremely sharp, and he is the first person to correctly suspect Gin Ichimaru of foul play, though he understandably did not suspect Sōsuke Aizen of the same. He is very protective of Momo Hinamori, due to the fact that they grew up together, promising to kill those who harm her.

A running gag is Hitsugaya getting annoyed when anyone refers to him by anything other than his title, "Captain Hitsugaya" (日番谷隊長 Hitsugaya-taichō?). Ichigo always refers to him by just "Tōshirō". Hinamori has called him "Tōshirō," ("Hitsugaya-kun" in the Japanese manga and anime) and both she and Ukitake have occasionally used "Little Shiro" (シロちゃん Shiro-chan) — a nickname meaning "Whitey" (Snowy in the English manga) in reference to his hair — in both cases without repercussion, however.[3] In the Shinigami Golden Picture Book sketches (omakes found at the end of episodes of Bleach), Jūshirō Ukitake comically gives Hitsugaya candy and other food like watermelon which there are certain amounts of flashbacks towards because "Jūshirō" and "Tōshirō" sound similar and because they both have white hair.

Abilities

File:HitsugayaShikaiAnimeEp48.jpg

Hitsugaya's zanpakutō is Hyōrinmaru (氷輪丸?, literally "ice ring", idiomatically "full moon"). Hyōrinmaru's shikai command is "Reign over the frosted heavens" or, alternately, "Reign over the frosted, frozen sky" (霜天に坐せ sōten ni zase?, literally "Sit upon the frozen heavens"). Hyōrinmaru is the strongest of all ice/snow element zanpakutō in Soul Society.[4] Hyōrinmaru's spirit is a winged Chinese dragon made of ice, while in the Zanpakutō Unknown Tales anime arc it takes the form of a amnesic man with long green hair and a blue x-shaped scar on his face, being calm and quiet most of the time. Hyōrinmaru allows Hitsugaya to control ice and snow. The slashes created by Hyōrinmaru gives off an immense amount of spirit power which overflows from the tip of the blade, creating a flow of ice vaguely shaped like Hyōrinmaru's dragon spirit. The dragon flies at opponents and instantly freezes anything it touches. The chain-blade also freezes anything Hitsugaya traps with it.[5]

File:Hitsugaya.jpg

Hyōrinmaru's bankai, named Daiguren Hyōrinmaru (大紅蓮氷輪丸?, literally "great crimson lotus ice ring"), causes ice to flow from Hyōrinmaru onto Hitsugaya, forming into two large wings, a tail, guards over his feet in the shape of dragon claws, a gauntlet of sorts, in a shape vaguely reminiscent of Hyōrnimaru's dragon spirit form, over his right hand, essentially binding his hand to Hyōrinmaru's hilt, and twelve large flower petals.[6] During one of Hitsugaya's earlier battles, the arrancar Shawlong speculates that Hitsugaya's bankai will fade when all twelve petals disappear and that Hitsugaya's bankai is incomplete due to his young age.[7] Later during his fight with Luppi, Hitsugaya states that "even if [Hyōrinmaru is] shattered, it will reform as long as water is present in the surrounding area.[8]

Hyōrinmaru's bankai has several known special techniques. The first is Ryūsenka (竜霰花?, literally "dragon hail flower"), which freezes any enemy Hitsugaya stabs, locking them into a cocoon of ice and freezing them to the core. Once frozen, Hitsugaya can shatter his opponent.[9] The second is Sennen Hyōrō (千年氷牢?, literally "thousand-year ice prison"), which forms a multitude of ice pillars using the moisture in the atmosphere. These pillars hold the enemy prisoner for a thousand years, also freezing them.[8] His third technique, Guncho Tsurara (literally "icicle flock"), he launches a multitude of ice shards in an attempt to impale his opponent. Once per bankai release, Hitsuagaya can create a clone of himself out of ice to distract and offset his opponent. "). A fourth attack, Hyōryū Senbi (literally "Ice Dragon Swirling Tail") allows Hitsugaya to swing his sword in a linear direction and create overflowing ice from his blade in the form of a crescent. Zekku (literally "Void Sever"), allows Hitsugaya to control his Hyouryū Senbi technique and send it up into the air. His implied most powerful move is called Hyōten Hyakkaso (literally "frozen sky-hundred flowers funeral"). This attack causes 100 snow flakes to fall from the sky, freezing anything they touch in a flower like shape. When all 100 flakes fall, the life of the one trapped by the attack is ended.

Plot overview

Introduced along with the rest of the Gotei 13, Hitsugaya's intuition leads him to suspect 3rd Division captain Gin Ichimaru of foul play as the circumstances surrounding the coming execution of Rukia Kuchiki become more complicated.[10] He warns Hinamori of these suspicions, which inspires her to attack Gin following Aizen's murder. When Izuru Kira steps forth to defend his captain against Hinamori, he admonishes Hinamori for losing control of herself and forgetting her duty, and has her and Kira sent to prison.[11] When Hinamori is manipulated into thinking that Hitsugaya killed Aizen, Hitsugaya knocks her out, and believing Gin responsible, attacks him.[12] The fight is interrupted when Hitsugaya dodges an attack that almost leads to Hinamori's death, only to be intercepted by Matsumoto.[13] Seeing how destructive Rukia's execution is becoming, Hitsugaya tries to stop the execution by appealing to the Chamber 46, only to discover all 46 members are dead and Aizen is responsible for murdering them, having faked his death.[14] When Hitsugaya discovers Hinamori injured and interrogates Aizen, Hitsugaya tries to kill him, but he is defeated with a single strike.[6]

In a later arc, Hitsugaya leads a group of Soul Reapers assigned to defend Karakura Town against the arrancar threat.[15] During the first attack, he battles Shawlong Qufang. Though heavily injured, he wins after being allowed to remove his power limit.[16] During the second arrancar attack, he fends off Luppi. Though Hitsugaya is initially unable to defend against Luppi's attacks and is knocked to the ground in a single hit, Luppi's inattentiveness and overconfidence gives him ample time to build up a finishing move.[8] Upon learning that Orihime has followed the arrancar back to Hueco Mundo, Hitsugaya and his team return to Soul Society to help in the preparation for the war against Aizen.[17] He returns to Karakura Town with the rest of the captains, and engages the 3rd Espada, Tia Harribel in combat alongside Hiyori Sarugaki and Lisa Yadomaru until Aizen steps in and kills her, stating she isn't strong enough to fight for him anymore.

He engages Aizen in battle and, with the combined efforts of Soi Fon, Kyoraku and Shinji Hirako, is able to stab Aizen through the chest. However, it is quickly revealed that Aizen had been using his zanpakutōs hypnotic abilities since the start of the fight, thus tricking Hitsugaya into stabbing Hinamori instead. With Hinamori seriously injured, Hitsugaya attacks Aizen in a blind rage, only to be cut down with Soi Fon, Kyoraku, and Shinji.

After Aizen's defeat, Hitsugaya, already healed, is seen training so that he can use his bankai more freely to protect Hinamori from further harm.

Appearances in other media

He appears in all of the featured films in the series: he fights the Dark Ones with other Soul Reaper comrades in Bleach: Memories of Nobody.[18] He is the main character in The DiamondDust Rebellion, where he searches for the thieves who stole the "King's Seal," an ancient artifact, after crossing paths with and fighting them. This led the Seireitei to suspect him of treason. As Ichigo Kurosaki and others go out in search of him, Hitsugaya stumbles across a dark secret concerning a long-dead Soul Reaper named Kusaka Sōjirō, who was his close friend and rival when he was younger. A one-shot manga chapter focusing on Histugaya's past was released to promote the film, revealing how Hitsugaya learned of his powers.[3] Apparently, Kusaka uses the King's Seal to come back to life for revenge, but in the end is killed by Hitsugaya in a final rematch.[19] He also appears in the third film, in which he loses his memories of Ichigo and Rukia, along with the other Soul Reapers.

Hitsugaya is featured in the 30 minute original video animation, Sealed Sword Frenzy, in which he is part of the group of captains sent to the real world to seal away the escaped and notoriously dangerous shinigami criminal, Baishin. During their first encounter, he successfully fends off the criminal, though Baishin escapes.[20]

Hitsugaya has been a playable character in every Bleach-related video game released so far, the only exception being Bleach: Heat the Soul. Often, he's playable in several different forms, such as his shikai and bankai and even in a gigai.[21][22] He is also a playable character in the Nintendo DS game, Jump Ultimate Stars.

He also appears in two Bleach Beat Collection albums aside: The first one was a compilation album with Momo Hinamori and her lieutenant, Rangiku Matsumoto.[23] The second one was also a compilation album, this time with the protagonist, Ichigo Kurosaki.[24] His two songs are 'This Light I See' and 'Bleach the Limitation'. He is also portrayed by Takashi Nagayama in the Rock Bleach Musicals.[25]

Reception

Hitsugaya has been highly popular in the Weekly Shōnen Jump's Bleach popularity polls ranking most of the times within the top ten.[26][27] In early 2008, Hitsugaya was voted the most popular character in the series, replacing Ichigo Kurosaki, who had previously held the position. He received 8278 votes, 383 votes more than Rukia Kuchiki, who finished second.[28] Hyōrinmaru was voted the most popular zanpakutō in the Zanpakutō Poll. In the 2007 Japanese Newtype magazine character polls, he was voted the 9th most popular male character in any anime.[29] Various merchandise based on Hitsugaya's appearance has been created, including action figures,[30] plush toys[31] and key-chains.[32]

In order to promote the second film of Bleach, the trailer had the line "Execute Hitsugaya!". Kubo admitted that it was his own idea to make everybody be surprised, but he and Masakazu Morita, the voice actor of Ichigo Kurosaki, received a lot of letters from worried fans, causing Kubo to apologize in response.[33] The Japanese music distributor Recochoku has made two annual survey of which anime characters that people would like to marry. Hitsugaya ranked 8th in the category "The Character I Want to Be My Groom" from the 2008 survey and 3rd in the 2009 poll in the same category.[34]

Various publications from manga, anime and other media have commented on Hitsugaya's character adding praise and criticism. Carl Kimlinger from Anime News Network praised Steve Staley, Hitsugaya's English voice actor, for giving an interesting variation of his voice rather than "integrity-destroying abominations".[35] In another review he comments that Hitsugaya's unresolved personal issue is, along with the ones from others characters, to be a good part from the climax of one of the story arcs from Bleach. He additionally praised Hitsugaya's bankai for the good animation it has in the anime.[36] IGN's Ramsey Isler found Hitsugaya to be one of the most common "fan favorite" characters from the series, but lamented the fact that his first fight against an arrancar was not very entertaining and his character did not "get a chance to shine."[37] His appearances in DiamondDust Rebellion were praised by Active Anime's Holly Ellingwood who noted them "involving and intriguing" and liked his scenes with Matsumoto.[38]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Kubo, Tite (2006). Bleach Official Character Book SOULs. Tokyo, Japan: Shueisha, page 133.
  2. Bleach episode 132
  3. 3.0 3.1 Kubo, Tite (2008). "Chapter -16". Bleach, Volume 32. Shueisha. ISBN 978-4-08-874473-5. 
  4. Kubo, Tite (2006). Bleach Official Character Book SOULs. Tokyo, Japan: Shueisha, page 165.
  5. Kubo, Tite (2006). "Chapter 132". Bleach, Volume 16. Viz Media. ISBN 1-4215-0614-9. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Kubo, Tite (2007). "Chapter 170". Bleach, Volume 20. Viz Media. ISBN 1-4215-1044-8. 
  7. Kubo, Tite (2008). "Chapter 208". Bleach, Volume 24. Viz Media. ISBN 1-4215-1603-9. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Kubo, Tite (2009). "Chapter 233". Bleach, Volume 27. Viz Media. ISBN 1-4215-2385-X. 
  9. Kubo, Tite (2008). "Chapter 210". Bleach, Volume 24. Viz Media. ISBN 1-4215-1603-9. 
  10. Kubo, Tite (2005). "Chapter 83". Bleach, Volume 10. Viz Media. ISBN 1-4215-0081-7. 
  11. Kubo, Tite (2006). "Chapter 101". Bleach, Volume 12. Viz Media. ISBN 1-4215-0403-0. 
  12. Kubo, Tite (2006). "Chapter 131". Bleach, Volume 16. Viz Media. ISBN 1-4215-0614-9. 
  13. Kubo, Tite (2006). "Chapter 133". Bleach, Volume 16. Viz Media. ISBN 1-4215-0614-9. 
  14. Kubo, Tite (2007). "Chapter 167". Bleach, Volume 19. Viz Media. ISBN 1-4215-1043-X. 
  15. Kubo, Tite (2008). "Chapter 195". Bleach, Volume 22. Viz Media. ISBN 1-4215-1179-7. 
  16. Kubo, Tite (2008). "Chapter 211". Bleach, Volume 24. Viz Media. ISBN 1-4215-1603-9. 
  17. Kubo, Tite (2009). "Chapter 238". Bleach, Volume 27. Viz Media. ISBN 1-4215-2385-X. 
  18. (DVD) Bleach: Memories of Nobody. Viz Media. 2008.
  19. (DVD) 劇場版BLEACH The DiamondDust Rebellion もう一つの氷輪丸. TV Tokyo. 2008.
  20. (DVD) Bleach - The Sealed Sword Frenzy. TV Tokyo. 2006.
  21. Script error
  22. Script error
  23. (2006) Album notes for Bleach Beat Collection 2nd Session 02. Sony (B000FCUYU4).
  24. (2007) Album notes for BLEACH "B"STATION Second Season vol.2. Sony (B000P28ROO).
  25. "Bleach Rock Musical Official". Studio Pierrot. Retrieved 2009-03-24. 
  26. Kubo, Tite (2008). Bleach, Volume 24. Viz Media. p. 186. ISBN 1-4215-1603-9. 
  27. Kubo, Tite (2006). "Bleach popularity vote 2". Bleach, Volume 13. Viz Media. ISBN 1-4215-0611-4. 
  28. Kubo, Tite (2008). "Chapter 307". Bleach, Volume 35. Shueisha. ISBN 978-4-08-874575-6. 
  29. Script error
  30. "Bleach Characters Part 5 Set of 4". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2008-10-03. 
  31. "Bleach: Captain Toshirou Hitsugaya 8-inch Plush". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2008-10-03. 
  32. "Bleach: Chibi Hitsugaya 10th Division Captain Keychain". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2008-10-03. [dead link]
  33. Tite Kubo, Masakazu Morita. (August 2007). Tite Kubo Interview, Bleach B-Station 112. Japan: Bleach B-Station.
  34. "Survey: K-ON's Mio, Reborn's Hibari are #1 Bride, Groom". Anime News Network. 2008-10-14. Retrieved 2009-06-12. 
  35. Kimlinger, Carl (2008-10-03). "Bleach DVD 12 - Review". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2008-10-03. 
  36. Kimlinger, Carl (2009-03-17). "Bleach DVD 15 - Review". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2009-03-18. 
  37. Isler, Ramsey (2009-06-01). "Bleach: "Hitsugaya Scatters! The Broken Hyorinmaru" Review". IGN. Retrieved 2009-03-18. 
  38. Ellingwood, Holly (2009-11-03). "BLEACH THE MOVIE 2: THE DIAMOND DUST REBELLION". Active Anime. Retrieved 2009-11-13. 
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