The 6th Division Captain, Byakuya Kuchiki, is one of the most important and popular Bleach characters in the whole series. Kubo has intentionally given him a lot of time in the plot, which is what helped Byakuya become so popular. He was consistently present in all the major arcs, both canon and filler and he, thus, plays a vital role in the Quincy War arc as well. He first faced As Nodt, a powerful and creepy Sternritter, who stole his Bankai and hurt him so much that he would have died had the Royal Guard not taken him to the Soul King’s Palace to save him. There, he was healed, but he was still without his Bankai when he returned to the Seireitei to help his friends during the second invasion. Luckily, he would get his Bankai back thanks to Urahara not much later, but during the process of regaining his Bankai, Byakuya was supposed to turn into a Hollow. Did it happen or not? Keep reading to find out.
Byakuya Kuchiki never became a Hollow in Bleach, although the Shin’eiyaku pill Urahara gave him did temporarily Hollowfy him and his Bankai, which made Senbonzakura return to Byakuya, as As Nodt had to give it up because the Hollow Reiatsu would have killed him. This temporarily Hollowfied Byakuya, but that was that. This happened to all the Captains and Lieutenants who touched the Shin’eiyaku pill, but unlike Toshiro’s Hollowfication, Byakuya’s wasn’t even shown in the manga (we have yet to see if it is going to appear in the anime, but most likely not).
As you can assume, the rest of this article will be about Byakuya Kuchiki and the moment he regained his Bankai in the Bleach series. We will reveal everything that happened, how it happened, and explain why the Hollowfied version of Byakuya Kuchiki appeared in the first place and what its significance was. In case you’re not fully up-to-date with everything that has happened in Bleach, we have to warn you that the article will contain many spoilers.
Byakuya Kuchiki was Hollowfied for a moment – although this was never shown – but it was simply a reaction to Urahara’s pill
So, to properly explain what happened here and what we are talking about, we first have to recap what happened to Byakuya in the first place. So, all of this started with the first invasion of the Seireitei by the Wandenreich. Byakuya Kuchiki’s opponent was As Nodt, the Sternritter “F” – “The Fear,” who was as powerful as he was creepy.
Byakuya, aided by Renji, decided to activate his Bankai to see what the Sternritter would do to it – namely, the Shinigami thought that the Sternritter could seal their Bankai, based on the report that the late Lieutenant Sasakibe had given – but he was shocked to realize that As Nodt did not seal his Bankai – he stole it!
Shocked and utterly helpless, Byakuya was defeated easily by As Nodt, who injured him so badly that Byakuya was on the brink of death. He would have certainly died if the Royal Guard had not taken him to the Soul King’s Palace. Luckily for him, he was healed, and he underwent intense training with the Zero Division in order to be able to fight the Sternritter even without his Bankai.
While he was up there, training, the Wandenreich, of course, a second invasion of the Seireitei, this time replacing it with the Wandenreich completely. At the same time, Kisuke Urahara was in Hueco Mundo researching the Reishi of the late Quilge Opie, Sternritter “J” – “The Jail.” He actually managed to discover a method to give the Bankai back to the Shinigami while working on that, which is why and how he came up with the Shin’eiyaku pills, a pretty interesting invention of his.
Namely, because the Shin’eiyaku induced temporary Hollowfication of the Bankai and their owners, it acted as a type of poison for the Quincy. This intriguing little pill was created by Urahara using his understanding of the Quincy and the fact that they could not absorb the Reiatsu of Hollows without having their Souls destroyed in the process, which is something he realized in Hueco Mundo.
Originally, Urahara went there with Icihgo and the others to save Hueco Mundo from Quincy, who the tyrannical Quilge Opie led. Urahara stayed in Hueco Mundo and continued his investigation into the Quincy, particularly their connection to the Hollows after Grimmjow assisted them in killing Opie.
He stated to Mayuri that it was there that he learned the true reason why Quincy destroyed the Hollows. Because the pure Quincy hated the impure Hollows, it was once assumed that the reason was merely hatred, but it was far more than that. In particular, it turned out that the Hollow Reiatsu was actually toxic and lethal for Quincy. The Hollows were the opposite of the Quincy, and their Reiatsu was poisonous to them, much as the Quincy were the opposite of the Shinigami.
They just got rid of the Hollows because they could not absorb it without dying (stronger ones could, but only temporarily). Yhwach naturally recognized the importance of having allies among the Hollows, so he allowed some of them to join his army, albeit this was more of a tactical move than anything else.
Based on this knowledge, Urahara used Hollow Reiatsu and his knowledge of the Hollowfication process to create the Shin’eiyaku pills with the aid of Grimmjow and these new discoveries. As was already revealed, the tablets would temporarily Hollowfy the Shinigami by injecting them with Hollow Reiatsu.
Therefore, stealing their Bankai would be difficult because doing so would result in the Sternritter dying because the Bankai were now poisonous to them. For those already in possession of the Captains’ Bankai, the stolen Bankai also became Hollowfied, and the Sterntitter that they were working on began to bleed and exhibit symptoms of Hollow Reiatsu poisoning.
This is because the Bankai is connected to the Shinigami in more ways than one. This is why they had to release and give up control of the Bankai immediately, or they would have died.
So, once Byakuya Kuchiki made his way back to the Seireitei to help his allies, he came into contact with Urahara’s pill, temporarily Hollowfied him and his Bankai. We never actually saw Byakuya’s Hollow form, like we did Toshiro’s, but a scene added in the anime showed As Nodt releasing Senbonzakura from his Medallion while, as we assume (based on what will happen later), he was looking for Byakuya, who was seemingly the first to arrive to the Seireitei from the Soul King’s palace.
So, we don’t really know what Byakuya’s Hollow form looks like, but we do know that it existed and that it was only temporary, as we assume that it wasn’t similar to the process that the Visored went through thanks to Aizen.