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Toshiro Hitsugaya

Toshiro Hitsugaya (日番谷 冬獅郎 Hitsugaya Tōshirō?) is a fictional character in the anime and manga series Bleach created by Tite Kubo. In the series, Hitsugaya is the captain of the 10th Division in the Gotei 13, a group of Soul Reapers protecting Soul Society. His lieutenant is Rangiku Matsumoto. Hitsugaya is the lead character of the Bleach-based film The Diamond Dust Rebellion.

Character outlineEdit

BackgroundEdit

Hitsugaya lived with his grandmother and for a short period of time with Momo Hinamori, whom he considers a very close friend, in Junrinan, District 1 of western Rukongai. He had no other friends as his icy demeanor isolated him.

Hitsugaya entered the Soul Reaper academy after Rangiku Matsumoto made him aware that his strong spiritual power was nearly freezing his grandmother. Despite his age, he excelled in the academy, became known as a prodigy, and became captain of the 10th Division.

PersonalityEdit

Hitsugaya is sharp and a genius, the youngest captain in the history of Soul Society. Though he did not initially suspect Sosuke Aizen of foul play, he was the first to suspect Gin Ichimaru of being a conspirator.

Although he can sometimes be short-tempered and irritable, Hitsugaya is mature and serious. Hitsugaya is easily irked by others goofing off or drawing unneeded attention to themselves, as shown when he led a team of Soul Reapers into Ichigo Kurosaki's school. He hates anything childish and hates being treated as if he were a child, as seen when Ichigo's sister, Karin, angers him when she pats him on the head. Hitsugaya dislikes being called by anything other than his title, "Captain Hitsugaya" (日番谷隊長 Hitsugaya-taichō?) as he worked hard to earn it. Ironically, he calls other captains by their names and not their titles. He is very protective of Momo Hinamori, his childhood friend, promising death to those who harm her.

AbilitiesEdit

Hitsugaya's zanpakuto is Hyōrinmaru (氷輪丸?, literally "ice ring", idiomatically "full moon"). Hyōrinmaru is the strongest of all ice type Zanpakutō in Soul Society and allows Hitsugaya to control ice and snow. Hyorinmaru's spirit is a winged dragon made of ice, while in the Zanpakutō Rebellion it takes the form of a calm and quiet man with long green hair and a blue x-shaped scar on his face. 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 sword is released with the command "Sit Upon the Frozen Heavens" (霜天に坐せ sōten ni zase?) (Viz translation: "Reign over the Frosted Heavens").

Hitsugaya

Hyōrinmaru's bankai.

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 Hyorinmaru's dragon spirit form, over his right hand, essentially binding his hand to Hyorinmaru's hilt, and twelve large flower petals.

Hyorinmaru'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. 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. His third technique, Guncho Tsurara (群鳥氷柱?, 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 (氷竜旋尾?, 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. His implied most powerful move is called Hyōten Hyakkasō (氷天百華葬?, literally "frozen sky-countless ornate entombment"). This attack causes one hundred snow flakes to fall from the sky, freezing anything they touch in a flower like shape. When all one hundred flakes fall, the life of the one trapped by the attack is ended.

PlotEdit

Introduced to 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.He warns Hinamori Momo, inspiring her to attack Gin following Aizen's "murder". When Izuru Kira steps forth to defend his captain against Hinamori, Hitsugaya admonishes Hinamori for losing control and forgetting her duty and sends her and Kira to prison. When Hinamori is manipulated into thinking that Hitsugaya killed Aizen, Hitsugaya knocks her out, and believing Gin responsible, attacks him. The fight is interrupted when Hitsugaya dodges an attack that almost leads to Hinamori's death, only to be intercepted by Matsumoto. 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. When Hitsugaya discovers Hinamori injured and interrogates Aizen, Hitsugaya tries to kill Aizen but is defeated.

In a later arc, Hitsugaya leads a group of Soul Reapers assigned to defend Karakura Town against the arrancar threat. During the first attack, he battles Shawlong Qufang. Though heavily injured, he wins after being allowed to remove his power limit. During the second arrancar attack, he fends off Luppi Antenorf. 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. Upon learning that Orihime Inoue 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.He returns to Karakura Town with the other Captains and engages the Third Espada, Tier Halibel alongside Hiyori Sarugaki and Lisa Yadomaru. He engages Aizen in battle and, with the combined efforts of Suì-Fēng, Shunsui Kyoraku and Shinji Hirako, stabs Aizen in the chest. However, Aizen had been using his zanpakutō's hypnotic abilities, tricking Hitsugaya into stabbing Hinamori. Hitsugaya attacks Aizen in a blind rage, only to be cut down. After Aizen's defeat, Hitsugaya, already healed, trains so that he can more freely use his bankai to protect Hinamori.

When Ginjo Kugo steals Ichigo's Fullbring, Hitsugaya and several other high-ranking Soul Reapers appear in the human world. To help Ichigo regain his Soul Reaper powers and combat the rogue Substitute Soul Reaper Kugo, Captain-Commander Yamamoto orders the Soul Reapers to give some of their spirit energy. Hitsugaya then engages the Fullbringer Yukio in a game of cat-and-mouse, ending with Hitsugaya encasing Yukio in ice, threatening to end his life if he does not release his Fullbring.

During the Wandenreich invasion of Soul Society, his bankai is stolen by his opponent, Cang Du.

Appearances in other mediaEdit

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. He is the main character in Bleach: 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. 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. He also appears in Bleach: Fade to Black, 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.

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. 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 Hinamori Momo and his lieutenant, Rangiku Matsumoto. The second one was also a compilation album, this time with the protagonist, Ichigo Kurosaki. His two songs are 'This Light I See' and 'Bleach the Limitation'. He is also portrayed by Takashi Nagayama in the Rock Bleach Musicals.

ReceptionEdit

Hitsugaya has been highly popular in the Weekly Shōnen Jump's Bleach popularity polls ranking most of the times within the top ten. 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. 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. Various merchandise based on Hitsugaya's appearance has been created, including action figures, plush toys and key-chains.

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. 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. In the 28th Anime Grand Prix poll, Hitsugaya was voted as the eighth most popular male anime character.

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". 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. 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."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.

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