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Renji Abarai by Tite Kubo
|First appearance||Bleach manga chapter 51
Bleach anime episode 16
|Created by||Tite Kubo|
Reiko Kiuchi (child)
Wally Wingert (English)
Yuri Lowenthal (child)
|Bankai||Sōō Zabimaru (formerly Hihiō Zabimaru)|
Renji Abarai (阿散井 恋次 Abarai Renji?) is a fictional character and protagonist in the anime and manga series Bleach created by Tite Kubo. In the series, he initially dedicates his life to defeating Ichigo Kurosaki, the main protagonist of the series, before joining forces with him to rescue Rukia halfway through the Soul Society arc. He has since become a major protagonist and a consistent ally of Kurosaki.
Renji is very brash and cocky, but is willing to fight and even die for his beliefs. This is demonstrate during his fight with Byakuya Kuchiki when he attempts to save Rukia Kuchiki from her execution. Though he feuds with Rukia while in the Soul Reaper Acedemy, he is later seen regretting it, and wishes to make amends after she enters the Kuchiki clan. However, he never got the chance, as Rukia was already sent to Karakura Town, and only could continue their friendship thanks to Ichigo.
- Animal form: Voiced by: Toru Furusawa (Japanese), Wally Wingert (English)
- Spirit: Voiced by: Mitsuki Saiga (Baboon) and Asami Sanada (Snake) (Japanese), Mary Elizabeth McGlynn (Baboon) and Michelle Ruff (Snake) (English)
Abarai's zanpakutō is Zabimaru (蛇尾丸?, roughly "snake tail"), the name playing on the spirit within the weapon resembling a nue. Portrayed as battle-loving and proud, the two halves of Zabimaru are capable of speaking though the baboon is usually the more dominant one and sometimes argues with the snake tail. In Zabimaru's modified form during the anime-exclusive Zanpakuto Rebellion Arc, the baboon and snake respectively take the form of a woman and child who are normally bound by a chain.
Zabimaru's shikai command is "Howl" (咆えろ hoero?), transforming into a segmented blade with a pick-like protrusion on each segment. The segments are connected by a stretchable thread, making Zabimaru more useful as a whip than an actual sword. While Zabimaru can be stretched to incredible lengths in its whip form, Renji has a limit of three consecutive attacks before having to bring the segments of Zabimaru back together for recovery. Abarai can also use his spiritual power to separate the segments and surround an opponent with them, allowing him to execute a one-shot omnidirectional attack called higa zekkō (狒牙絶咬?, "bite of a baboon's broken fang").
For most of the storyline, not possessing the full name of his Zanpakutō at the time, Renji accessed an incomplete bankai called Hihiō Zabimaru (狒狒王蛇尾丸?, "baboon king snake tail"). In this state, its baboon half forming a pelt on Renji, Zabimaru's blade enlarges and becomes a skeletal snake whose segments are controlled by Renji's spirit pressire. Zabimaru also gains a special technique known as Hikōtsu Taihō (狒骨大砲?, "baboon bone cannon") as Renji becomes more adept, firing a dense blast of spiritual energy from Zabimaru's mouth. Renji can also use a much more powerful higa zekkō, where all the blade segments detach and sharpen using spiritual energy. During the battle with the Sternritter, Mask de Masculine, Renji is able to use his true bankai: Sōō Zabimaru. In this state, Zabimaru is compacted into form predomately worn by Renji with the snake skull smaller and affixed over Renji's right hand as a combination blade gauntlet and shield while a skeletal simian arm hovers just slightly above Renji's right arm. Sōō Zabimaru's signature technique Zaga Teppō is a close range attack where Renji uses his spiritual pressure to conjure a large snake skull that incinerates whatever it bites down on.
Abarai and his captain, Byakuya Kuchiki, are sent to the human world to find Rukia Kuchiki and bring her back to Soul Society. Once they find Rukia and prepare to return home, Ichigo Kurosaki arrives to save Rukia. Renji and Ichigo briefly fight, however, Ichigo was easily gains the upper hand after a sudden release of reiatsu, which was actually random bursts of resolve. Byakuya steps in and easily defeats Ichigo. After they return to Soul Society and Rukia is imprisoned, Renji periodically checks up on her, trying to keep her spirits high despite her impending execution.
Ichigo soon arrives in Soul Society to continue his attempted rescue of Rukia. Renji, feeling Ichigo is to blame for Rukia's sentence, goes to fight him. Despite his best efforts, Renji is defeated and subsequently imprisoned for his failure. Before Ichigo leaves, Renji pleads for Ichigo to save Rukia. Once he recovers, Renji escapes from his confinement and begins training to achieve bankai of his zanpakutō. After completing his training, Renji sets out to free Rukia. Before he can do so, however, he is stopped by Byakuya. The two clash with their respective bankai. Byakuya's mastery of bankai and Renji's inexperience result in Byakuya's victory.
Following this battle, Renji goes to the site of Rukia's execution in a last attempt to save her despite his extensive injuries. Ichigo, having beaten him there, entrusts Rukia's safety to Renji and the two try to escape. Along the way they are met by Kaname Tōsen, who teleports them back to the execution site. Upon learning that Tōsen and Sōsuke Aizen are traitors that intend to kill Rukia, Renji fights to defend her, but is effortlessly defeated by Aizen. Rukia is ultimately saved by Byakuya, though Aizen is able to escape Soul Society.
As Aizen's arrancars begin to threaten the human world, Renji is one of a group of Soul Reapers sent to help defend against the arrancar attacks. During the second arrancar invasion, Renji fights against Ilfort Grantz, whom he is able to defeat once his power limit is lifted. After the battle, Renji is recruited by Kisuke Urahara to help train Yasutora Sado. Upon Orihime Inoue's capture by the arrancar, however, Renji and the other Soul Reapers are recalled to Soul Society.
Unwilling to abandon Orihime, Renji and Rukia go to Hueco Mundo to join Ichigo, Sado (Chad), and Uryū Ishida in their attempt to rescue her. After their group splits up, Renji is joined by Dondochakka Bilstin while traveling through the arrancar base Las Noches. They eventually encounter the Octava Espada, Szayelaporro Grantz. Upon being drawn into battle with the Espada, Renji discovers that Szayelaporro has nullified all of his abilities as a result of Szayelaporro's earlier research. Uryū soon arrives to lend assistance, though his attacks are also rendered inert by Szayelaporro. No longer able to attack, Renji and Uryū are left at Szayelaporro's mercy until Mayuri Kurotsuchi arrives to save and heal them. He, Rukia, and Chad, are then attacked by a furious Yammy, who is revealed as the strongest of the espada, going from 10 to 0.
Seventeen months after Aizen's defeat, Renji heads to Karakura with many other high level shinigami, observing the restoration of Ichigo shinigami abilities and his battle with Kugo Ginjo. Renji then engages the Fullbringer Jackie Tristan in combat, and easily defeats her, revealing that he had trained over the last 17 months to be powerful enough to fight Aizen.
After attending Sasakibe's funeral with Byakuya, the two face off against Stern Ritter F, Äs Nödt, after the Vandenreich invade the Soul Society. Byakuya's bankai is stolen and is used by Äs Nödt which almost kills him. Renji attempts to avenge Byakuya by activating his own bankai, but is blindsided by a kick from another Stern Ritter and is knocked across the Seireitei. After the invasion, Shinji Hirako heals both Renji and Rukia and are taken along with Ichigo and a still-breathing Byakuya to the Royal Palace by the Royal Guard. Upon being healed by Tenjiro Kirinji's healing techniques, Renji regains consciousness and accompanies Ichigo (and Kon) to the next palace.
After finishing his training with the Royal Guard (and perfecting his Bankai), Renji and Rukia return to Soul Society and arrive just after Sternritter "S", Mask de Masculine, has defeated several Captains and Lieutenants in a battle. Renji fights him and eventually kills him by using his perfected Bankai for the first time.
Appearances in other media
Renji has made several appearances outside of the Bleach anime and manga. He fights the Dark Ones with various Soul Reaper in Bleach: Memories of Nobody and help in the search for Tōshirō Hitsugaya in Bleach: The DiamondDust Rebellion. He is also featured in, Bleach: Fade to Black when he, along with all the other Soul Reapers, loses his memories from Rukia and Ichigo, and ends confronting them later. He is also in Bleach: Hell Verse. He is also present in the original video animations The Sealed Sword Frenzy combating the rogue Soul Reaper Baishin. In the Bleach video games, Renji is a playable character in most games with shikai and bankai states.
Renji has ranked relatively high in the Shōnen Jump popularity votes, once ranking 4th place, More recently, he is no longer in the top 10, being displaced in favor of newer characters such as Grimmjow Jeagerjaques and Ulquiorra Cifer. IGN called Renji's debut into the anime "stylish and cool" and added that the short battle between Ichigo and Renji was "nicely done," noting that from the moment he was introduced, his style and weapon made him a character "[they] want to see more of." They later added in another review about Renji's change in character saying: "...It's nice to see a nicer Renji compared to the jerkish character we were introduced to. Renji's determination to save Rukia is admirable; really makes him a much more likeable character..." By the end of the Soul Society arc, Renji was "still cocky, but we've at least gotten to see that he has weaknesses just like everyone else," having "totally changed since he attacked Ichigo in the very first season." Animeondvd.com also praised Renji's development in the story praising Tite Kubo's way of telling his background making the readers change their ideas of the character. Wally Wingert, Renji's English voice actor, has found Renji to be the "coolest" part of the series he could ever had, having liked his design and skills. He also liked his development in the series, such as his relation with Rukia.
- Bleach manga; volume 7 tankōbon, page 43 (chapter 54, page 13)
- Bleach manga; chapter 564 page 11
- Bleach: Memories of Nobody (DVD). Viz Media. 2008.
- 劇場版BLEACH The DiamondDust Rebellion もう一つの氷輪丸 (DVD). TV Tokyo. 2008.
- "Third Bleach Film, First Major Film Have Titles, Dates". Anime News Network. 2008-07-15. Retrieved 2009-03-24.
- Bleach: Memories in the Rain (DVD). TV Tokyo. 2006.
- Bleach - The Sealed Sword Frenzy (DVD). TV Tokyo. 2006.
- SCEI, ed. (2007). Bleach: Heat the Soul 4 Japanese instruction manual (in Japanese). SCEI.
- Bleach manga Character Poll; volume 24 tankōbon.
- IGN: Encounter: Abarai Renji Review
- IGN: Gin Ichimaru's Temptation, Resolution Shattered Review
- IGN: Reality of the Despair, the Assassin's Dagger is Swung Review
- "Bleach Vol. #11 review". Mania. Retrieved 2008-07-03.
- Bleach Uncut Season 2 Box Set; Behind the scenes of Bleach (DVD). Viz Media. August 19, 2008.