Hollow Hybrids

Kurosaki Ichigo being the reincarnation of Shiba Kaien is all well and good, but the key question remains. Yes, he was a Shinigami and his soul remains one and retains some instinctive knowledge of Shinigami ways, yet even Kaien did not have Ichigo's endless reserves of sheer monstrous power. Where does it come from? As Captain Aizen Sousuke here conveniently explains, every Shinigami has a genkai (maximum potential) that they can not by default surpass, and the only way to exceed this genkai is to become a Shinigami-Hollow hybrid. Does this imply that, unlike Shinigami, Hollows have some kind of unlimited potential? Do they get it from tapping into the energy of Hueco Mundo (the Hollows' world)? Who knows.

Aizen specialized in research of turning Hollows into Shinigami. Indeed, the Hollow that Kaien fought was one of his creations - it could destroy a zanpaku-tou and fuse with any Shinigami. But none of Aizen's creations were advanced enough to be called a "new being." Only Urahara Kisuke succeeded in creating the mechanism to instantly transform a Hollow into a Shinigami and vice-versa, and it was called hou gyoku. He deemed it "dangerous" (hmm... why?) and, failing to destroy it, hid it instead.

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Chapter 175
Let us return to that confrontation once again. Here we have the Hollow-Kaien explaining that this was not like a spirit possessing a physical body, this was the fusion of two spiritual beings into one and they could never be separated again. This meant that when Kaien died, his soul was merged with a Hollow. One could argue that a zanpakuto-to is designed to purify a Hollow, so Rukia would have killed it when she stabbed Kaien. However, the nature of their unorthodox union implied that Kaien was no longer purely Shinigami and the Hollow was no longer strictly a Hollow at the time of death. This allows for the strong possibility that the zanpaku-to would not affect it the way it would a standard Hollow. <<< Read from RIGHT to LEFT <<<

Chapter 136
Much later, after Ukitake recognized Ichigo as greatly resembling Kaien, he gave him a creepy-looking amulet as a parting gift. <<< Read from RIGHT to LEFT <<<

Chapter 181
He said it was a "Seal of Approval" traditionally given to humans who are acting as Shinigami if they are recognized as beneficial to Soul Society.

Tradition, huh? I wonder if it's also traditional to give these things out covertly, at the last minute, out of a crumpled bag.

Ishida finds it quite suspicious. After all, humans aren't supposed to have Shinigami powers, and the apparent punishment for a Shinigami transferring such powers to a human is death!

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Chapter 182
Other Shinigami don't seem to recognize it. <<< Read from RIGHT to LEFT <<<

Chapter 184
Ukitake also mentions that it is a "very powerful tool" and "very risky for non-Shinigami to use," even though all it appears to do is detect Hollows. So what is the true significance of this amulet? And why did Ukitake choose to give it to Ichigo? <<< Read from RIGHT to LEFT <<<

Chapter 183
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