Plus Souls which have passed on after death, and developed Spiritual Powers over time. Their innate ability to use Reiryoku allows them to perform superhuman feats, but at the cost of feeling hunger in the normally famine free world of Soul Society. Souls who show even the slightest use of Reiryoku are usually inducted into the Shinigami Acadmey, and trained to hone their skills. As students, there are given an Asauchi, which will bond to their soul, and develop into their own unique Zanpaktou over time.
Literally translating as "Soul Cutter" the Zanpaktou is a sword weilded by all Shinigami,. Each Zanpaktou is unique, and has its own Inner Spirit, which communicates with it's wielder and grants them special powers. They start of as Asauchi, which means "Shallow Hit", and bond to their Shinigami, taking a new form that reflects the wielder's soul.
A fully developed Zanpaktou has two forms: the Shikai, and the Bankai.
The Shikai is the power gained upon first learning the name of one's Zanpaktou Spirit, and grants a small boost in strength along with a new form to their weapon. Some of these forms merely grant access to new styles of fighting, but many have special abilties that can do tremendous damage in combat.
The Bankai grants an even stronger boost, and is accessed when one learns the true name of their Zanpaktou. Using the Bankai once again changes the form of the sword, and often cloaks the wielder in a symbol of their power. Use and Mastery of Bankai is one of the conditions for becoming a Captain in the Gotei 13, as it means one has attained the pinnacle of their innate power, and the only further progression to be made is in honing their physical skills, and developing new abilities.
All Zanpaktou, whether they be named or simply Asauchi, have the innate ability to purify the Soul of a Hollow who's body is destroyed with it's blade. When this exocrism is performed on a Hollow who's soul was sinful before Hollowfication, the Gates of Hell will open and a giant being will spear them and drag them into Hell.
Also called the Demon Arts, Kidou is an alternative technique used to channel Reiatsu in the form of binding and destructive spells. While technically all manner of spirits and humans with spiritual power may learn these arts, only the Shinigami have a compiled list of spells, and know the methods to teaching them. Among the two categories of Kidou there are also Forbidden Arts, each dangerous to use in their own unique ways.
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