The story of Bleach features one of shonen's best combat systems, which revolves around kido spells, Hollow powers and most of all, zanpakuto, or soul-cutting swords. All Soul Reapers carry a zanpakuto, and officers can use a shikai release or even a bankai release to quickly overpower their opponents with unique abilities and effects.
However, of all zanpakuto revealed in the story of Bleach, none is more fearsome and reputable than Ryujin Jakka, the zanpakuto wielded by Captain-General Genryusai Shigekuni Yamamoto. His bankai won't save the world -- it would burn the world down instead, and ultimately, this power failed to save anyone.
The Flame Powers Of Ryujn Jakka's Bankai, Zanka No Tachi
In its sealed state, Ryujin Jakka resembles an ordinary katana, while its shikai state allows Yamamoto to create intense and powerful flames all over the place, such as during the final battle against the traitorous Sosuke Aizen. Very rarely, however, will Yamamoto release Ryujin Jakka's bankai, let alone use it against an opponent. As some characters have observed, this bankai, named Zanka no Tachi, has the power to reduce the entire world to ashes, including the Soul Society itself. Yamamoto now considers his past self to be a horrible flame demon that brought misery to the world, showing the shame he has in his thuggish and violent past.
When Yamamoto activates bankai, his zanpakuto appears badly scorched, although it doesn't grow any larger, setting it apart from most bankai. The blade is hotter than the sun's surface, and once it strikes someone, they aren't just burned -- they are vaporized from the extreme heat, practically erased from existence. The victim won't even have any clear scorch marks from their wounds, nor are they set on fire. And there's more.
Zanka no Tachi has four major abilities, one for each cardinal direction. The East technique is an even stronger version of this bankai's basic abilities, while the West effect enshrouds Yamamoto in incredibly intense heat that may appear flame-shaped if his spiritual pressure becomes visible. The West technique appears largely defensive in nature, so Yamamoto must use the North and South techniques to defeat his opponents.
The South effect involves thrusting Zanka no Tach into the ground, which then summons the charred skeletons of anyone and everyone this bankai has ever killed. Those skeletons fight tirelessly on Yamamoto's behalf, and Yamamoto can even send specific skeletons to attack his enemy to inflict psychological pressure on them if the enemy recognizes the corpse. Finally, the North technique is an ultra-powerful slash that can destroy absolutely any foe it touches without mercy.
Yamamoto's Use Of Zanka No Tachi In The Story Of Bleach
Yamamoto revealed his shikai in the "Soul Society" story arc and used it again in the final battle against Aizen, but he kept his bankai sealed away until an impostor king Yhwach confronted him. Yamamoto had failed once before to kill Yhwach, and now, in the "Thousand-Year Blood War" arc, Yamamoto aimed to finish the job with his fearsome bankai.
Yamamoto dealt serious damage to the impostor Yhwach with his bankai, then used all four cardinal direction techniques to apply further pressure. In particular, Yamamoto used the South effect to send the skeletal remains of long-dead Quincy warriors after Yhwach, which deeply disturbed the latter. Finally, after deflecting Yhwach's counterattack, Yamamoto used the North ability to fatally slash his opponent, only for the real Yhwach to appear at last.
Despite the serious risks and collateral damage of using Zanka no Tachi, Yamamoto activated his bankai again, only for Yhwach to use his medallion and steal it -- something no other Quincy could have done. This left Yamamoto vulnerable, and Yhwach struck him down. Zanka no Tachi is incredibly powerful, but it was never meant to save the world from Yhwach or any other foe. In fact, thanks to its extreme heat, this bankai is more liable to burn the entire world down, hence Yamamoto's shame in it. Now it's up to Ichigo to finish the job Yamamoto started and save the world from Yhwach's wrath.