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Now that I've unleashed my bankai, think of both my body and blade as...the embodiment of the Sun!!
~ Yamamoto
Why, precisely, do you think I have served as Captain-Commander of the Gotei 13 for a thousand years? Because in all those thousand years, no Shinigami was born to rival me in strength.
~ Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto.

Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto was the captain of the 1st Division in the Gotei 13 and also the Captain-Commander.

He was voiced by famous voice actor Neil Kaplan.

History

Around 2,100 years ago, Yamamoto was the "Genryū" Founder and "Genji School" Head Instructor. At some point, Yamamoto founded the Gotei 13 as well. Yamamoto was himself a teacher at this academy, and personally instructed Shunsui Kyōraku and Jūshirō Ukitake. He admits to being rather proud of the two. When they became captains, he boasted about them as though they were his sons. During Yamamoto's time as an instructor, Chōjirō Sasakibe routinely visited him, always referring to him as "Eijisai-dono", a reference to the large scar on his forehead, despite knowing it annoyed him. He insisted it would be wrong to use Yamamoto's real name. During one of his visits, Chōjirō told Yamamoto he wished to be his right arm and compensate for anything which Yamamoto could not do. When Yamamoto told him to become his disciple, he declined. At Yamamoto's behest, Chōjirō tried to defeat him with his Bankai. Though he failed to defeat him, he left a permanent scar on Yamamoto's forehead, crossing his earlier scar. Others began to refer to him by a different name due to the new scar, but Chōjirō refused to use this new name. As a result, Yamamoto decided to call himself Genryūsai. Approximately one thousand years ago, Yamamoto became the Captain-Commander of the Gotei 13. Around the same time, he failed to kill Yhwach. On various occasions, Yamamoto would catch the young Shunsui Kyōraku sneaking into his room. On one particular instance, he scolded the boy for doing so. When Shunsui asked about a picture of a dark silhouette within a field of fire, Yamamoto explained how the picture was of a monster which appeared in Soul Society a long time ago. He stated it had appeared at a time when Soul Society was facing a difficult situation, and the monster's appearance had made the situation worse. When Shunsui asked a question about the monster's return, Yamamoto stated he probably would not. At some point, Yamamoto came across Sajin Komamura and gave him the opportunity to join the Gotei 13, despite him not being a Human soul. Sometime shortly after Kenpachi Zaraki joined the Gotei 13, Yamamoto forced him to learn kendō because he had not learned any formal swordsmanship training, having bypassed those normally necessary qualifications due to the way he attained his position. Concerned by the devastation which Kenpachi could cause if he were to ever rebel after growing even stronger, Central 46 had Yamamoto stop the training after just one day. 

Personality

As the Captain-Commander of the Gotei 13, Yamamoto is highly respected by most of the Shinigami, most notably Sajin Komamura, who views Yamamoto as a benefactor who saved his life. The embodiment of conviction, Yamamoto follows the laws and regulations of Soul Society to the letter, and expects the same of others. He is not a man to tolerate insubordination, and is vocal with those who attempt to act in such a manner. He is quick to anger in the face of possible betrayal, and can be quite aggressive in combat. He has a habit of referring to those he faces in battle as "youngster", and he refers to a battle as a "beating" or "punishment". When in a state of peace, he carries himself with an air of frailty, to the point where he fell asleep standing while awaiting Shunsui Kyōraku's arrival for a meeting. Due to years of experience, Yamamoto very rarely shows any sign of distress or surprise, usually responding by opening one or both of his eyes, which are partially closed slits for the majority of the time.Yamamoto is very loyal to Soul Society, and takes his duties very seriously, expecting the same from the rest of the Gotei 13. His loyalty is so great, he is willing to sacrifice himself and the Gotei 13 in order to defeat Aizen, believing it to be their duty to lay down their lives for the sake of the Soul Society if necessary. Yamamoto becomes visibly angry when Shunsui, Byakuya Kuchiki, and Kenpachi Zaraki lose their haori and show little regret: to him, the haori represents their status as captains. Yamamoto appreciates Eastern cultures, and is a master at the Japanese tea ceremony. He dislikes the Western traditions preferred by his lieutenant Chōjirō Sasakibe. Yamamoto holds a tea session every month in the 1st Division quarters for every member of his division. He plaits his own beard and arranges its ends once a month, and likes to be rubbed down with a dry towel while exposed to the sun on his balcony.

Powers & Abilities

Master Swordsman: As the founder of the Shinō Academy and a warrior with over two millennia of combat experience, Yamamoto is the most powerful combatant in Soul Society.Few would hope to come out alive from a fight with him. He can fight two captain-level Shinigami simultaneously with a single hand. His skill in swordsmanship is great enough to take down his opponent with a single precise strike. 

Shunpo Master: Yamamoto is highly skilled and experienced in the art of Shunpo, outracing Shunsui Kyōraku and Jūshirō Ukitake during a chase across the Seireitei. He overtook both captains, and arrived at their destination first without even being noticed by them.Master Strategist & Tactician: With his years of experience as a teacher and warrior, along with being the commander of the entire Gotei 13, Yamamoto is a very intelligent man. He can quickly adjust to new developments and make quick decisions accordingly. He has great tactical acumen, proven by his preparations for the battle in the Fake Karakura Town. As noted by Aizen, Yamamoto is very cunning, setting up a trap to kill him while Aizen was focused on the Visored and the rest of the Gotei 13. He is a very perceptive man, easily deducing Captain Mayuri Kurotsuchi was hiding knowledge on the Bounts. His skill at battle tactics is undeniable: as general, he commonly sends the captains and divisions out to engage in battle, be it to relatively small or large threats, and has done so for a number of centuries.

Immense Spiritual Power: Being one of the oldest member of Soul Society and second oldest shingami behind Retsu Unohana, Yamamoto possesses an exceedingly powerful Reiryoku. Its sheer strength is great enough to easily break free from four overlapping and high-level Bakudō spells restraining him.Even Aizen openly acknowledges Yamamoto's power is superior to his own spiritual power.Yamamoto states he has served as the Captain-Commander of the Gotei 13 for over 1,000 years because there has not been a Shinigami stronger than him born in all this time. 

Masterful Reiatsu Control: Yamamoto can exert his Reiatsu to induce fear in captain-level combatants, and can physically paralyze combatants of lieutenant-level and lower simply by gazing in their direction.Yamamoto's spiritual pressure has the same effect as his Zanpakutō, for it is the elemental representative of fire. He tends to glow with a fiery aura, which has the potential to burn and set his surroundings on fire without the use of his Zanpakutō. It is the formidable pressure of his Reiatsu which makes the Reiatsu itself look like flames. When Yamamoto is enraged, his Reiatsu is powerful enough to be felt all around Seireitei with tremendous force.

Immense Strength: In addition to his surprisingly muscular physique for his age, Yamamoto possesses tremendous physical strength. He easily and swiftly put a large hole into the chest of the monster Ayon without much effort at all, using only the blunt end of his cane. With a single hand, he stopped one of Ayon's strikes and overpowered it, despite it having enlarged its arm and increased its strength several folds.With one punch, he put a large hole through the chest of Wonderweiss Margela while he was in Resurrección and sent him flying back several city blocks.He tore off Wonderweiss' arms, with his bare hands, with little to no effort.With a single double-fisted strike, he shattered Wonderweiss' entire body into pieces.

Immense Endurance: Despite his old age, Yamamoto can fight for long periods of time, even when outnumbered, with no visible signs of exhaustion. He can take direct attacks from others unfazed. He can endure being impaled on a sword without so much as flinching from the perceived damage, even when the blow is dealt by the likes of Aizen. Even after being bifurcated by Yhwach,Yamamoto survived and managed to grab onto his cloak.

Immense Durability: In addition to his resilience, Yamamoto possesses remarkable durability. He fought against two of Soul Society's strongest captains, Shunsui Kyōraku and Jūshirō Ukitake, and emerged without any sign of injury. He took an onslaught of punches from Wonderweiss's multiple arms twice, and came out completely unfazed by the assault, with no more than simple scratches.He sustained an explosion of flames which had the power to incinerate all of Karakura Town and a great area around it. In his younger years, he challenged Chōjirō to defeat him with his newly achieved Bankai, and in the end only suffered a light scar on his forehead. 2000 years later, he would take on a barrage of powerful lightning strikes from Chōjirō's fully mastered Bankai and only be singed by its power, though he stated it had become weaker. He can easily deflect a giant Heilig Pfeil from a Stern Ritter with one hand without any noticeable damage done to his being. SokotsuYamamoto uses Sōkotsu on Wonderweiss.

Hakuda Master: While it is unknown how much his ability has declined from old age, Yamamoto remains a highly skilled and dangerous combatant even without his Zanpakutō. In addition to his skill in swordsmanship, he is a master in hand-to-hand combat. He effortlessly caught a strike from the deceptively fast Ayon. Yamamoto can deliver powerful blows which can smash through Espada-level Hierro, and block the majority of multiple punches from a multi-armed opponent. Ryūjin Jakka: Yamamoto's Zanpakutō is the oldest and most powerful fire-type Zanpakutō, and has greater attack power than all other Zanpakutō in Soul Society. In its sealed form, Ryūjin Jakka usually takes the appearance of a harmless wooden staff, which can be used like a spear. At any time, Yamamoto can remove this disguise by peeling off the wood, revealing its true form of a standard katana, with a dark purple handle and a circular hand guard. Its power is so great, even the strongest of Shinigami are afraid of it, even in its sealed form. After Yamamoto was killed, Ryūjin Jakka, now scorched and shattered, was returned to the 1st Division barracks.

Ryūjin Jakka Its Shikai command is "Reduce All Creation to Ash" (万象一切灰燼と為せ, banshō issai kaijin to nase; "All things in the universe turn to ashes" in the English Dub).The release of his Zanpakutō comes with an extreme release of spiritual pressure, affecting all in the area, and can be felt for miles upon miles across all of the Seireitei. Shikai Special Ability: When released, the blade of Ryūjin Jakka is engulfed in fire.The aura of this weapon disintegrates everything and anything which Yamamoto waves the sword at, changing it into nothing more than ash, and engulfs the surrounding landscape in a blazing firestorm, the heat of which is intense enough to scorch the sky.Only powerful fighters such as Shunsui and Ukitake can resist it, but even then only indirectly. Even in its Shikai, Ryūjin Jakka is powerful enough to fight against the Shikai of two other captains simultaneously, both of whom had the reputation of being the strongest captains in Soul Society while together.Unlike other known Zanpakutō, resealing Ryūjin Jakka does not deactivate any ability already used against an opponent, proven when Yamamoto imprisons Sōsuke Aizen, Gin Ichimaru, and Kaname Tōsen.

Bankai: Zanka no Tachi (残火の太刀, "Longsword of the Remnant Flame"): In its Bankai, the blade takes the form of an ancient and worn katana, severely scorched by fire.

Bankai Special Ability: Upon activation, any flames previously produced by Ryūjin Jakka are absorbed into the blade. Zanka no Tachi incorporates the full power of Yamamoto's flames into the blade: the flames within the blade burn anything it cuts out of existence. Zanka no Tachi has the side-effect of depleting the moisture in an entire area (at least the size of the Seireitei), causing the air and the water to dry up. Even Tōshirō Hitsugaya's Bankai, Daiguren Hyōrinmaru, cannot be used, for its ice melts due to the intense heat of Zanka no Tachi. Over the course of 1000 years, the power of Zanka no Tachi has greatly increased, changing from having once set ablaze anything it cuts to incinerating anything it cuts out of existence. No flames are visible as it cuts.Yamamoto claims releasing his Bankai clads both his blade and his body in the flames of the sun, and that prolonged use of his Bankai can destroy his opponent, Soul Society, and even himself.

Trivia

  • His English Voice Actor, Neil Kaplan is best known voicing as Hawkmon & his Digivolution forms from Digimon Adventure 02, MetalGreymon, Bagramon from Digimon Fusion and Madara Uchiha from Naruto Shippuden.

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