Separation from Zangetsu
The following is a meditation on Ichigo’s wise choice to shut off interaction with attachment figure Zangetsu while still retaining him at the core of his soul.
Ichigo learns that old man Zangetsu (Fake-Zangetsu but hereon called “Zangetsu” for convenience) has been Juha Bach’s seed, branch and vehicle all along their history together. Zangetsu confirms his quincy nature and that he is not Ichigo’s true zanpakuto or “personal blade”. He then steps down and begins separation. Ichigo will now be deprived of Zangetsu’s precious formative dialogue, of a most valuable companionship and of a main attachment figure.
That separation from attachment figures is difficult is an understatement, and especially so if one is finally ready to process affects rather than block them. The coming out to light of Hollow-Ichigo, Ichigo taking him by the hand and giving him recognition as his “true Zanpakuto” (Ch. 541) is a sign that Ichigo has reached the stage of processing affects.
Separation is difficult but detachment from figures proven unreliable not unwise. If Zangetsu is unable to disacknowledge Juha Bach (the quincy source), then, on pain of being weakened by Juha Bach’s destructive influence through Zangetsu as interface, Ichigo must detach from the person Zangetsu. Inspired by recent readings from John Bowlby I formulated an argument from detachment to personal development to guide me through an akin process. The argument applies to Ichigo.
1. Personal development is proportional with psychological investment in „exploring” the world.
2. Psychological resources are unconsciously dedicated to first securing a psychological „base”, such that only after a base is secured are one’s psychological resources freed to be invested in exploration.
3. Attachments and secure bases are typically monotropic over reasonably long intervals, meaning that one’s secure base is typically represented by, or built around one attachment figure only.
4. But sustained positive interaction with an attachment figure tends to conserve patterns of psychological investment in securing one’s base around that particular figure regardless of that figure’s proven unreliability / rejective character.
5. But 3 and 4 mean that constant contact / sustained partnership with an old attachment figure typically delays the formation of new attachments.
6. And since new secure bases are more likely (quicker) to form than old attachment figures are likely to reform,
7. Then constant contact / sustained partnership with an unreliable / rejective attachment figure is more likely to delay personal development.
Ichigo’s words to Zangetsu “I’ll never ask you again to lend me your power… And I won’t tell you ‘let’s fight together” are sign that he commits to taking this wise advice.
However, as expected from an integrative character like Ichigo, after discovering that his authentic zanpakuto is Hollow-Ichigo and that Zangetsu is unreliable, Ichigo decides that Hollow-Ichigo and old Zangetsu are ‘both’ his authentic zanpakuto. Ichigo admirably commits to retain in his soul all of his personal history with Zangetsu and all of Zangetsu’s substance, the only Zangetsu aspect disowned being Juha Bach’s path of destruction.
Therefore, if corroborated with Ichigo’s decision to keep Zangetsu as his zanpakuto, Ichigo’s whole message in the last Chapter (significantly titled “The blade is me”) reflects the resolution to shut off dialogue with Zangetsu and at the same time retain Zangetsu at the core of his soul: “I’ll never ask you again to lend me your power… And I won’t tell you ‘let’s fight together’…. I will fight on my own… Thank you, Zangetsu .”
With Zangetsu ‘sealed’ inside, Ichigo’s struggle is now to become a better keeper of the quincy core than Juha Bach or Zangetsu himself for that matter. One may foresee a bitter fight between Juha Bach and Ichigo for the “imposition of a final interpretation upon” Zangetsu, if not even for person Zangetsu’s future. If I am right to say that Ichigo-Hollow-Zangetsu-One-Horned-Child represents the quincy seed purified of Juha Bach’s plans, then that is a portent of an envisioned Zangetsu renewal.