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|Affiliation||Gotei 13, Soul Society|
|Previous Affiliation||11th Division|
|Previous Occupation||Captain (11th Division)|
|Base of Operations||Fujibayashi mansion, Soul Society|
|Relatives||(See Fujibayashi Family)|
"A true swordsman balances attack and defense. Attack gives one the ability to win and defense to not lose."
Masaru Fujibayashi (藤林 勝; Fujibayashi Masaru) was a member of the Fujibayashi Family and shinigami of Soul Society who was credited with high excellence in the zanjutsu techniques. As a master of many forms of zanjutsu, he was an extraordinary, but strict, teacher of generations of shinigami. It was said that he was capable of stopping a Gillian class menos in its tracks with a sealed zanpakuto. Masaru spent hundreds of years in self-exile in the human world in order to hone his skill with the blade before returning to Soul Society. Since his return, he has assumed the position of captain of the Eleventh Division in the Gotei 13. However, his captaincy was short-lived, since Masaru stepped down to allow the next Kenpachi to assume the position.
Born into the the minor noble family Fujibayashi, Masaru had his early life planned out for him by his parents. He attended the shinigami academy, showing early signs of natural talent in swordsmanship, though average in kidō. Upon graduation, Masaru was assigned to the Sixth Division.
Under the command of an unidentified Kuchiki, Masaru grudgingly followed the orders of the higher noble. After centuries of dissatisfaction with the other's leadership, Masaru left the hierarchy of the Gotei 13 and became a teacher in the shinigami academy he left in his previous lifestyle. There, he became an instructor of swordsmanship techniques. Through teaching, Masaru gained a notorious reputation of his extremely strict teaching style. It was extremely rare for even the most talented of a graduating class to receive any sort of laudable comment for performance under Masaru's guidance.
He was eventually challenged by another instructor to a duel with bokutō, which Masaru easily won through the use of kendo techniques. In the process, the challenger's bokutō was cracked and was noted that the other's hands were visibly shaking afterwards. The duel gave Masaru respect of different forms; it is worth noting that many Eleventh Division members praised Masaru's technique.
It was around this time that Masaru's brother introduced him to young Hotaru, his niece. He said little about her, but agreed that she was to be the heir of the Fujibayashi. He rarely interacted with Hotaru, focusing more on his job and studies.
Despite his harsh attitude towards others, Masaru had several friends throughout the years. It was rare for them to ask him favors, but on one occasion, he was asked to check on a rural location in Japan's Hokkaidō prefecture, since the Hollow activity there increased, according to reports.
Doing what was asked of him, Masaru checked it out, finding nothing of interest there. That is, until he found a shinigami patrol under attack. He came to their aid, but it was too late. By the time he drove off the enormous Hollow attack, all of the patrolmen were beyond saving. Cursing his inability to protect others, Masaru did not return to Soul Society: he remained in the human world to hone his skills in a more hostile environment, effectively in self-exile.
Sometime after he returned to Soul Society, Masaru traveled to the human world in search for his exiled niece, Hotaru. He and Kohaku planned to confront the Central Chambers 46 in order to nullify the sentence against her for the false accusation of participating in the same illegal experiments that banished Urahara. He was confronted by Seireitou Kuchiki when he attempted to approach Hotaru and had a brief duel with the vizard. However, Hotaru quickly ended the fight by agreeing to return to Soul Society, and Masaru and his niece returned in peace.
Promotion to Captain
After much self-thought, Masaru decided to take the captain proficiency test. He, though with mild difficulty, passed the test with the necessary witnesses and became captain of the Eleventh Division. This marked the beginning of a period in the division in which the Eleventh Division Captain was not the Kenpachi.
Main article: The End War In the End War, Masaru took up the challenge of facing the Segunda Espada when Termino's Espada invaded Soul Society. At first, he was taken off-guard by the Espada's aging abilities, having to cut off his own left arm to prevent the arrancar from killing him outright. However, the release of his bankai gave him the upper hand, allowing the captain to defeat his opponent.
After the battle, he had his arm replaced by the 4th Division Captain.
Though victorious, Masaru saw his new arm as a hinderance to his ability as a captain of the 11th. When a new Kenpachi challenged him, Masaru stepped down instead, giving the new Kenpachi captaincy.
Personality and traits
A teacher who leaves little room for failure, Masaru has maintained a notorious, yet respected, reputation as an extremely strict instructor of zanjutsu. Many consider it a rarity for him to treat others other than his family nicely, possibly as a means of toughening up those who Masaru has to work with. He has a habit of smoking, which could be traced back to his self-exile in the human world. Despite his overly demanding and cruel treatment of pupils, he cared for them, not wanting them to easily fall prey to Hollows.
He was indifferent in personality towards his lieutenant, Ryuka Injiki. To his lieutenant, Masaru revealed his philosophy of the 11th Division, which was comparable to Darwin's theory of natural selection.
Powers and abilities
Master Swordsmanship Specialist: Being a swordmaster, Masaru can defeat most opponents in a purely zanpakutō-based battle without having to use shikai abilities. However, since the loss of his original arm, Masaru grumbled about a loss of finesse with his skills.
Flash Step Master: Masaru has notable speed with the usage of shunpo, capable of catching up to fleeing foes in a heartbeat.
Enhanced Strength: In his brief fight against Seireitou Kuchiki, Masaru was credited with raw power that rivaled the strength of Ulquiorra or even Aizen. This is further demonstrated against Valor Alma, masterfully defeating the other despite losing an arm in the fight.
Immense Spiritual Power: As Captain of the 11th Division, Masaru has a significant reserve of reiatsu. Even so, he has never been seen utilizing it in combat.
Dōraku (どうらく) is the zanpakutō of Masaru Fujibayashi. Because it is a constant release type, there is no release incantation associated with Dōraku.
- Shikai: Taking the form of an ōdachi like weapon, Dōraku is often carried by its master by hand. On occasions, the zanpakutō would be strapped to Masaru's back, but this remains an uncommon practice.
- Shikai Ability: Although a kidō-type zanpakutō, Dōraku is designed to aid in zanjutsu combat. It has the ability to absorb kidō based attacks, including a hollow's cero, and utilize that power to enhance the damage potential of Dōraku's blows. However, this ability is far from perfect: it is possible for more powerful energy attacks to avoid being completely absorbed by Dōraku's blade before hitting Masaru. The full name of the zanpakutō shikai is Dōraku-kengō.
- Bankai: Dōraku-Kensei (どうらく剣聖; lit. Sword Saint Dōraku). It has a highly distinctive physical appearance in comparison to many other bankai. Instead of growing to massive proportions, due to the surge of reiatsu, Dōraku downgrades in appearance to that of a suburitō.
- Bankai special ability: In this form, Dōraku absorbs and is enhanced by kidō-like attacks, its shikai ability, alongside a list of other abilities. Dōraku also adds power to its blows by slowly absorbing the reiatsu of other spirits in close proximity. It should be noted that Dōraku tends to absorb reiatsu at a greater rate when his opponent unleashes substantial amounts of reiatsu. Another ability of Masaru's bankai is that all enhancement abilities, such as shunpo, are nullified while within a certain radius around the zanpakutō. This ability also affects Masaru. It is notable that Masaru considers this his last resort, since its powers do not allow him to easily gauge his natural skills against an opponent.
Behind the scenes
Niten Dōraku was the Buddhist name for the famed kensei Miyamoto Musashi, who founded Hyōhō Niten Ichi-ryū (兵法二天一流): a school that taught a dual-wielding sword art that varies with combatant. Musashi was also notable for his usage of bokutō, instead of a katana, in his duels.
- The Offer (First appearance)
- Clashing Blades: Masaru Fujibayashi v. Matthew Toshiro (Non-canonic appearance)
- End War (Cameo appearance)
- Of the Worthiness
Behind the scenes
While retrieving Hotaru, Masaru has been acquainted with Seireitou Kuchiki. In their conversation, there is a slight indication that Masaru was aware of Seireitou's status as a member of the noble family, but it remains unclear whether it was merely a coincidence or not. Due to the character being replaced by Seireitou Kawahiru, Masaru's relationship with the character is in question.
Masaru means "victory," referencing Masaru's stature as a skilled combatant who was never seen losing to an opponent.