The Samurai Zabimaru Katana accurately replicates the ordinary form of the magical weapon wielded by Renji Abarai in the popular Japanese manga series Bleach. Though sometimes described as having a red handle, the sword’s normal form is actually black-handled as shown here. Only during transformation does the color shift to red.
The tsuba or blade guard shows a lightning symbol appropriate to the sword, and both tsuba and pommel are cast from bronzed metal. Construction of the katana is largely traditional with a full tang blade of high carbon stainless steel. Simulation white rayskin covers the hardwood handle with a woven ito or grip of black cord over that. The sword’s scabbard is black lacquered hardwood with cast metal fittings and a black cord sageo. On the blade, you’ll find the wavy line of an etched hamon, representing the clay-tempering mark left behind when swords of high quality receive two tempering levels appropriate to the different functions of blade and spine.
As always with Bleach weapons, the magical counterpart of the sword would be very difficult to reproduce. The spirit Zabimaru — a baboon with a snake tail — resides in this blade and is one of the few weapon spirits who becomes visible in the Manga. In response to Renji’s shikai or battle cry, the sword transforms into a segmented metal whip of seemingly infinite length, capable of three strikes before it must collapse and reform. Zabimaru also has a higher form or bankai — a giant segmented serpent who bites or smashes the enemy.
See the Wabisuke Bleach Sword for an example of another magical weapon reproduced in its shikai form.
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