Bleach 542 – Two Is Better Than One
Ichigo finally arrives at the moment of truth and draws out his new zanpakuto’s; it’s a pair of dual-wielded swords for extra awesomeness. The larger one in his right hand is an oversized cleaver that’s pretty similar to his previous shikai form but with a hollowed out portion in the middle, and the smaller one is more like a butcher knife with the handle built into the blade. It’s clear that design was intended to up Ichigo’s cool factor by a couple degrees (as if it wasn’t enough already), but there seems to be some parallels between his power as well. Based on the panels, I’m guessing that the right-hand blade (the “true” Zangetsu) represents Whitey, the manisfestation of Ichigo’s hollow/shinigami powers; and the smaller one is old man Zangetsu, Ichigo’s quincy powers. My interpretation is that he has accepted both sides as part of who he is, and thus both are bonded to him and manifested in his zanpakutou. There’s no information as to whether Ichigo will gain any additional abilities with these new swords, nor to what his bankai form will be like, but he’s certainly going to be significantly stronger now with his true abilities now in play. Apparently, drawing out his zanpakutou from the forge with his bare hands emanated enough power and heat to evaporate the ocean surrounding them.
Content-wise, this was a pretty short chapter with little more shown than the revelation of Zangetsu. At the end, the scene switches to Yhwach and his Stenreitter as he prepares to make an announcement, and I assume, to begin preparing the next stage of his plans.