For the most part, Ichigo appears like a normal teenage boy; the one exception to that is his spiky orange hair, a trait that he has been ridiculed about for years. He is a fairly tall person with pale skin and brown eyes. Also, since becoming a Shinigami, he has become noticeably more muscular, as noted by his sister Karin.
Personality-wise, Ichigo is a stubborn, short-tempered, occasionally confrontational, spontaneous, determined, outspoken, strong-willed, witty, cynical, impulsive young man, and is extremely protective of his friends and family. This latter trait is the driving force behind most of his actions and almost all of the story arcs have stemmed from him rushing off to save someone, usually females.
He attempts to maintain a detached and "cool" image, despite claiming to not care about what other people think about him. For this reason, he generally keeps his face set in a permanent scowl. However, despite this "tough guy" image he tries to maintain, he becomes extremely shy and uncomfortable around nude or immodestly dressed women, a fact both Rangiku Matsumoto and Yoruichi Shihōin have teased him for. It is also noted by Lisa Yadōmaru that Ichigo enjoys to read her erotic mangas though he denies it. He is also rather cocky and has been known to taunt and belittle his opponents when fighting. Conversely, he can also go into a state of deep depression when he loses a major battle or lets a friend down. Ichigo has a habit of misreading other people's names, such as Uryū Ishida and Yasutora Sado (the latter case results in Sado's nickname, Chad). One of the series running gags is that he keeps forgetting his classmate's faces and names, with his friends claiming he only knows half the class. However, he seems to remember names much easier later on in the series.
Although his cocky, hot-headed, and spontaneous nature (as opposed to his true personality) makes him appear rather dimwitted to more composed and calculating individuals (particularly Uryū), Ichigo is a capable analyst when required, and can instinctively catch on to some things much quicker than those around him. His natural orange hair and rebellious disposition tend to annoy many bullies in his school, who constantly pick fights with him. Ichigo claims that he does not care about other people's opinions about him (both in regards to his hair and other subjects), and seems to enjoy fighting people. Similarly, he is also a capable student, ranked 23rd in his school, studies regularly and doesn't neglect his schoolwork; he claims that he has "nothing better to do at home". It is later revealed that he works as hard as he does simply to overcome the misconceptions many teachers have about him, based on his hair color and interactions with other students. It is shown in a recent omake that even with his Shinigami status he is still able to pass exams, though his teacher gave him remedial exams because of his constant disappearances.
Due to his constant fights with bullies, many students are rather afraid of him. Despite this, he has a warm and kind heart, defiantly looks out for those placed in his charge, and is, to a degree, quite compassionate once he understands another's point of view. Rukia even states in the first movie that "he only looks scary". This trait makes him quite likable to children. As such, he has never threatened or raised his voice to his younger sisters, Karin and Yuzu. However, he has some trouble with authority and traditional respect, and is often quite rude and disrespectful when talking to those older than himself; he tends to call General Yamamoto "gramps" and refers to some captains (particularly Kenpachi, Byakuya, and Hitsugaya) by their given names, despite verbal protests from Byakuya and Hitsugaya (Hitsugaya suggests at one point that Ichigo does so on purpose). However, he does give Japanese honorifics towards those who've earned his respect, such as Yoruichi and Ukitake.
Interestingly enough, several female characters in the series have possibly developed romantic feelings for him, often due to his inwardly compassionate nature, namely Orihime Inoue, Neliel Tu Oderschvank, Ririn, and possibly, Rukia Kuchiki and Senna (in the first movie).
Ichigo was born as the son of Isshin Kurosaki and Masaki Kurosaki 15 years before the main storyline. His sisters, Karin Kurosaki and Yuzu Kurosaki were born a few years later. During his childhood, Ichigo was signed into a karate class by his mother. In the class, Ichigo met and eventually was befriended by Tatsuki Arisawa, who would beat Ichigo in every match they had. Tatsuki would also help Ichigo if he was being picked on by bullies and cheer him up if he was upset.
On June 17, when Ichigo was nine years old, he was taken home from his karate class by his mother. He saw a girl near the river and saw her falling into it. Concerned, Ichigo ran after to save her, not aware that the girl was really a lure from the Hollow Grand Fisher. Masaki, concerned about her son's safety, ran after Ichigo to protect him, but she was killed by Grand Fisher as a result. Because everyone loved Masaki very much, Ichigo blamed himself for his mother's death and went missing for some time before being found by a very concerned Tatsuki. With the death of their mother, Ichigo, Yuzu, and Karin all changed drastically. Ichigo still blamed himself for his mother's death as time went on.
Three years before the main storyline, Sora Inoue was brought to the Kurosaki Clinic from a car accident. Ichigo met Orihime Inoue, Sora's younger sister during this time. However, Sora died in the Kurosaki Clinic.
Ichigo eventually entered Mashiba Junior High School. During this time, Ichigo had finally defeated Tatsuki in a karate match and left the class soon afterward. Ichigo regularly got into fights with thugs, due to the unusual color of his hair. During one of these fights, he met Yasutora Sado. He mispronounced his name on his name tag as "Chad", and continued to call him as such from that day. They made a pact to protect each other and have remained good friends since. Because of the amount of fights they got into, Ichigo and Chad were given reputations of being gangsters themselves.
Ichigo and Chad eventually went to Karakura High School, and their reputations followed them as well, causing a few classmates (namely Keigo Asano) to be nervous about their presence there. During a fight with Reiichi Ōshima (and another student), Ichigo and Chad met Mizuiro Kojima and Keigo Asano, the latter of which they saved. While Keigo was initially afraid of Ichigo and Chad, both he and Mizuiro eventually became friends with them.
Powers & Abilities
Despite having very little official training as a Shinigami, Ichigo's fighting abilities have come to be powerful enough to rival those of captain-level Shinigami, Menos-class Hollow, and Espada-ranked Arrancar, capable of fighting on equal footing against all but the strongest and the most powerful of foes.
Master Swordsmanship Specialist:
In terms of fighting style, Ichigo relies mainly on swordplay, and thus would be considered a swordsmanship specialist. His overall skill has been shown capable of competing on equal grounds against sword masters of Byakuya Kuchiki and Kenpachi Zaraki's caliber. Aside from his initial training with Urahara, he is basically on a "learn as you go" training regimen thus his skill has developed by fighting rather than formal instruction, becoming even more capable with every fight.
Expert Hand-to-Hand Combatant:
Physically, Ichigo is in top form even when not in his spiritual body. Ichigo has been trained in martial arts since he was a small child both professionally and by his father. He has repeatedly shown great agility and coordination in his attacks. He also regularly defeats multiple bullies and gangsters, and is a better martial artist than Tatsuki Arisawa, the second-strongest girl in all of Japan, despite fighting with a broken arm in the last few matches of the competition. While he stopped training officially after defeating her, his constant attacks from bullies and his father help keep his skills fresh. It should be noted that he was able to effortlessly dispatch three lieutenants bare-handed.
Flash Steps Expert:
Though not particularly versed in its various techniques, Ichigo has become so as to fight evenly with Byakuya. he was able to learn enough of the technique itself to keep up with and even surprise captain-level Shinigami with his speed. Even Byakuya Kuchiki, one of the most proficient users of Flash Steps in Soul Society, complimented Ichigo's might and proficiency in it. Despite this, his inexperience with Shunpo has been seen various times as with his battles against Grimmjow and Ulquiorra who were both initially able to outmaneuver him.
Vast Spiritual Power:
Ichigo has been noted on several occasions to have tremendously vast levels of spiritual energy, even by captain-level Shinigami standards. It is so overwhelming that even when worn-out in battle, he can continue fighting effectively while still capable of unleashing Getsuga Tenshō. The 4th Espada Ulquiorra Cifer has claimed that Ichigo's spiritual power at its peak is even greater than his own, but that it fluctuates wildly when he is in conflict with his inner Hollow. The best example of the sheer amount and strength of Ichigo's spiritual energy was when shown at its peak equaling if not surpassing that of Kenpachi Zaraki, another Shinigami well-known for his exceedingly high energy levels, even when at full strength. Due to the fact that he has far more spiritual energy than his body can contain, it leaks out constantly, preventing him from hiding it and effectively making stealth impossible when dealing with other spiritually-aware creatures. However, he has learned how to harden his spiritual energy and enhance the strength of his attacks or act as a barrier to reduce the impact of attacks on him, if not block them completely. Even before this, his spiritual energy was so great he was able to withstand a Menos Gillian-class Cero and subsequently wound the same Gillian, forcing it back into Hueco Mundo while using only his sealed zanpakutō.
When he is in his Shinigami body, Ichigo's already impressive strength is greatly enhanced. His overall abilities are great enough that he can effortlessly wield Zangetsu with one hand, and in one case, even fought off three Shinigami lieutenants and their released zanpakutō bare-handed in rapid succession; he shattered one of their zanpakutō in a single punch.
When in Shinigami form Ichigo's physical endurance is strengthened to the point where he can survive attacks that would easily kill normal humans effortlessly. It was stated by Rukia that a Shinigami's life force is their spiritual power. As such, Ichigo is able to withstand attacks that would be fatal to most Shinigami. For example, taking a direct hit from Grimmjow's explosive darts (though Ichigo's powers were augmented through the use of his Hollow mask at the time) without any visible external injury; however, he coughed up some blood, so it is very likely he suffered internal bleeding. He could even withstand (with considerable effort) Ulquiorra Cifer's Cero blast.
Advanced Growth Rate:
According to both Aizen and Urahara, Ichigo's most astounding ability is his growth rate: he grasps the basic control of advanced techniques in days where it would take several years for even the most gifted Shinigami. One example is the Bankai of his zanpakutō, which he learns in two days (albiet with the assistance of a special device invented by Urahara that was originally intended for three days). For a normal Shinigami, this same feat would require several years of combat experience and at least ten additional years of special training. He also gains mastery of Flash Steps while training with Yoruichi, which was done over the same period as his Bankai. Ichigo was also able to learn how to detect another's spiritual energy (with no assistance), as he proved he can use a spirit ribbon to find Yuichi Shibata (in bird form), felt Chad losing spirit energy (but that he was alive), he sensed Rukia's strength weakened in Hueco Mundo, and in the second movie came from the city to countryside to check up something he had felt. In the Hueco Mundo arc, during his first fight with Ulquiorra, he is instantly incapacitated by one Cero blast even with his Hollow mask (which broke within a second), but only a few hours later, he is able to withstand another Cero from Ulquiorra without undergoing Hollowfication and can analyze Ulquiorra's movements much better than before, whereas he "felt like [he] was fighting a machine or a statue", and failed to predict and counter his attacks. This feat, as Ichigo explains, was done either by experience, because Ichigo has become more of a Hollow, or because Ulquiorra has become more of a Human.
Despite his somewhat punkish attitude, Ichigo has shown himself to be analytical, perceptive, and deductive. In his high school, Ichigo's grades are almost always near the top, despite his work as a substitute Shinigami. Aside from that, Ichigo appears to be able to determine the pattern of his opponent's battle methods and correctly deduce a proper counter-strategy to defeat his opponents attacks; such as in his battles with both Ikkaku Madarame and Renji Abarai, where he would have been successful in dodging their weapons, if not for unforeseen abilities. He is also fairly charismatic, and while some of his monologues aren't entirely inspirational and philosophical, he's able to gain the trust, respect, and friendship of even his greatest adversaries, often due to his inwardly compassionate nature and remarkable combat prowess. Additionally, it's worth noting that Ichigo has impressive leadership skills, and will sometimes act as the de facto leader of the Ryoka, despite the fact that Uryū and Renji occasionally compete with him over leadership responsibility (often due to their proud natures, equally-impressive intellect, combat prowess, and leadership skills), as seen in the Soul Society and Arrancar arcs respectively. Ichigo does exert some amount of power and authority over Urahara at times, likely due to Ichigo's aforementioned charisma, coupled with Urahara's respect for him. He will also devise and execute strategies with high speed and precision (although not nearly as much, and not in the same league, as Aizen and Urahara), and will personally lead rescue missions and large-scale assaults against his enemies.
Ichigo's resolve reflected in his eyes.
It seems that Ichigo's power is tied to his determination or will to win. It's shown that when he focuses on victory, his strength is enhanced. In the anime, this is depicted by his eyes glowing bright blue, including when he is in his Vizard form, in which case his iris is a glowing yellow. This effect has been shown while he was battling Renji for a second time, and when he defeated his inner hollow. In his last battle against Grimmjow, Ichigo had most of his mask beaten off and was on the verge of collapse as Grimmjow prepared his finishing blow. However after noticing Orihime, who was saddened by watching him get hurt, Ichigo managed to catch Grimmjow's hand without effort or looking, and gripped tight enough to prevent him from moving away. Ichigo then managed to make a clean slash into Grimmjow (despite the fact he had lost most of the benefits from his hollow mask), whereas before most of the damage that he had inflicted that actually made Grimmjow bleed was from Getsuga Tenshō attacks. In his current battle with Ulquiorra, even after taking a direct hit from Ulquiorra's Cero Oscura and nearly incinerated, he is seen to be able to continue to fight and even use Getsuga Tensho.
Main article: Zangetsu
Zangetsu (斬月, Moon Cutter or Cutting Moon): When Ichigo first becomes a Shinigami, his zanpakutō is a standard looking katana, but oversized with an equally-oversized sheathe on his back, with a rectangular crossguard, that has a stylized flame pattern on the long sides, and a simple decorative slit on the short ones. The handle was red and had a red tassel on the end of the handle. The large size is due to Ichigo's immense spiritual power, which he didn't know how to control. As a result, the sword itself was rather weak, since very little spiritual power was used to create it. Nevertheless, it was powerful enough to subdue Gillian-class Menos and lesser Hollows, completely blocking a Cero from the former. Byakuya Kuchiki cuts off most of the blade during his first encounter with Ichigo and Kisuke Urahara subsequently slices it down to the hilt during their training, forcing Ichigo to learn the name of his zanpakutō in order to release its true form.
The spirit of Zangetsu resembles a 30 to 40 year-old man, and Ichigo calls him "old-man Zangetsu" (斬月のオッサン, Zangetsu no ossan) as a result. Zangetsu has also been called the "black-clothed man" (黒衣の男, kokui no otoko). Zangetsu is portrayed as wise and calm in most matters, and fond of testing Ichigo in unusual ways, many of which have a purpose completely contrary to the stated goal. Zangetsu has displayed the ability to temporarily close fatal wounds during combat, though whether or not this is a unique ability is unclear, as it could be due to the massive amounts of spiritual energy, as demonstrated by Nnoitra Jiruga.
However, since Ichigo developed an inner Hollow (as a result from having his Shinigami powers restored), Zangetsu and the Hollow are both the source of Ichigo's power and share the same spirit body in Ichigo's inner world, the stronger presence retaining more control (and overall appearance) of their body.
Main article: Hollow Ichigo
Ichigo's spiritual powers are not limited to just Shinigami abilities; he also possesses Hollow powers as a result of his training with Urahara. While attempting to recover his Shinigami powers, Ichigo began transforming into a Hollow from the corrosion of his severed soul chain. Ichigo succeeds in awakening his Shinigami powers, but retains his Hollow spirit inside himself from the transformation. The title page of Chapter 220 depicts the inner Hollow with the mirror writing, spelling backwards, of Ichigo's name.
Vizard are Shinigami who have obtained the power of a Hollow through a process known as Hollowfication. In order to use this power, they must don the mask of the Hollow within them. Because he began to turn into a hollow while attempting to recover his Shinigami powers, Ichigo was turned into a Vizard.
Ichigo's Hollow mask manifests in the appearance of what could best be described as a menacing skull. While pure white on the right side, the mask possesses a total of ten red stripes (a total of ten can be seen during his latest fight with Ulquiorra) spread across three spots on the left side of his mask. The mask began with only three stripes, and has since increased. The red/black stripes on Ichigo's Hollow mask changed in thickness after he subjugated his Hollow, covering almost the entirety of the mask's left half during his third battle with Grimmjow Jaegerjaquez. The significance of this has yet to be revealed, although the prevailing theories are that it represents Ichigo's control over Hollow Ichigo, or the continued usage of his Hollow powers.
During Ichigo's fight with Ulquiorra, it changed to a mask that resembles a Human skull with two horns. Two stripes begin on the back of his mask and go to the front, resulting in a shape that resembles a broken outline of a heart. The eye holes also widen from their slit shapes, becoming more open.
When donning his Hollow mask Ichigo's sclera turns completely black and his irises become golden-yellow, just like his inner Hollow. After training with the Vizard and subjugating his inner Hollow, Ichigo can use his Hollow mask while retaining his personality, but could originally only wear it for eleven seconds at a time. His limit and Hollow powers greatly increases during his third battle with Grimmjow, but to what extent is unclear. His Hollow powers became strong enough (comparable to the times when he was possessed) to block Grimmjow's Gran Rey Cero without any effort and has shown the capacity to "repair" his mask when it has began to crack during this fight. His overall limit is barely a fraction of the amount other Vizard can maintain their masks. After the time limit, the mask breaks and Ichigo loses its benefits. Subsequent attempts to use the mask can only be maintained for an instant. It's possible that his time limit increased due to him fighting with it in Hueco Mundo.
* (To his father) "You! Is that how you greet your son who just returned from performing a serious exorcism!?"
* (To Orihime's brother as a Hollow) "Big brothers...you know why they're born first? To protect the little ones the come after them!! What kind of brother says that he'll KILL his own sister?! Even a MONSTER shouldn't say that!!"
* (To Byakuya) "You said, miracles happen only once. So what's the second one?"
* "You said I think too highly of myself? I saw every single step, Byakuya Kuchiki!"
* "Stop telling me to leave you here and run away...it's so annoying! I told you, I don't care what you say. Heh...this is the second time now...I've come to save you, Rukia."
* (To himself about the Arrancars Yammy and Ulquiorra) "Who are these guys? Are they Vizard?! Like Shinji and I!?"
* "Bankai! Tensa Zangetsu."
* "'Our pride, you said? So that pride you're saying to be so precious is that connected to killing Rukia, is it? Then I should stamp on it as you said. 'Cause that's why I obtained this Bankai!"
* "Sorry, Grimmjow...but...I'm not gonna hold back anymore."
* (To Nel in her child form, when Nnoitra reveals Nel's identity as the former Espada) "Of course you haven't! There's no reason for you to trick us!"