Just finished watching Bleach 58 (Lunar‘s sub) and well… a) it rocked hard, and b) Ichigo seems to be a dead ringer for Dan from Life of Riley.
For those not familar with LoR (and to jog my own memory actually), Dan has three stages, 1, 2, and 3. Dan 1 (his normal stage) is that of the artist, very much a right-brain (creativity, holisticness) kinda guy. Stage 2 he’s sort of in the middle, using part of his left-brain for mathmatical calculations, the “artist-tech”. At Stage 3, he’s a full blown mathematical conduit, all left-brain (anaylsis, logic) and really powerful (the conduit part comes from him being a conduit to Source, i.e. God). As he shifts over toward rational thought he increases in power.
There was also this storyline about him fighting Evil Dan, who’s stages were the opposite. As a conduit, Evil Dan was the very essence of imagination, if he thought it up, it happened.
This sort of progression from one style to another while increasing in power is the same sort of thing Ichigo is doing, while Byakuya’s and Abarai ‘s bankai are natural progressions of their shikai (only one’s I can think of both their forms right now), Ichigo’s is completely different visually, let’s break him down Dan-style.
Stage 1 (from gaining Rukia’s power to his defeat by Byakuya, can be considered unreleased): A massive sword, and while there was some spirt force discharge it wasn’t controlled. He was all sword, power.
Stage 2 (“new” huge-ass hiltless form, actually his shikai): Massive sword still, but he has a solid shunpo. His attack is still brute-force spirt-force discharge with the Getsuga Tenshou, but it’s aimable now. Power and Speed.
Stage 3 (bankai): Traditional sword now, but simply overwhelming speed, faster then even Byakuya can keep up with. How fast is he compared to Shunsui (8th Captain) or even Yoruichi? Don’t know, but Byakuya seemed pretty damn fast so he’s got to be up there No spirt-force discharge yet, but there’s always ep. 59 . Seems like all speed.
That sort of oddball-ness of huge-ass unreleased and small bankai makes sense for Ichigo considering he’s the lead and all. Overall, his more augmentation-based approach rather then bankai hebbie-jebbie will make for some downright fun fights. Gonna remind me a lot of Shadow of Colossus screenshots, heh.