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When a person chooses to become a Shimagami (Ichigo) a Zanpakuto soul is born inside their own soul as their instinct to fight.

Zanpakuto are meant to be a metaphorical reference to Samurai, who believed that their souls resided in their swords. Shinigami resemble samurai in their dress, combat styles (at least, when not transforming their swords), and many of the character philosophies reflect Samurai in history, literature, and mythology (Byakuya's noble bearing, Kenpachi's love of battle, Iba and Ikkaku's gambling habits, ect).

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