Ichigo Kurosaki's Zanpakutō has been through many changes over the years that Bleach has been running, from the moment he was given Shinigami powers by Rukia Kuchiki throughout his interactions with the Gotei 13.
- Ichigo's first Zanpakutō was a plain but overtly large blade that has been stated by other characters to be due to his Vast Spiritual Power that is always leaking out of him. This blade was sliced apart by Byakuya Kuchiki before ultimately being sliced apart at the hilt by Kisuke Urahara.
- Ichigo's second Zanpakutō resembles an over-sized khyber knife instead of a formal katana. It has no tsuba and no proper hilt; what Ichigo holds is the cloth-wrapped tang. The sword is about as tall as Ichigo is, and has a black blade with a silver edge. After gaining this form Ichigo learnt how to use Getsuga Tenshō. Unlike most Bankai forms, which usually create some sort of massive creature or effect, Ichigo's Bankai, Tensa Zangetsu, shrinks his sword down to a daitō (Japanese long sword) with a black blade instead. The cross guard has four prongs bent out to form the shape of the manji (which is the kanji for "ban," meaning "full," as in "full release").
- After being influenced by the remaining traces of Ichigo's Fullbring, Zangetsu's appearance changes, giving the blade a silver hilt with gray wrappings, and a short length of chain at its base. The blade itself becomes slightly reshaped, curving inwards at the backside of the tip, similar to a trench knife. When stored away on Ichigo's back, the former cloth still materializes to act as an impromptu sheath.After being influenced by the remaining traces of Ichigo's Fullbring, the appearance of his Bankai changes. He wears a white undershirt beneath his black shihakushō, which is now open. Held together by three "x"-shaped marks, it ends in a number of coattails. Ichigo wears black gloves, with white "x"-shaped marks appear on both the gloves and his forearms. Tensa Zangetsu's blade is much longer (roughly the length of his Shikai), and becomes more curved as it nears the tip, with three protrusions along the blunt end of the sword close to its tip. While retaining its manji-like shape, the tsuba becomes more curved and jagged. Tensa Zangetsu's chain is now longer, attaching to both the base of the sword's hilt and to Ichigo's glove, forming a wide loop.
- After Ichigo's Zanpakutō was broken while in Bankai and he discovers he does not possess a true Zanpakutō, rather formed from Ichigo's inherited Quincy powers, Zangetsu is eventually forged by Ōetsu Nimaiya personally, using an actual Asauchi. In his inner world, Ichigo, coming to terms with his heritage and powers, gains access to his true Zanpakutō, which had been suppressed all this time. His actual Zanpakutō takes the form of two separate blades. One is the size of his previous sword, once again in the shape of a khyber knife, with the grip at the base of the blade and a handle extending back from this about roughly the width and length of Ichigo's forearm. There is a thin, hollowed-out portion running along the back edge of the blade from the base to the middle of the blade. The second blade is relatively small, about the size of Ichigo's arm, and is similar to the first blade, but resembles a trench knife more than a sword. Unlike its counterpart, it has an enclosed handle, with a portion acting like a hand guard. Both blades represent a different facet of Ichigo's powers: the larger blade represents his inner Hollow (the manifestation of his Shinigami/Hollow powers) and the smaller blade represents "the old man" (the manifestation of his Quincy powers).
- After his training in the Dangai, Ichigo's Bankai takes on a slightly different appearance. While Zangetsu still takes the form of a daitō with a black blade, the four prongs on the cross guard extend out farther than they previously did. While still in the shape of the manji, the prongs become more abstract and slender in appearance. Ichigo's right hand becomes covered by a black glove, and the chain at the base of Zangetsu's hilt extends out further than it previously did, spiraling up the length of his sleeveless right arm, with the additional portion of the chain hanging down freely from his upper arm.