I can’t believe I get to say this, but Bleach is finally back! It’s been a wild time for anime, from amazing new releases like Chainsaw Man dominating the charts, to the fact that we just might have a full ‘Big 3’ reunion going on in Shonen right now. And it’s the latter that has me excited. With the Thousand Year Blood War arc finally being adapted into an anime continuation, we finally get to see a bigger focus on the Captains of Soul Society of Bleach itself.
I mean, this is their moment. The 13 Court Guard Companies, or the Gotei 13 as they are known, are the primary custodians of Soul Society, their protectors against invading forces. After the Soul Reapers are done with their training at Shin’ō Academy, this is where they end up going, becoming part of the military-style task force. So, there end up being 13 divisions in total, being manned by a Third Seat, a Lieutenant, and a Captain. So, with the final battle underway, it is the Gotei 13 that will prove to be the biggest ally against Yhwach.
Strangely enough, there isn’t much known about the origins of the Gotei 13, nor how its current system involving the captains came to be. But we do know it was founded by Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto, the Captain-Commander of the entire squadron. This makes sense, considering how old the Gotei 13 is, with Yamamoto himself easily over 2000 years old. And so, the Gotei 13 are certainly the most respected positions in all of Soul Society.
It’s safe to say that those occupying the title of Captain are formidable and exemplary individuals. You don’t just become the leader of one of the primary defending forces of an entire realm, you need to prove your potential. And in Bleach: Thousand Year Blood War, we get to see exactly what they are made of. Here are the 13 individuals that make up the Gotei 13!
Yamamoto-san is an OG, and everything about him reflects that. Captain of the 1st Division and founder of the Gotei 13, the man is a staunch traditionalist. I mean, at his age, you’d expect him to be. But that also means he’s a man of strong convictions.
Yamamoto puts his money where his mouth is, willing to sacrifice himself to Sosuke Aizen to protect Soul Society. The man is truly loyal!
Suì-Fēng might be unassuming at first but underestimating her is a bad idea. She is the captain of the 2nd Division, whilst simultaneously holding the title of Commander-In-Chief of the Stealth Force. And just like her superior, she is a stickler for rules.
She followed Yoruichi after idolizing them for so long and got her title later on when they left. With her Zanpakuto, which is an oversized missile launcher, it doesn’t feel like she can be covert. But she’s one of the most Shinigami out there.
He’s the Rose with thorns! Rōjūrō Ōtoribashi is the Captain of the 3rd Division, but his very existence is something that goes against the Shinigami code. You see, Rōjūrō is a Visored, a Soul Reaper with Hollow powers.
This all stems from Aizen experimenting on Rōjūrō with Hollowfication, leading him to be sentenced to death. But he was rescued and lived in exile for a while. But after Aizen was defeated, he was reinstated back as a Captain.
You wouldn’t expect someone like the gentle Retsu Unohana to be the captain of the 4th Division, but don’t excuse her softness for weakness. She was one of the very first Shinigami personally recruited by Yamamoto.
Unohana happens to be the best healer in all of Soul Society, providing aid to anyone that comes to her in need. Her philosophy is that if one has stopped fighting, one deserves to be healed and shown compassion.
Much like Rōjūrō, Shinji Hirako also happens to be a Visored that was kicked out of Soul Society at first. But he was later re-instated as the captain of the 5th Division. Which wasn’t a far cry from his role as the de-facto leader of the Visored, back when they were lost.
Perhaps the most interesting bit about Shinji is how he was the one who made Aizen his Lieutenant. Because that proved to be their downfall, with him not paying attention to Aizen’s moves and seeing just what he was experimenting with regarding Hollowfication and the Hogyoku.
If that name sounds familiar, then you’re right on the money. Not only is Byakuya Kuchiki the illustrious brother of Rukia Kuchiki, but also the captain of the 6th Division. But then again, Byakuya was always meant for great things.
After all, he happens to be the 28th head of the Kuchiki clan, one of the four nobles of Soul Society. And it is this position that has shaped his personality into one that is extremely law-abiding. Hell, the man is so adamant about the rules that when his sister was sentenced to death, he accepted it. But it is that justice that gives him the most pain.
Sajin Komamura is an oddball, due to being the only non-humanoid member of the Gotei 13. However, as the Captain of the 7th Division, he shares the same just and loyal qualities as his peers.
He was given the chance to join the Gotei 13 by Yamamoto, and he gladly took it up. But Sajin was still concerned about his canine looks, being ostracized over them. But as time went by, he grew more comfortable in his skin (fur?), partially due to Kaname Tōsen’s acceptance. It’s why when Tosen ends up betraying Soul Society, Komamura still doesn’t give up on possibly having him reformed.
Possibly the most pacifist of all the Captains, Shunsui Kyōraku is unserious on the best of days. Sure, he’s Captain of the 8th Division, but the man does not like fighting in the slightest.
Honestly, he’d rather spend his days chasing after women, taking in the small pleasures of life. Shunsui is vibrant and laid-back, choosing peace over the sword anyway. But when push comes to shove, he will rise to the occasion and fight with all of his might.
Another Visored, Kensei Muguruma was already a capable member of the Gotei 13 before his exile. But after living in the Human realm, he came back to his position as the 9th Division Captain as a renewed man.
However, the exile did nothing to temper his easily aggravated self. Kensei is known for being extremely decisive and mature about his convictions, but also for how the man can not take a change in plans. Like, the most minor things can annoy him. Hell, not even sleep could keep him from being irritated at Mashiro Kuna and her actions.
Ah yes, the golden child of the Gotei 13. Or is it diamond? Nevertheless, Tōshirō Hitsugaya might look young, but his icy personality as the Captain of the 10th Division is famous around the Shinigami circle.
Tōshirō is a prodigy, more than capable of surpassing one of the most powerful of his peers if given time, but he often gets infantilized over his age. Which is a huge mistake. Like, people don’t refer to him as captain because of how young he is, which is just plain rude. Because it’s more than likely that Tōshirō is already leaps and bounds more powerful than those people will ever be.
Meet the only captain of the Gotei 13 to not have a Bankai. However surprising as that is, that doesn’t mean Kenpachi Zaraki isn’t a force to be reckoned with. After all, he’s the Captain of the 11th Division for a reason.
Kenpachi is one of the few that was elected to Captain not by recruiting or choice, but by combat. Yeah, the guy killed the previous Captain and took over his position. And his love for fighting shows, he is extremely passionate about it and yet, refuses to fight any weaklings. His passion goes so far, that he often gives himself a disadvantage just to see how far he can push himself.
I often feel for Mayuri Kurotsuchi, one of the other non-humanoids in the Gotei 13. Despite being the 12th Division’s Captain and the President of the Research and Development Department, Mayuri often disregards himself as no more than a test subject.
And it’s because of this messed up perspective that Mayuri views both himself and his opponents as nothing but mere experiments. For him, a fight isn’t just that, it’s a chance for him to experiment and observe how both he and his foe react in time. It’s clinical, accurate but that’s kind of Mayuri’s entire deal.
A man respected by literally everyone, even Tōshirō, Jūshirō Ukitake cuts quite the figure. He is one of the oldest Shinigami on board, alongside the likes of Unohana and Shunsui. And he is the Captain of the 13th Division.
Sadly, Ukitake is plagued with bad health, which is something that keeps him away from the heat of the fight. But that doesn’t mean he won’t step up when the ones he cares about need his protection. But he’s got a strict moral code, refusing to hurt any child or fight in front of them. What can I say, Ukitake is just a class act!