This is truly a blessed year for the older weebs out there. It’s like a new revival for the Big 3 we grew up with, the Shonen that shaped our tastes and paved the way for future manga giants. First, you had the new Dragon Ball movie release, then came the very first canon One Piece movie. And now, the Bleach anime is getting a climax, after nearly a decade of hiatus. That’s right, the Thousand Blood War arc is here, and we are finally getting answers to some huge questions regarding Byakuya and the Kuchiki family in general.
For example, the case of Byakuya Kuchiki’s supposed death in the arc was hotly debated among fans. Some were certain that he was dead within the first half, while others held out hope that Tite Kubo, the mangaka for Bleach, would bring him back in some capacity. And turns out, he ends up doing exactly that! In Chapter 655, we learned that he did end up surviving his battle with Äs Nödt and he shows up to save Rukia Kuchiki just in time.
The ‘death’ of Byakuya has been a subject of contention for a lot of fans because some believe that his character arc, considered one of the best in the franchise, suffered when he was brought back to life and some think that he was only kept alive because other fans pushed Kubo-san to keep him that way. After all, Byakuya was a fan favorite, right up there with the likes of Ichigo Kurosaki, the protagonist, in popularity. And, well, fans can pressurize when they get down to it.
However, both things can be true at the same time. As stated previously, Byakuya was almost too big of a character to murder that soon into the iconic Final arc. He took a hit fairly early on, showing that the stakes were high, and then came back after a sufficient period of absence. However, should he have stayed dead? Let’s break that down in Lore Analysis – where we take a deep dive into the manga you love!
Byakuya Kuchiki: Coming Back Stronger Than Before?
Just like his illustrious sister, Byakuya plays an important role in the franchise. He’s the captain of the Sixth division Of the Gotei 13, the central task force that employs Soul Reapers. So, this isn’t a small feat. He’s a strong person, partly due to his lineage being from a line of noble families, but also because Byakuya himself is just a well-rounded character.
Due to his upbringing, he has this air of righteousness, where he is extremely adamant about following the rules, and never lets them down for anyone. Except for when he married below his social class and took in his commoner wife, Hisana. It was Hisana who pushed Byakuya to take her sister, Rukia Kuchiki, under his wing as a last wish before she died of poor health. And Byakuya made good on that promise.
He trained Rukia alongside his duties as a Reaper while withholding her patronage from her. By all accounts, Rukia and Byakuya were siblings, and no one could change that. And it’s that noble quality that made him stand out amongst the other captains that were his peers. He is arrogant in his demeanor, obviously considering his position and power. So he often butts heads with Ichigo, who he thinks to be a corrupting force and not good enough to carry the mantle of a Soul Reaper. But in reality, the two are more like each other than you’d think. They are both fighting for the greater good, but they prioritize different things. For Byakuya, that’s honor.
How Tite Kubo Got Peer-Pressured Into Bringing Byakuya Back:
After he nearly died to Äs Nödt, Byakuya was left severely injured. He was rescued by the Zero Division just in the nick of time, but he needed a more experienced healer than Retsu Unohana to help him not succumb to his injuries. From there, he was taken into the care of Tenjirō Kirinji, taking the longest to heal in the Hot Springs.
And then of course, after nearly 400 chapters, we finally see him back on his feet. This long absence is why people think that he was originally meant to be dead in the continuation, but fans pestering Kubo-san made him bring Byakuya back. And honestly, that is not too far from the truth.
In an interview with Weekly Shonen Jump, later on, Kubo-san was noted to say that new mangakas should not pay attention to social media because it can persuade them from the direction of their own story, relating it to the Byakuya situation. And considering how many hints the guy gave out for Byakuya’s permanent death, I can see why he changed his tune.
Hey, fans are nothing, if not persistent!