Can I just say that, while I understand a mangaka leaving a story open-ended for a sequel, later on, it grates me to read about the fate of a character being left to interpretation? Like, no, please give me the resolution I so desperately crave. I hate unfinished endings for iconic characters, no matter how nuanced they might be. So, when the rumors for a new arc being started in Bleach started floating around, fans of the series had one major question: Does that mean Sōsuke Aizen isn’t dead?
Welcome to Character Analysis – a segment where we take trending characters from across the Otakuverse and break them down to see who they are, where they are, and what exactly made them so iconic in the first place. We clear out any misconceptions or queries newer fans might have while dissecting the character, for the greater good of course!
Bleach has a roster of amazing characters, which makes sense considering it was one of the ‘Big 3’ of Shonen back in the day. Amongst those characters, friend, and foe alike, none stood out as more enigmatic than the ‘dead’ Sōsuke Aizen, the main threat to the revered Soul Society. Even though he was imprisoned, he was supposedly so strong that his spiritual presence, or Reiatsu, could be felt by everyone. I mean, he was an immortal so it’s no wonder that when the end of the manga came, people were left befuddled over his supposed ‘death’.
But does defeat and imprisonment mean Sōsuke is out of commission? We are not too sure about that. With how things are going, especially when you consider how mangaka Tite Kubo is setting things up, there seems to be a strong promise that our favorite disgraced Lieutenant might be coming back. But is there any truth to that rumor? Let us break it down!
Sōsuke Aizen: The Immortal Betrayer
When we first meet Sōsuke, he is the polite lieutenant-turned-captain of the 5th division of the Soul Reapers. Soft-spoken and incredibly nice, many people in Soul Society looked up to him, including his own lieutenant, Momo Hinamori. With his calm demeanor, he was able to subdue confrontations from escalating too far. Hell, the man was even popular amongst Shinigami students for his artistic prowess and gentle mannerisms.
Perhaps that is why his betrayal hits as hard as it does.
In truth, Aizen was always going to betray the Soul Society. His true goals were hidden for a while but there were always signs. Like when he was conversing with Jūshirō Ukitake, the captain of the 13th Division, and revealed how while no one had reached the heights of the Gods, he wanted to ‘reach the Heavens and end the unbearable vacancy on the world’s throne’. This was a hint toward his true goal, which was to overthrow the King of Soul Society and take his place.
In reality, Aizen was the reason the story of Ichigo Kurisaki even started. It was he who arranged for Ichigo to encounter Rukia Kuchiki when he did, to set his plans in motion. This would eventually leave to his defection and utilizing the Hōgyoku to sacrifice souls to create an Ōken to kill the Soul King.
And that’s when the people around Aizen realized that he wasn’t kind, he was indifferent. His aloofness was coldness. That it was all a ruse for his deeply manipulative personality, where he uses mind games to toy with his new followers. Over time, he gains a superiority complex to boot.
Where Is Sōsuke Aizen Now?
The last we saw of Aizen before the ultimate battle, he had been defeated by Ichigo to the point where his Hōgyoku no longer recognized him and he reverted to his human state. It was here that he was finally taken into custody thanks to seals put about by Urahara. He was sentenced to 20,000 years of imprisonment in the Muken, the 8th prison of Hell by Central 46.
He did come back for a brief period during the battle with Ywach, the patriarch of the Quincys who wanted to destroy the world. Previously asked to join him, Aizen had refused. Later he helped Ichigo land the final blow on Ywach, afterward willingly returning to his cell.
The Bleach One-Shot: What Does It Reveal?
Or so we thought. Aizen doesn’t directly appear in the 73-page one-shot special but Szayelaporro Granz, the disgraced Arrancar, name drops him during his meeting with a Shinigami group that included Ichigo after an ascent from Hell.
The reiatsu of both Aizen and Ywach, that had been holding the Gates of Hell shut all these years, have suddenly disappeared. But if Aizen is in Hell, does that mean he is dead? That does not make sense considering how he is actively said to be immortal. But nothing good can come out of the two biggest villains from Bleach to go missing like that.
But it does prove one thing: Aizen is not left for dead yet!
Having said that, what’s your take on Aizen’s death? Do you think he should be brought back as a character? Let me know in the comment section below!