My little weeb heart can’t take this: Bleach is finally back! After a hiatus of nearly a decade, fans are finally getting a resolution to the popular anime series that dominated the Shonen scene alongside One Piece and Naruto Shippuden. Bleach: The Thousand-Year Blood War has been highly anticipated since it was revealed to be in the process of being animated, so now that it’s finally here, well. Let’s just say, a lot of questions are going to be answered, including one involving the Soul King himself.
And it’s official! The Soul King, an elusive God-like being that oversees the flow of Souls and is revered as Omniscient by most dwellers of Soul Society, was killed by Yhwach, his son. And there is no question about whether he survived or not. Since this killing was witnessed by Ichigo Kurosaki, the protagonist, himself, it’s safe to say that the Soul King didn’t exactly pull a fast one on anyone. Hell, he was the weapon that Yhwach used to cut the Soul King down in half!
Okay, so maybe there’s a lot more here to decipher than you think. The Soul King’s agency and power were already for debate, and it’s been a while since we’ve had to revisit it in the manga. But that just goes to show you how fragile the balance between all the worlds truly is. Because even those in Soul Society can’t exactly pinpoint how the Soul King came into being, and how important he is in the grand scheme of things. And, well, it’s even more confusing when you realize why Yhwach rebelled against him in the first place.
Make no mistake, the Soul King is dead. There’s just more going on besides that. I mean, there’s a power vacuum left over, one that involves not just Soul Society, but the Hueco Mundo, the Dangai, and the Human World as well. So, how is it going to go? Does Yhwach kill the Soul King mean he’s the new ruler of Soul Society, the very people his existence defies? Let’s discuss that and more in today’s segment of Lore Analysis!
The Soul King: A False Ruler?
So, the whole idea of the Soul King has been mysterious from the start. We knew about his existence, of course, but there wasn’t much out there about the man himself. Hell, we didn’t even know if he was a man, because for the longest time? He just floated around as this idea, more symbolic than anything.
But he is real. And he is very important to the mechanics of Bleach’s premise. While he doesn’t directly govern Soul Society, to the point where no Shinigami has seen him, he does affect the stability of Souls coming in and out. He is the balance between all the different realms, weaving and regulating the energy flowing through the cracks in between each. And, God forbid the Soul King dies, then they will all collapse onto each other, leading to the destruction of life as we know it.
However, that doesn’t mean the Soul King has any true power over those residing in his domains. He honestly felt more like a lynchpin than anything, a puppet ruler kept sealed away by the Shinigami to ensure the balance remains. So, when Yhwach came to kill him, he didn’t exactly put up a fight.
Even now, we don’t know what the Soul King’s intentions were, his feelings, or anything of the sort. Even his own body is detached from him, his limbs separated and sentient to the point of choosing their alliance.
How Yhwach Became The New Soul King:
Yhwach is the father of the Quincy, a race of beings that could sense out Hollows and be eradicated by the Shinigami. However, they only resorted to this desperate attempt because Quincy was overhunting the Hollows and leading them to collapse.
And since then, Yhwach had sworn to collapse all the realms for his warped sense of ‘peace’. This is why he attacked the Soul King and the killing blow. He used Ichigo’s Quincy heritage to finish the job for him. Thus, making him the new Soul king by default.
However, by the end of everything, Yhwach is defeated, and we learn that, while there is still a Soul King present, it happens to be Yhwach’s dead body, basically as a stand-in for the real thing.