Welcome to Anime Vice’s first ever Advanced Guide! What better way to do one than as a follow-up to last week’s Beginner’s Guide to Bleach 2? In this Guide you will find out a little more about the main characters of Bleach, discover what happened in the Soul Society Arc, learn some important terminology, and meet an army of new characters that become important to the franchise from here on.
In manga terms the Soul Society Arc runs from Vol. 9 to Vol. 21 Ch. 182. In anime terms the Arc runs from episodes 21-63, which equals Seasons 2 (21-41) and 3 (42-63). The anime has the Arc divided into two boxsets titled “The Entry” and “The Rescue”.
Rukia’s brother, Byakuya Kuchiki, arrived in the World of the Living with his Lieutenant, Renji Abarai, to take Rukia back to the Soul Society to be put to death for giving her Soul Reaper powers to a human. Ichigo steps in to fight Renji only to be utterly defeated by Byakuya, resulting in losing his powers. Ichigo is healed by Hat n’ Clogs (Kisuke Urahara) and told that he has 30 days to regain his powers, get to the Soul Society, and save Rukia. During Ichigo’s training he almost turns into a hollow and finds out his zanpakutou’s name ( Zangetsu). While Ichigo was gone Orihime, Chad, and Uryū did some training of their own. Uryū trained by himself but Orihime and Chad worked with Yoruichi. The four, along with Yoruichi, have entered the Soul Society through the senkaimon to save Rukia. Thus the Soul Society Arc begins…
When Ichigo and the others enter the Soul Society they try walking right up to the front gate. Instead of entering Ichigo ends up fighting the giant guardian Jidanbō. Upon winning passage through the gate Captain Gin Ichimaru forcefully removes Ichigo. The team finds other (flashier) means to enter the Seireitei thanks to Ganju and Kuukaku Shiba and their Flower Crane Cannon. They crash through the barrier of the Seireitei and get separated. With the 13 Court Guard Squads ( Gotei 13) now on alert, Ichigo and the others must sneak around to find Rukia. Many battles are fought, new powers are found, friends are made, and a more sinister plot lurks. Can Ichigo, Orihime, Chad, Uryū, Ganju, and Yoruichi save Rukia in time?
Kidō are spells or incantations Soul Reapers to either bind ( Bakudō), destroy (Hadō), or heal. The spells are numbered from 1-99 and the higher the number the more powerful the spell. The strength of a kidō can also vary based on the strength of the Soul Reaper casting them. Some Soul Reapers are skilled at their use while others have no knack.
Shunpo, or flash step, is the Soul Reaper’s ability to move at super speed. It is good for offense and defense. However, this is a high level technique that requires a lot of spirit energy so generally only a Lieutenant or Captain can fully make use of the flash step. Even then, sometimes the number of times it can be used is limited.
Shikai is the first stage of zanpakutou release. Usually a Soul Reaper returns his/her zanpakutou to its original state so it can be sheathed but Ichigo’s Zangetsu stays released. A short chant goes along with the release that includes the zanpakutou’s name. Every shikai form, chant, zanpakutou name, and new ability is different for each Soul Reaper.
Bankai is the second and final release stage of zanpakutou. Just like shikai, everything varies for each Soul Reaper but only the word itself can be said to release it. Also, only Lieutenants and Captains have the ability to use bankai but there are a few exceptions among the 13 Court Guard Squad ranks, and of course Ichigo. Years of training and hard work are required to unlock bankai as it releases and requires a great amount of power.
Ganju Shiba is Kuukaku’s brother and member of the Shiba Clan. He’s a lot like Ichigo in hotheadedness and has a few talents but he’s not a Soul Reaper so he is outmatched while aiding Ichigo in saving Rukia. However, he holds a grudge against Rukia.
Kuukaku Shiba is Ganju’s sister and head of the Shiba Clan. Don’t let her laid back attitude and huge boobs fool you as she has some special talents for making stuff go “boom” and giving orders. She also holds a grudge against Rukia.
Hanataro Yamada is the 7 Seat of Squad 4. He is weak and timid but his ability to heal makes him very useful to Ichigo. He starts helping Ichigo and the others save Rukia by showing him an easier way to maneuver through the city.
Kisuke Urahara is the former Captain of Squad 12 and founder/head of Research and Development. He currently runs a shop in the World of the Living that secretly deals in Soul Reaper gear. He is very powerful and bright but has an odd sense of humor and tends to hide details from time to time. His help has been vital to Ichigo and his friends.
Yoruichi Shihouin is the former Captain of Squad 2 and Commander of the Executive Militia(Stealth Force) of the Onmitsukidō. She is a member of the Shihouin Family and holds a number of nicknames and titles. She has the ability to turn into a cat and she spends a lot of time in the form. Hence, she is often called a “he” from her voice. Like Kisuke she helps train Ichigo, Chad, Uryū, and Orihime.
The 13 Court Guard Squads
Also known as the Gotei 13. Here is the list of all 13 Squads with their Captains and Lieutenants along with some other notables.
Jūshirō Ukitake, Lieutenant-N/A, 3 Seat (shared)- Kiyone Kotetsu andSentarō Kotsubaki
Why Watch?/VerdictThis Arc is very exciting as there are constant battles and power increases. Don't let the mass inclusion of new characters and terms turn you away as everything is easy to understand. The action really picks up here and this Arc sets the stage for the majority of the series that is available. A number of surprises await, too. If a viewer was iffy on the first season then at least take a look at this Arc and you may very well change your mind.
-Will McQuigg (sotyfan16) is your everyday anime/manga enthusiast. You can also find him on Twitter (bildo_88).