Characters: Bleach Aizen And His Cohorts
Characters that appeared in Tite Kubo's Bleach
. This page deals with Aizen and his direct lieutenants
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This page contains massive spoilers, not all of which are marked. Tread carefully.
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"No one stands on the top of the world. Not you, not me, not even gods, but the unbearable vacancy of the throne in the sky is over. From now on, I will stand atop Heaven."
At first, Aizen presented himself as the affable and gentle Captain of the 5th squad. During the Soul Society arc, he faked being murdered for investigating the Government Conspiracy
behind Rukia Kuchiki's unusually harsh treatment by Central 46 following her arrest. In truth, he masterminded said conspiracy in an elaborate gambit to acquire the Hogyoku
which opposing Chessmaster Urahara Kisuke had hidden in Rukia's gigai in an equally elaborate bid to destroy it.
After revealing himself and retreating from Soul Society, he takes up residence in the world of Hollows, Hueco Mundo, and uses the aforementioned MacGuffin
to create the Arrancar army in hopes of eventually finding the King's Key and becoming 'the one to stand atop heavens'. He is noted for his extraordinarily powerful abilities, Kick the Dog
tendencies, elaborate schemes, and mysterious aura.
His Zanpakuto, Kyoka Suigetsu
, lets him manipulate his opponents with near-perfect illusions.
- A God Am I: When Aizen reveals he's a villain, he states he will fill the "unbearable vacancy on the throne in the sky". Later on, he intimdates that he won't simply rise to the level of a god, he will become something even gods will serve. All his experiments over the decades have been geared towards breaking the boundary between the mortal and the divine.
- Above Good and Evil: Aizen reveals that people define their boundaries, morality and what's right or wrong based on their own limited understanding of the world. He claims he's above all this and therefore can make his own rules as he goes. As a result, he even rejects the concept of truth and lies because that's just perspective, too. Despite this, he later gets very angry with Urahara for never having agreed with his point-of-view because he can't understand why someone of Urahara's intellect would disagree with the way he sees the world.
- Achilles' Heel: His power cannot be used on the blind meaning Tousen is immune to it. Also, anyone that touches the blade before the Shikai is released gains immunity as well.
- Actually a Doombot: By using his illusory powers, he can convince people they're seeing someone they're not. He faked his death this way, distracted Komamura on Sougyoku Hill by making it seem he was somewhere he wasn't and made Hitsugaya stab Hinamori, thinking he was stabbing Aizen.
- Adaptive Ability: During the Fake Karakura Town battle, Aizen frustrates his opponents by constantly gaining new counter-abilities every time they think they've finally got him. Thanks to the Hougyoku, he keeps evolving in power level and appearance whenever he's brought close to death.
- Advancing Boss of Doom: In Karakura Town, Aizen strolls through the streets without rush. Ordinary people die simply from being too close to him. It's all Tatsuki, Keigo, Mizuiro, Don Kanonji and Chizuru can do to stay away from him. Even then, it's only because Aizen is playing cat-and-mouse with them as he waits for Ichigo to catch up.
- Antagonist Abilities: Let's count them all.
- Arch-Enemy: This man thrives on creating his own enemies, and claims Ichigo cannot defeat him precisely because it isn't personal for Ichigo. The Arch-Enemies he did create were: Hirako (feeling personally responsible as Aizen's former captain), Hitsugaya (willing to sacrifice his captaincy to avenge Hinamori), Komamura (willing to sacrifice his life to avenge Tousen), Baraggan (Aizen destroyed his dominion over Hueco Mundo), and Ichimaru (seeking revenge for Aizen's theft of a piece of Rangiku's soul).
- Asskicking Equals Authority: Gin states that the Arrancar follow Aizen partly because of his unnatural strength, and partly because they think he is without fear.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: He was captain of the fifth division because he had the power to achieve that rank. Captains are more powerful than their entire division combined (over 200 members).
- Bad Boss: He is dismissive of his subordinates even when they are genuinely devoted to him. If they die, he doesn't mourn them and if they fail him, he kills them. When he decides the Espada weren't strong enough for him, he steps into the battle himself to cut down Harribel.
- Badass: He makes a habit out of cutting down Captain-level opponents in one stroke after being outed as evil.
- Badass Bookworm: Before revealing himself as the big bad, he cultivated the image of a gentle, intelligent captain who taught calligraphy classes.
- Barehanded Blade Block: When Ichigo first fought him, Aizen blocked Ichigo's blade with a single finger.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: He wished for Ichigo to become very powerful, so that he would have a Worthy Opponent. He even arranged 'downtime' in Karakura Town to give Ichigo the chance to develop a Shounen Upgrade before they fought. Unfortunately, he underestimated just how much of an upgrade Ichigo was capable of developing.
- Berserk Button: He really hates things not going his way and not having something he can do about it. When Ichigo gained the upper hand over him in battle, he was so unable to comprehend how a human could find the power to defeat him that it led to a Villainous Breakdown. He reserved the full madness of his rage for Urahara, whom he feels is a traitor to their vast intellects because he doesn't agree with Aizen's view of the world and the Spirit King.
- Beware the Superman: Apparently, the reason he turned evil was that he discovered early that he was so much more powerful than everyone around him, even Captains, and just couldn't empathize with them due to the sheer power difference.
- Beyond the Impossible: He wants the Hogyoku because it can break the physical laws separating Soul Reaper and the divine and he wants to power up beyond the limits set for Soul Reapers. He does break the Soul Reaper barrier, but not in the way he thought he wanted.
- Big Bad: For the first 424 chapters, Aizen is the major villain that is behind almost everything that's happened. After that, he's no longer the main villain but the new villains are hinted to be driven by events and motives that ultimately tie back to Aizen's own actions and motives in some mysterious way.
- Bishounen: He's a kind-faced, slim, clean-shaven captains with glasses... until he reveals he's the villain, at which point he loses the glasses, slicks back his hair and becomes a much more dangerous, but still very youthful-looking, bad guy.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Rather calmly states that the gentle, kindly captain everyone knew never existed at all. It was just a mask hiding the villain beneath.
- Black Eyes of Evil: During his chrysalis, his eyes turn jet black with no differentiation between sclera, pupil or iris. From that point on, his power enters unfathomable levels.
- Body Horror: When he's defeated, his body seems to lose control of all the shapeshifting the Hougyoku had put him through, causing a temporary mess of body transformations.
- Break Them by Talking: He points out that Ichigo doesn't have a personal vendetta and is only opposing him out of duty. Without that personal emotion, Ichigo cannot hope to defeat him. Komamura steps in, delivering a rousing Shut Up, Hannibal! to counter what Aizen just said and restore Ichigo's confidence.
- Broken Ace: An immensely talented, well-respected (before his treachery is revealed) Gotei 13 Captain who is incapable of empathizing with others and will stop at nothing to overthrow the Spirit King.
- Brought Down to Normal: The fight between Aizen and Ichigo ends with Aizen losing all the power he had gained. Ichigo thinks it's exactly what Aizen wanted which is why the Hougyoku gave it to him.
- Butterfly of Death and Rebirth: His power transformations begin with a chrysalis stage. After that, his transformations continue until he becomes a being with three pairs of butterfly wings. Even his monstrous form becomes a demonic variant of a butterfly or moth-based motif.
- Calling Your Attacks: He hardly ever does this, but when fighting Ichigo is finally forced to start doing this to maximise his kido's power.
- The Chessmaster: Until Aizen's defeat, a chess-game unfolds between Aizen and Urahara that lasts over a century, with various characters becoming pawns as they make move and counter-move against each other. Everything is geared towards Aizen's determination to reach and kill the Spirit King and Urahara's determination to prevent that from happening. From Rukia meeting Ichigo to Ichigo's power-ups, to Aizen's de-powering, everything is based on tactic and counter-tactic between the two men.
- Combat Pragmatist: His primary method of fighting is either catching his opponents completely by surprise with his Shikai or verbally taunting them into making mistakes, and then striking when their guard is down. When he finally discards his Shikai, thinking he's now too powerful for it to matter, it's the beginning of the end for him.
- Complete Immortality: Aizen is defeated by Ichigo but he cannot be killed. Urahara actually suspected the Hougyoku would make Aizen almost impossible to kill and planned accordingly. It means Aizen has to be imprisoned, but the Central 46 thinks he cannot be killed at all.
- Complexity Addiction: Aizen spent decades experimenting on Hollows to produce one that could neutralize Yamamoto's zanpakutou. Also, all his effort in tracking down powerful Menos to turn into Arrancars works only well enough to entice the captains onto the battlefield. Aizen did want that to happen, but he had hoped the Arrancar could also defeat the captains once there. He ends up having to do that bit by himself.
- Crazy-Prepared: Aizen apparently demonstrates Batman-level planning when he installed an invisible Kido shield at the base of his neck (his biggest blind spot), figuring someone at some point would try to hit him there.
- Creepy Monotone: In the English dub. His voice actor, Kyle Hebert cites HAL as an inspiration.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: He has such a unique level of power that even captains are no match for him. Even when several attack together, he has no trouble instantly defeating them. Thus, nearly every single fight for him in the series was a Curb-Stomp Battle.
- Defiant to the End: When finally defeated, he screams at Urahara that a man of his intellect should be doing something about the problem like he was trying to do. When sentenced for his crimes, he smiles smugly and suggests the Central 46 have no moral authority to judge him at all. The Central 46 are so intimdated by his calm they increase his sentence... to 20 millenia. It doesn't cow Aizen at all.
- Deflector Shield: Aizen invented some kidou that creates shields around his body at the locations he specifies. If he is attacked at that location, the shield automatically activates, deflecting the attack. When Ichigo tried to ambush him with a strike to the back of the neck, Aizen told him he shouldn't have chosen such an obvious target - as the weak spot of every living creature, it was a no-brainer to set up protection to prevent someone doing what Ichigo tried. Aside from the auto-activation, however, the shields don't function any differently to regular kidou shields.
- Disc One Final Boss: Aizen was defeated at what Tite Kubo called the "half-way point" of the story. Yhwach replaces Aizen and appears to be connected to everything, even Aizen's villainy. Yhwach invaded Soul Society just to give the imprisoned Aizen a recruitment opportunity, despite fully expecting Aizen to refuse. Aizen manipulated Yhwach's perception of time, but only briefly. What the two men are up to and what they know about each other is a mystery, leaving Yhwach as the main villain and Aizen as a background threat.
- Drunk on the Dark Side / Drunk with Power : As Aizen began going through power transformations, he began to feel more and more invincible until at last he discards his shikai power entirely, thinking it's no longer needed. He was wrong.
- Evil All Along: He was introduced as a gentle, kind captain who was worried about a secret conspiracy. Turned out he was the conspirator and was pulling everyone's strings.
- Evil Counterpart: He and Urahara are both super-geniuses who tend to use their allies like pawns and enjoy trolling allies and enemies alike. Except that Urahara cares about his allies in the end and seems to be trying to save the world instead of break it. In fact, Aizen believes they're so alike, he's baffled as to why Urahara isn't on his side.
- Evil Genius: He spent decades working on hollowfication research, experimenting on the souls of living people and killing countless in the process. He can anticipate almost any permutation of any plan, allowing him to plan for any strategy that may be used against him. He breaks the rules of both science and war in his determination to reach the Spirit King and replace him.
- Evil Overlord: He overthrew Baraggan for control of Las Noches, where he led his army of Arrancars versus the Soul Society.
- Evil Plan: He claims his desire is to become a god and replace the Spirit King, but Ichigo thinks he was originally motivated by the need for a Worthy Opponent.
- Evil Sorceror: There's something special about Soul Reapers who can cast Level 90s Kidou. Gin is amazed he can do it at all. Even he struggles to cast them chantless, however.
- Evil Sounds Deep: He's voiced by Show Hayami so he has a very deep voice.
- Eyes Do Not Belong There: During his transformations, he begins developing eyes on his wings.
- Faking the Dead: He faked his death using his shikai to fool everyone into thinking there was a body. It allowed him to move around unnoticed so that he could investigate the exiled Urahara's historic research.
- Faux Affably Evil: He's terribly polite and calm to the point of making certain scenes creepy. He dislikes uncouth behaviour in his Arrancar, asks the Arrancar if they'd like to be served tea before he's willing to discuss the fact they're being invaded, and chides the stressed out Ichigo for raising his voice during their fight.
- Flat Character: Even though he was the Big Bad, Aizen's primary role as a character was to be The Chessmaster, The Ace, Mr. Exposition and an Arch-Enemy to anyone not named Ichigo or Urahara. Very little in the way of back story or motivations was revealed.
- For the Evulz: Gin once accuses Aizen of having fun when they learn they're being invaded by Ichigo's group and also accuses Aizen of letting Tousen chop off Grimmjow's arm to have fun. Aizen doesn't deny it.
- Aizen told Ichigo he knew of him since before he was born. He wasn't joking. His hollowfication experiments accidentally victimised Masaki. This accidentally destroyed the Ishida family's plans for an Arranged Marriage between Masaki and Ryuuken, caused Masaki, Ryuuken, Urahara and Isshin to all meet, and therefore accidentally ensured both the conception and birth of both Ichigo and Uryuu.
- Hinamori visits Aizen one night, worried and in need of advice. He's writing as she talks to him. After his supposed death, a letter is delivered to Hinamori, written by Aizen, telling her Hitsugaya is the mastermind behind the conspiracy. This was, in fact, the letter he was writing while Hinamori was talking to him.
- Freudian Excuse: Like Hitsugaya, Aizen had enormous power from an early age and was ostracised and mistrusted because of it. Ichigo believes this loneliness was the root of why he became evil. Unlike Hitsugaya, Aizen never found a way to overcome his situation and bond with others. Instead he wanted to become a god and create his own world.
- The Glasses Come Off: At the end of the Soul Society arc, he reveals himself as a villain and destroys his glasses and slicks back his hair in the process.
- Gone Horribly Right: He spared Ichigo and urged him to become strong, so he'd have a powerful opponent to push Aizen to his limits. It worked.
- Good Hair, Evil Hair: He had soft, shaggy hair as a "good" captain. When he reveals he's the villain, he slicks back his hair and his hair remains slicked back ever after, except for one single curl that hangs down his face.
- The Heavy: He's the source of nearly every single major conflict/issue/plot point in the entire series. Aizen's creation of White prevents Ryuuken and Masaki's Arranged Marriage, allowing Masaki and Isshin, and Ryuuken and Katagiri, to Marry for Love. Without Aizen, Ichigo and Uryuu would never have been conceived. He then manipulates events from then until the time he is sealed.
- Hoist by His Own Petard:
- He was overwhelmed, in strength and power, by Ichigo (the man he wanted to become more powerful); who merged together with Getsuga itself. White, the proto-Arrancar, formed the basis of Ichigo's Inner Hollow, who happens to be Ichigo's true Zanpakuto. Whooops.
- The reason Urahara's sealing spell finally works is because the Hogyoku Aizen relied upon so heavily finally took back its power. Ichigo correctly speculated that it was actually responding to a secret desire within Aizen to be Brought Down to Normal.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: Aizen's pursuit of godhood and his subsequent plan to achieve it (powering up Ichigo to become a Worthy Opponent that would allow him to evolve into higher levels of transcendency) were ultimately attempts to cure his loneliness. Kubo confirms that the vast power difference between him and his peers made Aizen distrusted in his youth, ostracizing him from others. Therefore, his deepest desire was to become a normal shinigami so that he may be able to better interact with others.
- I Just Want to Have Friends: After Ichigo and Aizen have their great battle, Ichigo is left feeling this was Aizen's deepest reason for seeking a Worthy Opponent (which he chose to find via Hollowfication). At the same time, Aizen disregarded that he was beloved as a captain (especially by Hinamori), and he even pitted friends against one another to suit his plans.
- I Lied: When Ichigo complains that he has given a Motive Rant twice and accuses him of lying the second time, Aizen points out that if Ichigo thinks he's lying this time, then he shouldn't assume that he wasn't actually lying the first time?
- Invincible Villain: How he is portrayed for much of the series. Immediately after The Reveal, Aizen is portrayed as certainly better than most of the Gotei, but through Crazy-Prepared planning and deliberate cautiousness. Later though, his higher spiritual skills and power allow him to No Sell just about anything, even when being attacked by the most powerful beings in the setting simultaneously. By the end of the Arrancar arc, he flat out states that his power has grown so much that he can completely abandon caution or logic.
- The Juggernaut: Towards the end of the Karakura Town battle, Aizen just mows down any attempt to stop him, getting stronger in the process. Even Ichigo developing a Story-Breaker Power cannot stop Aizen; he has to be sealed and imprisoned instead.
- Kill the God: The Arrancar Arc's climax is the Deicide (literally "to kill a god") mini-arc, focusing on Aizen's obsession with reaching and surpassing the realm of divinity. However, his target (the Spirit King) is officially regarded as a king by most characters. The arc ends with Aizen's defeat and the death of Gin, who used his own God-Killing Spear to try and slay Aizen. Like the Spirit King, Aizen is not a god; he simply reached a power level too great for most characters to comprehend.
- Lack of Empathy: By his own admission, he considers morality and empathy as weaknesses which must be expunged in order to reach one's full potential.
- Lightning Bruiser: He's strong enough to destroy Komamura's bankai with one sword swing. He's tough enough to tank a clean slash on his arm by Shinji. He's fast enough to make Ichigo think he's teleporting.
- Lonely at the Top: Ichigo believes that Aizen was motivated by loneliness, and that his great power had made him feel ostracised: if he couldn't be normal, then at least he could have a Worthy Opponent.
- Lovecraftian Superpower: His final transformation is a grotesque creature that bursts right through his skin, leaving his skin in tattered folds along the side of his face for the remainder of the fight. He obtains a third eye, a demonic skull-like face, three holes running down his chest, clawed feet, blackened hands (one of which fuses with his zanpakutou). His wings become skin-like, covered in eyes and adorned with skulls and tendrils.
- Mad Scientist: His madness is originally quiet and hidden, but he's responsible for countless deaths in his hollowfication research, performing highly unethical experiments on Soul Reapers, Hollows and ordinary Rukongai souls.
- Manipulative Bastard: He manipulates Renji into believing there's a conspiracy to kill Rukia so that he becomes rebellious and contributes to causing chaos, he manipulates Ichigo so Ichigo will grow stronger, he manipulates the while Soul Society into executing Rukia so he gain what Urahara hid inside her soul. He spent decades manipulating Hinamori into being completely loyal to him, and he manipulates the Arrancar into serving and even dying for him.
- Mask of Sanity: Appeared to be a calm, stable guy until The Reveal. Even after the reveal, he was quite low-key, though unapologetic in his sadistic streak. The mask gradually starts to break once he goes One-Winged Angel.
- Master of Illusion: Kyoka Suigetsu's shikai ability allows Aizen to control the five senses of multiple people through complete hypnosis. He can make a fly seem like a dragon or a wasteland look, feel and smell like a field of flowers. To date, there are only two ways known to defeat this ability: to never see its release in the first place (but if that's happened even once, it's already too late) or to touch the zanpakutou blade while the hypnosis is inactive.
- Meaningful Name: Is named after Aizen Myou-ou, a figure in Buddhism who possesses the wish-granting cintamani stone, known in Japanese as the "houjuu".
- Monstrous Humanoid: His fourth Hogyoku transformation. His face splits open, revealing a black skull with three white eyes, six wings with Hollow masks and eyes with horizontally slitted pupils, three holes in his torso, and his right hand fused with his Zanpakuto.
- Moral Event Horizon: The author went on record to say that he wanted to make Aizen "more evil" in an interview, so this was every bit as intended as it looked. Aizen made Hinamori extremely loyal to him, using her trust in his word to pit her against her childhood friend Hitsugaya, in order to keep his cover from getting blown. When he revealed that he faked his death to her, Aizen let Hinamori move in to hug him, before running straight through her chest with his sword and mocking Hitsugaya about it. His manipulations were so successful that she still believed he was innocent. Afterward, in the Fake Karakura arc, he used his illusions to trick Hitsugaya into stabbing her himself.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: He wanted Ichigo to be strong enough to fight him. He got more than he bargained for.
- Nightmare Face: His final transformation leads to a monster's face breaking out of his own skin, so the skin of his real face peels to one side. For the rest of the fight, the peeled skin remains hanging from his face.
- No Eye in Magic: Aizen's shikai can only influence people after a ritual is performed that his targets need to witness. As a result, Tousen is immune to the power because he's blind.
- No Saving Throw: There is no resisting his illusions unless you can touch Kyouka Suigetsu's blade before he activates his shikai.
- No Sell: He seems to be immune to nearly everything the good guys throw at him until the really big stuff starts coming out.
- Non-Action Big Bad: One of the bigger criticisms of his character. After The Reveal, he spends most of his time just sitting on his ass, waiting for handouts. He still has his usual machinations, but he leaves the heavy lifting to the Espada. After he leaves Hueco Mundo and makes it to Fake Karakura, Yamamoto envelops him in a fire prison. Although he likely couldn't do much regardless, his dialogue makes it fairly clear he had no intention of doing anything anyway.
- Orcus on His Throne: He has a tendency to simply sit around and let other people do stuff when he's capable of moving much more quickly than he does.
- Out-Gambitted: Aizen admits that the only character in the story more intelligent than he is, is Urahara. That means anything he can plan, Urahara can eventually counter. Urahara's riskiest counter ends up being based on his assumption Aizen will become almost unkillable if he fuses with the Hougyoku, so he preps some stealth-kido early in the fight, banking on Ichigo becoming strong enough to weaken Aizen enough for the kido to kick in and seal him. It works, just.
- Perpetual Smiler: Ever since his reveal as the Big Bad, Aizen always a maintains a smirk on his face throughout except for the few occasions that he is outgambitted, although it is never permanent, even after his defeat and imprisonment. Except he is overshadowed by his subordinate, Gin, who is one of the most blatant examples of this trope.
- This Cannot Be!: After over 300 chapters of everything going "according to plan", this happens when Aizen finally finds something he didn't expect.
- Troll: Aizen seems to go out of his way to hurt people without the slightest regard for whether it really benefits him. For example, both incidents that got Hinamori stabbed were largely pointless, but he sure seemed to be enjoying himself.
- Unreliable Expositor: Aizen exposits more about the plot than possibly any other character. He tells us how shinigami combat works, he tells us the mechanics of soul fusion, he tells us how the MacGuffin works, and more besides. Too bad then, that there are half-truths, fabrications and outright lies in a good chunk of it.
- Victory Fakeout: Thanks to his illusions, he often makes his opponents think they've won when they haven't even come close. The most brutal moment is when the captains and Vaizards think they've killed Aizen, only to discover Hitsugaya has stabbed Hinamori.
- Villain Decay: While he was still a very difficult opponent, his greatest asset was his cunning. Come the end of the Arrancar arc, and he's fully discarded that in favor of his One-Winged Angel. It shifted him from a Machiavellian Chess Master into a Spoiled Brat who throws temper tantrums at his opponents.
- Villain Takes an Interest: He's interested in Ichigo's powers and Orihime's potential. He was interested in Masaki because his experimental Arrancar was supposed to target Soul Reapers for hollowfication but suddenly abandoned the Soul Reapers to infect a Quincy the moment it detected Masaki's presence.
- Villain Team-Up: Aizen states that he doesn't work with people and he doesn't encourage loyalty among his subordinates. He's no believer in sharing the spotlight with another villain. Yhwach asked Aizen to join him, Aizen refused and even did something to Yhwach's perception of time in the short while they were talking.
- Villain Teleportation: During his power-ups, the Hougyoku eventually gives him the ability to teleport. It appears to split him into pieces then reconstitute him at the new location. However, since it hasn't been tested against Flash Step or Super Speed which can make a person appear to be teleporting, any advantage it may offer Aizen is unknown. The only two times he's used it, both his opponents were stationary. Gin was too astonished to react and Ichigo was overwhelming Aizen so completely, he deliberately let Aizen flee his proximity before mocking him for putting distance between them.
- Villainous Breakdown: Quickly loses his composure once it turns out that his defeat is near.
- Walking Wasteland: During the Deicide Arc, he's so absurdly powerful that only powerful spirits can survive just being in his presence. Otherwise, humans straight up explode and objects literally disintegrate.
- We Have Reserves: He doesn't care if he loses Arrancar because he can always make more with the Hougyoku.
- Wicked Cultured: During his time as Captain of Squad 5, he taught a popular class in Calligraphy at the Soul Reaper Academy. When Hueco Mundo is invaded, he is primarily concerned with making sure everybody has their tea before discussing the matter. Also a master swordsman, martial artist and scientist, to the point where the Soul Reaper Woman’s Association recommended him as a teacher for students who want to become a Badass Bookworm.
- Winged Humanoid: During his power ups, he gains multiple pairs of wings.
- Worthy Opponent: After Ichigo and Aizen have their great battle, Ichigo is left feeling this was Aizen's deepest reason for why he walked the path he did, along with I Just Want to Have Friends.
- You Have Out Lived Your Usefulness: If his subordinates cannot meet his expectations, he has no problem cutting them down and discarding them. Harribel and Tousen learned this the hard way.
Gin is the former Captain of the 3rd squad, whose face is forever fixed in Eyes Always Shut
and a foxy smile to go along with it. He was also involved in the past with Rangiku, the only person to whom he has shown something resembling more-or-less genuine kindness. Though suspected to be the Big Bad
of the Soul Society arc, he turned out to only be Aizen's subordinate and followed him to Hueco Mundo. Gin largely operates as Aizen's Dragon
, though his motivations are quite ambiguous.
His Zanpakuto is Shinso
, which has the ability to extend its length to enormous levels, making him function much like a sniper. His Bankai Kamishini no Yari
upgrades his basic shikai abilities to almost unfathomable speeds and distances.
- Animal Motifs: He's snake themed and his zanpakutou's abilities are centred around the concept of a snake, right down to his ambushing strikes through his haori, which reflects the concept of a striking snake. In-universe, some people compare him to a fox because of his prankster nature. Put the snake and fox together, however, and he becomes the non-animal symbol of Inari.
- Badass: Aside from being a Captain, Gin's fighting style and willingness to lie about his abilities in a Shonen series makes him a dangerous opponent, to the point where even Ichigo thinks he's scary. He also managed to nearly kill Aizen after the latter had fused with the Hogyoku.
- Badass Back: He specialised in striking while his back was facing his opponent. It hid his zanpakutou behind his clothes which could extend its length at very fast speeds. He stabs Aizen through the heart with this tactic.
- Best Served Cold: He believes in behaving like a snake - taking one's time before making the perfect strike. He plotted against Aizen for a century to create the perfect moment to avenge Matsumoto. Unfortunately, the only opportunity he gained was the one when Aizen's power evolutions allowed him to bite right back.
- BFS: His shikai has his sword extend to the length of 100 regular swords. His bankai can extend even further though this is not its true focus nor even its secondary one.
- Bishounen: In those rare times when he opens his eyes and stops smiling, it's revealed he is very pretty.
- Boring but Practical: Gin's bankai. It's mainly an upgraded shikai and thus it lacks a significant amount of luster compared to most bankai. However, it's perfectly designed for ambushes in plain sight and therefore, just like a snake is designed to successfully strike at close range, his bankai is very powerful.
- Calling Your Attacks: He calls out all of his attacks, like most Soul Reapers do.
- Cheshire Cat Grin: He stops smiling so rarely it's always a significant moment when he does so.
- Child Prodigy: As a child, he graduated out of the six-year academy programme in one year.
- Childhood Friends: He found Rangiku collapsed on the ground and saved her, after which they traveled together. She's the only person Gin seems to care about.
- Co-Dragons: Shared the position with Kaname Tosen. Tosen was more of a straight-up lieutenant to Aizen; Ichimaru was more of a tagalong assassin that deliberately waited for an opportunity to act upon his goal of killing Aizen.
- Combat Pragmatist: Among other things, he's quite fond of "shooting" Shinsou from behind his sleeve, throwing dust in his opponent's eyes, and pointing his zanpakuto at his opponent before extending it so they will be impaled. When Hiyori tried to attack Aizen, Gin cut her in half from behind.
- Creepy Blue Eyes: Gin prides himself on having a cold and calculating personality. His eyes more than help him convey this imagery.
- Cruel to Be Kind: Rangiku believes that it's one of Gin's most endearing attributes. After he died and left no keepsake for her, she realizes that having one would have held her back. By denying her a keepsake, Rangiku attributes that as an attempt by Gin to force her to move forward, which she does.
- Dangerously Genre Savvy: He spins a web of lies within lies to ensure his true abilities are kept as secret as possible. This means that Ichigo has to peel away the layers of Gin's misdirections to find the true threat of his bankai. His success at this does impress Gin but it's only later that we learn Ichigo hadn't learned the full truth even if he was in the right ballpark. The reason for all the obfuscation was quite simply because he had planned on killing Aizen and he knew that no matter how much information about Aizen's weaknesses he had learned, he couldn't afford for Aizen to learn his.
- Death by Irony: He became a Soul Reaper to steal back a piece of Rangiku's soul after Aizen's men attacked her. Rangiku never knew Gin was pursuing revenge for her. His purpose was to ensure Rangiku would never cry again. When he died, the last thing he saw was her crying over him as his life faded away.
- Declaration of Protection: He and Rangiku looked after each other as children, and he told her that he would become a Soul Reaper to protect her.
- Enigmatic Minion: Gin never reveals his motive for joining Aizen even when Rangiku asks him to explain. It's only partially revealed in flashback as he dies, showing just enough to explain that he joined Aizen to obtain the chance to kill him.
- Eyes Always Shut: In Japan this is indicative of his shifty nature. When he does open them, it's usually a sign of great emotion such as shock or anger.
- Foreshadowing: When the villains are unmasked at the end of the Soul Society arc and escape through the Negaccion, Gin looks back at Rangiku... and apologises. When he dies and the truth is revealed about why he joined Aizen, including the revelation that he's failed to save Rangiku or to stop her tears, he thinks to himself that he's glad he apologised when he left Soul Society.
- Gender-Blender Name: Gin is usually a girl's name. His surname, Ichimaru, was also the name of a famous geisha.
- Hidden Agenda Villain: Gin never really expressed much interest in what Aizen was doing. Aizen himself even seemed suspicious of Gin every now and then, causing a lot of fan speculation as to what he was really trying to do. He never quite makes it to Ambiguously Evil since he's just too much of a dick, but he was actually trying to assassinate Aizen.
- Hope Spot: He offers one to Rukia by asking her if he should save her, then crushes her spirits by making fun of her. His attack on Aizen also seemed to be working well at first, but of course it failed in the end.
- I Lied: If it involves his actions, motives or power, he's guaranteed to lie. He lied to Rukia about saving her from execution, he lies about manipulating the corridors in Hueco Mundo that ensures Rukia meets Aaronierro, and he lies about his power.
- Jack of All Stats: The databooks indicate he's a very evenly spread all-rounder.
- Jerkass: He offers to save Rukia from execution then tells her he lied. He has fun watching Tousen chop off Grimmjow's arm. He manipulates the corridors to force Rukia to meet Aaronierro. He was always infamous for playing mean pranks on people.
- Kick the Dog: He stops by to see Rukia before her execution and offers her a chance to escape death if she'll join him... only to, seconds later, admit he was just screwin' with her, so there was really no point in answering since he was going to let her die no matter what she said, all while keeping that goddamn smile.
- Manipulative Bastard:
- In the Soul Society arc, he manages to bring Rukia's hidden desire to be saved by saying that he'd rescue her... and when he said I Lied, she goes into the realm of Death Seeker.
- Kira has so much devotion to his captain that he would obey even when Gin told him to fight his fellow Soul Reapers (namely Matsumoto). In this case, however, it was surprisingly more positive, if only slightly, as he wanted to keep Izuru and Rangiku away from Hinamori and Hitsugaya, both of whom were cut down by Aizen.
- Meaningful Name: His bankai can be translated as "God-Killing Spear". He intended to use it on Aizen, whose objective was to become a god.
- The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: There was only one person he wanted to kill and he completely believed he was the only person who had either the right or ability to do so. He wanted to kill Aizen but it's only after he fails and is dying that he accepts Ichigo should be the one to do it.
- OOC Is Serious Business: If the Perpetual Smiler stops smiling, something he didn't want has just happened. The significance of this is only relevant later once his motives are known. If his eyes open, however, shit just got real.
- Perpetual Smiler: Gin always wears a foxy looking smile, which causes people to call him a snake.
- Pet the Dog: He's an unrepentant bastard, but seems to have a genuine soft spot for his childhood friend Rangiku. He apologizes with a regretful look before leaving for Hueco Mundo. Also, he later tells Tousen that he's glad Kira 'is doing well' while Kira was fighting Avirrama and wished him luck in the Omake segments during the Captain Amagai arc.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: During their rematch Gin calmly picks Ichigo apart during their battle, chiding him for having absolutely no chance against either him or Aizen anymore. Turns out he's testing Ichigo's ability to defeat Aizen and the conclusion disappoints him.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: When the anime team had to pick an eye colour for Gin for when he finally opened his eyes, they gave him red eyes. Then Kubo revealed Gin's eyes were actually Creepy Blue Eyes so the anime team changed Gin's eyes accordingly.
- Red Herring: Prior to the revelation of Aizen as the series' Big Bad, he was the leading contender for being the primary villain and the one suspected of most of the wrongdoing that had taken place over the course of the Soul Society arc.
- Retractable Weapon: His Zanpakutou is a retractable weapon that he uses to ambush strike his foes. It also helps him to deliver poison to his foe when in Bankai.
- Sadist: Gin cultivates this image very convincingly, due to the Slasher Smile that he keeps on his face whenever he causes someone pain, from mentally torturing Rukia to cutting Hiyori in half. He even points out that he toys with his "prey" like a snake.
- Smug Smiler: The perpetual smile he has is rather mocking.
- Smug Snake: He calls himself this, claiming he hunts for prey then torments them before consuming them.
- Stealth Mentor: Sometimes he was being cruel for the sake of. Sometimes, his cruelty was actually designed to make his target stronger. One possible way of looking at his actions toward Ichigo. He had many opportunities to kill him, but refrained from doing so, and after he failed to kill Aizen, he was glad to see Ichigo's confidence had returned after his "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
- Troll: His treatment of Hinamori, whom he taunts gently yet sarcastically to make her (and others) believe he's a criminal and a traitor. Turns out he was a betrayer, but not quite as the others imagined. He even takes time to talk to Rukia on her way to be executed and give her the hope that she might have her life spared... and then tell her he was kidding, dashing her last bits of hope.
- The Unfettered: The Turn Back the Pendulum arc revealed that he was such a prodigy as a child in part because he was already driven by a powerful goal. He was willing and able to do anything necessary to stay Aizen's right-hand man if it meant he could one day kill him.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Gin doesn't know how to recognise the hero or what the hero's true role is. He completely believes the only one allowed to kill Aizen is him. He doesn't understand until it's far too late that the only one allowed to kill the Big Bad is The Hero... and that's not him. Only on his deathbed does Gin recognize and accept it.
"My eyes can only see one path and that is the path with the least amount of bloodshed. Justice, is always there, and the path I follow, is justice."
Kaname Tōsen is the former Captain of the 9th squad. He's a dark-skinned blind man driven to join the Soul Society to enforce justice and follow the path of least bloodshed, inspired by the tragic death of his old friend who was murdered by her husband. He forms a good friendship with Captain Komamura, but he was goaded by Aizen to join his schemes due to being impressed with his ideals. Upon defection, multiple characters call him out on starting a bloody war despite his claimed ideals.
His Zanpakuto is Suzumushi
, capable of making his opponents seemingly black out with a supersonic frequency. His Bankai, Suzumushi Tsuishiki: Enma Kōrogi
, negates the senses as the environment is enveloped in a black sphere. He is also capable of using an Arrancar's transformation, named Suzumushi Hyakushiki: Grillar Grillo
, which transforms him into a horrendous cricket-like monster capable of firing Ceros and using sound-based attacks.
- Achilles' Heel: His bankai can be negated by touching his sword.
- Adaptation Dye-Job: The anime uses Hair Color Dissonance to make his hair predominantly purple-looking as a sheen for his black hair whereas in the manga, his hair is simply black.
- Alas, Poor Villain: His death is played as a sad thing as he finally realizes he may not have been acting in a super great manner. He explodes before he can do anything about it. The anime's final episode shows Komamura and Hisagi at his grave, joined by Kensei.
- Animal Motif: He has an association with insects, especially crickets though his resurreccion is a fly.
- Ax-Crazy: Due to his obsession with justice, he tends to be pretty brutal himself. Once he becomes an insectile Visored it becomes even clearer as he drops his calm demeanor.
- Badass: Severed Grimmjow's arm and used a Kido spell to destroy it.
- Bait and Switch: It seemed like Izaemon killed Tosen and Eishima, before Izaeimon himself fell to the ground, dead.
- Black Dude Dies First: He's the first fatality among the thirteen captains.
- The Blank: He wears a mask that is just a blank white shell over his face. His Visored mask doesn't bother accounting for eyes because he's blind.
- Blind Black Guy: He was born blind and is the darkest-skinned captain.
- Blind Justice: He's a blind warrior for justice. However, his pursuit of justice was warped by his desire for revenge, resulting in him siding with the enemy and leaving behind two people who swore to open his eyes to the true path of justice.
- Broken Pedestal: Shuuhei practically worshipped him before he turned traitor.
- Character Development: Most notably in his behavior around Aizen. Initially, while still subservient, Tosen was almost afraid of Aizen by the time of Turn Back The Pendulum (110 years before Rukia met Ichigo). When Tōsen suggested killing off the Visoreds, Aizen - who wanted to see their Hollofication kick in - gave him a Death Glare. Tōsen, nervous and alarmed, bowed his head and quickly apologized. A noticeable change occurs in Everything but the Rain (which is 20 years before Ichigo met Rukia); when Aizen came close to calling a Hollow experiment called White (which Tosen named) a failure, Tōsen boldly argued otherwise, saying that it's more of a "sample". Aizen, surprisingly, backs down.
- Clipped Wing Angel: He performs a transformation that gives him eyesight so he can fight Komamura and Hisagi, but it doesn't go as expected. He is so unused to having sight that he becomes obsessed with what he's looking at, dropping his guard and allowing Hisagi to sneak-attack him while he's busy insulting Komamura's appearance. Hisagi points out that if Tousen hadn't obtained this resureccion he would have easily stopped Hisagi's attack.
- Co-Dragons: Shared the position with Gin Ichimaru.
- Death by Irony: Hisagi and Komamura vowed to go after Tousen to "open his eyes", an unsubtle play on the fact that Tousen was blind and his concept of justice was essentially "Blind Justice". In the end, his new powers do give him eyesight but he's so distracted by this that he drops his guard, allowing Hisagi to stab him in the skull. Hisagi points out that if Tousen had still been blind, Hisagi would never have been able to do it. "Opening his eyes" really did kill him.
- Disability Immunity: Since he's blind, Aizen's illusions have no effect on him.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: After getting his throat stabbed, he suddenly explodes into a pool of blood; Komamura blames Aizen for that.
- Drunk with Power: When he powers up in his final battle, he unravels as well.
- Dying as Yourself: He finally understands why Komamura and Hisagi wanted to restore his sense to him.
- The Faceless: As a 5th Seat in the "Pendulum" flashback chapters he was fully masked. Hell, we didn't even know it was Tosen until he unmasked himself.
- Failure Knight: His frustration and pain at his best friend's murder is his Start of Darkness.
- Foreshadowing: Why did he blow up, again? Hollowfication leads to the literal destruction of a soul, unless an outside force stabilizes it. Tosen was not so lucky.
- Freudian Excuse: His best friend/crush married a Soul Reaper, who killed her in a fit of rage. To honor her memory, Tosen took up her sword and has been secretly hating Soul Reapers ever since.
- Handicapped Badass: He's blind, but there are ways to detect reiatsu that don't require sight. As a result, he can compensate almost perfectly for his lack of sight in battle.
- Heel Realization: He finally realizes he's lost his way - when he thinks of his old friend, he can finally see her face... but it takes him a lot to recognize her.
- Idiot Ball: His bankai is just as potentially broken as Aizen's shikai, yet he can't stop talking instead of finishing off his opponent. Keep in mind that his bankai removes all of his opponent's senses, so the person he's talking to can't even hear him.
- In the Back: To Kensei Muguruma, 3rd Seat Heizo Kasaki, 4th Seat Shinobu Eishima (off-screen) and 6th Seat Todo Gizaeimom in the Turn back The Pendulum arc. Of the four, only Kensei survived.
- Justice Will Prevail: Believes that Aizen's side represents justice with claims that his victory will be less bloody. His real idea of justice is slaughtering all Soul Reapers.
- Kick the Dog: After going One-Winged Angel and gaining sight for the first time, he looks to Komamura and admits that that Komamura is uglier than he thought.
- Madness Mantra: I can see, I can see Komamura I CAN SEE, I CAN SEE, I CAN SEE, I CAN SEE, I CAN SEE
- Mask Power: During Turn Back The Pendulum he wore a mask that hid his identity and was far tougher than his low rank would imply.
- Mask of Power: During his final fight, he begins to wear a mask, symbolising his new level.
- Motive Rant: Over why he must kill Zaraki and why he turned against the Soul Reapers.
- Motor Mouth: Spends a lot of time ranting about "justice".
- One-Winged Angel: When he powers up, he displays a very creepy form. Resurreccion? Grillar Grillo. Huge and deformed, much like the Brundlefly from the David Cronenberg version of The Fly.
- Psycho Supporter: It becomes clear after his rant to Sajin that he isn't stable at all.
- Revenge: To Tousen, revenge is also justice.
- Revenge Before Reason: His obsession with revenge has blinded him to many possibilities and alienated him from the true friends he had.
- Stealth Pun: See his death scene, where he seems to not remember the reason he was fighting for in the first place and doesn't have any memories of his best friend. So Tosen's Blind Justice clouded his judgement and made him lose sight of what was important to him, his best friend which was the reason he sought justice in the first place.
- Step into the Blinding Fight: Captain Tousen uses this. His bankai creates a huge sphere of darkness (in which his blindness doesn't give him a disadvantage). Unfortunately for him, he was fighting Kenpachi, who just lets himself get stabbed to immobilize Tousen's sword and beat the crap out of him.