Characters: Bleach Aizen And His Cohorts
Characters that appeared in Tite Kubo's Bleach
. This page deals with Aizen and his direct lieutenants
.Back to the main character index
open/close all folders
"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: "No one has ever stood in the Heavens. Not you, not me, not even God, but soon, that unbearable vacancy on the throne in the sky will be filled. From now on... I will stand in Heaven!"
- Above Good and Evil: While explaining that several people have tried to break the boundaries between Hollows and Soul Reaper, or otherwise surpass their limits, he says that they failed either because they simply lacked the potential, or they were held back by morality and ethics. Later, he gets angry with Urahara for letting his sense of right and wrong stop him from trying to change the world.
- Achilles' Heel: His power cannot be used on the blind meaning Tousen is immune to it. There is a second weakness, anyone that touches the blade before the Shikai is released gains immunity as well.
- Actually a Doombot: Uses his illusions for it, or Gin (to distract Komamura in the Seireitei Hill) and Momo (for Hitsugaya).
- Adaptive Ability: During the Fake Karakura Town battle, Aizen frustrates his opponents by constantly gaining new counter-ability 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 is this to the ordinary people. Ordinary humans die just from being too close to him. It's all Tatsuki and company can do to keep away from him. The only reason they can do it all is because Aizen admits he's toying with them just to pass the time until Ichigo arrives.
- 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 Rangiku's soul).
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Tortured Momo and Orihime repeatedly, killed off several of his own underlings, done everything on the Karma Houdini page besides remaining unscathed, and messed with Arrancar Research Time.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: The Arrancar follow him partly because of his strength, and partly because of his lack of fear.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: He was captain of the fifth division because he had the power to achieve that rank.
- Bad Boss: After The Reveal he shows himself to be dismissive of his subordinates despite their devotion. Harribel is the most well known example after she was left the last Espada standing.
- 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.
- Barehanded Blade Block: He can block a sword with one finger.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: He wished for Ichigo to become very powerful, so that he would have a Worthy Opponent. Problem is, he got what he asked for...and more.
- 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, it led to a Villainous Breakdown, but he reserved the full madness of it for Urahara, who 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.
- Big Bad: For the better part of a decade, Aizen was the villain of the franchise, twisting the story to fulfill his goals and antagonizing everyone along the way. He's lost ground since then.
- Bishounen: Compare Captain Aizen to Aizen after The Reveal.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Rather calmly states that the kind Captain Aizen everyone knew never even existed.
- Black Eyes of Evil: During his last battles, his eyes turn black.
- Body Horror: The Shapeshifter Swan Song mish-mash he goes through when Urahara seals him.
- 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 this. Ichigo thinks it's exactly what Aizen wanted which is why the Hougyoku gave it to him.
- Butterfly of Death and Rebirth: During his power ups, he ends up with three pairs of butterfly wings.
- 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: All of Soul Society were played like pawns during said arc. He also set up a large number of Ichigo's battles so Ichigo would end up strong enough to force him to evolve. That one backfired though.
- 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 stops doing so, it's a clue to the viewers that he's going to be defeated soon.
- 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 can only be imprisoned, however.
- 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 turns out not only to have been pointless since he could do it all himself, but pointless for his actual goal as well since they weren't strong enough to be worth taking into battle with him wherever he was planning to go next.
- 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: What his battles are when anyone else takes him on.
- Dangerously Genre Savvy: Lies about his evil plan to Ichigo twice, mixing truth and lies to make it unclear of what the truth actually is.
- Defiant to the End: He seems to be unfazed when condemned to twenty millennium in solitary confinement.
- Despair Gambit: He spared the Soul Reapers and the Visoreds specifically so he could take sadistic delight at forcing them to see him succeed without being able to stop him.
- Disc One Final Boss: For a guy so intertwined into the plot (even after his defeat), he's lost so much ground to Yhwach (with a few exceptions) that it's rather easy to forget he still exists.
- Drunk on the Dark Side: The stronger Aizen gets, the more visibly unstable he becomes.
- Drunk with Power: He went a little crazy with power after his increasingly unnatural power upgrades left him feeling more and more as though his plans were unfolding flawlessly. Turned out to be a case of Hoist by His Own Petard.
- Evil All Along: He was introduced as a gentle, kind captain who was worried about a secret conspiracy. There was a conspiracy, all right.
- Evil Counterpart: To Kisuke Urahara. They're 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. In fact, he believes they are so alike that he's surprised Urahara isn't just as evil as he is.
- Evil Genius: His Evil Plan in the Soul Society arc firmly entrenches him as one.
- 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, but Ichigo thinks he only wanted a Worthy Opponent.
- Evil Power Vacuum: Discussed in the UNMASKED databook. After his defeat, several Arrancars observed dozens of Hollows converging at Las Noches, knowing that the previous Evil Overlord was out and eager to make their own mark on Hueco Mundo.
- Evil Sorceror: Can use up to Level 90 Kido spells without the incantation, though apparently he can't get them to full power.
- Evil Sounds Deep: He's voiced by Show Hayami, so it should be expected.
- Eyes Do Not Belong There: He begins to grow eyes on his wings.
- Faking the Dead: Shortly before revealing himself as the big bad he uses his shikai to do this.
- Faux Affably Evil: "We'll talk about the intruders in a minute. But first, does everyone have their tea?"
- 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. He had very little in the way of backstory or motivations.
- For the Evulz: There isn't really a better explanation for half the things he does. He's just that big a dick. Lampshaded once by Gin who tells Aizen to his face that he's only doing certain things to have fun. Aizen doesn't deny it.
- Foreshadowing: "I've known you since before you were born," he says. Turns out, he wasn't kidding. He was there when Isshin met Masaki, and was in fact the reason why they even met in the first place.
- He gave a letter to Hinamori that incriminated Hitsugaya as the mastermind behind the conspiracy in the Soul Society arc, pinning her against her childhood friend. Hitsugaya was almost immediately proven to be innocent, and he assumes that the letter was forged, but we had seen Aizen writing something while talking to Hinamori before his supposed death. Upon The Reveal, this situation makes a lot more sense in retrospect.
- His backstory was actually hinted at during the Turn Back The Pendulum arc. In it, we see that Hirako chose Aizen to be his lieutenant so he could keep an eye on him. Hirako deliberately gave Aizen the cold shoulder due to suspicion, something Aizen actually uses against Hirako when he betrays his former captain, arguing that it was because he chose not to get close to Aizen that allowed Aizen to betray him. Years later, real time and in universe, Ichigo suspects, and Kubo confirms, that Aizen was ostracized and viewed with suspicion due to his higher level of power compared to his peers; in many ways, Hirako contributed to it.
- Freudian Excuse: Suggested by Ichigo that he went crazy due to being Lonely at the Top and wanted to create someone on the same level as he was. The databook confirms this; apparently Aizen's power meant he was isolated and mistrusted in his youth, and he wanted to become a god and create his own world as a result.
- The Glasses Come Off: At the end of the Soul Society arc.
- 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: Slicking his hair back is the first thing he does after revealing his evilness.
- 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.
- Hero Killer: The reason Ichigo initially fears him is because of how Aizen nearly eviscerated him at the end of the Soul Society arc. An act he followed up with one-hitting another captain-class fighter.
- 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.
- Hell, he was the reason Ichigo was born at all. His interest in Ichigo led to him causing the events of the series by ensuring Rukia was assigned to Karakura Town, and willingly powering Ichigo up out of the hope of creating an opponent that would allow him to achieve higher levels of transcendency. As we all know, it backfired magnificently.
- The reason Urahara's sealing spell finally works is because the Hogyoku Aizen relied upon so heavily finally took back its power. Ichigo speculated that it was actually responding to a secret desire within Aizen to be Brought Down to Normal. This is was confirmed to be the case in the Unmasked data book.
- Hyde Plays Jekyll: Pretended to be a kind and gentle Captain for more than a century when he was really an amoral and power-hungry bastard bent to use and sacrifice any one to fulfill his objectives.
Renji: The Captain Aizen I know would never do such a thing!!
Aizen: Abarai-kun, the "Captain Aizen" you knew never existed to begin with.
- 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 Deicide 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.
- 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: Of the Stronger Than They Look variant. 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: Or so Ichigo believes, after his battle with Aizen during the Deicide Arc. Ichigo thinks the Hogyoku only depowered Aizen because, deep down, Aizen wanted to be normal.
- 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: Not as overt about it as Mayuri or Urahara, but he is still a genius that performed highly unethical experiments on Soul Reapers, Hollows and ordinary Rukongai souls.
- The Man Behind the Man: He plays this role in the Soul Society arc until his reveal. Later on, he claims he's been doing it for much, much longer, without which this story may never have happened.
- Manipulative Bastard: Most obviously to Momo Hinamori, but also to most of allies and numerous enemies like Hitsugaya.
- 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".
- Mole in Charge: After he assassinated Central 46, he personally decreed all ruling relating to Rukia's execution via his illusions allowing him to operate under the guise of Central 46 (until Hitsugaya found out they were dead).
- 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 this.
- 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.
- One-Winged Angel: Thanks to the Hogyoku, he gets FOUR of them.
- 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.
- Power Gives You Wings: He sports a few different types of them during his power ups.
- Power Makes Your Hair Grow: As always, instant mullets are a sign of great power Bleach.
- Predecessor Villain: Started getting this treatment following the Time Skip.
- Rage Against the Heavens: This is pretty much his modus operandi, with it becoming gradually more evident in the Deicide arc. He wants to remove the Spirit King, and place himself as God. He believed the Hogyouku would help him achieve this aim.
- Reality Warping Is Not a Toy: Aizen mocked Urahara's inability to control and master the Hougyoku. Urahara counters with the belief that Aizen may not have mastered it as well as he thinks. Aizen dismisses Urahara as a sore loser. Urahara was right.
- Say My Name: Aizen feels he and Urahara are kindred spirits in terms of intellect, so is deeply unhappy that Urahara doesn't seem to agree with what he's doing. When Ichigo defeats him, Aizen is defeated with Urahara's name on his lips.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: He cannot be killed, he can only be imprisoned. He's so dangerous, however, that he has to be kept bound.
- Slasher Smile: He really did enjoy his fight with Ichigo, in a mad, sadistic manner.
- Smug Snake: When he sees how powerful Ichigo finally is, he's extremely smug at how incomparable the pair are in strength. Aizen gained levels of power even he didn't think he'd reached.
- Soft Spoken Sadist: Ichimaru (himself no saint) once observed how Aizen enjoyed winding up both Tousen and Grimmjow (which resulted in Tousen cutting off Grimmjow's arm in exchange for not taking Grimmjow's life, leaving Tousen unsatisfied and Grimmjow disabled and kicked out of the Espada). This is just one of many instances.
- Straw Nihilist: In addition to his speeches about the futility of morality, he sees himself as an Übermensch, with Kisuke Urahara as his Last Man, if his Villainous Breakdown is any indication.
Aizen: Urahara Kisuke! I despise you! Why does a man of your intellect sit idle?!
Urahara: ...That's the way the world is.
Aizen: That's the logic of a loser! A winner must always think not of how the world is, but how the world should be!
- Superpower Lottery: There are several lotteries in Bleach, ranging from speed to sheer power to special ability and so on. Aizen basically won them all.
- Talking Is a Free Action: He loves his speeches, and when someone actually tries to subvert this trope, he lampshades it by criticizing them for interrupting him, and considering that his response to someone interrupting one of his speeches normally consists of him promptly cutting down the fool for speaking out of turn, it might as well be.
- That Man Is Dead: Verbally subverted.
"The Aizen you knew...never even existed."
- Third Act Stupidity: After the Hougyoku powers him up, Aizen believes he has risen above reason and strategy, and discards his cunning in favor of pure spirit energy.
- The Thirty-Six Stratagems: He's used twenty-seven of them. Go check out the page.
- 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: Overlaps with Soft Spoken Sadist. 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.
- 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 Deicide 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.
- The Villain Makes the Plot: From the Soul Society to the end of Deicide, the whole story is about the good guys scrambling to counter Aizen's plans and overwhelming power.
- 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.
- Villainous Breakdown: Quickly loses his composure once it turns out that his defeat is near.
- Villains Never Lie: He wasn't lying when he said he knew about Ichigo since the day he was born. He just omitted the fact that he was the reason that Ichigo was born at all.
- 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 occasionally says that such and such loss is meaningless since the loser was worthless anyway.
- Wicked Cultured: During his time as Captain of Squad 5, he taught a popular class in Caligraphy 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 became this.
- 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: Very fond of using Shinso when his back is turned to his opponent. Aizen included.
- 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 captain's bankai. Once you think about it for a little bit, it occurs to you that it is one of the most ridiculously overpowered bankai in the series.
- Calling Your Attacks: He calls out all of his attacks, like most Soul Reapers do.
- Cheshire Cat Grin: The ever-constant expression on his face.
- Child Prodigy: Graduated out of the academy in one year.
- Childhood Friends: He found Rangiku dying 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.
- Cunning Like a Fox: Best way to sum him up.
- 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.
- 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.
- Death by Irony: He became a Soul Reaper to steal back a piece of her 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 specifically told her that he would protect her upon his joining of the Seireitei. As adults, they had drifted away, and it all fell apart from there.
- Enigmatic Minion: For the longest time since his debut, nobody really knew what went behind the Cheshire Cat Grin and Eyes Always Shut, so speculation raged for years on end until his motive was finally revealed.
- 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: His loyalty to Rangiku was actually hinted at as far back as the Soul Society arc. Remember when Hinamori and Hitsugaya were cut down by Aizen in the Central 46 Chambers? The only reason Rangiku was not included among those two was because Gin specifically sent Kira to fight Rangiku, to keep her away from Hitsugaya, Hinamori and Aizen.
- Gender-Blender Name: Gin is usually a girl's name. His surname, Ichimaru, was also the name of a famous geisha.
- He Who Fights Monsters: When Gin and Rangiku were children, Gin was fairly considerate. After becoming a Soul Reaper, however, he became ruthless. He joined Aizen to learn how to kill him to avenge an attack of Rangiku. Even so, Rangiku never even seemed all that affected by a piece of her soul getting stolen, so his relentless pursuit for revenge led not only to a bifurcated Hiyori and a psychologically broken Rukia, but it also led to an even further sense of suffering to Rangiku because of his refusal to give her an answer or let go his vendetta on Aizen. In the end, he was still as much of a villain as he was a friend to her.
- 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: Seems to be a frequent trait of his.
- Jack of All Stats: The databooks indicate he's a very evenly spread all-rounder.
- Jerkass: He's polite, but incredibly condescending, making him appear Obviously Evil and needlessly annoying even outside of a fight.
- Kansai Regional Accent: He talks with this, despite being everything a Kyoto-ben isn't.
- 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.
- Obviously Evil: The only people surprised when he turned out to be a bad guy were the ones that felt nobody THAT clearly villainous could actually be a villain.
- The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: He believes that his bankai is the only thing that can kill Aizen. It didn't work out as planned.
- 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.
- Pile Bunker: The primary method of operation of his Zanpakuto.
- "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, they played with this trope. Then Kubo revealed Gin's eyes were actually blue 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. And of course, partially subverted when he actually turned out to be evil anyway, just not the most evil.
- 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 lying to 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.
- 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.
"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 the reinstated Kensei Muguruma.
- 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: His Visored mask is just a blank white shell over his face. Well, it's not as if he needs eyeholes...
- Blind Black Guy: He was apparently born blind and is apparently the only black guy in Soul Society.
- 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.
- The Brute: He's far from stupid, but he's usually the first of the three main villains to get involved in the fight.
- 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: His Resurreccion gives him an immensely powerful insectoid form, which includes working eyes. As he's about to finish off Komamura, Hisagi sneaks up on him and stabs him through the head. Hisagi claims that if Tousen hadn't been distracted by his newfound sight, he would have easily sensed him and dodged it.
- 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. Not that they would need to even if he weren't blind but...
- 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: Or maybe dying as what you pretended you were.
- The Faceless: As a 5th Seat in the "Pendulum" flashback chapters. 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.
- Suzumushi did not belong to Tosen. It actually started life under the possession of his dead friend. Zanpakuto are supposed to be a reflection of the soul of their wielders, so this was always rather peculiar. It's the first indication we get over the existence of the Asauchi, the basic, independent spirit forms given to all Soul Reapers for their as-of-yet blank weapons (Zanpakuto only become Zanpakuto after their Soul Reaper imprints their personality on the Asauchi during their contract to become partners). That's also the clearest idea we have on how he managed to get Suzumushi around his hand after his friend died.
- 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.
- 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".
- Odd Friendship: With Wonderweiss Margela.
- 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.
- Power Makes Your Voice Deep: Inverted with his Resurrección. His voice gets higher.
- Psycho Supporter: It becomes clear after his rant with 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.
- Superpower Lottery: His shikai generates sound that can knock opponents unconscious, though probably only weak ones. It also has a Storm of Blades and his bankai covers the field with a dome of darkness that negates the opponent's senses except touch. Later, he was turned into the only Visored with a Resurreccion.
- Superpower Meltdown: After Hisagi stabs him, Tosen later explodes in a pool of blood. See Fore Shadowing for the details.
- Take Up My Sword: Took his deceased friend's zanpakuto from her grave in his pursuit for "justice".
- Twofer Token Minority: He's black and blind.
- Weapon Twirling: Just before Tousen unleashes bankai on Kenpachi, he walks forward, twirling his sword in his right hand.
- White Mask of Doom: In Resurrecion. Doubles as The Blank initially as well.