Kurosaki Ichigo is a 15 year old boy that has an ability to see ghosts/spirits. Because of his ability, he is able to meet a female death god (a.k.a Shinigami) named Kuchiki Rukia. To save his family and friends from unwanted soul-eating spirits (Hollows), Rukia transfers her Shinigami powers to Ichigo. As Rukia takes on a human shell, together they solve mysteries involving spirits and hollows until from the spirit world comes 2 other shinigamis explaining that it is illegal to transfer Shinigami powers to humans and Rukia exceeded the time limit to stay in the human world. After they sentence her death for breaking the laws, Ichigo snaps and swears to everyone he will retrieve Rukia by breaking into the spirit world.
The Kurosaki family
- Ichigo Kurosaki (黒崎 一護, Kurosaki Ichigo?)
- Isshin Kurosaki (黒崎 一心, Kurosaki Isshin?)
- Karin Kurosaki (黒崎 夏梨, Kurosaki Karin?) – Voiced by: Rie Kugimiya (Japanese), Kate Higgins (English)
Karin is the cynical and sarcastic daughter of Isshin. Compared to her soft-spoken twin, Karin is the more authoritative of the two. She is an excellent soccer player with a kick powerful enough to hurt weak hollows. Karin's tough exterior results from her mother's death; because she could not be useful around the house like Yuzu, she resolved never to cry so that she would not burden her family with her personal troubles.
Karin is a sensible person and will not hesitate to kick her father in the head when she thinks he's acting unreasonable. She initially claims that she believes spirits do not exist, yet can see them just as well as Ichigo can. She can also sense them from great distances, which usually manifests as a headache. In spite of her attitude about spirits, Karin is willing to use her abilities to earn a little cash, such as her position as Karakura Red of Don Kanonji's Karakura superheroes. Karin actually knows that Ichigo is a shinigami and wants to know why he's suffering out of concern. In the anime she also met Hitsugaya when he helped her at a soccer match and revealed himself as a shinigami. Karin is a homonym for Japanese quince, a name of a fruit, which matches Ichigo's name being a homonym for strawberry.
- Yuzu Kurosaki (黒崎 遊子, Kurosaki Yuzu?) – Voiced by: Tomoe Sakuragawa (Japanese), Janice Kawaye (English)
Yuzu is Karin's fraternal twin (both were born on May 6 of the same year) and more soft-spoken in comparison to her authoritative sibling. She is also the more empathetic of the two girls. She takes care of the housework, such as cooking meals and tidying up the living space, on a daily basis. She also regularly cuts Ichigo's hair. She likes to play with Kon, calling him "Bostov", unaware of the fact that he's alive, which most often involves her dressing him in feminine clothes and gluing on unwanted accessories, much to his chagrin. Unlike her siblings, Yuzu is only able to see faint outlines of spirits. Both girls help out in the family's clinic. She is Karakura Yellow in Don Kanonji's Karakura Superheroes. She tends to get very upset whenever Ichigo disappears for anything longer than a day due to her brother complex for Ichigo. In episode 33 of the anime series, Yuzu finally sees a spirit clearly which turns out to be a cat that died and had formed an attachment to her thus becoming an obsessed spirit. For the short time they are together the cat protects Yuzu from hollows by creating a "force field" and later turning into a large burning lion which then defeats the hollows and then returns to its original form. A little while after the attack the cat disapears, its obsession being fullfilled. Yuzu is also the name of a citron.
- Masaki Kurosaki (黒崎 真咲, Kurosaki Masaki?) [Deceased] – Voiced by: Sayaka Ohara (Japanese), Ellyn Stern (English)
Masaki, born on June 9 and died on June 17, is the mother of Ichigo, Yuzu, and Karin. She died while Ichigo was still a child, and her death deeply affected her family. Isshin keeps a large poster of her on the wall and occasionally talks to it for comic relief. Though Ichigo initially did not know how she died, he later discovers that the hollow Grand Fisher was actually responsible for her death. Grand Fisher had intended to kill Ichigo, but killed Masaki instead when she protected him. Both Isshin and Ichigo blame themselves for her death. Because of her death, her three children changed completely in personality: Ichigo changed from a smiling mama's boy into his scowling, short-tempered self; Yuzu turned from a crybaby to a reliable housekeeper; and Karin turned from a crybaby into a robust tomboy.
Karakura High School
- Uryū Ishida (石田 雨竜, Ishida Uryū?)
- Orihime Inoue (井上 織姫, Inoue Orihime?)
- Yasutora "Chad" Sado (茶渡 泰虎, Sado Yasutora?)
- Keigo Asano (浅野 啓吾, Asano Keigo?) - Voiced by: Katsuyuki Konishi (Japanese), Yuri Lowenthal (English)
Keigo is a student at the Karakura High School, in the same classroom as Ichigo Kurosaki. He is an extremely hyperactive character and often use overly-dramatic movements and words to act out his feelings. In other respects, he is the stereotypical Japanese teenager. The Asano family consists of Keigo's mother, father, his sister Mizuho, and Keigo himself.
Keigo is used mainly for comical effect. He is good friends with fellow student Mizuiro Kōjima. Keigo appears to be a shallow character at first glance, with a passion for slacking off. Indeed, he takes great pride in not making it to the honors roster (higher than the 50th ranking) and labels those who do so "traitors" (including Ichigo and Chad). However, Mizuiro states that Keigo is much smarter than his bad grades show. In a recent omake, he imagined Ikkaku to be a spy with a license to kill or a shogun's bodyguard who cuts down evil-doers. Mizuiro suggested that Ikkaku would be his older brother, as his sister Mizuho likes Ikkaku, much to Keigo's chagrin.
Keigo, like many of Ichigo's friends, is spiritually aware as a result of constant contact with Ichigo. While he can see spirits and other such supernatural phenomena, he has not manifested any unique abilities, much like Tatsuki. He only becomes aware of the fact after seeing Ikkaku Madarame in battle, having dismissed his previous sightings as shootings for a TV show.
Though he has a boyish face and gentle manner of speaking, Mizuiro has a marked fondness for older women. Ichigo once warned Rukia about his infatuation with older women, which confused Mizuiro as he doesn't know that Rukia is actually very old. He is apparently very successful with these women and often excuses himself from Asano's activities because of a date with one or more women, the latter being more likely. In an extra chapter in the twelfth volume of Bleach, it is revealed that Mizuiro had very few friends until junior high. He is very distant towards his mother, who is seldom home. Despite not being shown as such, he's recently been revealed to have been fully endowed with spiritual awareness like Tatsuki and Keigo, and watched Ichigo, Chad, and Uryū go into Hueco Mundo.
Tatsuki is a student at the Karakura High School, in the same classroom as Ichigo Kurosaki, her childhood friend and karate partner. When they were children, Tatsuki regularly saved Ichigo when he was getting beaten up, as well as cheering him up when he was upset. A tomboyish karate practitioner with dreams of becoming a vale tudo champion, and already ranking Japan's second strongest in her age group, Tatsuki seems to possess no stereotypically feminine qualities as is typical of female manga characters. Her only obvious feminine trait is how she writes her name: using hiragana (たつき), though this is because she thinks it looks feminine while she considers the kanji of her name un-cute.
Tatsuki is best friends with Orihime Inoue and is constantly protecting her from men looking for a date, to say nothing of Chizuru Honshō, the school lesbian, who often approaches and grabs Orihime's breasts. Tatsuki has done this since middle school, when she beat up some bullies that were trying to cut Orihime's hair, and had already done so once before her brother died. After that, Tatsuki promised to protect her from anyone who dared to make her cry, and she and Orihime became best friends.
In the earlier parts of the series, Tatsuki mainly hangs out with Orihime, and also protects her from the hollow Numb Chandelier, but gets injured. When Orihime's powers awaken, Tatsuki in turn gets protected by Orihime. Soon after that, Tatsuki begins to see hollows clearly, but never mentions it to Orihime. Tatsuki made Orihime promise that she will come back alive before Orihime goes to Soul Society. Later on, during the first invasion of the Arrancar, Tatsuki nearly dies at the hand of Yammy, who uses his special technique called Gonzui to suck up human souls. A timely rescue by Orihime and Chad saves her. Tatsuki also witnesses the battles between Ichigo, Hitsugaya's team and the arrancar. When Orihime gets taken away to Hueco Mundo, Tatsuki is noticeably upset at her sudden disappearance, punching Ichigo's head through a window and shouting at him for not telling her what he knows. She later is accompanied by Keigo and Mizuiro to Urahara's Shop and sees Ichigo leaving for Hueco Mundo.
Like many of Ichigo's friends, Tatsuki is spiritually aware to the point that she can clearly see ghosts, hollows, shinigami, and other such supernatural phenomena. She is also strong enough to survive spiritual attacks most humans are incapable of dealing with, though this may be due to her karate training. Despite acquiring the ability to see and sense spiritual entities around the same time as Orihime, she has not exhibited any unique spiritual abilities as of yet. She also has the ability to sense Orihime, no matter how far away she might be, but remarks that when Orihime disappeared during the Arrancar arc that she couldn't sense her anymore.
- Ururu Tsumugiya (紬屋 雨, Tsumugiya Ururu?) – Voiced by: Noriko Shitaya (Japanese), Wendee Lee (English)
Ururu is a meek, black-haired girl who mostly does manual labor for the shop, as well as assisting Urahara in training Ichigo. She is Karakura Pink in Don Kanonji's superhero team and uses a multi-barreled shoulder cannon as her weapon. Her shoulder cannon can also turn into a rocket launcher to deal with powerful opponents. She seems to respond robotically when injured or when hollows initially appear. Jinta also mentions that she reacts to strange spiritual presences, such as those of arrancar. During such times, Ururu seems to take on a rather simplistic view of right and wrong. She considers those that cause harm (relative to her) as enemies, and believes that enemies must be eliminated.
Ururu's meek attitude is somewhat at odds with her fighting ability, which is undefined, but quite high (Urahara vaguely mentions that her fighting ability is at an "anti-shinigami" level). Her leg-strength in particular is far greater than it should be, even when compared to Kon while he's in Ichigo's body. Her combat skills are shown when she gives the arrancar Yylfordt Granz a devastating kick to the head while he is fighting with Renji Abarai, overpowering him to the point that he is forced to release his zanpakutō. In the anime, she also delivers a powerful kick to Sawatari's giant whale doll, Baura.
- Jinta Hanakari (花刈 ジン太, Hanakari Jinta?) – Voiced by: Takako Honda (Japanese), Jeannie Elias (English)
Jinta is a small, red-haired boy who is supposed to do manual labor for the shop, such as cleaning, but usually slacks off and forces Ururu to do all the work. He desires to be a baseball star and is Karakura Red (fighting for the position with Karin Kurosaki) in the team of Karakura Superheroes led by Don Kanonji. He seems to be in love with Yuzu Kurosaki, calling her "The Goddess." This is shown in the omake chapters after the anime episodes when he gives her discounts at the shop and treating a good-luck charm she gave him as an extremely important possession (it was really Kon's plushie body tied to a string, which caused a fight between the two over it during a soccer game). Jinta, like the other shop members, appears to be old and wise when he isn't fooling around. While he likes to constantly bully Ururu, he does care for her, shown when he recovered her body after she was wounded by the arrancar Yylfordt Granz. During the Bount arc, he develops a similar relationship with Renji Abarai, as he constantly taunts Renji for being a "freeloader", yet shows concern for him during difficult battles. Also like Ururu, he displays powerful fighting abilities comparable to those of shinigami, though not to the same extreme degree that she does. His primary weapon is an oversized iron rod, similar to a Tetsubo.
- Tessai Tsukabishi (握菱 テッサイ, Tsukabishi Tessai?) - Voiced by: Kiyoyuki Yanada (Japanese), Michael Sorich (English)
Tessai is a large, muscular man who always wears an apron. It is unclear what work he does for the shop, but he is Urahara's personal assistant in both business-related and other matters. Tessai is extremely skilled in kidō, shown by his use of a level 99 binding spell (and the fact that he skipped the incantation of the lvl. 99 spell), possibly the most difficult of them. He is also shown to have great physical strength, made apparent by his ability to smash a hollow's head to pieces with a single, open-palmed thrust. He is also fiercely proud of the shop; this is shown when Orihime Inoue praises the shop basement, finding it really cool, and Tessai bursts into tears when thanking her. When Soifon refers to the shop as "pokey," his instant reaction is irritation and he has to be subdued by Urahara. He is known to buy TV displayed medicines, much to Urahara's chagrin. He is also among the few who find Orihime's food tasty, the other being Rangiku Matsumoto. Tessai is over 200 years old, as he tells Rukia that the word "Quincy" "brings back memories" from that long ago.
The Quincy are a clan of spiritually aware humans who once fought against the hollows, using weapons composed of spiritual energy to slay them. At least two Quincy still remain.
The vizard are outcast shinigami who have illegally gained hollow powers. Unlike both the shinigami and the arrancar, the vizard have yet to show any ranking system.
Modified souls are artificial souls created by Soul Society researchers some time ago. They have enhanced speed and strength when compared to normal humans, and often special abilities which set them apart from each other. However, the modified souls were considered an unethical experiment and most of them were destroyed. Urahara saved at least one of them, Kon (コン, Kon?).
In the anime's Bount arc, three more modified souls are introduced. Created by Kisuke Urahara, they are designed to track and combat the Bount, as well as help train Ichigo and his companions, although at first they're seen as a threat while doing so. They originally live in gigai created by Urahara, and have the ability to sense the spiritual presence of the Bount. However, early in the Bount arc, Kisuke asks the trio to primarily remain in plush doll bodies like Kon to remain inconspicuous.
As modsouls the three possess special abilities, but their abilities involve altering reality rather than physical enhancements. They change from plush animal to human gigais frequently when they need to fight, because their powers are in a very limited state when in their plushie bodies.
The following modsouls only appear in the anime. The story following the return to the manga plot has been slightly altered to accommodate their presence without changing the overall course of events. During an Arrancar Invasion, their gigai's are severely damaged. They comment at the end of one episode that they wanted to accompany Ichigo and the others to Hueco Mundo, but couldn't. Ririn and Kuroud then mention that they will obtain new, "sexy" gigai's much to Noba's disdain.
Ririn, while in her gigai form, is a small girl with short blonde hair wearing a pink, fur-trimmed coat, a purple bird-shaped cape, and red boots. When not in her gigai', she inhabits an anthropomorphic bird plushie. Her special ability is the creation of illusions. She acts as the leader of the trio, and has a fondness for games. She is partnered with Ichigo Kurosaki. At first she disliked Ichigo due to their conflicting personalities, but now she has grown to be very fond of him, even becoming at times extremely jealous of Rukia Kuchiki's close relationship with Ichigo. She can be petty and arrogant at times, but she shows real concern for her friends. She has stepped into harm's way more than a few times to help save Ichigo, Rukia, Kon, and others. She often looks down on Kon as inferior, which causes frequent arguments between the two.
Also known as Claude or Cloud, Kuroud is a bespectacled man with a mustache and two-tone hair color (black to the right, yellow to the left). He wears a gray top hat, multi-colored suit and tie, as well as dark brown boots, giving him an appearance similar to a circus manager. His plushie body is a rabbit-esque purse. He is partnered with Orihime Inoue. He has the ability to shapeshift, and can replicate the abilities of others when he does so (although he can't replicate the power levels of said abilities). He is somewhat cowardly and is terrified of snakes. His longwindedness and actions often provide comic relief. He is also somewhat perverted, like Kon, or at the very least is thankful for the opportunity to be held by attractive women (being a purse helps in this regard). Rukia seems to like him because he resembles Chappy the Rabbit in his stuffed animal form.
More commonly known as Nova, Noba is a young man in a fur coat with a shield on his back and a zippered mask, with a slim build, red hair, and aqua eyes. In his gigai, he appears somewhat like a ninja. He inhabits an anthropomorphic turtle plushie in grey dress trousers and a white ruffled shirt with a red bow tie when out of his gigai. He's very quiet, rarely speaking more than a few words and also rather shy, zipping up his hood when he wishes to show emotion while in his gigai, or pulling his head into his shirt while in his stuffed animal form. One example of this is when Rukia Kuchiki picks Noba up in his stuffed animal form and holds him close to her face, he is seen to blush at the close contact and lowers his head into his shirt. He is partnered with Yasutora Sado, who is equally quiet. Noba has the power to teleport himself and others to most any location he's been to. He can also use his spiritual sense to teleport to the location of those with spiritual powers. Additionally, he can create wormholes to redirect ranged attacks, both physical and energy based, back at the enemy. He can also absorb fire. When he is in his plushie, his teleportation range is limited to about two meters. Despite being unusually shy, he is somewhat analytical and adept at strategic combat.
Other human world dwellers
Don Kanonji is a popular spirit medium who has a television show called Ghost Bust (Viz: "Spontaneous Trips to Spiritual Hot Spots", or just "Spontaneous Trips" for short; English TV: "Spirit Hunter") that, at the time of his introduction, is watched by 25% of Japan's population. The method in which Don Kanonji used to rid ghosts, thinking he was sending spirits to heaven, actually quickly caused those spirits to become hollows (he would take his cane and forcibly rip open the holes in spirits that hadn't fully changed into hollows yet). He found this out when he and Ichigo Kurosaki fought a hollow that appeared because of Don Kanonji during a television taping at Karakura Town. He later formed the Karakura Superheroes, which consists of the Kurosaki sisters and the children at the Urahara Shop, to get the show's declining ratings up. His special attack is "Golden Kanonball," a tiny ball of golden light that moves slowly and explodes with surprising power. He speaks in a mixture of Japanese and English. His trademark pose is to cross both arms over his chest and laugh boisterously and deeply. His catch phrase is "Smells like bad spirits!" This is most likely a tribute to "Smells Like Teen Spirit," a song by the band Nirvana. He seems to have some knowledge on hollows and shinigami, albeit slight due to his limited interaction with them.
Other Soul Society dwellers
Below is a list of Soul Society dwellers, some of whom may be shinigami, even though this information is not confirmed.
- Kūkaku Shiba (志波 空鶴, Shiba Kūkaku?) - Voiced by: Akiko Hiramatsu (Japanese), Jessica Straus (English)
Kūkaku (Born October 1) is an ill-tempered fireworks expert who is particularly known for her ridiculously-themed houses and large breasts. During the Bount arc of the anime, she states that she is the same age as Kisuke Urahara. She wears a prosthetic right arm in the anime, which is at odds with her scenes in the manga, where she is illustrated with just a stump. She assists Ichigo and company by launching them via her special Kakaku Cannon so they can enter Seireitei. Kūkaku is part of the former noble clan Shiba. Prior to the storyline, a hollow fused with her older brother Kaien, which forced Rukia Kuchiki to kill him. She does not seem to be a shinigami, but she knows high level kidō, and she carries a short-bladed sword on her back.
An outrageous figure, Ganju wears a vest, scarf, bandana, and pair of goggles. He is often found with his gang, who all ride large boars. Ganju's boar is named Bonnie (affectionately referred to as Bonnie-chan). The omake sketch after episode 114 implies that Bonnie was accidentally cooked into a stew by Retsu Unohana during a friendly cookout including her, Ganju, and a few others from the 4th Division. Similar sketches have occurred in the series, but Bonnie is always shown alive and well by the next episode. Ganju possesses a deep hatred for shinigami, a hot temper, and a strong ego. Though he always acts tough, he has shown that he also has a softer side, easily being cowed by his older sister Kūkaku, and later develops an understanding to Ichigo Kurosaki with a relationship similar to Ichigo and Renji Abarai's. The fact that he is not particularly attractive is a running joke in the series, and rather than deny this fact he tends to talk around the subject, especially when Yumichika Ayasegawa makes note of it.
Because of his brother's, Kaien Shiba, death at the hands of Rukia Kuchiki when he was still young, Ganju holds a grudge against all shinigami. This grudge is slow to dissipate even after he learns the truth of the incident. It is implied that after Kaien and his wife Miyako's death, the Shiba clan lost its status as one of the Noble Clans (which include the Kuchiki and Shihouin clans). There now remain only four Noble Clans, as the Shiba had been the fifth. Upon Ganju's introduction, he and Kūkaku are the only remaining members of the clan.
Though Ganju is not a member of the shinigami forces, he is of the Shiba clan and can fight on a level above that of an average shinigami, but lower than that of the higher ranking seated officers. He has a zanpakutō which resembles a meat cleaver or a Chinese Dadao, though he never demonstrates the ability to use its initial release. Ganju's sword skills are limited, so he relies primarily on his arsenal of fireworks, his agility, and his earth magic. Ganju's earth magic doesn't seem to operate on the same principal as standard shinigami kidō. The one technique he uses, Stone Wave (石波, seppa?), doesn't need an incantation to work and is unnumbered. The spell can reduce whatever it is aimed at to sand or quicksand. He can even perform it with his feet. This ability proved to be useful to make holes through the walls when running away from Yumichika.
- Hisana Kuchiki (朽木 緋真, Kuchiki Hisana?) - Deceased
Hisana was Byakuya's wife who died of a disease fifty years before the main storyline. As she was a commoner, Byakuya was strongly admonished against marrying her, but did so out of love, thus disobeying the rules of the Kuchiki noble house. She was the older sister of Rukia Kuchiki in their past lives, and both were sent to Inuzuri (a poor district of Rukongai) where Hisana abandoned her sister, unable to support both herself and the infant Rukia. Hisana later greatly regretted this decision, even in her final moments, and searched for her every day during her marriage to Byakuya. In accordance with Hisana's dying wish, Byakuya adopted Rukia as his sister, disobeying the rules a second time. She and Rukia are very similar in appearance.
- Yūichi Shibata (柴田 優一, Shibata Yūichi?) [Deceased] – Voiced by: Makoto Tsumura (Japanese), Colleen O'Shaughnessey (English)
A supposedly cursed "parakeet" (actually a cockatiel) that found its way into Chad's protection, Yūichi is actually the ghost of a young boy tormented by a vicious hollow. He is guided into Soul Society by Ichigo and eventually meets up with Chad again.
- Sora Inoue (井上 昊, Inoue Sora?) [Deceased] – Voiced by: Yuji Ueda (Japanese), Liam O'Brien (English)
Sora was Orihime Inoue's older brother. He raised her for most of her life, and died in the Kurosaki Clinic from wounds suffered in a car accident three years before the series began. He enters the story quickly as a hollow, Acidwire. In the anime, he is seen being dragged to Hueco Mundo to be turned into a hollow at the behest of Grand Fisher. This is not shown or even suggested in the manga; one can assume that his feelings of being forgotten by Orihime were what prompted his transformation in this case. In the official English-language manga translation, he was given the name Kakei as his real name had not been mentioned at that point, but he is still called Sora in the character popularity polls. Curiously, before being purified by Ichigo, Sora was able to remove his hollow mask and recover his original personality. While such an act has been described as the process which creates an arrancar, Sora remains in hollow form, albeit with a human head. Presumably, this is because of Sora resisting his hollow self, rather than the hollow itself removing the mask.
The Bounts are a clan of humans with supernatural powers comparable to that of the Quincy. Bounts consume spirits in place of food, which allows them to live longer; theoretically, a Bount could live forever given steady access to spirits. Bounts traditionally don't consume the souls of living humans, as it is an ancient taboo and also causes aging, defeating the purpose of absorbing souls to remain young. According to Urahara, the Bounts are called vampires in certain parts of the world. Like shinigami, Bounts can seal their power in inanimate objects. Unlike shinigami, they do not create zanpakutō, but dolls with various special abilities. Additionally, unlike most zanpakutō, the dolls have active personalities and can operate independently.
Shun Shun Rikka
The Shun Shun Rikka (盾舜 六花, lit. Six Flowers of the Hibiscus Shield; Six Princess Shielding Flowers in the English anime) are six spirits which embody Orihime Inoue's power. They are capable of shielding her from attacks, healing allies, and attacking enemies. They made their first appearance when a hollow attacked Orihime and her classmates, and it was because of the desire to help her attacked friend Tatsuki Arisawa that the spirits appeared. The six spirits are manifestations of Orihime's soul, each with its own unique appearance and personality.
Zanpakutō are the primary weapons of the shinigami and the embodiment of a shinigami's power. They are sentient weapons, each with its own unique spirit, which can take the form of either an animal or a person. Normally, zanpakutō manifest themselves as regular swords (usually katanas). They can transform at the owner's will (provided the owner is skilled enough) into their initial released form or their true and final released form.
Each zanpakutō has its own realm, into which they can call their owners if they wish (although this also depends on the owner's skill). This is where the avatar (human or animal) form resides. If the owner is skilled enough, he can call this form forth to the regular world. It appears that an avatar is reflective of the owner's own nature; in chapter 229, Yumichika Ayasegawa and Rangiku Matsumoto complain about the personality flaws of their zanpakutō, which incidentally match their own. However this isn't always the case as Ikkaku Madarame explains that his Hōzukimaru is la