The Gotei santai is the 13 Imperial Guard Squads in Soul Society. The Gotei 13 is a military unit that is subservient to the edicts of the Central 46 Chambers and has no jurisdiction over the noble families. The symbol of Gotei 13 is a rhombus and all divisions’ symbols are placed within it on the back of the Captain’s haori. Officially, Kidou Corps and Onmitsukidou are not part of Gotei 13. However, Soifon is captain to the 2nd Squad and leader of Onmitsukidou. Furthermore, the Captain of the Kidou Corps is known to obey orders from the Captain-Commander of Gotei 13.
Its primary role is to defend Seireitei and protect Rukongai district. The captains and their lieutenants are usually spread out all across Seireitei doing their duties. Hence, getting together as a group normally could take a day to accomplish.
Each division is made up of over 200 Shinigami, with the total troop count falling around 3000. There are entrance exams to get into any of these divisions. Each division is headed by a captain and his lieutenant, followed by other ranks and then the rest of the shinigami.
Division captains are highly revered and are able to utilize the final stage, bankai, of their zanpakutou. Most captains are also well-versed in the use of Flash Steps (shunpou), kidou and have an extensive knowledge of shinigami history and battle tactics. To become a captain, one can either take a proficiency test (being able to perform bankai) with three captains including the Captain-Commander as a witness, personal recommendations by at least six captains and approval from three of the remaining seven, or trial by combat, whereby a current captain is defeated with at least 200 witnesses. Kenpachi is the only captain in Gotei 13 who achieved this using the last method.
The Lieutenants, on the other hand, generally can open up to the Shikai of their Zanpakutou and are the second strongest in the squad (ie Renji (6) and a few men in squad 11). In a captain’s demise or departure, the lieutenant acts as the substitute captain until a new captain is found (ie. Kira (3), Momo (5) and Hisagi (9)).
Each Shinigami wears black robes with white trimmings and a white cloth belt. Some wear an arm band to signify their rank in their specific Division. The Captain of a Division wears a White Robe with the Number of their Division in Kanji on the back.
The Shinigami have three duties:
- To preform the ‘Soul Burial’ and send ghosts to Soul Society or Hell.
- To track down and ‘clense’ hollows from the human world.
- To regulate and balance the souls in each world.
This First Squad/Division is headed by Commander-General Yamamoto-Genryuusai Shigekuni (山本元柳斎 重國) (1). He wields Ryuujin Jakka (流刃若火 flowing flame blade), the strongest of all fire-type zanpakutou, which when released turns all things into ash. The captain of this division is also the Captain-Commander of the 13 squads and a strict enforcer of the rule. He founded the Shinigami Academy 1000 years before the story began, and was the personal instructor of Kyouraku Shunsui (8) and Ukitake Juushirou (13), thus treating them akin to his own child. He lost his arm fighting Aizen.
Yamamoto’s lieutenant is Sasakibe Choujirou (雀部 長次郎) (lt. 1). Not much is known about him or his zanpakutou. He, together with 106 other Shinigami, was killed during the Vandenreichs first invasion to Seireitei. He had already achieved bankai status but never used it in reverence to the Head Captain. His sword is Gonyoumaru (厳霊丸 solemn spirit).
Each squad has its own floral-based symbol, representing its primary role in Seireitei. The first division is represented by Chrysanthemum symbolizing truth and innocence. This squad is tasked to deal with any emergency swiftly.
The Second Squad is led by Soi Fong (砕蜂) (2) who was once Yoruichi’s trusted personal guard. She is not only the Captain of the Second Squad, but is also the current Commander in Chief of The Secret Remote Squad (隠密機動 Onmitsukidō). Soi Fong is a highly trained hand-to-hand combatant, very proficient in flash step and a skilled swordsman. As the Chief of Onmitsukidou, she is first and foremost the most apt assassin. Soi Fong wields the deadly and poisonous Suzumebachi (雀蜂 the Hornet), which may or not be once owned by Yoruichi. Her bankai is the laborious Jakuhou Raikouben (雀蜂雷公鞭 Hornet Whip of the Thunder Immortal), a rocket-like long-range weapon.
Shihouin Yoruichi (四楓院 夜一) (ex-2) was born into the noble Shihouin family and quickly rose to the rank of captain with her talent. She is not only the master of kidou but very talented (and is nicknamed the Goddes of shunpo) in the art of shunpo, flash step. Even though she is known to be faster than she is strong, she still possesses superhuman strength and agility. Yoruichi abdicated her position when Urahara Kisuke and Tsukabishi Tessai were exiled, and joined them in Karakura Town as a talking black cat.
Omaeda Marechiyo (大前田 希千代) (lt. 2), the lieutenant to Soi Fong, is descended from one of the noble families. Unlike his petite captain, he is rather large, and doesn’t seem too bright. He is constantly seen eating and garishly adorned with jewelry. He wields Gegetsuburi (五形頭 Five Heads), which in its shikai form transforms into a over-sized spike ball that crushes his opponents.
This division is closely tied to the Onmitsukidou (Covert Ops). Most members are skilled in Hakuda, stealth and assassination. Soi Fong also seems to have the entire Covert Operations division at her beck and call, ready to fight at a moment’s notice. The second division is represented by the Tulip symbolizing the search for nothing.
“Rose” Ootoribashi Roujuurou (鳳橋 楼十郎) (3), the effeminate man with a love for music, returns as the Captain of the Third Division after Gin’s defection. This Vizard returns after Aizen’s defeat. His zanpakutou is Kinshara (金沙羅 Gold Shala) that transforms into a plant-like whip with a flower at its tip in its shikai form. His Vizard mask resembles a bird’s beak that protrudes from his face.
Ichimaru Gin (市丸 ギン) (ex-3) was the Captain to the Third Division, until his betrayal and defection with Aizen. When he was younger, he was known as a child genius. Gin is very manipulative and deceptive, and hides his motives behind his trademark grin. His sole reason for becoming a shinigami was to avenge Matsumoto Rangiku who was victimized by Aizen. And in this weird reasoning, joined Aizen to eventually be the one to repay him for this deed. His zanpakutou is Shinsou, which he uses with impressive skill, if rather indiscriminately. It its shikai form, it extends and impales his opponent with lightning speed. Its true power allows it to momentarily turn to dust while it secretes a deadly poison capable of breaking down cells in it enemies.
Kira Izuru (吉良 イヅル) (lt. 3) is Gin’s and later Rose’s second-in-command. He was once from the (Fifth and) Fourth Squad, therefore knows healing type kidou. He is good friends with Hinamori Momo (lt. 5) and Abarai Renji (lt. 6) from their days in the Academy. His zanpakutou is Wabisuke (侘助 The Apologizer), and in its shikai form doubles the weight of anything it strikes.
The Third Division has no special duties. It is represented by Marigold symbolizing despair.
The Fourth division’s captain is Unohana Retsu (卯ノ花 烈) (4), a master healer. She never in distress even in perilous situations, and instead responds with calmly as a keen strategist. Even Kyouraku (8) and Ukitake (13) treat her as their senior. To date, she has not engaged in any combat, but wields a healing zanpakutou Minazuki (肉雫唼 Purify the Flesh). In it’s shikai form, Minazuki morphs into a giant, green ray that becomes a transport for the injured and can swallow it’s passengers to heal them with its stomach juices.
Her lieutenant is Kotetsu Isane (虎徹 勇音), older, more composed sister of Kotetsu Kiyone (the co-third seat of the 13th Division, which she shares with Kotsubaki Sentarou). She is known to be highly proficient in kidou spells. Her zanpakutou is Itegumo (凍雲 Frozen Cloud) where its abilities remain unseen.
This division is responsible for treating the injured and doing the manual labor (cleaning) of Seireitei. Because of their duties, the division is the holder of keys to most of the buildings in Seireitei and knows the underground sewer system well. The fourth division is represented by the Bellflower symbolizing those who grieve are loved.
Hirako Shinji (5) the returning former Captain of the Fifth Squad is also the leader of the Vizards. He is very skilled with his hollow powers, and is seen to easily overwhelm Grimmjow with a single cero. His mask resembles a pharaoh’s mask. His zanpakutou is Sakanade (逆撫 Counter Stroke), which when released releases a scent that inverts and reverses the enemy’s visual perception (an inverted world). Aizen was once his lieutenant when he was captain.
Aizen Sousuke (藍染 惣右介) (ex-5) was the Captain of the Fifth Squad until his betrayal of and defection from Soul Society. Aizen’s most fearsome trait is his intelligence. His most frightening experiment is the hollowification of shinigami, which altered many captains (including his own) and liutenants into Vizards. He is as proficient as, if not more than, Tsukabishi Tessai, the captain of the Kidou Corps in Kidou. He uses kidou without its incantations (much like Byakuya). Aizen wields the devious Kyouka Suigetsu (鏡花水月 Mirror Flower Water Moon), which is able to cast illusions, putting its opponent in a hypnotic trance in its shikai form.
Aizen’s vice-captain, Hinamori Momo (雛森 桃), has always idolized him and holds an unhealthy sense of loyalty towards him. Even with his betrayal of Soul Society, she couldn’t bring herself to accept the fact. Hinamori is childhood friend and best friends with Hitsugaya Toushirou (Shiro-chan to her), captain of the Tenth Division. She is an accomplished kidou expert, whereby she is able to devise ways to use multiple spells one after the other to attack and incapacitate her opponents. Hinamori wields Tobiume (飛梅 Flying Plume Tree), which in its shikai form acts as a focus for her spiritual powers.
The division has no special duties, but are highly trained by their captain. It is represented by Lily of the Valley symbolizing sacrifice, danger, pure love, humility and sweetness.
Kuchiki Byakuya (朽木 白哉) (6) is head of the noble Kuchiki family, and leader to the Sixth Squad. He is perpetually cool, calm and collected. He is very refined in speech and from his upbringing. Since he broke his family rule of marrying a commoner and then taking her sister in as his own, he promised to be a strict martinet thereafter, causing him to prosecute Rukia to the fullest extend of the law when she purportedly broke Seireitei’s rules. Byakuya’s grandfather, Kuchiki Ginrei, was the ex-captain of this division. Byakuya is the flash step master, having bean taught by the Goddess herself, Yoruichi. He is also highly skilled in kidou, having no need for incantations for a spell to work. He wields Senbonzakura (千本桜 A Thousand Cherry Blossoms) with calm elegance. In its shikai form, Senbonzakura scatters (散れ shire) into a thousand tiny blade fragments trained at its opponent. Byakuya has three varied forms of his bankai, all of which are equally deadly and protective – either increasing offense at the expense of defense and vice versa.
Abarai Renji (阿散井 恋次) (lt. 6), on the other hand, is the exact opposite of his captain. Renji is cocky, rash, and his feathers are easily ruffled. Even though he doesn’t show it, he has much respect for his captain, and dreams of surpassing Byakuya one day. Renji attended the shinigami academy with Kira (lt. 3) and Rukia (lt. 13) and as such are good friends with them. Rukia is his childhood friend, who he followed to Seireitei with when she was adopted by Byakuya. He started with the Fifth Division, transferred to the 11th and eventually moved to the 6th to become lieutenant of Byakuya. Whichever field Renji is lacking in, he makes it up with his persistence and determination. Renji wields Zabimaru, the baboon-snake chimera, whose spirit can be seen (like Ichigo’s and Hitsugaya’s). In it’s shikai form, Zabimaru extends to a 6-part segmented blade. In it’s bankai form, Zabimaru transform into a skeleton of a snake. He is one of only four non-Captains in Gotei 13 to achieve bankai.
Squad six has no special duties, but are seen as a model division by the others because of its strict adherence to the rules. It is represented by the Camelia, which symbolizes a noble reason.
Seventh Division captain is a huge individual, who, at the beginning of the series, hides his appearance behind a helmet as he is self-conscious of his appearance. Komamura Sajin (狛村 左陣) (7) has the features of a canine and because of that, is good friends with the blind deserter Kanamae Tousen of the Ninth Division. Due to his size and his animal likeness, Komamura has immense strength and superior senses. Komamura wields a blade that matches his size, named Tenken (天譴 Divine Punishmen). In it’s shikai release, the sword creates a giant armored body part of whatever part of body Komamura moves. With its full release, a giant is created.
Aikawa Love (ex-7), who was turned into a visor, was ex-captain to the Seventh Division. His zanpakutou is Tengumaru and when released in its shikai form, turns into a large kanabou, which even dispels Coyote Starrk’s Cero.
Iba Tetsuzaemon (射場 鉄左衛門 (lt. 7) is the lieutenant of Komamura and a former member of the Eleventh Division – evident by his love of fighting. He still maintains good relations with his old squad, especially Madarame Ikkaku. His sword and it abilities are unknown.
No special duties are assigned to this division (but consist of sincere and unpretentious members). The Iris, symbolizing courage, represents the seventh division.
Kyouraku Shunsui (京楽 春水) (8) is the only flamboyantly dressed captain of the entire organization. He naps, jokes, drinks, flirts and does everything that doesn’t require hard work. However, when the time comes, he has his smarts and skills to fall back on. He is good friends with Ukitake Juushiro (13) as both were the first graduates of Yamamoto’s shinigami academy. He is known to be a master swordsman, although he doesn’t show it. Despite his lack of cares in the world, he is a perceptive and insightful man. He wields the twin blade Katen Kyoukotsu (花天狂骨 Flower-Heaven Crazy-Bone), which makes him ambidextrous. His zanpakutou, two uniquely separated swords, has a few shikai forms, all of which empowers the swords to make children’s games real. Winning the game lets you live, and losing it means you die. Ukitake has warned that others should not be allowed to see Shunsui’s bankai.
Ise Nanao (伊勢 七緒) (lt. 8 ) is Shunsui’s second-in-command who is much more disciplined, primp and proper than her captain. Nanao-chan, despite her exasperation with her captain, truly cares for her captain’s well-being. Like Hinamori Momo (lt. 5) she is a skilled kidou master. Her zanpakutou, unrevealed, maybe something that she can conceal within her sleeve (a wakizashi or tantou).
The eight division has no special duties. The Bird of Paradise, symbolizing everything is obtained, represents the eighth division.
Muguruma Kensei (六車 拳西) (9), the returning former captain of the Ninth Squad, returns after Aizen’s demise (originally left after Aizen turned him into a visor) . Kensei is a master in hand-to-hand combat. His zanpakutou is Tachikaze (断地風 Earth-Severing Wind), and when released is able to manipulate the wind. His hollow mask resembles an ice hockey mask.
Tousen Kaname (東仙 要) (ex-9), is the blind Captain of the Ninth Division. Despite his disability, Tousen is a capable fighter with a strong sense of justice believing that violence doesn’t solve a problem. Ironically, he defects with Aizen to bring war and chaos to Soul Society because he felt betrayed by the Shinigamis for their refusal to administer capital punishment on his friend’s killer. He is known to be a master swordsman, even with a handicap. He wields the powerful Suzumushi (清虫 Pure Insects/Cricket) that plunges his opponent into deafening vibrations. In it’s bankai form, all senses are nullified, minus that of the touch. Tousen can even turn himself into a hollow (like the vizards), allowing him to instantly regenerate. After being fatally stabbed by Hisagi, he dies when Aizen finishes him with a crushing blow.
In a twist of events, Hisagi Shuuhei (檜佐木 修兵) (lt. 9), who was saved by Kensei (ex-9 and current 9), idolized Kensei so much that he tattooed the number 69 on his cheek, matching the one that Kensei has on his stomach. He is an expert swordsman and well-versed in kidou. Hisagi wields the Kazeshini (風死 Death Wind), a blade bent on killing.
The 9th division is in charge of Seireitei news magazine (oversees art and culure). But more importantly, they are they stand-by security force of the Gotei 13. The lieutenants of the other 12 divisions hand their report in to them. It is represented by the Buttercup, which symbolizes oblivion.
The Tenth Division Captain, Hitsugaya Toushirou (日番谷冬獅郎) (10), is the youngest captain, and the youngest to achieve bankai in the Gotei 13. He is well-known as a child prodigy of the shinigami arts, earning him the nickname of “Tensai.” Despite his tender age, Toushirou is very matured and level-headed. Even though his lieutenant flirts with him and constantly tries to put him on an edge, he greatly respects and admires her – all through clenched teeth. He is a master swordsman, using his size to outmaneuver and counter his opponents. He wields the ice dragon blade, Hyourinmaru (氷輪丸 – a spirited winged Chinese dragon), the most powerful ice-type zanpakutou. Hyourinmaru materializes as a giant, ice blue dragon with immense wingspan. In its shikai form, Hyourinmaru controls ice and water, and freezes everything it touches. His bankai has a few varied forms, all equally numbing.
Matsumoto Rangiku (松本 乱菊) (lt. 10), best known for her ample bosoms, is very loyal to her captain and has a steadfast personality. She calls Ichimaru Gin (ex-3) friend after he saves her from severe mutilation and certain death from Aizen’s men (and maybe have romantic feelings for him). She is deceptively strong, and excels as a swordsman. Her zanpakutou is Haineko (灰猫 Ash Cat), which scatters into ash and cuts wherever it lands (similar to Byakuya’s Senbonzakura’s shirei). The ash is fine enough to cut, solid enough to shield. Due to her laziness, she has difficulty achieving bankai.
The Tenth Squad has no special duties. It is represented by the Daffodil, which symbolizes mystery and egoism.
Zaraki Kenpachi (更木 剣八) (11) is the bloodthirsty Eleventh Division Captain. Zaraki lives for one purpose and one purpose only: to fight. All other concerns are secondary. To that end, he is a well-honed fighting swordsman. Winning or losing doesn’t matter to him – the moment of the battle is what’s most important. He has a huge amount of spiritual power, so much so that he has to seal it with an eye-patch and is still able to take on two captains with their bankai released. He was originally a nameless swordsman fighting for his life on a daily basis. He became the captain to the 11th Division after killing the previous captain, which was incidentally viewed by a few hundred shinigamis (one of the requisite to becoming a captain if one didn’t have bankai, or the recommendations of other division captains). Thus, Zaraki is the only captain who does not know the name to his zanpakutou and cannot perform bankai, much less, shikai.
Even through he hardened demeanor, Zaraki does have a softer side. He saved Kusajishi Yachiru (草鹿 やちる) (lt. 11) as an infant among a pile of corpses and from then on, she has since been riding his shoulders like a daughter. Zaraki’s wrath is one that can never reach Yachiru. Yachiru, even though small, is able to carry Kenpachi and leap over buildings with him. She is an infiltration expert, but chooses to use that ability for mischief. Like her captain, she emits a huge amount of spiritual power that even Madarame Ikkaku is afraid of. And much like her captain, she has no sense of direction, but Ken-chan still relies on her to find their way. The name and abilities of her sealed zanpakutou are unknown. It takes the form of a small, pink wakizashi that she drags around on a string, with wheels on the bottom of her sheath fashioned by Madarame.
Madarame Ikkaku (斑目 一角) is the third seat of the 11th Division. Much like his captain, and very telling of this squad, he loves violence. However, unlike his captain, he has attained bankai, but only Ayasegawa Yumichika knows this secret. The pride of keeping this secret almost cost the Shinigami Karakura Town when Aizen and his top Arrancar laid seige. His zanpakutou is Houzukimaru (鬼灯丸 Demon Light: Japanese name for Winter Cherry) and grows in strength and prowess from Shikai to Bankai form.
Madarame’s best friend, Ayasegawa Yumichika (綾瀬川 弓親) is the fifth seat of the squad. His vanity knows no boundaries and he too, like Madarame, has achieved bankai. His zanpakutou, Ruri’iro Kujaku (瑠璃色孔雀 Azure Peacock) in its highest form sucks it’s opponent’s reiatsu dry and totally incapacitates the opponent.
The 11th division is the fight club of the 13 squads, where every single member of the division loves fighting. It specializes in swords-only combat. The Yarrow, symbolizing fight, represents the eleventh division.
Kurotsuchi Mayuri (涅 マユリ) (12), is the epitome of a mad scientist, and hence perfect for the job of Twelfth Division Captain. He paints himself black and white and wears a strange hat to hide the fact that he has drastically altered his body to grant himself new and strange abilities. He pursues the forbidden knowledge at all cost, and does not hesitate to resort to sadistic or underhanded methods to achieve his ends, as proven in him capturing all the Quincy (save Ishida) to attain their powers. Life means nothing to him; he would turn his own men into living bombs if it meant he could do or learn something easily. He is a master chemist, easily creating poisons (and not necessarily antidotes) to try on various “enemies.” Mayuri wields the bizarre but lethal Ashisogi Jizou (疋殺地蔵 Leg-Cutting Buddha), which works like a venomous spider. In its bankai form, it spews poisonous gas forms of Mayuri’s blood into the air.
Although Mayuri is completely cold and cruel to everyone, he has one loyal and captured supporter in the form of his “daughter,” Kurotsuchi Nemu (涅 ネム) (lt. 12). She is completely devoted to her master, uncomplainingly taking all manner of abuse and even wishing against his death. Nemu is also the vice-captain of the squad. She was created by Mayuri to be his faithful and unwavering servant. Even with her devotion and obedience to him, she is not a fool and not one to be taken lightly. Nemu’s body, like Mayuri’s, is implanted with chemicals and modifications to use against opponents. One of this alterations renders her opponent paralyze if she is ingested, as in the case of Syazel Aporro. She is well-versed in chemicals enough to keep antidotes of Mayuri’s poisons in case anyone is poisoned by him. She does not normally carry a zanpakutou.
Urahara Kisuke (浦原 喜助), ex-captain of the Twelfth Squad, is currently the eccentric shopkeeper of Urahara Shop in Karakura Town after he was exiled from Seireitei. He is a man of mystery, always seeming to know more than he’s telling. He’s almost always got a solution for a problem, or a story behind an occurrence. In spite of appearances, Urahara is a very skilled swordsman and a brilliant inventor and scientist. He was the one who first started the Research and Development Institute of Seireitei. Aside from bringing Yoruichi along with him, Tessai from the Kidou Corps too went with him to the human world. He also cares for two children, Ururu and Jin in his shop. Urahara wields a zanpakutou called Benihime, the few known female spirit sword owned by a male. In its shikai form, Benihime (紅姫 Crimson Princess) manipulates blood into offense and defense, depending on the situation.
Sarugaki Hiyori (ex-lt. 12) initially struggled to accept Urahara as the new captain after Hikifune Kirio was promoted as a member of the Royal Guard (Squad 0). She left Seireitei after turning into a Vizard.
The Twelfth division is connected to the Research and Development Institute. The Thistle, symbolizing vengeance, strictness and independence, represents the twelfth division.
The Captain of the Thirteenth Division, Ukitake Juushiro (浮竹 十四郎) (13), has a legendary reputation for being a nice guy. Unfortunately for him, he has a frail health and is commonly ill. On the lighter note, he is a skilled fighter, as well as a caring and compassionate leader. His swordsmanship is unrivaled by anyone before and since him. All the members of his squad love and respect him with an utmost fervor, seemingly running into every which direction when he beckons. Ukitake wields Sougyo no Kotowari (双魚の理 Twin Fish), the other twin-blade of Soul Society. His swords are able to absorb the opponent’s energy attacks and redirect it to the sender in one swift flick of a wrist.
Kuchiki Rukia (朽木 ルキア) (lt. 13) younger adopted sister of Kuchiki Byakuya (6) was once not allowed to hold any seated position by him for fear for her safety. She is the main protagonist and the person to give her powers to Kurosaki Ichigo. Her zanpakutou is Sode no Shirayuki (袖の白雪 Sleeved White Snow), also known as the most beautiful sword in Soul Society. The sword uses ice to attack and is capable of freezing/encapsulating its opponent, much like Toushirou’s (10) Hyourinmaru.
Both Kotsubaki Sentaro and Kiyone Kotetsu fill the role of the third seat. Both of them are fiercely competitive of the opening and are constantly proving their worth to their captain.
No special duties are assigned to the Thirteenth Division. It is represented by the Summer Snowflake, which symbolizes hope.