The hero of Bleach is Ichigo Kurosaki himself, the surrogate Soul Reaper who is always ready to save the day. Ichigo started the series with only modest spiritual powers, but once he met Rukia Kuchiki, he began his true quest and quickly became more powerful than ever. And he has friends like Uryu Ishida and Yasutora “Chad” Sado to help out.
However, does Ichigo count as a true Soul Reaper? Ichigo blurs the line in several different ways, and in the true story, the characters don’t care too much about whether Ichigo qualifies as a true Soul Reaper or not. However, if Ichigo’s case is analyzed further, it could be argued whether he is the real deal or not.
10 ICHIGO IS A TRUE REAPER OF SOULS: His father, Isshin Kurosaki, was once a reaper of souls
Some characters in Bleach they were simply born with great talents with no clear origin, while others inherited their gifts. Uryu is a Quincy because his father Ryuken Ishida was, as was his grandfather Soken. Ichigo’s own father, Isshin Kurosaki, had once served as a legitimate Soul Reaper.
In decades past, Isshin Shiba was the Captain of Squad 10, and had Toshiro Hitsugaya as his third seat officer and Rangiku Matsumoto as his fun-loving lieutenant. Ichigo can claim the Soul Reaper inheritance, and that counts for something. He has a history with Team 10.
9 ICHIGO IS NOT A TRUE SOUL BLINDER: Has a deadly lifespan
Soul Reapers are not human at all, despite their appearance. They are powerful souls with a long life, and they can live for centuries while slowly but surely aging. The oldest is Yamamoto, who is over 1,000 years old, and Captain Byakuya Kuchiki is probably at least 200 years old. 110 years ago, he was at least a teenager.
This allows Soul Reapers to do their duty and train for many decades, and use that vast experience to their advantage as they hunt down deadly holes. Ichigo lacks this advantage, and will die an old man while Rukia is still in her youthful prime. That may be one of the reasons why your partner is finally doomed.
8 ICHIGO IS A TRUE SOUL BLINDER: Fight the enemies of the Gotei 13 without question
Ichigo was an enemy of the Soul Reapers during the Soul Society arc, but that didn’t last long. Once Captain Sosuke Aizen highlighted himself as a traitor, Ichigo took on Aizaen and his Arrancar army, becoming a de facto ally of the Soul Reapers.
This certainly put Ichigo in the same league as the Soul Reapers, and he fought alongside the Soul Reapers once again during the Thousand Year Blood War arc. At that time, the Soul Reapers were counting on Ichigo to win the day.
7 ICHIGO IS NOT A TRUE SOUL BLINDER: He cannot use Kido spells
It takes more than a set of swords to be a true Soul Reaper. These black-clad warriors double as wizards, learning to use advanced kido spells to expand their arsenal of moves as they battle the mighty Hollows. Almost all Soul Reapers can use kido.
However, Ichigo has never cast a kido spell, and he didn’t even show any interest in trying to learn this arcane art. He broke free from a low-level kido in the anime’s first season, but it hardly counts. Even Lieutenant Renji Abarai can use Some kido, but not Ichigo.
6 ICHIGO IS A TRUE SOUL BLINDER: Fight with a Zanpakuto
This is possibly the most important aspect of being a Soul Reaper – wielding a zanpakuto or a soul-slicing sword. These weapons can kill Hollows and purify them, and with a zanpakuto, a Soul Reaper can perform konso and escort a pure soul to Soul Society.
Ichigo had a generic zanpakuto at first, but it was broken, and then he trained with Kisuke Urahara to acquire his true zanpakuto: Zangetsu. This mighty sword has evolved more than once, and it has seen Ichigo through many difficult battles.
5 ICHIGO IS NOT A TRUE SOUL BLINDER: He also has Hollow and Quincy powers
It is true that a Soul Reaper can acquire the powers of a Hollow, as the eight Visored demonstrated. They were all true soul reapers before they got their hollow masks, but Ichigo goes one step further. He doesn’t just wear a hollow mask; it has a hollow inside of it.
No other Soul Reaper has an inner Hollow like that, making Ichigo an anomaly. What’s more, Ichigo has some Quincy blood through his mother, Masaki, and no Soul Reaper can claim Quincy’s inheritance that way. Ichigo is a bit of everything, really.
4 ICHIGO IS A TRUE SOUL BLINDER: He can use Shikai and Bankai
Ichigo has a zanpakuto, but that’s not just for show. A proper zanpakuto has a name and a conscious spirit, and if a Soul Reaper joins his zanpakuto, then the shikai can manifest. Some are based on hand-to-hand combat and others are based on kido. What about Ichigo?
Ichigo’s shikai resembles a long butcher knife, and is Zangetsu’s default mode (it is never sealed). Ichigo then trained with Yoruichi Shihoin to also use bankai, Tensa Zangetsu, and using bankai is the mark of the ultimate Soul Reaper. This bankai grants Ichigo incredible speed and cutting power.
3 ICHIGO IS NOT A TRUE SOUL BLINDER: Not part of the chain of command
Soul Reapers don’t just run and dispense vigilante justice in Hollows as they see fit. Instead, the Soul Reapers are a well-structured military unit, divided into 13 squads. Each squad has its own commanders and combat theme, from providing medical support to assassination work.
Ichigo exists outside the ranks of the Soul Reapers. After a point, he was strong enough to qualify as a Captain, but by no means would he be formally accepted as such. Ichigo is unable to give or take orders in regards to the Soul Reapers, but instead assists the Gotei 13 as a kind of mercenary. True soul reapers have ranks.
two ICHIGO IS A TRUE SOUL BLINDER: He has the heart of a hero
It is true that Ichigo has his anti-hero side, as do some Soul Reapers, such as the brutal Kenpachi Zaraki or the sadistic Mayuri Kurotsuchi. Yet as a whole, Soul Reapers are heroes who value bravery, discipline, honor, justice, and loyalty in the face of any challenge. This is a series of shonen, after all.
Ichigo embodies all of that and more. He refuses to take orders from Yamamoto, but is intensely loyal to his friends and appointed himself their number one protector and guardian. Ichigo will face any powerful foe, from Ulquiorra Schiffer to King Yhwach himself, to save his friends and protect the world. That’s the Soul Reaper way.
1 ICHIGO IS NOT A TRUE SOUL BLINDER: He is not familiar with the history and lore of Soul Society
Soul Reapers are all natives of Soul Society, and they all know who is who and what is what in that realm. Soul Reapers can easily patrol the Seireitei to keep an eye out for intruders, and they all know how to move. They are also familiar with the areas assigned to their respective squads in the world of the living.
Soul Reapers have their own history, etiquette, rules, and much more, and Ichigo ignores it all. Rukia tried her best to bring Ichigo up to speed during the first season, but even then, Ichigo doesn’t know as much as the Soul Reapers. He can easily get lost in Soul Society, and he never shows the same deference to respected Soul Reapers that other Soul Reapers show.
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