Byakuya Kuchiki is the 28th head of the noble Kuchiki clan, one of the four great noble families in Soul Society. As such, Byakuya acts in an aristocratic manner — he seems always serene and apathetic towards other people, even when he is actually deeply conflicted. He is also extremely calm, even in battle, and is very seldom surprised by even the most drastic of actions. Ironically, when he was younger, he was quick to anger and very hotheaded, as noted by his grandfather, Ginrei Kuchiki; similar to the way Ichigo and Renji are now.
Byakuya strongly believes in law and order. As the head of one of the great noble families and as a captain in the Gotei 13, he always works hard for a peaceful society. He thinks that if someone in his position doesn't follow the rules as a good example, then no one will follow them. He believes that to maintain the order, all law-breakers must be punished, even if that goes against his own wishes. Despite his icy and regal manner, Byakuya cares for and protects those important to him, even referring to Rukia as his "pride".
Byakuya is popular among the female Soul Reapers of Soul Society, and was voted number one in the "captain we desire to release a photo book for" poll taken by the Soul Reaper Women's Association. He likes Chinese Bellflowers, night time walks, and spicy food.
Byakuya wears the standard captain uniform along with a white headpiece called a kenseikan (symbolizing his noble rank as the head of the Kuchiki family) and a white scarf made by the master weaver, Tsujishirō Kuroemon III. The scarf is made from silver-white windflower light silk (ginpaku kazahana no uzuginu) and is a family heirloom handed down through the generations to the head of the Kuchiki family. Ten houses can be built for the cost of just one such scarf. In the anime, the scarf is an extremely light green (episodes 52 and 53).
Byakuya seems to have a comic side to himself despite his extremely serious personality. He not only attends the lieutenants' meeting when Renji Abarai is absent, but also implies that he attends the meetings of the Soul Reaper Women's Association when Rukia is absent. As he puts it, "part of a captain's responsibilities are to make sure the lieutenant's responsibilities are taken care of" which was spoken during the Soul Reaper's Illustrated Picture Book in episode 118, to which Renji asks him if he also goes to Rukia's meetings, which is only responded by a smile. In the Soul Reaper's Illustrated Picture Book in episode 113, Byakuya jokingly remarks that he uses Senbonzakura to cut his hair. In one of the omake chapters, Byakuya claims that life in general is not supposed to be entertaining, and even makes up an idea for a game that is not meant to be amusing. It was also shown in an omake chapter that Byakuya's artistic talent is similar to Rukia's (that is, non-existent). However Rukia sees it as better then hers.
Little is known about Byakuya's early history. When his grandfather, Ginrei Kuchiki, was still the captain of the 6th Division, Byakuya was preparing to take over leadership of the clan, although his grandfather was worried about his rash and hotheaded attitude. During this time Yoruichi Shihouin would play pranks on him and goad him into games of tag using flash steps, which she won every time.
Around 55 years before the main Bleach storyline, Byakuya married Hisana, who was then a commoner from Inuzuri, one of the poorest districts of Rukongai; therefore, he broke the rules by accepting her into the noble Kuchiki family. Shortly before her death from illness, Hisana asked Byakuya to find, adopt, and protect her biological sister, Rukia, whom she had abandoned as a baby. She also made him promise that he would not tell Rukia about her real family, for she believed that by abandoning Rukia when she was younger she was not worthy to be called Rukia's sister.
One year later, during Rukia's time at the academy, Byakuya found her and immediately adopted her into the Kuchiki clan. By adopting her, Byakuya respected his wife's last wish, but had broken the rules of his clan again. He later swore upon his parents' graves that he would never break the rules again, no matter what. As a result, he, though entirely apathetic on the surface, is actually deeply conflicted with the matter of Rukia's execution. Should he intervene, it would require breaking the promise to his parents and the rules again; but should he do nothing he would fail to fulfill the last promise he made to his dying wife to protect Rukia as his own sister.
It is implied that Byakuya Kuchiki became captain of the 6th division about 50 years before the main Bleach storyline (shortly before Rukia had entered the Gotei 13). Gin Ichimaru became captain of the 3rd Division at the same time, and Gin would commonly start pointless conversations with Byakuya during times they crossed paths.
Senbonzakura(千本桜, "Thousand Cherry Blossoms")
A regular katana, with a simple cross guard, which is a simple open frame, much like a four-pane window. It has a light blue handle.
Shikai: It is triggered by the command "Scatter" (散れ, chire).
Shikai Special Ability: In its Shikai, Senbonzakura's blade separates into a thousand slender, tiny blade fragments, which then fly away from the hilt, leaving only the sword's handle in Byakuya's hand. The release can be negated before it completes, such as when Yoruichi Shihōin wrapped the blade in cloth during Byakuya's short battle with Ichigo. However, if the release completes itself, then Senbonzakura is rendered near-unstoppable. While the blades are supposedly too small to see normally, they reflect light in such a way as to appear as cherry blossom petals. By swinging Senbonzakura's hilt, Byakuya can control the blade fragments at will, allowing him to shred opponents at a distance and break through almost any defense.
Senbonzakura Kageyoshi's releaseBankai: Senbonzakura Kageyoshi (千本桜景厳, Vibrant Display of a Thousand Cherry Blossoms): is essentially a much larger version of Senbonzakura's Shikai. To activate it, Byakuya needs to drop his sword straight down. The sword phases into the ground, as though it were a pool of water. Energy ripples expand out, turning the surrounding area dark, and within seconds, two rows of a thousand giant blades rise up from the ground. Those thousand swords then scatter and countless flying blades pierce the enemy. No one knows the exact number of blades generated and no one can see the movements of those blades or even dodge them. The number of blades is great enough that Byakuya can use them for defense as well as offense at the same time. He commonly forms them into large masses, designed to obliterate opponents instantaneously. As it moves through the air like torrents of waves, it gives the appearance of cherry blossoms flowing swiftly along the wind. Byakuya's defensive use allows him to cover himself entirely in these tiny blades, and form a body shield. Unlike his Shikai, his Bankai is entirely mentally controlled. While Byakuya can control the blades with his mind alone, using his hands allows him to do so more effectively, making the blades increase in speed three fold. Like with his Shikai, its attack is triggered with the phrase Scatter.
Bankai Special Ability: Byakuya's Bankai has several forms, achieved by arranging the blades in different patterns. Each form presents a different advantage, such as increasing offense at the expense of defense. This makes Senbonzakura Kageyoshi one of the most versatile Bankai in the series. These techniques are activated by saying the name of the technique, followed by the name of his Bankai, Senbonzakura Kageyoshi.
Senkei (殲景, Massacre Scene; Viz: "annihilate"): The true form of Senbonzakura is seemingly created by his blood, which glows and turns into spiritual energy, mixing with the tiny blades of his Bankai. This unites the scattered petals into complete glowing swords, numbering in the thousands, that form four rows. These rows float just above the other, and circle around Byakuya and his opponent in a continuously moving, column-like array. It abandons defense in favor of a concentrated offense. Though visually menacing, this form is not meant for attack from all sides; rather, it is to concentrate his power into fewer blades, thus increasing his attack power. While Byakuya can mentally control these swords as he does his regular blades, he commonly calls them to his hands for actual melee combat. When in his hand, they lose their glow, and take the form of his sealed Zanpakutō. While they seem solid in this state, the swords can just as easily dissipate back into the multitude of tiny blades that they are made of. It seems to take fewer blows from a Senkei blade to gravely injure an opponent than the multiple cuts needed from the unfocused Bankai. The Senkei also cages himself with his enemy, allowing neither combatant to move very far from each other, though the area is still large enough for maneuverability. The most effective use of the Senkei form is that it allows for use of all the swords at the same attack level, making it highly versatile as a way to effectively defeat an enemy unaware of the danger of the situation. It is extremely rare for him to use this ability, doing so only when he has sworn to cut down the opponent with his very own hands. Ichigo was the second being to ever witness the ability.
GokeiGōkei (吭景, Pivotal Scene): This form increases the number of tiny blades immensely. It creates a spherical formation of over 100 million tiny blade fragments, which swirl around the opponent like a cloud. It then flies into them from every possible angle, leaving no blind spots and no possibility to escape. It then collapses on itself, obliterating the opponent. It was strong enough to completely obliterate a very large building from the inside out, and the resulting shockwave generated by the attack is so powerful that Byakuya himself has to Flash Step away (Byakuya is normally immune to the cutting effects of his own Bankai, evident by the fact that he could wield the swords generated by its Senkei formation with bare hands without cutting himself).
HakuteikenShūkei (終景, Final Scene; Viz: "last sight"): This condenses each and every single one of his blades into a single, potent sword, drastically increasing its cutting power. The spiritual energy and pressure of this form released is immense. The blade appears bright white and its aura takes the form of a bird, earning it the name Hakuteiken (白帝剣, White Imperial Sword; Viz: "white emperor sword"). Pure white wings form on Byakuya's back, as well a halo-like circle, made of concentrated spiritual energy. It is unknown whether these wings are merely an aesthetic effect or if they can be used to fly. The blade in this form is dangerous enough to cause aggravated injuries in one single blow. Whether or not this form allows only one single attack or more is as yet unknown.
Master Swordsmanship Specialist: Byakuya is masterful at swordsmanship, capable of flawless precision and lethal attacks without much effort.
Flash Step Master: Byakuya is probably best known for his usage of Flash steps. Although having been taught by, but never beating "Goddess of Flash" Yoruichi Shihōin, he is still easily one of the most proficient users of this skill in all of Soul Society.
Senka (閃花, Flash Blossom): a special Shunpo technique where one moves to their opponent's back, directly attacking and sealing one's "Saketsu" and "Hakusui" in one strike. This attack is his favorite to use. The movement is so fast that an opponent may not be able to tell whether he was attacked from the front or the back and even an outside observer may find it impossible to tell what the movements are.
Utsusemi (空蝉; Cicada, referencing their molting): Way of Onmitsu, 3rd of the Shihou. It allows for a movement at great speed, leaving an afterimage behind. It is a technique taught to him by Yoruichi Shihōin.
Kidō Master: Byakuya has displayed his knowledge of high level Kidō spells, able to cast several in quick succession without the incantation and with almost no effort and still possessing formidable power. He has been shown to use spells up to level 81 and possesses advanced knowledge of Kidō application and consistency. He can use low-level spells with devastating effects, as well as a counter to attacks. He even uses a low-level lightning spell to burn a hole right through Ichigo's shoulder.
Hand-to-Hand Combatant: While used less often, Byakuya has shown highly proficient skill in this area. In the anime, Byakuya was able to effortlessly knock out several Shinigami guards stealthfully with a single strike each.
Master Tactician: Byakuya is a highly perceptive fighter, being able to almost immediately determine an opponent's attack patterns and weaknesses. He is also crafty tactician, as demonstrated from how effectively he uses his Kidō to confuse his opponents. He can discern the motives and abilities of his opponents and effectively use his knowledge to end the battle in his favor.
Enhanced Durability: While not having the most imposing appearance compared to other Shinigami captains like Kenpachi Zaraki, Byakuya has shown to be a very resilient fighter. During his fight against Ichigo, despite gaining several major injuries, Byakuya was able to continue fighting effectively and even ignore them to the point he seemed unfazed by them. At the end of fight, he was still able to perform an impressive Flash Step to leave. During his fight with the 7th Espada, Byakuya's durability proved great enough for him to willingly damage himself to escape from this enemy's possession attack and continue to fight as if unaffected.
Immense Spiritual Power: He is capable of exerting a vast Spiritual Pressure, which, in league with his already admirable combat skills and finesse, makes him one of the most formidable captains. His spiritual pressure is so great it can be felt from a very large distance and it has the tendency to make people sweat in fear.
Initially born into a lower class, Rukia retains her modesty even as an adopted member of the nobility: she is graceful and "clean", yet chooses to talk to ordinary people. However, her cool and lone demeanor often forces her to hide her personal troubles even from her friends. Although she tells Ichigo that she is nearly ten times older than he, she is endearingly clueless about the ways of the modern living world (since Soul Society resembles Japan's Edo period). She is initially unable to figure out how to drink from a simple juice box, and learns to speak modern Japanese through the manga she reads. She always has trouble finding clothes that fit her, especially when inhabiting a Gigai in the Human World, leading to her stealing clothes from Ichigo's sister, Yuzu. She likes to climb to high places, and everything that is rabbit-themed or resembles a rabbit, which explains her affection toward Chappy, the rabbit, and the fact that her drawings about people always look a little bit rabbit-like. Rukia's favorite foods are cucumber, eggs, and rice dumplings.
Rukia is an accomplished actress, being able to act her way through a number of tough situations, such as getting out of trouble with school teachers or managing to get a room at Ichigo's house - much to his embarrassment that his own family would fall for such a lame act. Ichigo seems to be the only one to always pick up on it and accuse her of pretending. She also seems to enjoy drawing (albeit horribly); her drawings of people and Hollows seem to resemble rabbits and teddy bears respectively. Rukia's inability to draw well (and her taking offense when told as much) is a running gag in the series. Rukia loves Chappy the Rabbit (and basically anything rabbit-themed) and is rather put out when she is unable to obtain Chappy Soul Candy because of its popularity in Soul Society (although she is able to obtain it during the Arrancar Arc). She also likes to climb to high places and her favorite foods are cucumbers and shira-tama (but the list could get longer)
Rukia and her older sister, Hisana, were brought together to 78th District of Rukongai after they died in the human world. Hisana abandoned Rukia when she was still a baby since she could not continue to support both herself and Rukia. Rukia grew up on her own until she met Renji Abarai and other children her age. They worked together to steal food in order to survive and became a makeshift family. During this time, Rukia and Renji showed signs of having spiritual power. While they initially opted against becoming Shinigami, the death of all their friends prompted Rukia to suggest joining the Shinigami Academy for a better life.
Rukia's training in the Shinigami Academy.At the Shinigami Academy, Renji was admitted into the top class and Rukia into the second ranked one. Renji and Rukia started growing further apart as Renji got further ahead in his training. The emotional distance continued until Rukia was asked to join the Kuchiki family. Renji expressed happiness for Rukia's opportunity but both did not admit that they disagreed with the arrangement since they would likely never see each other again. Rukia reluctantly joined the family and was immediately inducted into the 13th Division without having to graduate or take a squad entrance exam. Unknown to Rukia, Byakuya Kuchiki had adopted her in order to fulfill the last wish of Hisana, whom he had once taken as his wife.
Kaien teaching Rukia how to treat her superiors.In the 13th Division, Rukia was not given a seat position, due to Byakuya Kuchiki's influence, since he did not want her sent on dangerous missions. She became friends with the division lieutenant, Kaien Shiba, who trained and mentored her. Their first training location was Mount Koifushi of Hokutan, the 3rd district of West Rukongai.
Rukia greatly admired Kaien's wife, 3rd Seat Miyako Shiba. When Miyako was killed by a Hollow, Rukia, Kaien, and the division's captain Jūshirō Ukitake hunted the Hollow down. Kaien faced the Hollow alone but its special ability destroyed his Zanpakutō. Rukia attempted to draw her sword and help but was stopped by Ukitake. He told her that Kaien's fight was one of honor rather than a fight for his life. If Rukia were to help, Kaien would be saved but his honor would be forever damaged. Meanwhile, the Hollow entered Kaien and possessed him. Ukitake faced the Hollow but his illness allowed the Hollow the opportunity to attack Rukia. Kaien momentarily regained control and thrust himself through Rukia's Zanpakutō. He thanked Rukia and Ukitake for letting him fight for his honor and died in Rukia's arms. Rukia brought the corpse to the Shiba family but was afraid to apologize since she felt guilty about her role in Kaien's death.
Sode no Shirayuki (袖白雪, Sleeve of the White Snow)
Shikai: Its Shikai command is "Dance" (舞え, mae). Rukia holds her Zanpakutō out in front of her and turns it in a circle counter-clockwise. While she is turning it, the blade, hilt and crossguard turn completely white. The tsuba becomes a hollow snowflake-like circle and a white ribbon forms from the pommel from the end of the handle. Sode no Shirayuki is regarded as one of the most beautiful Zanpakutō in Soul Society. The transformation comes along with a rush of cold air in all directions and can potentially cause a cold fog to descend upon the area.
Shikai Special Ability: Sode no Shirayuki has control over ice, rather fitting for her cold and icy demeanor, much like Tōshirō Hitsugaya's Hyōrinmaru, but uses it in a different manner. Like Kaname Tōsen's Suzumushi and Kisuke Urahara's Benihime, Sode no Shirayuki possesses more than one ability in Shikai.Sode no Shirayuki's abilities are labeled as "dances" by Rukia.
First Dance, White MoonSome no mai, Tsukishiro (初の舞・月白, First Dance, White Moon): Rukia calls out the name of the dance while holding her Zanpakutō upside down. The blade glows and then she makes a slashing motion when her target is in position. When she does this, a large ice circle forms around her intended target which freezes everything that touches it. The circle not only freezes the ground but everything within the circle's influence including anything above it up in the air, creating an extending pillar of light that then freezes all within in the circle. Shortly after being frozen, the victim then shatters along with the ice. Rukia appears to be able to control the size of the circle at will.
Next Dance, White RippleTsugi no mai, Hakuren (次の舞・白漣, Next Dance, White Ripple): Rukia calls out the name of the dance, and punctures the ground once creating a large ice circle similar to the first dance, then she punctures the ground in front of her four times in a semi circle. She takes a battle stance as the ice particles begin to flow up from the protrusions she made in the ground. They build up and then fires toward the target in a massive, powerful pure-white wave of ice from Sode no Shirayuki's blade, in turn encasing the target in a block of ice.
Third Dance, White SwordSan no mai, Shirafune (参の舞・白刀, Third Dance, White Sword): Rukia calls out the name of the dance, which allows her to reforge her Zanpakutō with ice particles if it is broken, piercing through objects in its path. After piercing its target, it continues to freeze any surrounding objects, including the battlefield.
Expert Swordsmanship Specialist: Rukia, as a Shinigami of the 13th Division, has a standard array of skills required of Shinigami troops. Upon her introduction, she has the basic-level Zanpakutō, of which she seemed to have only mastered the rudimentary skills. By her own admission, she has less talent in swordsmanship than Kidō. However after much training by her former mentor, Kaien Shiba, her skill drastically improved. She has shown herself to be capable enough to hold her own in a battle, most notably defending herself from attacks from the 9th Espada, while he was using the expert swordsmanship skill of Kaien Shiba.
Kidō Expert: Rukia's greatest strength is her knowledge of the Kidō, a set of magic spells she can use in the performance of her duties; amongst her known skills are those for binding, healing, purifying, and destruction. However, as she said herself, while her Kidō skill at the Shinigami Academy were the highest of her class, the sheer power of them were just average when she joined 13th division. Through continuous training she has greatly developed this skill. She has shown she is able to use several high-level Kidō in rapid succession without incantation and still have considerable control and power. She has also shown great skill for using various spells in unique combinations, even using multiple spells simultaneously. Rukia has shown that she is capable of using a level 61 Bakudō spell and a level 63 Hadō spell consecutively, though she needs to chant the incantations for both to perform them.
After losing her powers, Rukia is able to use Kidō spells in a limited fashion, but they are so weak that they have almost no effect on their targets. The anime's Bount arc, in contrast, shows her using at least one spell on a level similar to Renji (this difference can be attributed to the different Gigai used in each situation). Since the events at the Soul Society, Rukia's Shinigami powers have made a near complete recovery.
Enhanced Endurance: As a Shinigami, Rukia has a great amount of endurance. She was able to withstand being impaled by Aaroniero's Nejibana, in conjunction with his Glotonería, and finish him off before losing consciousness.
Enhanced Strength: Despite her size, she is actually powerful enough to defeat a superior opponent. Even without the aid of her Zanpakutō, she was still a considerable opponent. Her strength was displayed in the Bount arc and beyond (I.E, when Ritz was controlling her, she picked up Orihime with her own two hands, able to throw her in the air, despite her size).
Hand-to-Hand Combatant: She was also seen in a Gigai fighting enemies with her physical strength (kicking, punching, etc.). She is also capable of having hand-to-hand combat while in her Shinigami state, with augmented strength. During the Bount invasion, she showed herself capable of countering the swift and accurate attacks of Yoshi.
Keen Intellect: Repeatedly in missions, Rukia has shown herself to be very intelligent, as seen from her ability to compensate against stronger opponents with combination attacks. During her forced stay in the living world after losing her powers, Rukia proved herself very resourceful in assisting Ichigo with his new Shinigami duties. Rukia is also very knowledgeable, as shown from her high marks in the academy and her knowledge of the Soul Society's history.
High Spiritual Power: Rukia's spiritual energy is personified by the element of ice. Much like Captain Tōshirō Hitsugaya's, but to a lesser degree. When Rukia is focused or under stress, her great spiritual energy is manifested as ice particles flowing and falling in the air. She has at times shown a measure of control of her spiritual energy affecting the surrounding area with cold and even freezing the things she touches. Rukia exerts her Spiritual Energy on her Kidō most of the times. She may also use her energy on other occasions. Nonetheless, she is capable of exerting large amounts of Spiritual Pressure. Though her Spiritual Energy is not on par with Ichigo's or other high level-combatants, her spiritual energy is greater than many Shinigami of equal or even higher rank.
Flash Steps Expert: Renji says that Rukia is also helpful and effective because of her high speed. In the anime, during her battle against the Adjuchas of the Menos Forest, she skillfully dodged multiple attacks from several enemies.
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