Bankai, Quincy and Hollows: A Primer for Bleach

Bankai, Quincy and Hollows: A Primer for Bleach

Tite Kubo’s Bleach is one of the most popular anime in the world right now. And as it’s an urban fantasy/action adventure, it has a lot of terms and ideas that can be confusing for new people. Since a lot of you may not be up to date on the anime, and with the game coming out in just over a week, here’s your chance to learn about a ton of things that pertain to this universe.

Soul Reaper:

A Soul Reaper is what it sounds like. Basically, when a person dies, their spirit has to wait for a Soul Reaper to send them to the afterlife (we’ll get to that later). All Soul Reapers wear black hakama pants and black gi’s, and carry a katana called a zanpakutou, which I’ll explain later. They are masters of a special form of spiritual magic called Kido. Soul Reapers also function as a supernatural military force against the Hollows, headed by the 13 Court Guards, each a specialized unit. A Soul Reaper Captain is one of the most potentially dangerous fighters a person could face.


If a person dies and waits too long to be sent to the Soul Society, they run the risk of becoming a Hollow, a masked monster. This can also happen if a ghost is either filled with negativity, or was plain evil. When a soul becomes a Hollow, it develops an appetite for other ghosts, as well as humans who have any extra sensory abilities. If a Soul Reaper kills a Hollow with their zanpakutou, the soul has a chance to pass on to the Soul Society, unless they’re truly evil, in which case they have only Hell to look forward to.

Soul Society:

The Soul Society is a place that all souls eventually reach. Sadly, it’s essentially like the living world, with its own government, its own poor, and its own problems. The only difference is that here, people can actually exist far longer as spirits. You can form families, get older (a lot slower than living people) and if you die here, your soul cycles back to the living world. So, basically, a cycle of living in two distinctive realities that tend to overlap.


A Soul Reaper’s weapon, which translates to “soul-cutter sword”. When a Soul Reaper graduates from the academy, they generate their sword from their spiritual energy. As such, every blade is unique to their wielder, can be wielded effortlessly by said wielder, and if shattered will regenerate over time. All of them have an entity residing in the sword, which often works as a partner/mentor, helping them achieve the highest level of power in the weapon. The size of the weapon indicates the strength of its owner, although captains in the 13 Court Guards are able to keep the size manageable (otherwise they’d be walking around with swords the size of skyscrapers). The other function is that by touching a normal ghost with the pommel of the sword, it sends that soul to the Soul Society.


A Quincy is another form of spiritual combatant, in this case, a living human who is capable of using their spiritual energy to battle Hollows using specialized weapons and techniques (often focusing around archery). The key difference between Soul Reapers and Quincys  is that if a Quincy kills a Hollow, it won’t be able to return to a normal soul. At the start of Bleach, there is only one practicing Quincy. What happened to the rest, I wonder? (I’m not telling, that’s a major spoiler, this is just a term explanation)


Literally the initial release of a zanpakutou, this is what separates generic Soul Reapers from the higher ranks. When a Reaper is able to communicate with the spirit inside their sword, they are given a chance to learn their weapon’s name. By learning the name of the zanpakutou, a Soul Reaper can then call out the name, allowing the weapon to transform to a new shape. This gives the blade new abilities, which basically help the wielder in combat.


Literally the final release, often achieved by Captains of the 13 Court Guards, this is the ultimate expression of the Soul Reaper. This is not always a sword, but it is always an overwhelming show of strength.


This is a term for a Soul Reaper who has achieved Hollow-like powers. Only by confronting their inner darkness can a Soul Reaper master these powers. Once mastered, they have the ability to summon their Hollow mask and use it to augment their abilities.

Hueco Mundo:

The home of the Hollows, a seemingly endless desert in a never-ending night radiating with spiritual power.


A Hollow who has achieved Soul Reaper-like form and powers, allowing them similar weapons and the abilities that come with those. The most powerful of these are the Espada, and they are the major threats facing the Soul Reapers.

Hopefully, this will help you out when the game comes out, and more importantly allow me to not sound insane once I review Bleach: Soul Resurreccion after its Aug 2nd release.

Ahmed is not just a fanboy, but also a martial artist and an indie author who has published such fantasy adventure books as "Lunen: Triblood".

Lost Password

Sign Up