‘Bleach’: Timeline of Events Explained

Bleach: Timeline of Events Explained

Tite Kubo’s Bleach is one of the “Big Three” series and one of the major works that contributed to the popularization of anime and manga worldwide. The Bleach manga follows high school student Ichigo Kurosaki as he becomes a Substitute Shinigami (Soul Reaper) and then works with his friends and allies to save his world and the Soul Society. And while the plot of Bleach encompasses a large number of various events, the main plotline takes over a period of roughly two years, which is not that long.

But, the overall timeline of Bleach is much more complex, and it involves a lot of events that happened a long time before the main plot began, some non-canon events set within the timeline of the main plot, and some events that took place after the main plot. Because many fans know about the whole story of Bleach, we have decided to help you understand how it all works so that you can have a general idea of what you can expect from the upcoming anime in terms of its plot.

Bleach timeline – general overview

Now, Bleach, like most shonen anime, doesn’t have a clearly outlined timeline, and some events are either difficult to place or outright impossible. Still, Bleach is a series whose chronology is relatively easy to determine because most of it s set in real-time regarding the main plot and the aftermath. Due to the Shinigami living longer than humans, the Soul Society’s timeline is a bit tricky, but we can actually divide the timeline into four major parts:

  1. The pre-Arc 1 timeline encompasses everything that happened before Ichigo became a Shinigami, both in the real world and the other realms. This period encompasses more than 2,000 years of events.
  2. Arc 1, which is actually the Arrancar Saga. This Arc encompasses events between Ichigo becoming a Shinigami and Aizen’s downfall, which is roughly a six-month period.
  3. Arc 2 encompasses the Lost Agent and the Quincy Blood War Arcs. And while it might seem like a long arc, it actually took place over a period of roughly two months in 2003. There is a 17-month time-skip between Arcs 1 and 2 in Bleach.
  4. Arc 3, encompasses all the events after Ywhach’s downfall, including the epilogue and the possible Hell Arc.

Now that we have given you a general overview of the timeline, we can explain each segment in more detail, telling you about the most important dates and events that happened during each of the parts.


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Bleach timeline explained

Pre-Arc 1 events

In terms of its duration, this is the longest period in the timeline, as it actually encompasses all the events that happened from the beginning of time to Ichigo becoming a Soul Reaper. But, as far as Bleach‘s known history is concerned, this period takes place over about 2,000 years.

The story starts with Yamamoto founding the Shinigami Academy, which happened roughly 2,000 years ago. At the time, the Gotei 13 did not exist, and the overall atmosphere in Soul Society was pretty wild and orderless; Sasakibe also mastered his Bankai at the time.

The next major event happened 1,000 years later, i.e., around 1,000 years before the main timeline, when Yamamoto founded the original Gotei 13. As Yhwach described them, they were a gang of powerful and ruthless killers and were much stronger than the current members of the Gotei 13.

Kubo revealed their identities and names much later, as they were originally presented simply as silhouettes. This is also when Yachiru Unohana, the then-Captain of the 11th Division, met a young Kenpachi Zaraki.

At the around the same time, Yhwach started to form his Sternritter. After conquering his original realm, Yhwach formed an army to invade Soul Society but was ultimately defeated by the original Gotei 13. Yamamoto, though, failed to kill him. At that moment, Soul Society finally attained peace, and the situation changed drastically.


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About 800 years later, 200 years before the main timeline, the Soul Society, after numerous failed negotiations, decided to eradicate most of the Quincy as they posed a threat to the balance of the realms. A century later, a new threat emerged as a young Aizen, then-Lieutenant of the 5th Division, began his Hollowfication experiments.

As a result of these experiments, numerous Shinigami were killed, while Captains Shinji Kirako (5th), Rōjūrō Ōtoribashi (3rd), Love Aikawa (7th), and Kensei Muguruma (9th), as well as Lieutenants Hiyori Sarugaki (12th), Mashino Kuna (9th), and Lisa Yadomaru (8th) and Hachigen Ushida were transformed into Hollow-Shinigami hybrids, later becoming Visoreds. Kisuke Urahara, Captain of Division 12, was blamed and was, along with Tessai, sentenced, but he escaped to the World of the Living, followed by Yoruichi Shihoin, then-Captain of the 2nd Division.

Mayuri Kurotsuchi, who had been imprisoned at the time, succeeded Urahara as the Captain of the 12th Division.

About 50 years before the main timeline, Rukia and Renji became Shinigami. About thirty years later, Aizen created the Hollow White, who Hollowfied Masaki Kurosaki; Isshin Shiba, then-Captain of the 10th Division, sacrificed his powers to save her, and the two of them fall in love and eventually marry.

In the meantime, Ichigo, Karin, and Yuzu were born, but their mother, Masaki, was killed six years before the start of the series. About a month before the start of the main timeline, Rukia was assigned by her Captain, Jushiro Ukitake, to oversee Karakura Town.


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Arc 1 events

As we’ve said, the main timeline starts on a Friday during the middle of May, at 7:13 PM. The year is 2001. This is the night that Ichigo, a high schooler who is able to see ghosts, becomes a Shinigami, and this is when the main timeline starts.

Initially, Ichigo fills in for Rukia while she regains her powers, but when Byakuya Kuchiki and Renji Abarai from the Soul Society come and take Rukia, as well as almost kill Ichigo, he decides to regain his powers and go to Soul Society to save Rukia from being executed. In the meantime, Ishida is revealed to be a Quincy, while Orihime and Chad also discover that they have special powers.

With Urahara’s help, they enter Soul Society, where their break-in is viewed as an attack, and the Gotei 13 are alarmed as well as given permission to kill them. In the meantime, Captain Sosuke Aizen of the 5th Division is seemingly killed, with Ichigo and his friends being blamed for it.

After fighting off their opponents and Ichigo learning Bankai, the protagonist saves Rukia. However, it is revealed that Aizen was alive all along and is a traitor who plans to become the new ruler of all the realms. Ichigo and his friends are accepted as allies by the Gotei 13.


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The non-canon Bount arc takes place sometime after these events and is intertwined with the events leading up to the fight between the Gotei 13 and Aizen’s Arrancars.

This is also when the New Captain arc takes place, but this one is impossible to pinpoint, as well as the Zanpakuto and Reigai rebellions. As for the canon timeline, the first major event was Aizen sending two of his Espada, Ulquiorra, and Yammy, to scout the World of the Living. Ulquiorra would later kidnap Orihime, and that would prompt Ichigo and his allies to enter Hueco Mundo to save her, despite Yamamoto forbidding it.

As they were fighting the Espada in Hueco Mundo, Aizen decided to launch his attack earlier (in October rather than December) but was met by the Gotei 13 in Fake Karakura Town. The Shinigami ultimately manage to defeat the Espada, but Aizen almost succeeds in winning, as he successfully merges with the Hogyoku.

Ichigo learned how to defeat Aizen by sacrificing his Shinigami powers, after which Aizen was imprisoned in the Muken. The Arrancar Saga officially ended on December 2, 2001, when Ichigo lost all of his powers.

Arc 2 events

The second arc lasts roughly only six months, but the number of events is actually quite large. It starts off in 2003 when Kugo Ginjo offers Ichigo to give him his powers back thanks to the Fullbring, the power that Chad has.

Ichigo meets other Fullbringers who all seem to be fighting a rogue Fullbringer called Shukuro Tsukishima, whose unique power is changing the memories and pasts of those he cuts. After it turns out that Ginjo is the actual villain, Ichigo successfully regains his powers with the help of the Gotei 13 and defeats Ginjo.

About two months later, the Sternritter began the first invasion of Soul Society, killing, among others, Lieutenant Sasasibe. Yhwach has, in the meantime, invaded Hueco Mundo and trapped Harribel, while Nel calls Ichigo to Hueco Mundo to help them. While Ichigo is fighting Quilge Opie in Hueco Mundo, Yhwach breaks his declaration of war and attacks Soul Society, stealing several Captains’ Bankai and killing Yamamoto in the process. Kyoraku is named as his successor.

After this event, the Royal Guard comes down from the Soul King’s Palace and decides to help rebuild Soul Society while they also heal the heavily wounded Rukia, Renji, and Byakuya, as well as reforge Ichigo’s Zanpakuto.


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Before Ichigo discovers the true nature of his Zanpakuto, he discovers the truth about his mother and that he is actually a part-Quincy. While Ichigo was training, Yhwach launched his final invasion, replacing the Seireitei with his Wandenreich. Although Urahara manages to return the Bankai to the Captains, there are heavy losses on both sides, although the Shinigami managed to, somehow, retain most of their members with the help of the 4th Division, now led by Isane Kotatsu after Unohana died.

As Ichigo returns, Yhwach ascends to the Palace of the Soul King, where he has to right the Royal Guard along with his elite Schutzstaffel; Ishida has, in the meantime, seemingly betrayed his friends and joined Yhwach.

After taking care of the Sterntirret left behind by Yhwach, the surviving ones decided to join the Shinigami as they felt betrayed by their lord. Kyoraku decides to free Aizen, as they will need his help to defeat Yhwach. In the meantime, he has defeated Ichibei Hyosube, the leader of the Royal Guard, and has absorbed the Soul King, his father, seemingly becoming unstoppable.

The alliance manages to enter the Palace, and they are able to defeat the members of the Schutzstaffel; Ishida, in the meantime, reveals that he was only pretending to be close to Yhwach, and he readily betrays him to help Ichigo and the others. With the help of Ishida, Renji, and Aizen, Ichigo manages to finally defeat and kill Yhwach. This happened on June 19, 2003.

Arc 3 events

Arc 3 actually encompasses all the events that took place after Yhwach’s downfall. The Soul Society managed to rebuild itself, although a lot of things have changed due to the losses suffered. Yhwach completely disappears only ten years later, when Ichigo and all of his allies have already grown up and started their own lives. Also, roughly at the same time, the events of Burn the Witch also take place.


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Twelve years after Yhwach’s downfall, the Soul Society is ready to properly send off the fallen Captains, but the balance between Soul Society, the World of the Living, and Hell is seemingly disrupted.

The dead Espada, Szayelaporro Granz, becomes the first canon character to escape Hell, but he is returned to the realm by a gigantic Sogyo no Kotowari, Ukitake’s Zanpakuto. It is unknown if Kubo will continue the Hell Arc or not, but this event was a major hint at a possible continuation of the series, with the events being set 12 years after the end of Arc 2 of Bleach.

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