Ichigo Kurosaki is the protagonist of Bleach. He was first introduced in the first chapter of the manga and since then, we have seen him evolve from a high school student to a father. With a lot of adventure in between those two points. Over the years, Ichigo has become stronger with every new arc, ultimately revealed to be a unique amalgam of a Shinigami, a Hollow, a Quincy, and a Human. He is undeniably one of the most powerful Shinigami in the series, but does he ever become a Captain of the Gotei 13? We are going to answer that in this article.
Ichigo Kurosaki never became a Captain of the Gotei 13. This is because he is still a living human and cannot, thus, qualify for a Captain’s position, which is only reserved for Souls residing in Soul Society. This is why he is and has been a Substitute Shinigami throughout the story. After his death, though, he could qualify for a Captain position due to his immense powers.
The rest of this article is going to bring you everything you need to know about Ichigo’s career as a Shinigami, as well as some details about the position of Captain within the structure of the Gotei 13. This is a very intriguing topic and we hope to give you all the details you wanted to know, although not without spoilers, which are going to be somewhat present throughout the article.
Does Ichigo become a Captain in Bleach?
When we first meet Ichigo, he is an ordinary human who can see ghosts. He did not know what to do with that power, but he was able to do it and that power allowed him to see Shinigami as well; this is how he saw Rukia when she entered his room in search of a Hollow.
He would later take some of Rukia’s powers and become a Shinigami himself. This was later formalized when he became an official Substitute Shinigami. Over the course of the story, Ichigo has fought and defeated Lieutenants and Captains, as well as other powerful villains. He has certainly earned the right to become a Captain of the Gotei 13, but did he do it?
Actually – no. Ichigo Kurosaki never became a Captain of the Gotei 13. This is because he is still alive and a human. Namely, the Gotei 13 are Souls, the Shinigami are souls and since Ichigo is still alive, he cannot possibly become a Captain of the Gotei 13. When he dies, due to his immense power, he will probably be able to become one, but for now – Ichigo can only be a Substitute Shinigami.
This is evidenced in the Echoing Jaws of Hell mini-arc, where we see what’s going on with Ichigo in 2015. Three hours before Ukitake’s Konsō Reisai, Renji contacts Ichigo over a video call and tells him about the ceremony. He deems this unethical, after which he is invited to attend by Shunsui and Rukia, who join Renji and marvels at new technology.
When Ichigo reveals that Orihime does laundry at home instead of going to Keigo’s ramen shop with him, he is surprised when Rukia assumes that means their marriage is falling apart, which he angrily denies.
That night, Ichigo reunites with Renji and the other human world Lieutenants for the Jogimen Reibaku ceremony, during which he questions the necessity of their presence. The 7th Division Lieutenant Atau Rindō and 8th Division Lieutenant Yuyu Yayahara are introduced during this. The latter immediately asks Ichigo for a selfie to post on social media, knowing that Ichigo is the hero of Quincy’s Blood War, despite Ichigo’s confusion and protests.
However, as Ichigo continues to talk to Renji, he doesn’t realize that a Jigoku no Gaki appears behind them before attacking Renji and crushing him into the ground below.
After Ichigo slashes the Jigoku no Gaki into pieces with a single swing of his sword, Ichigo intervenes in Renji’s confrontation with Szayelaporro Granz after the latter comes out of Hell to free Renji and confront Szayelaporro himself. Where he found the real Konsō Reisai’s goal is to send dead captains to Hell, leaving Ichigo horrified. When Ukitake impales Szayelaporro back to Hell, Ichigo wonders why the Jigokuchō has the word “Hell” in their names.
How does one become a Captain of the Gotei 13?
The Captain (in Japanese: 隊長, taichō) is the head of one of the thirteen Divisions of the Gotei 13. Each of these divisions appears to contain between 200 and 500 troops. The captains are the most respected Shinigami in all of Soul Society, as they are the only ones capable of fully releasing their Zanpakutō through the Bankai.
This makes them the most powerful Shinigami, as they can multiply their strength by ten, which is an overwhelming difference, thus making them the most important attack forces in Soul Society. In addition, the Captains are usually quite skilled with their Bankai, as they’ve trained very much with them unless they’re recently appointed.
Most of the captains also have extensive experience in other combat disciplines, such as Kidō or Shunpo, and are highly knowledgeable about the history and organization of the Seireitei, as well as having a great sense of strategy. All these factors create an abysmal difference in power between the captains and the rest of the Shinigami in their charge.
When a position becomes vacant, there are three different ways to become a captain of the Gotei 13:
- Captain Proficiency Test (隊首, taishu): This requires displaying one’s Bankai in front of two or more captains and the Commander General himself.
- Personal Recommendation: Be recommended for the position by at least six captains and the approval of three others.
- Trial by Combat: Defeat a captain in front of 200 or more witnesses from the same Division. This method is the rarest of all, and of the current generation of captains, only Kenpachi Zaraki has become one this way.
Before the events of the Soul Society Saga, the positions of the thirteen Captains were held by eleven men and two women. However, in this same arc, the Captains of Divisions 3, 5, and 9 have betrayed the Gotei 13 and have become dangerous enemies, leaving their positions vacant. A the end of the Lost Agent Arcm it can be seen that those positions have been filled by former captains Rōjūrō Otoribashi, Shinji Hirako, and Kensei Muguruma respectively.
During the Quincy Blood War arc, the positions of the 4th, 7th, 8th, and 13th divisions are vacated and later occupied, by the end of the saga, by the previous lieutenants Isane Kotetsu, Tetsuzaemon Iba, Lisa Yadōmaru, and Rukia Kuchiki.