Despite the fact that the Lost Agent arc, also known as the Fullbringer arc, is considered by many to be the worst Bleach arc, it was nevertheless very important from a narrative standpoint and it had a lot of influence on future events, so much that some of the characters from this arc made a return in the final arc of the series. In this article, we are going to explain how the Fullbringers from Bleach came back to the story although a lot of them actually died during the Fullbringer arc.
Since the Fullbringers were human, those who perished during the final battle against the members of the Gotei 13 actually went into Soul Society and, as it turned out, the ones in question were Kūgo Ginjō, Shūkurō Tsukishima, and Giriko Kutsuzawa. They all ended up in Rukongai and were saved by Kūkaku Shiba, who trained them so that they could fight the Wandenreich and help Ichigo later.
The rest of this article is going to be divided into two sections. The first one is going to bring you a recapt of the fates of the characters in question, while the second one is going to tell you how they survived and came back during the Quincy War arc. There are going to be some major spoilers in this article, so be careful.
How did the Fullbringers die in Bleach?
Kūgo first appeared 17 months after Ichigo’s victory over Sosuke Aizen, in which the latter lost his Shinigami powers. He followed Ichigo for a while and then offered to help him protect his friends, who had been chased by an unknown attacker carrying Zanpakuto, and also to restore his powers. Ichigo trains with the group called Xcution and manages to restore his powers. But just when he thought Ginjō was his friend, the latter betrayed him and revealed himself as the true villain who just wanted Ichigo to restore his powers so he could take them from him and then take revenge on the Gotei 13.
After getting his powers back, Ichigo realizes that his powers are the result of the Reiatsu of all the officers of the Gotei 13. The four members of Xcution reach the battlefield and Ginjo, as agreed, grants them a part of Ichigo’s power, although Riruka didn’t want it. Yukio, thanks to his new powers, divides the fighters into separate environments: the couples thus formed are Yukio-Toshiro, Ikkaku-Shishigawara, Kenpachi-Giriko, Byakuya-Tsukishima, Riruka-Rukia, and Renji-Jackie.
Ichigo continues to fight with Ginjo instead. Uryu, after being cured by Rukia, joins the fight between Ichigo and Ginjo, apologizing to the former for not having communicated his theories on a possible previous substitute shinigami, gained after listening to Captain Ukitake’s story on the substitute shinigami crest.
Byakuya defines Tsukishima’s power as “despicable”, Ikkaku recovers without problems from a blow by Shishigawara, Zaraki kills Giriko with one cut, and Renji knocks Jackie down with a single blow of Zabimaru’s handle but refuses to kill her. Yukio is joined in his coordination room by Toshiro, who, after defeating him, offers him to save his life in exchange for canceling Invaders Must Die. Ikkaku manages to defeat Shishigawara with his bare hands.
Meanwhile, Tsukishima and Byakuya have now understood each other’s powers, and the Fullbringer manages to use Book of the End on the battlefield, creating various traps, on Senbonzakura and on Byakuya himself. Riruka manages to trap Rukia in a stuffed bunny and explains to her the reasons that prompted the members of Xcution to follow Ginjo, i.e. no longer wanting to be a minority. Rukia states that she understands her point of view, but still she cannot allow her friends to be endangered; Riruka then pulls her out of the puppet, uses a strange technique, and disappears.
Byakuya uses the Bankai to try to hit Tsukishima even when he is inside the “safe zone” (an area of about 85 cm in diameter within which, for Byakuya’s safety, Senbonzakura’s blades do not enter), but ends up seriously injuring his arm: in reality, Byakuya, with this ruse, manages to grab some of Senbonzakura’s blades and to quickly pierce Tsukishima in the chest, who instead expected the captain to pass to Kido.
Uryu realizes that Ginjo has not only stolen Ichigo’s Fullbring, but also part of his reiatsu and probably all of his abilities: for this reason, Ginjo manages to throw a Getsuga Tensho against Ichigo. The six shinigami sent by the Soul Society gather, but Yukio is unable to eliminate the dimension in which Ichigo and Ginjo are fighting because, after exchanging part of his powers with him, he has set the constraint that Yukio would not intervene unless of an explicit order.
Ginjo, referring to Ichigo the defeat of Tsukishima and the outcome that the latter’s death would have (that is, the return to normality of the memories of the victims of Book of the End), reveals to him that the Substitute Shinigami emblem is nothing other than a tool with which the Soul Society absorbs, analyzes and controls his reiatsu: not, therefore, the recognition of Ichigo’s authority, but a vulgar leash with which to control him; he also points to Captain Ukitake as responsible for all of this.
Ichigo, enraged, resorts to Bankai, which, with his reiatsu alone, manages to break the dimension of Invaders Must Die; the substitute Shinigami acknowledges that he had doubts about Ukitake, but also that if he had wanted to deceive him he would have succeeded anyway. Ginjo, then, also resorts to Bankai. The captains decide to return to Soul Society as they have verified that Ichigo, despite Ginjo’s revelations, is still the same.
Ichigo finally manages to defeat Ginjo, but a revived Tsukishima tries to attack him from behind: Riruka, who had hidden inside Rukia, stands between the two. She then suggests that Tsukishima face reality: Ginjo had saved them, but they hadn’t been able to do the same, while Ichigo had. Yukio, once freed, meets Jackie, now deprived of her powers, after she buried Giriko. Shishigawara carries Tsukishima away, while Riruka wakes up next to Orihime after being saved by Urahara, then flees.
How are Ginjō and the other Fullbringers alive in Bleach?
First of all, we have to state that not all of the Fullbringers perished in the penultimate arc of Bleach; the surviving ones, some of them at least, returned later in the story as allies of Soul Society, although they were not dead. The ones that survived include Riruka Dokugamine, Jackie Tristan (who lost her Fullbring), Yukio Hans Vorarlberna, and Moe Shishigawara. The ones that died are, thus, Kūgo Ginjō, Giriko Kutsuzawa, and Shūkurō Tsukishima. So, how did they come back?
Well, this is actually very easy to explain. Namely, all the Fullbringers were actually humans in essence and those that died, of course, became Souls, which is the natural order of things. Since all three that died at the hands of a Shinigami – Ginjō was killed by Ichigo, Tsukishima by Byakuya, and Giriko by Kenpachi – their Souls were automatically purified and sent to Soul Society, where they came back as Souls.
They were reincarnated in the Rukongai District and found by Kūkaku Shiba, who saved them, took them in, and trained them so that they could repay their debt to Ichigo and help the Soul Society fight off the Wandenreich. So, what exactly happened to them?
After their deaths, their Souls, as we have said, came to Soul Society. There, they were found by Kūkaku Shiba, who brought them to her home; Tsukishima and Giriko Kutsuzawa were brought first, while Ginjō came a bit later. Together they trained together with Ganju. After Wandenreich’s attack on Soul Society, Ichigo was taken with the Royal Guard by Kukka to the Soul King’s realm. After doing this, she said that Ganjo and the rest should continue training since they would participate in the next match, whereupon Ganjo, Ginjo, Tsukishima, and Giriko made their way to the training hall.