Why Did the Shinigami Kill the Quincy in Bleach?
The Quincy and the Shinigami are two of the four major factions in the world of Tite Kubo’s Bleach. And while they do share the same goal of stopping the Hollows from causing harm, their view on the issue is completely different, which is why these two factions don’t like each other that much. Centuries ago, the Shinigami wiped out the Quincy because of their policies, and in this article, we are going to explain why that happened and why the two groups are at war with each other.
The Shinigami had to wipe out almost all the Quincy because their existence and their policies threatened the balance of the worlds. The Quincy did not want to give up completely eradicating the Hollows, which would’ve led to an imbalance in the number of Souls and the living, which – in turn – would lead to the collapse of the boundary between Soul Society and the Human World, so the Shinigami had to eliminate them to save the world.
The rest of this article is going to be a story about the two warring sides of Bleach‘s final arc – the Quincy War. We are going to tell you all the known information about the Shinigami and the Quincy, as well as why the two sides are at war with each other. There are going to be some spoilers ahead, so be careful how you approach the article.
Why did the Shinigami kill the Quincy?
To understand the roots of this conflict, we actually have to go back to the basic elements of these two groups. The Quincy are humans with high Spiritual Pressure who long ago learned to use the spiritual particles around them as weapons to ward off the Hollow’s frequent attacks, which were lured by their high Reiatsu. Unlike the Shinigami, Quincy completely wiped out the Hollow, which, if destroyed excessively, upsets the balance of souls in the world.
On the other hand, Shinigami are souls whose bodies have already died. Shinigami live in Soul Society and cannot be seen by most humans, which is an advantage since they are so free to roam the human world. Normal Souls can only become Shinigami if they pass several tests and attend the academy, among other things, but this can also be omitted in some cases.
The Shinigami are called “Balancers” because they oversee the balance of Souls in Soul Society and in the World of the Living. This is an essential function, as the number of Souls has to be completely balanced out in order to preserve the stability between life and death. This is why they rarely destroy Hollows; they cleanse them through the Konsō and thus restore the balance.
Now, this is an essential difference between the Quincy and the Shinigami. They both work towards the same goal – defeating the Hollows and keeping the humans safe – but their methods are radically different and have different consequences. Now, this wouldn’t be an issue if Quincy didn’t actually threaten the world through their actions. But, the issue with the Quincy is that their leader, Yhwach, thinks that Life and Death should be one and that there should not be a difference between the world of the dead and the world of the living.
Yhwach thinks that the two worlds should be one and that such an ideal world would rid humans of their fear of death. This is why he hates the Soul King, who is actually the creator of such a world and whose presence keeps the two worlds separated. Now, Yamamoto did defeat Yhwach 1,000 years ago, but he was not able to kill him, which is why Mayuri Kurotsuchi scolded him when they found out that some Quincy still lived (this happened when Ishida entered Soul Society with Ichigo to save Rukia).
Now, this difference is the root of all the issues between the two factions. Back in history, the Shinigami tried to reason with the Quincy. Numerous talks were held between the two factions, but the Quincy would not yield. It was an ideological question and while the Shinigami tried to reason with them end explain that the two worlds needed to be separate for their own safety, as it was unnatural for life and death to coexist in one single world, the Quincy simply did not share their views.
Their ideology did not allow them to see through the arguments of the Shinigami, and the two sides couldn’t really reconcile. The Shinigami did not want the Quincy to stop fighting the Hollows, they wanted them to stop killing them completely, but the Quincy did not want to do that because – as per Yhwach’s teachings – it was the natural thing to do.
Endless debates were held in Soul Society and these debates lasted for a while before the Shinigami ultimately decided to do what they did – they had to eradicate the Quincy. The Shinigami did not enjoy it, far from it, it was a painful decision but they thought it was a necessary one. Hidetomo Kajōmaru said that both sides were just in such a war and that it has always been a question of perspective rather than anything else. The main issue is that the Quincy did not want to change, whereas the Shinigami knew that they simply could not do it, because it would lead to the Collapse of the Worlds, i.e., the destruction of existence as we know it.
The Shinigami are believed to have wiped out most if not all the Quincy. They knew that Yhwach was still there, but they never knew that so many of them were left. Some of the Quincy, led by Ishida’s grandfather, wanted to reconcile with the Shinigami; they wanted to find a middle path in order for the two factions to coexist in peace, but the Quincy had always been more radical than the Shinigami, which is why complete reconciliation was not possible and why the Sternritter attacked the Shinigami with such force after Yhwach’s resurrection.
Luckily, the Quincy were ultimately defeated thanks to Ichigo’s help. Ichigo serves as a filter for all the ideological standpoints in the story. He shunned the conservative views of the Shinigami initially and although he was a Substitute Shinigami, he rejected their rigidness and helped them change. He also rejected Aizen’s megalomania instantly, despite everything he found out about himself, his family, and his life. And he ultimately rejected the radical views of the Quincy, despite actually being one of them thanks to his mother’s lineage. This is why Ichigo’s role in the story was so important from the very beginning.