Bleach (manga) - Plot

Plot

See also: List of Bleach characters

Ichigo Kurosaki is a teenager gifted with the ability to see spirits. His life is drastically changed by the sudden appearance of a Soul Reaper—one who governs the flow of souls between the human world and the afterlife—named Rukia Kuchiki, who arrives in search of a Hollow, a dangerous lost soul that absorbs energy from souls. When Rukia is severely wounded defending Ichigo from the Hollow, she attempts to transfer a part of her reiatsu (霊圧?, literally, "spiritual pressure") energy to Ichigo so that he can defeat the Hollow. However, Ichigo takes almost all of her energy, transforming into a Soul Reaper and allowing him to defeat the Hollow with ease. With her powers diminished, Rukia is left stranded in the human world until she can recover her strength. In the meantime, Ichigo must take over Rukia's role as a Soul Reaper, battling Hollows and guiding souls to the afterlife realm known as the Soul Society (尸魂界 (ソウル·ソサエティ), Sōru Sosaeti?).

As some time passes and Rukia has yet to return to the Soul Society, her Soul Reaper superiors learn about her whereabouts and actions and sentence her to death for performing the illegal act of transferring her powers. This however had ended with two high ranking Soul Reapers (Shimigami) injuring Ichigo and taking Rukia to their world The Soul Society. (Although he is unable to stop Rukia's departure to the Soul Society, Ichigo resolves to rescue her with the aid of several of his spiritually aware classmates, Orihime Inoue, Yasutora (Chad) Sado, and Uryū Ishida, and the ex-Soul Reapers Yoruichi Shihōin and Kisuke Urahara. Once in Soul Society, Ichigo and company battle against the elites of the Soul Reaper military and strive to reach Rukia before her execution.

It is revealed that Rukia's execution and Ichigo's rescue attempt both had been manipulated by a very high-ranking Soul Reaper, Sōsuke Aizen, who was previously believed to have been murdered, as part of a far-reaching plot to take control of the Soul Society. Aizen betrays his fellow Soul Reapers and allies himself with the strongest of the Hollows, the Espadas, whom he enhances. Aizen thus becomes the main antagonist of the series, and the Soul Reapers form an alliance with Ichigo.

At this point, Bleach chronicles the war between the Soul Reapers, the Espadas, and Aizen. After Aizen defeats the Soul Reaper captains, Ichigo undergoes intense training with his father Isshin, who turns out to be a former Soul Reaper, in order to become strong enough to battle Aizen alone. As Aizen is weakened by his battle with Ichigo, a spell that Urahara had previously hidden within him activates and seals him, thus ending the conflict and leaving the Soul Society to imprison him. As a result of using an incredibly powerful attack in order to defeat Aizen, Ichigo loses all of his Spiritual Pressure and becomes an ordinary human.

Seventeen months later, Ichigo meets "Xcution", a group of humans possessing Fullbring powers based on Hollows and want Ichigo to absorb them. Ichigo starts training to regain his Soul Reaper powers by first developing his own Fullbring following the appearance of Shūkurō Tsukishima, the former leader of Xcution who is targeting his friends. After developing his Fullbring, Ichigo is betrayed by Xcution's current leader Kūgo Ginjō, a former Substitute Soul Reaper who had his memories rewritten to act as Tsukishima's enemy and help Ichigo gain powers to steal them. With help from Soul Society, Ichigo regains his Soul Reaper powers and starts fighting Ginjō's group alongside Soul Society's forces. The Soul Society forces end victorious with Ichigo defeating Ginjō and presumably killing Tsukishima.

Following these events, a group of Quincies called the "Vandenreich" declares war on the Soul Society. Ichigo once again ventures to Hueco Mundo, which has also been invaded by the Vandenreich; at the same time, the captains in the Soul Society battle a powerful group in the Vandenreich army known as the "Stern Ritter". During the invasion several Captains had their bankai stolen by the Stern Ritter. Meanwhile Captain Yamamoto took revenge on the Quincy who stole Sasakibe's bankai and then immediately sought out their leader who he identified as "Juha Bach" who up till now was referred to by the other Quincy as "His Majesty". Despite using his bankai to attempt to kill him, Juha surprises Yamamoto by stealing his bankai, then instantly kills him using his abilities. Ichigo then arrives to take on Juha Bach and has his bankai subsequently destroyed and origins called into question. During the aftermath, the Royal Guard arrive to take Ichigo and several of his comrades to the Spirit Palace.

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