Song of the Blog: [Love, Lust, and Liars] by I Prevail
Today's blog is on everyone's favorite stone-cold Shinigami, Captain Byakuya Kuchicki. Captain of the 6th Division of the Gotei 13 and head of the Kuchiki Family, one of the Four Noble Families of Soul Society, Byakuya is one of the most powerful Shinigami known to readers. The first major antagonist of the series, Byakuya came to blows with Ichigo and crew when his sister, Rukia Kuchiki was trapped in the human world. He captured her, and oversaw her pending execution. After being defeated by Ichigo Kurosaki during the end stages of the latter's invasion of Soul Society, he later grew to become one of Ichigo's staunchest allies, aiding him in his battles against the Arrancar, Fullbringers, and most recently the Vandenreich. His Shikai, Senbonzakura, splits his sword into thousands of small blades which he can manipulate at range, while his Bankai, Senbonzakura Kageyoshi, multiplies these blades an untold number of times while also allowing him to manipulate them through techniques such as Senkei, Gōkei, and Shūkei: Hakuteiken. He is most well known for his pride, which he will defend with violence if needed.
Byakuya is, ironically, the most dynamic of all Shinigami characters. Beginning as a young, impetuous boy who was good friends with Yoruichi Shihōin, he aged into a distant nobleman. He fell in love with a poor woman from the Rukongai, Hisana, and wed her despite her low class. Byakuya swore on his parents' graves that this would be the last time he defied the laws and expectations of Soul Society. Hisana soon became gravely ill, and on her deathbed, Byakuta promised to adopt her young sister Rukia, who still dwelt in Rukongai, and to protect her with his life.
Ultimately, these two oaths would conflict when he was forced to capture his adoptive sister, who was seen as a criminal and traitor to the Gotei 13. Would he uphold the law, or save his sister. Byakuya sided with the law, seeming uncaring towards his sister's plight. It was not until Ichigo convinced him that he was upholding an unjust law that he relented and assisted in saving Rukia, protecting her and guiding her with redoubled devotion as she rose through the ranks of the 13th Division.
Byakuya's pride is his driving force. His initial oath to his parents was compelled by his pride in the nobility he represented. His battles with Ichigo were fueled by his pride in his status as captain. His pride as a warrior led him to defeat Zommari Rureaux without mercy, clash with Kenpachi Zaraki multiple times, and cut down Shūkurō Tsukishima. Most recently, his pride was shaken as a result of his near death from his own stolen Bankai at the hands of Äs Nödt. He trained with the Royal Guard in the hopes of defeating the Vandenreich and restoring his pride, becoming powerful enough to defeat Sternritter as powerful as Liltotto Lamperd, Meninas McAllon, NaNaNa Najahkoop, and Robert Accutrone, and later assisting in the fight against the Schutzstaffel Gerard Valkyrie. Pride also molds the use of his Bankai: he only uses Bankai against worthy fighters, and limits the use of Senkei to those whom he has deemed worthy of dying by his hands. He refrains from using his secret technique, Ikkasen Jenka, unless absolutely necessary because he values the pride of a fair fight, and his Shūkei: Hakuteiken form is said to be the blade of his pride.
Captain Kuchiki is also known for his synergy with his comrades. He fights effectively with the likes of Zaraki, bringing down Yammy Llargo, and worked cooperatively with Rukia against Äs, and with Renji Abarai, Zaraki, and Tōshirō Hitsugaya against Gerard. This shows quite the remarkable change in the distant man's personality, as he know respects the contributions of his allies to a far greater extent.
Lastly, Kuchiki is famed as an adaptive fighter. He regularly incorporates Kidō into his fighting style to catch foes off guard, uses Shunkō to gain any advantage, and modifies his Bankai usage to overcome all odds. The best example of this is his fight with Tsukishima, where he willingly allowed himself to be gravely injured in order to defeat his foe with a surprising, unpredictable maneuver.
Kuchiki's development is representative of the second major theme of Bleach: anyone and everyone is capable of change and growth. This is depicted through positive changes like Byakuya's and negative changes such as the deceptions of Sōsuke Aizen. Bleach as a whole tends to put more emphasis on the former, being a shōnen series after all, and no one proves this more than Byakuya, the greatest enemy turned strongest ally. Byakuya's redemption is one of the turning points of the story, shaking the narrative as greatly as Aizen's betrayal, his later defeat, and the Vandenreich invasion. If even Byakuya can be swayed, nothing is impossible.
That's all I have. Hope y'all enjoyed it. Byakuya is one of my favorite Shinigami by far, and I hope to hear what you all think about him. On a side note, next installment is number 15, and will actually be two blogs. Care to guess who they're on?