The origin of BleachThe Gotei 13’s have always been shrouded in mystery. The events of the “Thousand Year Blood War” arc revealed that two captains still serving in the ranks to this day, Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto and Retsu Unohana, had been part of the original lineup. The other eleven captains remained unknown. The only evidence offered to fans was an evil-looking cropped image. However, with the release of the new official Tite Kubo artwork of the original Gotei 13, all that has changed.
Six years after the Bleach By the manga’s conclusion, Kubo has shown his indisputable skill in unique character design. Each member of the original Gotei 13 is markedly different from the next; they are even very different from the gigantic cast of the current Bleach series, with just a couple of similarities. The artwork also carries a certain air of tone, oozing an unpleasant darkness and evil, unlike the other Captain spreads he’s drawn. From this design and tone, you can read a lot about the characterization of the infamous original Gotei 13.
The fierce appearance of the ancient Gotei 13
The historically brutal nature of Yamamoto and Unohana Unchained is explored during the Thousand Year Blood War, with his treatment of Yhwach and the former Quincy army as the catalyst for Yhwach’s return 1000 years later. From the exhibition and the imagery in the Bleach manga and recent episodes of anime, at least with regards to Yamamoto, it’s clear that they were once savage killers. With this new piece of art, Kubo has given fans an idea of what the original assassins who the Quincys feared looked like. At first glance, they have a great mix of body sizes, gender, ages, etc., although there is certainly a recurring theme.
Each and every Captain has been drawn to have an air of dread about them. Those who are smiling have a sadistic implication to their smiles. For those who are stern, there is a strange arrogance when they look down on anyone who comes their way. The outlier comes in the first of the bespectacled woman on the far left, though her appearance resembles that of Nanao Ise, and could have some connection to the origins of the Ise Curse. Overall, this new artwork expresses a completely different, drenched in darkness feel compared to the other current Captains full expanses.
There were only two captains left in the new era of Bleach
The nature of the original Gotei 13, which has been expressed in Bleach and implied through this artwork, it could have been his downfall. Aside from Yamamoto and Unohana, none survived to this day, nor can any of the current Zero Division be seen in the lineup.
Many of the Captains may have wanted to remain in the violent history from which Soul Society was born, though Yamamoto’s dream of a more stable society clashed with his feelings. These monstrous former allies of the Captain Commander could have become his enemies in a changing world. For most of his appearances, he feels like violence is the only language they’ll understand.
Bleach fans receiving this artwork now could hint at the possible progression of the “Hell” arc, where all captains go when they die, or perhaps some future anime-only material. Either way, this perspective offers a chance to explore how the blood of the Captain’s enemies watered the land and how his violent dominance ensured the foundation for Soul Society fans to know and love.