So today, we’ve woken up to some very unexpected developments with the latest issue of Weekly Shonen Jump revealing to us a full manga color spread drawn by Kubo as he has finally depicted the original Gotei 13. For over 10 years, the only image that we had depicting the Gotei 13 was this blurred, silhouetted image from chapter 511.
Now, in general, the history of the Gotei 13 remains much of a mystery, but we do know that the organization was founded by Head Captain Yamamoto, and he has always been the leader of it, maintaining his position as the captain of the First Division since its inception. Now, this very first iteration of the Gotei 13, there are two captains that we can recognize. There’s, of course, Head Captain Yamamoto and Unahanaratsu, but there are 11 other individuals on this page, and hopefully, I’m going to go over each of them and try to make some educated guesses as to what division they’ll be leading.
Shunsui in chapter 523 had referred to this iteration of the Gotei 13 to be the strongest within its history. You are back in chapter 511 had described this version of the Gotei 13 as defenders only in name because it was made up of a group of nothing but merciless killers. Some have even described the individuals of this original Gotei 13 to be criminals.
We know that Unohana was, in fact, a criminal who was recruited by Yamamoto. It was because of the unforgiving, merciless nature of this original Gotei 13 that they were feared by anybody who had come across them or heard about them. The only individual who could command a group of lawless individuals was the ruthless Head Captain Yamamoto, who was far more cruel and pragmatic than he is in his present-day iteration. This version of Head Captain Yamamoto, contrasting the cared very little for his subordinates, even deeming them to be expendable.
This version of the original Gotei 13 had undergone some drastic changes after the Quincy were defeated a thousand years ago. This had to be done in order to usher in a new age of peace, especially after they had realized that they have things to protect and cherish, and they can no longer go around in this ruthless, merciless manner, making enemies out of everybody. This image of the original 13 was initially leaked and posted in this very blurry resolution, and it is described as a new Bleach Thousand Year Blue Arc ProStar from Weekly Shonen Jump, and it’s of the original Gotei 13.
Now, thanks to James Hansen, we’ve got a higher resolution version of this image where we can properly see each of the individuals. We can now actually try to speculate a bit more about each of these characters and try to think about what kind of divisions they’d be leading.
So, front and center, you’ve got Head Captain Yamamoto, and we’ve seen several versions of the head captain from this era through flashbacks within the anime and the manga, particularly the flashback involving the character of Jojiro Sasukebe and some flashbacks of him during Yamamoto’s battle against Johor bark.
So there is nothing really new with this character design, but it is to be noted that he has two scars on his head. If you recall during the flashback involving Sasukebe, which are taking place 2,000 years ago, Yamamoto only had one scar on his forehead. That is until Sasakibe had activated his Bankai and had given him a second scar which resembles the Japanese character “Jew.”
So, this is one thousand years after that event after Yamamoto was done teaching the students to become Shinigami and some of the students would have graduated from his school and would have ended up becoming some of the captains that we see here on this page. So, next up we’re going to turn our attention over to this dark-skinned female character who has white hair, golden eyes, and some iconic accessories which lead me to believe that she belongs to the Shihoin family or she is an ancestor of Yorichi Shihowen.
Maybe she’s Yorichi’s mother, but I definitely think that she belongs to that royal family. The golden irises are a dead giveaway, as well as the Purple Rope that decorates her zanpakuto. Usually, these kinds of accessories Kubo only gives to characters when they are from that Noble lineage, so I’m going to assume that this Shihoin family ancestor is the leader of the second division.
Following up from this, we’ve got this character on the top right-hand side of the page, and it doesn’t help that this individual is pretty obscured so you can’t really tell much of him or her, but I’m going to assume that this individual is the leader of the third division as they kind of remind me of Rose.
Next up, we’ve got a character on the other side of the page on the top left-hand corner, and this is somebody who looks very similar to Momo with her glasses and her tied-up hair. And because of her appearance alone, I’m going to assume that she’s leading the fourth division, who are, of course, known for their healing techniques.
Now, we know that a lot of the members of the zero division had been promoted into that rank after they had performed some sort of incredible feat within the Gotei 13.
So, this girl with the glasses may have been the first leader of the fourth division prior to Tanjiro Karinji, who was known for his incredible healing techniques and who had later gone on to join the zero division where we end up seeing his hot springs heal the bodies of Byakuya, Rukia, and Renji during the Thousand Year Blood War Arc following the first invasion of the Quincy. So, yeah, this individual from appearance alone, I’m just going to assume she leads the fourth division.
When I look at all of these characters, there’s only really one individual who I think would lead the fifth division, and it’s somebody who usually excels at everything. Now, the former leaders of the fifth division have been individuals like Shinji Hirako and Sasuke Eisen, so I’m going to assume that this stereotypical slicked-back glasses-wearing individual here with the green hair is the leader of the fifth division.
And then we have the sixth division. This is a group who has notably been run by the Kuchiki family, so I believe that this individual is an ancestor of the Kuchiki family. The captain of the sixth division is usually somebody who sets the standard for all of the rules that are heavily enforced within the Gotei 13.
They are the model example for all divisions to follow, and it makes sense why somebody from the noble Kuchiki family would lead this division. They are usually depicted as individuals who are very well composed and elegant, like Byakuya Kuchiki. So, yeah, this individual wearing this straw hat and I think this glove on their hand where they’re holding their zanpakuto, I think this is an ancestor of the Kuchiki family.
Okay, so this is where I’m probably going to get some of these wrong.
Next up, we’ve got this individual who’s wearing the glasses, and I’m just going to make an educated guess that this individual may be leading the seventh Division, and this division was formerly led by individuals like Love Komomura and most recently Tetsu Simon Eber. Now, this division typically runs on the ethos of having very strong morals and having compassion for others.
What I love about this drawing that Kubo has drawn is that each of the characters have activated their shikai, and we can see the unique forms of their zambakto. And this bald, glasses-wearing individual has a very unique shikai as it’s all black with these circular bumps running up it.
When I’d seen this individual, I just had a bit of a feeling that they might fit well into the seventh division as they look like somebody who’s very strong in their morals. But I will say that they do have some strange facial hair with the mustache and the beard combination going on there, so hopefully, we get to see more of this individual in the seventh episode of the Thousand Year Blood Work anime.
Next up, we have this really old dude, and I’m going to admit I’d assigned him the position as the eighth Captain due to process of elimination, and I don’t really know where he would actually go. So the eighth division has famously been led by individuals like Shunsui and is most recently being led by his then Lieutenant Lisa.
So this really old guy looks like he’s about to kick the bucket. I wonder what his connection with Head Captain Yamamoto is because clearly, he’s the oldest of the bunch here, but Yamamoto is actually leading the team. So it would be interesting to learn more about how Yamamoto had recruited this individual into the original Gotai 13.
Next up, we’ve got another character who’s very front and center, and Kubo has thankfully revealed to us a lot of details about his character design. We can see that he’s very skinny with his frail arms, and as we follow up the length of his arm, you can see that he has some injuries on his wrist and his hands that are covered up with gloves. Now, when I was thinking about this individual, there’s only one real division that they could have fit into, and that’s the ninth division, which has famously been led by individuals like Kensei.
This division is known as the Protectors of the Serote, and they involve themselves in combat, and in most recent times, they are in charge of these cerate news magazine. But I highly doubt that this character is going to be taking care of any magazines with this furry scarf, his decrepit appearance. You can see even his rib cage, and if Unohana wasn’t on the page, I would have assumed that this individual was, in fact, one of the Kimpachis. So yeah, furry scarf guy is the leader of the ninth division, I’m predicting.
And then we’ve got a pretty unique character design, and I refer to him as “On God guy” because of these blue and golden arm gods that he is wearing. Initially, this had reminded me a lot of Byakuya’s angas that he wears, and then they gave me this idea that this individual may be linked to a noble family. Now, upon initial inspection, he does look like he belongs to the Omaida family, who we know is a noble family, but they’re not very high-ranking.
Now, following this train of thought, I kind of believe that this individual here is a descendant of the Shiba family, and this is because of the position that I believe that they fell within the original Gotei 13. As I believe this character to be the leader of the 10th Division, this is a division that was famously led by individuals like Ishin and Hitsugaya, so yeah, hopefully, this is an ancestor of the Shiba Clan and he’s related to Kukaku Shiba, Ganju, and Kain Shiba in some way.
It will be pretty interesting to find out. So of course, you’ve got Unohana towering over all of the other captains here. We know that she was referred to as the first Kenpachi, so it makes sense that she’d be leading none other than the 11th Division.
And again, this is clearly a younger version of Unohana, and I think Kubo almost done an excellent job of depicting this within a character design because I feel like some of the younger iterations of Unohana that he had drawn in flashbacks within the Thousand-Year Blood War Arc had felt like she still retained the same appearance, but this character design here is definitely a lot younger. So then we move on to this individual in the back with the red markings on his face, with the two long ponytails coming out.
I believe this character to be the leader of the Research and Development Institute, the 12th Division. Now, this is a division that has in the past been led by individuals like Kiryo Hikifune, Urahara, and Mayuri. Now I wonder if Kiryo Hikifune was actually in the 12th Division at this time, whether if she was this character’s lieutenant or a lower-seated officer.
Now, the character design for this individual is ripped straight out of chapter 511, as we see them here in the back with Yamamoto there front and center, Unohana to the left of him, and right behind him, this individual who I believe is the leader of the 12th Division. And I think on the right of Yamamoto here, I think you’ve got the furry scarf guy, and you can’t really make out any of the other individuals through this image that we have in chapter 511.
But yeah, coming back to the image, it’s just an educated guess and through process of elimination, but I think yeah, this character will be leading the 12th Division. And last but not least, this girl with this petite form who resembles individuals like Hiori or even Ruruka. She’s got these two long ponytails on the side of her head and her iconic purple hair, and what is to be noted is that she’s got a bandage around her head along with this eye patch over her left eye.
I love how Kubo has drawn the different hilts of the Zanpakuto. Each of them looks incredibly unique, but when it comes to this purple head girl, I think just my process of elimination, I think she’d be leading the 13th Division. I could be wrong with all of these guesses, but it’s just through looking at them, trying to guess what the divisions of the Gotei 13 look like at the moment, and assuming which of these Gotei 13 members would be leading them.
Now all of these are incredible character designs. I really do hope that we get to see more of these individuals in the seventh episode. I’m just so jaw-dropped that Kubo has dropped a full-color manga spread. Has Kubo actually drawn the original Gotei 13 for the Thousand-Year Border anime?
Has he done this for Brave Souls, or has he done this for the upcoming Hell Arc? Now, we know through the special one-shot chapter “New Breeds from Hell” that the prior captains of the Gotei 13 have been sent to Hell. So, is Kubo introducing us to these individuals by the anime and then he’s going to drop them into the new manga Arc? I think this is the most likely reason as to why he’s finally dropped these character designs.
It’s just something that I wasn’t expecting to wake up to today, even years after the conclusion of the Bleach manga. Kubo is still an excellent character designer who’s come up with this incredible cast of characters who I want to learn so much more about. You’ve already got some memes dropping on the internet with people asking what on Earth is Kubo cooking, and all of us can now begin speculating. So, definitely continue the discussion in the comments.
Let me know all of your thoughts about this incredible full-color manga spread of the original Gotei 13. Do you think that it’s linked to the Bleach Thousand Year Blood War Arc anime, as we’re going to have a flashback in the next episode? Or do you think that Kubo has larger intentions with this image, and he’s going to include these characters within the Hell Arc? I’m really looking forward to reading all of your comments, so definitely continue the discussion. And lastly, thank you for making it to the end of this blog, and I can’t wait to see you in my next Bleach blog.
That’s me, Andreea Blaga, author of the blog anime-everything.com. I work as a content creator in the US. I am also passionate about Japanese Anime.