In Japanese culture, Shinigami is referred to as a death god. Like the grim reaper in western culture, these spirits of death guide souls from the living world to the hereafter.
Shinigami takes on many different forms in anime and manga, usually as main characters that act as servants of death.
In bleach, Shinigami are referred to as soul reapers. They play the role of a Japanese samurai that maintains peace and order in the afterlife by regulating and governing souls.
They also purify the realm of the living by eradicating the monstrous soul-eating spirit known as hollows.
The Gotei 13 (13 Division Imperial Guard) serves as the military order of the Shinigami. And like any military force, they use ranks to determine the position and responsibilities of Shinigamis.
Gotei 13 Ranks in Order
The Gotei 13 is a corps that has done away with the seniority-based rank structure in favor of a merit-based hierarchy that is based on evidence of ability, experience, and power.
Below is a list of the ranks from lowest to highest.
- Academy Student
- Substitute Shinigami
- Seated Officers
- Captain Commander
6. Academy Student
The Shinigami Academy is an institution that trains souls with spiritual powers for the Shinigami military forces.
The shinigami academy accepts applications from everyone. To be admitted, applicants must, however, pass an entrance exam and provide proof of having some spiritual energy.
Students at the academy learn how to control and use their Reiatsu and Shinigami combat forms (Hakuda, Hoho, Kido, and Zanjutsu). They also learn how to conduct Soul Burials and interact with the spirit of their Zanpakuto (sword).
The curriculum at the Institution is taught over six years, however, extraordinarily talented students like Tshiro Hitsugaya, Kaien Shiba, and Gin Ichimaru have been known to graduate from the academy earlier.
Upon completion of the Academy’s coursework, students are expected to apply to join a Gotei 13 division or other forces of the Shinigami.
5. Substitute Shinigami
A Substitute Shinigami is birthed when a Shinigami plunges his/her zanpakutou into a human’s heart.
The likelihood of success is low. However, if successful, the person often gains access to only a temporary portion of the shinigami’s power.
However, in the case of Ichigo Kurosaki, he absorbed the entire powers of Shinigami Rukia Kuchiki due to his innate spiritual pressure.
This practice is forbidden by the Soul Society and attracts a death sentence as proved by Rukia’s punishment.
But when it happens, the substitute shinigami is invited to soul society and given a special badge that monitors and restrict the substitute.
There are only two Substitute Shinigami in the history of soul society, Ichigo Kurosaki and Kugo Ginjo.
Gujo evolved into a villain, whilst Ichigo grew to become the series’ resilient protagonist.
4. Seated Officers
Graduates from the Shinigami academy apply to join the Gotei force.
This application is reviewed and accepted by one of the 13 divisions, assigning them to the rank of the seated officer.
Seated officers are members of a division numbered from rank three down to twenty.
They are somewhat correspondent to junior and non-commissioned officers of real-life military forces.
Seated officers are usually strong and well-versed in the art of hakuda, hoho, kido, and zanjutsu. They also usually have a shikai, the first upgraded form of a Zanpakuto.
These officers work their way up to become a lieutenant by getting stronger and completing missions.
Lieutenants can also be regarded as the vice-captain. They serve as a division’s second-in-command and the captain’s right hand.
The lieutenant is in command of the division while the captain is away until the captain returns or a replacement is appointed.
They can be identified by a distinctive badge strapped to their left arm that bears the symbol of their division.
Lieutenants generally have access to their zanpaktou’s shikai alone (except for Renji Abarai who can use bankai). Although their level isn’t close to that of a seated officer.
Captains serve as the commanding officer of a division in charge of tactical planning and execution.
They are regarded as the most powerful in a division. Stronger than a lieutenant by five times and an average seated officer by 10 times.
Strength, experience, and most importantly, mastery of bankai are what set captains apart from other lower-ranked officers.
They are usually identified by their white haori, which has been glued with the Gotei 13 symbol and the corresponding division number.
To be promoted to captain rank, lieutenants or lower ranks officers must pass the Captain Proficiency Test, which necessitates mastery of bankai.
This test requires a minimum of three current captains to be present, one of whom must be the captain-commander.
Another method to advance in rank is to get a personal recommendation from at least six captains and approval from at least three of the seven remaining captains.
The last and most unusual means to advance to captain is to challenge and defeat the division’s current captain in a duel before a crowd of at least 200 witnesses from the captain’s division.
1. Captain Commander
The Captain-Commander is the highest rank in the Gotei 13 corps. They serve as the commanding officer and supreme leader of the entire Gotei 13.
This rank gives the officer the right to oversee the general operations of the Gotei 13, Onmitsukido, and Kido Corps when the welfare of Soul Society is at risk.
The first officer to occupy this position was Captain Genrysai Shigekuni Yamamoto of the 1st Division. He established the Gotei 13 and presided over it for more than a millennium before passing away.
Yamamoto was subordinate to one while serving as captain-commander. Shunsui Kyraku, the current captain-commander, is, nevertheless, accountable to the Central 46 Chambers, who elected him after captain Yamamoto’s passing.
An officer must be extremely powerful and have a long list of notable accomplishments to be elected by the Central 46 Chambers to the position of captain commander.
Read more: Best Bleach Anime Watch Order
What Rank Is Kurosaki Ichigo?
Ichigo has always been a substitute Shinigami since the beginning of the series. He didn’t advance in rank despite being powerful enough to become a captain or even a captain commander.
Ichigo was an outcast and not truly acknowledged in the ranking system since he was a substitute Shinigami.
Gotei 13 Officer Rank Table
|Kurosaki Ichigo||Substitute Shinigami|
|Genrysai Shigekuni Yamamoto||Ex-Captain Commander|
|Shunsui Kyōraku||1st Division Captain|
|Suì-Fēng||2nd Division Captain|
|Rōjūrō Ōtoribashi||3rd Division Captain|
|Isane Kotetsu||4th Division Captain|
|Shinji Hirako||5th Division Captain|
|Byakuya Kuchiki||6th Division Captain|
|Tetsuzaemon Iba||7th Division Captain|
|Lisa Yadōmaru||8th Division Captain|
|Kensei Muguruma||9th Division Captain|
|Tōshirō Hitsugaya||10th Division Captain|
|Kenpachi Zaraki||11th Division Captain|
|Mayuri Kurotsuchi||12th Division Captain|
|Rukia Kuchiki||13th Division Captain|
|Nanao Ise||1st Division Lieutenant|
|Genshirō Okikiba||1st Division Lieutenant|
|Marechiyo Ōmaeda||2nd Division Lieutenant|
|Izuru Kira||3rd Division Lieutenant|
|Kiyone Kotetsu||4th Division Lieutenant|
|Momo Hinamori||5th Division Lieutenant|
|Renji Abarai||6th Division Lieutenant|
|Atau Rindō||7th Division Lieutenant|
|Yuyu Yayahara||8th Division Lieutenant|
|Shūhei Hisagi||9th Division Lieutenant|
|Mashiro Kuna||9th Division Lieutenant|
|Rangiku Matsumoto||10th Division Lieutenant|
|Ikkaku Madarame||11th Division Lieutenant|
|Akon||12th Division Lieutenant|
|Sentarō Kotsubaki||13th Division Lieutenant|