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Sōsuke Aizen
Bleach character
AizenAnimeEp60.jpg
Sōsuke Aizen by Tite Kubo
First appearance Bleach manga chapter 79
Bleach anime episode 23
Created by Tite Kubo
Voiced by Japanese
Shō Hayami
English
Kyle Hebert
Profile
Species Soul Reaper
Zanpakutō Kyōka Suigetsu

Sōsuke Aizen (藍染 惣右介 Aizen Sōsuke?) is a fictional character and major figure in the anime and manga series Bleach created by Tite Kubo. He is the captain of the 5th Division when first introduced, but then he betrays Soul Society and becomes the main antagonist of the series. His former lieutenant is Momo Hinamori.

Contents

Character outline

Background

Aizen spent much of his career in the 5th Division,[1] eventually becoming its lieutenant under the former captain, Shinji Hirako.[2] Shinji kept Aizen under his view during this time because he felt there was something dangerous about him, it later turns out he was right. 100 years ago, Aizen's experiments on Soul Reaper/hollow hybrids involved using an unknown method to cause spirits to transform into hollows, eventually culminating in the creation of the Visoreds. He framed Urahara for the hollowfication process and forced him to leave Soul Society.

At some point, he also saw the potential of Shuhei Hisagi, Momo Hinamori, Izuru Kira, and Renji Abarai, and took the latter three all into his division, while sending Shuhei to the 9th division under Tousen. While Kira and Hinamori were obedient and loyal, becoming the lieutenants of the 3rd and 5th Divisions under Ichimaru and Aizen, respectively, Renji proved to be too rebellious and was transferred to the 11th Division (and later to the 6th, where he too became a lieutenant).

Sometime prior to his departure from the Soul Society, Aizen, along with Tōsen and Gin was shown to have travelled to Hueco Mundo arranging an alliance with the self-proclaimed king and god of Hueco Mundo, Barragan Luisenbarn.[3] Aizen appropriates Barragan's palace at Las Noches for himself and reconstructs it in his own image, forcing Barragan into his service.

Personality

Aizen, in his new clothing after his defection, alongside Gin and Tōsen.

Aizen is a soft-spoken intellectual, accented by glasses during his time as a Soul Reaper captain. While he appears to be very kind to his subordinates, he cares very little for them in truth. According to Aizen himself, he is not bound by morals and will therefore stop at nothing to further his ambitions, including manipulating or killing anyone if he deems it necessary. Tite Kubo stated in an interview that "part of Aizen's appeal is that he's mysterious," and for this reason he didn't think it's a good idea to go too much in-depth with the character.[citation needed]

It has been conjectured that Aizen's true objective is to overthrow the king of Soul Society. To do this, he needs the royal key (王鍵 ōken?), a tri-pronged golden key that opens a portal to the dimension that the king resides in. While the location of the key is known only to General Yamamoto, Aizen knows how the original was created and how to manufacture another. In order to create the key, Aizen needs to gather 100,000 souls in Karakura Town,[4] which has an unusually large concentration of spirit particles.

During their ascent to Hueco Mundo, Aizen removes his glasses and sweeps a hand through his hair, revealing menacing eyes and a very different hairstyle. As he had previously revealed to Tōshirō Hitsugaya that the Aizen they all knew never existed, this would seem to be a visual representation of that claim. Before leaving, he tells Jūshirō Ukitake that no one had started out in heaven, not even the gods.[5] He then says that he will be the one to stand in the heavens and end the unbearable vacancy on the world's throne. Aizen is later shown in Hueco Mundo wearing clothing similar in style to the arrancar he has been creating; he is also seated on the throne he took from the self-proclaimed god and king of Hueco Mundo, Barragan.

Abilities

Kyōka Suigetsu creates an illusory corpse.

Aizen is an extremely potent combatant, well above most captain-level Soul Reapers even without the use of Bankai. He goes on to state that the only way for him to advance beyond that would be to gain and master hollow powers. A hint to his actual level of spirit power is given when he turns Wonderweiss Margera into an arrancar. When preparing to activate the Hōgyoku, he states that despite its half-awakened state, it can be fully activated when temporarily fusing with someone with at least twice as much spirit pressure as an average captain-level Soul Reaper, referring to himself.[6] The force of Aizen's spiritual pressure is also great enough to bring the 6th Espada,[7] Grimmjow Jeagerjaques, to his knees without any visible effort from Aizen himself.

Aizen's zanpakutō is Kyōka Suigetsu (鏡花水月?, literally "mirror flower water moon"). In its sealed form, it looks like a normal katana. Its shikai is both activated and deactivated with the command "shatter" (砕けろ kudakero?). Kyōka Suigetsu's shikai has the ability to place anyone who sees it under a state of "Perfect Hypnosis" (完全催眠 kanzen saimin?), after which Aizen can make them see, hear, and feel whatever he wants. According to Aizen, the hypnosis is unbreakable, even if the target is aware that they are hypnotized. The only way to avoid the effect is to not see Kyōka Suigetsu's shikai, making the blind Kaname Tōsen immune to its effects. The effect seems to be permanent, or at the very least long-lasting, as Aizen uses it on nearly all of the lieutenants and captains in the Gotei 13 during a ceremonial release of his zanpakutō years before faking his own death. While the illusions Kyōka Suigetsu creates are quite powerful, they are not 100% accurate; Captain Retsu Unohana was able to realize that something was amiss with Aizen's fake corpse, even though she did not realize what until seeing Aizen alive. Kyōka Suigetsu's hypnotic abilities make it a useful tool in combat as well, as Aizen can quickly create simple illusions to deceive opponents. By creating a decoy of himself, Aizen can hide his own movements and attack with impunity; his opponent, meanwhile, will remain focused on the illusion until it's too late to react.[8]

Plot overview

Although not revealed until later, when Aizen hears that Rukia Kuchiki has been spotted in the real world after months of being missing, he kills all the members of the Central 46 Chambers. Aizen quickly manipulates everyone into an elaborate conspiracy. Using the abilities of his zanpakuto, he creates an illusion that Central 46 is still working as usual and controls all the decisions that they are supposedly making. With this, he immediately orders that Rukia be brought back to Soul Society to be executed. She is brought back to Soul Society with the Hōgyoku concealed within her body, and Aizen begins moving.

He later uses his zanpakutō's ability to trick everyone into believing that he has been killed and has Gin lead everyone to believe Gin himself is the murderer. He also sets up his lieutenant, Momo Hinamori, to believe that he was likely killed by Captain Hitsugaya, her childhood friend, to get her out of the way. Because of the nature of Rukia's sentence and execution method, the Gotei 13 splits into factions and the captains begin to fight amongst themselves. During the turmoil, Gin executes the overt aspects of the plan, which begins to be revealed when 4th Division Captain Retsu Unohana begins to suspect that there is something wrong with Aizen's supposedly dead body. Aizen reveals himself by nearly killing his lieutenant and easily defeating several Soul Reapers. Afterwards, he finally reveals his plan, and removes the Hōgyoku from Rukia's body by using information researched by Kisuke Urahara, but does not kill her. Aizen is then brought to Hueco Mundo by several Menos Grande, along with Gin and Tōsen.

From there, Aizen begins to make several arrancar, and begins sending them one by one to the material world to gain information on Ichigo and, later, to capture Orihime Inoue, who Aizen takes an interest in due to her healing abilities, which can save the powers of the deteriorating Hōgyoku. However, this is revealed to be a ruse on his part. By kidnapping her, he inspires Ichigo and his friends to attempt a rescue, thereby depriving Soul Society of a valuable military asset. Furthermore, when four captains assist in her rescue, adding to the three that have already defected, The Soul Society is left at half its regular strength. As he leaves to destroy Karakura Town, he seals the portals the intruders used to access Hueco Mundo, effectively stranding them there until Aizen returns. Though Soul Society is able to substitute the town for an abandoned facsimile, Aizen only muses that he will have to travel to Soul Society to destroy the real town after he and his forces defeat the remaining captains. Aizen is not concerned when he is trapped in Yamamoto's fire prison following his arrival, for he claims the Espada will suffice to defeat the Soul Reapers. He is later freed from the prison by Wonderweiss, but before he can engage any of the Soul Reapers in combat, and after witnessing Barragan and Starrk's deaths, he kills the third Espada, Harribel, and engages the Soul Reapers protecting Karakura.

Aizen then proceeds to effortlessly defeat all of his remaining captain-level opponents through a display of decoys and sheer power, forcing Captain-General Yamamoto himself to engage Aizen in single combat. Aizen reveals that he manipulated Wonderweiss' development in order to seal and redirect the power of Yamamoto's zanpaku-to, and Yamamoto sacrifices himself (though to what extent is yet unknown) in order kill Wonderweiss and injure Aizen. Ichigo seizes the opportunity that Yamamoto's sacrifice allows him and strikes Aizen, only to discover that Aizen has integrated the Hougyoku into his own body and is immune to Ichigo's reiatsu .

Appearances in other media

Aizen appears in most of the Bleach video games, with the most recent ones with him in his post-Soul Society outfit. He also has his own Bleach Beat Collection, a brief CD of character image songs. The tracks are Hanabira (or otherwise known as (flower) petal), Kyōka Suigetsu and a Voice Message from Aizen's voice actor, Shō Hayami.

Reception

IGN commented that the plot twist in the story and the truth about Aizen was "fascinating and interesting" but also criticized it, saying his Zanpakuto's power was "far-fetched"[9] and overpowered, Aizen didn't have any flaws and that his betrayal was "too planned out to be believable." Despite this, the change in mood accompanying Aizen's revelation as a villain was also praised; IGN praised the animators' job at "giving his face this evil thing about it" without changing anything about the animation itself, citing that "the Aizen that we first knew was the nicest guy ever, he looked it, and now this Aizen actually looks like the most evil jerk we've ever seen."[10] Carl Kimlinger from Anime News Network comments that Aizen's revelation as an antagonist is "brutally unpredictable." He notes the violence from that part to be frustrating but in the same time satisfying, praising the large number of revelations. Aizen was additionally noted to have a remarkable development in his introduction as a villain with Kimlinger wondering "If only all villain grandstandings were so thrilling".[11] Theron Martin from the same site noted that this scene makes the anime deserve credits for "the biggest “I am a total bastard” moments in anime history."[12] Mania Entertainment's Bryce Coulter noted that such episode "makes you [viewers] want to hate Aizen" due to how he controlled the character's actions in previous episodes and how he now easily defeats most of them.[13] Aizen's English voice actor, Kyle Hebert, describes Aizen as a "mysterious, calm, cool character" and that gives an air of "where does this guy come from?".[14]

References

  1. ^ Bleach manga; chapter 176, page 6.
  2. ^ Bleach manga; chapter -108, page 7.
  3. ^ Bleach manga; chapter 371.
  4. ^ Bleach manga; chapter 223, page 9.
  5. ^ Bleach manga; chapter 178, page 15.
  6. ^ Bleach manga; chapter 229, page 15.
  7. ^ Bleach manga; chapter 245, page 11.
  8. ^ Bleach manga; chapter 176, pages 9-11.
  9. ^ IGN: Reality of the Despair, the Assassin's Dagger is Swung Review
  10. ^ IGN: Aizen Stands! Horrible Ambitions
  11. ^ Kimlinger, Carl (2009-03-17). "Bleach DVD 15 - Review". Anime News Network. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/review/bleach/dvd-15. Retrieved 2009-03-18. 
  12. ^ Martin, Theron (2009-09-03). "Bleach DVD - Season 3 Uncut Box Set". Anime News Network. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/review/bleach/dvd-season-3. Retrieved 2009-11-16. 
  13. ^ Coulter, Bryce (2009-04-29). "Mania: Bleach DVD 15 - Review". Mania Entertainment. http://www.mania.com/bleach-vol-15_article_111526.html. Retrieved 2009-08-18. 
  14. ^ Bleach Uncut Season 3 Box Set; Behind the scenes of Bleach. [DVD]. Viz Media. July 7, 2009. 







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