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Gotei 13
Kanji 護廷十三隊
English 13 Divisions Imperial Guards
Romaji Goteijūsantai
Founder(s) Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto
Headquarters Seireitei, Soul Society
Leader(s) Captain-Commander
Senior Member(s) Captains of the Gotei 13
Other Members

Affiliation Soul Society; Royal Guard
Kidō Corps; Onmitsukidō
Purpose Primary Defense/Offense Force of Soul Society

The Gotei 13 (護廷十三隊, Goteijūsantai; lit. "13 Division Imperial Guards"; Viz "Thirteen Court Guard Companies") is the primary military branch of Soul Society and the main military organization most Shinigami join after leaving the Shin'ō Academy.


The first 13 captains.

While the history of the Gotei 13 remains largely unknown, the organization was founded by Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto, who has stood at the head of the group since its inception.[1]

The first generation of the Gotei 13 consisted of Yamamoto, Yachiru Unohana and 11 other captains. Shunsui Kyōraku considers this generation to be the strongest version of the Gotei 13.[2]

According to Yhwach, the original Gotei 13 were "defenders" in name only, comprising of nothing less than a brutal mob of killers, but it was for this very reason they were a force to be feared, especially because Yamamoto was a ruthlessly pragmatic leader whom would hold even his subordinates as expendable. It is noted that the Gotei 13 underwent dramatic changes after the extermination of the Quincy, mellowing out in the ensuing peace, having now found a sense of justice upon discovering things to protect and treasure.[3]


The Gotei 13 serves as a military force with its primary responsibilities consisting of:

  • The defense of the Seireitei, the center of Soul Society.
  • The deployment of Division members into enemy territory for combat operations.
  • The deployment of Task Forces as defensive measures in the Human World.[4]
  • The guiding of souls to Soul Society.[5]

General Operation

The Gotei 13 does not normally operate as a cohesive unit. The command of the divisions are generally left to the discretion of its particular captain, who commonly runs it whatever way they see fit, allowing for the change of a division's traditional duties to an entirely new set and even the creation of a separate institution connected to the division. The Gotei 13's main duty is to defend the Seireitei, but they are allocated districts in Rukongai to defend.[4] In addition to these duties, Shinigami have to deal with the business of being assigned to the Human World.[4]

The only general authority to call forth a combined front is an edict from the Central 46 Chambers, or more often the Captain-Commander. It is not uncommon for captains to not see each other as a whole group for long periods of time, except for cases involving a threat to all of Soul Society, a captain's punishment, or, to a lesser degree, a captain's promotion. On a regular basis, the captains are spread out all across Soul Society doing their divisions' duties, whatever they may be. They are so far spread out, getting the captains together as a group, or even getting their lieutenants together as a group, could normally take a day to accomplish.

Unless specifically ordered by the Captain-Commander, captains can choose whether or not to attend meetings (at their own risk) or not even involve themselves in the daily situations of Soul Society. Captains are not allowed, without permission, to carry out activities outside of their normal jurisdiction or their division. The captain of one division cannot punish the subordinates of another captain.

Officially, the Kidō Corps and Onmitsukidō are not part of the Gotei 13, but since Suì-Fēng is both the captain of the 2nd Division and the head of the Onmitsukidō, the Onmitsukidō is effectively under the control of the Gotei 13. Additionally, the captain of the Kidō Corps has been known to obey summons and orders from the Captain-Commander of the Gotei 13.[6]



The Gotei 13 is made up of thirteen divisions, with several divisions having certain specializations.[7]

The Gotei 13 is led by the Captain-Commander, who has the statutory authority to conduct all the affairs of the Gotei 13 while deferring to the authority of the Central 46 Chambers in matters involving Soul Society.

As with any army, the Gotei 13 has ranks. There are 20 ranks for officers, but no ranks for non-officers. The lower the number is, the higher the rank. The ranks and their descriptions are below, from highest to lowest in terms of strength. The Gotei 13 is an organization with a merit-based hierarchy. It has disposed of the system of rank based on seniority. Abilities are the only thing used to determine one's rank.[7]

Captain's Council

The captains congregate in the main hall of the First Division Headquarters to discuss important issues involving their specific divisions and matters which affect Soul Society. This council is highly formal, with the captain-commander leading its proceedings. All captains are considered equal (with the exception of the captain-commander), and determine the course of their individual division unless dictated otherwise by the captain-commander. Votes are carried out via a unanimous consensus.

  • The Captain-Commander (総隊長, Sōtaichō; Viz "Captain-General"; Captain-Commander, Head-Captain in the English dub) is the supreme leader of the Gotei 13. The position requires the Captain-Commander to oversee the overall operations of the Gotei 13, Onmitsukidō and Kidō Corps when the well-being of Seireitei and Soul Society is at stake. The only power the Captain-Commander answers to is the Central 46 Chambers, who elect the successor of the current Captain-Commander in the event of their death.[8] The former holder of this title is Captain Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto of the 1st Division, who had held this post for the last 1000 years.[9] The current Captain-Commander is Shunsui Kyōraku.[8]
  • A Captain (隊長, Taichō; lit. Unit Commander) is the leader of one of the thirteen divisions (with the special case of the Captain-Commander).

Captains are generally the most respected Shinigami within the Soul Society, with the leaders of the Kidō Corps and Onmitsukidō possibly being of equal status. Initially with one exception, all captains are able to utilize the final stage of their Zanpakutō, and are far more powerful than even their lieutenants. Knowing Bankai gives captains an average of five-to-ten times the strength of Shinigami who are unable to perform it.[10] They have extensively trained, if not mastered, their Bankai, allowing them to use the enormous power effectively in battle. Most captains are skilled in the use of Shunpo and Kidō, and generally have extensive knowledge of Shinigami history and battle tactics. All of these factors create a vast power gap between captains and lower-ranked officers.

They function as Chief executive officers, and they determine the course, organization, tactics, and policy of their division. The power a captain has over his/her division is absolute and cannot be questioned by subordinates or the captains of the other divisions. A captain can choose to change the division specialty (which Kisuke Urahara did upon becoming captain of the 12th Division). Due to captains having supreme authority in their respective division, the divisions are separate entities and not a cohesive military. In this way, they only have the right to punish the actions of their subordinates and not those of other divisions unless the division in question has no current captain or the subordinate's actions are against the laws or rules of Soul Society.

The true power of Soul Society lies in the captains of the Gotei 13, as they are the leaders of its military arm. With them at full strength, Soul Society is safe and almost unbeatable. If they are broken, their strength dwindles, making them highly vulnerable.

There are three different ways to become a Gotei 13 captain:[11]

  1. Captain Proficiency Test (隊首, taishu): A test which requires the ability to perform Bankai. Nearly all Shinigami become captains using this method. At least three existing captains, including the Captain-Commander, have to witness the test.
  2. Personal Recommendation: To have personal recommendations from at least six captains and approval from at least three of the remaining seven.
  3. Trial by Combat: To defeat a captain in one-on-one combat with at least 200 witnesses from the captain's division. This method is seen as being the exceedingly rarest and the least refined of the three. The method is commonly looked down upon by some captains as barbaric compared to the other refined methods. This method allows one to bypass having the mastery of Bankai or other possible abilities which a captain would otherwise be required to have knowledge of, for it allows no judgment from captains who would require those skills as a prerequisite to join their ranks. Though rare in other Divisions, the Eleventh Division has been set up to exclusively utilize this method, with each captain attaining their rank by killing the predecessor.[12]


  • A Lieutenant (副隊長, fukutaichō; Viz "Assistant Captain"; vice-unit commander, often translated as vice-captain) is the 2nd seated officer in a division.[13]

Lieutenants function as executive officers for their division, taking care of or supervising day-to-day operations. Along with their captains, they are not assigned to one specific squad. They generally only know the Shikai of their Zanpakutō but they are still the second strongest in their division. In the case of a division captain's death, departure, or other circumstances making them unable to perform their duties, the lieutenant acts as the "substitute captain" until another can be assigned.

The authority to appoint or dismiss a lieutenant lies solely with the captain of the respective division, a privilege which was granted to them with the support of the Central 46 Chambers. Captains reserve the right to appoint multiple lieutenants at a single time, though this is rarely done due to it being both considered highly unorthodox and heavily frowned upon by the Central 46 Chambers.[14] Though rarely exercised, any potential candidate retains the right to decline the nomination.[15]

Seated Officers

Seated officers are the remainder of the officers in the Gotei 13 which hold ranks at or below 3rd Seat. Captains and lieutenants have the ranks of 1st and 2nd Seats, respectively. Next to that, there are 18 more seats (3rd-20th). In the Gotei 13, only one person can hold a senior officer rank (such as 3rd or 5th seat), but there are several holders of junior officer ranks (e.g. 20th seat). This varies from division to division, for there are two 3rd Seats in the 13th Division. Seated officers often lead sub-units within each division (for example, 3rd Seat Hanatarō Yamada is leader of the 4th Division's 14th Advanced Relief Team).


1st Division
Captain Lieutenant 3rd Seat
Shunsui Kyōraku Nanao Ise & Genshirō Okikiba N/A
Insignia Insignia Signifies Division Color
Chrysanthemums Truth and Innocence Deep Purple
2nd Division
Captain Lieutenant 3rd Seat
Suì-Fēng Marechiyo Ōmaeda N/A
Insignia Insignia Signifies Division Color
Pasque flower Seek Nothing Dark Orange
3rd Division
Captain Lieutenant 3rd Seat
Rōjūrō Ōtoribashi Izuru Kira N/A
Insignia Insignia Signifies Division Color
Marigold Despair Spring Green (Magic Mint)
4th Division
Captain Lieutenant 3rd Seat
Isane Kotetsu Kiyone Kotetsu Yasochika Iemura & Hanatarō Yamada
Insignia Insignia Signifies Division Color
Bellflower Those Who Grieve Are Loved Puce (Dusky Pink)
5th Division
Captain Lieutenant 3rd Seat
Shinji Hirako Momo Hinamori N/A
Insignia Insignia Signifies Division Color
Lily of the Valley Sacrifice, Danger, Pure Love, Humility, Sweetness Pale Turquoise
6th Division
Captain Lieutenant 3rd Seat
Byakuya Kuchiki Renji Abarai N/A
Insignia Insignia Signifies Division Color
Camellia Noble Reason Cobalt Blue
7th Division
Captain Lieutenant 3rd Seat
Tetsuzaemon Iba Atau Rindō N/A
Insignia Insignia Signifies Division Color
Iris Courage Dark Tan
8th Division
Captain Lieutenant 3rd Seat
Lisa Yadōmaru Yuyu Yayahara Tatsufusa Enjōji
Insignia Insignia Signifies Division Color
Strelitzia (Bird of Paradise) Everything is Obtained Raspberry Rose
9th Division
Captain Lieutenant 3rd Seat
Kensei Muguruma Shūhei Hisagi & Mashiro Kuna N/A
Insignia Insignia Signifies Division Color
White poppy Oblivion Tenné
10th Division
Captain Lieutenant 3rd Seat
Tōshirō Hitsugaya Rangiku Matsumoto N/A
Insignia Insignia Signifies Division Color
Daffodil Mystery, Egoism Dark Green
11th Division
Captain Lieutenant 3rd Seat
Kenpachi Zaraki Ikkaku Madarame Yumichika Ayasegawa
Insignia Insignia Signifies Division Color
Yarrow Fight Lavender
12th Division
Captain Lieutenant 3rd Seat
Mayuri Kurotsuchi Akon N/A
Insignia Insignia Signifies Division Color
Thistle Vengeance, Strictness, Independence Olive Green
13th Division
Captain Lieutenant 3rd Seat
Rukia Kuchiki Sentarō Kotsubaki N/A
Insignia Insignia Signifies Division Color
Snowdrop Hope Maroon

Transferring to Another Division

Officers do not necessarily serve in their assigned division for life. It is customary to be transferred to another division after gaining some experience, an event which often coincides with a promotion.[16]

Size and Recruitment

Each Division is made up of just over 200 Shinigami, with the Gotei 13's standing force being just around 3000 total enlisted troops.[4] The Shinigami are typically recruited through the Shinigami Academy, but it must be noted not all graduates make it into the Gotei 13.[4] Graduates from the Academy are required to take an entrance exam for the Gotei 13, and only those who pass are allowed to join.[17] This exam can be taken multiple times.[17] The influence of the Noble Families can somewhat undermine this process, as Rukia Kuchiki graduated early and was placed into the Gotei 13 from Byakuya Kuchiki's workings.[18]


Each of the 13 divisions in Gotei 13 have their own symbol which represents the division's primary role. When a power limit is placed on a captain or lieutenant, their symbol appears on a certain part of their body until the limit is lifted. Each symbol has a specific meaning.

The Gotei 13 Insignias.


Most Gotei 13 personnel wear the standard Shinigami uniform, called Shihakushō (死覇装, Garment of Dead Souls) - a white shitagi (下着, under clothing), a black kosode (小袖, small sleeve), a black hakama (袴), a white hakama-himo, white tabi (足袋, foot pouch), and waraji (草鞋). The black kosode has its owner's division insignia emblazoned on the inside. Lieutenants sometimes wear an armband which carries their division symbol and its number, usually on their left arm. They are required to do this when they are summoned to a meeting, but apart from this, it is rarely compulsory.[19]

Captains wear a white haori (羽織) over the usual black Shinigami clothes, with the number of their division on the back inside the Gotei 13 symbol (a rhombus). Some captains have long sleeves, while the others do not. The color of the underside is division — or at least captain — specific, for every captain has a different color of it. The haori is meant to signify a captain's status, and Yamamoto was furious when Captains Kuchiki, Kyōraku and Zaraki lost theirs in battle and were acting indifferent about it.[20]

Uniform Customization

Gotei 13 officers, particularly captains and lieutenants, often customize their personal appearance or that of their uniform. Some of these modifications include:

  • Captain Shunsui Kyōraku of the 1st Division wears a straw hat and a gaudily-colored kimono over his uniform.
  • Captain Suì-Fēng of the 2nd Division wears a sleeveless and backless Shinigami outfit (when she is fighting) under her haori, which is standard issue for the head of the Onmitsukidō. She wears a yellow sash a layer above, but slightly lower than her white one.
  • Captain Retsu Unohana of the 4th Division wears an obi (帯, sash) rather than a standard sash.
  • Captain Byakuya Kuchiki of the 6th Division wears an expensive scarf named Ginpaku Kazahana no Uzuginu (銀白風花の紗, Silks of the Silverwhite Wildflower) and a white ceremonial hairpiece called kenseikan (牽星箝, Star-Pulling Insert), symbolizing his noble lineage. 17 months after Aizen's defeat, he wears a finely crafted captain's haori.
  • Captain Sajin Komamura of the 7th Division wears shoulder guards over his haori and large gloves which go up to his arms. He used to wear a helmet to hide his appearance, but he has removed it.
  • Captain Kaname Tōsen, formerly of the 9th Division, wears an orange scarf with his outfit, a sleeveless kosode, and white boots.
  • Captain Kensei Muguruma of the 9th Division wears a sleeveless kosode.
  • Captain Tōshirō Hitsugaya of the 10th Division wears a green sash pinned with a star around his shoulder to hold his sword.
  • Captain Kenpachi Zaraki of the 11th Division wears a jagged edged haori, which was taken from the previous captain of the 11th Division.
  • Captain Mayuri Kurotsuchi of the 12th Division wears a bloated purple cravat and a hat decorated with two horizontal spikes. He later changes the hat.
  • Lieutenant Chōjirō Sasakibe of the 1st Division wears a jinbaori over his shihakushō.
  • Lieutenant Marechiyo Ōmaeda of the 2nd Division wears a large purple collar behind his head.[21]
  • Lieutenant Shūhei Hisagi of the 9th Division wears a sleeveless kosode and black choker.[22]
  • Lieutenant Rangiku Matsumoto of the 10th Division wears a top which is deliberately loose and hangs open to reveal her ample bosom. She wears a pink scarf (or stole), and wears her lieutenant's badge around her waist with her sash, tied in a bow.
  • Lieutenant Nemu Kurotsuchi of the 12th Division wears no hakama, instead wearing a mini-skirt version of the kosode which is belted at the waist.
  • Lieutenant Rukia Kuchiki of the 13th Division wears a short sleeved version of the shihakushō. She wears fingerless white tekkou, similar to Byakuya's, which extend past her elbows.
  • 5th Seat Yumichika Ayasegawa of the 11th Division wears an orange piece of clothing on top of his uniform around the neck connected to his arm, which covers most of his chest which would otherwise be exposed by his uniform.[23]
  • All known members of the 9th Division, excluding Mashiro Kuna and Toshimori Umesada, wear kosode without sleeves, including the former captains.
  • Elites of the 6th division are distinguished by wearing a white, sleeveless haori (shorter than the ones captains wear) with purple edges and held together at the opening by a red string, over their standard shihakushō.[24][25]


  • The Gotei 13 is referred to as the 13 Court Guard Squads in the English dub of the anime.

See also


  1. Bleach Book of SOULs, page 98
  2. Bleach manga; Chapter 523, page 17
  3. Bleach manga; Chapter 511, page 11
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Bleach Official Character Book Souls
  5. Bleach manga; Chapter 1, pages 17-19>
  6. Bleach manga; Chapter -102, pages 7-9
  7. 7.0 7.1 Bleach Book of SOULs, page 100
  8. 8.0 8.1 Bleach manga; Chapter 520, page 2
  9. Bleach manga; Chapter 394, page 7
  10. Bleach manga; Chapter 120, page 10
  11. Bleach manga; Chapter 146, page 1
  12. Bleach manga; Chapter -108, page 11
  13. Because captain describes the unit commander, vice-captain is the most literally accurate translation some have used. The Viz manga translation renders the rank as the similar, but somewhat longer "assistant captain", while the English dub of the anime uses the term "lieutenant". Although this does not apply to modern armies, in historical real-life armies the lieutenant has been the adjutant of the captain, as is the case for fukutaichō and taichō in Bleach. Therefore, lieutenant is a correct real-life equivalent of this rank. Holders of this rank in Gotei 13 have also been called adjutants.
  14. Bleach manga; Chapter 520, page 13
  15. Bleach manga; Chapter -99, page 11
  16. Bleach Official Character Book MASKED, page 70
  17. 17.0 17.1 Bleach manga; Chapter 121, page 1
  18. Bleach manga; Chapter 98, page 14
  19. Bleach manga; Chapter 80, pages 18-19
  20. Bleach manga; Chapter 423, pages 4-6
  21. Bleach manga; Chapter 548, page 3
  22. Bleach manga; Chapter 325, page 6
  23. Bleach manga; Chapter 482, page 11
  24. Bleach anime; Episode 250
  25. Bleach anime; Episode 251