|Form of Government||Feudal Monarchy/Oligarchy|
|Military||Gotei 13, Kidō Corps, Onmitsukidō|
|Manga Debut||Chapter 71|
|Anime Debut||Episode 7|
Soul Society (尸魂界 (ソウル・ソサエティ), Souru Sosaeti; Japanese for "Dead Spirit World") is an afterlife (also called the spirit world). This is also where Shinigami live and where most Souls dwell until they are reincarnated into the Human World. While referred to as simply Soul Society by its residents, this area is actually the East Branch (東梢局, Tōshōkyoku; literally "Eastern Office") of a larger Soul Society, with an area in Reverse London marked as the West Branch.
While Rukia Kuchiki initially describes Soul Society as something of a paradise, where nine out of ten times it is better than the living world and hunger is never a problem, Soul Society is far from sublime. In fact, aside from the slowed aging and aforementioned lack of hunger, life there is much like that in the living world.
Soul Society consists of the Rukongai (流魂街, Wandering Soul City; Viz "Rukon District"), where souls live when they arrive in Soul Society, and Seireitei (瀞霊廷, Court of Pure Souls), which is at the center of Soul Society. The mode of life here closely resembles that of feudal Japan.
The Human World and Soul Society are parallel to each other and are two sides of the same coin. Families separated by death are rarely reunited in the Soul Society unless they arrive in Soul Society together. People live nestled together like a family of strangers. One never gets hungry (if she or he doesn't have spiritual powers) and aging is slowed to a great extent, with lifespans of 2000 or more years not being unheard of, though such ages are limited to Shinigami or other Soul Society dwellers with high spiritual power. Children can be born as they are in the Human World. People can also be killed as regular Humans are, though they are capable of surviving wounds that would normally be considered fatal. A soul that dies in Soul Society is reincarnated on Earth as a new Human with no past memories.
Accessing Soul Society
Shinigami enter and leave Soul Society by unlocking the Senkaimon and using a Jigokuchō. Pluses, on the other hand, enter Soul Society through the ritual of Soul Burial. When people die, they are assigned a number to a part of Soul Society according to when they died. Spirits can be born in Soul Society as much as in the living world, with the Shinigami acting to balance the souls.
Intruders can pass through the Senkaimon in the same manner, but only in soul form. This allows spiritual beings, such as Ichigo in his Shinigami form, to enter without permission. Humans can also use such a gate through the use of Reishihenkanki (霊子変換機, Spirit Exchangers), which convert solid matter into Reishi.
Soul Society is maintained by the Soul King, whose existence is pivotal to the balance of the world as it regulates the flow of souls into and out of Soul Society, leaving administration to the Central 46 Chambers and Nobles. The Soul King lives in the Royal Palace in a separate dimension in the very core of Soul Society, which is protected by the Royal Guard; as a separate dimension, this is not considered part of Soul Society itself. The King does have a specific system of "specialty duties" which are actively carried out but the exact nature of these duties is unknown. The dimension can only be opened with a tri-pronged golden key fittingly named the Royal Key (王鍵, ōken). The location of this Royal Key is passed down verbally from one Gotei 13 Captain-Commander to the next, the former holder being Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto. According to Rangiku Matsumoto, no Shinigami has ever seen the king.
Main article: Noble Houses Another part of the government are the Noble Houses (Noble Families in the English version), especially the four Great Noble Houses, which are considered to be the highest of them all. The lower noble houses all serve one of the four each.
Main article: Central 46 Central 46 (中央四十六, Chūō Shijūroku): The Central 46 serve the Shinigami royalty. They are made up of 40 wise men and 6 judges, selected from all of Soul Society. They are sealed into an enclave in Seireitei called Seijōtōkyorin (清浄塔居林) which no one else may enter, regardless of their military or civilian status. They act as a supreme judiciary organization whose authority puts it in direct control of the legal system. They handle all rulings on Shinigami and souls who have violated prohibitions. Their orders are absolute and no decision has been known to be overturned.
- The ultimate law is to maintain balance.
- It is against the law for a Shinigami to give their spiritual power to Humans.
- It is against the law for a Shinigami to use forbidden Kidō.
- It is against the law for any citizen of Soul Society to create weapons of a dangerous nature not sanctioned by the feudal government. To do so is treason.
- It is against the law to attack a captain. To do so is treason.
- It is against the law to commit terrorist action(s) or attempt to overthrow the balance of Soul Society. To do so is treason.
- It is against the law to commit murder.
- It is against the law to kill a Human that a Shinigami has not been ordered to kill.
- It is forbidden for a Shinigami to acquire or attempt to gain Hollow-like powers.
- It is a crime for a Shinigami to remain in the Human World longer than a certain time limit.
- It is against the law for the Gotei 13 to meddle in the affairs of the noble families unless the family in question breaks one of the laws of Soul Society beyond a shadow of a doubt.
- It is by ancient law that two Shinigami cannot hold the same Zanpakutō. They must fight for the honor of bearing the spirit, with the spirit going to the winner, and the loser being executed.
- It is a crime to lose a sacred treasure.
- Exile: Certain crimes allows for the punishment of exile, commonly stripping a Shinigami of their powers and banishing them to the Human World.
- Detention: A punishment not well known among the citizens of Soul Society is the detention of Shinigami. It is commonly reserved for those who have either broken the law, quit the Gotei 13, or those who just seem dangerous and mentally unstable (as per the government's interpretation). This is carried out by the Onmitsukidō.
- Imprisonment: The Central 46 can sentence a Shinigami to be held in the Central Great Underground Prison (真央地下大監獄, shin'ōchikadaikangoku) for a set amount of time. The prison has eight levels which prisoners are confined in based on the severity of their crimes. For the use of forbidden Kidō techniques, Tessai Tsukabishi was sentenced to be confined in Shugo (衆合, Gathering Group), the 3rd level of the underground prison. For the crime of treason, Sōsuke Aizen was sentenced to be imprisoned for 20,000 years in Muken (無間, Voided Space), the 8th and final level of the underground prison underneath the First Division barracks.
- Sealing: If a renegade Shinigami is resisting arrest and proves to be too powerful to be restrained or executed, they would be opted to be sealed away to prevent further damage. Kōga Kuchiki and Baishin were both sealed away when they retaliated against the Shinigami sent to kill them.
There are two known forms of execution in Soul Society:
- Spirit-Sealing Pit: The Spirit-Sealing Pit is an ancient form of execution in which Shinigami criminals are thrown into a pit walled with sekki sekki rock – a type of stone that absorbs spiritual power, preventing those nearby from using their powers. Hollows are then thrown into the pit with the criminals as the means of execution. The practice was considered too barbaric and discontinued, and the Spirit-Sealing Pits were converted into garbage dumps.
- Sōkyoku (双殛, Twinned Punishment): The "ultimate punishment", Sōkyoku is a form of execution usually reserved for those with extremely strong spiritual powers, namely Shinigami captains. The Sōkyoku is a giant halberd that utterly destroys a soul on contact. When released, Sōkyoku takes on the form of a phoenix, its true form, called Kikōō. The Kikōō has the destructive power of a million Zanpakutō, and that power is multiplied by a factor of 10 at the moment it pierces its victim. It was destroyed by Jūshirō Ukitake and Shunsui Kyōraku.
The armed forces of Soul Society consist of three independent main branches: the Gotei 13, the Kidō Corps and the Onmitsukidō.
Main article: Gotei 13 The Gotei 13 (護廷十三隊, goteijūsantai; 13 Division Imperial Guards, or 13 Court Guard Squads in the English dubbed version) is the organization which most Shinigami join. It is split into thirteen divisions (hence the name), with several divisions having certain specializations. The 4th Division is the medical/supply division, the 11th Division is the combat division (specialization in swordsmanship), and the 12th Division is the research/scientific division. The 9th Division is in charge of newspaper and magazine-related duties. It's unclear if the other divisions are specialized, as the four above are the only ones who receive any significant attention apart from their members. Additionally, it should be noted that Suì-Fēng is in charge of both the 2nd Division and the Onmitsukidō. The Gotei 13 somewhat seems to have superiority and little authority over the two branches (i.e., Suì-Fēng, the Commander-in-Chief of the Onmitsukidō and Tessai Tsukabishi, the former Grand Kidō Chief).
Main article: Royal Guard Also known as the Zero Division, it is made up of former captains of the Gotei 13 who have been promoted to this level. Only captains of the Gotei 13 know of their existence. They are said to have considerable power and tactical knowledge. Only the Royal family presides over them, the Central 46 have no say in them what so ever.
Main article: Kidō Corps There is currently little information on the Kidō Corps (鬼道衆, kidōshū) (known as the Kidō Force in English), due to the secrecy in which they operate. The members all excel in Kidō.
Main article: Onmitsukidō There is little information about the operations of the Onmitsukidō. They are currently lead by Suì-Fēng, who is also the captain of the Gotei 13's Second Division. She succeeded Yoruichi Shihōin in both posts.
One of the more unusual aspects of Soul Society is its technology level. While the lifestyle and culture of Soul Society is comparable to feudal Japan, they possess technology of a level exceeding that time period. The Shinigami Research Institute has developed amazing technology to their credit, mixing technology with organic components. Allowing for the creation of creatures that do everything from detecting spiritual energy signatures to allowing Humans to see a spirit without the use of a Gigai. They possess touch-screens and databases which are in use for files and historical documentation storage found extensively in the Daireishokairo (大霊書回廊, Great Spirit Book Gallery), which contains all the knowledge and history of Soul Society. View screen technology that is capable of sending signals to the Human World and Dangai, allowing for face to face conferencing. All manner of portable hand-held devices for tracking and communication purposes. Blending old traditions and ideas with new innovation, Soul Society is an enigma in this comparison.
Main article: Rukongai
Rukongai (流魂街, wandering soul city) is the largest portion of Soul Society and the most populated. It is divided into 320 districts (80 in North Rukongai, 80 in West Rukongai, 80 in South Rukongai, 80 in East Rukongai).
Main article: Seireitei Seireitei (瀞霊廷, court of pure souls) is in the center of Soul Society, a circular shiro with four main entrances, each guarded by a Gatekeeper. The walls of Seireitei are made of stone called Sekkiseki (殺気石, spirit reducing stone), a material known to negate all Reiryoku, similar to magnetic lodestones. The stone also forms a spherical barrier around the city which stops anything spiritual from breaching it.
Appearances in Other Media
Soul Society makes a brief appearance in the 2018 live-action Bleach film, when Byakuya and Renji discuss Rukia's disappearance.
|Human World||Kagamino City · Karakura Town · Karakura High School · Karakura Hospital · Kurosaki Clinic · Urahara Shop · Bount Mansion · Naruki City|
|Soul Society||Rukongai · Seireitei · Soul King Palace · Central 46 Compound · Nest of Maggots · Shin'ō Academy · Sōkyoku Hill · Gin Tonbo · Kuchiki Family Manor · Central Great Underground Prison · Wandenreich City · Silbern · Western Branch · Reverse London|
|Hueco Mundo||Forest of Menos · Las Noches|
|Others||Hell · Dangai · Valley of Screams|