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i never saw them before this arc... am i missing something or did they just get introduced at the beginning of this arc?
They were introduced in this arc. The only way I could see them appearing earlier would be if they used to just be background characters or maybe that they appeared in some other Bleach media like one of the video games for example.
Ya it's possible that they belong to a royal family too and just got into the Gotai 13. At least the one could be part of the family. The only reason i say this is because he was called personally to be told that a funeral of a vice captain was taking place and they wanted him to attend...
I'd be shocked if Yuki belonged to any nobility judging from the quality of his room and the way other shinigami treat him. I suppose it could be like Rukia, but she was stranded and blacklisted before we learned of her nobility. My guess would be that he is just a normal shinigami that can look up to the established characters and grow throughout the arc.
Shino is a total mystery. It could be while before we learn anything specific about her. She very well could be from a significant family but for now I'd guess she's another Ikumi and is around to keep the character pool fresh.
Somehow Ryosuke Yuki is already my favorite Bleach character and he hasn't even been around for 10 chapters yet haha. He just seems like more of a real character then some of the other guys in Bleach, it's good to have a type of Underdog like that, if you could call him that anyway. He's a character most people will be able to relate to. I'm hoping he becomes more brave though, to encourage younger, shy people who read the manga to try their best to do the same.
yes i loved the ringtone of shino , and shino's response was classic!
they are both great characters so far
Well, my guess is that Yuki might actually have a great potential and greater than Shino.
I think it's not a coincidense that he was pictured along with Ichigo in one of the colour pages. I have a hope that Ichigo might train him to become a serious Shinigami in the long run. Of course he won't become a monster in a blink of an eye, but at least beeing able to protect himself to some extent against the weak members (those soldats that were sent by Sternenritters) would be ok for me.
They aren't very strong, being unable to deal with lowly Hollows and getting their asses kicked before even unsheathing their swords, but at least they are cute and funny. And they are my favorite ship so far.