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I've started this thread to go into detail about the theory that I have about the variety of "species" that we've seen in Bleach. This is by no means completely accurate or supported by evidence.
The Original Soul Lifecycle - Humans and Pluses
The original soul life cycle in Bleach was fairly simple; and at this point in time there were only Humans, Pluses and Quincies (who were Humans blessed with the power to sense and manipulate spirit energy).
The first stage in this life cycle is the birth of a Human (as well as the creation of that Human's soul). The Human would live their life, die, and become a Plus. At this point the Quincies would step in and destroy the Plus, turning it back into raw spirit particles.
An exceptionally powerful Quincy, who we now know as the Soul King, would then take these raw spirit particles and manipulate them, forging them into a new soul to be placed into a new Human.
The New Cycle - Emergence of the Hollows
At some point in time, the first Plus was missed by the Quincies and fell into despair. This caused the Plus to go mad, and its most basic instincts took over, unlocking powers hidden deep within it. These powers took a direct effect on its body, transforming it into a terrifying monster that we've come to know as a Hollow. At this point, any Hollows that were created would be destroyed by the Quincies, and the usual life cycle would commence.
The New Cycle - The Menos and Arrancar
A whole multitude of Hollows arose as time went on; some weak and easily dispatched, others not-so-easily. After some time, Hollows emerged that had an insatiable hunger and attemped to devour each other, fusing together and forming Menos.
Eventually the Menos evolved from the Gillian into the Adjucas, and then the Vasto Lordes. Occasionally a Menos managed to break its mask and gain what we now know as the Zanpakutou, becoming an Arrancar. The Quincies were slaughtered by these new enemies, so the Soul King had to act...
The Complete Cycle - The Shinigami
The Soul King sought a way to fight back against the Arrancar, and eventually found a way to do this. By manipulating the soul of an Arrancar, the Soul King found a way to give it back its humanity; however, by doing this the "instincts" of the being were driven back, and it thus forgot how to use its core powers; this being was known as a Shinigami.
The Shinigami could learn to access their core powers by training, although they could often not use them to the same level as their Arrancar counterparts. They lived and trained in the same dimension where the Soul King resided; the Soul Society.
The Shinigami's core powers could be used to exterminate Hollows, but instead of completely destroying them, the Shinigami's powers "cleansed" the soul, causing the soul's instincts to enter a state or dormancy; this would result in the Plus being able to remain as it was without becoming a Hollow, and would result in a Hollow being transformed into a Plus with latent Shinigami powers (caused by its core powers being unlocked).
Eventually the Konso (Soul Burial) technique was discovered, which allowed a Plus soul to pass on without having to resort to the violent act of exterminating it (this could theoretically be performed on a Hollow too, but would be extremely difficult to perform).
Just to elaborate:-
Original Life Cycle
- Raw spirit particles are converted into Human/Quincy by Soul King.
- Human/Quincy dies and becomes a Plus.
- Plus is exterminated by Quincy, turning it back into raw spirit particles.
Introduction of Hollows
- Plus is left for too long. Soul is corrupted, instincts take over and unlock core powers. Plus becomes a Hollow.
- Hollows develop insatiable hunger and attempt to devour each other, forming a Menos.
- Menos with single dominant soul evolves from Gillian into Adjucas into Vasto Lordes.
- Arrancar is formed when Hollow shatters its mask.
- Any of the Hollows may be eliminated by a Quincy, converting it back into raw spirit particles.
Introduction of Shinigami
- First Shinigami are formed by Soul King directly manipulating Arrancar souls, supressing their instincts and restoring their humanity.
- Shinigami powers allow Pluses to continue existing without turning into Hollows. Those who are already Hollows (or Shinigami) are reverted into Pluses, but their core powers remain in a semi-dormant state (these are their latent Shinigami powers).
- Again, Quincies may eliminate Shinigami to convert them back into raw spirit particles.
It's also possible for a Plus to become a Shinigami by resisting the Hollowfication process (as was the case with Ichigo), but the Hollowfication process needs to begin in order for the Plus' core powers to be unlocked by its Hollow persona. It's kinda like getting a bank clerk to open a safe when you're robbing a bank; the Hollow persona knows the combination to the "safe", which allows it to access these powers and use them to transform the Plus into a monster.
Last edited by Lee.J.Baxter; March 11, 2013 at 11:10 AM.
I don't find these life-cycles plausible. For one thing, if the Soul King is indeed a Quincy, then why would he approve of the extermination of his fellow men? Furthermore, you're claiming that the main purpose of Shinigamis is to defeat the Arrancars and consequently, they were created to protect the Quincies. This would mean that the Quincy method of killing hollows and eradicating souls back to the so-called "spirit particles" which you mention above would be the correct method. Yet we've been told that the Quincy method causes an imbalance to the world. Did the Soul King grow lazy all of a sudden?
I believe that the Shinigami are really protecting Humans, and the Quincies were effectively made obsolete by them (as in, the Soul King literally stopped producing them). By wiping out the Quincies, the Shinigami are allowing their numbers to thrive through the extended life cycle, and by wiping out the Hollows (and thus the Shinigami), the Quincies might believe that they'll thrive again.
Furthermore, as you've implied, the "soul" is essentially the same, regardless of whether it's in a human, Quincy, hollow or Shinigami. With that being the case, how could the SK manipulate an Arrancar's soul? If I've misunderstood you on this point and you're saying that the SK manipulated the Arrancar's while they are alive, then it's simply too much speculation for my taste.
My implication that the soul is the same was intentional; I believe that Humans, Shinigami and Hollows are formed from the same components, only with different "forces" acting upon them. From there, I've attempted to compare Hollows and Shinigami; after all, as demonstrated by Tousen, a Zanpakutou is a Zanpakutou whether it belongs to an Arrancar or a Shinigami (its just that Hollows normally master Resurreccion, and Shinigami master Shikai/Bankai; Tousen managed to master both release types).
My idea was formed from the basis that ALL Pluses can transform into Hollows, but ONLY SOME Pluses can become Shinigami, yet both Hollow and Shinigami powers are formed from the same "core powers". This led me to conclude that these core powers are unlocked when the soul Hollowfies, and remain unlocked but hidden when the Hollow is purified and becomes a Plus (this is backed up by the fact that Ichigo only managed to unlock his own Shinigami powers when he was undergoing Hollowfication). This would mean that only some Pluses would gain latent Shinigami powers. This would make sense, as the fodder Hollows would carry only a small amount of spirit energy, forming the fodder Shinigami, whereas Menos would carry vast amounts of spirit energy, but are less common (thus forming the Leiutenants and Captains).
Quincies seem to be different from both Shinigami and Hollows in terms of how they don't use their own core powers, but rather manipulate reishi on a very basic level. They're also living beings, which is how I came to deduce that they're Humans that have been granted spiritual powers by the Soul King (they may even be the descendants of the Soul King); they can manipulate reishi, but can't access specific powers due to the fact that they haven't been Hollows in a previous incarnation. The Soul King, if he does indeed form souls by manipulating reishi, may be related to the Quincy because of this ability (also, if he formed all of the other souls, he may have been the first Quincy).
If the Soul King does turn out to be the first and most powerful Quincy, it would explain why Aizen seems to hate him so much; he's formed the Humans, Hollows and the other Quincies, so he's kinda playing from all sides. Also, just because he's a Quincy doesn't necessarily mean he's on their side; to him, the Quincies are probably just his personal clean-up crew who help him to recycle the souls in order to create new ones.
As for the whole "Quincy cause an imbalance" thing; who's to say that the Shinigami haven't just been told that by the Soul King? TBH, the Soul King may be planning to eradicate the Quincies so that no souls are returned to the pool of spirit particles, so he can effectively quit having to reforge new ones (of course, this would ironically result in no more new souls being created and the eventual destruction of the human race!!!). Another reason why he may want to do this is to allow his superior race of Shinigami to end up as the only ones left in existance (as Shinigami would exterminate Hollows, which would eventually become Shinigami, and if they happened to eliminate other Shinigami, they would simply be reincarnated as Pluses with latent Shinigami powers again).
Last edited by Lee.J.Baxter; March 12, 2013 at 05:32 AM.
I also suspect that the imbalance of souls leading to the destruction of all the worlds can be a myth originally created by the Soul King to facilitate the compliance of Shinigamis. However, our motive behind this seems to differ greatly.
What I'm curious about, however, is the fact that not all souls become hollows, humans or Shinigamis. There are countless of souls living in Soul Society (Rukongai, more specifically) that have no powers. How would that fit in with your ideas?
What I meant is that any Plus in the world of the living has the POTENTIAL to become a Hollow, whereas not all Pluses can become Shinigami when they're sent to the Soul Society. When a Soul Burial or Hollow execution is performed, we could think of it as "locking" the Hollow persona away (of course, there are cases where this Hollow persona can be unlocked again). By locking away the Hollow persona of an Hollow, we're left with a Plus with their core powers unlocked.
This may explain why Ichigo struggled with his inner Hollow; unlike most Shinigami who had their Hollow persona sealed away when they were sent to the Soul Society, Ichigo hasn't had this. When Ichigo became a Shinigami, he resisted his Hollowfication instead.
In fact, we've seen this process of the core powers being unlocked before when Ichigo first entered his inner world. Remember whilst Ichigo was turning, the boxes began raining down? This event was triggered by his Hollowfication; in other words, the Hollowfication process allowed Ichigo to unlock his core powers himself!!!
Last edited by Lee.J.Baxter; March 12, 2013 at 08:12 AM.
But that leads to another question: which souls become humans? And even more strange: how come some humans have powers (excluding those who gained powers due to the Hogyoku)? Based on the above, they should have turned into Shinigamis instead.
Also, although it is rare that Shinigamis kill each other, it is not rare for people with spiritual powers in Soul Society to kill each other. Unohana, Kenpachi and even Ikkakku must have killed many. In any case, I do recall Byakuya talking about reincarnations and I do agree that Shinigamis who die are reborn as Shinigamis. I doubt that any of them retain their memories though.
When I say "Shinigami", I mean anybody who has had their core powers unlocked who isn't a Hollow, so you're right; it isn't as rare as I first thought!
Perhaps my explanation is a little too simplistic. Those with spiritual powers as Humans are either Quincy (Human/Hougyoko hybrids) or FullBring (Human/Hollow hybrids). In the case of the Quincy, the powers of reishi manipulation are provided through the Hougyoko's ability to manipulate reishi, whereas in the case of the FullBring, the core powers are most likely unlocked by the attacking Hollow (perhaps the reishi of the Hollow influences this).
This may explain why Ichigo didn't necessarily inherit his Shinigami powers; Shinigami powers aren't passed on through blood. It was Ichigo's Quincy powers that allowed him to see ghosts .etc. His Shinigami powers were gained when he started turning into a Hollow in the pit (which unlocked his core powers).
So basically, Chad and Orihime are more-than-likely FullBring, as well as Don Kon-what's-he-called. It's fairly likely that some Humans are completely unaware that they're Quincy or FullBring (those who we've seen in the background who can sense ghosts, including Tatsuki).
---------- Post added at 01:49 PM ---------- Previous post was at 01:25 PM ----------
Just to explain further, I believe that the Quincy powers aren't actually part of the soul, which is why they CAN be passed on through blood. Shinigami powers can't, however, because when a human is born it recieves a brand new soul, not formed from the components of the parent souls. The Quincy powers reside within the blood, and don't have anything to do with the individual soul of a Human, which is why Quincy powers aren't unique to the individual.
---------- Post added at 02:08 PM ---------- Previous post was at 01:49 PM ----------
Okay getting really complex now, but bear with me...
I noticed that my theory doesn't explain the similarities between Ishinn's and Ichigo's Zanpakutou, so I'm going to elaborate further;
It looks like the core powers of an individual may actually be passed on by blood, but ACCESS to those core powers isn't. In other words, Ichigo was born with core powers inherited from both his mother and father, but the ability to access those powers as a Shinigami wasn't!!!
If Masaki had become a Plus, then a Hollow, and had then been dispatched by a Shinigami and passed on into the Soul Society, her latent Shinigami powers may have partially resembled Ichigo's powers too!!! Furthermore, she would have been as gifted as Ichigo due to her Quincy bloodline.
---------- Post added at 02:22 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:08 PM ----------
Last edited by Lee.J.Baxter; March 12, 2013 at 08:42 AM.
Ichigo had no access to neither Shinigami nor Quincy powers. They were both suppressed. Ichigo always needed an outside force to awaken latent powers. I believe the sealing of his powers was due to his mother/Quincy sealing them before dying. (That is a bit similar to Naruto though). Ie. Sealing all powers in order to protect him from future Hollow attacks.
this is nice, but how do you explain increasing human population.