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Hate him or Love him Aizen is one of the greatest villains of all time.
No, not because of how "evil" he is. There are plenty more "evil" villains than Aizen.
(Heck you could possibly argue that Soul Society itself is worse.)
But he's one of the greatest because of how brilliant a strategist he is.
Sure you can say it's all plot device which is true. But then when you think about it
virtually ALL of storytelling is "plot device". Everything is made up anyways.
Anywho, while visiting tvtropes.com I saw the page for the 36 stratagems
which are of course from Sun Tzu's Art of War. In the examples it is shown
that Aizen has done almost all of them. I didn't make any of this but
I thought I share. First I'll include the strategem and it's description
than how Aizen did it.
1. Deceive the heavens and cross the ocean:
Mask your real goals with a fake goal until your aims are achieved; the enemy will be so annoyed with the constant false alarms that they will consider future alarms Somebody Else's Problem. (This rule is also used as a Chinese aphorism for "to pull the wool over someone's eyes".)
1 is what he attempted to do to Soul Society when Orihime was captured, claiming that her powers were "interesting" to him. However, they anticipated this and refused to save her. Unfortunately Leeroy Jenkins Ichigo and his True Companions didn't catch on, and so they took the bait, and charged on to Hueco Mundo, leaving Soul Society to lose a military asset Made clearer when revealed he's the only one powerful enough to challenge Aizen directly because hasn't seen his shikai, and the former having to send four Shinigami captains to bail him and the others back, only for Aizen to reveal he's after Karakura Town anyway, so it was good that Ichigo decided to save the Distressed Damsel, and Soul Society to halve its military might. He even performed another shuffle under the first one. The purpose of luring Ichigo to Hueco Mundo wasn't to trap him there: Aizen arranged for Ichigo to fight both Grimmjow and Ulquiorra, so he could acquire the power Aizen needed for his plans.
2. Besiege Wei to rescue Zhao:
Avoid a head on battle with a strong enemy, and instead strike at his weakness (for example, a weaker ally) elsewhere.
2 again is the capturing of Orihime, and as outlined in 1, this was Serious Business for the good guys.
3. Kill With a Borrowed Knife: Cause damage to the enemy by getting a third party to do the deed or causing an Enemy Civil War.
3 is what he did to Soul Society (make all the captains suspicious of each other and focus on the invading Ryoka) and diminish their forces during the Fake Karakura town arc by using the Espada.
4. Substitute Leisure for Labor:
Have your troops well-prepared for battle, in the same time that the enemy is rushing to fight against you, ideally resulting in their exhausted troops running into your fresh soldiers on the terms of your choosing.
4 is why he told the Espada to stay in their rooms when Ichigo and co invaded. Kinda-sorta worked.More accurately, alongside the top three Espada (and their Fraccion) he brought to decimate Karakura Town/battle Soul Society, he revealed he had more Arrancar threats in the form of Wonderweiss, who in turn brought Fura with him. Keep in mind that it was a challenge in itself simply of Soul Society to defeat the Fraccion, let alone the Espada alongside them (by then they were still not killed) and Soul Society was already worn out. This was somewhat rectified with the appearance of the Vizards. However, their appearence just about allowed SS to kill the Espada (Apart from Harribel), and they're beginning to tire out as well, and now have to deal with Aizen himself and his Dragon Gin. This also works for Ichigo, his Nakama and the four captains in Hueco Mundo who had taken out six Espada together. The former is definitely running low on batteries as he heads back. But he's receiving help in that department as well...
5. Loot a Burning House:
The best time to attack an opponent is when they have their own problems to deal with.
5 definitely is shown when he just walks up and takes the Hogyoku out of Rukia while all the captains were busy fighting each other, and just realized he was a traitor.
6. Clamor in the East, Attack in the West:
Get the enemy to focus his forces elsewhere, and then attack a position that would be weakly defended.
6 was attempted, but failed. It was his ploy for trapping four captains in Hueco Mundo, but then he found the other six waiting for him. Succeeded during the Soul Society arc, however, where Aizen took advantage of the Drifters invasion to create distractions and false alarms, thus splitting and confusing the captains. By the time the captains became aware of Aizen's treachery, it was too late, he was able to assemble on Soukyoku Hill, capture Rukia, steal the Hougyoku and enable Hueco Mundo to break into Soul Society at that point to ensure Aizen's escape via negaccion. The captains caught on just in time to save Rukia's life and shout impotent threats at him as he departed.
7. Create Something from Nothing:
Make somebody believe there was something when there is in fact nothing, or vice versa (i.e. lie like a rug).
7 is the entire basis of his Zanpaktou. Plain old lies and deceptions are also well within his repertoire.
8. Openly Repair the Walkway, but Sneak through the passage of Chencang:
Deceive the enemy with an obvious approach that will take a very long time, while surprising him by taking a shortcut and sneak up to him.
8 is his strategy with attacking Karakura Town before the Hogyoku fully awakens and he finds the Vasto Lordes. He also did this in the Sereitei, which was somewhat successful, in the sense while didn't get the spoils of killing any Shinigami, he did gain his objective, the Hogyoukou.
9. Observe the Fire from the Opposite Shore,
or Sit on the Mountain and Watch the Tigers Fight:
Delay entering the field of battle until all the other players have become exhausted fighting amongst themselves, then go in at full strength and pick up the pieces.
9 is his entire strategy with the Arrancar. The only people he showed any concern for were himself, Gin and Tousen and not even those two since he murders both.
10. Hide a Knife behind a Smile:
Charm and ingratiate yourself to your enemy. When you have gained his trust, move against him in secret. (This rule is also used as a Chinese aphorism for someone with Chronic Backstabbing Disorder.)
10 is Aizen's lifeblood. Everyone loved him and was shocked to hear that he defected. Gin seems to subvert this, as he's always smiling, but he just creeps people out. Of course, this is later reverted when it turns out that Gin's knife was for Aizen the whole time.
Sacrifice the Plum Tree to Preserve the Peach Tree:
Sacrifice short-term objectives in order to gain the long-term goal. (Peaches are associated with immortality; see eg. Journey to the West.)
11, attempted by Aizen with Momo. Interesting when you consider the name of her Zanpaktou (based on plum trees) and her given name (based on the peach)...
Beat the Grass to Startle the Snake:
Do something without aim, but make it so spectacular to provoke a response of the enemy, thereby giving away his plans or position, or just taunt him. Do something unusual, strange, and unexpected as this will arouse the enemy's suspicion and disrupt his thinking. However, an imprudent act will give your position or intentions away to the enemy.
13 was his verbal attack on the Vizards after the Espada is eliminated, though Shinji warned everyone to stay calm, Hiyori fell for it by losing her temper and charging, thus getting slashed into two by Gin from the back.
14. Borrow a Corpse to Resurrect the Soul:
Revive something from the past by giving it a new purpose, or reinterpret it to your advantage.
14, Oh yeah! Did he EVER! Stealing an obscure MacGuffin from an exiled Shinigami, which was used to save people's lives by integrating them into complete Shinigami/Hollow hybrids when they were infected lost for 100 years, and hidden in the most unlikely of places, to use to create an army of Arrancar and in his words, "take himself to a higher level".
15. Lure the Tiger Down From the Mountain:
Lure an opponent away from his field of advantage, thus separating him from his source of strength.
15 was tried when Aizen attempted to use Wonderweiss to separate Yamamoto from his zanpakutou, seen as the major source of Yamamoto's strength. Failed because Aizen underestimated just how offensively strong Yamamoto was without his zanpakutou. He was able to defeat Yamamoto but his intention had been to kill him and that he couldn't do.
19. Steal the Firewood from under the Pot:
Take out the leading argument or asset of your target, denying your enemy the resources needed to oppose you.
19 was done against Barragan when first recruiting an arrancar army in Hueco Mundo. Aizen distracted Barragan with talk while bringing him under his shikai's sway rendering Barragan incapable of noticing that Gin and Tousen were taking out Barragan's army. When Barragan (as Aizen expected) rejected Aizen and demanded his death, Aizen revealed that Barragan's army had been slain and he was now a ruler with nobody to rule over, leaving him with no choice but to join Aizen's cause. Barragan never forgave Aizen for this.
20. Stir up the Waters to catch a Fish:
Create confusion and use this confusion to further your own goals.
20 was the entire basis of the Soul Society arc.
21. Slough off the Cicada's Golden Shell:
Create an illusion to fit your goals and distract others. (A secondary meaning for this rule would be Faking the Dead.)
21! It even says in the description that it can mean Faking the Dead.
Shut the Door to catch the Thief:
If you have the chance to completely capture the enemy then you should do so, thereby bringing the battle or war to a quick and lasting conclusion.
22, while the actual definition was not used, the spirit of the name was definitely in effect after he shut and locked all the passages between Las Noches and the World of the Living, thereby trapping Ichigo, his friends, and four captains away from the main battle.
23. Befriend a Distant State while attacking a Neighbour:
When you are the strongest in one field, your greatest threat is from the second strongest in your field, not the strongest from another field, and thus the distant neighbor will make a good ally, however temporary.
23 is also in effect with the Arrancar.
25. Replace the Beams with Rotten Timbers:
Disrupt the enemy's formations, interfere with their methods of operations, change the rules which they are used to following, go contrary to their standard training.
25 was part of why Aizen could create so much chaos during the Soul Society arc. He secretly wiped out Central 46 and issued orders in their name. By demanding the death penality and a captain's execution for a crime that didn't usually receive the death penality and for a shinigami that wasn't a captain, it caused unrest and confusion amongst the captains who were obliged to follow without question the Central 46's orders. He even lampshaded this by taking aside one of the most rebellious-natured vice-captains (Renji) and telling him this had to be a conspiracy and needed to be investigated thus sowing the seeds for some of the highest ranking shinigami to completely disobey their training to obey without question the orders of the Central 46. Chaos ensued.
28. Lure them onto the Roof, then take away the Ladder:
With baits and deceptions, lure your enemy into treacherous terrain, then cut off his lines of communication and avenue of escape; to save himself, he must fight both your own forces and the elements of nature.
28 was attempted and failed. He thought that by having the fight over Karakura Town, he would force the shinigami to hold back. Yamamoto anticipated this, and replaced Karakura Town with a fake.
29. Deck the Tree with False Blossoms:
Through the use of artifice and disguise, make something of no value appear valuable; of no threat appear dangerous; of no use appear useful.
29 is why he captured Orihime.
Though, if the gamble had not worked, she would've been far from useless in the war - she's a valuable resource for extreme healing and resurrection, but Ichigo also brought his entire set of Nakama along to save her, which includes at least two people who are captain-class, one who is the last of his kind and hence, a valuable specimen for someone and one noble, which in turn justified four captains joining the rescue effort, and made the gamble exponentially effective.
In the end, the espada themselves were an example of Aizen's use of this rule. The espada were deemed such a huge threat that the entire captain force was lured out from Soul Society and split between Karakura Town and Hueco Mundo. What nobody knew was that Aizen viewed the espada as fodder. He was more disappointed in their performance than he had expected to be but his only use for them had always been to present the impression of a great enough threat to lure out the captains, allowing him to defeat them all and kill Yamamoto. He was able to defeat all the captains who went to Karakura Town but he wasn't able to kill Yamamoto.
34. Injure yourself to gain the Enemy's trust:
Pretending to be injured has two possible applications. In the first, the enemy is lulled into relaxing his guard since he no longer considers you to be an immediate threat. The second is a way of ingratiating yourself to your enemy by pretending the injury was caused by a mutual enemy.
34, Aizen faked his own death to deposit apparent blame on Gin's shoulders allowing him to get on with his work unnoticed. Also, while Gin injured Aizen more than Aizen had planned, it had been part of a strategy to ensure a power upgrade and so his injury allowed him to catch Gin off-guard as Gin had expected the wound he caused to be the end of it.
35. Chain Stratagems:
In important matters, one should use several stratagems applied simultaneously after another as in a chain of stratagems. Keep different plans operating in an overall scheme; however, in this manner if any one strategy fails, then the chain breaks and the whole scheme fails.
35, never settle for one plan when a multitude will do. When he finally gives up his reliance on his plans and strategies believing himself to be beyond the need for them, that's when things finally began to unravel for him, leading to...
36 If all else fails, Retreat:
The best battle is one fought with your side never having to mobilize, but if it becomes obvious that your current course of action will lead to defeat, then retreat and regroup.
36, the one strategy Aizen failed to apply when he should have, a decision that ensures he ends up losing. He may have been able to escape Ichigo when he got too powerful, except that his earlier actions has ensured that half of the Gotei was there, including a scientist who used what he found to develop the technology to open Gargantas.
wow.. anyone else read the intro but skipped before reading number 1? dude your thread post is intense
It's a lot to read, I know.
Now I know I could have just linked to TV Tropes but I was actually trying to make it easier to read
since there you have to constantly go back and forth between the two lists.
I'm not trying to take credit for it I hope you know. I just wanted to share what I thought was interesting information.
It presents Aizen in a new light. It's like...you see more of how he thinks and why he does what he does.
Now whether or not Kubo did this intentionally or not is unknown. Would be interesting if he really was just trolling the whole time
and Aizen just ended up being like a near perfect disciple of Sun Tzu. XD
You're right. Well tbh I had no idea what 36 Strategems of War is, or who Sun Tzu is (I assume he's some genius war strategist) but yeah, reading through this, he was good. I'm not sure if Kubo knew what a great strategist would do, but I guess it worked for Aizen.
Plus he was hot
Let's see how awesome the current Enemy Leader turns out to be. So far, he's missing some annoying characteristics of Aizen, so that's fine.
Thanks for the analysis!
I actually did go through all of it, and some of the parallels are actually astounding.
The "Sacrifice the plum tree to save the peaches" fits so perfectly, Kubo HAD to have used that as inspiration. Bleach does deal a lot with things of a military nature. The Gotei 13 is like that, and it's also apparent with the Vandenreich. So I wouldn't be surprised if Kubo has gone through The Art of War.
Awesome post to say the least (not that anyone questioned aizen was a brilliant strategist). Really enjoyed reading it.
On this one I would disagree though, I don't think aizen failed. His goal was to originally split the forces of SS by having the ryoka go to HM. By doing this he would have had to face the gotei 13 without the aid of a captain level kid and his two above VC level sidekicks. Even the 4 captains which were trapped in HM were a bit of a bonus (depending on the translation though).Quote:
Hey all I really did was copy and paste from tvtropes.
Sun Tzu wrote the Art of War which is a VERY famous book on war strategy.
It's also used a lot in competitive business. So yes he's a genius war strategist.
It's possible that Kubo read The Art of War. Or maybe he's just a genius troll?
I like Aizen. He was a fun villain. But I'm also liking Emperor Quincy. It's a good change
of pace. I actually rather enjoy the villains of Bleach. The only ones I hate are pink
haired scientist guy and Spoon man Nnotoria because they are annoying and their
fights took way too long.
Yeah I agree with you there.
Also I'm not sure if it's too fair to apply Strategem 36 to Aizen.
I mean when was there a time that Aizen needed to retreat and COULD?
Aizen had the upper hand against Ichigo but Aizen was sneak attacked by Urahara
By that time there was nothing Aizen could do since he was already capturered.
Aizen's cause of defeat:
Being too merciful, actually. Kinda hard to imagine from a guy who hugs you and then
stabs you literally in the back. But Aizen almost always left his opponents ALIVE
especially against Soul Reapers. Had Aizen just killed Urahara then Aizen would have
won. But Aizen let him live. Now I'm not saying Aizen was trying to be merciful
but more that he was too arrogant and let his enemies live thinking they could
do nothing to him. Until they did and he was captured.
That's the danger of this new Quincy Emperor. He's merciless.