The Soul Society is a realm outside of the human existence and opposite that of Hueco Mundo where the Hollows reside. Inside of the Soul Society is several regions and districts that resemble the layout of a feudal Japanese city.
The place also is the location where Shinigami reside and souls dwell. While often known as simply the 'Soul Society', this area is actually the East Branch of greater, larger soul society. Its opposite is the West Branch in Reverse London.
Rukia Kuchiki initially described the Soul Society as a great paradise, where nine out of ten times it is better than the world of the living. It's far from that. Aside from the slow aging and lack of hunger, life is like that of the World of the Living.
The Soul Society consists of the Rukongai ' 流魂街, Wandering Soul City' (Rukon District) where souls arrive in the Soul Society, and the Sereitei (瀞霊廷, Court of Pure Souls) which is the center of the Soul Society.
The World of the Living and Soul Society are parallel to each other and are 2 sides of the same coin. Families separated by hunger are rarely united in the Soul Society unless they come together. Random strangers nestle together and live together. They never get hungry unless if they don't have spiritual powers and aging is slowed, some with lifespans of 2000 years yet such age is limited to Shinigami or those with High-Spiritual Pressure. Children can be born as they are in the Human world. Souls can be killed like humans, though they have higher durability being able to survive wounds that would be considered fatal to most humans. A soul that does in the Soul Society is reincarnated on Earth as a new human being with no memories.
Access to the Soul Society
Shinigami can enter and leave the Soul Society at will using either a Senkaimon 'World Penetration Gate' or JugiKucho 'Hell Butterfly'. Pluses enter the Soul Society through the spiritual Konso ritual. When people die, they are assigned a number to a part of Soul Society according to when they died. Spirits can be born in the Soul Society like the World of the Living, with Shinigami balancing out the number of souls.
Intruders 'Ryoka' can pass through the Senkaimon as well but only in Soul Form. This grants spiritual beings like Ichigo in his Shinigami form to enter without granted permission. Humans like Chad can also enter using the gate by converting themselves into reishi from solid matter using the Reishihenkanki. (霊子変換機, Spirit Exchangers)
Hollows like Menos Grande can directly rip holes into the sky of the Soul Society from Hueco Mundo, or in the case of an Arrancar using a Garganta.
The Soul Society and the Bleach Universe are maintained by a being called the Soul King. The Soul King regulates the balance of the worlds and regulates the flow of souls into and out of the Soul Society. The Soul King lives at the Royal Palace which is a dimension separated from the Soul Society and is protected by the Royal Guard. The king does have a specific set of special duties that are carried out but the nature of those duties is unknown. The dimension can only be opened with a tri-pronged golden key 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, while the former is Genryusai Yamamoto. According to Rangiku Matsumoto, no Shinigami has ever seen the king.
Central 46. The Central 46 serve the Shinigami Royalty. They are made up of 40 wise spirits and 6 judges selected by the Soul Society. They are sealed into an enclave in Sereitei called Seijōtōkyorin which no one else may enter regardless of their status. They act as a supreme judiciary organization whose authority puts them in control of the legal system. Their orders are absolute and cannot 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 Kido
- 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 forbidden for a Shinigami to intervene in anything that is related to Hell.
- It is a crime to lose a sacred treasure.
- It is against the law to alter the Dangai records.
- All Modified Souls must be scrapped.
- Exile: Certain crimes allow for the punishment of exile which results in the stripping of Shinigami powers and being banished into the Human World
- Detention: Reserved for those who've broken the law, quit the Gotei 13, or those deemed mentally unstable
- Imprisonment: The Central 46 can sentence a Shinigami to be held in the Central Great Underground Prison for a set amount of time. The prison has eight levels in which prisoners are confined based on the severity of their crimes. For the use of forbidden Kidō techniques, Tessai Tsukabishi was sentenced to be confined in Shugo, 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 the 8th and final level of the underground prison underneath the First Division barracks.
- Sealing: If a renegade Shinigami resists arrest and it too powerful to be restrained or executed, they will be opted to be sealed. Koga Kuchiki from the Zanpakuto Anime Rebellion arc and Baishin from the Bleach OVA are examples of this punishment.
There are 2 known forms of execution -
- Spirit Sealing Pit: An ancient execution method where shinigami were thrown into a Sekki Sekki wall, a wall that absorbs spiritual energy preventing them from the usage of powers and throwing hollows in there for execution. It was considered barbaric and was discontinued.
- Sokyoku: The ancient Sokyoku is used for those with strong spiritual pressure like the level of a Captain. The Sokyoku is a massive almost phoenix-like creature that destroys the soul on contact called the Kikoo. The Kikoo has the power of 1 million Zanpakuto and it is multiplied by an order of magnitude once the user has made contact with the soul. Shunsui Kyoraku and Jushiro Ukitake destroyed it.
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 an organization of Shinigami. It is split into 13 divisions (hence the name Gotei 13) with several divisions with certain specifications. Like Squad 12, focusing on technology and Research with Squad 11 being the brute forces. Squad 4 specializes in healing Kido and medical treatment. The 9th division focuses on the newspaper and media. It's unknown if the other divisions are specialized since the squads named have only been shown to get special specifications. Soi-Fon is in charge of Squad 2 and the Omnitsukido. The Gotei 13 somewhat seems to have superiority and little authority over the two branches (i.e Soi-Fon, the Commander-in-Chief of the Onmitsukidō, and Tessai Tsukabishi, the former Grand Kido Chief).
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 grand power and the 5 of them be stronger than the entire power of the 13 captains. Only the royal family advises them, Central 46 has no say whatsoever.
Little information is known of the Kido corps due to their secrecy. They excel in Kido.
There is little information on the operations of the Omnitsukido. They are lead by Soi-Fon who is also the Second Division's captain. She succeeded Yoruichi in both posts.
It is the largest portion of the 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).
The Sereitei (瀞霊廷, court of pure souls) is the center of the Soul Society and is a circular 'shiro' with 4 main entrances, which each contain its own gatekeeper. The walls of the Sereitei are made of Sekki-Sekki (殺気石, spirit reducing stone) meant to negate all Spiritual Power. The stones also form a spherical barrier around the city which stops anything from breaching it.
A part of the Government is the Noble Houses, especially the four Noble Families which are considered the highest of the Noble Houses. The lower noble houses serve each of the four. The 4 great houses consist of. There are several lower houses that contain high-ranking Soul reapers like Shunsui or Soi-Fon.
- Shihoin Clan
- Kuchiki Clan
- Tsuyanashiro Clan
- Unknown Clan
- Shiba Clan(Fallen 5th family)
Appearances in Other Media
The Soul Society makes a Brief Appearance in the Bleach 2018 Live-Action Film and has made appearances in the animated films.