Bleach is a mega-popular shonen action series that has returned for a final story arc in the fall 2022 season, and this is a great time for veterans. Bleach fans to finally fill in the gaps and reflect on some of BleachThe darkest mysteries. Fans are about to learn a lot more about Ichigo Kurosaki’s origins and heritage, but what about his first Soul Reaper friend, Rukia Kuchiki?
Even from a long time ago Bleach fans know very little about Rukia’s parentage and origins, as lore hasn’t explored this topic in much detail. Through flashbacks, fans know that Rukia was a street kid in the Rukongai district of Soul Society along with Renji, but whether Rukia was actually born there or was originally born in the world of the living is more obscure. However, she raises some intriguing possibilities.
The ambiguity of Rukia’s biological family in Bleach
There are no solid answers as to where Rukia first came from, but she experienced Bleach Fans know there are two main possibilities. The first is that Rukia was born right there in Soul Society, as souls are perfectly capable of sexual reproduction, just like humans. The best example is noble families, such as the Kuchiki and Shihoin families, with the talented Byakuya Kuchiki having been born as a soul from day one. This vaguely suggests that natural souls are exceptionally strong, but there may be exceptions, such as Rukia.
For her part, Rukia may have been born a native of Soul Society, but she could also have been human and died before her pure soul, her Plus, was escorted to Soul Society. Her much older sister, Hisana, may have died under the same circumstances and came to Soul Society at the same time, which explains how the sisters stayed together in such a large world.
In this sense, there are two “races” of souls that live in Soul Society, being a mixture of native souls and guest souls that are not always easy to tell apart. During the “Soul Society” story arc, to name one example, Ichigo’s group met a young male soul named Yuichi Shibata, whom Ichigo and Chad met as Plus in Karakura Town. Yuichi had been purified after Shrieker’s defeat and was escorted to Soul Society, where he raised a found family and adopted Soul Society mannerisms, including his new outfit. The only reason Ichigo recognized Yuichi as a dead human turned soul is the fact that they had met before. Otherwise, Yuichi was like the souls around him, some of whom might be natives, others guests.
Perhaps the same was true for Rukia and, for that matter, her fellow wanderer Renji. Just seeing Rukia’s street urchin antics in those flashbacks gives no clue as to whether Rukia is a native or not. She would end up the same way in either case, lending an air of mystery to her character. Were the souls of Rukia’s parents living in the Rukongai district, or had they been human? It is unknown, and Rukia says very little about her family other than Byakuya, her adoptive brother.
The Many Adventures of Isekai from Bleach
No matter what Rukia’s origins are, all of this plays perfectly into BleachIsekai themes with the supernatural. Weather Bleach its not a “true” isekai anime like reincarnated as slime or even dr stone, cleverly borrows the best isekai themes without relying too heavily on them, such as Ichigo’s otherworldly adventures to and from realms like Soul Society and even the nocturnal wilderness of Hueco Mundo. Meanwhile, Rukia is some sort of reverse isekai character, spending a few weeks in Karakura Town in her gigai body, unable to return to Soul Society. If Rukia was born human, then she was isekai to Soul Society, she grew up and then was isekai back to Earth. However, even if Rukia was born on Earth, she wouldn’t recognize Ichigo’s 2000s world so easily.
If Rukia was born human and sent to Soul Society along with Hisana after her death, given how long it takes for souls to grow, Rukia must have been born many decades ago. According to some sources, Rukia is at least 150 years old in Earth time, though in terms of appearance and mental maturity, she is in her late teens or so. This means that if Rukia was born human, she died as a baby, and was sent to Soul Society, she would have been born in the years before the Meiji era, probably in the 1840s or 50s.
So even if Rukia and Hisana saw life on Earth for themselves before they died, neither would recognize the Japan of the 2000s after growing up in Soul Society and visiting Karakura Town. An Earth-born Rukia has completely forgotten about the world of the living, meaning that she is mentally a native of Soul Society no matter where she was physically born. In turn, this makes Rukia a true reverse isekai character in Bleachexploring Ichigo’s world with fresh, curious eyes that know nothing about cars, vending machines, or CD players.