Tuesday, 11 November 2014

The Four Spiritual Beings - The Significance of Souls

This is not a new discussion.  It is an old one that I dug up and decided to archive here.
In the recent chapter of Bleach, Urahara tells us that the Arrancar's Resurreccion is almost the same as a Shinigami's Bankai, and we have seen - particularly with Vasto Lordes level Arrancar - that the power increase given by Resurreccion is equivalent to that of a Bankai in most cases.

By this logic, Urahara proposed that the Vandenreich could be able to steal an Arrancar's Resurreccion as easily as they are able to steal a Shinigami's Bankai. But there is also a couple questions this brings up: is it a retcon of the Arrancar's Resurrecion, and how would Medallions able to steal Bankai be able to do the same to Resurreccion?

I believe the answer rests with the Asauchi and the form of a Hollows. As we learnt recently, an Asauchi is made from laying multiple Shinigami souls on top of each other, the end result being blank beings with no individuality.

A Menos Grande is formed from a similar process, only it occurs when Hollows begin to devour other Hollows, which causes their souls to merge with one another to create the mindless Gillian, which themselves are blank slates unless there is one Hollow whose ego/personality exceeds those making up the rest of the Menos. We saw an "alternate" method of creating a Menos with White, who could use a Menos' Cero but was made from multiple Shinigami souls.

As we know, the Gillians who maintain individuality have the potential to become Adjuchas and eventually Menos Grandes, becoming distinct individuals, having progressed beyond the Gillian stage. Once a Hollow breaks their Masks to become Arrancars, they regain their Human forms - or as close to Human forms as they can get - and they store the nucleus of their Hollow powers in the Zanpakuto generated by the evolution into Arrancar.

But more importantly is what happens when one Adjuchas devours even a small piece of another - the evolution of the Adjuchas who had part of their body devoured stops. We also know that an Arrancar who discards a part of their physical form in Resurrecion cannot restore themselves to their original state. This is the same as what happens when Bankai are damaged - a Bankai can never be restored to the way it was, and suffers from decreased power.

The composition of a Menos' body is essentially the same as the Asauchi - multiple souls piled on top of one another - and sealing the nucleus of one's Hollow powers in a Zanpakuto represents the same thing as it does for a Shinigami's Zanpakuto. Just as a Bankai is the complete manifestation of a Shinigami's power, the Resurreccion is the manifestation of the Arrancar's true power.


But this is not the case with either Fullbringers or Quincy. In the case of Fullbringers, however, their method of manifesting powers functions very much like a Shinigami - they imprint the essence of their soul onto an object they are close to. In the case of Fullbringers, this can be any Human World object they have a close attachment to, and then manifest their powers by amplifying the power of the object's "soul" with their own.

In the case of Quincy, they use the Quincy Cross to act as the focus of their reishi-gathering abilities in order to manifest a Spirit Weapon. As was explained early on, the Quincy and Shinigami are opposites of one another. A Shinigami channels their inner power through their Zanpakuto, "fighting with the power within", while Quincy absorb reishi and combine it with their power to create weapons, "fighting using outside powers".

In other words, both of these subsets of Humans use their powers to manipulate certain spiritual energies - the "soul" of "objects" or the reishi in the atmosphere - in order to create weapons.

This is in stark contrast to the spiritual beings of Shinigami and Arrancar, who possess weapons in the form of Zanpakuto - which are composed of multiple souls piled/mixed together - which represent the "essence" of the Shinigami or Arrancar's soul, and are "released" to display the individual's true power.
Which brings us to what Urahara mentioned in "Everything But the Rain". When discussing the method of saving Masaki, Urahara explained that Hollows are opposites of Humans, and Shinigami are opposites of Quincy. In essence, Urahara set up the relevance of harmony between these four soul types, and their relationships to one another.

In the case of Hollows and Humans being opposites, this is best seen when looking at both Arrancar and Fullbringers. Both races are hybrid races created by their opposition. In the case of Arrancar, they are "Hollows" who regain their "Human" selves, resulting in their "Hollow" powers being sealed into a Zanpakuto. In the case of Fullbringers, they are "Humans" who were born with "Hollow reiryoku" mixed into their souls. Because they are opposites, this awakened a power that allows "Humans" to manipulate the "souls" in "matter".

But things get messy if you attempt to mix Hollow powers in with the soul of a Shinigami and Quincy. Because they are spiritual beings - and likely because of the nature of the Zanpakuto being similar to Hollows - a Shinigami who gains Hollow powers is able to "Hollowfy", affording them an increase in power. Despite this, there still exists the risk of Shinigami losing control of themselves, becoming mindless monsters, and self-destructing via "soul suicide".

But a Hollow's true anti-thesis is the Quincy. Both races, as we now know, exist in a mutual relationship of destruction. If a Hollow is killed by Quincy arrows, they are erased from existence, and if a Quincy's soul becomes contaminated with a Hollow's essence, their spiritual powers not only become "weakened", but they can also have their own souls destroyed by a Hollow's essence.

Hence, the only soul able to balance out a "Hollow" and resist its "corruption/poison" is a "Human" soul. This makes sense, considering all "Human" souls can become "Hollows" if their Chain of Fate erodes away.

It is different when you mix "Human" with "Shinigami" or "Quincy". The "Human" soul is neutral to both "Shinigami" and "Quincy", but with different effects. With a "Shinigami", they have a "Human" physical body, and must exit that body in order to assume their "Shinigami" form. It also seems that a "Shinigami" ages at the rate of a "Human" in such circumstances - as we saw with Isshin, who became a "Shinigami-Human" and physically aged twenty years as a result.

With "Quincy", who are Humans with spiritual powers, a Pure-blood "Quincy" marrying a "Human" and having children produces a "Half-blood" Quincy. At this point, it is purely hypothesis, but it is a notion I have heard elsewhere and agree with - specifically Milareppa at OneManga, IIRC.

While a Half-Blood "Quincy" might not have the same innate potential as a Pure-Blood, their "Human" sides might give them the "natural defenses/antibodies" to Hollows that Pure-Bloods lack. This is how we've seen Uryu be injured by Hollows numerous times, yet he has not been "poisoned" like we have just seen happen with Cang Du, and what happened with Masaki. So while they might be considered "inferior" to the Pure-Bloods, a Half-Blood is actually "superior" in the fact they have natural defenses against a Hollow's essence.
In regards to "Shinigami" and "Quincy", we have not seen a clear end-result of that outside of two - potentially three - instances. In the first instance at the beginning of the series, just by touching Ichigo's Zanpakuto, Uryu's Kojaku, his Spirit Weapon, changed form and most likely would have produced an exponentially more powerful arrow than his normal self.

For the second, we have Ichigo himself. He wields the powers of the Shinigami, but now that his Quincy powers have awakened and his true Zanpakuto revealed, we know three things: 1) Ichigo now possesses dual Zanpakuto, a trait only Kyoraku and Ukitake have displayed among the Shinigami, 2) Ichigo has a manifestation of Quincy powers in his Inner World, and 3) that manifestation can activate the Blut to protect Ichigo even when Ichigo himself is unaware he can use the ability.

The third is how Ichigo and his sisters were safe from the Auswahlen. We know Uryu was also unaffected, but I'll get to that later. Because of their Quincy heritage, the Kurosaki siblings should have all been targeted by the Auswahlen, but Yhwach could touch none of them - he could only take Masaki's powers - so we know that a Shinigami-Quincy hybrid is immune to Yhwach's Auswahlen, essentially meaning they exist outside of his influence.

As to what this means, Grand Fisher mentioned that Ichigo was a "Trueblood" upon learning his father was a Shinigami. But what is a "True Blood"? The terminology Kubo uses for that term is different from the "Pure Blood" and "Half-Blood" used to refer to the Quincy and their lineages.

It could simply mean Ichigo has Shinigami heritage, but why would "True Blood" be used to refer to just anyone with a Shinigami heritage? I think that it is hinting at something in regards to Humans born with "Shinigami" powers. The possibility exists that the only way a "Human" can be born with "Shinigami" powers is if one of their parents was a Shinigami and the other a Quincy. As a result of these two opposing races existing in one being, the end result is a "True Blood" - an individual possessing both the power of "Shinigami" and "Quincy".
In the end, it is all a matter of the balance between souls and their relationships to one another, which brings us to the last section of my post (hopefully) - the nature of Transcendence.

"Transcendence" appears to be rooted in "transcending Shinigami and Hollow", and Hollowfication was Aizen's main research route in achieving that goal. However, "Hollowfication" is unstable, so creating a "stable" Visored requires a vaccine made from Quincy Arrows of Light and Human souls, with the vaccine's two parts balancing with the conflicting Shinigami and Hollow essences to stabilize the soul. But compared to an Arrancar, a stable hybrid of "Human" and "Hollow", the Visoreds are imperfect.

This is where the "Human" essence becomes key to achieving Transcendence. The "Human" side has to balance with the "Hollow" side in order to make it stable, which will result in a fusion of "Shinigami" and "Hollow" to create a being "transcending both Shinigami and Hollow". Ginjo also made mention of this when discussing Ichigo's Fullbring - when his Shinigami reiatsu fused with his Fullbring, he would gain a power "transcending the Shinigami".

It is because of Ichigo's "Human" side that the "Hollow" powers passed onto him from Masaki, who was infected with Hollowfication by White, fused with his Shinigami powers and became his Zanpakuto without resulting in "soul suicide".

However, there is a catch. As we saw with Aizen, Ichigo and Ginjo, any Transcendental Being with only those three essences inside them - "Hollow", "Shinigami" and "Human" - will appear distinctly Hollow-like in appearance. They may wield Zanpakuto, but their physical appearance is still that of Hollows. Aizen might have been because of the Hogyoku, but we saw the upper limit of this with the abomination he became at the end.

Which brings me to the second, complete stage of Transcendence. In this stage, all four soul essences are in balance with one another - "Shinigami" and "Quincy", and "Human" and "Hollow". Ichigo is the main example of this thus far in the series, and embodies the balance of souls in the series - one the Blood War has thrown out of balance for the past one thousand years.


As a result, the key theme of the Final Blood War arc is not solely about the Quincy, but it will be about the role they fill in the balance of souls in the Bleach universe. If their existence only threatened the balance and to cause the destruction of the world, why would they exist in the first place?

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