|Founder(s)||Genryusai Shigekuni Yamamoto|
|Headquarter(s)||Seireitei, Soul Society|
|Senior Member(s)||Captains of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads|
|Purpose||Primary Defense/Offense force of the Soul Society|
The History of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads is somewhat unknown. All that is currently known is that it was founded by the current Head-Captain Genryusai Shigekuni Yamamoto.
The Thirteen Court Guard Squads serves as a military force with its primary responsibilities consisting of:
- The defense of the Seireitei, the center of the Soul Society.
- The deployment of Squad members into enemy territory for combat operations.
- The deployment of Task Forces as defensive measures in the world of the living.
- The guiding of souls to the Soul Society.
The Thirteen Court Guard Squads, in contrast to the normal operations of modern-day militaries, does not operate as a cohesive unit normally. The command of the divisions are generally left to the discretion of its particular Captain, who commonly runs it whatever way he or she sees fit, allowing for the change of a division's traditional duties to an entirely new set and even the creation of a separate institution connected to the division. The Gotei 13's main duty is to defend the Seireitei but they are also allocated districts in the Rukon District to defend. In addition to these duties, Shinigami also have to deal with the business of being assigned to the World of the Living.
The only general authority to call forth a combined front would be that of an edict from the Central 46 Chambers, or more often the Head-Captain. It is not uncommon for captains to not see each other as a whole group for long periods of time, except for cases involving a threat to all of the Soul Society, a captain's punishment, or to a lesser degree, a captain's promotion. On a regular basis, the captains are spread out all across the Soul Society doing their divisions' duties, whatever they may be. They are, in fact, so far spread out that getting the Captains together as a group, or even getting their lieutenants together as a group, could normally take a day to accomplish.
Unless specifically ordered by the Head-Captain, captains can choose whether or not to attend meetings (at their own risk) or not even involve themselves in the daily situations of the Soul Society. Captains are not allowed, without permission, to carry out activities outside of their normal jurisdiction or their squad. The captain of one division cannot punish the subordinates of another captain.
Officially, the Kido Corps and Stealth Force are not part of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads. However, as Soi Fon is both the captain of the Squad Two and the head of the Stealth Force, the Stealth Force is effectively under the Thirteen Court Guard Squads' control. In addition, the captain of the Kidō Corps has been known to obey summons and orders from the Head-Captain of the Thiriteen Court Guard Squads.
The Thirteen Court Guard Squads is made up of thirteen components: They are split into thirteen squads (hence the name), with several squads having certain specializations.
The Gotei 13 is led by the "Head-Captain", who has the statuary authority to conduct all the affairs of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads; while deferring to the authority of the Central 46 Chambers in matters involving the Soul Society.
As with any army, the Thirteen Court Guard Squads has ranks. There are 20 ranks for officers but no ranks for non-officers. The lower the number is, the higher the rank. The ranks and their descriptions are below, from highest to lowest in terms of strength. The Court Guards are an organization with a merit-based hierarchy. They have disposed of the system of rank based on seniority. Abilities are the only thing used to determine one's rank.
The Captains congregate together in the main hall of the Squad One Headquarters to discuss important issues involving their specific divisions and matters that affect the Soul Society. This council is highly formal with the head-captain leading its proceedings. All captains are considered equal (with the exception of the head -captain) and determine the course of their individual squads unless dictated otherwise by the head-captain. Votes are carried out via a unanimous consensus.
- The Head-Captain (meaning for "Sotaicho") is the supreme leader of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads. The position requires the Head-Captain to oversee the overall operations of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads, Stealth Force and Kido Corps when the well being of the Seireitei and the Soul Society is at stake. The only power the Head-Captain is answerable to is the Central 46 Chambers. The current holder of this title is Captain Genryusai Shigekuni Yamamoto of the Squad One, who has held that post for the last 1000 years.
- A Captain (meaning for "Taicho") is the leader of one of the thirteen squads (with the special case of the Head-Captain).
Captains are generally the most respected Soul Reapers within the Soul Society, with the Kido Corps, and the Stealth Force leaders possibly being on equal status. With one exception, all captains are able to utilize the final stage of their Zanpakuto, and are far more powerful than even their lieutenants. Knowing Bankai gives captains an average of five-to-ten times the strength of the Soul Reapers who are unable to perform it. They have also extensively-trained, if not mastered, their Bankai, allowing them to actually use the enormous power effectively in battle. Most captains are also skilled in the use of Flash Steps, Kido, and generally have extensive knowledge of Soul Reaper history and battle tactics. All of these factors create a vast power-gap between captains and lower-ranked officers.
Captains determine the course, organization, tactics and policy of their squad. The power a captain has over his/her squad is absolute and cannot be questioned by subordinates or the captains of the other squads. A captain can choose to change the squad specialty (As Kisuke Urahara did upon gaining command). Due to captains having supreme authority in their respective squad the squads have become separate entities and not a cohesive military. In this way they only have the right to punish the actions of their subordinates and not those of other squads unless in the instance that the squad in question has no current captain or the subordinates actions are against the laws or rules of the Soul Society.
Although not commonly stated, the true power of the Soul Society lies in the captains of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads, as they are the leaders of its military arm. With them at full strength, the Soul Society is safe and almost unbeatable. If they are broken, their strength dwindles, making them highly vulnerable.
There are three different ways to become a Thriteen Court Guard Squad captain:
- Captain Proficiency Test (also known as "taishu"): A test which requires the ability to perform Bankai. Nearly all Shinigami become captains using this method. At least three existing captains, including the Captain-Commander, have to witness the test.
- Personal Recommendation: To have personal recommendations from at least six captains and approval from at least three of the remaining seven.
- Trial by Combat: To defeat a captain one-on-one with at least 200 witnesses from the captain's division. Kenpachi Zaraki is the only known current captain to have achieved his rank using this method. This method is seen as being the exceedingly rarest of the three as well as the least refined. The method is commonly looked down upon by some captains as barbaric compared to the other refined methods. This method also allows one to bypass having the mastery of Bankai or other possible abilities that a captain would otherwise be required to have knowledge of, as it allows no judgment from captains who would require those skills as a prerequisite to join their ranks.
- A Lieutenant (also known as"fukutaicho") is the 2nd seated officer in a squad.
Lieutenants function as executive officers for their division, taking care of or supervising day-to-day operations. They (along with their captains) are not assigned to one specific squad. They generally only know the Shikai of their Zanpakutō, but are still the second strongest in their division. In the case of a division captain's death, departure, or other circumstances making him unable to perform their duties, the lieutenant acts as the "substitute captain" until another can be assigned.
List of Captains and Lieutenants
|Squad(s)||Captain||Lieutenant||Squad Flower||Squad Color||Squad Speciality|
|Squad One||Genryusai Shigekuni Yamamoto||Chojiro Sasakibe||Chrysanthemum (Truth & Innocence)||Deep Purple||N/A|
|Squad Two||Soi Fon||Marechiyo Omaeda||Pasque Flower (Seek Nothing)||Amber||Special Ops|
|Squad Three||Gin Ichimaru||Izuru Kira||Marigold (Despair)||Azure||N/A|
|Squad Four||Retsu Unohana||Isane Kotetsu||Bellflower (Those Who Grieve Are Loved)||Pink||Medical/Supply/Janitorial|
|Squad Five||Sosuke Aizen||Momo Hinamori||Lily of the Valley (Sacrifice, Danger, Pure Love, Humility, Sweetness)||Light Green||N/A|
|Squad Six||Byakuya Kuchiki||Renji Abarai||Camellia (Noble Reason)||Indigo Blue||N/A|
|Squad Seven||Sajin Komamura||Tetsuzaemon Iba||Iris (Courage)||Dark Tan||N/A|
|Squad Eight||Shunsui Kyoraku||Nanao Ise||Strelitzia/Bird of Paradise (Everything is Obtained)||Rose Pink||N/A|
|Squad Nine||Kaname Tosen||Shuhei Hisagi||White Poppy (Oblivion)||Brown||Arts & Cultural, Thirteen Court Guard Squads Security Force|
|Squad Ten||Toshiro Hitsugaya||Rangiku Matsumoto||Daffodil (Mystery, Egoism)||Dark Green||N/A|
|Squad Eleven||Kenpachi Zaraki||Yachiru Kusajishi||Yarrow (Fight)||Lavender||Melee Combat: Swordsmanship|
|Squad Twelve||Mayuri Kurotsuchi||Nemu Kurotsuchi||Thistle (Vengeance, Strictness, Independence)||Olive Green||Science|
|Squad Thriteen||Jushiro Ukitake||Rukia Kuchiki||Snowdrop (Hope)||Crimson Red||N/A|
Seated Officers are the remainder of the officers in the Thirteen Court Guard Squads that hold ranks at or below 3rd Seat. Captains and Lieutenants have the ranks of 1st and 2nd Seats, respectively. Next to that, there are 18 more seats (3rd-to-20th). These ranks are somewhat analogous to junior officers or non-commissioned officers in modern military. There seems to be a distinction between senior and junior seated officers, just like in real-life armies. In the Thirteen Court Guard Squads, only one person can hold a senior officer rank (such as 3rd or 5th seat), but there are several holders of junior officer ranks (e.g. 20th seat). This may vary from division to division however, as there are two 3rd Seats in the 13th Division. Seated officers often lead subunits within each squad (for example, Hanataro Yamada is leader of Squad Fours 14th Advanced Relief Team).
List of Seated Officers
|Squad(s)||3rd Seat||4th Seat||5th Seat||6th Seat||7th Seat||8th Seat||9th Seat||10th Seat||11th Seat||12th Seat||13th Seat||14th Seat||15th Seat||16th Seat||17th Seat||18th Seat||19th Seat||20th Seat|
|Squad Four||Yasochika Lemura||Hanataro Yamada||Harunobu Ogido|
|Squad Eight||Tatsufusa Enjoji|
|Squad Ten||Kokichiro Takezoe|
|Squad Eleven||Ikkaku Madarame||Yumichika Ayasegawa||Makizo Aramaki|
|Squad Thirteen||Kiyone Kotetsu & Sentaro Kotsubaki|
This is a list of unseated Soul Reapers and (if known) their respective squads.
- Rikichi - Soul Reaper of Squad Six
- Rin Tsubokura - Shinigami of Squad Twelve.
- Hiyosu - Shinigami of Squad Twelve.
- Akon - Shinigami of Squad Twelve.
Size and Recruitment
Each Division is made up of just over 200 Soul Reapers, with the Thirteen Court Guard Squads' standing force being just around 3000 total enlisted troops. The Soul Reapers are typically recruited through the Soul Reaper Academy. However, it must be noted that not all graduates make it into the Thirteen Court Guard Squads. Graduates from the Academy are required to sit an entrance exam for the Thirteen Court Guard Squads and only those who pass are allowed to join. The entrance exam can be taken multiple times.
Each of the 13 squads in the Thirteen Court Guard Squads have their own symbol that represents the squad's primary role, which all seem to be based on flowers. When a power limit is placed on a captain or lieutenant, their symbol appears on a certain part of their body until the limit is lifted. Each symbol also has a specific meaning.
Most of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads' personnel wear the standard Soul Reaper uniform, called Shihakusho (meaning for "Garment of Dead Souls") - a white shitagi, a black kosode, a black hakama, a white hakama-himo, white tabi, and waraji. The black kosode also has its owner's division insignia emblazoned on the inside, though it does not appear to have any significant reasoning other than minor security authorization. Lieutenants sometimes also wear an armband which carries their squad symbol and its number, usually on their left arm. They are required to do this when they are summoned to a meeting but apart from this it seems that it is rarely compulsory; at the time the series takes place, the use of the armbands was noted to have fallen out of fashion.
Captains wear a white haori over the usual black Soul Reaper clothes, with the number of their squad on the back, inside the Thirteen Court Guard Squads' symbol (a rhombus). Some captains have long sleeves, while the others do not. It also seems that the color of the underside is squad --or at least captain-specific--as every captain has a different color of it.
The Thirteen Court Guard Squads' officers, particularly captains and lieutenants, often customize their personal appearance or that of their uniform. Some of these modifications include:
- Captain Soi Fon of the Squad Two wears a sleeveless and backless Soul Reaper outfit (when she is fighting) under her haori, which is standard issue for the head of the Stealth Force. She also wears a yellow sash a layer above, but slightly lower than her white one.
- Captain Retsu Unohana of the Squad Four wears an obi sash rather than a standard one.
- Captain Byakuya Kuchiki of the Squad Six wears an extremely expensive scarf named ginpaku kazahana no uzuginu and a white ceremonial hairpiece called kenseikan, symbolizing his noble lineage.
- Captain Sajin Komamura of the Squad Seven wears shoulder guards over his haori and large gloves which go up to his arms. He also wore a helmet to hide his appearance, but he later removed it.
- Captain Shunsui Kyoraku of the Squad Eight is probably the most flamboyantly dressed of the captains, always seen wearing a straw hat and a gaudily-colored kimono over his uniform.
- Captain Kaname Tosen formerly of the Squad Nine wears an orange scarf with his outfit, a sleeveless kosode as well as white boots.
- Captain Toshiro Hitsugaya of the Squad Ten wears a green sash pinned with a star around his shoulder to hold his sword.
- Captain Kenpachi Zaraki of the Squad Eleven wears a jagged edged haori, which was taken from the previous captain.
- Captain Mayuri Kurotsuchi of the Squad Twelve wears a bloated purple cravat and a hat decorated with two horizontal spikes, he later changes the hat.
- Lieutenant Chojiro Sasakibe of the Squad One wears a jinbaori over his Shihakushō.
- Lieutenant Shuhei Hisagi of the Squad Nine wears a sleeveless kosode and black choker.
- Lieutenant Rangiku Matsumoto of the Squad Ten wears a top that is deliberately loose and hangs open to reveal her ample bosom. She also wears a pink scarf (or stole), and wears her lieutenant's badge around her waist with her sash, tied in a bow.
- Lieutenant Nemu Kurotsuchi of the Squad Twelve has a very abbreviated outfit: the hakama is absent, leaving her with a mini-skirt version of the kosode that is belted at the waist.
- 5th Seat Yumichika Ayasegawa of the Squad Eleven wears an orange piece of clothing on top of his uniform around the neck connected to his arm, which covers most of his chest that would otherwise be exposed by his uniform.
- All known members of the Squad Nine, excluding Mashiro Kuna and Toshimori Umesada, wear kosode without sleeves, including the former captains.