Fri. Feb 3rd, 2023

In the hit shonen series Bleach, a dazzling variety of weapons, items and kido spells help round out the combat system, and that’s especially true for black-robed Soul Reapers who patrol the mortal realm to slay Hollows or escort the souls of the dead. Soul Reapers primarily use their zanpakuto in the line of duty, but that’s not all.

It’s mainly Squad 12, the research and development squad, that pioneers the most useful, versatile tools that Soul Reapers use while on duty. Those items only appear here and there in Bleach, but together, they prove how innovative and resourceful Soul Reapers can be despite their traditionalist culture and mindset.

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In the real world, pagers are usually associated with doctors and the 1990s in general, and amusingly enough, Bleach‘s Soul Reapers use their own version of pagers, simply called Soul Pagers. This may reflect the commonly-used technology in Japan when Bleach started serialization in the early 2000s, and it shows that while Soul Reapers are capable of innovation, they don’t rely on fancy tech too heavily. These practical spirit agents make do with passable tech like Soul Pagers, with such devices serving two major functions.

Soul Pagers are communicators, used to place calls between spirit agents in the Soul Society and those in the world of the living. A Soul Reaper might use one if they are in distress and need backup, such as if they are cornered by Hollows or if they cannot return to the Soul Society for some reason. Such messages are usually text-based, like real-life pagers. Soul Pagers can then be used as trackers to follow the movements of nearby Hollows, like the anime version of space marines in Aliens tracking xenomorphs with their M314 motion trackers. In particular, the major character Kuchiki Rukia was often seen using her Soul Pager this way in Bleach‘s first season to help Ichigo hunt down stray Hollows.

Soul Pagers vary somewhat in their physical design, including their colors. A bonus comic featured the Soul Reaper Women’s Association members holding a meeting to redesign their plain Soul Pagers, for example, customizing their shape and colors alike. Most notably, the Soul Reapers completely updated their Soul Pagers as of the one-shot chapter, embracing cutting-edge Human technology by creating iPhone-style Soul Pagers, complete with FaceTime-style video chat. Renji, for example, was seen chatting with Ichigo this way across a great distance.

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Soul Candy & Gigai Bodies Allow Soul Reapers To Interact With Humans

Ordinarily, Soul Reapers cannot interact with mortal humans at all. Soul Reapers are physically solid, but a non-spiritual human cannot see or hear them, which makes diplomacy difficult. If a Soul Reaper needs to speak to humans or integrate into Japanese society, they can use even more advanced items to blend in. A gigai is an artificial body that a Soul Reaper can inhabit to speak to humans, and on the outside, these seem perfectly ordinary. These gigai bodies begin as a blank template, but they can morph into the user’s likeness, minus their clothing. Once the user obtains clothes, their gigai body is ready for use. A notable example of this is when Rukia spent much of Season 1 in a gigai body provided by Urahara Kisuke himself. Renji, Rangiku and the other members of the Hitsugaya Advance Team also used gigai bodies to pose as students at Ichigo’s school.

A related piece of Soul Reaper technology is Soul Candy — a small, candy-like item that can be swallowed to force a soul right out of its mortal body. Ichigo and Rukia often used them in their early adventures together, with Soul Candy pieces coming in convenient containers reminiscent of PEZ candy dispensers. Soul Reapers usually use Soul Candy to quickly eject their true spiritual body from their gigai, as exiting the gigai without Soul Candy is slow and difficult. The Soul Candy will then place a conscious soul inside the gigai — a soul that will typically obey the Soul Reaper user and flee the scene in case of danger. Chappy is one such artificial soul, which Rukia used before fighting the Arrancar D-Roy Rinker.

Other versions of these items exist too. Kisuke invented a portable gigai that can be quickly inflated like a balloon and used for Naruto-style substitutions in battle. Then there are Mod-Souls, or unusual Soul Candy pieces, which contain a combat-capable artificial soul. Mod-Souls were soon deemed defective and unworthy of use, so they were recalled and destroyed in the Soul Society. The lone exception is Ichigo and Rukia’s friend Kon, who can employ kicks in battle. Kisuke wanted to destroy him, but Ichigo and Rukia spoke in his defense, and he was spared.

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