The Gotei 13 (Thirteen Court Guard Squads in the English dub) is one of the three main military branches as well as the primary military branch of Soul Society and the main military organization most Shinigami join after leaving or graduating the academy.
The Gotei 13 serves as a military force with its primary responsibilities consisting of:
- The defense of the Seireitei, the center of Soul Society.
- The deployment of Squad members into enemy territory for combat operations.
- The deployment of taskforces for defensive measures in the Human World.
- The guiding of souls to Soul Society via Konso.
The Gotei 13 does not normally operate as a cohesive unit. 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 allocated districts in Rukongai to defend. In addition to these duties, Shinigami have to deal with the business of being assigned to the Human World.
The only general authority to call forth a combined front is an edict from the Central 46 Chambers, or more often the Captain-Commander. 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 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 Soul Society doing their divisions' duties, whatever they may be. They are so far spread out, 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 Captain-Commander, captains can choose whether or not to attend meetings (at their own risk) or not even involve themselves in the daily situations of Soul Society. Captains are not allowed, without permission, to carry out activities outside of their normal jurisdiction or their division. The captain of one division cannot punish the subordinates of another captain.
Officially, the Kido Corps and Onmitsukido are not part of the Gotei 13, but since Sui-Feng is both the captain of the Second Squad and the head of the Onmitsukidō, the Onmitsukido is effectively under the control of the Gotei 13. Additionally, the captain of the Kido Corps has been known to obey summons and orders from the Captain-Commander of the Gotei 13.
The Gotei 13 is made up of thirteen squads, with several divisions having certain specializations.
The Gotei 13 is led by the Captain-Commander, who has the statuary authority to conduct all the affairs of the Gotei 13 while deferring to the authority of the Central 46 Chambers in matters involving Soul Society.
As with any army, the Gotei 13 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 Gotei 13 is an organization with a merit-based hierarchy. It has disposed of the system of rank based on seniority. Abilities are the only thing used to determine one's rank.
The captains congregate in the main hall of the First Squad Headquarters to discuss important issues involving their specific divisions and matters which affect Soul Society. This council is highly formal, with the captain-commander leading its proceedings. All captains are considered equal (with the exception of the captain-commander), and determine the course of their individual division unless dictated otherwise by the captain-commander. Votes are carried out via a unanimous consensus.
- The Captain-Commander (Head Captain in the Bleach English Dub) is the supreme leader of the Gotei 13. The position requires the Captain-Commander to oversee the overall operations of the Gotei 13, Onmitsukido and Kido Corps when the well-being of the Seireitei and Soul Society is at stake. The current Captain-Commander is Genryusai Shigekuni Yamamoto, who had held this position for 1000 years.
- A Captain is the leader of one of the Thirteen Squads.
Captains are generally the most respected Shinigami within the Soul Society, with the leaders of the Kido Corps and Onmitsukido 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 Shinigami who are unable to perform it. They have extensively trained, if not mastered, their Bankai, allowing them to use the enormous power effectively in battle. Most captains are skilled in the use of Shunpo, Hakuda, and Kido, and generally have extensive knowledge of Shinigami history and battle tactics. All of these factors create a vast power gap between captains and lower-ranked officers.
They function as Chief executive officers, and they determine the course, organization, tactics, and policy of their division. The power a captain has over his/her division is absolute and cannot be questioned by subordinates or the captains of the other divisions. A captain can choose to change the division specialty (which Kisuke Urahara did upon becoming captain of the Twelfth Squad). Due to captains having supreme authority in their respective division, the divisions are 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 divisions unless the division in question has no current captain or the subordinate's actions are against the laws or rules of Soul Society.
The true power of Soul Society lies in the captains of the Gotei 13, as they are the leaders of its military arm. With them at full strength, 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 Gotei 13 captain:
- Captain Proficiency Test: One of the ways to become a captain.
- Personal Recommendation:
- Trial by Combat:
- A Lieutenant (or Vice Captain) is the Second Seated Officer in a division.
Lieutenants function as executive officers for their division, taking care of or supervising day-to-day operations. Along with their captains, they are not assigned to one specific squad. They generally only know the Shikai of their Zanpakuto but they are still the second strongest in their division (though some lieutenants learn Bankai and have powerful Reiryoku, but choose to remain as lieutenant for obvious reasons). 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.
The authority to appoint or dismiss a lieutenant lies solely with the captain of the respective division, a privilege which was granted to them with the support of the Central 46 Chambers. Captains reserve the right to appoint multiple lieutenants at a single time, though this is rarely done due to it being both considered highly unorthodox and heavily frowned upon by the Central 46 Chambers. Though rarely exercised, any potential candidate retains the right to decline the nomination.
|Captain||Genryusai Shigekuni Yamamoto|
|Insignia Signifies||Truth and Innocence|
|Squad Color||Deep Purple|
|Insignia Signifies||Seek Nothing|
|Squad Color||Dark Orange|
|Captain||Rojuro "Rose" Otoribashi|
|Squad Color||Spring Green (Magic Mint)|
|Third Seat||Yasochika Iemura & Hanataro Yamada|
|Insignia Signifies||Those Who Grieve Are Loved|
|Squad Color||Puce (Dusky Pink)|
|Insignia||Lily of the Valley|
|Insignia Signifies||Sacrifice, Danger, Pure Love, Humility, Sweetness|
|Squad Color||Pale Turquoise|
|Insignia Signifies||Noble Reason|
|Squad Color||Cobalt Blue|
|Squad Color||Dark Tan|
|Third Seat||Tatsufusa Enjoji|
|Insignia||Strelizia (Bird of Parasdise)|
|Insignia Signifies||Everything is Obtained|
|Squad Color||Raspberry Rose|
|Lieutenant||Shuhei Hisagi & Mashiro Kuna|
|Third Seat||Karin Kurosaki|
|Insignia Signifies||Mystery, Egoism|
|Squad Color||Dark Green|
|Third Seat||Ikkaku Madarame|
|Insignia Signifies||Vengeance, Strictness, Independence|
|Squad Color||Olive Green|
|Third Seat||Kiyone Kotetsu & Sentaro Kotsubaki|
Transferring to Another DivisionEdit
Size and RecruitmentEdit
Each Division is made up of just over 200 shinigami, with the Gotei 13's standing force being just around 3,000 total enlist troops.
Each of the 13 squads in the Gotei 13 have their own symbol which represents the division's primary role. 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 has a specific meaning.
- First Squad: Chrysanthemum (Truth & Innocence)
- Second Squad: Pasque flower (Seek Nothing)
- Third Squad: Marigold (Despair)
- Fourth Squad: Bellflower (Those Who Grieve Are Loved)
- Fifth Squad: Lily of the Valley (Sacrifice, Danger, Pure Love, Humility, Sweetness)
- Sixth Squad: Camellia (Noble Reason)
- Seventh Squad: Iris (Courage)
- Eighth Squad: Strelitzia (Everything is Obtained)
- Ninth Squad: White Poppy (Oblivion)
- Tenth Squad: Daffodil (Mystery, Egoism)
- Eleventh Squad: Yarrow (Fight)
- Twelfth Squad: Thistle (Vengeance, Strictness, Independence)
- Thirteenth Squad: Snowdrop (Hope)