Bleach is full of characters who have been around for centuries. Here are the eight oldest.
The anime world is vast, to the point that there is a series or franchise for everyone. Anime has become very popular in recent years, which is understandable given that many series are well-written and feature interesting and strong characters. These characters all vary in age, and there are some characters who look young despite actually being thousands of years old.
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There was a time when Bleach was one of the most popular anime and manga series in the world. It mainly focused on spiritual beings fighting each other. These beings do not age as normal humans do; in fact, many of them have lived for a few centuries and look as though they are in their early 20s or 30s. That being said, there are certain characters who are especially old.
Updated August 19, 2023, by George Voutiritsas: Thanks to the Thousand-Year Blood War Arc, Bleach’s popularity has seen a massive resurgence. Fans get to see their favorite characters again, as well as a bunch of new ones. Most of these characters are Soul Reapers, and because time passes differently within the Soul Society, some of these Soul Reapers have lived for centuries. Most of the oldest characters in Bleach are Soul Reapers, but other beings have lived even longer. Some of these beings identify as Quincy, but they are actually related to a god-like entity who is older than any other character in the series.
13 Kenpachi Zaraki
Kenpachi Zaraki grew up in the worst and most lawless District of North Rukon. It was there that he found his Zanpakuto, which originally belonged to a different Soul Reaper who was killed by one of the District’s many criminals. Kenpachi became a skilled swordsman by fighting and killing every opponent he could find.
One day, after creating a mountain of corpses, he fought Captain Unohana, one of the original Gotei 13 Captains. At the time, Unohana was still her natural bloodthirsty self, which means that their fight took place shortly after the first Quincy war. Based on the time period of the fight, and the fact that Kenpachi was still a young boy, it is safe to assume that he is around 1,000 years old.
12 Jushiro Ukitake
Jushiro Ukitake served as the 13th Divsion’s Captain for the majority of the series. When Bleach’s story began, he had already been a Captain for over 200 years. He was the eldest son of a low-ranking noble family. He developed a fatal lung disease when he was three years old, and only survived because the Soul King’s sentient right hand saved him.
Ukitake became a Soul Reaper by joining the Shin’ō Academy, which was founded by Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto approximately 2,100 years ago. The former Captain Commander trained Ukitake himself when he was still young. Ukitake became one of the first two Soul Reapers to graduate from the Academy, which would make him at least 2,000 years old.
11 Shunsui Kyoraku
Shunsui Kyoraku has been a Captaiin for more than two centuries, and he spent most of that time leading the 8th Division. He is a laid-back and peace-loving man, but when he is forced to fight, he takes battle very seriously. He can stay calm even when dealing with powerful opponents, and he has a keen mind. He is also one of the strongest Captains, which explains why he was named Captain Commander after Yamamoto’s death.
He and Ukitake were the first graduates of the Shin’ō Academy, and he was personally trained by Yamamoto too. During the Thousand-Year Blood War Arc, a young Shunsui was seen speaking with a much younger looking Yamamoto at the Academy. This means that he must also be at least 2,000 years old
10 Tenjirō Kirinji
As a member of the Royal Guard, Tenjiro Kirinji is one of the strongest Soul Reapers in Soul Society. He treats other Soul Reapers like they are children, including Captains, and he often patronizes them until he is physically reprimanded by one of his fellow Guards.
He earned his position because of his healing mastery. He invented special hot springs that can heal serious injuries and replenish lost blood. He is the one who taught Captain Unohana how to heal, and he can heal injuries that even she cannot treat. Tenjiro’s exact age is unknown, but if he taught Unohana, who is extremely old, he must be similar in age.
Yhwach is the son of the Soul King, and he wishes to create a world that is free from the fear of death. He is the progenitor of the Quincy, and unlike other villains in the series, he was fond of many of his subordinates. He respected the first generation of the Gotei 13, and he held Yamamoto in especially high regard.
Yhwach’s ability is called The Almighty, and it allows him to see all possible futures at once. More importantly, he can alter the future to suit his desired outcome. It took him about 1,000 years to regain his body and power, but he is actually more than 1,200 years old.
8 Ōetsu Nimaiya
Oetsu Nimaiya is another member of the Royal Guard, and he holds the title of Divine General of the West. He is quite lively and energetic, and he can be very unpredictable. He likes to make grand entrances, but when push comes to shove, he will choose to sacrifice himself.
He earned his spot with the Royal Guard because he created the Zanpakutō; in fact, he is responsible for forging every Zanpakutō that has ever awakened. Oetsu has been doing this since the birth of Soul Society, which means that he is well over 1,000 years old.
7 Ichibē Hyōsube
As the commander of the Zero Division, Ichibē Hyōsube is arguably the strongest Soul Reaper in the series. He is a Kido master who is very mission-driven, and he tends to be upbeat in most situations. In battle, however, he is known for being ruthless.
He was appointed by the Soul King because he wields power over names. Ichibē named everything within Soul Society, including the Zanpakutō. His Zanpakutō was also the first to achieve the Bankai release. Since Zanpakutō have been around since the beginning, Ichibē has to be well over 1,000 years old.
6 Captain Unohana
Retsu Unohana is the gentle and kindhearted Captain of the 4th Division, but she is actually the original Captain of the 11th Division and the first person to wield the title of Kenpachi. Prior to becoming a Captain, she was the worst criminal in Soul Society’s history, and her fight with Kenpachi Zaraki will be a highlight of the Thousand Year Blood War Arc.
She is a founding member of the Gotei 13, which explains why she holds superiority over tenured Captains like Kyoraku and Ukitake. The Gotei 13 have existed for more than 1,000 years, and Unohana has been around since before it was even created.
5 Ginrei Kuchiki
Ginrei was the 27th head of the Kuchiki Clan, but he was also the Captain of the 6th Division before Byakuya took over. As the head of one of Soul Society’s noble houses, he acts like an aristocrat, and he was quiet and calm. He was very patient as well, which is understandable given his age.
Ginrei was an elderly man when he was introduced, which means that he was incredibly old. Aging works differently in Soul Society, as evidenced by the fact that Toshiro is about 150 years old despite looking like a teenager. If Ginrei looked like he was in his 70s, he is far older than Unohana.
4 Chojiro Sasakibe
Chojiro Sasakibe was the first casualty of the new Quincy war. He was the Lieutenant of the 1st Division, a position that he held for centuries. He had achieved Bankai centuries ago, so he could have become a Captain at any time, but he swore long ago that he would serve as Yamamoto’s Lieutenant as long as the old man lived.
During a flashback sequence, a much younger Chojiro stabbed Yhwach in the back during the first Quincy war 1,000 years ago. Prior to the war, he showed his Bankai to a much younger Yamamoto. At the time of his death, Chojiro had lived more than 2,000 years.
3 Captain Commander Yamamoto
Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto was the Captain Commander of the Gotei 13, a position which he held since the group’s inception. He sought out all of the original Captains himself, and this first generation is said to be the strongest in history. He wielded the strongest and oldest fire-type Zanpakutō, which gave him access to arguably the most powerful Shikai and Bankai releases.
Yamamoto looks old because he is old; in fact, he looked as though he was in his early 50s when he founded the Gotei 13. He is more than 2,100 years old, which makes him the oldest known Soul Reaper.
2 Pernida Parnkgjas
Pernida is one of Yhwach’s elite Sternritter, and it possesses an innate ability which allowed it to govern its own evolution. This ability is great for battle because Pernida can develope a counter to most abilities via accelerated evolution. It can also use The Compulsory, a Schrift which allows it to send its nerves into enemies. It can either control the target or rip them apart.
Pernida is actually the sentient left hand of the Soul King, but it considers itself to be a Quincy. The Soul King is older than the Soul Society, so it makes sense that his literal hand would be just as old.
1 The Soul King
The Soul King rules over all of Soul Society, but he is not an ordinary man. He is a God who regulates the flow of souls that enter and leave Soul Society. He maintains the balance between the human world, Soul Society, and Hueco Mundo. Without him, all these worlds would collapse into one.
The Soul King’s limbs and organs eventually gained sentience, which forced the Soul Reapers to seal him and place restraints on him. He was technically alive before Soul Society even existed, which means that his age is unfathomable.