Death is only the beginning in Bleach, and there are many different spirit realms a person’s soul can end up in in the series. These alternate existence planes work according to their own rules, but they also interact with each other in some very interesting ways. Where one’s soul is finally found has a major impact on one’s afterlife quality, and that’s why Shinigami do what they do: guide souls to Souls Society is important.
Ichigo and friends explore these spirit worlds as the story calls for them, so there may be more worlds out there than has been shown in the series. However, only four main planes play a role in Bleach, each with its own inhabitants, rules, and atmosphere. Here’s what they are, why they’re important, and how to get them.
1 Soul Society
Soul Society is the spirit world most often seen in the series. It’s where the Pluses (souls of good people) go when they die, and it’s also the home of Shinigami and other spiritual beings. Soul Society is a large place, with most of the action in Bleach focusing on Seireitei and the city around it. Life in Soul Society is like life on Earth, except that one can no longer die from things like starvation. Soul Society has wealthy families of noble lineage and slums for the poorest, as shown in Rukia’s storyline. Everything in Soul Society is made up of Reishi, or soul particles, as opposed to ordinary matter.
Since this is the homeland of the Shinigami, the importance of the Soul Society is quite obvious. A person can reach Soul Society in many different ways. For the Plus, the Soul Reaper can perform the Konso ritual, sending them directly there. Even Hollows can be forgiven for their wrongdoings through this ritual, but only acts performed after becoming a Hollow. The Soul Reaper has a special means of traveling between realms, using the Hell Butterfly to open a portal known as the Senkaimon. Unauthorized people can also enter Soul Society through a dangerous border area known as Dangai Precipice World, but more on that later.
2 empty worlds
Hueco Mundo is the next most commonly seen kingdom and is the setting for the Hueco Mundo palace of the same name. Hueco Mundo is the realm of the Hollows, a land of eternal night and strange deserts lying somewhere between the World of the Living and the Spirit World. The most notable site is Las Noches, actually the “capital” of Hueco Mundo and the only one with any kind of structure. Life in Hueco Mundo is terrifying, as Hollows hunt each other as much as they do humans. Hollows who gain the most power this way can become Arrancars, human-looking souls with the abilities of a Hollow and a Soul Reaper.
Most souls who end up in Hueco Mundo have major life regrets that prevent them from transferring to Soul Society, gradually turning them from Pluses to Hollows, as seen with Orihime’s brother. Hollows can travel between worlds by opening portals known as Gargantas, traversing the gap between worlds with relative ease. These portals can even lead to Soul Society, although most Hollows with that ability are smart enough not to. Hueco Mundo is a kingdom rich in spiritual energy, allowing even the weakest Hollows to survive without approaching humans.
Hell is a special realm reserved for the most depraved souls. These individuals were evil when they were humans and were banished to Hell as a punishment. Arrancar and Soul Reaper can also end up in Hell if their power is too great or their sins too much. Little is known about Hell; it was focused on in the fourth Bleach film, Hellverse, but that movie has questionable classics. In the rules, Hell is inhabited by rare Hollows known as the “Beasts of Hell”, which do not emit psychic pressure and are therefore very dangerous.
When a creature was sent to the Underworld, two large doors appeared, each with a skeleton on it, which opened and dragged the guilty soul inside. Unlike the other realms, no one, not even the Soul Reaper, can freely go to Hell and back. Once a soul enters Hell, it’s nearly impossible for them to leave, at least for any significant amount of time. The Underworld environment can cause radical changes to the souls that enter it, changing their appearance and abilities permanently. While souls in Soul Society are eventually reincarnated on Earth, souls in Hell receive no such second chance, locking them out of the cycle of reincarnation forever.
4 Covers for Precipice World
The last commonly involved kingdom is Dangai. It is a border area that exists between the Soul Society and the World of the Living. It is like an endless road of some sort, and exists beyond the reach of time and space, such that hours pass inside with only minutes outside. Although it may look like a simple corridor, there is actually an intense stream of spiritual pressure and energy that can overwhelm any soul that tries to traverse it. One of its most notable features is the Kototsu, an object that patrols the area and destroys anything it comes in contact with.
As a border area, it can be accessed from either the World of the Living or the Soul Society, although it also requires a Senkaimon portal to access it. Because there are so few presents and it’s a dangerous place, there really isn’t much reason for anyone – a Soul Reaper, a Human or a Hollow – to spend a lot of time here. It proved to be a good place to set traps, as Aizen kidnapped Orihime while she was passing Dangai.
That includes all four major soul realms in Bleach. There are some smaller pocket sizes that sometimes appear, such as Screaming Valley, Dangai’s branch, or Soul King’s realm, which is connected to Soul Society, but these are rare. The spirit realms are all fascinating, well-developed, and interesting places for fans to discuss. Understanding these areas and how they connect and operate can make it easier to keep up with the action in the future Bleach.