Imperial Division Guards
|Founder(s)||Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto (Deceased)|
|Affiliation||Soul Society, The Soul King|
|Purpose||The Defense and Offense of Soul Society|
|“||Dying to exterminate great evil. Know that this is the spirit of the Gotei 13!||”|
—, Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto
The Gotei 13 (護廷十三隊, Goteijūsantai; 13 Division Imperial Guards) is the primary Military Force in the Seireitei and Rukonagi Soul Society. It is the primary force which Soul Reapers join upon graduating the Shinō Academy.
While the history of the Gotei 13 remains largely unknown, the organization was founded by Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto, who has stood at the head of the group since its inception.
The first generation of the Gotei 13 consisted of Yamamoto, Yachiru Unohana and 11 other captains. Yhwach considers this generation to be the strongest version of the Gotei 13.
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 Division members into enemy territory for combat operations.
- The deployment of Task Forces as defensive measures in the Human World.
- The guiding of souls to Soul Society.
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.
The Gotei 13 is made up of thirteen divisions, with several divisions having certain specializations.
The Gotei 13 is led by the Captain-Commander, who has the statutory 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 Division 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 (総隊長, Sōtaichō; Captain-Commander) is the supreme leader of the Gotei 13. The position requires the Captain-Commander to oversee the overall operations of the Gotei 13, Onmitsukidō and Kidō Corps when the well-being of Seireitei and Soul Society is at stake. The only power the Captain-Commander answers to is the Central 46 Chambers, who elect the successor of the current Captain-Commander in the event of their death. The former holder of this title is Captain Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto of the 1st Division, who had held this post for the last 1000 years.
- A Captain (隊長, Taichō; lit. Unit Commander) is the leader of one of the thirteen divisions (with the special case of the Captain-Commander).
Captains are generally the most respected Shinigami within the Soul Society, with the leaders of the Kidō Corps and Onmitsukidō possibly being on equal status. With one exception, all captains are able to utilize the final stage of their Zanpakutō, 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 and Kidō, 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 12th Division). 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 (隊首, 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. This method is seen as being the exceedingly rarest and the least refined of the three. The method is commonly looked down upon by some captains as barbaric compared to the other refined methods. This method allows one to bypass having the mastery of Bankai or other possible abilities which a captain would otherwise be required to have knowledge of, for it allows no judgment from captains who would require those skills as a prerequisite to join their ranks. Though rare in other Divisions, the Eleventh Division has been set up to exclusively utilize this method, with each captain attaining their rank by killing the predecessor.
- A Lieutenant (副隊長, fukutaichō; vice-unit commander, often translated as vice-captain) is the 2nd 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 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.
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.
Seated officers are the remainder of the officers in the Gotei 13 which 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-20th). In the Gotei 13, 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 varies from division to division, for there are two 3rd Seats in the 13th Division. Seated officers often lead sub-units within each division.
Each of the 13 divisions in 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.
Most Gotei 13 personnel wear the standard Shinigami uniform, called Shihakushō (死覇装, Garment of Dead Souls) - a white shitagi (下着,under clothing), a black kosode (小袖, small sleeve), a black hakama (袴), a white hakama-himo, white tabi (足袋, foot pouch), and waraji (草鞋). The black kosode has its owner's division insignia emblazoned on the inside. Lieutenants sometimes wear an armband which carries their division 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 is rarely compulsory.
Captains wear a white haori (羽織) over the usual black Shinigami clothes, with the number of their division on the back inside the Gotei 13 symbol (a rhombus). Some captains have long sleeves, while the others do not. The color of the underside is division--or at least captain--specific, for every captain has a different color of it.