Bleach is a best-selling manga and anime series. The manga, authored by Tite Kubo (
久保 帯人), has been published in a Japanese magazine Shonen Jump since August 2001. It has grown to been very popular to many people around the world. The manga series has a very unique story to it.
The central character of Bleach is a fifteen years old schoolboy Kurosaki Ichigo, who has the ability to see and communicate with ghosts and spirits.
He accidentally gets supernatural powers and is forced to fight with evil spirits aka Hollows (
ホロウ), protect the people and send the souls of the dead in the afterlife ("Soul Society").
From U.S. anime webite:
...he meets Rukia Kuchiki, a Soul Reaper who shows up at Ichigo's house on the trail of a Hollow, a malevolent lost soul. Drawn to Ichigo's high level of spiritual energy, the Hollow attacks Ichigo and his family, and Rukia steps in to help, but is injured and unable to fight. As a last resort Rukia decides to transfer a part of her Soul Reaper powers to Ichigo... Ichigo, now a full-fledged Soul Reaper, and Rukia, minus her powers, join together to face the challenges that lie ahead.
Bleach was awarded with Shogakukan manga award as the best shonen ("for boys") manga. The anime series, based on the manga plot, ended with episode 366. In addition, two OVAs, four animated films and several video games were released. To know more about the series, please visit Wikipedia.
Ishida Uryuu, first shows up in manga volume 4, chapter 29, even though we don't really get to see him at that time. He's about to jump the security cord at the Don Kanonji spectacle when a plus-kind soul turns into a hollow, but since Ichigo gets there faster than him, he decides not to intervene. The first time we get to see his face is in that same tankoubon, chapter 33, when Ichigo runs past him while being dragged by Rukia to fight some hollow. Soon after, he reveals himself to the main characters of the story. As for Bleach's animated version, Ishida first appears in episode 11 (they skipped his Don Kanonji cameo) and excluding some little changes here and there, his anime persona is faithful to the manga original. His seiyuu (voice actor) is Sugiyama Noriaki.
Ishida Uryuu (
石田雨竜) is a Karakura High School student, just as the rest of the main characters (including Ichigo). He actually goes to the exact same class as them, but he's not one to stand out much, so he goes pretty much unnoticed to most of his classmates (especially Ichigo, who can't remember a face or name to save his life). Either way, he's an excellent student and is ranked no. 1 among all people in his same grade.
Uryuu is the president of his school's Handicraft Club, and it seems he's nicknamed The 4-eye Sewer because of his uncanny sewing abilities.
He attends the club along with Inoue Orihime (
井上織姫), one of his classmates and also a important character in the story (and a sewing genius too).
Ishida hates buttons (which is like saying he likes fasteners) and the word haphazard. His favourite food is makerel miso homemade stew. He also likes to say things with characteristic drama, which is just him trying to act cool whichever the occasion. Probably to make up for his usual and undeniable high level of dorkiness.
It looks like Uryuu lives on his own and has little to no income. His only known family is his grandfather and sensei, Ishida Souken (
石田宗弦) (deceased), and his father, with whom he doesn't seem to be in good terms.
Despite looking like a normal student, Ishida has also spiritual powers of his own, much like the main characters. Ishida is, however, a Quincy, someone who uses that power to exterminate hollows, materializing a bow and arrows to distroy them. He's actually the last of his kind, since most of the quincy were all exterminated 200 years ago. The one that taught him all about the quincy and trained him was his grandfather, Ishida Souken, who was the last quincy survivor at the time, since his own son (Ishida's father) didn't want to follow his steps.
It is unknown when the Quincy first came into being, but their lore is ancient, for example, there is a song known as the Kaiser Gesang (
聖帝頌歌; "Praise-Song of the Sacred Emperor") which speaks of a sealed king. According to the song, the seal would be broken and the king would regain his heart after 900 years.
Although they may seem alike at first glance, shinigami and quincy are actually very different at the core. From the way of using spiritual power, to their methods of killing hollows. While shinigami use their inner spiritual energy to fight, quincy gather the energy from the enviroment and combines it with their own in order to materialize weapons. But probably the most important difference, and the one that ultimately lead to their destruction, is their way to exterminate hollows. When a shinigami "kills" a hollow, he/she's only purifying its soul and sending him to Soul Society, where it recovers its humanity and it's treated as any other soul. Quincy, on the other hand, completely distroy hollows killing them in all its meaning.
This may seem inhuman, but quincy were normal people who witnessed countless amounts of people being devored by hollows, because shinigami couldn't save every single person. They felt that there was no reason for being compassionate towards beings that were monsters in all senses and totally emotionless. However, leaving aside ethics, this method of killing hollows posed a real danger to humanity. The world of the living and Soul Society hold a delicate balance of souls which simply cannot be broken, because that would mean the entire world's destruction. Completely destroying hollows, creates a disarray in the soul count and so shinigami told the quincy to stop their doings or else. However, the quincy didn't listen and thus they were completely wiped out by the shinigami.
Despite this totally dismeasured genocide, Ishida concedes that shinigami were right in their way of thinking, so that's not why he holds a grudge against them. His reasons relay in the murder of his grandfather.
Ishida: "I hate Shinigami."He was killed when Ishida was only a child, by five huge hollows, while shinigami arrived two hours late, failed to save him and he could only stare horrified. Later on, he would find out the real happenings behind this incident.
In most cases Uryuu has a tendency to not use lethal force in battle, especially if he can win without doing so while often trying to simply incapacitate his opponent. He is very chivalrous, and has a strong sense of justice.
Kurosaki Ichigo (
黒崎一護) is Bleach's main character and he can't remember a face or a name even if his life depended on it. That's probably why, despite being in the same class, he doesn't notice Uryuu's existence until the later finally decides to introduce himself. Even then, Ichigo still needs Orihime's help to remember his name.
Ichigo and Ishida's relationship couldn't have had a worse start, especially since one of the first things Ishida says is that he hates all shinigami.
Ichigo is more confused than anything and a little pissed off. That's why when Ishida challenges him to a fight, he agrees to it. It all goes out of hands pretty soon, and thus Ichigo and Ishida find themselves in need to fight side by side.
During this, Ichigo finds out about the quincy and the reason of Ishida's anger. Ishida also learns about Ichigo's reasons to become a shinigami and finally realizes that he's been directing his anger to the wrong person, and that he's been acting against his beloved sensei's wishes - which were that shinigami and quincy could fight side by side.
At the end, Ishida even manages to save Ichigo's life and after all is solved, they become friends, even if a bit reluctantly at first. Uryuu refuses to eat lunch when Ichigo invites him to, but eventually agrees when someone else pays for it. The thing is, Ichigo and Ishida are very much alike and even though they're pretty closed up people, it's clear that they genuinly care about each other.
Inoue Orihime (
井上織姫) is actually the only person who knew who Ishida was from the beginning, since she also attends the Handicraft Club, just as he does. They don't seem to be close, but Orihime has been in contact with him long enough to know about his sewing abilities and closed up personality.
It is during the Soul Society Arc when Ishida and Orihime really begin to interact and understand each other. When Orihime is captured by Aizen, he shows up at the Urahara shop with Chad to help Ichigo rescue her. It's funny to watch how they are both so weird in different ways, and still manage to build a close bond by respecting and admiring each other's abilities. Being the great observer that he is, Ishida soon notices all the details that make Orihime the special person she is.
Ishida: "It's a good thing Orihime isn't here. I wouldn't want her to see what I'm about to do to you."This of course includes the enormous affection she feels for Ichigo and how she will go to any extent to help and protect him. And thus, it's painful to watch just how important is Orihime becoming in Ishida's eyes and how he's determined to protect and care about her even if her heart belongs to someone else - and his feelings may remain one-sided.
Yasutora Sado (
茶渡泰虎) aka Chad may be the one with the coldest relationship towards Ishida at the beginning. He sees him as a very complex person, something that makes him the weakest among the group, according to him - and didn't think he'd show up in time for the rescue mission. He was wrong, of course: Uryuu is just a cautious fighter.
Either way, and despite not having such a close friendship with Ishida, he somehow manages to help the quincy out whenever he's been in serious danger. Maybe this is due to his extremely kind personality, or maybe it has something to do with him assuming that Ishida is the weakest among them. Anyway, both Uryuu and Chad are Ichigo's friends and trusted companions. It's very interesting to watch how their relationship evolve.
Kuchiki Rukia (
朽木ルキア): Ishida and Rukia don't really know each other that well. Soon after he enters Ichigo's circle of friends, she's taken back to Soul Society, so they don't really have the time to interact. Either way, Ishida decides to go along Ichigo and the rest to rescue her and begins an intense training in order to do so.
Ishida insists his motives are totally selfish as he just wants to show shinigami the real power of the Quincy. However, knowing Ishida and judging his actions, we can see he's putting all his heart in rescuing Rukia because he somehow thinks of her as a friend now, too.
Ishida Souken (
石田宗弦) was Ishida's grandfather and the one who taught him everything about the quincy. He claimed that he was the last of his kind (the Last Quincy), before his grandson decided to pursue the same path. Ishida seemed closer to his grandfather than to his own father and regarded him as an extremely kind person.
Ishida was shocked to find out that his sensei didn't hold any kind of grudge against shinigami, and that in fact, he thought that shinigami and quincy ought to fight hollows side by side. His death left an inmensely big impression on him, and is probably responsible for quite a few of Ishida's decisions and actions as an adult.
If there is someone whom you can say Ishida really truly hates, that is without any doubt, Kurotsuchi Mayuri (
涅マユリ) Captain of the 12th Division of the Gotei 13. Apart from looking like evil reincarnated, he's actually the one directly responsible of Souken's death among tons of other evil doings.
Ryuuken: "You should learn how to save the people who are alive".He doesn't seem to be close to his son, and Uryuu does not hold his father in high respect; he calls his father by his given name which is considered very rude in the Japan. Ryuuken urges Uryuu not to follow in his grandfather's footsteps. However in the Arrancar arc Ryuuken suddenly appears and saves his son. Uryuu is shocked to see him, and even more shocked to find out that he has quincy powers (Uryuu believed that his father had no powers at all). Ryuuken argues that he has no interest in being a quincy, and explains that he, against his wishes, inherited the title of the Last Quincy by revealing his father's Quincy Zeichen (
クインシー・ツァイヒェン) aka quincy cross. Later he helps to restore his son's lost quincy powers on the condition that Uryuu never associates with shinigami again.
Despite his claims, Ryuuken knows a lot about quincy powers and culture. In fact, he is quite strong, because Ryuuken is a pure blood quincy also known as an Echt Quincy (
純血統). Note: Quincy distinguished themselves based upon an individual's ancestry and adopted the practice of true-breeding; those who were descended from a long line of only quincy, and so were thought to have a pure heritage, came to be known as "Echt Quincies". Ryuuken's quincy powers haven't been weakened or otherwise compromised by "normal" humans in the lineage. He didn't marry a pure-blooded wife, though, so Uryuu is a bit weaker.
Ishida's mother Katagiri Kanae (
片桐叶絵) was not a pure-blooded quincy. Not much is known about her. She was a very polite and well-mannered person. Initially she was a loyal maid in the service of the Ishida family, but later Katagiri and Ryuuken married. Six years before Uryuu and Ichigo would meet, she lost consciousness and died three months later.