The story opens with the sudden appearance of Rukia Kuchiki in Ichigo Kurosaki`s bedroom. She is surprised at his ability to see her, but their resulting conversation is interrupted by the appearance of a hollow, an evil spirit. After Rukia is severely wounded while trying to protect Ichigo, she intends to transfer half her powers to Ichigo, hoping to give him the opportunity to face the hollow on equal footing. Ichigo unintentionally absorbs almost all her powers instead, allowing him to defeat the hollow with ease.
By Tite Kubo (Bleach)
All Bleach characters are "souls". Living humans contain souls within their bodies, while disembodied souls, or spirits, have a form composed of particles of spiritual energy called ectoplasm (reishi), which mimics human anatomy but ages more slowly. This form encompasses all of the spirit's being; there is no distinction between spirit and body. There are a variety of different types of spirits in Bleach, each with a different visual theme and approach to combat.
See also: List of Bleach characters
Voiced by: Masakazu Morita (Japanese), Johnny Yong Bosch (English)
The primary protagonist of Bleach, the orange haired high school junior Ichigo Kurosaki is forced to become a substitute Soul Reaper after unwittingly absorbing most of Rukia's powers. His cynical nature at first makes him ill-disposed towards the duty, but with the passage of time he comes to accept and welcome it, recognizing that even if he is not able to save everyone, he can at least use his skills to protect those close to him.
Voiced by: Fumiko Orikasa (Japanese), Michelle Ruff (English)
Rukia Kuchiki is a sarcastic Soul Reaper who was sent on a hollow extermination patrol in Ichigo's hometown. Though her physical appearance is that of a teenage girl, in reality she is around 150 years old. Rukia is forced to transfer her power to Ichigo and assume a temporary lifestyle as a regular human. She registers at the local high school and takes up residence in Ichigo's closet, while teaching him how to be a substitute Soul Reaper in her place.
Voiced by: Yuki Matsuoka (Japanese), Stephanie Sheh (English)
Orihime Inoue is a long-time classmate of Ichigo, closely linked to him by mutual friend Tatsuki Arisawa. She is effectively an orphan, as she and her elder brother Sora ran away from their abusive home at a young age, and her brother later died. Though initially devoid of spiritual powers, she begins to develop spiritual awareness and later obtains one of the most powerful healing abilities in the Bleach universe, able to completely restore a body to its previous state regardless of how severely it is wounded.
Yasutora "Chad" Sado
Voiced by: Hiroki Yasumoto (Japanese), Jamieson Price (English)
Yasutora Sado, better known as Chad, is one of Ichigo's few friends at school. He is a biracial (Japanese/Mexican) student who towers over his classmates.<1> Despite his imposing appearance he is quite meek, and refuses to fight unless it is for the sake of another. He does not have awareness of ghosts at first, but this changes when he witnesses a group of children being attacked by a hollow. He discovers a unique ability that strengthens and armors one of his arms, enabling him to fight hollows. He later develops the ability to shoot energy from his armored arm.
Voiced by: Shin-ichiro Miki (Japanese), Michael Lindsay (English)
A mysterious and cheery man characterized by his hat that shadows his eyes and the geta (wooden sandals) he wears, Kisuke Urahara runs the Urahara Shop, a candy store that also sells supernatural items to Soul Reapers. Despite his sanguine nature he is one of the most significant figures in the Bleach universe, and bears immense knowledge of the spiritual realms which he uses to mastermind the operations of the protagonists.
Voiced by: Noriaki Sugiyama (Japanese), Derek Stephen Prince (English)
Though on the surface he is nothing more than the solitary class genius, Uryu Ishida is actually a Quincy, descendant of a line of priest-like hollow-hunting archers. He bears a deep grudge against all Soul Reapers, including Ichigo, but comes to view Ichigo differently over time, eventually becoming an ally and friendly rival.
Voiced by: Kentaro Ito (Japanese), Wally Wingert (English)
Renji Abarai is an elite Soul Reaper bearing the rank of 6th Division lieutenant, making him second in command of a sub-branch of the Soul Reaper armed forces. Although first introduced as a deadly enemy, he has conflicting loyalties between his duties and Rukia, with whom he grew up. A rash and driven man, he holds both a deep respect and animosity towards his immediate superior, 6th Division captain Byakuya Kuchiki.