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Bleach’s Best Villains All Share One Theme That Explains Their Powers


Summary

  • Each Espada in Bleach represents an aspect of death, influencing their powers and characterization.
  • The Espada’s themes are tied to their ranking – Nel, having once been the Tres Espada, had the aspect of sacrifice.
  • These themed aspects of death help explain the Espada’s powers; Ulquiorra’s “Nothingness” reflects his nihilism.



Bleach is well known for its abundance of characters, but what’s less obvious sometimes is that these characters, particularly those introduced at the same time, may share a common theme behind them. For the Espada of Bleach’s Hueco Mundo and Arrancar arcs, there just happens to be such a theme, and that theme is death.

The Espada are the top-ranked Arrancar, humanoid Hollows with Soul Reaper-like abilities who are given numbers from 0 to 9, and count among their number some of the most popular characters throughout the entirety of Bleach. As a group of characters who were no doubt all created at the same point, there’s actually a theme which helps to define these characters from each other. As spiritual beings who may or may not have once been human, the Espada are all themed around 10 “causes of death” which relate to their characterization and abilities.


These aspects of death are illuminated in the story, but given that it’s only casually mentioned once in chapter 356, fans could be forgiven for not being familiar with this theme.


The Espada Represent the 10 Faces of Death

Bleach’s Espada Are Each Themed to Death’s Aspects

As illuminated in the manga panels above, the Espada each have an aspect associated with them that helps to explain their powers and character. Ulquiorra, for example, is said to be the Espada of “Nothingness,” a good match for his nihilistic world view and powers centering on darkness. Baraggan, the former king of Hueco Mundo, is the Espada of “senescence,” or aging, and his powers allow him to strike an opponent, causing them to spontaneously age a ludicrous amount.


Espada

Aspect of Death

Coyote Starrk

Solitude

Baraggan Louisenbairn

Senescence

Tier Harribel

Sacrifice

Ulquiorra Cifer

Nothingness

Nnoitra Gilga

Despair

Grimmjow Jaegerjaquez

Destruction

Zommari Rureaux

Ecstasy

Szayelaporro Granz

Madness

Aaroniero Arruerie

Greed

Yammy Llargo

Rage


Knowing these aspects of death certainly helps to understand some of these characters. Szayelaporro is a quintessential mad scientist, for example, making his aspect particularly fitting. Nnoitra’s vicious and violent streak is designed around sending his opponents into absolute despair by destroying them as thoroughly as possible. Yammy’s rage causes him to visibly grow in size, and his Resurreccion, Ira, is named directly for the Spanish word for anger. Grimmjow, for his part, seek only to fight and destroy, and constantly throws himself against the toughest opponents.

While the Espada aren’t the only ones with a theme around them, their theming is perhaps the most ingrained into their characters and abilities. According to Bleach creator Tite Kubo, the aspect of death that each Espada represents is also tied to their ranking among the Espada; for example, when Nel was the Tres Espada, her aspect was sacrifice, just like Tier Harribel’s. That suggests that the Espada were chosen for their traits to fill these roles, rather than the other way around.


The aspects of death which each Espada represents aren’t just integral to their powers, but to who they are as characters, and for some, like Ulquiorra, overcoming that aspect becomes a major part of their Bleach character arc.

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