|“||Justice without a great cause begets nothing more than slaughter. However, that same slaughter in the name of a great cause is justice.||„|
|~ Kaname Tōsen.|
Kaname Tōsen is the former captain of the 9th Division and an antagonist in Bleach.
He is voiced by Toshiyuki Morikawa in the Japanese version of the anime, and David Rasner in the English version.
Becoming A Shinigami
After a women very close to Tōsen, who had dedicated her life to following a path that involved as little bloodshed as possible, died, he swore himself to the same path. She’d sought to become a Shinigami, so as to maintain peace, only to be killed by her husband when she was accepted to the Shino Academy. It had been because she’d scolded him for killing a comrade over a petty argument and Tōsen wanted an audience with the Central 46 to find out why he wasn’t punished, only to be denied. He swore to fight for justice without bloodshed and eventually joined the Shinigami Academy, becoming a Shinigami. During his time at the academy, Tōsen met Sajin Komamura and in their first meeting, he mistook which direction he was in. The blind Shinigami complimented him for his ability to hide his spiritual energy and admitted he’d never been unable to detect anyone’s presence before. Komamura apologized, saying it was a force of habit and the two went on to become close friends since Tōsen couldn’t see his wolf head, which he was ashamed of. However when they gained positions in the Gotei 13, they didn’t see each other as often. During one of their meetings, Tōsen encouraged Komamura to put some time aside to visit his Division, noting he had a fine commanding officer who his friend would like too. At another one, the blind Shinigami asked Komamura why he’d joined the Gotei 13 and he said it was to repay an obligation to a great man who saved him. He then asked Tōsen the same question, only for him to be unable to say anything.
Beginning Aizen’s Plan
100 years before the series, Tōsen was 5th seat of the 9th Division and was sent with his captain, Kensei Muguruma and other division members to investigate mysterious disappearances. Soon afterwards, Tōsen and the others were alerted to a Hollow attack and took on a large Hollow with Kensei destroying it with his Shikai. The captain then ordered his men to contact central command, requesting a 12th Divison researcher and then made them set up camp for the night. Kensei concluded that if something was attacking the Shinigami, they’d eventually go after the Seireitei and they had to make a stand before that. Tōsen asked the captain what he should do and Kensei asked him to come along to search the area. Later, the blind Shinigami was standing guard when the 6th seat, Todo Gizaeimon, returned from his mission to the 12th Division. Tōsen said he was late and he apologized, then he offered to relieve the 5th seat of duty. However the blind Shinigami said it was unnecessary as the three of them could now keep watch. But suddenly the 9th Division members were attacked and seemingly killed by an unknown assailant. That assailant was actually Tōsen, killing his fellow seat members and subdued the team sent to locate the missing 9th Division members with his Bankai. Shinji Hirako, the captain of the 5th Division, asked Tōsen why he had turned traitor and was shocked to be answered by his lieutenant, Sōsuke Aizen. Aizen said the blind Shinigami wasn’t betraying anyone, he was faithfully following orders. He then ordered Tōsen to finish off those left, who critically injured lieutenant Hiyori Sarugaki. The blind Shinigami was suddenly attacked by Shinji and Hiyori, who were in mid-Hollowfication, and he leapt away. Tōsen asked Aizen what to do and he ordered him to finish the 5th Division captain off. He fought Shinji, only to eventually be smashed into the ground and he apologized to Aizen, who told him it was fine and decided to finish off his former captain himself. Kisuke Urahara and Tessai Tsukabishi arrived to stop Aizen, but he used a Kido to allow him, Gin, and Tōsen to escape. Some time after this, Kenpachi Zaraki killed the 11th Division captain to take his rank. Ever since that day, Tōsen regarded him as a demon that only sought to cause chaos and that would break the peace of the Soul Society. The blind Shinigami went on to become the 9th Division captain, becoming a mentor to the Shingami who’d become his lieutenant, Shuhei Hisagi. One day, when Hisagi was leading a field lesson for freshmen Shinigami, the group was attacked by a host of Hollows. This occurrence made him scared to the point that when he was afraid of unsheathing his sword. Tōsen just said that was why Hisagi had to strive to be a seated officer and that power was not the most important thing for a soldier, but rather a heart that knew its limitations.
At some point, Tōsen, along with Gin Ichimaru and Aizen went to visit Baraggan Louisenbairn, God-King of Hueco Mundo. When they arrived, a Hollow attacked Aizen, but the blind Shinigami stepped in and cut it down. Baraggan then welcomed them to his palace, Las Noches, and Tōsen noted he found it funny the Vasto Lorde Hollow called a place without walls or a ceiling a palace. Baraggan just stated that he ruled all of Hueco Mundo and the sky itself was his ceiling, then Aizen told Tōsen not to start a fight. He then asked the Vasto Lorde Hollow to join him, but he laughed and said there was no one higher than him. Baraggan ordered his army to attack the trio and seemingly cut down Aizen, Gin, and Tōsen, only for them to reappear.
Aizen showed the Vasto Lorde Hollow the power of his Zanpakuto, Kyoka Suigetsu, revealing his army was decimated. Baraggan attempted to attack Aizen, but Tōsen and Gin held their swords to his throat as their leader finally got the Vasto Lorde to give in.
Revealing Himself as a Traitor
Tōsen attended an emergency captain’s meeting called to discuss the arrival of Ichigo Kurosaki, Uryu Ishida, Yasutora Sado, and Orihime Inoue in the Seireitei to save Rukia Kuchiki. When Gin asked where Jushiro Ukitake, the 13th Division captain, was, Tōsen explained he’d been excused for injury. He and Komamura later went to see Aizen’s dead body (actually an extremely skilled illusion), as Retsu Unohana was doing autopsy on it. She confirmed he was dead, ruling out it was a fake corpse and told Tōsen and Komamura to just return to their posts. As the two were leaving, their lieutenants, Shuhei Hisagi and Tetsuzaemon Iba, came up and Hisagi asked about Aizen. Tōsen just shook his head and said he was going to go out to the front lines, since the fastest way to find the culprit would be ending the invasion. Later when Uryu Ishida reached the top of the stairs to the Shrine of Penitence, Tōsen used his Shikai to bring him down. Later the 9th Division captain went to see Komamura in the 7th Division barracks, who asked the blind Shinigami about his thoughts.
Tōsen replied that the road he saw ahead was not dyed in blood and told the 7th Division captain he believed they’d walk the same path. The two later went to confront Kenpachi Zaraki about his decision to help the Ryoka intruders.
They engaged him with Tōsen releasing his Bankai and the 11th Division captain found he couldn’t see, hear, or sense spirit energy. However as the blind Shinigami slashed him, Kenpachi realized he could fight with a sense of touch. But the 11th Division captain became tired with fighting like that and let Tōsen stab him, then grabbed the hilt of his Zanpakuto, which let him hear and see his opponent. Kenpachi managed to greatly injure the blind Shinigami, dispelling his Bankai, but he stood his ground, determined to still fight for justice. This made Kenpachi want to kill Tōsen out of pure annoyance, but Komamura blocked the blow, saving his friend. The 9th Division captain was healed and later appeared before Rukia Kuchiki and Renji Abarai. He teleported them to Sokyoku Hill where Aizen was revealing himself as a traitor and watched several attempts to take down the traitor. Tōsen left with Gin and Aizen via Negación and as he left, Komamura demanded an explanation. He asked where the blind Shinigami’s justice had gone and he simply replied that he was following the path of least bloodshed.
Preparing For the Final Conflict
Tōsen later arrived in the Human World via Garganta and stopped Grimmjow Jaegerjaquez, who'd gone there without authorization, as he was drawing his Zanpakuto. Tōsen told the 6th Espada to sheath his sword and Grimmjow demanded to know what he was doing there.
The former 9th Division captain stated that he'd mobilized five Arrancar and gotten each of them killed, all without permission. Tōsen stated that Grimmjow's punishment would be decided back in Hueco Mundo and opened a Garganta. Returning, Tōsen brought the 6th Espada before Aizen, who welcomed him home. Tōsen asked Grimmjow if he had anything to say for himself, but he retorted that he had nothing to say. Tōsen became angered, but Aizen interrupted, saying he was not upset and viewed Grimmjow's actions as an overzealous display of loyalty. Tōsen angrily grabbed the 6th Espada by the collar, demanding that he be allowed to execute him.
Freeing himself, Grimmjow said that the blind Shinigami just wanted to kill him because he had a personal grudge. Tōsen said that unless slaughter had a great cause, it wasn’t justice and sliced off Grimmjow's arm with his Zanpakuto, then destroyed it with a Kido fire blast. The 6th Espada was about to angrily attack Tōsen in revenge, when Aizen stopped him, saying he wouldn’t pardon him for doing that.
After Ichigo, Uryu, Yasutora, Rukia, and Renji came to Hueco Mundo to save Orihime, Tōsen and Gin accompanied Aizen to a meeting of the Espada. The former 9th Division captain activated a hologram projector to show the image of the intruders and then stood diligently as their leader told the Espada about Ichigo, Uryu, and Yasutora. However Grimmjow got up during the meeting and Tōsen asked him what he was doing. The 6th Espada angrily stated he was going to kill them but the former 9th Division captain pointed out he had to receive any orders form Aizen. Grimmjow stated it was obvious what he wanted done, but the rogue Shinigami stopped the 6th Espada with his spiritual energy. Tōsen was later monitoring the intruders, who was approached by Gin, saying it was a bad hobby of his. The former 9th Division captain noted he had to be worried about the intruders if he came only for Gin to say he was joking. When he walked inside, he was stopped by Wonderweiss Margela and asked Tōsen to call him off. Gin went on to note that the Arrancar had become quite attached to the former 9th Division captain, who explained that pure beings tended to be attracted to each other. However Tōsen said he had yet to determine how Wonderweiss was a pure being and Gin noticed the intruders had arrived in the Den of Tres Cifras. The Arrancar said the name and Tōsen explained that Espada who were demoted from their position were given three digit numbers. Soon afterwards, when Nnoitra Gilga was killed in battle with Kenpachi Zaraki, Tōsen met up with Gin and Aizen, who explained that kidnapping Orihime had been part of a plan to deprive the Soul Society of a valuable military asset. Tōsen proceeded to open a Garganta that brought the trio Karakura Town.
Battle of Karakura Town
Upon arriving, Tōsen and the others found the forces of the Soul Society awaiting them. Aizen summoned his top three Espada along with their Fracción, but Captain-Commander Yamamoto trapped them with a fire prison generated by his Zanpakuto. As the Arrancar engaged the Soul Society’s forces, Tōsen asked Gin if he felt guilty about abandoning his lieutenant, Izuru Kira. However the former 3rd Division captain said he was pleased to see that Kira had done so well in his absence. Eventually Wonderweiss arrived with Fūrā, which dispelled the fire prison. When Gin noted his annoyance with the Arrancar, Tōsen silenced him, saying that what Wonderweiss said had meaning.
Upon the Visoreds' arrival, the former 9th Division captain was surprised and as Shinji Hirako attacked Aizen, Tōsen blocked the attack. He then slashed at the Visored and managed to cut his forehead, but Shinji dodged most of the attack. The blind Shinigami said that he missed, but the Visored pointed out the cut on his forehead. Tōsen said that he was trying to cut off Shinji’s head from the eyes up, so the cut he made was a miss. The Visored tried to provoke the blind Shinigami by calling him an underling, but Tōsen just said that it had to make Shinji sick to know he was about to be killed by an underling. However as he went to attack the Visored, Komamura appeared and blocked, which came to Tōsen as somewhat of a surprise. The 7th Division Captain said the current situation was opposite of their fight with Kenpachi and that he never thought he would have to protect anyone from the blind Shinigami. Tōsen said he knew it was inevitable that they would have to cross swords and one of them would die.
But as the former 9th Division captain was about to attack, Shuhei Hisagi appeared, using Kazeshini to entangle his Zanpakuto. The lieutenant asked Komamura to let him join the fight, then greeted Tōsen, saying he wanted to thank him. The blind Shinigami asked if he was being sarcastic and Hisagi replied that he wanted to thank him for all his instruction. The lieutenant went on to say that he was going to use Tōsen’s teachings to open his eyes and bring him back to the Soul Society. The former 9th Division captain questioned that statement, saying he never changed and vibrated his Zanpakuto to free it from Kazeshini’s chains. Tōsen then told Hisagi that he taught him that someone wasn’t fit to battle if they didn’t know fear. He then expressed surprise at Aizen joining the battle and stated he could now release his full power. At first, Komamura thought he meant Bankai, but Tōsen stated he’d gained an even greater power than that thanks to Aizen. The former 9th Division captain brought his hand to his face and there was an enormous release of spiritual power. Komamura and Hisagi shielded themselves as Komamura cried out, asking Tōsen how he could have fallen so low. The smoke cleared, revealing the former 9th Division captain to be wearing a Hollow Mask and Hisagi asked if it was a Hollowfication. Tōsen said that it was and suddenly appeared before his former lieutenant, then slashed him and making Komamura release his Shikai and attack. Much to the 7th Division captain’s shock, Tōsen blocked and before he could even react, the former 9th Division captain kicked him in the side and sending him crashing into the ground. The blind Shinigami noted that it was ironic that Ichigo, an ally of the Soul Society, was a hybrid of Shinigami and Hollow like him. Tōsen went on to ask why that was now evil just because he chose to do it, but Komamura said that Ichigo hadn’t chosen to undergo his Hollowfication. The former 9th Division captain had done it by choice and the power he’d been given had corrupted him. Tōsen questioned that explanation and how flirting with his inner Hollow could prove anything. He went on to say that it was only Komamura's antique view on the dualism of Shinigami and Hollow that made him speak like that. Komamura yelled that wasn’t what he meant and the fact he threw away his friends and subordinates to gain that power was where his corruption lead him astray. Tōsen was about to speak, when a chain wrapped around his neck and pulled him back, sending him crashing into the roof of a building. As he lay, Hisagi held his former captain by the throat and raised his Zanpakuto up to his face. Tōsen said he was far too lenient on him, noting old habits died hard and his former lieutenant agreed. Hisagi said that the attack did not have malicious intent behind it, since his style had always been to never use excessive force, which Tōsen had always taught him. The 9th Division lieutenant asked how his former captain could say those teachings, then ignore them.
Hisagi then commanded Tōsen to look at himself, asking what drove his fears, but the former 9th Division captain impaled the lieutenant on his Zanpakuto without a word. He threw Hisagi over the side of the roof and said his fear for the past century was that he would just assimilate with the rest of the Shinigami and die pointlessly.
However Tōsen was interrupted by Komamura releasing his Bankai, but scoffed at it, saying that trying to match his power with a Bankai was foolish. He engaged the giant and exchanged some attacks, but was eventually struck it, leaving his left arm mangled. Tōsen noted that Komamura’s Bankai was linked to his body, meaning injuries to it would be caused to him. He went on to say his former friend probably never considered the idea of failing to defeat an enemy in one strike. Tōsen regenerated his arm and Komamura said that he had truly given up his Shinigami nature. The former captain just said those words were only an excuse for his defeat and repeated his former friend’s words about abandoning his friends for power.
Tōsen then asked Komamura if a person had joined a group for the sake of revenge, would it be corrupt to forget about that goal and settle to live a peaceful live. Tōsen then declared that the more corrupt action would be to forget as a mouth formed on his mask. He then asked if Komamura thought it was strange that a man who’d lost his greatest friend would join the same group as the person who’d killed them. His former friend said he thought his goal was justice and that he’d believed in those ideals and wanted to fulfill them himself. Tōsen told Komamura was correct and asked what justice was, noting goodness and justice were not the same. He said not avenging his friend would be evil, but the 7th Division captain said he misjudged Tōsen completely and they would never see eye to eye. The former 9th Division captain asked Komamura if he’d strike him down and said he found that laughable. His former friend said if their beliefs were incompatible, then words were useless and Tōsen had to be brought down for the sake of the Soul Society. Komamura told the former 9th Division captain he’d already forgiven him, which put him off slightly. Tōsen told him not to speak to him like a god and that he didn’t ask for forgiveness. He went on to say if Komamura wanted to strike him down, he should do so if he was be able to say so after seeing his Resurrección.
Tōsen released his Resurrección, Suzumushi Hyakushiki Grillar Grillo, enveloping himself in darkness. It cleared to show him transformed into a monstrous, cricket-based form and he opened his eyes, revealing that he could now see. He was delighted at this. as he took pleasure at seeing his surroundings such as the sky, blood and even commented on Komamura's ugly face. Tōsen attacked his former friend, who countered with his Bankai, but he caught the sword, cracking it. The former 9th Division Captain then attacked with his Los Nueve Aspectos technique to crush the Bankai’s chest, dealing Komamura the same injury. Tōsen went over to his former friend’s body and wondered if he should just finish this and charged a double Cero.
He then said justice couldn't be expressed in simple words, but suddenly a blade went through his head, Hisagi’s Zanpakuto. The lieutenant said that Tōsen wasn’t his captain, since his former, blind captain would’ve easily dodged that attack. Hisagi released his Zanpakuto while it was still in his former captain’s head, injuring him further. Tōsen coughed up his blood, as he felt his life fading and saw the face of his former friend, but couldn’t recognize her and noted he couldn’t see anything at all. The former 9th Division captain remembered when he'd begged to know why the Central 46 hadn’t punished the man who killed his friend. The memory faded and Tōsen looked up to see Komamura and Hisagi looking down on him, now reverted to his normal form. The former 9th Division captain tried to speak, but Komamura told him not to, since his Hollow powers were allowing him to breathe. However his throat was torn and anyway he did not need to speak, then Komamura admitted that he and Hisagi both knew as well that they before their battle they would eventually cross blades. The 7th Division captain said their relationships they had was fleeting, yet they would still cross swords. Thus Komamura concluded that it had to be destiny so that they could understand each other and Tōsen was surprised by this conclusion. The 7th Division captain said he didn’t expect his former friend to not be angry and wasn't going to ask the former 9th Division captain to stop hating him. However he would ask Tōsen not to focus on revenge until he lost himself, like he lost his friend. Komamura said if he lost Kaname, he'd have a hole in his heart and hearing this brought tears to Tōsen’s eyes. He thanked the 7th Division captain and then asked Hisagi to turn to him so he could see his face, due to his still being able to see due to his Hollowfication. However Tōsen’s body exploded in a splatter of blood, causing Komamura to become enraged at Aizen and making him yell that he wouldn't forgive the rogue Shinigami.
Tōsen’s goal in life is to follow the path that he thinks will involve the least amount of bloodshed. This made him join Aizen, despite fully knowing Aizen's plans, which requires the death of thousands of innocents and willingly kill members of his own division. Tōsen fears death as stated by Kenpachi Zaraki or as he says, he fears dying a pointless death amongst the Shinigami.
He describes himself as a “pure being”, which shows traits of pride and arrogance and despite his saying that his friend loved the world, he hates the world for taking her from him. Another thing to note is that he viewed beings who lived for the savagery of battle like Kenpachi and Grimmjow as demons that should not exist.
One interesting outlet of Tōsen's personality was during his time as the 9th Division’s captain, which charged him with editing ‘‘Seireitei Communication’’.He wrote a serialization called the “The Path of Justice”, which was somewhat unpopular until he began publishing recipes in his articles. This led to Tōsen's articles becoming popular amongst female Shinigami, indicating he had skill in cooking. His favorite food is chicken stewed with carrots, amongst other sophisticated dishes and he dislikes pickled food.
When he gains the ability to see, he was quite excited in it and reveled in the things that he longed to see. However, his former lieutenant stated he had dropped his guard, despite his skill when lacking sight.
Powers and Abilities
Tōsen possesses an extremely large amount of spiritual power as evidenced by his position as a captain. He is an expert in swordsmanship, despite preferring to avoid violence, Kido, able to use high level Kido spells without using an incantation, and Shunpo, a Shinigami technique that lets him move extremely fast. Tōsen can also use Garganta, a technique used by Aizen’s forces that generates a portal that can take them to and from Hueco Mundo, and can use spiritual senses to make up for his blindness. Like all Shinigami, Tōsen can access the Shikai powers of his Zanpakuto, Suzumushi, by speaking the release command. However his is unique in that it has two commands for two different abilities. The first, “Cry”, makes Suzumushi generate a high-pitched tone over an area, overloading the hearing of those caught by it and knocking them unconscious. The second technique, “Suzumushi Nishiki Benihiko” is activated by Tōsen speaking the technique’s name and swinging his sword in a circle around him. This leaves behind a trail of afterimages, which form into hundreds of blades that rain on the target. Like all captains, Tōsen has achieved the ability to access the Bankai release form of his Zanpakuto, Suzumushi Tsuishiki Enma Korogi. He releases it by saying “Bankai”, causing the ring on the cross guard to spin, releasing spiritual energy and growing large enough to surround his body. The ring then splits into nine, which form a circle around a large area, becoming a huge black dome. Inside the dome is a vacuum that nullifies all of a person’s senses, even the ability to sense spiritual energy. The only way to avoid this effect is to hold onto Suzumushi, which is also the only shortcoming of the Bankai, since it works for Tōsen’s opponents as well. The dome exists as long as he wants it to or if he’s critically injured. Thanks to Aizen, Tōsen has undergone Hollowfication, giving him the ability to summon a Hollow Mask, which supplements his powers with that of his inner Hollow. When he dons it, Tōsen gains enhanced strength and speed and can regenerate wounds instantly. Also as a result of the Hollowfication, he can enter a Resurrección form, Suzumushi Hyakushiki Grillar Grillow, which is unique to him, as opposed to the Visoreds. In this form, Tōsen transforms into an enormous, somewhat insectoid form with four, clawed insect-like arms, and double insect wings. It grants him a great deal of strength and high-speed regeneration and he gains the ability to see. When in Resurrección form, Tōsen can attack with his Los Nueve Aspectos, a technique where he draws energy circles in the air that emit an enormous, concussive sonic blast, and a Cero, a powerful energy blast that starts off as two blasts charged at his eyes, but joins together when he fires it.
- Tōsen seems able to live normally despite his blindness as seen in ornakes.
- In the manga, the rings of his Bankai are inconsistent with either 9 or 10, but in the anime it was always 9.
- Tōsen has appeared in most of the Bleach video games, including the Heat the Soul series and all the games on the DS.
- The name of his Zanpakuto, Suzumushi, is Japanese for "Cricket", a reference to the sound based abilities of his Zanpakuto. The name of his Bankai is Japanese for "Cricket Final Form: Devil Cricket" and his Resurreción's name is "Cricket Hundredth Ceremony: Chirping Cricket" in Spanish and "Cricket Hundredth Ceremony: Lunatic Shackles Cricket" in Japanese, a reference to the insectoid appearance of Tōsen's Resurrección.