Although the deceased do not require the ability to reproduce, certain aspects of Bleach’s mythology imply that Souls and Arrancars can, in fact, procreate if they desire to do so.
It is typical for shonen anime to overlook mundane and insignificant details that do not contribute to the plot. This allows the story to maintain its pace and prevents the audience from being bogged down with extraneous world-building details, which may include highly personal matters such as reproduction. While most anime characters are human and their birth process is apparent, Bleach features a diverse cast of supernatural entities as well as ordinary humans.
Despite once being a Soul Reaper, Ichigo’s father, Isshin, obtained a physical body known as a gigai, and had three children with his human Quincy spouse, Masaki. Conversely, some enthusiasts of Bleach have questioned whether Hollows and Arrancars possess the capacity to reproduce, given their discernible male and female physical characteristics. While the “Hueco Mundo” narrative arc skirts around this subject, fans remain curious about the possibility of Hollow and Arrancar’s offspring being born in Hueco Mundo.
The Implied Reproductive Abilities of Arrancars
Hollows come into existence when a Plus is tethered to the physical realm for personal motives, like a grudge or unresolved matters. Once their Chain of Fate disintegrates, a Hollow is born, displaying an animalistic appearance and a bony white mask. However, Hollows have the ability to discard their masks and adopt a human-like form as Arrancars, with the most stable and human-looking Arrancars resulting from Sosuke Aizen’s utilization of the Hogyoku. These Arrancars regained their human consciousness and physical characteristics. Hollows and Arrancars are typically not born but created. Nevertheless, the Bleach universe suggests, albeit vaguely, that Hollows may possess the potential to reproduce through sexual means.
Arrancars are depicted as having distinct male or female forms, complete with corresponding personalities and personal pronouns. Despite being neither Pluses nor humans, they are undeniably people, owing to the fact that they were once human themselves and thus possess reproductive anatomy. For instance, the 8th Espada, Szayelaporro Grantz, has his Hollow hole located on his genitalia, as humorously revealed in the anime. During a battle, Szayelaporro even mistook Pesche’s sword handle for his male anatomy, suggesting that Arrancars have a good understanding of human anatomy and sexual behavior.
Another subtle indication that Arrancars may have reproductive anatomy is the presence of secondary sexual characteristics in female Arrancars, such as Nelliel and Harribel, who have breasts. While this may be for the visual appeal of the anime fans, in the Bleach lore, it’s possible that Arrancars can reproduce, including nursing their young. However, this has not been confirmed, and it’s also possible that male and female reproductive anatomy is present in Arrancars out of habit, given that they were once humans and naturally capable of reproduction. Therefore, their Arrancar forms could reflect this aspect of their past human selves.
It is possible that when the Arrancars lost their Hollow masks and forms after being exposed to the Hogyoku, they defaulted to their appearance as living humans, including reproductive anatomy. It could be that they are capable of reproduction, but it is simply not shown in the anime, or their sexual organs may be vestigial if they cannot reproduce. This could be seen as yet another cruel irony for the Arrancars, who strive to find purpose and happiness in life and emulate humanity but are ultimately different and cursed. Despite their human-like appearance, they are still lost souls.
Reproduction & Family Units in the Soul Society
In contrast, the inhabitants of the Soul Society mimic human society and family structures more closely. As they reside in the perfect spiritual afterlife, they do not suffer the same fate as Hollows and Arrancars, who are cursed and distorted reflections of humanity. Therefore, concepts such as family and reproduction are more straightforward and recognizable in the Soul Society.
In the Soul Society, families can be formed in two distinct ways. Firstly, deceased souls arrive and form tightly-knit found families, with adoption being a common practice. It’s rare for entire human families to arrive together in the Soul Society, so family members may arrive at different times and places and join different found families. Secondly, marriage is also a viable option, as seen when Hisana manages to convince Byakuya Kuchiki to marry her despite her poverty. According to fan theories, Hisana and Rukia died together on Earth and arrived in the Soul Society together. This suggests that even newcomers to the Soul Society can create found families and marry and potentially have children.
In contrast to the unclear and ambiguous reproduction of Arrancars, the native souls in the Soul Society have a clear and familiar concept of family and sexual reproduction. The four noble houses rely on this concept, with individuals like Yoruichi Shihoin and Captain Byakuya Kuchiki being born into these families as official heirs. Bonus materials from Bleach also confirm this concept, with Byakuya’s late father, Sojun, bearing a striking resemblance to him. Marechiyo Omaeda’s family members also resemble him, indicating that they are biologically related and not simply a found family. It’s clear that in the inspiring and relatable Soul Society, families are important and well-defined, including reproduction, unlike in Hueco Mundo, the land of the restless dead, where it remains ambiguous and strange.