Any good story will feature characters who grow up and change over time, and this is what makes them dynamic characters. It’s most important that the main character undergoes this change, but if supporting characters are also dynamic, that can make for a highly compelling narrative. Most popular anime series do this too, such as the action shonen series Bleach.
The main cast ranges from hero Ichigo Kurosaki to his Soul Reaper friend Rukia Kuchiki to his friends Orihime, Chad, and Uryu, among others. All of them have come a long way since the early chapters or episodes of this series, and in the case of Rukia in particular, how has she changed? And in what ways will she always be the same, good old Rukia Kuchiki?
10 Changed: Likes Humans
At first, Rukia had the same attitude that many Soul Reapers have: that humans are short-lived, inconsequential beings with nothing important to say or do. In fact, some Soul Reapers seem to have a superiority complex over it and scorn humans entirely.
Rukia had harsh words for Ichigo when he lay dying after fighting Byakuya Kuchiki the first time, but her attitude has totally changed. She now sees immense potential from humanity, and she loves human trends and fashion. It’s a whole new lovely world for her.
9 Same: Great Kido
Even before she and Renji enrolled at the Soul Reaper academy, Rukia demonstrated a serious affinity for kido spells, and she would dazzle and amaze her street urchin friends with the energy spheres she could conjure.
Rukia’s swordplay is below average by Soul Reaper stands (she admitted this), but kido is her best strength. Time and again, she can use moderately advanced hado and bakudo spells and even weave two together to take a high-level opponent by surprise.
8 Changed: Happy Family
Not all fans were happy with how Bleach ended (Ichigo/Rukia is big in the fandom), but what’s clear is that Rukia has totally transformed her family life. As a young girl, she was abandoned by her big sister Hisana, and adopted into the Kuchiki family.
Now, all these years later, she is married to her childhood friend Renji, and they have a daughter of their own, Ichika. It’s so gratifying to see Rukia go from a troubled youth to a happy mom and Soul Reaper.
7 Same: Tough Attitude
In all the right ways, Rukia is tough as nails, despite being a petite 4’11”. From the very start, she is confident in herself and doesn’t suffer anyone’s nonsense, least of all from Ichigo or Kon or Keigo at school.
Rukia shows no mercy to her opponents, from D.Roy to Aaroniero to Rudobon and As Nodt, and it’s not easy for anyone to intimidate or discourage her. It took As Nodt’s powerful Voll Stern Dich to finally get to her.
6 Changed: Bankai User
At some point, it seemed like author Tite Kubo decided to start handing out bankai powers like Oprah Winfrey, but fans everywhere must have loved it when Rukia got her turn. In her battle against As Nodt, she played this almighty trump card.
Her icy bankai, Hakka no Togame, is a beautiful one, making Rukia look like a sort of ice fairy. But it’s not just for show; this bankai froze As Nodt solid in one blow and finished him off. Byakuya was immensely proud.
5 Same: Funny
Rukia is a disciplined and serious Soul Reaper, but that doesn’t mean that she can’t have some fun, too. In the world of the living, she can make friends easily, and she got along great with Karin and Yuzu. She also goofed off quite a bit.
She found Don Kanonji hilarious and imitated his ridiculous laugh, and she often has snappy retorts to make whenever anyone annoys her, often with a funny face. And don’t forget that time Ichigo flung her off the execution platform into Renji’s arms.
4 Changed: Relationship With Byakuya
This reflects well on both characters. At first, Byakuya was Rukia’s brother-in-law, then her foster brother, and she speaks to him (and about him) with a highly respectful tone. She even seems afraid of him, and not without reason.
Byakuya was cold to her and even supported her execution, in order to uphold the law, but Ichigo’s influence caused Byakuya to rethink things. Now he is highly protective of her, regardless of the rules, and Rukia was moved to tears when Byakuya was proud of her bankai. No doubt her relationship with him is more personal and warm by now.
3 Same: Compassion
Rukia is tough and stern in her duties as a Soul Reaper, but she has a perfectly warm and compassionate heart, and her friends will soon see it. This makes her a bit of a tsundere character, meaning there’s more than one side to her.
From her youngest days, Rukia was kind to others, and she never had any malice or cynicism in her heart. She was a good friend to Kaien Shiba, and she was outraged when Aaroniero posed as him. She also comforts Yuzu and Karin whenever they feel down.
2 Changed: Believing In The Heart
Rukia is clashing against Aaroniero (who is in Kaien’s form), but Rukia struggled against the 9th Espada. She didn’t yet know for sure whether the figure before her really was Kaien or not, and she felt totally alone while fighting him.
Once Aaroniero badly injured her, Rukia recalled a training session where Kaien explained the nature of the heart: it’s something that is shared between two people and can live on after one of them dies. Rukia didn’t believe him at first, but now she does, and it motivated her to make one last strike that slew Aaroniero.
1 Same: Courage
One of Rukia’s most flattering constants is her sheer courage. She is small and not even a Lieutenant, but she will fearlessly stand before any opponent big or small and fight them with her full power.
She wanted to retreat from Grimmjow, but only as a tactical move, not out of terror. She felt revulsion at Aaroniero’s true form, yet resolved to slay him all the same, and she had no fear when fighting Rudobon. Later, she confronted As Nodt, cool as a cucumber. As Nodt had to use his ultimate power to make Rukia feel any fear at all.
How has this character changed over the course of Bleach? And in what ways will she always be the same, good old Rukia Kuchiki?