Kisuke Urahara (浦原 喜助 Urahara Kisuke?) is a fictional character and major figure in the anime and manga series Bleach created by Tite Kubo. He runs the Urahara Shop, which sells various Soul Reaper items under the guise of a candy shop. The shop is maintained by Urahara himself as well as Ururu Tsumugiya, Jinta Hanakari, and Tessai Tsukabishi. He has consistently been among the top ten most popular characters in every popularity poll taken, scoring 8th place and 3,676 votes in the latest one, trailing behind Yoruichi Shihōin by 68 votes.
Kisuke Urahara always wears traditional Japanese wooden sandals and a bucket hat, which has earned him the nickname "clogs-hat" (ゲタ帽子 geta-bōshi?, "Mr. Hat-and-Clogs" in the English version). He is generally a laid-back, jovial fellow, although he can be absolutely serious when the situation warrants it. Despite his carefree attitude, his speech is always polite, though it is sometimes sarcastic. Yoruichi Shihōin notes that he tends to go over the top with whatever he becomes passionate about, and cannot be dissuaded once he has his mind set on doing something. He once described himself as a "mere honest, handsome, perverted businessman." During the Bount arc of the anime, when Ganju Shiba calls Kisuke an "old man," Kisuke replies that he is the same age as Ganju's sister, Kūkaku Shiba.
Kisuke can usually be found near the scene of an important event, most of the time when it's a bit too late, but will rarely step in to intervene, preferring to be in control from outside. After the event is over (i.e. the battle between Ichigo Kurosaki and Renji Abarai), he kindly pops up and helps the side he deems fit. Even though he is sometimes duplicitous when giving aid, his actions are done for the greater good. He often knows more than he reveals and tends to have some form of relationship with most of the story's characters. While he is a major driving force throughout much of the story, he is usually only the catalyst, getting others to do the work for him. Despite his appearance, Kisuke is an extremely skilled fighter, using a combination of powerful attacks and cunning deceptions, and has been capable of toying with Yammy, an Espada-level arrancar, with nothing more than his shikai. He also likes building large underground training spaces in secret. He built the first one under the Sōkyoku hill in Soul Society with Yoruichi for them to play in and later made it larger so they could keep up their training, and created a second one under his shop in the mortal realm for a similar purpose.
At an undefined point before he became a captain, Urahara lived at Yoruichi's mansion along with his future assistant, Tessai. He joined the Gotei 13 along with Yoruichi, and eventually became the third seat in the 2nd Division under her. As part of his duties, he also headed the Third Unit of the Special Forces, the Detention Unit. He was recommended for the captain position by Yoruichi after Kirio Hikifune was promoted to the Royal Guard. His lieutenant, inherited from the former captain, was Hiyori Sarugaki. He is also the founder and the first president of the Soul Reaper Research Institute (Chief of Research and Development Department in the English version). Mayuri Kurotsuchi succeeded him in both positions.
Not long after becoming captain (at most a decade), Kisuke was exiled by Soul Society for creating an untraceable gigai which caused the spiritual power of the Soul Reaper inside it to deteriorate, eventually transforming them into humans. Yoruichi helped him escape and ran away with him as well. He also seems to be an acquaintance of Isshin Kurosaki, Ichigo Kurosaki's father, and of Ryūken Ishida, Uryū Ishida's father.
Having founded the research institute in Soul Society, Kisuke has developed a number of unique items. The notable ones are below:
- Gikongan (義魂丸) – More commonly known as Soul Candy, this item is an artificial soul in the form of a green ball of candy. When ingested, it forces the user's soul out of their body. The artificial soul then operates in a preprogrammed manner while inhabiting a body. Its name was changed to "Soul Candy" after its creation because the Soul Reaper Women Organization complained that the name gikongan wasn't cute enough.
- Tenshintai (転神体, lit change [death] god body, Viz: "Divine Transfer Body") – This item is a vaguely human-shaped, man-sized doll used to forcibly materialize the spirit of a zanpakutō into the real world when stabbed by the zanpakutō. In doing so, the user can subjugate the spirit and attain the bankai of their zanpakutō. The materialization lasts for about one day, after which the spirit reverts back into the doll that spawned it. Without this invention, achieving the bankai takes at least ten years, not to mention the many years of combat experience needed. This method, however, is very dangerous due to the fact that it forcibly materializes the zanpakutō's spirit. If used more than three times consecutively, it is possibly fatal to the user.
- Hōgyoku (崩玉, lit. Crumbling Orb, translated as Orb of Distortion, Viz: "Breakdown Sphere") – This item is a small orb that dissolves the boundary between a Soul Reaper and a hollow. It can allow a Soul Reaper to use hollow powers and vice-versa. As Sōsuke Aizen reveals to Orihime Inoue, continued use of the orb while it is in a dormant state seems to weaken it.
- Variations of gigai (faux bodies) – Having experimented with gigai at length, Kisuke has created at least two variations. The most notable one is an untraceable gigai which drains the user's spiritual power instead of restoring it, effectively making them human if used long enough. He also developed an inflatable gigai for use as a decoy in combat.
In addition, Kisuke has also developed several novel techniques throughout the course of his research as the captain of the 12th Division, most notably the technique to bury matter within a soul and later remove it without any damage to the bearer. This was used by Aizen to remove the Hōgyoku from Rukia.
Kisuke's first appearance is along with the other members of his shop, giving Rukia Kuchiki some gikongan. Prior to this, Kisuke, offscreen, gives Rukia a special gigai that will slowly transform her into a human, locking the Hōgyoku inside her forever. Kisuke also plays a significant role by transforming Ichigo Kurosaki into his Soul Reaper state when Rukia is unable to, and also helps defeat several hollows and block Rukia from reaching Ichigo so Ichigo and Uryū Ishida can defeat a Menos Grande without interference. Urahara also transforms Ichigo into his Soul Reaper state when Byakuya Kuchiki and Renji Abarai appear to bring Rukia back to Soul Society, mainly so Ichigo would learn how outclassed he is, then trains Ichigo to regain his Soul Reaper powers and learn his zanpakuto's shikai afterwards. Kisuke also sends him, Uryū, Orihime Inoue, and Yasutora Sado to Soul Society along with Yoruichi Shihōin to rescue Rukia.
Once they return, Kisuke plays a more active role in the series. In the anime, he sends three modified souls to train the four and Renji Abarai by pretending to be enemies battling them, and also reveals to the group the existence of the Bount, who plan on invading Soul Society. Kisuke also helps the group sneak into the Bount mansion, though he prefers to stay out of the battles. When the arrancar begin to terrorize Karakura Town, Kisuke and Yoruichi fight Yammy on two occasions, and he also lets Chad and Renji train in his shop. He also attempts to hide Orihime from Aizen's view so he won't attempt to kidnap her, though this fails. After Orihime is captured, Kisuke opens a portal for Ichigo, Chad, and Uryū to enter Hueco Mundo to rescue her, and also tells three of Ichigo's friends from school to do their part with their deal with Ichigo. During Ichigo's absence, Urahara works on two projects given to him by Shigekuni Yamamoto-Genryūsai: to create a portal that will allow some of Soul Society's forces to enter Hueco Mundo, and to prepare the remaining forces for Sōsuke Aizen's eventual invasion of Karakura Town.
Kisuke Urahara's zanpakutō is Benihime (紅姫, lit. Crimson Princess, English: "Red Princess"). It is one of the few known female zanpakutō. When sealed, Benihime takes the form of a shikomizue (a blade hidden inside Urahara's cane). The shaft of the cane is able to separate a soul from a body, much like Rukia Kuchiki's glove. Flashbacks to when he served in the Gotei 13 shows that Benhime was originally sealed in an ordinary katana with a flower-shaped guard. The shikai command of Benihime is "awaken" (起きろ okiro?).
In its shikai, Benihime's blade becomes wider than that of his sealed zanpakutō and the hilt curves, adding a crimson ribbon and other elaborate decorations around it. Benihime has two known special abilities, one for offense and one for defense, both of which are activated by the command "sing" (啼け nake?, "scream" in the English version). Benihime's defensive ability forms a polygonal "blood mist shield" in front of Urahara. The barrier is able to block Ichigo's first use of his getsuga tenshō while only slightly eroding. Benihime's offensive ability fires a crimson-colored energy blast which is similar to a cero as Urahara was easily able to cancel out the blast by the Espada Yammy by striking it head-on with this attack. In the game Bleach: Blade Battlers, Urahara has a special skill/effect that when used, Benihime's bloodmist shield becomes an opaque golden pyramid that completely engulfs Urahara and even reflects projectiles. Benihime's energy blasts also become larger and more destructive. In Bleach DS 2nd: Kokui Hirameku Requiem, Urahara's shield also possesses the ability to shatter on contact, trapping the opponent in the flying shards.
Benihime's bankai has yet to be revealed, but has been vaguely commented upon. Yoruichi states that Urahara managed to learn bankai in three days using a special training method he invented. When Yasutora Sado comes to Urahara for training, he instead gives the task to Renji Abarai, remarking that Sado needs to face the strength of a bankai to improve. When Renji asks why Urahara, who also possesses one, does not train Sado himself, he states that his bankai is not fit for training others or lending power to them.
- Bleach manga Character Poll; volume 24 tankōbon.
- Bleach manga volume 15, chapter 130, page 09
- Bleach manga; chapter -106, page 5
- Bleach manga; chapter 175, page 15.
- Bleach manga; chapter 175, page 13.
- Bleach manga; chapter 249, page 15.
- Bleach manga; chapter 235, pages 5-6.
- Bleach episode 114
- Bleach manga; chapter 194, page 13.