Bleach took a small holiday around the new year in 2011 providing the viewers with three filler episodes. Two of these, the new year festivity episode and episode 305, featured Lieutenant Hisagi in more relaxed settings than we usually encounter him. One of the things I love about some of these anime with absolutely massive casts is their ability to have interesting and deep minor protagonists. Hisagi fits that bill for me and so I was happy that he got some extra

9th Division Lieutenant Hisagi Shuuhei

screen time…mostly. I have mixed feelings because while I like some of the revelations about his character that were made in the filler (and yeah I know filler isn’t cannon, but the best filler becomes cannon because it deepens and flavors what otherwise has to be passed over quickly), others scenes diminished the appeal that Hisagi Shuuhei had acquired in my eyes.

Hisagi, like Kira and Hinamori, had his world rudely ripped apart when the three captains defected. The wound seemed somehow to cut deeper for Hisagi; perhaps because the departure of Tousen was so inexplicable. He had little time to mourn however as the management of the division fell to him until a new captain might be found (and, seriously guys, leaving three divisions without captains for this long seems like a seriously bad management choice). Hisagi seemed to be one of those characters who was not quite comfortable in his own skin. The Zanpakut? filler arc revealed an inner conflict in Hisagi that had only been hinted at before. If the idea is that a shinigami’s zanpakut? is potent because of a deep affinity between the weilder’s soul and the sword itself, then the apparent enmity between Hisagi and his zanpakut?, Kazeshini, is cause itself for comment.

Kazeshini has the feel of slaughter just barely kept in check, a wildness that could destroy friend and foe alike for the sheer pleasure of it. How did he get such a character? A Shinigami’s sword is not just a tool, but a reflection and extension of the soul of its wielder. Hisagi, faithful loyal dutiful boy-scouty, Hisagi seems to want to suppress not only the character of his zanpakut?, but also the part of himself that resonates so well with that wildness. This is projection in the classic Freudian sense: that which is hated in the self is split off and denegrated in another. The way through towards a healthier way of being is not to continue to place firmer and firmer restrictions on the disliked portion, but to make a peace with it and reincorporate it into the wider identity of the person.

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