|Primary Power||Ichinen Sanzen|
|Notable Members||Sajin Komamura, Sajin's Grandfather, Hachū Bōkunō|
Hanjinhanjū (半人半獣, Therianthrope), otherwise known as Batōyajū (罵倒野獣, Cursed Beasts), are a race of beings that hail from the Animal Realm, through which they become intrinsically tied to the balance of souls. Further, the unique nature of that realm causes the Hanjinhanjū to reside not only within the Animal Realm but most other realms such as the Soul Society and Human World as well. Despite the potential to be spiritual beings themselves, they are considered the opposite of Souls, and akin to Togabito, the denizens of Hell.
To be among the Hanjinhanjū is to be among the punished.
Humans that commit great sin in their lives are barred from Soul Society and instead sent to Hell where they are eternally punished as Togabito. Souls are not free to commit sins as they please once they enter the spirit world and so a system exists that punishes them in a similiar manner. The forms these punishments take differ depending on the sins one has committed, the Hanjinhanjū being but one such form that it could take.
Those that would become Hanjinhanjū are those that committed sins under the guise of senselessness or those that were inhabited by great prejudice or bias in their lifetime. People overcome by revenge, such as those within the Komamura clan can be considered one such example.
When these Souls die within Soul Society, they are not reincarnated within the Human World as Humans but are instead consigned to the Animal Realm, within which they can view those living in the world around them, but cannot be percieved themselves, thus they exist as silent watchers incapable of interacting with anything or anyone. To further make matters worse for them, their bodies are wracked with a terrible pain that is meant to slowly overwhelm them over a period of years, in a manner similiar to how the Kushanāda constantly destroy Togabito until they lose the resolve to exist. In this case, Hanjinhanjū suffer through an invisible curse placed upon their soul that causes constant pain whilst slowly eroding each individual's sense of self. The end result is thought to be that those possessed by the curse are eventually erased from existence once they have completely forgotten who they once were, but this is not strictly true.
Their body is erased and their memories with it, but the soul remains as a blank slate and is thus free to reincarnate in the Human World as something new. To some, this is seen as a mercy.
Unlike Hell, there is a way for those within the Animal Realm to atone, this is done by communicating with the Realm itself and making a clear-minded wish to make up for the sins they have committed. They are given the duty of taking on the form of animals in the Human World, a ritual converts their bodies into Kishi in the form of any being considered to be an animal (Though Humans are exempt), during which time the Hanjinhanjū's personality is "put to sleep", acting as a subconscious for the beast they have become. Once that animal dies, they are once again reincarnated within Soul Society at which time the personality resurfaces and they are granted a second chance.
There are methods to fool the Animal Realm and in-so doing alter the ritual that would reincarnate a Hanjinhanjū as an animal in the Human World. Instead they are returned to the spiritual realm but as this measure mangles the ritual they are not given their former body but instead a new one; one still afflicted by their curse to eternally suffer pain.
Hanjinhanjū are capable of breeding with each other as well as with beings outside of their cursed race. When a child is born between two Hanjinhanjū, they will also be afflicted with their cursed status, and the animalistic form the child will take is dependent on which of the parents is dominant; a matter that is decided by who has the larger quantity of spiritual power between the two. When a Hanjinhanjū breeds with another that is not one (An ordinary Soul for example) the child will always be of the same race as the non-Hanjinhanjū.
Within the Animal Realm, those imprisoned there retain whatever form they had when they arrived there. Those who attempt to atone (Or circumvent the atonement ritual) are transferred to the World of the Living where upon they are gifted a new body made up of Kishi, the form they take can be any creature that exists within the kingdom Animalia excluding Humans. The form picked is more-or-less random, though a being's personality is known to play some degree in the form they would take. The level of diversity between them is great as not only are there billions of existing species within the animal kingdom, there is also a great deal of difference in appearance and function within each of them.
Those that manipulate the ritual that would send them to the Human World are afforded a different form, a half way point between their original form and the animal forms they would have taken in the Human World. They become anthropomorphic beasts, animalistic creatures with human features and qualities. The more typical cases are those like Sajin Komamura or Hachū Bōkunō, being of human stature but with mostly animalistic features. Other forms are not uncommon however, such as Sajin's Grandfather, who, for all intents and purposes, had the full body of a canine but grossly oversized.
With the alteration of their physical body the Hanjinhanjū are given some mental changes as well. Though it can be seen as a more subtle version compared to their counterparts in the Human World, those that manipulate the ritual in order to escape their punishment are hounded by whatever prejudice caused them to end up in the Animal Realm in the first place. A person known for being overtly xenophobic, will typically remain so and the effects will become more pronounced; often leading the Hanjinhanjū towards violence. Most all Hanjinhanjū are also reclusive, they live on the outskirts of the Soul Society's Rukongai, such is the case of the Bōkunō clan that resides in Tsukumoya (就く靄, "Settled Dust"), the 41st Western Rukongai District. They are an existence seperate from the Souls and Soul Society, and so many Hanjinhanjū see it that they do not belong together and have no need to intervene in matters pertaining to Soul Society. Those of similiar animal form tend to group up together as families, like other families within Soul Society, they are rarely physically related to one another through blood, though such a thing is not impossible, as was the case with Sajin and his grandfather.
Those in the Human World have a more severe case in that their true personalities are subdued and laid to sleep, forming the subconscious of whichever animal body they inhabit, they are a suppressed identity, with their body primarily controlled by instinct and whatever other preconcieved habits control a particular animal. They can exhibit some rare degrees of control over their bodies but at most they are limited to the suggestion of actions from within the depths of the mind.
The Animal Realm
The Animal Realm (畜国, Chikudaichi) is the spiritual realm in which all Hanjinhanjū dwell, initially. It can be described as an overlay, a world that rests atop all others as a blanket. While the Animal Realm is a realm seperate from others, those that reside there would percieve things as if they were living on any of the other worlds, be it Soul Society, Hueco Mundo, or even Hell. It allows those within to walk the world as if they resided there, but they cannot interact with anything and those that do inhabit those worlds are unable to see, hear, or interact with them. The Animal Realm itself takes little physical shape, appearing as little more than expansive clouds of fog at the end of one's vision. The fog serves a purpose of continuously reminding the inhabitants of their seclusion within its confines, as well as keeping them from making contact with others trapped in the Animal Realm. It is said that the Animal Realm is free of the balance of souls in its capacity as a mechanism that helps maintain and as such, should the balance collapse one day and the worlds collide, the Animal Realm would remain free from the cataclysmic event. Those bound to the realm as Hanjinhanjū would be returned there which is one reason why many of the beings decide that they need not worry about affairs regarding Soul Society.
The Animal Realm is possessed of an intelligence, though rudimentary in nature, it serves only to keep those in its care in solitude and, with the passing of time, offer them the ritual that can lead to their possible atonement. Those that seek to manipulate that ritual are able to do so because the Animal Realm is incapable of stopping them and cannot learn a means to do so without aid from the Soul King or a being of sufficient power to match the world's lynchpin.
Meting of Punishment
The Meting of Punishment (境刑, Sakaikei) is the curse that afflicts all Hanjinhanjū, which is placed upon them by the Animal Realm which also oversees the strength and maintenance of the curse. The curse is placed on the heart of a being's body, an ink black symbol that can be read as the kanji for punishment (刑, kei). The curse serves to inflict pain on the body of its victim for eternity, it is constant and seemingly fluctuating so that the sufferer's body cannot eventually become used to it. The pain is used as a way to erode the victim's personality and sense of self, causing them to cease to exist when they eventually forget their own existence. The length this takes depends on both the willpower of the cursed, and the sins they committed as the pain they suffer through is altered depending on the severity of their sins.
If one accepts the Animal Realm's conditions for atonement and successfully reincarnates in the World of the Living as an animal then the curse is rendered inert (Though it is never truly removed), allowing the beast to live freely without suffering. Those that mangle that ritual in order to return to the spiritual world, while free of the Animal Realm's trappings are left afflicted by the curse which will remain in place until they die once more. Those with high degrees of spiritual power have been known to weaken the curse's effect passively, this was the case with Sajin Komamura, a Shinigami with large quantities of spiritual energy that allowed him to suppress the pain of his curse for great periods of time.
The curse binds its victims to the Animal Realm, those who have become animals are not free of the curse and are eventually returned to the Animal Realm once they die once more as animals. In this case, however, they are then cleansed of their sins and the curse before they traverse the Dangai once more as pure souls. Those that had escaped this atonement are forced to repeat the process however, once again escaping into Soul Society for an ultimately temporary reprieve, or accepting the conditions for atonement.
Rite of Repentance
The Rite of Repentance (儀典の後悔, Giten no Kōkai) is the means by which the Animal Realm offers its prisoners an attempt at atonement for the sins they wrought whilst living in Soul Society. It is considered the Animal Realm's most distinct concept, given that such a thing is absent from Hell. After a certain time has passed since entering the Animal Realm (typically under a year), the intelligence that governs the realm may speak to the individual it seeks to grant atonement. This conversation takes place almost entirely one-sidedly, as the Animal Realm's voice appears simply as words within the conscious of those it speaks to. Should they accept the proposal to live a single lifetime as a beast in order to cleanse themselves of their sins then the Animal Realm would perform the ritual. The body of the acceptor is surrounded by a series of moving glyphs that speak in an incomprehensible scripture. The Realm asks that the atoner inscribe three such glyps at predetermined points on the ritual field, these characters being dō (導, guide), hito (人, person), and, jū (獣, beast). Writing these symbols is meant as acceptance by the atoner, following which their soul migrates to the Human World and a new body of Kishi is constructed for them in the form of a beast.
Those that seek to manipulate the ritual in order to return to Soul Society alter the hito character with rei (霊, soul). The ritual proceeds as normal though the destination changes, as such when the Animal Realm attempts to construct a new body out of Kishi in the spiritual realm, its attempts are thwarted as Kishi has difficulty existing in a solely spiritual environment. The soul of the atoner prevents the body from breaking down by serving as its sustenance though the form is a mangled mix between the Human and the animal they were to become.
Ichinen Sanzen (一念三千, Three Thousand Realms in a Single Moment of Life): Though cursed to eternal pain, or a lifetime as a beast, becoming a Hanjinhanjū is not without benefits of its own. The curse binds them to the Animal Realm, but the reverse is also true, allowing Hanjinhanjū to call upon the realm's properties to temporarily bolster themselves. Following the principle that Quincy and Bounts are essentially Gods in the spiritual realm due to their ability to absorb Reishi, Hanjinhanjū can also be considered such as they can draw upon an infinite amount of energy from a realm composed entirely of Reishi. This affords Hanjinhanjū incredible abilities, such as making themselves invulnerable to any form of attack or increasing their physical speed to such a point that they could effectively teleport instantly without disintegrating themselves in the process. Flooding themselves with the building blocks of the Animal Realm has adverse effects on the user however, with the lightest uses often resulting in their curse intensifying by several orders of magnitute. Hachū Bōkunō, who had previously shown no signs of duress under his curse, was left incapable of walking after using Ichinen Sanzen. More overt uses can result in immediately killing the user after its effect ends. The power is typically unique to the one who manifests it, though this is not always the case and there have been those, such as the Komamura family who have derived techniques from more minute uses of this power.
Another key issue is that the power has an extremely short time limit, Hachū Bōkunō could only form a barrier that "rejected reality" for a mere fraction of a second. The power itself can only be used a scant few times in any users lifetime as the resulting feedback will typically kill them on the first attempt if not the second.
- Humanization Technique (人化の術, Jinka no Jutsu): A technique devised by the Komamura family in order to temporarily regain their Human bodies, the clan believes, erroneously, that they are the only Hanjinhanjū aware of, and capable of performing, the technique. The effect is achieved by ritually removing the user's heart, performing the Rite of Repentence in reverse order so that they can temporarily confuse the Animal Realm's intelligence as it seeks to reclaim them. The Rite is part of what makes the technique rare, as few can decypher, nevermind memorize, the glyphs the Animal Realm uses in the original ritual, apart from those three that it imparts upon prospective ritualists. Once the ritual is complete, the user is transformed, given a body that more closely resembles their true Human form with faint traces of their animalistic form remaining. As they have cast off their heart, their body becomes little more than a controllable shell for their soul, effectively making them impervious to harm until such a time as the Animal Realm regains its faculties and claims their ritually offered heart. The time limit on this is long enough that Sajin Komamura could have a protracted battle with Bambietta Basterbine and only begin regressing at the end. The technique is concluded with a full regression into an animal body, as the Animal Realm realizes the error in the user's anthropomorphic form and attempts to correct it, allowing for the existence of true animals in Soul Society, such as Sajin as a fox.
|List of Batōyajū|
|Sajin Komamura||Wolf||Soul Society|
|Wolfman Clan Elder||Wolf||Soul Society|
|Hachū Bōkunō||Reptile||Soul Society|
Behind the Scenes
The author has always been interested in Sajin Komamura's unique form among the cast of Bleach and following the revelation of the Supernatural Creature Project decided to delve into his own interpretation on how Sajin and others like him work, and come to be. With Kubo's mention of the Animal Realm, the author has attempted to draw upon Buddhism and the Animal Realm from which it is likely Kubo drew his own ideas.