- "Long have we served out justice and maintained the peace. The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern. We are their defenders. But we do so without want for recognition or reward. For that is our duty and our promise: a faceless entity, who protects peace within its own shadow."
- —The Taira clan creed.
|Affiliation||Soul Society, Central 46|
The Taira Clan (平家, Heike, literally House of Taira), is a family who reside within the Seireitei, Soul Society. On the surface the Taira are heavily involved with the Central 46, and have produced at least twelve judges, and an untold number of wise men. Internally, however, and secretly, the Taira act as a police force from within the Seireitei's shadow; safeguarding the peace and dispensing justice when needed. As such there are two branches: the main house that deal with judiciary matters, which the eldest inherits, and the branch house, which deals with the secretive side of the family; that is inherited by the second child. Of course, on the outside, the distinction doesn't exist and only effects the family internally.
- "To defend the heir while one drop of blood remains. This I vow."
- —Kigen's vow over the crib of Sōritsu's son.
The Taira clan can trace their line back to Kigen Taira, who established the family some millenniums ago before the eventual formation of the Seireitei and the advent of the Noble Houses. The Taira first appear in the history books as retainers to the Kuchiki Family, specifically serving as bodyguards to the slated Kuchiki heir, as Kigen did for Sōritsu Kuchiki's young son. During this period it was their life before the life of the heir, and if the heir did in fact die while their bodyguard lived, then the bodyguard would follow them as part of their duty soon after; or, although unlikely, they fulfilled the role to the inheritor of the position.
Following the formation of the Seireitei at the hands of The Philosophers, the Taira where granted lesser noble status, and continued in their role as retainers to the Kuchiki -- who where now one of the Five Great Noble Houses. It was here the role the family took began to diverge. Garian Shinjo saw it prudent that a peace-keeping body be created to protect the Seireitei in secret; whether that was from outside influences, or from power-hungry individuals who wished to advance their position and that of their family's; a view which Kigen shared. From that day on members of the Taira began monitoring their fellow nobles, thus creating the branch family, which was carried out by Kigen's second son, Ran. His first son, Ken, inherited the main branch -- which set in stone the inheritance of the two positions down through the years.
- "The perfect defender has no face, no name, and no history."
- —The Taira.
The main house continued in their retainer role to the Kuchiki, but would eventually branch out into judiciary pursuits; becoming involved with the Central 46, which the Soul King had mandated to govern the Soul Society from the Seireitei in his stead. Heirs of the main family wielded great political and governmental power, and began to gain the reputation of being the faces of the Central 46. The branch family would remain a secret to those not born of the clan, and would eventually spawn the Onmitsukidō as one means of achieving their newfound goal, which the Shihōin Clan would also become affiliated with. Stealth, assassination, information gathering and subterfuge became their greatest strengths and, over time, these skills became ingrained into their everyday lives.
As the years progressed the Taira grew in standing. Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto formed the Shinō Academy, which helped the secretive side of the clan build their strength, skill and experience more easily than previously. The downside was that the Central 46 had no authority over the newly founded institution. Though the Taira where known to have had at least four prominent instructors teaching, which helped them monitor it ere regardless.
- "We don't do walking away. We'll rebuild, and return stronger than ever."
- —The Taira following the death of the Central 46.
Sōsuke Aizen's betrayal hit the clan hard, especially the main branch. The Taira reported the deaths of their most experienced and eldest members and it would be years before they regained their strength. Though they persevered through the Winter War, the crisis surrounding the Vandenreich, and the war with Averian's Arrancar army and once again returned to their position amidst the elite of Soul Society. Their resurgence was in-part thanks to the Shirono Family who, like the Taira, had great political standing. Their alliance served the two clans well, though their alliance ended on a sour-note when Shiki Shirono brought his clan close to extinction in but a single night.
The main house of the clan is directed towards the judiciary side, and is thus a prominent political family who wield great power amongst the Central 46. Very rarely has there not been a Taira serving as one of the six judges, even after the reformation of the Central 46 following Aizen's betrayal; while at the same time holding positions amongst the forty-six wise men.
Their knowledge of the law, including ancient customs such as zanpakutō-sharing and ancient forms of execution, are unrivaled amongst the various noble families. In fact, only one family has ever wielded political power along the lines of the Taira, and they where the Shirono Family, who suffered tremendous damage at the hands of Shiki Shirono.
Leadership of the family is strictly hereditary. The position of Family Head is passed on from one head to their eldest son or daughter. Should disaster befall the intended heir, then the title of heir passes to the next in-line. The line can trace their ancestry back to Ken, Kigen's first-born son.
The branch family is the secretive military wing. On paper this side of the clan doesn't exist -- the only people who know about it are the Taira themselves and Garian Shinjo, as he had a hand in its creation. Information is passed on from parent to child strictly, so as to prevent the spread of the branch families existence outside the clan. Should a parent be dead or otherwise unavailable then close family would provide the knowledge in their stead.
Like the main family, the leadership of the branch family is strictly hereditary. The position of Branch Family Head, unofficially called the Shadow Head, is passed on from one Shadow head to their first-born child. Should disaster befall the intended heir, then the title of heir passes to the next in-line: in the beginning Kigen's eldest, Ken, unable to inherit the position, meaning that the position couldn't be united. The branch family's roots can be traced back to Ran, Kigen's second-born son.
The past duty of the Taira family head was the protection of the Kuchiki heir even over their own life, a task they adhered to with the strictest professionalism and pride. They maintained this charge for a number of centuries without complaint or want of recognition, usually with little actual reward. In turn the family would support their head by being the retainers of the Kuchiki family.
Gotei 13: The Taira have good relations with the Gotei 13, but tend to lean more towards certain divisions over others; particularly when the branch family is involved.
- First Division: The first division of the Gotei 13 is responsible for relaying Central 46 orders, dealing with Soul Society law and monitoring the other divisions. As such the first is the perfect division for an ambitious Taira-clan member to better their skills. As such many of the clansmen attempt to join this division.
- Second Division: The second division of the Gotei 13 is closely tied to the Onmitsukidō, the body the Taira initially set-up, with many members holding positions in both units. As a result, many members of the 2nd Division are skilled in the use of hakuda, stealth and assassination -- the prior two being two of the fundamental skills of the Taira's militant branch family. As such members of the Clan use the second division as a means to improve their skills further, which are then taught within the Clan for future generations.
- Third Division: Recently the third division of the Gotei 13 has come to the Taira's clans attention, especially under the command of Kei Yume. The third is often the division that deals with elimination, often deployed in groups to quickly deal with hordes of opponents. This makes it particularly noteworthy, as the Taira clansmen gain coordination and teamwork skills.
- Ninth Division: The 9th Division is one of the primary combat forces within Soul Society. As such the Taira join it to better their general combat prowess in fields that aren't strictly assassination or ambush-based.
Kuchiki Family: The Taira had strong relations with the Kuchiki family and served as their retainers since their recorded formation. The Head of the Taira family acted as the bodyguard of the slated Kuchiki heir, a tradition that would endure until their own influence grew. They still retain close relationships with the clan, and are known to have an alliance with them, as certain Taira members have access to the wealth of knowledge that the Kuchiki family are charged with protecting.
Shirono Family: Formerly the Shirono and the Taira had an unofficial rivalry that encouraged growth and competition amongst both of their families. They where on friendly terms and often shared knowledge and insight, which made for a long-lasting relationship that spanned centuries. Their long friendship met with an untimely and unfortunate event: the Shirono Massacre, facilitated by Shiki Shirono. Left with merely a few heirs, the family rebuilt within the walls of Horiwari, effectively ending the alliance. However, by no means where all ties severed. The branch family, unofficially, still consort with the Shirono -- with them now acting as outside observers of the Soul Society.
- Kigen Taira
- Ken Taira
- Ran Taira
- Unnamed Head
- Unnamed Shadow Head
- Unnamed Heir
- Unnamed Shadow Heir
- Kojima Taira
- Heiwajima Taira
- Yūkari Taira
Behind the Scenes
The author, Kenji Hiroshi, decided to link the clan heavily with the ancient history established in Bleach (Kenji Hiroshi) for a number of reasons:
- 1: It gives a clear reason on the how and why regarding the clans formation. Without that it becomes a page without much purpose.
- 2: It allows that history to be further explored through in-story re-telling from the perspective of the characters themselves, such as family legends, tales, or simply for one clan member to declare their intention to be like their ancestor.
- 3: No family survives on its own. With a clearly defined historical structure it becomes much easier to introduce alliances, friendships and political arrangements to further the clans strength.
- The name of the clan is that of a real-life historical clan: Taira clan.
- The butterfly was chosen as the clans symbol because the butterfly is often symbolic for change or transition; in this case the transition that took place within the clan when the main and branch family was created.
Right, there's one thing I want to make clear regarding the militant wing of the clan, as the original creator. And that mostly boils down to abilities.
- They aren't super-Shinigami by any means. Yes, there might be one or two who break the mold every now and then, but in all intensive purposes, the militant wing are standard Shinigami who are partial to stealth and assassination. Meaning they don't have hereditary powers like the Rei Furashuu, or some special method of applying spiritual power, or whatever else have you. They're standard, run-of-the-mill Shinigami. Its their duty as Taira that define them -- not how many explosions they can make in X number of seconds.