|Zf6hellion's Shitty Guides to Characters|
Apparently people like getting terrible advice from someone with the ego the size of a small planetoid (No, not you Pluto), and there was some desire for this kind of thing. So here I am, back for round two of my terrible guides. You were warned.
So, today we'll be covering the Quincy, that one off race that ballooned in population out of nowhere in the very last act of the franchise. Because that's how foreshadowing works in Bleach.
For the new folk, a Quincy is a Human that has been gifted, or was born with, a fragment of Yhwach's soul, giving them the power to manipulate Reishi in the surrounding environment so that they may combat spiritual beings, such as Hollows with their own array of powers. They act as the primary counterpart to the Shinigami with all of their powers generally serving as parallels to the Shinigami's own. They are typically squishy, unlike the hardened and unflinching Shinigami and fight at range with archery as opposed to close range. Even Gintō and Hirenkyaku are presented at odds with Shinigami abilities, the former being an externalised form of magic in contrast to the internalised nature of Kidō and Hirenkyaku is always shown in a static form, which stands opposed to Shunpo's notion of taking steps forward. So how do we make one of these reverse Shinigami you ask? Very poorly, I say. But read on if you must.
Name & Appearance
The Quincy are a very diverse group of people, but they are all Human (with one or two major exceptions). Designing a Quincy physically should not be the hardest of tasks as the themes they embody are all readily apparent from the get-go. They are aristocratic, noble, and high-blooded on a normal level and their designs should reflect that, otherwise they are militaristic and garbed in uniforms emblazoned with insignia's and soaked in the Quincy's trademark colours (white and blue). The militaristic style is juxtaposed onto other features of the characters to show their individuality within the ranks, and hint at their personalities. Bazz-B has a great pink mohawk that hints at his eccentricity and aggressive nature, Mask De Masculine adorns a wrestler's mask that immediately informs us that he's the type to love a crowd and the act of a glorious bout on stage.
Though Quincy are Human, they are also Humans with superpowers. Unlike Fullbringers, the circumstances behind their powers are a bit more... weird, and this has an effect on some characters physically. The twins Royd and Loyd Lloyd are both relatively featureless as people (Excepting some tattoos above their eyes and around their ears) because their powers are based upon mimicry. Nianzol Weizol has two tongues and both his eyes point in opposite directions because his powers are focused on repulsion. Something to think about when making a character.
Again, Quincy are Human, and they spread all across the Earth so naming shouldn't be much of a problem. To help with this, Kubo actually has a couple of themes for several of the Quincy that can help with coming up with names should one need help, or wish to follow the trend. Diversity itself seems to be one of these themes as each Quincy we've come across has names based in different cultures, Uryū Ishida, Jugram Haschwalth, Meninas McAllon, and Guenael Lee are just a few examples. After that comes alliterative names such as the aforementioned Loyd Lloyd, or Bazz-B who's real name is Bazzard Black. Or in the case of Loyd's twin names that flow well coming one after another, Royd Lloyd and Nianzol Weizol being our prime examples. Finally we have names that are basically onomatopoeia in the case of NaNaNa (Batman) Najahkoop or PePe (Le Pew) Waccabrada
History, Personality, "Theme"
Many people would tell you that the Wandenreich is full of boring one-note characters and well... They'd be right, by and large the Quincy of Bleach's final arc are very one dimensional characters that only, rarely, hint at something more. But we're not here to laugh at Kubo's inability to write, we're here for the foundation, and that, at least, has been provided for us. The Quincy's primary theme is one of pride. Which comes in many forms across the cast, pride in themselves, pride as Quincy, pride in their powers, pride in their faith, or even pride in their place within the Wandenreich. Most if not all of the Quincy exhibit a sense of pride throughout the arc and for many different reasons which often plays into two other themes. That of superiority and perversion (But not in the way you think (But also in the way you think, goddamn it PePe!). The Quincy as a whole see themselves as better. Not only are they more than Human, but they are righteous and holy beings that feel that it is divine providence that they would topple the Shinigami, which is made clear through out the many sigils they bear which evoke a form of religious symbolism which the Quincy: Vollständig hammers home by turning most of them into angels, with halos and all.
This is also where the perversion comes into play, for the most part the Quincy are extremely sure in their ideals and when this is challenged during the story, they all tend to react... poorly. This not only becomes evident in how they talk, but how they look as well.
- Lille Barro carries both pride in the Quincy and pride in his powers, declaring his belief that the Wandenreich had won the war the moment they set foot in the palace. He was the first person to be gifted a Schrift from Yhwach, and in his eyes this made him the man closest to God. After unleashing his Vollständig he declares himself a being akin to a deity and from then on constantly berates his opponents for trying to attack a God. His physical form went through the motions of being a man, then a holy-esque figure before devolving into some freakish owl-dragon monster. The more wrapped up in his perceived superiority he got, the worse-off he looked.
- Mask De Masculine is a showboat, constantly yelling about legends and superstars and how he is a righteous hero where-as the Shinigami are heinous villains. He carries great pride in his perceived talent, and his imagined fan following that is embodied by the solitary character of James. The more he bought into his own hype during his fights with three Captain-level opponents the worse he looked, because nipple pasties are clearly an analogue for looking grotesque. Yes. Nevertheless, when he was faced with an opponent he couldn't easily topple, his ideals went right out the window and he became a screaming mess of cursing and threats.
- Äs Nödt was self-sure in his belief that irrational fear could not be overcome, everyone was susceptible and all would suffer for trying to act otherwise. This was a religious man with a deathly fear of being cast into Hell, and to see others lack caution for their fears twisted him into a malevolent being. When confronted with someone who was not perturbed by their fears, and someone who was basically immune to his power, Äs went off the deep end and like our previous examples transformed into a monstrous caricature.
They don't all turn into monster clowns, though. Uryū exhibits pride in himself, as well as his heritage as a Quincy, but rather than allowing that to define him completely, he uses his grandfather's ideals to keep himself grounded and realises that he has friends he can rely on which is not something that would weaken said pride. Likewise, we have Bazz-B who is confident and cocksure. He exhibits an overwhelming pride in his abilities, but focuses on his goal of one day claiming revenge against Yhwach as a means of keeping on the right path. We can treat this as another theme for the Quincy, balance. Those that go to extremes in their fervent loyalty to the cause all end up turning into monsters, while those who have goals and proper ideals to keep them grounded are less likely to do so. When Bazz-B used his Vollständig it was a relatively tame affair, and Uryū relies on the much less insane Letzt Stil.
*whew* Okay, now that that's done let's talk about history.
Unfortunately the past of the members of the Wandenreich is covered in very little detail. We know next to nothing outside of passive mentions of things, and I believe Äs was the only character who bothered to dwell on his reasons for following Yhwach. He creates the idea that some members of the Wandenreich, particularly the Sternritter, follow him because Yhwach saved them from whatever ailed them in their life. Indeed we can infer this to be true for at least one other Quincy, the bodyless Gremmy Thoumeaux who would not be able to do anything had it not been for Yhwach bestowing The Visionary upon him. On a broader scale, we have the divide between pure-blooded Quincy, the Echt, and the mixed-bloods, the Gemischt and the two major events surrounding their people, the First Blood War where Yhwach tried and failed to conquer Soul Society 1000 years before the series started, and Auswählen, where Yhwach killed many of the Gemischt Quincy by absorbing their souls in order to fuel his resurrection. Depending on whether a Quincy was around before or after either of these events can paint a very different outlook for them.
Were they a loyal soldier that saw their leader abandon them in the face of the demonic Shinigami? Are they an indoctrinated trooper raised in the Schatten Bereich? Were they saved by Our Lord the Mustachioed One from a crippling injury or illness? Did they live in a time where the Quincy were dwindling in number and the preservation of their bloodlines became key? There's plenty of things you can do with Quincy history to keep yourself occupied.
Powers: How to Cheat in Bleach
As mentioned before, the Quincy have several powers at their disposal that they can use to engage in combat, all of which sit parallel to whatever the Shinigami use. No more is this prevalent than in their primary ability, which is the source of all their other abilities. See a Shinigami gets their power from within themselves, generating their abilities through utilising their own inner energy, Reiryoku. Quincy do this too, to an extent, but the Reiryoku they possess is marginal in comparison, so instead they use that energy to lash onto the energy present in their environment, Reishi which they convert into a form that suits their purposes. They use it to make weapons, to create defenses and bolster their offense, and key in using their movement techniques. It is also a rather muddy tool for the franchise.
For those who somehow made it through the Fullbringer Arc of the series, you'll have noticed that as Humans with superpowers, the Fullbringers got annihilated flat by anyone they fought against in straight combat. This doesn't happen to the Quincy. This is because, while a Quincy would be weaker than their counterpart on average, the ability to manipulate and absorb Reishi gives them the means to artificially inflate their power so that they can even the playing field. This particular ability is only limited in the Human World where Reishi is thin, but in the primary battlefields of the franchise, Hueco Mundo and Soul Society, the Quincy quickly become overpowered. This was showcased as early as the Soul Society Arc where Yasutora Sado was utterly thrashed by Shunsui Kyōraku, and though it necessitated the use of Letzt Stil, Uryū still managed to fair much better against Mayuri Kurotsuchi, even eking out a win.
With that out of the way, let's cover the many uses of this particular ability.
The Quincy combat gimmick is archery, and rather than carry bows and arrows with them everywhere they go, a Quincy instead takes their Reiryoku and combines it with Reishi gathered externally to create weapons called Spirit Weapons. The basic form of a Quincy weapon is the Heilig Bogen, a longbow made of blue light and/or fire. But as they train and come into their own a Quincy will change their weapon to better fit their style. This could be a shortbow, a crossbow, even an arbalest if you're feeling saucy. Of course the marching of the modern age allows for cannons and guns as well but, given the nature of spirits and spiritual forces in Bleach, the Quincy aren't restricted to actual ranged armaments. They treat all weapons as ranged weapons, whether they function that way in real life or not. Thus we have things like Quilge Opie's saber or Gerard's sword and shield combo. In this sense, Spirit Weapons can be considered a springboard for firing projectiles with some forms being more efficient for the job than others.
Visually, Quincy weapons start out as being little more than energy constructs, but as a Quincy becomes stronger they can form more real weapons which in turn boosts the power of their Spirit Weapon a fact that we see with Uryū who's bow began as a simple blue light longbow before becoming far more complex and then becoming a solid physical object.
Names for these weapons are uncommon in the series at large, but when done are given names that fit the themes of their characters, such as Gerard's Hoffnung which means Hope, while his theme is focused on the concept of miracles. The names are typically short and simple affairs for the Quincy and done up in whatever language fits the nationality they appear to represent.
Hirenkyaku, like all movement techniques in the series, isn't given much to define itself in any form of explanation. Rather its claimed to be the fastest of the movement techniques (But so are the others...) and any unique traits in it are left up to visual interpretation, which is actually kinda neat.
Hirenkyaku works by gathering Reishi beneath the users feet and using it to travel across great distances at incredible speeds, in a pseudo-sliding sense. Throughout the series we see Uryū use the technique countless times in battle and from him we can infer the nature of the technique. Namely that his posture is always static. He is typically seen in one stance that doesn't change when moving from location to location, something that stands at odds with Shunpo and Sonído. This makes some amount of sense for a faction focused on ranged abilities where your attacks are far more deliberate and practiced than that of a swordsman. If you miss, you're probably fucked, and moving a lot would hinder that.
Hirenkyaku takes a great deal of skill and control to use properly, and its use highlights how skilled Uryū is at molding Reishi to work for him as shown during the principle cast's jump into Hueco Mundo, Sado couldn't form a Reishi pathway at all, what Ichigo made was incredibly crude and unstable, while Uryū essentially became the Silver Surfer. He also displays this ability outside of the Garganta making platforms for himself and others to stand on.
Gintō (And Kirchenlied... Sorta)
Do you folks know about The Witcher? I'm sure you do, but for the uninitiated its a series of video games, and before that a series of novels telling the tales of a man named Geralt of Rivia, a Witcher. In his universe there are people, mutated through a secret and painful ritual that gives them superhuman traits allowing them to do battle with various monsters from Polish (and European) mythology. One of the central components of the series is the idea of preparation. Though Witchers are more than a match for any single Human combatant, numbers can still take one down and monsters are a harrowing affair no matter the circumstance. To better match them, the Witchers prepare potions, they choose the battlefield and generally do everything they can to ensure they have the advantage when the fighting starts. This is the primary mechanic of Gintō, as well.
As I've already covered, Quincy and Shinigami both have Reiryoku, a form of internal energy that they can use to fuel their abilities. For Quincy, this energy is generally too limited to be relied upon in the heat of a fight hence the need for Reishi. Instead, they use their Reiryoku to make spells. The Shinigami can make spells of their own too, and the divide between them is in the resources. See, a Shinigami can use Reiryoku to make spells whenever they want, a Quincy cannot. They go through the arduous process of transforming that energy into a liquid state that is kept within small silver tubes. So a Quincy will enter a battle with however many of these tubes that they managed to fill and that's that, once they run dry they have no more spells. We can infer this about their Kirchenlied spells as well, where it is likely that they converted the energy into the solid constructs that Royd used to cast the spell, if not the Roman numeric runes embedded into those constructs if we wish to imply that these sources require a container.
So we know how to prepare to use spells, how 'bout the spells themselves?
On the surface, a Gintō spell doesn't seem that much different from Kidō, they both use motions and incantations that cause a certain effect. The difference is in how they're used, where as Kidō incantations are long and verbose, Gintō incantations are quick, short, and relatively to the point. There are spells that don't use incantations, namely Sprenger, but this again emphasises the need for preparation as the spell takes on a much more ritual-esque format with the additional requirement of more external resources (Seele Schneider in this case).
The resultant effects are quick and dirty in their appearance when compared to Kidō as well, they have a function and it is fulfilled, no need for flare or extravagance. You need to hurt something? You hit it with a stone pillar that disintegrates whatever it touches and move on. You need a wall? You throw out a Gintō and its built in a flash. A typical Quincy spell is a drive for results, you want something accomplished and you want it accomplished yesterday. This, of course stands at odds with Kidō which is far more ceremonial in its nature, as befits an organisation that adopts the cultural connotations of Japan. Kidō spells require no preparation before a battle, but as a result its all front loaded. Their spells are cumbersome, hard to cast at full power without interruption, and the results are extravagant displays of power. Since the Quincy come to battle prepared, they don't need to deal with that nonsense, at least not all the time.
With Sprenger and the short lived Kirchenlied, there is a bit more work involved which paints a different picture for Quincy spellcraft. These spells are all about imagery and representation, both of them are littered with Quincy symbols, from the outline of Sprengers effect to the several pillars that Kirchenlied summons. In that sense, these are spells meant to showcase the power of the Quincy at large, thus they require ritualistic preparation on the battlefield before giving us the expected explosions and screaming and dying. This ties back to their religious symbolism, because there isn't a religion today that doesn't have a ceremony of some sort that's overblown in purpose for very little effect. This, we can also relate to the Shinigami. A fully powered Kidō spell is loud and vocal, because they are at their strongest with their incantation; Kirchenlied and Sprenger require only the motions and are done with no incantation at all.
Blut & Quincy Defense
While I'm on the subject of grasping at straws, let's talk about Blut: the primary Quincy support ability.
All Quincy have a network embedded through their body that they can flow Reishi through, which is then used poured directly into their blood vessels. Performing this feat greatly augments the physical strengths of a Quincy so that they can dish out greater damage or withstand attacks that would be instantly fatal to a regular Human. Usage of this ability is apparently dangerous for its users, and comes with a key flaw in that one cannot simultaneously use Blut to bolster their defense and offense, they have to use it to do one or the other. This is because the systems used to bolster one or the other are different and only one can be active at a time. I like to think of the network as being like a railroad, with connectors that can be used to change the direction of the track. Two trains can't use that junction at the exact same time which enforces the requirement of careful control of the railway network as this happens across entire countries. The two systems for Blut are called Blut Vene (for defense) and Blut Arterie (for offense).
Its representation in the series is very, very murky at best. See, Blut wasn't revealed until the Quincy attack on Soul Society, the very last arc of the story, but we've been following Uryū's contributions to the story since the beginning and he has never brought it up. It is only visually represented at all once or twice, as bulging or glowing veins across the body and that was primarily used to give away Ichigo's identity as a Quincy. The series explains this as being a result of the difference in Quincy bloodlines.
Echt Quincy, the true-bloods, have access to Blut from the moment they're born. Gemischt Quincy, the mixed-bloods, on the other hand, need to unlock access to their Blut. This explains why Uryū has never used it in the series, but does nothing to reconcile the fact that he has survived a lot of crazy bullshit in Bleach's slow, plodding run.
I mentioned that Blut is apparently dangerous above, and that's because the story tells us that it is, but never tells us why or what kind of consequences we can expect. In fact, as I've said already, Blut is barely even implied to be in use at all during the events of the story. We're just left to guess that it is because Kubo is too lazy to draw people with glowing and/or bulging veins in all of his fight scenes. Why didn't he bother to give it a different visual distinction in that case? Fuck if I know, but I'm getting off track.
Its my belief that any and all Quincy can use the Blut "method", that is absorbing Reishi into their body and then injecting it into their blood vessels in order to bolster themselves. However, without using the Blut network, they run the risk of causing harm to themselves and at the same time weaken the effect that they're trying to achieve. This allows Uryū to fight all the battles he has in the series, while not leaving him technically deficient without Blut. I will stress that this is just my speculation on the matter, however, and is not canon by any means. So, please take my musings here with a grain of salt.
The "Rare" Techniques
Quincy have access to some techniques that the Bleach wiki considers "rare", but is only actually true in one case. For the sake of getting this done today, I'm taking their name and covering all of those techniques, except Kirchenlied, in one section. We'll start with Ransōtengai.
Ransōtengai is a technique where a Quincy can form threads of Reiryoku and link them to their brain, then further linking those with threads made of Reishi in order to control their every moment as if they were puppets. Its a powerful skill that allows them to bypass ailment and injury by forcing themselves under a form of pseudo-external control. The technique is rare within the context of the series, in fact only two Quincy we've seen are users (Uryū and Quilge) and both of those users first debuted the technique about three years apart in the story. Its a cool, if subtle, skill but I would warn people off from using it for their characters because its hard to call something rare when every character and their mother has access to it, y'know?
Next is the Quincy: Letzt Stil. A very powerful transformation technique that is the Quincy's last resort. The ability to absorb Reishi is one that Quincy can hone, a practice that involves wearing a glove known as the Sanrei Glove which is specifically designed to make the process of absorbing Reishi more difficult. After learning to cope with the glove, a user can remove it at any point to greatly increase their ability to absorb Reishi and thus activate Letzt Stil. This affords them a massive boost in power as well as an almost complete dominance over the Reishi in the environment. Using it allowed Uryū to practically one-shot Mayuri's Bankai at a point in the series where the Captains were seen as insurmountable for anyone other than Ichigo. It comes with the caveat that, after a short period of time, the form will dissipate and the Quincy will have their powers sealed. A Quincy can have their powers released again, but only through a process that is more likely to kill someone than save them, and its doubtful that the recovery can be made a second time if someone proves stupid enough to use Letzt Stil again.
I like this transformation, as its one of the only things in Bleach that has a considerable drawback. Though its circumvented, and then outright done away with in favour of the bullshit we have in Quincy: Vollständig, the idea is still very cool and was actually recycled for the Arrancar's release state, though as we'll cover in a later guide, that version is pretty piss poor as flaws go.
Now, Quincy: Vollständig: Debuting in the Quincy Blood War Arc, it is a transformation that answers all of the flaws of Letzt Stil (to its detriment) while conferring no natural drawbacks of its own. It is seen as an improvement in every way, where Letzt Stil allowed its user to flawlessly absorb Reishi from anywhere in their environment, Vollständig instead gives them utter dominance over it such that they can forcefully deconstruct other people and absorb the Reishi that defined them. In a series where 90% of the combat capable cast are permanently made of Reishi, this is incredibly overpowered as techniques go, so of course its used all of once, in its own debut, and then promptly never brought up again.
The real focus for Vollständig is the theme of the Quincy, at first they are given forms that are relatively benign in nature (PePe and Äs not withstanding), they are almost always given halos and wings, two things very closely tied with angels, and most of them are given white flowing robes, further tying them to their nature as a religious force. Each of the Wandenreich use the Vollständig as a show of force, proving that they are superior when they are tested by their opponents (And each of them misses the point of that), and the more they refuse to accept the flaws in their pride or their faith they are met with circumstances that force them to continuously transform into more and more grotesque forms. I dislike the powers involved with Vollständig, but as a thematic tool in a shōnen series its actually pretty well done.
The themes at play with both transformed states are different (sacrifice versus hubris), but the powers are largely the same, so its largely down to you to decide which poison you'd rather take.
The Epithet Powers
There is one aspect of Vollständig that I didn't cover, and that is the augmentation of so-called "Epithet Powers", or Schrift. These are powers exclusive to the Wandenreich, and exclusive even within their ranks. It is a gift bestowed upon select Quincy that have proven themselves to Yhwach and marks them as a member of his elite forces, the Sternritter.
These powers are fragments of Yhwach's soul that are embedded with a letter. The letter corresponds to a word and grants its possessor a unique power that is tied to that word, except the X-Axis, but the less said about that the better (Seriously, what the fuck?). Going to our most heroic example we have Bazz-B, who is H — The Heat. Fittingly his powers grant him incredible control over the element of fire, with which he manifests explosions, infernos, and even magma to attack his foes. My personal favourite is Mask's power, The Superstar which is a personification of fame and the literary concept that legends do not die. So long as even one individual cheers for him Mask is able to shrug off any attack and regenerate from any wound he suffers, at the same time bolstering his strength. Its the power of belief at its finest (and most homoerotic).
Each member of the Wandenreich that shows off these powers is deeply tied to them thematically, either they embody the ideas behind their powers or they stand at odds with them. PePe Waccabrada is a fat, ugly old guy with a bad attitude and so his power is to forcefully make other people fall in love with him. Bazz-B, again, is flamboyant and extravagant so of course he controls the power of fire. Mask fancies himself the hero smiting villains in the name of justice, he's a showboat and his powers are all about gathering a crowd. Askin Nakk Le Vaar is dour looking and likened to a cockroach in that he has the good fortune to survive nearly anything flung his way, and it just so happens that his powers allow him to control the lethal dose of just about any substance for anyone around him.
My recommendation is to find very, very uncommon words to use. They are all done in English as a rule, and English is a very shite language when it comes to retention. We have thousands, if not millions of outdated and archaic words that you can find and make use of. Find creative ideas that fit that word and then go nuts.
Well, there you have it. A primer, an overview, or a shitty guide to the Quincy in Bleach. Whether it helps you or not, I hope you enjoyed my terrible humour, and I ask that you please forgive my inane ranting. Join me next time, when I attempt to cover one of the more annoying "races" in our cast of unlikely monstrosities.