|“||Do you remember the first time when you were a child that you stood up and walked on your own? If you don't remember doing it, and yet you did it, it means that you weren't conscious of it at the time. So how did you know how to do it? The answer is all humans are born already knowing how to stand up. Just as birds are born knowing how to fly, and fish are born already knowing how to swim. It's because of what we call instinct. All living creatures use instinct to obtain their natural powers when the time comes that they need them.||„|
|~ Yoruichi Shihoin|
Yoruichi Shihōin is a supporting protagonist in the anime/manga series Bleach. She is the former captain of the 2nd Division of the Gotei 13, as well as the former commander of the Onmitsukidō. Having abandoned her command of both positions, she works with Kisuke Urahara and Tessai Tsukabishi, based in the Urahara Shop out in the Human World.
In her human form, she is voiced by Satsuki Yukino in the Japanese version of the anime, and by Wendee Lee in the English version of the anime.
In her cat form, she is voiced by Shirō Saitō in the Japanese version of the anime, and by Terrence Stone in the English version of the anime.
Yoruichi Shihōin is a slender, dark-skinned woman of average height, with golden-colored eyes and long purple hair, which she keeps up in a ponytail. Her standard attire consists of a black, backless, sleeveless undershirt, an orange over-shirt with two white straps on each shoulder, a large beige sash around her waist, and black stretch pants with a pair of lightweight brown shoes, which allow for stealth and easy use of Shunpo. She previously wore a beige neck warmer, which she pulled up to cover her face in order to hide her identity, but seems to have forgone its use. She occasionally wears long beige wrist and leg warmers, each secured by bands. She, unlike any other known Shinigami, can transform into a small black cat for long periods of time. In this form, she has a distinctive male voice and golden eyes.
110 years ago, during her time as a captain, she wore the same sleeveless and backless Onmitsukidō uniform, with long black wrist guards which Suì-Fēng wears now, but had a black ribbon tied around her neck. She wore a long-sleeved captain's haori. Her hair was much shorter, cut in a style similar to Suì-Fēng's current hairstyle, but without the braids. At some point prior to this, she wore the white Onmitsukidō uniform of the correction corps.
Yoruichi is an intelligent and witty woman, holding an intimate knowledge of Soul Society and its workings, as she was the former leader of the Onmitsukidō and the Second Division's captain. Although of noble birth, she acts differently from most other nobles, very much like Kaien Shiba. For instance, she instructed Suì-Fēng to refer to her without using honorific suffixes, but reluctantly settled for being called "Yoruichi-sama" ("Lady Yoruichi" in the dub). On several occasions, she transforms into her Human form directly in front of Ichigo just to see his reaction to seeing her naked, which she teases him about. In addition, she speaks in a dialect used by elders, such as identifying herself as "washi" (a term usually used by old men to define themselves with), instead of more feminine terms like "watashi", in both her Human and animal forms.
While it is unknown how she obtained her cat transformation, she appears to prefer spending most of her time in it. Upon showing her Shinigami form to Ichigo, she forgot to put on clothes, as she had grown used to not needing them; due to being in cat form for so long. She especially takes delight in transforming in front of people to see their shocked reaction, due to her cat form making her sound male. Her love for her cat form extends to great anger should someone harm it or insult its appearance, as seen from how upset she got after her tail was damaged.
Although relatively calm and mature when a situation calls for it, Yoruichi is quite laid-back and playful, often teasing or flirting with those younger than her, such as Ichigo Kurosaki at the underground hot spring, a younger and hot-headed Byakuya Kuchiki, Suì-Fēng before her time as a captain, and Kisuke Urahara, childhood friend, former underling, and fellow ex-captain. Yoruichi prefers to drink milk, which fits with her practice of transforming into a cat.
Two of Yoruichi's unique items are accessories which grant the user the power of flight.
- A long, beige, bone wand-like artifact, with a small, white, bird-shaped skull, and four protrusions, similar to finger bones, extending from the back of the skull. By channeling Reiryoku into the wand, it produces a tentacle, which acts a harness, and a single bat-like wing manifests from the four bone protrusions, which acts as a one-handed hang-glider. No skill or previous experience is required to use it.
- Tentōken (天踏絢, Heaven-Stepping Adornment): It is a brown mantle, with a large drawstring closure at the collar and a large brooch displaying the Shihōin Clan crest. Like the wand, the Tentōken requires no skill or previous experience to use. It appears to be superior to the wand, since it allows one to hover in mid-air, and does not immobilize one of the user's hands.
- Anken (暗剣, lit. "Dark Blade"): Small knives which Yoruichi hides in her boots. She can launch them at a target with a swing of her leg.
- Anti-Hierro Armor: A set of metal gloves and boots, invented by Kisuke Urahara, designed specifically to counter an Arrancar's Hierro during hand-to-hand combat. They are exceptionally durable, protecting the wearer's limbs even during the moment of their destruction.
Powers & AbilitiesFeline Transformation: Yoruichi possesses the unique ability to shape-shift into a black cat at will. How she alone, out of all Shinigami, is capable of this is currently unknown. She has possessed the ability for well over 100 years, and it is known to others she knew from that time. She apparently has no set time limit on the transformation, as she had been in this form for over 100 years. In cat form, Yoruichi can still channel her spiritual energy and move at incredible speeds, though she is physically limited. Her transformation grants her a complete disguise, as her voice in this form is deep enough to lead most to assume she is a male.
Shunpo Master: Considered to be the most proficient Hohō master ever in all of Soul Society, Yoruichi is highly skilled in the use of Shunpo. Though this is by no means a unique skill, as most seated officers are capable of performing it to various degrees, Yoruichi holds the title "Flash Goddess" (瞬神, shunshin; "Flash Master" in the English version), because she has mastered this ability to the point where she can appear to be in several places at once and wipe out an entire Onmitsukidō squadron in seconds. She can easily close tremendous gaps of distance in the blink of an eye while remaining undetected, and can surprise Byakuya, who is one of the most proficient masters in the art as well. She has mastered all of the Onmitsukidō's speed-oriented techniques, and has even created some of her own, such as Utsusemi (空蝉, Cicada, referencing their molting). The full extent of her abilities remain unclear, but she was able to outrun Byakuya while carrying an unconscious Ichigo over her shoulder, performing around 300 steps before feeling tired from being 100 years out of practice. Suì-Fēng could barely keep up with her while Yoruichi was still holding back. She can still perform Shunpo while in her cat form, however, she is not as fast as she is in her true form.
- Utsusemi (空蝉, Cast-Off Cicada Shell): Way of Onmitsu, 3rd of the Shihō. It allows for movement at great speed, leaving at least one tangible after-image behind. Byakuya Kuchiki states Yoruichi taught it to him.
- Taketonbo (竹蜻蛉, Bamboo Dragonfly): A Hakuda technique which involves a simple, yet effective, throw which suddenly and violently flips an opponent upside down.
- Raiōken (雷王拳, Thunder King Fist): A Hakuda technique involving a series of ultra-high-speed punches delivered using both arms. When performing this technique while wearing Anti-Hierro Armor, Yoruichi severely cracked Aizen's first form, destroying the surrounding portion of Karakura Town in the process.
- Shunkō (Lightning) (瞬閧, Flash War Cry): An advanced technique which combines Hakuda with Kidō. This technique surrounds her back and arms with pressurized Kidō based on the element of lightning. The keisen uniform has no back or sleeves because they will rip apart when it is activated. Apart from enhancing her arms and legs for combat, the technique allows her to instantly neutralize an opponent's movement. The Kidō itself can be controlled and fired at opponents from her body, which creates massive explosions. Yoruichi's version of the technique was developed and studied by her a century ago; therefore, the technique is complete and the compressed Kidō is visible. While using this technique, her Reiatsu takes the form of white lightning.
Expert Swordsman: While preferring to fight her opponents barehanded, during her days as a captain, Yoruichi showed herself to be a highly capable swords-woman, taking down a huge Hollow with a single strike of her sealed Zanpakutō
Kidō Expert: As former captain of the 2nd Division and the Commander-in-Chief of the Onmitsukidō, Yoruichi is well-versed in Kidō. Though she commonly employs Shunpo and hand-to-hand fighting techniques, she is masterful in using Kidō to further her capacity in combat, often mixing it with other fighting techniques. She has used mid to high-level binding and destruction spells with no incantation with expert skill. Her skill is great enough to almost effortlessly learn variations of Kidō with only simple instructions.
- Hanki (反鬼, Reverse Demon): This technique is used by Yoruichi during Shunkō. It nullifies an opponent's Kidō by hitting it with a Kidō of perfectly opposite speed and energy. The technique can neutralize an opponent's movements.
Master Assassin: As the former Commander-in-Chief of the Onmitsukidō, Yoruichi is one of the foremost masters of the art of assassination. She has repeatedly shown impressive skill in staying hidden and unseen. When necessary, she can effectively exploit having an advantage against an opponent or hiding her presence. Even Aizen was taken completely by surprise, and just as easily subdued.
Master Strategist: As the former head of her clan and ex-commander of the Onmitsukidō, Yoruichi is a capable leader. She has repeatedly proven to be insightful and crafty, capable of quickly understanding any situation that presents itself and adjusting to it effectively. Upon learning Ichigo would go to save Rukia no matter what, Yoruichi began making preparations of her own by training Orihime and Chad.
Immense Spiritual Power: As a former captain and head of a noble clan, Yoruichi boasts a larger than normal amount of spiritual energy. During Ichigo's Bankai Training, she kept the Tenshintai active for an extended period of time with her Reiryoku. The reputation of her power is enough to make 4th Espada Ulquiorra Cifer wary to engage in combat with her, even with the help of 0 Espada Yammy Llargo. Her spiritual energy and control of it is great enough to act as a shield from fairly powerful attacks, as seen from blocking Jin Kariya's lightning blast with a single hand. While using Shunkō, her concentrated spiritual power becomes far greater than normal.
Enhanced Strength: Despite her slender appearance, Yoruichi is quite strong in her Shinigami form. She could still easily use Shunpo while carrying around an unconscious Ichigo to outrun a fellow Shunpo Master. She easily caught a direct punch from Yammy Llargo, and simultaneously threw him several feet away. She easily injured him, despite his thick Hierro, with various unarmed moves, but it was later revealed she was injured by his Hierro. Though she admitted she wasn't expecting his skin to be that hard, she states she could have avoided taking any damage if she had Shunkō activated. A concentrated blow from Yoruichi can destroy an entire city block.
Enhanced Endurance: Despite her own admission of being out of shape, Yoruichi is a very resilient warrior. Both when out of breath from prolonged running against Byakuya and sustaining fractures from Yammy's Hierro, Yoruichi was still able to fight effectively while showing no signs of weakening.
As a former captain of the Gotei 13, it is known that Yoruichi possesses a Zanpakutō and has achieved Bankai, but she relies nearly exclusively on Hohō and Hakuda. Although she doesn't carry it at all in the current time, she wore it in the past. It resembles a kodachi or wakizashi which she kept sheathed horizontally behind her on her lower back, similar to how Suì-Fēng carries hers in the present day.