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Souls (魂魄（こんぱく), Konpaku) are spiritual beings in the Bleach universe that reside in Soul Society. Many Souls live in the Rukongai and are not allowed into the Seireitei where the Shinigami and the Gotei 13 reside. While many Souls are deceased Humans from the Human World, it is known that they can be born within the Soul Society as well.
Pluses (整 (プラス); Purasu) (Wholes in the English Dub) are the benign ghosts. They are the spirit of a person who has died. A chain, known as the Chain of Fate, protrudes from the chest and binds the plus to a location, object or person that they felt close to in life. The soul can move about freely if the chain is broken, but this also causes the chain to corrode. Normally, pluses are sent to Soul Society by Shinigami in a ritual called soul burial (Konsō) before this corrosion becomes significant. If the Chain of Fate is corroded entirely before a soul burial can be performed, a Hollow hole will form in the chest of the soul where the chain was once anchored. Such souls are driven mad and become evil ghosts known as Hollows. If the Chain of Fate is torn out deliberately, this hastens the process. Normally, a Plus leaves the Real world in his/her death without regrets and without losing anything, and waits for a Shinigami to transfer him/her to Soul Society via Soul Burial. However, when a Plus has strong ties binding it to the living world, it becomes a Jibakurei (地縛霊, Earth-bound Spirit; ; ; ).
A Jibakurei (地縛霊, Earth-bound Spirit) is a spirit who is not able to leave the real world that easily because he or she regrets leaving something behind. For example, if the Soul is bound to a place, he or she will stay at this place and refuse to pass on to Soul Society. A Jibakurei is more vulnerable to a Hollow, as being bound to a certain area prevents them from fleeing as far as a normal Plus, and means that the Hollow would only need to search in a small area to find them.
- Main article: Hollow
All Plus souls have a chain connected to their chest known as the Chain of Fate, as time passes by and they aren't sent to Soul Society via Soul Burial this chain erodes by growing small mouths that eat away at itself. This process is painful and starts out slow, but each erosion becomes more violent than the last until finally the chain is completely gone. At this point, the Soul's body disperses into spirit particles and then reforms nearby as a Hollow. The body usually forms first, followed by the mask, unless the Soul resists, in which case the mask might form first. There are other ways to force Hollowfication, such as prying open the hole in a Plus' chest by force, as shown by Don Kanonji. Another process of becoming a Hollow is shown by Sora Inoue, who is attacked by a group of Hollows, and transforms into a Hollow immediately afterwards.
For more information on the degradation of a Plus' Chain of Fate, see Encroachment, as this is the slower process of becoming a Hollow.
- Main article: Shinigami
Shinigami are spiritual beings that are responsible for regulating Souls between the Human World and the Soul Society. They act by sending Pluses to the Soul Society by Soul Burial and they are also responsible for fighting and purifying Hollows with their Zanpakutō. Some Souls have spiritual power which can enable them to enter the Shinō Academy to become Shinigami.
- Main article: Blank
- Main article: Togabito
Togabito are souls condemned to eternity in Hell for crimes they committed during their lifetimes. A Togabito is distinguished as a spirit bound in chains, which are near indestructible.