The Quincy are a fictional line of spiritually aware human archers in the anime and manga series Bleach created by Tite Kubo. Their techniques and terminology are derived from the German language, and they utilize outfits and tools evocative of medieval priests or crusaders. Originally a mixture of survivors of hollow attacks and those who'd lost loved ones to hollows, the Quincy developed a variety of supernatural powers to hunt and kill hollows before they attacked humans (and to destroy those who already had), including the ability to control spiritual energy. The Quincy are nearly extinct due to extermination by the shinigami about 200 years before the main Bleach storyline. At present, the only known living Quincy are Uryū Ishida and his father, Ryūken Ishida.
Unlike the shinigami, who use a sword as their primary weapon, the Quincy's weapon of choice is a bow. It is constructed from spiritual particles drawn from their surroundings, also unlike the shinigami, who rely on their own innate spiritual energy. (As a reflection of this, Quincies have white spirit threads like normal humans, while shinigami have red spirit threads.) Flashbacks in the anime show earlier Quincy using longbows or crossbows and firing spiritual arrows from them. Quincy bows are summoned using an artifact called a Quincy Cross. The only limit to a Quincy's ability to create and fire arrows is their own stamina and ability to absorb ambient spirit particles. Quincy also have various tools and battle aides that can increase their power or serve as secondary weapons.
Another contrast between the shinigami and the Quincy are their methods. While shinigami purify hollows, thus preserving the balance of souls between the two worlds, the Quincy destroy hollows, former soul and all. In doing so, the balance between the worlds is slowly tipped towards one side, endangering both worlds. This danger led to a Quincy-shinigami war, which ended in victory for the shinigami and the deaths of many Quincy. The Quincy line was closely monitored over the decades, as their numbers continued to dwindle. Later Quincy advanced the idea that since they were already among the living and still more numerous at the time, they could act as "first responders" to hollow attacks, protecting humans until the less-numerous shinigami could send a representative to finish the hollow off. Embittered by the recent war, the shinigami refused to participate, opting instead to allocate their limited resources to reacting to the most dangerous hollows and current hollow attacks. This caused great enmity towards shinigami by Uryū Ishida, Ichigo's classmate and a Quincy, whose grandfather (the last advocate of the Quincy plan) had been slain by a team of hollows before the shinigami could arrive.
The final point of contrast between Quincy and shinigami is their respective choice of uniform. While the shinigami wear traditional, black, flowing hakama, the Quincy wear white, form-fitting, high-collared tunics. These bear some resemblance both to Mandarin Chinese dress and to the cassocks of Catholic priests. This gives the Quincy a distinctly "foreign" or "Western" style compared with the shinigami. One peculiar recurring motif of Quincy is that of a cross, which appears frequently on their uniforms and artifacts. The cross is not the same shape among all Quincy (e.g. Uryū uses a Celtic cross, while Ryūken uses a pentacle). There is also a six-pointed cross that appears on the back of Uryū's Quincy tunic. In the Christian church of the late Roman era and early Dark Ages, the Latin cross had not yet come to dominate church imagery, and all three of these symbols would have been in use. This, combined with their attitude and goals, gives the Quincy much in common with medieval knights, or, more specifically, crusaders. While the differences between Quincy and shinigami in costume and iconography are minor compared to the differences in weaponry and ideology, a few chapter cover images have exploited the black/white contrast to create a yin-yang motif, most notably chapter 189, "Resolve".
Uryū Ishida (石田 雨竜 Ishida Uryū?) is the most recurring Quincy character in Bleach. Despite the Quincy's strained history with Soul Reapers, Uryū has a working relationship with deputy Soul Reaper and series protagonist Ichigo Kurosaki. He and his father are the last remaining Quincy.
- Voiced by: Ken Narita (Japanese), Michael McConnohie (English)
Ryūken Ishida (石田 竜弦 Ishida Ryūken?) is the father Uryū Ishida. He is initially portrayed as a Quincy who detests his own people, believing his father, Sōken, and Uryū to be wasting their time training their Quincy abilities. Because he dedicates his almost all of his time to running the Karakura Hospital, never displaying an interest in Quincy-related things, Uryū assumes he has no abilities to speak of. In reality, however, Ryūken is a very skilled Quincy, being capable of defeating two incomplete arrancar with only three arrows fired from his one-handed bow. His outfit is usually covered in blue crosses and he has inherited his father's Quincy Cross (滅却十字 mekkyaku jūji?). To this end, he calls himself "the last Quincy", believing Uryū to be too talentless to deserve the title. Though he disapproves the Quincy lifestyle, it being impossible to make a living if one kills hollows all day, Ryūken restores Uryū's lost Quincy powers, even forcing his son to never associate with Soul Reapers.
- Voiced by: Eiji Maruyama (Japanese), David Lodge (English)
Sōken Ishida (石田 宗弦 Ishida Sōken?) is the father of Ryūken and the grandfather of Uryū. He trained Uryū in Quincy abilities throughout his childhood, becoming his mentor in the process. Sōken tried to make amends with Soul Reapers by advocating a new system of response to hollow attacks: Quincy would be the first-response squad, protecting humans from hollows until Soul Reapers arrived to help. His proposal was never accepted, and he was eventually killed in a hollow attack. Mayuri Kurotsuchi reveals to Uryū that this was his doing; he delayed the Soul Reapers meant to protect Sōken so that he could study Sōken's soul for his research.
Unlike shinigami, who use their inner spiritual power to fight, the Quincy fuel their abilities by absorbing the spiritual energy of their surroundings. They primarily absorb spiritual energy from the atmosphere, and have an easier time collecting this energy in environments with higher concentrations of spiritual particles, such as Soul Society or Hueco Mundo. To a sufficiently powerful Quincy, there is no difference between spiritual particles and spiritual energy as a source of power. The Quincy can also use the energy they gather, or use silver tubes filled with spiritual energy (gintō), to perform various offensive, support, and defensive techniques similar to the shinigami kidō.
A Quincy's power can be significantly enhanced using the sanrei (散霊?) glove. A Quincy needs to complete a week of intense training in order to be able to use the glove. The glove operates by repelling spirit particles, making it far more difficult for the Quincy to summon their bow. Any Quincy who is able to successfully utilize their powers while wearing the glove can thus reach much higher levels of power. This training is also the basis for the Quincy final form.
A Quincy who wears the sanrei glove may remove it in desperate cases, entering a state known as the Quincy Final Form or Letz Stile (最終形態（レットシュティール） Retto Shutīru?, German for "final style," Japanese for "final form"). By removing the artificial repulsion to spiritual energy that the glove placed on them, the Quincy will experience an abrupt increase in power, along with a change in appearance. While in this form, the Quincy will absorb energy from their surroundings at such an alarming rate that they can actually deconstruct spiritual objects. In such a state, the Quincy is able to fight with extreme strength and speed, and can completely overwhelm an average shinigami captain. However, the final form is a double-edged sword, as no human body is capable of handling the immense power the form comes with. After a short period of use, the Quincy's body will forcibly seal itself off from all spiritual power in self-preservation, effectively robbing the Quincy of their abilities. The final form is only used as a last resort because even though it is possible to regain Quincy powers afterwards, the process is exceedingly dangerous.
The only way for a Quincy to regain their powers after using the final form is to first exhaust themselves both mentally and physically, then be hit exactly 19 mm to the right of their heart with a spirit arrow. After this, a pentacle-shaped scar will form on the point of impact, and their powers will be restored.
The Quincy possess numerous artifacts and equipment which help them in different ways. Below are the ones that have been shown:
- Hollow bait — This item is a small, coin-shaped disk that attracts hollows when crushed. When used by Uryū, the bait, in combination with Ichigo's powerful spiritual pressure, was able to draw a gillian-class menos out of Hueco Mundo.
- Quincy bangle (装身具 sōshingu?) — Introduced in the anime's Bount arc, the Quincy Bangle is an artifact designed to mimic a Quincy's natural powers. It works by drawing in spirit particles from the environment, much like a Quincy does regularly. It can only be used properly by those who are already adept at forming and directing spirit particles. When activated, it forms a metal bow on the user's hand and gives them an appropriate Quincy outfit to match. The bangle is an unstable and delicate device, which eventually falls apart with extended use. The bow it creates has a huge drawback in that spirit particles must be gathered and charged to be of any use; doing otherwise greatly weakens the power of the resultant projectiles. The arrows also seem to fire erratically, sometimes curving away from their intended target. Furthermore, if shot at the time when the device is at its maximum power, it could explode, killing the user and destroying anything else nearby. Uryū was able to bypass most of these problems by using the bow to focus his own suppressed powers, rather than relying on it to draw in spirit particles for him.
- Quincy cross (滅却十字 mekkyaku jūji?) — Standard equipment for any Quincy, the Quincy Cross acts as the focus for a Quincy bow. The cross need not necessarily be in a cross shape, as Ryūken's cross is a pentacle.
- Sanrei glove (散霊手套 sanrei shutō?) — The sanrei glove is a powerful Quincy artifact that can increase a Quincy's power exponentially, but requires a dangerous and exhausting type of resistance training (wearing it for a week while constantly firing spiritual arrows) to master. The glove works by scattering the spirit particles in the surrounding area, making it much harder to form a working bow. If a Quincy can summon a bow and use it for the required amount of time, they will have undergone a massive increase in power. When removed, however, the glove will release the user's energy all at once - first transforming them into a being of tremendous strength, and then forcing their Quincy powers to gutter out completely.
- Seele Schneider (魂を切り裂くもの（ゼーレシュナイダー） Zēre Shunaidā?, German and Japanese for "soul cutter") — The Seele Schneider is a thin, sword-shaped arrow. It's much longer than a standard arrow and functions something like a chainsaw: the spirit particles of its blade vibrate at ultra-high frequencies, loosening the molecular bonds between any spirit matter it cuts so that the Quincy user may easily absorb the freed spirit particles. The Seele Schneiders Uryū uses are stolen from a secret storage room under Karakura hospital.
- Silver tubes (銀筒 gintō?) — Silver tubes are small liquid-filled capsules that store spiritual energy, and are used by Quincy for spellcasting in the same way that shinigami use kidō. Like kidō, they are activated by calling out various commands, but do not require any of the user's energy to activate.
- Soul-synthesized silver (霊化銀 reika gin?) — Soul-synthesized silver was used by Ryūken Ishida to construct the hidden chamber in which Uryū trains.
- Soul-synthesized glass (霊化硝子 reika gurasu?) — Like soul-synthesized silver, soul-synthesized glass was used to construct the hidden chamber in the Karakura Hospital.
Silver tube techniques
A list of techniques that utilize silver tubes (gintō):
- Heizen (聖噬（ハイゼン） haizen?, German for "to heat," Japanese for "holy bite") — This technique uses four silver tubes to create a transparent, rectangular beam of energy which slices through the opponent.
- Gritz (五架縛（グリッツ） gurittsu?, Japanese for "five-rack binds") — This technique forms a man-sized pentacle symbol which envelops its target.
- Wolke (緑杯（ヴォルコール） vorukōru?, German for "cloud," Japanese for "green goblet") — This technique uses silver tubes to create a large blast. While it may not be intended for use as such, Uryū uses it to cushion the impact of a fall.
- Sprenger (破芒陣（シュプレンガー） shupurengā?, German for "detonator," Japanese for "ripping grass formation") — This technique uses five Seele Schneiders to create a pentagram-shaped seal, which when activated causes a massive explosion within its borders. The Seele Schneiders function as accumulators, gathering the necessary amount of spirit particles to create the explosion. The liquid inside the gintō acts as the trigger. The preparations for the technique combined with the charging time for the Seele Schneiders make its use in battle impractical unless the user has a partner that can stall to buy time.
To go with their bow, the Quincy have a number of special techniques to give them an edge in combat:
- Hirenkyaku (飛廉脚?, lit. "flying screen step/god step", "flying bamboo-blind leg" in the Viz translation) — Analogous to the shinigami flash steps or the arrancar sonido, the Quincy hirenkyaku allows the user to move quickly over short distances; according to Uryū Ishida it is faster than flash steps, though Mayuri Kurotsuchi's superior speed suggests that this is just a generalization. To perform the technique, the user gathers spiritual particles under their feet and rides them to the desired location. Like the air-walking skill displayed by most arrancar and shinigami, it can also be used to hover or fly for long distances. Mayuri compliments Uryū on being able to use this technique at such a young age, suggesting that it's difficult to master.
- Ransōtengai (乱装天傀?, lit. "heavenly wild puppet suit", "disheveled paradise puppet" in the Viz translation) — Ransōtengai is a high level technique that allows the user to control their body parts using strings of spirit energy controlled by their brain. By using this technique, the user can control their body as one would a puppet, allowing them to move freely despite paralysis, broken limbs, or any other force that would impede normal movement. It was originally created to allow old Quincy to fight effectively, and is rare enough that Mayuri had never encountered a Quincy (out of the 2661 that he examined or studied) who could use it before Uryū.