|English||13 Court Guard Squads|
|Founder(s)||Various (depends on story)|
|Headquarters||Seireitei, Soul Society|
|Senior Member(s)||Captains of the Gotei 13|
|Purpose||Primary Defense/Offense Force of Soul Society|
The Gotei 13 (護廷十三隊 Gotei Jūsantai "Lit"; 13 Division Imperial Guards) is the core militant force of all Shinigami, and where a large number of then enter after finishing their studies at the Shin'ō Academy.
Serving as the primary militant force of the Soul Society and Shinigami, the Gotei 13 has the primary responsibilities:
- The defense of the Seireitei.
- The guiding of Souls to the Other World.
- To protect Earth from Hollows.
The Gotei 13, in contrast to the normal operations of modern-day military organizations, does not operate as a cohesive unit normally. The command of the divisions are generally left to the discretion of its particular Captain, who commonly runs it whatever way he or she sees fit, allowing for the change of a division's traditional duties to an entirely new set and even the creation of a separate institution connected to the division. The Gotei 13's main duty is to defend the Seireitei, but they are also allocated districts in Rukongai to defend.
The only authority to call a combined front of all the Divisions would be capable of being made by the Captain-Commander, the leader of the Gotei 13's Thirteen Divisions. Generally; the Captains and the Divisions keep to themselves unless there is a Captain's Meeting or specific, large event being held. Because of how large the Gotei 13's base of operations are, it takes a significant period of time to get all of them together, making it a difficult task to accomplish unless urgency is raised.
The Gotei 13 is split into Thirteen Divisions, each with its own responsibilities and specialities that keep them apart from the rest.
Like most militant organizations, the Gotei 13 also possesses ranks. There are up to twenty named ranks, and the rest are simple foot-soldiers for the Gotei 13. The lower the number is of the rank, the higher rank it is, and generally more skilled the individual is as well. This is because ability is what determines one's rank within the Gotei 13, as opposed to merit and seniority.
The Captains generally have their meetings at the First Division's Barracks, where important issues are discussed. These likely involve specific divisions, new additions to the Captains, and other matters that affect Soul Society as a whole.
- The Captain Commander (総隊長, Sōtaichō; Viz "Captain-General"; Captain-Commander, Head-Captain in the English dub) is the supreme general of the Gotei 13. They are the Captain of the First Division in the Gotei 13, and only answer to the Central 46. They hold the most authority over all the other Captains, and are generally the most powerful Shinigami of their era. They also have hold over organizations loosely associated with the Gotei 13, such as the Kidō Corps and Onmitsukidō.
- Captains (隊長 Taichō; lit. Unit Commander) are the heads of one of the many divisions within the Gotei 13. They oversee all duties of their Division along with their Lieutenant.
The three ways to become a Gotei 13 Captain are:
- 1. Captain Proficiency Test (隊首 taishu) is a test that requires you to perform Bankai. At least three existing captains, including the Captain-Commander have to witness the test.
- 2. Personal Recommendation: Have personal recommendation from six captains of the Gotei 13 and have approval from at least three of the remaining seven.
- 3. Trial By Combat: Regarded as the most inhumane, and generally least preferred way of obtaining Captaincy. However; such a test has become more common in the 11th Division in order for a Shinigami to succeed the title of Kenpachi. This method requires the applicant to defeat the captain of the said division, and witnessed by 200 members of the said division.
- Lieutenants (副隊長, fukutaichō) is the second seated officer of the Division, underneath the Captain. The lieutenants generally see the day-to-day activities the Division alongside their captain, handling large amounts of paperwork among other things. Furthermore; the lieutenants are considered the second strongest members of the Division, and generally have great proficiency with the Shikai state of their zanpakutō. Some lieutenants, if experienced enough, also have attained Bankai, though have rarely mastered it. Additionally; the lieutenants serve as Temporary Captains should their captain be unable to do so for any particular reason.
Seated Officers are the remainders of the Gotei 13 personnel that hold ranks below that of 3rd Seat. They appear to be ranks from 3rd Seat down to 20th Seat. Generally, the seated officers vary significantly in levels of power from one to another, especially when the number is below 5th Seat. Multiple Shinigami can hold a single seated position at once if it's low enough, but some exceptions can be made to the higher ranked seated officers if the Captain so wills it.
Each Division in the Gotei 13 has their own insignia, which has some significance to their duties. Furthermore; they are all based on different flowers.
Most Gotei 13 personnel wear the standard Shinigami uniform, called Shihakushō (死覇装, Garment of Dead Souls) - a white shitagi, a black kosode, a black hakama, a white hakama-himo, white tabi, and waraji. The black kosode also has its owner's division insignia emblazoned on the inside, though it does not appear to have any significant reasoning other than minor security authorization.
Lieutenants are authorized to additionally wear an armband that carries their division symbol and number, usually on their left arm. This is mainly when they are summoned to meetings or other important times, but otherwise it isn't compulsory, though many choose to wear it regardless.
Captains wear a white haori over the usual black Shinigami clothes, with the number of their division on the back, inside the Gotei 13 symbol (a rhombus). Some captains have long sleeves, while the others do not. It also seems that the color of the underside is division--or at least captain-specific--as every captain has a different color of it.