|Current number of captains||10|
|Current number of lieutenants||12|
The Gotei 13 (goteijūsantai; lit. "13 Division Imperial Guard," or "13 Court Guard Squads" in the English version) is a military order of psychopomps, referred to as soul reapers, based in a remote section of Soul Society called Seireitei (lit. "Court of Pure Souls"). As its name implies, the Gotei 13 is divided into thirteen divisions, each autonomous of one another, and having a ranked hierarchical structure, ranging from captain and lieutenant down to seated officers and then unranked personnel, respectively. Since each division is independent of one another, captains can run their respective divisions the way they see fit. Moreover, they have the liberty of completely revising their agendas if need be and even create their own separate organization. The Gotei 13 has proved itself on some occasions to lack cooperation between divisions, in some cases leading to even violent encounters. It is not uncommon for captains and lieutenants to be out of touch for extended periods of time, that is, until a universal threat, promotion, demotion, or public execution takes place. Consequently, it normally takes a day to gather all captains or lieutenants since they are usually dispersed over an expansive area going about their personal business or duties.
The Gotei 13 is subservient to the Central 46 Chambers, therefore the final word for any action comes from them. In the event that the Central 46 is not available, the captain-commander will assume responsibility of managing the organization. The Gotei 13 has no jurisdiction over noble families, unless a decree is issued directly from the Central 46.
The symbol of the Gotei 13 is a rhombus, which is worn on the backs of captains' haori with their division number pasted in the center. Reminiscent of real life modern-day military branches, each division has its own unique symbol as well.
Like any military organization or setting, the Gotei 13 uses rank to determine the position and responsibilities of shinigami.
The Captain-Commander (sōtaichō) is the commanding officer of the 1st Division as well as the entire Gotei 13 by virtue of aforementioned position. All captains and lower of the other divisions answer to him regardless of the circumstance.
Captains (taichō, lit. "unit commander") are the most respected, and feared, shinigami in Soul Society, distinguished by their white haori with the Gotei 13 symbol and respective division number pasted on the back. They are the commanding officers of the 13 divisions, with the exception of the 1st Division. One captain is responsible for as many as 500 personnel at a time. They are the strongest shinigami in their divisions, and all but one are able to use bankai. Captains generally excel in swordsmanship, kidō, flash stepping, and other advanced techniques while having comprehensive knowledge of combat tactics and history. That in addition to having bankai usually puts them on a whole other tier than their lieutenants or seated officers. The captains of the Gotei 13 can be considered the backbone of Soul Society; while their impressive power makes them a force to be reckoned with, Soul Society can be just as vincible should they be defeated or unavailable.
There are three methods to be promoted to captain in the Gotei 13:
- One is by taking the Captain Proficiency Test (taishu), which requires the ability to use bankai. A minimum of three existing captains, one of which has to be the captain-commander, must be present at the examination. The majority of captains presumably were promoted this way.
- Another way is by a personal recommendation from at least six captains with the approval of minimum of three of the seven remaining captains.
- The last and most uncommon way for a soul reaper to be promoted to captain is by defeating or killing the captain of a division in a duel with at least 200 witnesses from the captain's division. This method is criticized by other captains as barbaric in contrast to the other two systematic ways. Moreover, it overrides the necessity of bankai, exceptional skill in basic and advanced shinigami techniques, or judgment from other captains; all of which are the usual prerequisites for receiving a promotion. The only known captain to have attained his rank by this method is Kenpachi Zaraki.
The Lieutenant (fukutaichō, lit. "vice unit commander;" often translated "vice captain") is the second-in-command of a division, comparable to the XO of a company in real life military forces. A lieutenant is distinguished by the emblem, which has his/her division's symbol pasted on it, tied to his/her left arm. The lieutenant is typically responsible for handling daily activities such as maintenance and logistics, making it more convenient for the captain to focus on tactical planning and execution. In the absence of the captain, the lieutenant takes charge of the division until the captain returns or a replacement is assigned. Lieutenants (with the exception of Renji Abarai) generally can only use their zanpakutō's shikai. Nevertheless, they are usually the second strongest in their division. A soul reaper is chosen to become lieutenant of a division by its captain, though he/she has the right to refuse the position.
 Seated Officer
Seated Officers (Sekikan) are the remaining officers of a division, numbered from 3rd down to 20th. The captain and lieutenant are 1st and 2nd Seats, respectively. Seated officers are somewhat correspondent to junior and non-commissioned officers of real life military forces. In the Gotei 13, only one soul reaper can hold a senior officer rank (such as 3rd or 5th seat), except for Kiyone Kotetsu and Sentarō Kotsubaki of squad 13 who share the rank of 3rd seat. There can also be multiple holders of junior officer ranks (e.g. 20th seat). Seated officers are typically in charge of smaller platoon-sized subunits within a division, for example, Hanatarō Yamada is leader of 4th Division's 14th Advanced Relief Team.
 List of Gotei 13 Divisions
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