Bleach: Uryu and His Father Ryuken Aren’t So Different After All

In Bleach, the importance of family is an inescapable them. Ichigo will risk his life to shield his younger sisters Karin and Yuzu from danger and later learns that his own father, Isshin Kurosaki, was once a Soul Reaper, too. Ichigo's good friend, Uryu Ishida, also has a magical parent, Ryuken Ishida.

However, Uryu was on tense terms with Ryuken when the story started and got along much better with his paternal grandfather, Soken. But as the story of Bleach progressed, it became clear that Uryu and Ryuken were close after all, even if they didn't always show it.

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Ryuken Ishida: The Reluctant Quincy

Ryuken Ishida was never neglectful as a parent at all, although he did seem to keep his son Uryu at arm's length. After all, Ryuken had suffered more than his fair share of loss, and he learned that being a reckless hero and taking risks doesn't always pay off. He learned to be cautious and look out for his family with tried-and-true methods, and to that end, he lost interest in the Quincy way of life. Despite being a full-blooded Quincy archer, Ryuken had been powerless to save Masaki's life, instead of relying on Isshin Kurosaki and Kisuke Urahara to get the job done. Later, when Uryu was nine years old, Ryuken lost his wife, Katagiri. He was done fighting and losing the people close to him.

In spite of Soken, his own father, upholding the Quincy way, Ryuken chose to hang up his bow and work as an ordinary man instead. He decided that supporting his family with a good career was vastly preferable to fighting monsters all day long, and he became the director of the Karakura Town hospital. This caused a rift between him and his son Uryu, who loved the Quincy way of life and turned to Soken for guidance. Uryu felt let down by his father's decision, but in the end, this rift eventually closed somewhat.

All Ryuken wanted to do was to protect his son the best way he could think of, and once he gave the family financial support, he took the next step and trained Uryu to grant him his powers back. Ryuken was ready to let Uryu leave the next day, even if he didn't say so out loud, and he trusted his son to do the right thing. Once Uryu's powers were restored, the boy ran off with Ichigo and Chad to rescue Orihime, and Ryuken stayed behind. Outwardly, he had a hands-off attitude of "Uryu will succeed or fail on his own," but given everything, it's much more likely that he had faith in his son, and hoped that he'd return home alive. Much later, during the Thousand-Year Blood War arc, Ryuken and Isshin arrived on the battlefield, and Ryuken gave his son a special arrowhead to use. It was all up to Uryu now.

Uryu & Ryuken Ishida: From Qunicies to Everyday Doctors

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As for Uryu, he once returned his father's arm-length attitude, but that didn't last long. Uryu saw his grandfather Soken as his main paternal figure, but once he returned home from Soul Society without his powers, he turned to his father at last. Uryu needed special Quincy training that only Ryuken could provide, and it was rough. And although Uryu was troubled by Ryuken's command to stay away from Soul Reapers, that meant very little. Uryu was fighting to protect those who were dear to him, just as Ryuken had once tried to do for Masaki.

Uryu risked his very life more than once, and he never truly intended to become the heir to the Quincy empire. He faced the temptation to join the Wandenreich and become Yhwach's true successor, but Uryu's heart was with his friends and family, and he turned down this fantastic opportunity out of sheer loyalty. Uryu, like his father, was looking out for those near and dear to him, with no dreams of becoming some big, fancy Quincy king. What kind of king would betray those closest to him in exchange for power?

Uryu eventually completed his quest to become the ultimate protector by following his father's career path and becoming a doctor himself. Father and son are healers and protectors, not glory-seeking warriors, and Uryu hung up his own cape to pursue the right path for himself and those close to him. Who needs glorious combat, Uryu would argue when he could help people and be a reliable friend? That's the path Ryuken took, and it proved that deep down, despite their initial differences, Uryu and Ryuken were two of a kind. The best kind of Quincy, that is.

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