Rukia Kuchiki (朽木 ルキア, Kuchiki Rukia) is the lieutenant of the 13th Division under Captain Jūshirō Ukitake. Rukia is the younger sister of Hisana Kuchiki, the adoptive sister of Byakuya Kuchiki and a friend of Ichigo Kurosaki.
Short and petite, Rukia has light skin, violet-colored eyes and black hair, with one strand of hair always hanging between her eyes. Byakuya has commented that she strongly resembles her sister, Hisana Kuchiki. As a Shinigami of the Gotei 13, Rukia wears a standard Shihakushō. Sometime after Aizen’s defeat, Rukia has her hair cropped into a bob that hangs about her face. She wears fingerless white tekkou that are similar to Byakuya’s that extend to above her elbows. As a lieutenant, she wears her Division Badge around her uniform’s left sleeve, which has been shortened to just reach her upper arm.
Initially born into a lower class, Rukia retains her modesty even as an adopted member of the nobility. She is graceful and “clean”, yet chooses to talk to ordinary people. However, her cool and lone demeanor often forces her to hide her personal troubles even from her friends. According to Ukitake, Rukia never opens up her heart and has difficulty making friends. Rukia is clueless about the ways of the modern Human World.[ She is an accomplished actress, being able to act her way through a number of tough situations, such as getting out of trouble with school teachers or convincing the Kurosakis to let her stay at their house.
Rukia always has trouble finding clothes that fit her, especially when inhabiting a Gigai in the Human World, leading to her stealing clothes from Ichigo's sister, Yuzu. She likes to climb to high places. Rukia also likes everything that is rabbit-themed or resembles a rabbit. She becomes quite sensitive when someone insults her obsession with rabbits. People often have difficulty understanding her drawings, which are typically rabbit-like. She also doesn't like when someone complains about their quality. Rukia's favorite foods are cucumber, eggs and rice dumplings.
Approximately 150 years ago, Rukia and her older sister, Hisana, were brought together to Inuzuri, 78th District of Rukongai after they died in the Human World. Unable to live there while caring for a child, Hisana abandoned Rukia when she was still a baby. Rukia grew up on her own for a considerable amount of time. One day Rukia tripped an adult that was chasing Renji Abarai's group of friends and urged them to follow her to avoid losing the water they had stolen. Rukia joined their group, becoming their spiritual leader and they lived together as a family.
A young Rukia saves Renji and his friends.
They all hated Inuzuri and the people there. Rukia exhibited some spiritual power during this time. Ten years after Rukia joined the group, with all of their friends dead, Rukia proposed that they become Shinigami and live in Seireitei, noting that she had heard it was pretty there. Renji agreed with her. As they were quite gifted with spiritual powers, they entered the Shinō Academy with ease, where they struggled to prove their worth among those from noble families. The night before the welcoming ceremony for the new students of the Academy, Renji slept in a tree, against Rukia’s advice. The following morning, he fell out of the tree and landed on a headstone where a startled Izuru Kira had been praying, for which Rukia scolds him.
Two months after entering the Academy, Renji scolded Rukia for still not fitting in and informed her that he was going to the Human World for field training to practice Konsō for the first time. Rukia complains about this being unfair, but Renji retorts that it is about talent and that he will get stronger. Rukia replies that she will show him that she is the stronger one, but trails off. One day, while meeting with Byakuya Kuchiki and his entourage, Renji entered the room to tell her that he had passed an important exam. Disappointed with the interruption, the nobles left and told Rukia that they were eager to hear her answer. After they had left, Renji asked her what they wanted. He congratulated Rukia after she told him that they want to adopt her into the Kuchiki family, having her graduate immediately, as well as being assigned to the 13th Division. Rukia thanked him and left. Rukia was told that Byakuya adopted her into the Kuchiki family due to her similarity to Hisana, whom he had married.
Kaien teaching Rukia how to treat her superiors.
Rukia was admitted to the 13th Division without taking their entrance exam. On her first day in the Division, she is shown into a room by a fellow Shinigami, whom she tells to treat her like any other new recruit. After he leaves, she hears him and others talking about her and the favoritism shown to nobles. Rukia is disappointed that it is like that there as well. Lieutenant Kaien Shiba entered the room, introduces himself and scolds her for her weak reply. Rukia was deeply happy that she could have a normal relationship with her superior, rather than being treated as special. That evening, Rukia reported to Byakuya that her first day had ended peacefully and that she did not attain a Seated Officer position. Byakuya then told her to leave. Rukia soon became Kiyone Kotetsu's assistant and went on a mission to the Human World.
During her time in the 13th Division, she became friends with Kaien. One day, seeing that she was gloomy, Kaien told her that as long as she is in his Division, he would stand by her even if he died. They were interrupted by the drunk Kiyone and Sentarō Kotsubaki who tried to encourage her. Kaien mentored Rukia, teaching her how to fight. Their first training location was Mount Koifushi of Hokutan, the 3rd district of West Rukongai, where Kaien taught her about the concept of the heart. He was present when she learned her Shikai's first two "dances".
Rukia greatly admired Kaien's wife, 3rd Seat Miyako Shiba. She aspired to be like her one day. When Miyako was killed by a Hollow, Rukia, Kaien and Ukitake went to its lair. She offered to go first in order to scout out its abilities, but Kaien asked to face the Hollow alone. When its special ability destroyed Kaien's Zanpakutō, Rukia attempted to help but was stopped by Ukitake. He told her that Kaien's fight was one of honor rather than a fight for his life. If she were to help, Kaien's life would be saved but his honor would be forever damaged. After protesting about this, Rukia reluctantly obeyed his order. However, the Hollow entered Kaien's body and possessed him.
The Hollow attempted to attack Rukia, but Ukitake blocked it and sent Rukia away as he fought it. Afraid to fight it, she obeyed, but she came back because she wished to help Kaien and was afraid to face her cowardice in future. As it leapt at her, she noted that it was no longer Kaien. Unable to bear seeing him like that, she stabbed Kaien. He thanked Rukia and apologized for dragging her into it. Kaien then died in Rukia's arms. Rukia brought the corpse to the Shiba family estate but was afraid to apologize since she felt guilty about her role in Kaien's death.
Forty years after her adoption into the Kuchiki family, Kiyone and Sentarō informed Rukia that she had been assigned to the Human World. Rukia thought this was a transfer order, which Kiyone denied, reminding her of her previous mission to the Human World, which Rukia still failed to remember. Ukitake told her that she was being assigned to Karakura Town for one month, which should be easy for her. Rukia thanked him for telling her. Ukitake asked if she had told Byakuya about it, but she replied that he would not wish to be bothered with such a minor thing. Ukitake offered to tell him for her, for which Rukia thanked him.
Agent of the Shinigami arc
In Karakura Town one Friday evening, Rukia feels a strong presence. She enters the room of Ichigo Kurosaki, who mistakes her for a burglar and kicks her. Surprised that Ichigo can see and touch her, Rukia tells Ichigo that normal Humans cannot see her and informs him of the existence and purpose of Shinigami. Ichigo refuses to believe Rukia's explanation, insulting her. Incensed, Rukia binds him with a Kidō spell. She explains what Kidō is and returns his insults.
Rukia reassures a nearby Plus and performs Konsō on it. She explains Konsō and the duties of Shinigami to Ichigo with the aid of some drawings. She reveals that she has been unable to sense the Hollow she had been tracking anymore, because a great power is hindering her senses. Suddenly, Ichigo tells her that he can hear something howling. Rukia realizes that it is a Hollow, but is confused by how Ichigo heard it before her. She rushes out of the room to confront the Hollow, refusing to free Ichigo. She spots Karin Kurosaki lying in the corridor and listens as she tells Ichigo what happened. Ichigo breaks free of the Kido and rushes to stop the Hollow, Fishbone D, much to Rukia's shock.
The wounded Rukia about to give Ichigo her powers.
As Ichigo futilely attacks the Hollow, Rukia injures it, freeing Yuzu from its grasp. When Rukia explains that Fishbone D came because of Ichigo, he attempts to attack the Hollow himself. Rukia ends up shielding him with her body, rendering her unable to fight. Seeing that Ichigo is truly determined to protect his family, Rukia offers to transfer half of her power to him. However, Ichigo somehow absorbs almost all of her power instead. Rukia realizes that it was Ichigo's power that had confused her senses earlier, leaving her wondering just who he is. After defeating Fishbone D, Ichigo collapses and Rukia goes to his side, where she is approached by Kisuke Urahara, who offers her a Gigai.
The following day, Rukia shows up at Karakura High School as a new student, telling people that her family had just moved there. She quietly threatens to kill Ichigo if he reveals anything about her true identity. Later, Rukia explains that her power is still inside Ichigo, preventing her from returning to Soul Society. She reveals that she is using a Gigai to recover, enabling normal Humans to see her. Rukia tells Ichigo will have to take over her Shinigami duties, which he refuses to do. Rukia forces his Shinigami form out of his body and takes him to a park where a Hollow is about to appear. As the Hollow attacks a young Plus, Rukia successfully manipulates the situation to persuade Ichigo to perform her duties.
Rukia arranges for Ichigo to undergo some rudimentary training to improve his combat tactics. As he trains, she studies modern speech by reading a horror manga. They are interrupted by Orihime Inoue, whom Rukia initially does not recognize. Rukia notices a mark on her leg left by a Hollow and asks Ichigo about her, before leaving. That night, Rukia receives a message about a Hollow on her Denreishinki. She tries to warn him of a Hollow attack just as a large hand bursts through the floor. Rukia uses her Gokon Tekkō to force out Ichigo’s soul, but he manages to slice off part of its mask, revealing it to be Orihime’s brother, Sora. The Hollow flees and Rukia explains to Ichigo that all Hollows were once Human.