Post by Noboru Takayama on Sept 6, 2015 21:34:55 GMT -5
Seated Officer, Fifth Division
Name: Noboru Takayama
Age: 102 Years Old [24 Human, 3 Plus, 21 Rukongai, 7 Academy Student, 47 Fifth Division]
Birthday and Place: August 18th, 1913 | Gifu Prefecture, Japan
Day and Place of Death: October 25th, 1937 | Shanghai, China
Language Fluency: Japanese (contemporary), Japanese (c. early 20th century)
Height, Weight, Build: Above average for the time, Noboru stands 170 centimeters tall at full height and weighs 63 kilograms. Much of his weight comes from simple bone and muscle mass. Eating habits developed during his time in the impoverished districts of Rukongai means his body has frighteningly little body fat. Now as a Shinigami, even on his average frame, he has the build of an exceedingly athletic young man—bordering on unhealthy, even after decades in the Seireitei.
Eyes: Among people known for their icy blues, hot pinks, and emerald greens his rather plain, brown eyes hardly stand out at all. Like the rest of the man, they typically appear soft and relaxed.
Hair: Noboru’s black hair varies in length depending on how adventurous he has been feeling lately in regards to cutting it. Sometimes he keeps it short enough that the naturally spiky, thin, soft nature stands out. Other times he lets it go enough to run down half the length of his nose and cover his ears, an unkempt mess of natural growth. The only constant is that Noboru makes it a point to remain clean shaven whenever possible.
Spiritual Traits: When a soul possesses enough power it can generate a host of unique effects. For Noboru, however, the requisite power has never been his and therefore he has never seen many aspects of his soul come to life.
For instance, his Reiatsu takes on a golden hue when powerful enough to become visible. When sufficiently superior to others in the area it can feel like a suffocating weight on the chest, as if someone had laid them down and placed an anvil directly on the center of their rib cage. With that weight comes the numbing of the senses which becomes more and more severe until they reach the point of total unconsciousness.
While in Jinzen, a state of deep and meditative connection with the Zanpakutō, that same golden hue appears in the form of a ring inside his brown irises. These hues are all similar to the bright light that can possibly be given off by his blade while in Shikai; when it's not pitch black instead, that is.
General Appearance: Many people find it uncomfortable to wear their typical outfit at work when they’re not actually on the job. Noboru counts himself among these like-minded people. You will typically find him outside of the Seireitei in clothes befit a citizen more than a soldier. Finer linens, colorful and patterned, along with outfits collected from the last decade or so on Earth.
In particular, Noboru has a preference for looser-fitting clothes. If it’s something too tight he finds it unnecessarily suffocating. Shorts, baggy t-shirts, ripped or not, anything of the sort appeals to him far more than the formal wear of the modern World of the Living. When he’s on Earth for assignment he frequently has his Gigai dressed appropriately.
Although extremely rarely worn he also has a penchant for historical samurai outfits. Red armor, multiple blades, and sometimes flags attached as well. Even though Noboru is no longer aware of his human life he has managed to figure out that he was, in fact, of Japanese descent. For reasons he can’t quite place, though, the outfits of Japans most honored and revered warrior class continue to fascinate him.
On the whole, Noboru is a generally positive fellow to be around. He enjoys the company of others, he's typically easy to get along with, and generally well-liked among his peers. The strongest facets of his behavior that work in his favor are his bold approach to life and that he's very difficult to upset. This gives him a wide circle of friends made up of people he can along fabulously with, while those he cannot are kept at a comfortable arm's length.
- After one hundred years you have to learn how to make your own fun. To remedy this, Noboru has become a very outgoing individual. He’s quick to introduce himself, happy to listen to you when you do the same, and nothing quite excites him like the mystery of a new relationship. In a world where supposedly “lower class” Shinigami such as himself rarely live long, he’s gotten used to the coming-and-going of faces.
- Once you reach a certain age you begin to understand that the risks you were so afraid of before are hardly important now. You become much more daring and realize that the greatest tragedy isn’t a life lost young but an old life that was allowed to go un-lived. Noboru rarely lets an opportunity pass him up without carefully considering it first.
- A man of simplicity, Noboru enjoys drinks with friends, a good dinner, or a pretty young woman as much as the next guy. In that sense he’s easily pleased and doesn’t require more high-minded pleasures such as intellectually stimulating conversation, philosophical debates, or diving into the mysteries of his own Zanpakutō Spirit. The world of people around him is more than enough to keep his interest.
- Have you ever gone out with friends and been stuck with the one guy that just won’t shut up about how bad everything is? Noboru has too and it stands in stark contrast to his agreeable nature. He’s always found that, more often than not, starting fights over words ends poorly for everyone involved. With that said, sometimes there are certain words said by certain people that you just can’t let go. When that’s the case he’s far less agreeable than normal.
- Who doesn’t want to get along with others? Generally, it’s safe to say that everyone wants positive interactions with other people. However, Noboru takes this a bit farther. He finds a lot of validation in entertaining others, showing them a good time, and being accepted. He’s very eager to please in that regard and, much to the teasing of his Zanpakutō Spirit, definitely shares this aspect of himself with her.
Just below the surface we find a man stewing in his own dissatisfaction and resentment. In the plainest terms he has a very, very serious superior complex that agitates him endlessly due to his intimate knowledge of his own weakness. The way reality conflicts with the image he tries to project of himself brings endless conflict and unhappiness to his life, something he mostly hides from those around him but lets show when he meets one of the elite and powerful that he considers responsible.
- When you live in a world governed by people you can’t possibly compete with, and dwell endlessly on this tragic fact, it turns you into a person quick to develop a grudge. After decades of being wholly unable to compete with certain classes of people, watching peers move on or die outright, has made Noboru sensitive and prone to resentment. It’s very, very easy to get on the list of people he just can’t stand.
- When not in public, or even in comfortable company, there’s a suffocating bitterness about Noboru. Even after the Massacre and developing his Shikai he can’t quite let go of this gap that he can’t overcome, a gap that has caused him to be abandoned time and time again by those closest to him.
- Living in a world you can't possibly compete with, and restraining yourself to a crowd you can consider yourself superior to, has created a rather haughty young man. Whenever possible he's quick to make a boast, veiled by just enough humor to make people wonder just how serious he is. Deep-down, though, Noboru really believes the things he says.
- When nothing you do counts, why do anything at all? His own inability to excel has turned him irresponsible, though others might say it is his own irresponsibility that prevents him from excelling. Whichever one is true, Noboru finds it hard to keep up with the demands on his time or the expectations placed upon him by others. Unless something is fun or otherwise pleasurable, it's a chore.
- For someone who claims to want to be better than he was before, you would think he could take advice. He can't. Noboru is very sensitive to criticism and does not handle people pointing out his flaws, failures, or even just areas he can improve. Even the most gentle approach to pointing out his inadequacies will upset or outright anger the man.
c. July, 2013
Hello, hello! Welcome back to our next installment of Fifth’s Finest, based right out of the heart of the Fighting Fifth Division! I’m your long-time host and today I have with me a new, up-and-coming name here in the Seireitei: Noboru Takayama! Care to say hello to our listeners?
Hey there! As a long-time listener it’s great to finally be on the show!
And we’re happy to have you! So how about we cut right to the chase, Noboru. Is it okay if I call you that?
Of course it is, you shouldn’t even ask.
That’s the attitude we like, nothing held back! So let’s get right into the crux of it: You’re a Recruit Shinigami who has, apparently, recently managed to learn how to use your Shikai? Is that right?
You bet! It was one hell of an experience. I wouldn’t wish what I went through on anyone, ever, you know? But I certainly enjoy being a more…I guess you could say a more complete Shinigami?
Well, I mean, I can’t say because I haven’t done it! You’ve got me beat there, Noboru. Would you like to tell any curious listeners just what that’s like? From your perspective, of course!
To start, though, I think I should say that it definitely depends on your own Zanpakutō and how you two have been getting along up to that point. Like, with Majohime, I was calling her whatever teasing name I could come up with—she hated it, for the record. Other than that, though, we got along really well. There was just always this wall and no matter what I said or tried, she’d never divulge her name. She’d just give me this smug, coy little grin and go, “Well, why don’t you tell me~?”
Sounds like she’s got a bit of an attitude problem!
Don’t remind me! But that’s fine, it’s part of her charm.
But when it came down to it, what really got her attention and finally got her to give me her name? It was, well, when the Empty King came to visit. I’ll spare everyone the details, but…
A good idea, for sure. I doubt anyone listening wants to relive those memories. But go on, Noboru.
Yeah, to keep it brief: Have you ever forgotten something, like where you left your orders for the day, and stand there desperately trying to remember it? Then when you do, you feel really satisfied that you managed to get it back?
It doesn’t happen enough! Once I lose something like that, even if it’s on the tip of my tongue, I can’t ever seem to get it back but rarely.
Well it’s just like that! Hearing that name, using Shikai for the first time, it was like remembering something I lost just a second ago. It was quite the experience and I’ve learned a lot about Majohime since then.
We’re all glad to hear it! That sounds really interesting too, I’ll have to follow up with you once I get it! But on that train of thought: Shikai is a big deal at your rank and age, Noboru. People are really excited for you! Are you planning to petition for promotion?
Oh no, I was hoping you wouldn’t ask! But I guess announcing it here is just as good: Yes! I’m planning to apply to be a general Officer now that I meet the requirements. I’m really hoping the upper Officers see what I can offer, even if I’m not the most powerful person in my rank.
Hey, a veteran Fifth Division fighter and an impressive new Shikai? I think you’re a shoe-in, personally. But let’s get away from that, let’s learn a bit about the man we’re talking today, not just his achievement. I’ll start with a hard question: Do you have a special someone?
Really not holding back, are you? But you’ve got me, I do. We’ve only been together about a month now, but she’s great. I really couldn’t ask for more! Things have been going my way lately, I’m a very lucky guy.
Are you sure you’re not just saying that because she’s listening?
Promise, promise! Besides, she’d have my head if she thought I was lying about her on air! I prefer it attached, you know?
Both of them, I’m sure!
What?! I can’t believe you ju—
Moving on! Any family to speak of? I doubt you and your girlfriend are quite that serious yet, but maybe you’ve got children from before? Adoptive parents, siblings? Shed a little light for the audience!
Just changing the topic on me, huh? Fine, fine, but I’m afraid it’s kind of a boring answer! I haven’t had any children of my own, it’d be uncomfortable to try to support them on a Recruit’s salary. Not to mention how often we’re sent to Earth for assignment. I did have an adoptive family in the Rukongai, though. A father and mother of sorts, brothers and sisters, but…well, like a lot of us, they’re gone now.
You and me both, Noboru. Mine have all passed on too. Are you interested in starting a family?
I am, actually. I’d love to be a father, to show a child the wonders of our world—the good and the bad. I really love the Soul Society, especially the variety of people you’ll meet in the Rukongai. But as you can guess, it’s all a matter of finding the right partner!
I think I can speak for the audience when we say that we wish you luck in that endeavor as well! Families really breathe life into the Seireitei and your children would definitely have a father to be proud of. What kind of fun things do you do, anyway? I’m sure any future children would love to pick up some hobbies from dear old Dad.
I do, actually, have a few hobbies. It’s a little-known fact but I’m very big into archery. I try to practice daily at some of the fields we have in Fifth for our ranged fighters. It’s something I’ve done for a very long time, since I was in Rukongai.
I also make my own mino washi paper! My quarters are decorated with all of the stuff I’ve made.
Wait, paper? I’ve seen you at the ranges, Noboru, but I had no idea about the paper.
It’s not something a lot of people would guess. When I was in Rukongai I took up making mino washi as a trade before becoming a Shinigami. It kept me fed before I finally join the Academy and then, after that, Fifth!
What a surprise! I didn’t think anyone expected you to be in the crafts! Anything else but archery and paper-making, then?
Does staying out way too late count as a hobby?
Not quite, but tell us about that! Do you do anything else for fun?
Of course! Archery and paper-making can sometimes be rather, you know, lonely activities. And I certainly enjoy my friends here in Fifth. Not to mention my lovely lady. There's nothing quite as satisfying as a good night out with even better company.
I think a lot of us can relate to that! And now that we've learned a bit more about the man that is Noboru Takayama, is there anything you can tell us about your ambitions for the future?
Oh, well, I don't think there's anything too exciting to tell! I fully intend to become a major officer, but that could be centuries out for me. Mostly, though, I'd like to contribute more to the defense of the Seireitei and less to the patrols on Earth. But after what happened, who doesn't want to be here protecting their homes?
I know that's something we're hearing more and more. But those patrols are important, you should be proud of the work you do.
Oh, I am. I've seen some shit too, if you'll pardon my language on air! Every human life I save is a reminder that our patrols and governing of Earth is critical.
That's great to hear, Noboru. Always refreshing to meet someone who knows how important what they do is. So, to end our little interview, I've got one last question for you, Noboru, and it's a big one: Who's your favorite Captain?
Oh, that's right, the classic! You ask everyone this and it's definitely a tough one. So...hmm. Let me think. Captain Aizawa is great and all, but my favorite recent Captain would have to be...Commander Ine, for sure. I really connect with the guy and being in Fifth, with him, was a real honor. I'm proud that he's our Commander now.
Wow, don't get that a lot! But it's true that Captain Commander Ine is an incredibly impressive man. On that note, Noboru, I want to thank you for joining us! Talking to you was plenty of fun, I hope we get to do it again in the future!
I look forward to it! Thank you for having me!
Notes on Permanent Record
- His psychological type, on the Myers-Briggs indicator, is ESTP.
- He's particularly sensitive to comments about his professional rank or being demoted.
- He tends to self-sabotage his intimate relationships with women.
- Very, very prone to make excuses for professional failures. Blacklisted for further promotion until such a time as a performance review absolves him of this mark on his record.
- Highly averse to leaving the comfort zone of his friends and peers.
- Considered medium-risk for defection as long as his current behavior continues.
魔女姫, Majohime (Sorceress Princess)
After acquiring an Asauchi, Noboru frequently dreamed of what his Zanpakutō Spirit would be like. A man, a woman, an animal, or even a mythical creature? People were the most common form, he realized, but the curiosity kept him up at night. He imagined a valiant Spirit, strong and determined, that over the course of decades would guide him on a journey to great success as a Shinigami.
Instead he found Majohime, a young woman with shoulder-length, dark hair and golden-brown eyes. She’s frequently wear a kimono of some sort, such as her red and white outfit that she practices archery in or more regular clothes, ones she wear even in the middle of a rainstorm.
Her personality is what surprised him more than anything: Despite her feminine appearance she’s violently passionate, aggressive, and very quick to criticize. More than anyone else, Majohime strives to call Noboru out on his bad habits, bad choices, and poor lifestyle. There’s no louder a voice than hers when it comes to Noboru’s pitfalls and failures as a person.
Were that all there was to her, Majohime and Noboru’s relationship would have imploded shortly after it began. But more than she is a critic, she’s his greatest encouragement. No one in his life, not even his closest friends, have pushed him to pursue things he doubted he could achieve than Majohime. When it came to him, and what he could do, she always proved that she stood in his corner. No matter how sticky the situation, how hopeless it might have seemed, the only anger he would get from her was when he neared giving up on himself.
But there’s more to her than being his cheerleader and critic all in one somewhat short package.
Majohime herself insists that she has a life that he shouldn’t monopolize too much of. Although they casually converse pretty regularly throughout the day, she also indulges in hobbies of her one. One of her favorites is the exploration of the urban town she’s stuck in, having made a home for herself near the center. Even after decades, she says she’s hardly had time to explore any of it.
She also practices archery on the island, typically near the beach, a habit she herself passed on to Noboru. It’s this that she probably spends more time on than any and, when Noboru fully enters his world, is the thing he’s most likely to find her doing. Over the years she has gotten quite, quite good at it.
Perhaps her favorite thing to do, though, is to play on the piano located in the courthouse. It’s where she’ll go when Noboru releases her, adding a melody to her vocals as she sings one of her many songs. This is her most passionate hobby and also the one she practices the least, only playing on those rare star-lit nights or while Noboru has his Shikai active
If asked, however, the thing about Majohime that he values the most is her forgiving nature. A particular example would be that, whereas he might be keen to give up and move on when the going gets too, Majohime will push him to do better because he does, in fact, know better. Even though he frequently ignores her advice, she always, always finds it in herself to forgive him.
Without that, he doesn’t know what he would do.
Lost and alone on some deserted island is a town. It’s nothing major, made maybe to house a few thousand, constructed out of entirely stone buildings, a sad-looking sort of gray. Many of them are dilapidated, falling apartment, complete with cracks in their foundations, vines up the walls, and rust on the metal gutters, light poles, and anything else iron.
Around the island is the immense, never-ending sea of blue. The town itself, however, doesn’t cover every inch of the island, giving about a mile of grassland before it gives way to the beach. There’s nothing on the sea except this island, no matter how far you go, and in his adventures while he dreams at night, Noboru has certainly made the effort to find something, anything else.
More notably, the world is almost always captured by overcast. Thick, puffy gray clouds obscure the entire place with very few exceptions. The only times that Noboru has seen sunlight were the days he graduated from the Academy, when he first learned Majohime’s name, and when he got promoted to a general, unseated officer. Every other day for as long as he has known his inner world has been marked by dreary clouds.
These clouds do frequently give way to rain. The reasons for the rain seem to be a mystery, almost as if actual weather patterns dominated them, but the infrequency of anything else seems suspicious to the Shinigami man forced to see it every time he wishes to have a serious conversation with his Spirit.
Other changes that Noboru has seen in his lifetime primarily occur at night. Particularly bad storms will rip up the seas and drop lightning all over the island, particularly the courthouse present near the center. Other nights bring with it the eerie calm of smooth seas and bright, star-lit nights. All of these seem to happen of their own accord, for reasons he has yet to be able to pin down.
The most common exception to overcast remains the days when fog overtakes the island completely. Thick walls of cloud will roll through the streets like an overbearing army keeping the populace in line. This occurrence, however, Noboru has deciphered: The only times he has ever seen this transformation in his world have been when he hit particularly low points in his life, where despair and hopelessness seemed most insurmountable.
As a full-length katana, Majohime fits right in amongst the other Zanpakutō of the Seireitei. Her defining features include a bright-gray fabric wrapped around the hilt and a mildly decorative, golden guard with curved, concave corners.
What, for no real reason, captures Noboru’s attention in regards to his Zanpakutō are three strings that hang from it. There’s nothing special about them, they’re just string, but for some reason Noboru feels a strong, strong pull from the strings—as if they’re important, enough to be protected at all costs.
Two of them are tassels, gold mixed with red, that hang from the bottom of the metal-capped brass pommel. Despite his closest inspections there’s nothing that stands out about them.
The odd one out of the three, though, is the red string with a knot at the end that hangs from just under the guard. It doesn’t seem to serve any purposes and dangles freely from the other, gray fabric that makes up the grip of the hilt.
魅しろ, 魔女姫 Mishiro, Majohime (Captivate, Majohime)
When released, Majohime undergoes one or two drastic changes. The shape of the blade doesn’t change at all, however the nature of it does.
When Majohime sings to draw attention to herself, the blade will turn a brilliant gold. The light from the weapon can light a room. It gets so bright that any detail on the weapon is lost, making it seem almost flat to the opponent, devoid of depth and substance. However, the blade remains as heavy and sharp as ever.
On the other hand, the blade will turn black when Majohime sings to repel attention. Just as when it turns gold, the shift to black causes the blade to lose its edges, reflective properties, everything at all, as if a mass of pure light-eating darkness had replaced the steel of his sword for the duration of his release.
Finally, the blade’s transformation will vary. Depending on the strength of the effect and how powerfully Majohime is singing, the blade will be less bright, or less dark. These changes have a wide range of possible levels of intensity and can change, sometimes from one to the other, even in the middle of use or combat.
A performer at heart, Majohime loves to sing. However, she refuses to sing outside of her released state and her song has some strange properties.
First, her song can only actually be audibly heard by the Spirits of any nearby Zanpakutō. Shinigami are the ones affected, sometimes strongly, by her song, but only other Zanpakutō are actually aware of it. No other known being or device is capable of picking up on it, making its nature and process somewhat mysterious.
Her songs can do one of two things, primarily: They can either draw attention to Noboru or they can repel it. The strength of these effects is dependent on the heart behind Majohime’s singing—a more impressive performance begets a stronger effect. Furthermore, Shinigami talented enough in their perceptive skills can resist the effects of the blade.
When her songs draw attention to Noboru they can become powerful enough that anyone affected can hardly think about anything else. The power does not induce opinions of Noboru, positive or negative, but simply makes him an object of such interest that they can’t spare a moment’s thought for anything else.
In combat, though, Noboru’s preferred effect is the one that repels attention. This side of the ability can get so powerful that even when Noboru stands directly in front of his opponent they remain unable to acknowledge him. His entire presence reaches an impact level near zero and this makes for excellent sneak attacks or for other assignments where discretion is of high value.
Both effects have limits, however. Physical injury caused by another target besides Noboru will be able to peel their attention off of him, if that’s the effect in question. This applies in reverse, where physical trauma inflicted by Noboru will draw a target’s attention to him despite how distracted they were before.
Combined with the somewhat unpredictable nature of what effect Noboru will get, his power has become something of a dangerous and delicate instrument. When used carefully, with good timing and good luck, it can transform the tide of battle and has already saved his life. When his luck runs against him, however, it can turn a bad situation even worse.
“I met her in a brothel, can you believe it? I’ve yet to meet a woman who can throw a right hook that well, before or since. I wouldn’t have it any other way, really, it’s just better now since she’s in my corner and not taking shots at my face.”
“Being held back in the Academy is embarrassing. Not many people who take longer than six years to graduate will graduate at all. Meeting Genki was the only thing that made it worth it. If I ever need someone to pick me up out of the dirt after a tough break-up or a bad assignment on Earth, Genki is the guy I can count on to have my back.”
“He’s a good guy, don’t misunderstand me. I’m just saying that his taste in women could use some work. Tried to set him up with this hot brunette once and get all pissy about it, like he didn’t need the help. He needs to get over himself, but other than that the man’s good company.”
“See, what makes Kouki a cool guy? He gets it. He knows how this world works and there’s no one I can have a good time with that I can count on being there for the long haul more than him. In my peer group, you either get too big for us or you don’t stay alive too long. Like me, he’s comfortably between those two.”
“This guy isn’t nearly as good as he thinks he is but, I’ll give it to him, he’s strong. And you know how he got strong? Luck. Sure, he works hard, he does—I’m not trying to take that away from him, alright? I’m just saying that all the hard work in the world doesn’t always pay off and he acts like a smug little shit just because he got lucky.”
HUMAN LIFE (1913 – 1937)
- Born in the Gifu Prefecture of Japan to a family that makes mino washi for the Japanese government.
- Takes up this trade but, exposed to much of the military propaganda that gets printed on his family's paper, joins the military as early as possible.
- Becomes a fighter pilot during the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
- Successful during the war, regarded as an excellent pilot, especially during the Battle of Shanghai.
- Develops a reputation of making liberal use of captive, so-called comfort women.
- Is shot down shortly before the fall of Dachang and the end of the Battle of Shanghai.
- Wakes up in Shanghai shortly after death, quickly realizes what has happened
- Witnesses monsters and black-robed men and women fighting among the living, yet unseen, but never approached by one
- Chain of Fate erodes exceedingly slowly and during this time he makes an effort to terrorize any Chinese soldiers left after the Battle of Shanghai, but never leaves the city.
- Three years pass before a Shinigami finally finds Noboru and passes him over, over half of his chain still intact
- Wakes up in Rukongai and quickly taken in by an adoptive family as he begins to forget his human life
- Just like his human family he takes up the trade of producing mino washi for use in the Rukongai and Seireitei
- Lives a happy, simple mundane life for the most part, until he feels hunger for the first time after 20 years.
- With demands for manpower at an all-time high it doesn't take long for the Shinigami to notice and get him started in the Academy.
- His early months demonstrate that Noboru will not become an Academy prodigy, considered to be in the lowest class of students.
- Among those students he develops a reputation of being excellent, especially in regards to the Shinigami art of Shunpō.
- His less-than-savory habits and tendencies begin to show at this stage, marking him as unfit for advancement in Shinigami society by the powers that be.
- Held back a year due to poor performance in his magical studies, not expected to graduate, but does upon his completion of his seventh year. All much to his own embarrassment.
- Transitioning to the Seireitei shows Noboru a life of wealth and status, even as Recruit, that he could hardly imagine before.
- He integrates exceptionally well into the lower rungs of the Seireitei but remains resentful of the powerful and elite from his treatment in the Academy.
- Decades without advancement cement his dissatisfaction, though he rarely shows it to friends.
- As a Recruit in Fifth he makes frequent trips to Earth and is very attached to the World of the Living.
- Next major development is unlocking his Shikai during the living hell of The Massacre in May 2013.
- Promoted to low-ranking Officer.
The Gifu Prefecture in Japan, noted for its landscapes and mino washi paper industry, is where Noboru Takayama was born as a human. He lived as an only child with a mother and father on the older side of things, at least as far as having children at the time was concerned. Far from wealthy, the family managed to get by without being hungry at night.
As he grew, Noboru proved to be a troublesome child. He quickly became prone to aggressive fits, biting, and even hurting other children in his hometown. This extended to fist fights, over some of the most trivial matters of his own personal worth, as he became a teenage and continued beyond. Of course, this kept the relationship with his patience-strained father very tense.
These violent proclivities lent themselves well to the swelling Japanese military, which Noboru joined just as he became an adult. Fascinated by the idea of climbing into the sky he successfully pursued a position as a fighter pilot and, when conflict with China broke out, found himself immediately deployed to the region.
Life as a soldier proved to be right up his alley. Competence as a pilot gave him much leeway with his superiors, many of whom became his friends before too long. Other soldiers were impressed by his aggressive tactics in the sky, while others still thought his post-battle stories were even more exciting. Furthermore, Noboru became well-known for thoroughly enjoying the services of Chinese comfort women employed by the Japanese military; a dreadful act he indulged in frequently.
However, even the best soldier did not always meet the best fate.
As the Battle of Shanghai began to wind down, Japanese victory obvious, Noboru got shot down by remaining Chinese forces just before downtown Shanghai could be captured. He did upon crashing into the city, his body recovered a few days later.
Immediately after death, Noboru woke up in the city as a Plus soul. Utterly confused by the monsters and black-clad men and women that he occasionally saw, Noboru proved at least capable of deducing that he had died. The slowly-decaying metal chain that hung from his chest also left him with questions, questions he wouldn't get answered for a long while.
Unknown to him, the Shinigami are completely overwhelmed by the loss of life from the beginning conflicts of World War II. Also unknown to him, his Chain of Fate is breaking down at an unusually slow rate. These two situations give Noboru an uncommon amount of time on Earth.
Uncertain of what else to do, and angry that his life has been stolen from him, he decides to make use of his time and ghostly nature. He uses these abilities to torment Chinese soldiers and resistance forces left in the city for the next three years, causing accidents whenever possible or scaring them with supernatural displays to weaken morale.
It is ultimately this activity that draws the attention of the Shinigami, who proceed to purify the strangely long-lived Plus and send him on his way to the Rukongai.
Upon arrival in the Rukongai, Noboru is quickly adopted by a large, loving family in the 23rd District of the Rukongai. His family in particular is a group that takes care of each other, allowing some to grow close while others might not click. Even as the years pass and Noboru forgets his human life, he retains his social skills and proves popular among his adopted family and the others in District 23.
It’s this popularity that leads him into one of the industries present in the District: the production of mino washi for the Rukongai and the Seireitei, the same trade his family had back on Earth.
Armed with this popularity and personal success, Noboru spends a happy 21 years in the Rukongai, comfortable but not quite as wealthy as even the lowest ranking Shinigami would be. It is after this time that he experiences hunger for the first time during this new life of his, the first sign of budding spiritual power.
Given the tolls of World War II on the manpower of the Seireitei, Noboru is quickly noticed and accepted into the Spiritual Arts Academy.
It is in the Academy where a lot of who Noboru is as a person began to come to light. At first he proved to be a hard-working individual and there were high hopes for him, but success didn’t follow in the wake of his apparent efforts. He lagged behind in Kidō most notably and, despite much training and working hard during lessons, never seemed to excel in any other regard.
Further investigation by the Academy staff at the time revealed a lot of posturing and face-saving behavior. Noboru would, whenever possible, endeavor to look busy even when he wasn’t. He would drop anything related to the Academy when not on school time, choosing instead to hang out with friends or pursue pretty women. For this reason, and the lack of enthusiasm shown by Noboru, it became no mystery regarding his lack of success.
However, among those lower-quality students, Noboru continued to lead the pack. This gave him plenty of attention among friends, the young women in his peer group, and the admiration of all of those impressed by the skills he held over them. In particular he developed a penchant for Shunpō and the attention that success in that particular art brought him. For this reason it became, by far, his most thoroughly developed area of expertise.
The other behaviors, however, painted a very bad picture of him with the Academy faculty and the leaders of the Seireitei at the time. His irresponsibility, willingness to lie about his effort and how his time is spent, and reducing his development as a Shinigami to a tool to impress women quickly got him blacklisted for high placement out of the Academy. Noboru never found out just how deep the record on him ran and, therefore, never bothered to change his behavior.
What did capture his attention was his inevitable failure to graduate in six years. His work in Kidō remained so poor that the staff refused to pass him, holding him back for a rare seventh year in the Academy. The embarrassment that this brought him nearly crushed any motivation he had to finish—as it did with most students who got held back—but Noboru’s luck finally came through for him.
During his stay in the Academy he had the chance to meet Genki Ogawa, a student just behind him, along with another friend Thalia Kastel; although he met her through much different means. In Genki, Noboru is able to meet a promising, almost prodigious Shinigami that he can respect. One that didn’t hold himself above Noboru, one that didn’t seem like he would ever abandon his friend even if he continued to soar and excel.
Through these circumstances a tight-knit group of three forms, together all the way to their graduation at the end of that year.
With the Academy now behind him, Noboru is faced with the prospect of choosing a Division. For him, the choice is obvious: Interested in Earth and with no other stand-out skills, he goes to the Fifth. Naturally, without a Shikai and no stronger than many Shinigami foot soldiers, he ranks as a Recruit.
The rank doesn’t dissuade his excitement as he makes the transition, however. Even the salary of a Recruit exceeds what he made while making mino washi in the Rukongai and, armed with the status of a Shinigami and the money to support it, finds his leisurely lifestyle expanding. Furthermore, he becomes infinitely more popular among his peers back in the Rukongai. This leads to even more fun, more play, more women who last months at a time, and more relaxation for the man than ever before.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, it also gives him the chance to make semi-frequent trips to Earth. He’s assigned the Gifu Prefecture—an honest coincidence—where he manages the space and people between two major Japanese cities. This gives him plenty of time to relearn the culture of the time, a process he thoroughly enjoys, and through it manages to deduce a bit about his past: That he’s from Japan, quite probably this area, and died in World War II as a soldier. It is through these trips that he develops an attachment to Earth, human lifestyles, and finds himself fascinated with the ancient culture of samurai warriors—an ideal he can strongly respect, even if he doesn’t live by those standards.
What this lifestyle of his doesn’t lead to, on the other hand, is genuine satisfaction. As the decades begin to tick past again, Noboru finds many peers either dying or moving on, past him, utterly incapable of keeping up. These failures only help foster a growing sense of bitterness towards the elite of the Seireitei and to further undermine an already shaky motivation to work hard and improve.
For this reason, even though he makes contact with his Zanpakutō shortly after transferring to Fifth, he never learns her name.
Not until May, 2013, the day when Tova Diabló attacked the Seireitei and killed hundreds of Shinigami.
On this fateful day, Noboru found himself in the Seireitei in the middle of the chaos. Accompanying the King directly were a few Arrancar body guards and, were they bold enough, a few other Hollows of various sorts gathered in his wake.
Noboru, however, was unlucky enough to run into a particularly angry Arrancar that had stumbled upon his area of the Seireitei and the Shinigami there who tried, desperately, to lead the civilians within the city to safety. The Arrancar drastically overwhelmed any of the Shinigami present, especially Noboru, and even valiant teamwork would do little to stop the monster when it attacked.
Under this pressure, and consumed only by the desire to stop this tragedy, Noboru finally heard his Spirit whisper her name: Majohime.
Everything else flooded into his mind after that. The way to call for her, what he could with her abilities, and as he released he managed to capture the Arrancar’s sole attention. With the monster focused only on Noboru he took the brunt of the creature’s brutality and torture and, through great luck and perseverance, managed to survive long enough that a more capable Officer arrived on the scene to slay the beast.
This act of desperate heroism turned Noboru into something of a temporary celebrity among some circles in the Fifth Division, even netting him a radio interview with one of the shows unofficially hosted by members. Noboru rode this wave of popularity all the way to a promoted to general, unseated Officer.
Against all expectations, even Noboru’s own, nothing else followed. Even after that breakthrough moment to protect his friends and comrades, Noboru became no more powerful. As the months, and then two years passed, this cemented into a deeply-rooted resentment for those same elites that Noboru already held such distaste for. Now, instead, it existed as a seething cauldron, primed to erupt if disturbed just enough.
Trapped in his rank, with a soul that refuses to grow, Noboru remains an Officer in Fifth, prospects few and far between, walking in an exhausting circle as his life repeats the same patterns over and over. No one really expects much of the man and, at this point, he expects little of himself. He has become a prisoner of the trap most human souls fall in: They give up and settle for whatever it is they’ve managed to acquire so far.
For Noboru Takayama, this has moved beyond surrender.
It is reality.
Out of Character
Player Alias: Tova
Desired Starting GP: 1,000 GP
Length of Roleplay Career: Eleven years!
How I found Bleach Gotei: Google
Other Active Characters: Shun Minamoto
If It Bleeds
“Show a little pride!” The high-pitched, clearly frustrated voice of Majohime rang out as she sat, with Noboru, on the edge of a cliff that overlooked the ocean around their island home. Overcome by her frustration, she even plucked a small rock from besides her and pitched it his way—quick enough to catch the surprised young man right in the side of the head.
“Ow,” he groaned and rubbed his dark hair, already getting to the point that it’d need another cut.
“Don’t ‘ow’ me! What do you mean you’re thinking of stepping down from your spot?!”
Noboru sighed and leaned forward, the scent of the fresh ocean thick in his nose before he answered, “Things aren’t going well, you know that. At this point I might just get bumped down no matter what, why put myself through that?”
Another huff from the unsatisfied young woman, “Don’t give me that! You’ve got me, why would they let you go back to Recruit? You were already one of the best among them!”
Something about her words struck a chord, but he couldn’t accept it. Why would they keep an Officer around, even unseated, when he proved so stubbornly incapable of taking ownership of his mistakes, or moving forward? During these rare displays of openness to her, Noboru sometimes wished she’d pad her words a bit more.
“Hime, dear,” he started, cracking a smile and letting that sarcastic tone through. “I think there’s more to it than that.”
“Like hell there is!” She puffed her cheeks for a second and then huffed, crossing her arms over her chest right before she turned her scowl into an outright glare.
“My superiors aren’t just going to take into consideration the wonderful Spirit I have,” he let it drip a bit more thickly on that word. “They’re going to look at me, at me and the jack-all I’ve done in the past two years.”
“Well maybe you should do something, then?” She huffed again, her voice getting a bit higher with her upset and excitement.
That one got her to stop. She let out a slow breath and furrowed her brought, biting her bent index finger a bit in thought. Then, all of a sudden, her face brightened up and she looked over.
“I have an idea,” he answered brightly. “You might not like it, though.”
Noboru couldn’t help how contagious her enthusiasm was, “You might as well tell me!”
“Why don’t you cheat a bit when we go to Earth soon?”
“Cheat? What do you mean by that?”
“Well, those losers stick you in the country because less powerful Hollows go there. But those are too easy! We’ve purified sooo many. Why not sneak into a bigger city, go after a bigger fish?”
The sheer illegality of that surprised him, coming from her, “You realize we could be jailed for that, right? Or, if we bite off more than we can chew…dead.”
She rolled her eyes and waved off his concern, “We’ll be fine! As long as it bleeds, Noboru, we can kill it. I’m not worried about the Hollows.”
“You do seem a bit worried, though,” he spoke honestly.
“I am! But that’s about whether or not it’ll help.”
Ah, that. He nodded in agreement, there really was no promise that their best efforts would actually cause his soul to expand and grow. For all of his time in the Seireitei, he hadn’t gotten one bit stronger.
“You’re right,” he answered, solemn at first. When he looked back from the sea, to her, he smiled, “But I think it’s worth a shot! What do we have to lose?”
More than they could bear to admit.