As requested by anon. :) And also anon. ;)
For most of Bleach, Aizen was the Big Bad. And he did a lot of evil stuff in his time. Like stabbing people. And trying to destroy thousands of human beings and possibly also the universe. Yet there have been hints that Aizen, much like that second-in-command he brutally murdered, has been secretly good the whole time. Let’s consider why a person might suspect that!
1. It’s Bleach.
And Bleach is all about the surprise revelations. You think it’s a cat…but secretly it’s a beautiful naked woman! You think the head captain is old and sleepy…but secretly he’s a shirtless bad-ass warrior! You think Ichigo is a shinigami…but secretly he’s a Quincy! I could go on. Now, of course, Aizen’s already had his share of reveals. He was a dweeb. Then he was dead. Then he was alive, sexy, and evil. But surely Aizen still has some more surprises in store for us. And “being secretly good” is the obvious one.
2. What Aizen said about the Soul King.
Let’s remind ourselves of the last bit of dialogue that took place between Aizen and Urahara while Aizen was being sealed up with Urahara’s kido:
Aizen: Urahara Kisuke, I despise you! With your great intellect, why won’t you take action? Why do you subjugate yourself to that thing?!
Urahara: That thing? You mean the Soul King? I understand now. You saw, didn’t you? Without the existence of the Soul King, Soul Society would split apart. He is the keystone. Without the keystone, everything falls apart easily. That is how the world works.
Two things stand out - first, Aizen believes that Urahara should take action against the Soul King because he is intelligent - as if any right-minded person would know better than to serve the Soul King (for some reason). And Urahara, strikingly, doesn’t dispute this. He merely says that the Soul King has to exist to preserve order - but his “You saw, didn’t you?” comment implies that he knows what Aizen is talking about, and he agrees. So Bleach’s two smartest characters know that there is something…wrong with the Soul King. If that is the case, then perhaps Aizen was right to take action against him.
3. The Soul King as the keystone?
Urahara’s main (only) argument in support of the Soul King is that the Soul King just has to exist. In order to maintain the status quo - because everything will fall apart without him. Aizen protests this point of view by screaming about how that’s an argument a loser makes - a winner tries to change things. And fair enough. But also, Bleach has consistently been about a move away from the status quo - wherever Ichigo goes, he shakes things up. He already caused Soul Society to change a lot. So if the Soul King represents the bad status quo, then in all likelihood, Ichigo is going to take a stand against him. Which would put Ichigo and Aizen on the same side, for those of you taking notes.
4. Ichigo and the Soul King have to fight.
The Soul King sits at the top of Soul Society. He is, one assumes, the biggest bad-ass there is. Either that or a figurehead, but since it’s Bleach, I’m gonna go with “biggest bad-ass there is.” And how could Bleach end without Ichigo fighting the show’s biggest bad-ass? Surely that would never happen. And the easiest way for Ichigo and the Soul King to fight is for the Soul King to be the secret Big Bad of Bleach. Which, again, would make Aizen right all along.
5. Juha Bach is the new Big Bad, but Aizen is still around.
Plus, narratively speaking, Aizen being a secret good guy would make a whole lot of sense. After all, Aizen already had his big Ichigo fight and we have a new Big Bad, Juha Bach. But if Aizen isn’t the villain any longer, then what will his role be? There are a few possibilities, of course. He could just rot in prison and pop up in the occasional flashback. He could continue to be evil, but be forced to work together with the good guys for some reason. Or he might have been right this whole time, and Soul Society will be forced to work with him when they realize that. That’s the option I’m rooting for.
6. Aizen turned Juha Bach down.
One reason to think that Aizen is genuinely opposed to the evil Quincy is the fact that when they offered to break him out of jail, he said no. That could just be pride, of course. Why agree to a jail break if it means you’ll be a Quincy slave? But it could also be true that Aizen said no because he isn’t actually trying to destroy Soul Society like the Quincy are. Perhaps in his own twisted way, he’s trying to save Soul Society.
7. Aizen wanted to lose to Ichigo.
Urahara claims that Aizen loses because the hogyoku rejects him. But Ichigo later asks if maybe Aizen wanted to lose, and the hogyoku helpfully manifested that desire. Ichigo thinks that Aizen wanted to lose because, essentially, he was super lonely and just wanted to find somebody who was as powerful as him. Which is possible. But we also know that Aizen loves overly circuitous and clever plots. So what if things are STILL going according to Aizen’s plan, and he just wanted to be in the prison underneath Squad 1 because that’s where he needs to be for Phase, um, 19? Which will presumably be about stopping the Quincy and the Soul King?
8. Aizen helped beef up Ichigo.
Speaking of Aizen plots, let’s not forget that, if we believe Aizen, he orchestrated every single one of Ichigo’s power-ups. He made Ichigo into the sort of hero who could, well, defeat Aizen. And presumably Juha Bach too. Which makes zero sense. Why would Aizen train his own enemy? Aizen gives a bullshit explanation about “experimentation.” Ichigo gives his own “Aizen was just lonely” explanation. But surely it makes more sense that both of those explanations are lies and Aizen helped beef up Ichigo because he knows that to stop the Quincy and the Soul King, Ichigo needs to be as powerful as possible.
9. Aizen never seems to kill anyone.
Now, all this talk of Aizen being “good” may seem dumb if you consider that Aizen is a freakin’ evil guy. He’s always stabbing people. But then, he never actually kills them, weirdly. He stabs Hinamori but doesn’t kill her. He defeats the entire Gotei-13 but leaves them alive “so they can watch.” He doesn’t kill Halibel even after point-blank stabbing. He threatens to kill Ichigo’s friends but then just chases them around for a while. The only person he does kill is Gin who, to be fair, had recently tried to explode Aizen’s heart. I’m not saying Aizen is a nice guy. Because he so isn’t. But I am saying that for an evil guy, Aizen doesn’t do much killing.
10. Aizen and Urahara are the same.
I’ve made this observation before. Normally I claim that Urahara is evil, and use the “he’s just like Aizen!” argument to prove it. I mean, Urahara and Aizen just always seem to have the same goals: they both made their own hogyoku, both experimented with combining hollow and shinigami powers, both took an overly acute interest in Ichigo, etc. But I suppose it’s possible to look at it the other way: perhaps this similarity between Aizen and Urahara doesn’t mean that Urahara is evil; perhaps it means that Aizen is good. Or at least, that his endgame is an endgame that Ichigo will eventually be on board with. Which I would count as good. Basically, if Bleach doesn’t end with Aizen and Ichigo (and maybe the Gotei-13) fighting against the Soul King, I will be very surprised.