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The Gigai is a non combative tool used by the Soul Society when the Soul Reapers are too injured to carry on while in the human world to stay out of sight of Hollows. When used the Gigai will successfully mask a Soul Reaper's spirit pressure so that the Hollows cannot detect them and attack them before they either get back to the Soul Society or sufficiently heal themselves.
In case a Soul Reaper is using a gigai the suit allows them to be able to do anything that a person would need to do. They can consume food (used to build up spirit strength), sleep (Another means of restoring their power) and communicate with humans so that they collect any info that they might need about possible spirit trouble in the area. A gigai is indistinguishable to the eye from a regular human body and can be shed at anytime if a Soul Reaper has to fight off a Hollow or cleanse a soul.
A gigai's appearance is completely reliant on the person using it. In the series, Rukia, Renji, Toshiro, and several others are seen using the gigai when the travel and stay in the human world to aid Ichigo and friends. Each time one is used it makes itself appear as a the host that is in it appears. Some Gigai's are even more detailed or better constructed as it shows when the scientist get the gigai that Rukia wore. They gush about how detailed it is and try and think of who may have constructed. Apparently the Soul Society has rules concerning the construction o the suits as the scientist are disgusted and disturbed by what they find while inspecting the Gigai.
When not in use
During the series the Soul Reapers use Mod Souls to fill in for them when they are absent from their gigai.