Naruto is over, One Piece is seeming to be finally approaching it’s end…..the end of the Big Three Era seems truly here. But not quite so soon. After eight years of waiting for some fans (thankfully not quite as long for me but back to the point) Bleach is finally back. The anime is returning to finally adapt the last big arc, The Thousand Year Blood War. There’s many questions still to ask, but for now we’re going to go over everything we know, or at least fairly certain, is going to happen. And before the complaints about whatever was missed, there’s a lot to get through so there was a fair chunk of stuff that had to be left to the sidelines. Obviously major spoilers from here on out.
All the Bankai
Where to begin on this one. Bankai are always great to see, and we get so many throughout this arc. Yamamoto, Unohana, Rukia, Rose, Shunsui, Urahara, Kenpachi……so many great moments. Yamamoto’s set the standard, it was Kubo’s way of telling everyone the stakes were higher than ever, and it was about to get so much darker. Rukia finally attaining her Bankai, and Kenpachi’s when we never thought we’d even see his Shikai let alone his Bankai. We can only pray for good Sakuga when these moments arrive.
Battle of the Kenpachi: Unohana versus Zaraki
Unohana was always an alright character, but never really in the forefront of the series. But the twist that she was the first Kenpachi? A surprise for sure, but a welcome one. Seeing both of them go all out, two psychopaths in a bloody rage and a true love for battle was very gratifying. Seeing Unohana in her unhinged state, the way Zaraki admired her and her swan song in the form of this final battle. I can only hope if we get a flashback to 1,000 years prior this time we see her in action against some Quincies too.
Isshin and Masaki’s flashback
When Ichigo finds out the truth of his mother, that she was a Quincy, it set up one of the best parts of the arc. We find out just who Isshin was and his place in the Soul Society, how Masaki and Ryuken were friends and how it was meant to go. But that fate is shattered during Isshin versus White, a glorious stand-off indeed, then Masaki gets in the mix, and the romance begins. We see the sacrifice both make, each giving up the lives they could’ve had to save the other, the life they did have nonetheless, and the tragic end of it all. One thing I liked was how it re-established Ichigo as not some chosen-one type; an unexpected series of event led these characters down the road that resulted in Ichigo becoming the way he was; it wasn’t some Child of Destiny, the Prophecized saviour or anything like that (glares at Naruto being made essentially Ninja Jesus by the end of it’s run). And seeing Ichigo dual wielding his new Zanpakuto was awesome
So the antagonists of the War were the Quincies, and their army was led by The Sternritters (Star Knights). Each given a letter, there’s a fair few filler but amongst them there are some great characters; Bambietta, Mask de Masculine (purely for the ridiculousness of it), Giselle, Bazz B, Haschwalth, Askin, Gremmy…….the list goes on. A great variety of powers and personalities ensue, with the clashes of both ideals and blades making for some epic showdowns throughout.
Last Stand of Sajin Komamura and Bambietta
This mostly gets in here as Komamura may be my favourite character in the entire series. Part of me would’ve liked him to survive and get a happy ending, but I like the bitter-sweetness of this one. Sure he didn’t die but he still paid a huge price for what he did. To see him go so far to honour Yamamoto was somewhat noble, and all the more tragic for him to fall into vengeance like he did. But also for Bambietta, a great antagonist who instead doesn’t care for honour and is more seeking the thrill of battle, for putting your life on the line and a way to let loose as she pleases. This is going to be a heartbreaker for me to watch, but at the same time I can’t wait for it.
Mayuri and Nemu vs Pernida
Credit to Kubo for what he does with Mayuri. The man is an unrepentant psychopath and yet he manages to be one of Bleach’s most compelling, charismatic and intriguing characters who despite all he’s done (and the blood on his hands makes most serial killers look like beginners) you can’t help but kind of want to root for the guy on some weird level. He’s like a cross between Batman and Joker in a way, always a trick up his sleeve but no sense of morality whatsoever. His battles were always more intriguing as it was less of a who is the strongest, and more battle of wits. And this was exactly that. He’s not exactly a guy deserving of a happy ending, but I was kind of happy to see him get one in some way.
Urahara, Yoruichi and Grimmjow versus Askin
There’s a reason Urahara was one of the special five war threats. The guy has a back up plan for every occasion, and can squirm his way out of almost any situation because of it. He always acts so chilled out, probably because he is actually able to be. Yoruichi getting some great action in this fight, and the glory of Urahara’s Bankai make this a must-see moment in the series for any fan casual or not. As well as Grimmjow going full Mortal Kombat on Askin too, which was all the right kinds of gory glory.
Toshiro’s adult form
You could very easily make a more bland Shonen based around Toshiro. Dude fits the bill well, young protege aiming for the top, a grudge against the antagonist for obvious reasons, it all fits well. Not to be detrimental to Toshiro though, he’s always been popular and with good reason. No pun intended but he’s always been cool, and his dynamic with Rangiku Matsumoto is one of the best this series has to offer. And here we see his final form, teased almost 500 chapters prior to this moment. It’s a great moment indeed, and one everyone will go crazy for when it finally gets to there in the anime too.
Ichigo’s final form
Who doesn’t love a final form? I recently realised Kubo set this up before the Mugetsu Ichigo vs Hogyoku Aizen fight, when he had Inner World Fused Zangetsu battling Ichigo. It fits the way he fused his Hollow, Quincy, Shinigami and Fullbring powers together in this last form. Whether it will come about in the same way remains to be seen but as long as it’s there I’m happy
A Different Ending?
Despite all I’ve said, there are some glaring problems. Ignoring personal opinions and hearsay, it’s clear the ending we got was not what was originally intended from Kubo. At some point the anime will have to drastically deviate from the manga, and that’s a good thing. If we had a 1-for-1 adaption with that ending? Good lord they’d never live it down. Whatever Kubo has initially planned, I hope is incorporated into this and we finally get to see how he wanted it to finish, and how it played out. Honestly if they can nail the ending above all else, this could return Bleach to the much beloved status it has held at it’s best, and create a whole new wave of fans too. We’ll just have to keep hoping for now.