「Everything but the Rain “June Truth”」
「The Blade Is Me」
Bleach: Thousand Year Blood War ends on a high note as they decided to air two episodes on the same day. Ending Masaki’s backstory by leading right into Ichigo regaining Zangetsu was very impactful in connecting the dots between Ichigo’s lineage and why he’s been struggling so much to gain full control of his abilities.
HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER
I’m not sure I understand what they were going for when a spirit Isshin appeared in Masaki’s naked dream sequence to draw back the hollow curse during Urahara’s operation. I know there’s a logical explanation that I’d instantly get if I opened my third eye while experiencing Bleach, but sadly, my chakras hadn’t aligned so I was just perplexed that they managed to find a situation where we could see Masaki naked.
Aside from that, it was actually very cute and wholesome to see the home life that Masaki and Isshin had fostered thanks to his selfless act of retiring for her survival. They even managed to make something of themselves easily with Masaki going to college and Isshin applying his medical experience towards a relatively successful private practice.
I actually got stuck in my feelings during the episode because some random hollow killed Masaki after they fought so hard to maintain this pure, chill marriage where they helped uplift each other and only ever cried at the movies. The flashbacks solidify how cool of a person Masaki is to the extent that I wish I had a lot more substantial time with her, but I suppose that’s the point since those would be Isshin and Ichigo’s exact thoughts.
I’m curious how often we’ll touch on Ryuken’s past since he comes off as an interesting character with how conflicted he is to preserve the Quincy. Much of the resentment he winds up having about Quincies as he gets older makes me want to pick this dude’s brain to see what exactly he took with him after seeing his mom badgering Masaki and accepting Masaki being in Isshin’s care. Uryuu seems more intent on picking up the slack by joining up with Yhwach, but I’m wondering what kind of resentment he carried with him to be so adamant about distancing Uryuu from the Quincies after settling down with Katagiri.
LIVING IN MY SWORD, RENT-FREE
I semi-knew about Ichigo’s mom being a Quincy but was completely shocked about the Zangetsu reveal. It makes sense since the man who claimed to be the true Zangetsu looks like a younger Yhwach. But it was brilliant to have the two episodes air in one day based on how they reveal that many of the Quincies in recent history were born from Yhwach’s blood and Masaki’s hollowfication was interlinked with Zangetsu’s true identity.
If Kubo planned out the Zangetsu reveal this whole time, I’d be very impressed. To have Ichigo’s success be attributed to a mixture of Masaki’s hollowfication side-effects and her blood connection to Yhwach makes for some juicy drama, but also explains a lot about why Ichigo kept struggling with his hollow form. Or why he’d even have one in the first place.
It was pretty nice that Nimaiya knew exactly what Ichigo needed to do in order to recover just enough memories to make sense of what his Asauchi really was. The revelation that he’d have two Zanpakuto to symbolize the two versions of Zangetsu he’d come to embrace over the years makes it all the more symbolic for Ichigo to reflect fondly on the guidance of Yhwach’s essence while harnessing the hollow side of his abilities now that he has a better idea of why he would have times he’d go berserk. Now that he doesn’t need to be controlled by Yhwach’s essence, he no longer has to feel like he’s at the mercy of either his Quincy or Hollow powers when he can harness the two with better finesse after coming to understand his mother more.
A TASTE OF WHAT’S TO COME
It was great to see how the Soul Society was making sense of how life would be after Yhwach’s initial invasion and Yamamoto’s demise. You get a glimpse of what some of the captains and vice captains are dealing with the aftermath of losing their Bankai abilities or needing to expedite gaining their Bankai.
I had a great time getting more insight into some of the Soul Reapers like Hitsugaya going far enough to train once again. It was great to see Mashiro again, especially within the context that she has to beat the tar out of Shuhei until he gets his Bankai ready. I loved the Bloodborne version of Falcore who showed up as the Great Elder of Komamura’s village.
It’s more of a hint of what we can look forward to in the Summer, especially at the end of the last episode with Uryuu being recruited into Yhwach’s army. But I’m more curious about the other oddballs that got wrapped up in the Wandenreich and exactly how their powers stack up compared to the other Soul Reapers. Above all else, I’m sure everyone is equally anticipating what Ichigo’s abilities will look like, and if he’ll still be as helpless as usual or if he’ll only hit a rock with the higher-level Quincy fighters out there.
I didn’t expect Bleach to be one of my favorite shows to cover this year. Depending on which circle you hang out with, Bleach is either the most GOATed anime to exist or a shameful secret that you need to do all kinds of mental gymnastics to justify enjoying. And to that, I say why not let it be both?
I know that much of the hype is due to it being early on in an arc that’s been slagged on over the years, and you still see signs of Tite Kubo’s temptations kicking in even in the first stretch. It’s Bleach, so it’ll automatically require having a high tolerance for randomly acquired power-ups and overpowered enemies who just so happen to be playing on God Mode the entire time. For a series that coined the term “Plotkai”, that much is a given.
But if you can rely on Kubo for anything substantial, it’d be the pure theatrics behind each fight and each move. While most shonen fights feel like each move means little to nothing, in Bleach, each sword swipe and secret technique is given pomp and circumstance, as if the swordsman is about to unleash their entire life’s experience onto the person they’re fighting. No punches are pulled and no expense is spared. Whether it be Yamamoto vs. Yhwach or Zaraki vs. Unohana, each of this season’s biggest fights were high caliber, high-octane thrill rides with the same flair and gravitas as a Pay-Per-View fight.
The lighting and color scheme had their detractors, but I feel like it really helps build the atmosphere towards the Thousand Year Blood War is a more brutal, unforgiving, and cold part of the story. We’re seeing people being dismembered, incinerated, and torn asunder. We’re seeing angst born from a deadly blood feud that grows messier and messier as time goes on. To me, the edgier tone justifies the darker, glossier atmosphere that comes from its use of shadows and warm colors.
The infamous “Orange/Blue/Pink Contrast” even makes it a bit of a fun period piece since it captures an aesthetic that was considered cool and cutting-edge back in the early 2010s when the arc was written. In a way, it kinda reminds me of the times when the JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure TV anime models its OP/ED around what was popular back when either Araki made the arc or the year the story takes place in. If a Bleach anime doesn’t remind me of a time when the Jason Bourne movies were massive, then it’s not coming out with all of its guns a blazin’. I’m also a huge sucker for the introductory photos where they pause the show to zoom in and add a cool Black/Pink filter over them. It reminds me of a creative decision that’d pop up in a Suda51 game when they’re giving a fun, flashy intro to their cast.
I’m glad that we’re getting a little time to let this season digest before jumping right into the second cour. The distance makes the heart grow fonder, and for a show like Bleach, it thrives off of the hunger pangs of anticipation to build up its hype. With the long wait between the original anime’s finale and the Thousand Year Blood War arc’s adaptation, it was the best spice to make this season all the more exciting. And the time between now and July is much more doable this time around.