Bleach: Sennen Kessen-hen – Ketsubetsu-tan airs its last two episodes to highlight Yhwach’s plan to storm the Soul King’s domain. But little does he know that Squad 0 have their own plans set up for the invasion.
Although Squad 0 was out fighting for their lives, the last two episodes were completely dominated by Hyousube and Senjumaru’s immense power. Hyousube’s strength is a given as the head honcho of Squad 0. He absolutely earned his title as he uses calligraphy strokes to rob Yhwach of the ability to call out his blade and spike him away from their domain.
With Senjumaru, her abilities were made even wilder by taking in some of her peers’ strength. It was a treat to see her work her magic on her foes while she was at her most basic power level, but the tapestries she weaves when she’s at full capacity are wildly impressive. Her cold, calculated demeanor only makes it scarier to see her imprison her Sternritter foes in her cursed fabric.
One factor that I can’t wait for the next cour to dip into is Yhwach’s betrayal. It wasn’t much of a secret that he was planning to use them for his own gain, but when numerous Quincies are sucked out from the Soul Society only to be channeled into Yhwach’s body, he makes a number of enemies while still on the surface. Bazz-B is easily the most furious of the bunch alongside the remaining Quincy girls who are fighting for their lives during Yhwach’s soul-suck festival.
I could see Bazz-B reluctantly working alongside his favorite eyebrow-styling Soul Reaper to take the fight back to Yhwach for his betrayal. Likewise, I could see Giselle taking breaks from tormenting zombie Bambi to combine zombie forces with Mayuri for the express purpose of fighting Yhwach. Liltotto was extremely livid about Yhwach so she likely wouldn’t need another Soul Reaper to convince her to try to sink her teeth into Yhwach.
It was a little depressing to see what became of the “Shinigami Illustrated Picture Book”. Older installments were often these fun skits where they animated the hijinks that happened in the Soul Society. You had some truly funny skits like one where the Shinigami Women’s Association came together to try to get a picture of the illusive Byakuya or one where Kenpachi tries putting on his hair bells. With this, however, its kinda just a Powerpoint animation and doesn’t really capture what’d make a “Shinigami Illustrated Picture Book” funny with the newer characters.
The first season of the TYBW arc Bleach was a nice honeymoon period where the series’ strengths were on full display. But for its second cour, it’s where we see a few of the warts that have made the manga difficult to recommend over the years. Although there were plenty of cool fights and neat new Quincies to encounter with this cour, it was also a point where drawn-out squash matches with disposable characters started to settle in as comfortably as they did in some of the manga’s lower points.
It might be an unfair reading of this season given that it did put its good foot forward in giving us some interesting opponents. Nodt’s abilities were very freaky, Gremmy had a neat laundry-list of imaginative weapons, and Giselle has a ton of personality as a macabre necromancer. The large roster of side characters also makes it a little exciting to see characters who have either been missing or long-deceased just show up again. Luppi coming back was an early Christmas gift, but I’d never turn down all the instances we see Yoruichi show up again.
At the same time, the story also makes it abundantly clear when a character no longer serves a purpose in the story. It’s why we’ve gotten a glut of comic relief villains like Mask and PePe who are designed to comedically beat on the weaker characters only to be completely overwhelmed by the one guy they’ve designated to be cool. Even As Nodt, Gremmy, and Giselle merely served to make their opponents look impressive by comparison as they were immediately made short work of.
Not sure if the next cour will be more of the same since I can only imagine that Yhwach will get a last minute boost to make him a more nefarious adversary. With Squad 0 spending the last moments of the season making quick work of Yhwach and the strongest members of his crew, I could imagine that they’ll have to beat Squad 0 so that Ichigo’s party can have a turn with Yhwach. Either way, we’ll be seeing more of Bleach in the next year as the third cour sets its sights on 2024.