Smashing Success: “Bleach” Returns

Eshmom Haque, Staff Writer

After a 10-year hiatus, Tite Kubo’s “Bleach” returned on Oct. 11 to the spotlight with the animation of the manga’s final arc, “The Thousand-Year Blood War.” The new season is animated by Pierrot, the same studio behind notable works like “Black Clover” and “Tokyo Ghoul.” 

In the early 2000s, “Bleach,” along with “Naruto” and “One Piece,” was dubbed one of the Big Three animes due to their explosive popularity. Known for its comparatively mature themes at the time, “Bleach” takes place in a world where samurai-inspired Soul Reapers quash demonic spirits, called Hollows, that terrorize humans. The anime centers around high school student and Soul Reaper Ichigo Kurosaki on his journey to protect the three realms: Earth, Hueco Mundo, where the Hollows reside, and the Soul Society, where the Soul Reapers reside. However, the anime abruptly ended in 2014 because of insufficient source material, leaving fans disappointed. The animation revival of the show’s final arc offers refreshing plotlines and enthralling visuals to end the long-awaited series. 

“The Thousand-Year Blood War” finally addresses the unanswered question of the Quincies, a group of German Archers that were supposedly wiped out by the Soul Reapers a thousand years ago for disrupting the balance between the three realms. The new season reintroduces them as a vengeful antagonist, posing a formidable challenge for Soul Reapers with their unique ability to take away their “bankai,” a unique power-up that enhances their fighting abilities. Unable to rely on their ace-in-the-hole, Soul Reapers are at the mercy of the Quincies’ unforeseen power.

The first few episodes masterfully set up the severity of the new antagonist in a sinister introduction scene, when the Quincy King Yhwach mercilessly dismembers and executes his underling for slight insubordination. With his iconic burgundy cape and imposing figure, he makes for a fearsome final villain to be pitted against the heroic soul reapers.

Thanks to Pierrot, the fight choreography pops out more than anything with its fluidity and strikingly colorful effects. The first glance at the studio’s capabilities is with Ichigo’s bout with Ebern, the first Quincy villain to make an appearance. The fight raises the bar for anime battle scenes with its breathtakingly detailed energy waves and ominous sound design that lends itself to the tense atmosphere. 

With the superb animation by Pierrot and an interesting storyline, this season will appease eagerly waiting fans and wrap up one of the most popular animes of all time. New episodes can be watched on either Hulu or Disney+.