Bleach is a manga in which we follow the adventures of Ichigo Kurosaki, a young teenager with a talent for seeing ghosts. He has an accidental run-in with a Hallow (a monstrous lost soul that is capable of causing harm to both ghosts and humans) and meets Rukia Kuchiki, a Soul Reaper (a personification of death this is very similar to the Grim Reaper) who defends him from the Hallow. She gets injured in the process and exchanges her powers to Ichigo (until she is healed from the injury) so he can finish off the Hallow for her. With his newly acquired powers and Rukia advising him as he goes, he takes on the duty of a Soul Reaper: defending humans from evil spirits that may attack them and guiding souls to the afterlife. He goes on many adventures through many different ghostly realms and eventually becomes an official Soul Reaper and joins the Soul Society as a Shinigami.
The manga series has gained a lot of popularity over the years and managed to eventually earn itself an adaptation into an anime TV series that was produced by Pierrot (a Tokyo-based animation studio) and ran for 16 seasons from 2004 to 2012. This led to a couple more adaptations including 2 OVA (original video animation) episodes, 4 animated films (Bleach: Memories of Nobody (2006), Bleach: The Diamond Dust Rebellion (2007), Bleach: Fade to Black (2008), and Bleach: Hell Verse (2010)), 10 stage musicals, a couple of video games and many different types of Bleach-related merchandise. Even Warner Bros. tried their hand at Bleach and developed a live-action Japanese film adaptation of the manga that premiered back in 2018.
Fans from all over the globe fell absolutely in love with this anime series and all the characters that it introduced in its run time. Many were disappointed when it came to an end back in 2012, so when it was announced back in March of 2020 that Ichigo Kurosaki and his friends would be coming back to their screen after 10 years of not seeing them (unless they decided to rewatch the series), fans were completely over the moon with excitement.
It will be the final instalment of the beloved anime and an adaptation of the last arc of Bleach, Thousand-Year Blood War. It is something fans who have read the manga have been waiting for since they finished the story.
What can fans expect to happen in Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War?
According to the anime’s synopsis, the Thousand-Year Blood War arc is going to be an all-out war against the Soul Society and Quincy (the polar opposite of the Soul Society and the main antagonist organisation of the manga and any adaptations created from it). Fans are going to watch as the full force of the Shinigami goes up against the full force of Quincy. The two clans have been fighting against each other for years and at one point the Shinigami had to wipe out a lot of Quincy because they were disturbing the balance of things and making the cycle of souls unstable. A grudge has been building for a thousand years and now Quincy is bringing it into the war along with the plan and intent to wipe out every single Shinigami they come across so that they will feel the same pain that Quincy felt. If they are successful it will lead to the very thing that the Soul Society was trying to prevent when they first chose to wipe out Quincy: the collapse of every known realm in the Bleach universe. Quincy will be going in for revenge and the Shinigami will be going in and doing all that they can to prevent an apocalypse from taking over the realms.
A new story arc always means meeting a couple of new faces, and this is no different for the Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War arc. While most of the new characters will be coming from Quincy’s side (around 30) there will be a couple of new characters from the Shinigami’s side as well (around 10). Along with the new characters, we will also be seeing some new powers at play. Not only will each new face have its own unique power (or a slightly different power to what we’ve seen from other characters in previous arcs), but we can also expect to see Ichigo discover a couple of brand new powers (as anime protagonists typically do in a new story arc).
Bleach has some of the best fight scenes and there is no doubt that Bleach: Thousand-Year War is going to have even more visually outstanding fights between overly powerful characters that will leave viewers amazed (and possibly a little confused if they aren’t able to keep track of what exactly is going on). Some battles between characters are going to involve multiple people and elements at once while others will be just a simple, straightforward one vs one battle.
In Bleach, there are many secrets and a lot of questions about the overall story. From very little things (such as the truth concerning Ichigo’s mother) to large story-altering things (like what the true connection between the different realms is). The arc addresses every secret and question the story has hidden or put forward and will leave no stone unturned.
Who will be involved in Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War?
The cast of Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War will be joined by Daiki Hamano who will be voicing Luders Friegen (and best known for voicing Matheus Johann Weiss in Saga of Tanya the Evil), KENN (known for voicing Penema in Platinum End) who will be voicing Berenice Gabrielli, Takahiro Fujiware who will be voicing Jerome Guizbatt (and is well-known for voicing Pippin in Berserk: The Golden Age Arc), and Wataru Komada, who voiced Yutaka Gotanda in Tribe Nine and will be voicing Asguiaro Ebern in the upcoming anime.
The Tokyo-based studio Pierrot will be producing the anime once again with Tomohise Taguchi directing and writing it. Masashi Kudo will be returning to design the characters. The music will be done by a returning Shiro Sagisu. And they’re not the only ones who will be coming back.
Johnny Yong Bosch, the voice actor behind Ichigo’s English voice (who is also known for voicing Vash the Stampeded from Trigun and Sabo from One Piece) will also be returning for Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War along with a couple of other English actor’s who will be reprising their original roles, including Michelle Ruff (who plays the voice of Rukia Kuchiki – Ichigo’s mentor), Derek Stephen Prince (who plays the voice of Uryu Ishida – a classmate of Ichigo who turns out to be a Quincy), Stephanie Sheh (who plays the voice of Orihime Inoue – Ichigo’s love interest and eventually his wife), Wally Wingert (who plays the voice of Renji Abarai – The husband of Rukia) and Doug Erholtz (who plays the voice of Kisuke Urahara – former captain of the 12th Division and 1st president of the Shinigami Research and Development Institute (S.R.D.I.).
Fans are excited to see that so many people from the original anime have been brought back to complete the final arc of the story and give it an ending that they will never forget.
The impressive Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War cast includes:
While it has mostly been all-around good news for anime fans there has also been an unfortunate development with Crunchyroll (an American-based streaming service that is owned by Sony and focuses mainly on the distribution, licensing, and production of Japanese anime and dorama). On the 30th of September, fans of Bleach found all 16 seasons of their beloved anime series missing from their regularly used streaming site and took to Twitter to voice their opinions with expertly used GIFs and panels from the manga to show exactly how they felt about the loss.
Both Netflix and Crunchyroll lost the rights to Bleach after Viz Media purchased the anime.
With the series set to be brought back in a couple of days, fans are wondering where they’re going to be able to stream it from. It has been reported that the series will be available to stream in Japan through multiple different sites such as ABEMA, Anime Times, and Bandai Channel, as well as a couple of others. Globally Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War will be available to stream from Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, and Hulu.
Bleach is clearly a fan favourite and is considered one of the classics among anime fans. According to Viz Media, who owns the worldwide rights, it is set to drop on the 10th of October and will be available on multiple streaming sites. The final story arc will happen across 4 seasons and give its many characters a proper send-off and be a final goodbye for fans.
While this arc will be answering many, many questions, it is going to be one of the most ambitious projects in the franchise, so it would be good for fans to remember to keep their anticipation in check and enjoy the final arc for what it is and always has been: an extremely thrilling and incredibly entertaining shounen anime.
Where can you watch it?
Viz Media, who will hold the North American premiere for the anime at New York Comic Con on October 8, has announced that Hulu will stream Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War in the United States, beginning on October 10. The new anime will also stream on Disney Plus internationally.