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Bleach: A Brief Recap Before The Thousand Year Blood War Arc

With the return of Bleach and its final arc finally being animated after a whole decade, we expect our orange-haired deathberry to get a lot of attention later this year. Knowing that the anime is plunging into the deep end with the climax of Ichigo’s story through the Thousand Year Blood War arc, we expect s**t to hit the fan.

With that said, we at KKP think now more than ever is the best time to give you readers a brief refresher on the denizens of Karakura Town, Soul Society and the rest of the world of Bleach.

Disclaimer: we will be referring to and talking about spoilers of the previous story arcs prior to the Thousand Year Blood War arc.

Where we left Ichigo off

The last arc to be adapted into the anime was the Fullbringer arc, where most shonen at the time was having timeskips for their respective series. Seriously, it was a trend and Bleach was no different. Set 17 months after the final battle with Aizen, we find an older Ichigo struggling to cope with the loss of his powers from his last battle and feeling useless as his friends continue to clear out Hollows while he’s busy having to live a boring, mundane life. Ichigo then comes across a group of enhanced humans calling themselves Xcution, that utilize the power of Fullbring.

Chad, one of Ichigo’s closest friends, reveals himself to be a member and fellow Fullbringer and introduces him to their leader, Kugo Ginjo. Ginjo invites Ichigo to join their ranks with the promise of regaining his powers, and Ichigo accepts.

Although that friendship didn’t last long as it turns out Xcution’s plan from the get-go was to rebuild Ichigo’s power into a Fullbringer to then steal those powers to enhance their very own. However, during their betrayal, Ichigo is stabbed from behind with a sword made out of reishi (spirit particles) with his old shinigami (soul reaper, not the apple-eating kind) friend Rukia holding the blade.

Ichigo then finally regains his original shinigami powers, giant black sword in hand then promptly hands Ginjo’s ass to him. With his powers returned, all is well in the world… until the beginning of the Thousand-Year Blood War.

TL;DR – Ichigo lost his powers in the last big battle, gets new powers from new friends, new friends backstab Ichigo and he loses his powers again, Ichigo then gets stabbed by his real friends and he regains his OG powers. Deus ex machina nonsense, in other words.

Speaking of which, we’ll need to touch upon the main faction involved in the upcoming Thousand-Year Blood War Arc.

The Soul Society

The setting for the majority of Bleach’s story, and its history will play a prominent role in the coming arc, the Soul Society is one of two places souls can go to after they die and pass on, the other being hell. Yes, in case you forgot the entirety of Bleach is set in the afterlife, and the Soul Society is where souls and shinigami reside. Soul Society’s design is a giant city district that’s closed off by a ring of giant walls, with the outer district called Rukongai, houses human souls in modest villages.

The inner city is where the shinigami live and operate, with several districts that are controlled by their respective squads from the Gotei 13.

The Gotei 13

The Gotei 13 is the general term for the shinigami organization and their main role is in entering the human world, disposing of monstrous Hollows, and helping lingering souls to move on into the Soul Society. Shinigami fight with special katana swords called Zanpakuto that house a spirit, which can be released to transform, with each one being unique to their shinigami Albeit being their main role, the Gotei 13 is divided into 13 Divisions, that each govern their respective parts of Soul Society along with playing their own specialized roles. For example, the 4th division is the medical corps while the 11th division is the combat squad, specializing in swordsmanship.

Despite the samurai theme they have going on, the Gotei 13 is militaristic in nature, with each division sharing a ranking system, with the lowest-numbered rank designated to more important, powerful members. The first seat of each Division is held by the Captain, followed by the second seat held by the Vice-Captain or Lieutenants, and so on. Captains represent the very best and strongest of the Gotei 13, denoted by their white overcoats that are often at the forefront of major battles and make up the bulk of Bleach’s cast.

In simpler terms, imagine 13 different Hokage levelled badasses. Vice-captains on the other hand are powerful shinigami, but nowhere near their Captain counterparts, but each one shares a close relationship with them and support them in whatever way they can

Notable Captains

Genryusai Shigekuni Yamamoto – 1st Division Captain and Captain Commander of Gotei 13

Despite the many leading positions, all Captains answer to one figure without question and that man is Genryūsai Yamamoto, the founder of Soul Society itself. He is the Captain of the 1st Division along with being the Captain Commander. His appearance is that of an aged old man, but looks can be deceiving as under his garment is a body sculpted with iron-like muscles and covered in numerous battle scars. His personality is reserved and quiet, but when he gets serious is when both allies and enemies alike learn what true fear is.

His Zanpakuto release is Ry?jin Jakka, a form that wraps his sword in intense flames. You’ll get to find out how hot his Bankai gets in the upcoming story arc.

Byakuya Kuchiki – 6th Division Captain and Head of Kuchiki Clan

In the past he played the main antagonist role before Ichigo aligned himself with Soul Society, prim and proper Byakuya Kuchiki holds the seat of 6th Division Captain and is also the head of the Kuchiki Clan. Very serious and deadpan, he shares a condescending relationship with Ichigo but holds a deep respect for him. His adopted sister is Rukia Kuchiki, someone very close to Ichigo while his Vice-captain Renji Abarai, has a budding rivalry with Ichigo.

His Zanpakuto release is Senbonzakura, a torrent of small sakura-petal-like blades that he can manipulate at will. His other special skill is being a terrible artist just like his little sister.

The Many Races in Bleach

You would be surprised to learn that most of Bleachls characters aren’t technically human. Most of the characters are actually ghosts or spirits, with others being completely different beings. Here’s a brief rundown of each race.

Humans – Your run off the mill humans. Ichigo and his ragtag team of best friends are human, with Ichigo having inherited shinigami powers from his dad and training. In general they have no power, but certain humans with high spiritual pressure can develop powers in the form of Fullbring like Chad and the organization Xcution.

Shinigami – Spirits that have high spiritual pressure and make up the ranks of the Gotei 13. Technically are not human, as they regard humanity as something beneath them. They are recognized by their iconic black shihakusho garment, it being the standardized uniform for all shinigami. They fight using Zanpakuto, sentient swords that can change form and are unique to each person. Zanpakuto releases have two levels, Shikai release, which is the base form and the Bankai release, which is the final, most powerful form a shinigami can possess. One of the bare minimum requirements to become a Captain is to achieve Bankai, which is a rare and tough process.

Hollows – Hollows are corrupted souls who stayed in the human world for too long without passing on and are one of the major antagonistic forces in Bleach. Each hollow has a white mask with their bodies having the monstrous and varied appearance, but each one has a gaping hole in their chest, hence the name. Hollows can evolve and grow their spiritual power to the point where they become Arrancars, gaining a human form with a broken white mask and fight with katanas, a direct parallel to shinigami. Hollows reside in the world Hueco Mundo, a desolate desert of white sand.

Quincy – The Quincy are a special breed of humans, often regarded as a different race altogether. They fight using weapons made out of reishi (spirit particles) and are signified by their use of the bow and white, gothic clothing. They have a dark past with the shinigami as they essentially committed genocide on their race in a previous war. The Quincy are an endangered race, with Ichigo’s close friend Uryuu Ishida, said to be the last of his kind but the new arc seems to show that he’s not alone. This should make for an interesting conflict between the Shinigami and Quincy.

Bleach: The Thousand-Year Blood War arc anime will be out this October.

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