There have been few Cinderella stories in the world of anime quite like Bleach. Adapted from the manga by Tite Kubo, the series follows Ichigo Kurosaki as he defends the world of the living from malevolent spirits as a substitute Soul Reaper. The original manga first debuted in 2001 with its first anime adaptation coming out in 2004. It originally stood as one of the Big Three anime of the early aughts, with its international popularity rivaling that of Naruto and One Piece.
But whereas Naruto continued on with a sequel series in Boruto and One Piece stretches ever longer with its story, Bleach experienced a notable absence from the spotlight that lasted for several years since the manga ended in 2016. For anime fans, that absence went on for more than a decade when the show ended in 2012.
Luckily, Bleach was able to return to prominence with the premiere of Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War. Is this the last arc of the series, however?
Is 'Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War' the last arc of the 'Bleach' story?
The ending of the first Bleach anime was sudden and surprising, to say the least. Though the anime had yet to begin adapting the next arc of the manga, Bleach was suddenly taken off the air on March 27, 2012. The series was able to offer something of a proper send-off to the characters, but it would end its broadcast without ever touching upon the "Thousand-Year Blood War" arc.
It was certainly disappointing, especially given that the end of the overall narrative was practically in sight. The "Thousand-Year Blood War" chapters represent the final arc of the Bleach manga in which Ichigo and his companions have one more epic showdown before the end.
The manga ultimately ended on Aug. 22, 2016, having never been adapted for the anime. It would be four long years for Bleach fans until the series would make quite the comeback.
An anime adaptation of Thousand-Year Blood War was officially announced in March 2020. More than a year later in November 2021, it was confirmed that the adaptation would take the form of a new series that will run for four seasons.
It eventually premiered on Oct. 11, 2022, with 13 episodes. The second part premiered on July 8, 2023.
In Thousand-Year Blood War, Ichigo and the Soul Reapers of the Gotei 13 face off against the Wandenreich, a spirit army of Hollow-hunting Quincies thought to have been extinguished by the Soul Reapers over a millennium ago. Having cultivated both power and vengeance during that time, the Quincies launch an all-out assault against the Soul Reapers, forcing them to attain new heights of power in order to stand a chance against them.
The Bleach anime is finally getting the ending it deserves, especially as the adaptation goes in slightly different directions. With the introduction of anime-only plot elements like the Irazu Sando being worked into what is otherwise a faithful recreation of the source material, even those who already read the manga might be in for a surprise with the new anime.
New episodes of Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War air every Saturday on Hulu.