Soul Society faces its last nine days in Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War. Part 2 of the hotly-anticipated return of the Bleach anime premiered on July 8. It continues the struggles of Ichigo Kurosaki and the Gotei 13 as they face off against the Wandenreich, an army of Quincies with a long-standing grudge against the Soul Reapers and seek to reclaim their former status through violent means.
The new anime is expected to adapt the rest of Tite Kubo's original manga.
Since the anime's announcement back in 2020, however, it was heavily rumored that the show would take steps to improve upon the original manga. The author of Bleach is directly involved with the production as the anime strives to address fan disappointment over the manga's rushed and divisive conclusion.
The show has managed to hit many of the same beats as the manga so far, but the introduction of Irazu Sando may just represent the anime's first major deviation from the source material.
What is Irazu Sando in 'Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War'?
Part 2 of the series, entitled "The Separation", picks up right where the last installment left off. In Episode 15, the Wandenreich launches their final assault on Soul Society, which they plan to take place over the course of the next nine days.
To that end, Quincy King Wandenreich sends the Stern Ritter — a group of the strongest Quincies among his ranks — to attack the Soul Reapers once more.
Though the Gotei 13 have made their own preparations, they still have their work cut out for them. Many of them have devised countermeasures against the Quincies to avoid having their powerful Bankai stolen. Meanwhile, those who have already lost their Bankai have come up with new strategies to compensate for the immense power gap.
Unfortunately, the forces of the Stern Ritter prove to be more powerful than they anticipated as their second round gets off to a rough start.
Meanwhile, Ichigo is still unable to return to the fight himself. Having only recently gained access to his innate Quincy powers to complement his Soul Reaper abilities, he still must undergo further training to become strong enough to defeat Yhwach. To that end, he begins walking a strange path.
In a post-credits scene for the episode, Ichigo is still on the path as he struggles to complete it. In a cryptic poem, Zero Division leader Ichibe Hyosube portends that Ichigo faces Irazu Sando and will be reduced to dust if he doesn't complete this training.
As for what that is, there is no clear answer as of this writing. This concept was never introduced in the original manga and has left some fans mystified over how the anime will use this to deviate from the original manga. That said, folks still have their theories as to what Irazu Sando actually is.
One fan translated the phrase from Japanese to "no entry to the road of the shrine," which seems to line up with the path that Ichigo is walking.
Many have theorized this to refer to the Soul King who presides over Soul Society, suggesting that Ichigo walks to receive similar power and may even replace the Soul King. This reportedly even lines up with lore outlined in an official Bleach spin-off novel, Can't Fear Your Own World.
If this theory is to be believed, then the anime may just be setting up something completely original with the Irazu Sando.
New episodes of Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War stream every Saturday on Hulu.