Spoiler alert! This article contains spoilers from the Bleach manga and anime.
In Bleach, main protagonist Ichigo Kurosaki has nearly dozens of allies. His status as an unofficial Soul Reaper who protects his hometown from malevolent spiritual Hollows has helped him forge some working relationships and strong bonds with the Soul Reapers of the Gotei 13, as he fights alongside them to protect the afterlife. However, even among his allies, he has a few companions who are closer to him than most. One of them is Uryu Ishida.
As a Quincy — a race of Hollow hunters who were long thought to have been extinguished by the Soul Reapers — Uryu was initially introduced as a sort of rival for Ichigo. However, they soon became allies as the series progressed, with Uryu now being one of Ichigo's most trusted companions.
However, the events of Thousand-Year Blood War reveal that Uryu has seemingly betrayed Ichigo and joined up with the Wandenreich, an army of Quincies who seek revenge against Soul Society. What's really going on?
Why does Uryu betray Ichigo in 'Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War'?
In Part 2 of the Thousand-Year Blood War anime, it is revealed that Uryu secretly meets with Quincy king Yhwach with the intent of joining the Stern Ritter, the king's elite group of powerful Quincies. At this point, Uryu knows all too well that Yhawach intends to wipe out the Soul Reapers, which include many of Ichigo's allies. With Uryu having seemingly defected from his friends, he quickly gains favor among his fellow Quincies.
What's more, Yhwach even goes so far as to make Uryu his de facto successor due to his status as one of the last Quincies left in the living world. Uryu seems poised to lead eventually lead the Wandenreich against the Soul Reapers, and in turn, Ichigo. From the outset, it appears as if Uryu has betrayed Ichigo and the other Soul Reapers.
Though the anime has yet to touch upon the details behind his ultimate plan, the manga has already shows that Uryu's betrayal is not what it seems.
Throughout the events of Thousand-Year Blood War, Uryu learns that Yhwach played an enormous part in the death of his mother, Kanae Katagiri. Years before the events of the series, a severely weakened Yhwach activated the Auswählen (holy selection) in order to begin regaining his power and take revenge on the Gotei 13. This process essentially steals powers from living Quincies for Yhwach to use for his own recuperation. When Kanae had her power stolen during a battle with a fatal disease, she was killed in her weakened state.
Upon learning this, Uryu began plotting to infiltrate the Wandenreich in order to get close to Yhwach and exact his own revenge. As a bonus, he even acts as a double agent to Soul Society and secretly helps his longtime allies in their dire fight against the Quincies.
Interested in seeing how Uryu's plan pays off? New episodes of Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War premiere every Saturday on Hulu.