Tuesday, September 26, 2023
HomeentertainmentAnime NewsBleach: Thousand-Year Blood War Season 2 ‒ Episode 21

Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War Season 2 ‒ Episode 21

How would you rate episode 21 of
Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War (TV 2) ?

Community score: 4.3


While Thousand-Year Blood War‘s adaptation has been doing a lot to speed through the fatigue of this stage of the story, I was still feeling pretty tired after a month of pretty formulaic fights. While some were legitimately entertaining, there are only so many times you can see a returning secondary character beat a new villain with a brand-new power before it starts to feel predictable. So I was very glad when, instead of introducing another one-on-one faceoff, this episode kicked into gear with Ichigo’s return. Was it cheesy as hell to see the entire cast look to the sky while the savior main character literally descended from on-high, complete with his goofy-ass theme song blasting? Absolutely. Yet after weeks of waiting for our lead to finally get back from training, it was fun to see him bust through the ceiling and promise to shake this arc out of the rut it had dug itself.

Granted, Ichigo’s return also signifies a drastic reduction in tension, as evidenced by him being unfazed when a quartet of Sternritter – all the remaining women, for some reason – try all at once to take him out. To that point, I’ll give the anime credit for drastically expanding this battle, and even getting playful with it by giving Giselle, Liltotto, and Meninas a pseudo-Magical Girl transformation. It’s not enough to make the fight even slightly competitive, as Ichigo no-sells every attack without getting so much as a scratch. Still, if we’re going to book a Squash Match between our hero and the entire Quincy Divas Division, I at least want to have some fun with it. Now somebody at Pierrot must greenlight a full magical girl anime starring Nao Tōyama, Reina Ueda, and Aoi Yūki. You owe it to the world.

Outside of that highlight, however, this is mostly a perfunctory fight to establish how much stronger Ichigo now is, and then send him off in the direction of the big bad. We know that none of the rank-and-file Quincy are going to pose any threat to our lead, even when there are eight of them bearing down on him, and it means when this episode isn’t having fun it’s merely going through the motions. If the enemy didn’t rush Ichigo all at once, it would make them seem foolish, but the laws of narrative require him to sequence break the whole thing and leave the fodder for his friends to clean up.

Then, of course, there’s the big twist that Ywach was waiting for Ichigo to arrive this whole time! Turns out our hero skydiving down from the Soul King’s palace means he’s left a gaping hole in their security fence, and King Quincy was just waiting for that to happen so he could skedaddle up into God’s backyard and start Tping his house. If that sounds nearly identical to Aizen luring Ichigo and the Soul Reaper captains to Hueco Mundo, that’s because it is, and it’s another frustrating repeat from a villain who’s swiftly losing any sense of originality or identity as he grows ever more powerful. The one wrinkle that I appreciate is the heavy implication that this was also Zero Squad’s plan all along and that they are themselves planning something that involves inviting Ywach into their territory. That at least adds some extra intrigue to this repeated plot device.

The big disappointment, however, is when Ichigo finally reaches Ywach and finds out Uryu’s joined the Sternritter. This should be a pivotal moment for this arc, where Ichigo is forced to reckon with his friend becoming an enemy – and maybe even feel conflicted about fighting unilaterally for Soul Society. After all, Ichigo now knows about his familial relationship with Quincy, the past between his and Uryu’s parents, and the millennium of strife between these two factions. He should have some kind of feelings about all this, and confronting Uryu should be the biggest emotional climax of the season so far, but it almost feels like an afterthought. We even airdrop Chad and Orihime (who’s introduced cleavage first, of course) at the last second, as if the narrative only recently remembered they’re also part of the story, and hastily threw them in out of obligation. There’s not even a sense of betrayal, since all Uryu does is fire a couple of arrows at Ichigo before hopping on God’s Escalator.

It’s a weird, discordant end to an episode that winds up feeling more like homework than entertainment. The central fight has some charm but is otherwise stiffly animated and a low priority. The biggest plot twist is cobbled together from past twists with only the barest hint at a deeper meaning. Worst of all, the most central character dynamic gets a weak payoff before being hastily shoved to the back burner. In all, it seems like this arc’s worst tendencies and biggest weaknesses are piling up all at once.


Season 2 is currently streaming on Hulu.



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