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Bleach: Thousand Year Blood War Episode #15 Anime Review

5 min read
This episode includes four different pairs to kick off the next invasion.
© Kubo Tite / Shueisha, TV Tokyo, Dentsu, Pierrot

What they say:
The Quincies have arrived to annihilate the Soul Reapers, intending to completely wipe them out. The battle heats up (literally) as the Quincies begin their second invasion.

Content (Please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Round 2 has officially begun between the Soul Reapers and Quincies and this time Ywach doesn’t want to take any chances. He has issued only a single order to his soldiers; “annihilate the enemy instantly.” Of course, things look bleak for the Soul Reapers but it’s not going to be that easy. The Soul Reapers, as Ywach predicted, have been training and learning to fight without their bankai, and are a bit more prepared than last time. Many have already pointed this out since the trailer, but the shot where the episode title comes from is a great mirror and callback to the Espada antagonists in their Las Noches meeting room. The pitch-black background adds an extra layer of malevolent maliciousness and a heavy air of evil that covers them all. It is pure hate and revenge driving the Sternritter now. It complements what Jugram says about depriving them of hope perfectly.

This episode includes four different pairs to kick off the next invasion. First was newly appointed Head Captain Shunsui and co-Lieutenant Nanao Ise against Sternritter “B” Jurgam Haschwalth. Nanao puts up a protective kido barrier that will temporarily halt Quincy powers so there isn’t much time spent on this encounter besides small talk. It will be interesting in the future to see what becomes of this setup, though. Another encounter that doesn’t take much time is Sternritter “D” Askin Nakk Le Vaar who shows up at the R&D facility of the Squad 12 barracks. He promptly leaves when he surmises it would take too much effort to kill Captain Mayuri (who arrives in a slick new golden outfit). The only other thing worth noting is Nemu who also wears a golden outfit and a cute top hat.

The Quincies also clarify what exactly happened with the Seireitei. Turns out the Quincies for the last 1000 years were living in a shadow world that existed within the Seireitei the entire time. That shadow world is what became the Wandenreich empire. That explains why the Quincies were traveling through shadows in the first part. They weren’t entering nor leaving the Seireitei. This move is essentially them flipping the coin. The Seireitei can likely be restored to its original state after the Quincies are defeated. This is helpful to know and also makes the ending song visuals seem a lot cleverer, which I appreciate.

Most of the meat for this episode pits Captain Hitsugaya and Lieutenant Matsumoto against Sternritter “H” The Heat, Bazz-B, and Captain Soi-Fon against Sternritter “K” BG9, who stole Soi-Fon’s bankai during the first invasion. At first, it appears the Soul Reapers have the edge. Hitsugaya and Matsumoto team up to strengthen Hitsugaya’s ice by combining it with Matsumoto’s Zanpakuto Haineko. For a while, this keeps Bazz-B’s flames at bay and he is knocked back for a moment. At Squad 2, Lieutenant Omaeda protects his sister in time for Soi-Fon to reappear and one-shot BG9 with her Shunko techniques.

This is unfortunately where the wins for the Soul Reapers come to a halt. While Bazz-B’s normal flames cannot burn through the Matsumoto-enforced ice walls, his “Burner Finger” ability has no issues piercing through. Hitsugaya tries to flee and regroup but is seemingly cut down. Meanwhile BG9 reveals himself to be more machine than man and manages to point-blank blast Soi-Fon before she reacts. Bleach being the shonen it is, I suspect at least one of them isn’t permanently down for the count despite the grave injuries, but the situation still looks grim. It’s only then that Urahara contacts Mayuri, saying he’s found a way to restore the captains’ bankai.

© Kubo Tite / Shueisha, TV Tokyo, Dentsu, Pierrot

I know this may seem like the point but I’m really hoping the Soul Reapers can take some wins soon because the constant losses are starting to feel tiresome. It is so one-sided to the point where the action risks becoming less interesting. But I will continue biding my time hoping that by the time Ichigo, Rukia, Renji, and Byakuya make it back to the Seireitei/Wandenreich, the tides start to turn. Urahara’s discovery also holds promise. There’s also Orihime, Chad and (allegedly) Grimmjow still waiting with Urahara in Hueco Mundo. I’ve been eager to see what becomes of them since the middle of part 1. The last question mark is Captain Ukitake who managed to be outside the Seireitei in his remote quarters during the invasion. Oh, and Aizen is still waiting in prison as a Chekhov criminal.

The animation continues to be excellent and of amazing quality. I know some people were ambivalent about the plain red sky in the Seireitei/Wandenreich but it really works. It gives the battlefield a hellish look and the red and blue together create a nice contrast. You could even call it “a cold day in hell” if that had an actual aesthetic. The red glow and reflections on the characters gives a pleasant shine, and the action animation itself continues to impress. Of course, that will become more evident as more battles begin and more pairs are introduced.

In summary:
This episode kicks things off by giving us a taste test of all the action to come but there are still many characters in and out of action who have yet to make their appearance. The animation continues to look stunning with the red and blue color contrast and is without a doubt the best part of the episode. While there is more excitement around the corner, this episode offered only a tease of the battles to come. There are several more pieces of the second invasion puzzle that need to fall into place before it can rise to the same heights as its predecessor.

Grade: B+

Streamed by: Hulu (US), Disney+ (International)