WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Bleach.
The Bleach anime went off the air years ago, but at last, the show is returning to bring the Thousand-Year Blood War arc to life, and Ichigo’s world is about to be turned upside down. The great battle against the Quincy empire, the Wandenreich, will claim many lives and change the survivors forever.
The Soul Reaper Captains will be the Soul Society’s best hope against the vengeful Quincy, and five particular Captains will have a large impact on this story arc at one point or another. These Captains will do more than just fight the Sternritter — they will also reveal shocking truths about themselves, unveil brand-new powers, and even replace their fallen comrades as new leaders of the Soul Society. In fact, some of these changes will help set up the manga’s current arc.
Captain Byakuya Kuchiki Will Learn Humility
Byakuya Kuchiki is the head of the noble Kuchiki family and the Captain of Squad 6, with Renji Abarai as his Lieutenant. He was the antagonist of the Soul Society arc, putting the law above the life of his foster sister Rukia, and this is why Ichigo wanted to take him down. Byakuya lost the fight and gained a new appreciation for his loved ones, proving this when he later slew Zommari Rurueax. Now, during the TYBW arc, Byakuya will face the Sternritter unprepared and nearly lose his life in the process. By temporarily losing his bankai, he will gain a new appreciation for Senbonzakura and all it has done for him, and will use this newfound humility to rebuild himself as a Soul Reaper and guide Rukia to new heights.
Captain Retsu Unohana Will Help Kenpachi Grow
Captain Retsu Unohana of Squad 4 is known for her motherly and nurturing personality, but during the TYBW story arc, viewers will finally see her true self as Yachiru Unohana, or the first Kenpachi. By now, Unohana has just one goal left to accomplish: help Kenpachi Zaraki to reach his true potential, and now is the right time. Before the Sternritter return, Unohana must reveal her true self and challenge Kenpachi, and see how far he has come since their first meeting centuries ago. Unohana will also reveal her bankai at last, pushing Kenpachi to his absolute limit. To Unohana, success means her death, and failure means Kenpachi’s.
Captain Kenpachi Zaraki Will Master His Zanpakuto
Captain Kenpachi Zaraki is used to being the strongest warrior of all, but even he cannot take on the full might of the Wandenreich and win. He must dig deep inside himself and realize his full potential. Fortunately for him, his old mentor, Yachiru Unohana, is ready to help. Kenpachi knows that only he or Unohana can survive their duel. Victory means learning the truth of his zanpakuto and failure means death. If he can admit his weakness and master shikai, he will reach new heights, finally also mastering himself as a person. No longer can he take his own power and his seemingly nameless zanpakuto for granted. It’s time to grow up — or else perish.
Captain Jushiro Ukitake Will Repay A Favor
Captain Jushiro Ukitake has commanded Squad 13 for many years now, and everyone is used to him being bedridden with illness regularly. However, his illness isn’t just a character quirk or a running gag — it’s an early hint at his childhood when his life was saved from certain death. As a boy, Jushiro was rescued from the brink of death by a spirit named Mimihagi, the right hand of the distant Soul King. Now, as Yhwach threatens to destroy the Soul King, Ukitake realizes that he can give back his borrowed life to allow Mimihagi to make things right, even if he won’t live to see the results. If so, it’ll be time for someone to replace him as Squad 13’s Captain, and Rukia is a fine candidate.
Captain Shunsui Kyoraku Will Become A True Leader
Captain Shunsui Kyoraku is Ukitake’s friend and a fellow Soul Reaper veteran who rarely seems to take anything seriously. Now, as the Quincy threaten to destroy everything, Shunsui will take full responsibility and become the bedrock of the Soul Society’s desperate defiance of the Wandenreich. Captain-General Yamamoto will fall to Yhwach in battle, and Shunsui will reluctantly but dutifully take his place as Squad 1’s commander, thus commanding all Soul Reapers. He has finally surpassed “old man Yama,” and he will also help his Lieutenant, Nanao Ise, wield her full might in battle at last. This story arc will explore the backstory of Shunsui and the Ise family, including a unique sword that only Nanao can use, and the truth of why Shunsui wears that flowery robe over his uniform.
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