Bleach Thousand Year Blood War 1st Cour Review: Bleach is Back and Better Than Ever

I remember when the Bleach anime ended over a decade ago without animating the final arc I was pretty devastated as I tend to be more of an anime fan than a manga fan for my content; however, I had to see how Bleach ended so I quickly read the manga and was amazed by its climatic storytelling and upset that we weren’t going to see these pages come to life in an anime. Then this year happened with the tremendous return of Bleach to finally animate what is one of the most intense stories of the series. With this series returning it does raise a lot of questions such as what will the overall quality of the show be like, will it capture our attention the same way Bleach did in the past and how well will the anime execute the storytelling. The reason for the third question has to do with the manga as a number of factors gravely affected the story whereas we were informed the anime will flesh out details that those factors previously hindered.

I will first say if you are new to Bleach this is not the point where you want to jump into the series. This arc is well into the story of the main character Ichigo and you are missing a ton of key details for this arc to really convey its emotional moments with great success. I recommend starting with the original series and going from start to finish and trust me you will thank me for that suggestion. For returning fans this is the story of how the Quincy have returned after presumably being labeled as near extinct and as you can guess from the title they were ready for an all-out brawl with their enemies the soul reapers. The story really shows just how significant of a threat the Quincy are and wastes no time doing so. Then on top of that when the soul reapers are ready for battle the Quincy show they are even more of a threat than they could have ever predicted. You really feel just how overwhelmed the soul reapers are as we watch them get battered, beaten, and completely broken by techniques never before seen in the series. The beginning of this arc was not meant to be a happy one and the anime makes that fact hit with great intensity. There’s a tremendous emotional weight to a lot of the moments that you can help but feel as you see what happens to your favorite characters. This was something I was hoping for as I knew going in this arc was an intense emotional roller coaster and leaping into the anime felt like being in the front seat of its even more impressive successor.

However, this story is more than just an emotional gut punch but also jam-packed full of action and revelations galore. At one point all of the soul reapers are fighting all over the place and the story quickly shows one fight after another and really captures the sheer might that was forced upon the soul reapers. While some fights were no doubt better than others they were all done in a way that lead to a wide array of moments that were impossible to forget. Even some fights that I thought were just ok in the manga were spectacular in the anime. Then you have the revelations which is a hard part to reference without spoilers but I’ll do my best. You get these incredible moments where you learn more about characters like Yamamoto, Kenpachi, Unohana, and of course the star of the show Ichigo. These are not revelations that leave you intrigued and happy to learn them these are massive game-changing revelations that fundamentally change how you view the characters and even to some degree the franchise as a whole. This is another thing I give props to the anime for as in the manga some of the details weren’t entirely clear to me when I first read it and I wound up revisiting them a few times for more clarity, but in the anime, these moments are fleshed out a little more and thus easier to grasp in an instant. Furthermore, in a few moments, the anime actually provides exclusive details that weren’t in the manga which really took me by surprise.

Finally, I want to talk about the animation quality. Now for those who have seen my work before I rarely ever talk about this because I rarely have a reason to care. I only really talk about animation quality in instants where it’s either really good or really bad and in this case, it’s really good. I would even go as far as to say that the visuals were absolutely beautiful. Not only are the visuals appealing to the eye but a deeper look into the moments shows incredible attention to detail that far surpassed my expectations.

So overall clearly if you’re an anime-only Bleach fan this is a must-watch to see the conclusion to the amazing story that was left incomplete over a decade ago. If you’ve read the manga you’re still going to want to watch this as the serious moments are done with an incredible emotional depth that you can only get from the anime and it comes with exclusive details that does a better job conveying big character revelations with an animation that will leave your jaw on the floor. I went into this thinking it would be nice to finally see how this is animated after seeing how much I loved the story in the manga but what I got was an anime done so well that it literally recreated the feeling of seeing this story for the first time all over again. I can’t wait to see what they do with the rest of the story.

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