BLEACH: Thousand Year Blood War Episode 1 Review: BLEACH is Back and Better Than Ever


Photo Courtesy / Viz Media

Ichigo Kurosaki hasn’t appeared on TV in 10 years

It is certainly not uncommon for a TV show to take a break between seasons. Sometimes skipping a year or two is the best course of action and helps the next season really shine. However, for fans of the “BLEACH” anime, based on the manga of the same name by Tite Kubo, the wait was much longer than usual. 

“BLEACH’s” 366th and final episode aired in 2012 and concluded the arc “The Lost Agent” but left many fans wanting more. There is a good reason for that. “The Lost Agent” is not meant to be the story’s ending. Where the anime ended the manga continued right into its final and most ambitious arc, “Thousand Year Blood War.” For many, it seemed as though “BLEACH’s” true ending would never make it to their TV screens. However, in late 2021 fans received a pleasant surprise. 

A TV anime adapting “Thousand Year Blood War” was announced for October of 2022, picking up right where things left off after ten years off the air. Protagonist Ichigo Kurosaki and his friends would once again appear on TV to finish their story. 

“BLEACH: Thousand Year Blood War” is not technically a continuation, as it is being released as its own series, with season 1 episode 1: “THE BLOOD WARFARE” available to view as of October 10th. However, make no mistake, the old series is very much required viewing to understand the events of the new one. 

This review will mostly keep things spoiler free, as I very much recommend you watch “BLEACH.” 

At the start of the episode there is a scene taking place in the Soul Society (An afterlife reminiscent of feudal Japan) Department of Research and Development, where the audience is informed that Hollows (evil spirits created by the souls of those who die with regrets) are disappearing at an alarming rate, throwing off the balance of life and death. Returning character Mayuri Kurotsuchi teases a new threat, stating that ‘they’ are the only ones capable of completely erasing a Hollow’s existence.  

Two new soul reapers are sent to Karakura Town, the fictional district of Tokyo where Ichigo Kurosaki and his friends reside. Almost immediately they find themselves in peril due to a group of powerful hollows, but they are saved by Ichigo and his friends in a beautifully animated action sequence that is far above what was possible at the time the first anime aired. Two days later, in Ichigo’s room, a mysterious visitor appears to antagonize him. 

To avoid getting into spoilers the summary will end here, but this is only around half the episode.  

This first episode served as an amazing reintroduction to the main Karakura Town cast of Ichigo Kurosaki, Orihime Inoue, Yasutora Sado, and Uryu Ishida, as well as a good introduction to the impending danger this arc poses.  

Beyond that, the episode displays art and animation that are far-and-above the original series at its peak, with a much closer representation of Tite Kubo’s brilliant art style. The visuals in this episode would have only been possible in a theatrical movie at the time the previous show ended, and the fact that they are possible on TV now is still mind blowing.  

The original voice cast for the returning characters are back, and they certainly have not gotten rusty. Every character’s voice sounds fantastic, though your mileage with the way anime characters talk may vary.  

An important aspect that cannot be overlooked in the episode is the music, composed by the same composer as the original series, Shiro Sagisu. The music is tense when it needs to be, comical when appropriate, and even downright epic at times, with all the orchestral and choir flair that Sagisu is known for. However, the standout musical moment of the episode is certainly during the action sequence at the start with Ichigo and his friends, in which an amazing remix of original theme song Number One plays.  

The episode ends with a montage of major events throughout “BLEACH” set to the song Rapport by Tatsuya Kitani, the artist who will sing the opening theme for future episodes, Scar. This serves as a powerful tribute to the series’ history, bound to make any fan at least a little bit emotional.  

You can view “BLEACH: Thousand Year Blood War” on Hulu in the US, where the original show is also available. The “Thousand Year Blood War” storyline originally ran from volumes 55-74 of the “BLEACH” manga.