The story of Bleach: Thousand Year Blood War now shifts to the Soul King Palace in the sky where Yhwach sends his four chosen Sternritters to penetrate the unpredictable thick walls of defense by none other than the five top Shinigami of Squad 0.
A Universe-Changing Mission
Once again big praise must be given where it is due, and it is due to Pierrot’s efforts to stretch the story in meaningful and impactful ways. The prologue of the episode gives an original scene that deepens the rivalry between Ichibe and Yhwach and tells how Yhwach first discovers his big vision, born from his despise of the Soul King’s life-and-death scenario for all living beings.
This episode clearly brings a sheer amount of fun and thrill with its back-and-forth actions, but more importantly, the additional filler scene at the beginning of it underlines the grand motive of Yhwach to slaughter his own father and take over the role as the ruler of the three worlds, which sadly does not get explained clearly in the manga, while at the same time giving a glimpse on how the life of Quincy used to be thousand years ago.
Let The Invasion Begin
As both colliding sides have prepared for this clash, the battle for protecting and infiltrating the Soul King Palace goes wild at every turn. We are introduced to the danger of Shutara Senjumaru the Great Weave Guard, who easily turns the table by sneakily killing the front pawn of the Wandenreich, “The Wind” Sternritter named Nienzol Weinzol.
Another huge anticipated moment in this arc is finally coming to screen with the debut of the Royal Guards, the top four chosen Sternritters who are tasked to clear the Quincy Emperor’s path. As Pernida, Gerald, and Askin have not taken many actions that much and kept their powers in mystery, our jaw is dropped by Lille Barro the “X-Axis” who overwhelms the pressure with his gigantic sniper rifle.
The introduction of Yhwach’s top men who will give so much trouble to our protagonists is handled and presented incredibly well by Pierrot. Although once again some moments and scenes can be felt totally rushed, the thrill of their first appearance, attack, and temporary defeat is unimaginably cool and eye-pleasing.
The Top Division’s Protection
On the other side of the battlefield, we also see another glimpse of the unpredictable powers and tactics of the Squad 0 members. Luring enemies to a fake stage, setting them up inside of a living cage, and kicking their ass as soon as they arrive become great proof of how prepared, experienced, and talented these top Shinigami are.
The spotlight in this episode definitely goes to the “God of Swords” Oetsu Nimaiya who single-handedly slaughters Yhwach’s top men with his wobbly imperfect blade. Let’s wish Pierrot would give more screen time to the other Squad 0 members as well since their battles against the Sternritters only happen off-screen in the manga.
The execution of the first bout of the Soul King Palace invasion is flawless and jaw-dropping. This episode easily becomes one of the best episodes in the second cour of Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War so far, not merely due to the story, but more importantly its production value and range of creativity showcased by the Pierrot studio. Elements and essence that are already epic in the manga are able to be animated and delivered with double impact and awesomeness.