The second cour of “Bleach: Sennen Keshen-hen” (Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War) surprisingly hides a shocking truth behind one of its antagonists. It may not be the big bad villain Yhwach or fans’ favorite Sternritters like Bazz B, but still, the revelation of this particular Sternritter is quite amazing.
Episode 18 left fans both surprised and wondering as it shed light on the unique partnership between the muscular bald guy Sternritter named Mask de Masculine and his unwavering midget supporter, James. Although they have limited screen time and spotlights, their connection can be felt intriguing and extraordinary, while also adding a layer of depth to the Sternritter hierarchy.
One of the standout moments in Bleach TYBW episode 18 is how Mask de Masculine is able to heal, regenerate, get energy, and even power up by being cheered by James. Whenever Mask finds himself in a dire situation or even gets fatally injured, James always chants loudly to support his “superstar”, and it makes him even stronger.
At first glance, their relationship seems pretty clear and straightforward as Mask is the main guy and James only serves as his support-typed side-kick. But one thing starts to become mind-tickling for the viewers when the epilogue of the episode shows that James’ name is the one that is mentioned by Yhwach instead of Mask’s.
Ever since the manga chapter came out, fans have questioned this absurdity and speculated wildly, before finally the truth behind James and Mask was unveiled in Q&A #185 by Tite Kubo on his fansite, Klub Outside. According to Kubo himself, the real holder of “The Superstar” schrift is actually James and the seemingly invincible Mask de Masculine is nothing more than a manifestation of what James perceives to be his “ideal hero”.
This means, in essence, James is just like Sternritter “V” Gremmy Thomeaux who possesses powers to create another Sternritter like Guenael Lee and Shaz Domino. While Kubo has never filled in further details about it, many fans are still shocked to think that the supposed-to-be sidekick turns out to be the one who was bestowed the prestigious letter “S” by Yhwach.
The true identity of James might not be a huge shocker considering he is just a minor antagonist in the final arc, yet this twist serves as a testament to Tite Kubo’s creativity in crafting intricate and multifaceted characters, keeping fans engaged and intrigued with each episode and sequence.