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Bleach: Bloody Thousand Years Review: Bleach is back and looks great


After a roughly 10 year hiatus, Ichigo Kurosaki is picking up his giant sword once more, returning for his final match. Bleach: Blood Battle of a Thousand Years. Expectations for its return on Hulu are stacked high; the original is a staple among anime fans everywhere and is often grouped with A piece and Naruto as part of the “big trio”. And after watching one episode, everyone finally looks as cool as they should be Thousand Years Blood Battle.

Produced by Pierrot, the same studio that animated the series’ originals from 2004 to 2012, the new show doesn’t miss a beat in review. The first volume covers about the first five chapters of the Thousand Years of Blood arc and matches them pretty closely. And from the first frames of the new show, it’s clear that new people Bleach won’t find much to go by and longtime fans might find themselves catching up, too. It seems like Pierrot is so confident about picking and finishing the series as if there’s no break – and it immediately pulls you back into the world. We see a dark lab in the depths of Seireitei in chaos, with no explanation for what’s going on. The characters happen to refer to terms specific to the series such as Gigai, Bankai, and Soul Reaper. Moments, like the fact that uniformed warrior Asguiaro Ebern is a Quincy, will have more praise for those who know the characters and their importance in the wider world.

Uryu Ishida in Bleach: The Thousand Years of Blood.  He's half in the dark and half in the light.  He looked seriously at the light from the window.

Image: Pierrot / Viz Media

Most importantly: Before we see the original gang back together in their full glory, we will see their power. This looks like a blade of light, falling blue energy, or small paper airplane-like arrows darting across the screen. Each one corresponds to a member of the main gang: Ichigo Kurosaki, Orihime Inoue, Yasutora Sado (Chad) and Uryu Ishida. When we meet the four again, they save two Soul Reapers in no time. Seeing four people for the first time in such a long time was jarring; for a moment I felt like I was losing control of any coherent thoughts and the astronomical project reverted to a 15-year-old version of myself screaming about these characters on Tumblr. It’s partly because I’m happy to see them back, but also because everyone looks so adorable good.

Seriously, let’s talk about how cool Ichigo looks Thousand Years Blood Battle. As an older anime, we don’t get to see Ichigo and the rest of the actor age engage in more contemporary animation like we did with A piece. The old, half-stagnation fight scenes have been replaced with action-packed antics that focus more on movement and feel more like choreographed fight scenes for entertainment, instead of filling to take up time in an episode. Starting with the classic anime intro – each of the four main characters receive a prominent name tag when they are introduced – blends old anime visuals with a more modern style.

It’s a turn that feels befitting of its star. Ichigo Kurosaki has always been one of the best shonen protagonists. Unlike characters like My Hero AcademiaDeku or O of a nerdne PieceSilly Luffy, Ichigo always feels cooler and more confident than the rest. And now it looks like he’s finally getting a stylish enough animation for him and his ultimate adventure.

New episodes of Bleach: Blood Battle of a Thousand Years simulcast on Hulu every Monday at 8:30am

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