[Spoiler Review] Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War Part 1 (Dubbed)

Hulu synopsis:

When a new enemy appears, Substitute Soul Reaper Ichigo Kurosaki jumps back into the battlefield with his Zanpakuto to help those in need.

*Similar to my spoiler-free review, this review will cover episodes 1-13. However, this review will be focusing on the English dub. This review will have spoilers and if you want to read this review without spoilers, read my spoiler-free post. Since I reviewed this anime already, I won’t stall the introduction, but rather go depth in the anime’s main story. By the time you finish reading this review, feel free comment your opinion on this cour.

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Years of silence

Bleach fans have waited years for the return of the anime. The anime ended on a cliffhanger in 2012 with the Lost Agent Arc, but the manga continued all the way until chapter 686. Any news of the anime’s return would be silent until 2020 when Japan announced that Bleach would return to animate the final arc, The Thousand-Year Blood War. The anime returned on October 2022 and it was titled “Bleach: The Thousand-Year Blood War”, and the anime would be streaming on Hulu for the West and international fans would use Disney Plus. On November, Viz Media announced that the anime would get an English Dub within the same year. Most of the English cast returned to their roles, while others got replaced and then the new characters got additional voice actors. Today, I am going to review the first part of the anime with full spoilers. I will also be making comments in regards to the English Dub. By the time I finish this review, feel free to comment and give feedback on this anime.

Story: the Invisible Empire Strikes Back

The anime begins with a mysterious outburst of Hollows disappearing from left to right and the Soul Society is high alert. Citizens at the Rukon District have also disappeared around the same time as Hollows are being vanquished. While the Soul Society is under investigation, Ichigo and his friends lend a hand and help two new recruited Soul Reapers fight off Hollows. While the main cast rest, a mysterious Arrancar donned in Quincy clothing and gear attacks Ichigo and tried to “seal” his Bankai. Meanwhile, back at the Soul Society, a mysterious group called the Wandenreich appears and announces war towards the Soul Reapers. The Wandenreich is a hidden empire consists of surviving Quincy’s who fought against the Soul Reapers a thousand years ago and they were led by the Quincy King, Yhwach. After years of waiting, Yhwach and his army strikes back for revenge and is taking over not only the Soul Society, but also Hueco Mundo. It’s up to Ichigo to get back on the battlefield and help his friends fight this powerful army. Along the way, Ichigo learns about his hidden past involving his parents and discovers his source of power.

Review: A Roller Coaster Start

In thirteen episodes, this anime reminded me why Bleach is considered one of the greatest Shonen anime along with Naruto and One Piece. Comparing the look of this anime and the previous anime, you would think that this anime was done by a different studio. However, The Thousand-Year Blood War done by Studio Pierrot, the same company who worked on the previous Bleach anime and the anime movies. The anime’s updated animation went beyond and gave Bleach a fresh coat of paint. In my opinion, it felt like the anime’s appearance was trying to be parallel to the manga’s artistic style. I mentioned earlier in this review that the anime’s English Dub cast returned and while other’s did not. Voice actors like Johnny Yong Bosch, Stephanie Sheh, and Quinton Flynn are back to their characters. However, some characters got updated voice actors. For example, Vic Mignogna didn’t return to voice Ikkaku Madarame, but instead got replaced with Todd Haberkorn. Kenpachi Zaraki who was previously voiced by David Lodge didn’t return and was replaced with Patrick Seitz who also does Isshin Kurosaki. The anime included wonderful choices for new characters for the anime. Richard Epcar, well known for voicing Zangetsu and Don Kanonji also does the voice of the anime’s amine antagonist Yhwach. We got other well-known actors to join the anime such as Xander Mobus, Cherami Leigh, Robbie Daymond and Anne Yatco. As much as I enjoy the English Dub more than the Japanese Dub, I did miss some of the classic voice actors such as Vic and David. The anime’s pacing is really fast. We go from Ichigo and friends learning about the Wandenreich, to the death of Captain Genryusai Shigekuni Yamamoto to the final episode of the cour where Ichigo gains a brand new version of Zangetsu and Uryu Ishia joins the Wandenreich. If we’re going by manga chapters, the anime starts on chapter 480 and ends on chapter 542; which is about 62 chapters roughly. While the plot goes fast, the anime does slow down in some moments to explain the story’s current situation and bring up new information for fans. While it may not be vital plot details, some scenes were omitted from the anime and can only be viewed in the manga. For example, in the scene where Ichigo is bathing with Squad Zero Captain Tenjiro Kirinji, there is a funny scene where an unconscious Rukia Kuchiki is bathing in the hot springs and her butt is exposed. This moment was removed in the anime and skipped over. Same thing happened in a flashback where Isshin is healing Masaki’s soul, Ichigo’s mother, she appears nude in the manga with implied nipples exposed. In the anime, this was not shown and the anime skipped over to the characters having a conversation. They are minor details in the anime, but it’s worth mentioning since most fans care about manga to anime accuracy. Whenever the anime does a flashback to the previous anime, the anime will bring up a clip or scene from the anime and add a unique filter rather than redoing the moment with updated animation. Overall, the pacing of the anime is fast, but well-managed as long as you are caught up with the story. While not Berserk violent, the anime does amp up the violence content so beware of characters getting beheaded or throat ripped out. In contrast to scenes being removed, fight scenes got extended in some episodes. Mentioned before the anime’s release, Tite Kubo did mentioned that he wanted to include more scenes in the story that he couldn’t add in the manga due to time constraints. The fight with Genryusai and Yhwach was amazing to see and the later episode with Ichigo and Yhwach was pure fanservice.

Review: Part 1 verdict

After years of waiting for the return of Bleach, I would like to say, the wait was worth it. The first act of Bleach: The Thousand-Year Blood War felt like a welcome home greeting to returning fans and each episode gave what fans what they wanted. With the return of fan favorite voice actors, it felt just right to hear the English Dub of the characters. While most didn’t return, the replacements did a good job nonetheless. New voice actors didn’t miss and made the new characters stand out in the spotlight. The pacing is fast and the anime assumes you already know everything from the previous anime. While some scenes were removed, some added scenes took the place and in results led to epic fight moments for Bleach. The anime’s animation and music was spot on perfect. The anime even included the iconic song “Number One’ in the first and the last episode. What I also love is that in each end of the episode, we get a piece of Tite Kubo’s poems from the manga. It really felt like this anime didn’t want to stray away from the manga and became a love letter to fans who waited for this anime’s return. If you are a Bleach fan, I highly recommend you to get the jump on this anime and begin the final arc. Depending where you live, you can stream the anime either on Hulu or Disney Plus. If you have neither, but you want to watch the show, you can purchase the episodes via from any digital retail site like Vudu, iTunes or etc. I wouldn’t recommend newcomers to watch this anime yet until you either read the manga or watch the classic anime.

What did you think of this anime? Feel free to comment down below your feedback.


2 thoughts on “[Spoiler Review] Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War Part 1 (Dubbed)

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