Bleach: The Thousand Year Blood War Episode 8: The Drop
Animated by Studio Pierrot.
Created by Kubo "God of Character Design" Tite.
Last week, on the greatest Shonen series, we said goodbye to Captain Commander Yamamoto, and then found out that we wouldn't be saying goodbye to... basically anyone else, as Byakuya and Zaraki were both confirmed to have survived their apparently not-as-fatal-as-they-first-looked injuries.
Then, we met The Royal Guard. Five Shinigami Captains, said to be as powerful as the rest of the of the Gotei 13 put together. Naturally, they all look... sort of odd.
However, one amongst them was a master healer, who took the injured Captains and Vice Captains away to heal in his special spring. Because, when in doubt, a bath solves almost anything.
This week, we continue to train with Squad 0, and then we get a brief lesson in the violent history of that most exalted Shinigami title: Kenpachi!
Much like nature, power abhors a vacuum. And so, the episode begins with a new captain being promoted to the rank of Captain Commander. I remember when the manga first came out, some people were surprised with the choice... but honestly, if you really think about it, it's pretty clear there was only one captain who could fill Yama-ji's shoes.
Then there's a bunch of stuff about Ichigo eating or something, it's relevant, I guess?
But then the real stuff happens. The new Captain Commander passes his first order: Zaraki Kenpachi must learn Zanjutsu. If the Gotei 13 are to stand any chance of winning the current war, Zaraki Kenpachi must be at his strongest.
And there's only one person that can teach him; The greatest swordfighter the Gotei 13 has ever produced. The greatest KILLER the Gotei 13 has ever produced. The only person Zaraki has ever truly respected:
The FIRST Kenpachi.
Buckle up, Buckeroos. This is going to get bloody.
Oooh boy, this is another episode people have been waiting YEARS to see. From his very first appearance, people have been OBSESSED with Zaraki. The whole "Guy that loves nothing better than fighting" trope is always a fan favourite, and amongst that much loved group, there are very few characters who embody that role more faithfully than Zaraki.
This is a guy who rose the the rank of Captain in the Gotei 13, without even knowing his sword's name.
Demonstrating your Shikai and Bankai are two of the key tasks that MUST be achieved, in order to be eligible for promotion to the seat of Captain.
Zaraki skipped that, because one of the OTHER ways you can become captain is to fight and kill the previous captain. Naturally, Zaraki chose that path. There isn't a hard and fast rule against someone without a Bankai being captain, because in all the thousand plus years of the Gotei 13's existence, they never imagined someone without a Bankai would be able to take the position.
But, here we are. Zaraki "Blunt force trauma" Kenpachi is the Captain of the 11th Squad.
And now, he's going to learn how to REALLY fight.
And that's kind of my problem. Don't get me wrong, this episode was FANTASTIC, and I cannot wait for next week, which looks like it'll continue this particular thread...
But, going back to what I said last week, did we REALLY need to sacrifice one of the most interesting, most mysterious characters in this whole series, just to prop up a character who has been a mainstay for the entire series to date?
Seems to me, like letting Zaraki fade into memory while the First Kenpachi shows us that there's no school like the Old School would have been a far more interesting route to go down...
But that's just me, I guess. I've never been a huge fan of the archetype.
Overall, this was another fantastically strong episode, filled with history, comedy, gore, and some really delicious looking food. Once again, I really want to mention just how good the animation has been, since the show's return. The fluidity of the final duel was a delight to behold. While I obviously love the series, one of my main complaints has always been that many of the fights in Bleach, especially in the early stages, are two people standing on opposite sides of the room, throwing powers at each other. But when they DO decide to unleash some intricate swordplay, they don't skimp! Got to love it.
If you want to see The First Kenpachi in action, check out Bleach: The Thousand Year Blood War on Hulu/Disney+ streaming NOW!
Or, if you want to start the journey from its very beginning, you can now watch the series in its entirety, also on Hulu/Disney+!
Or, if you want to cheat and read ahead, check out Chapter 480 onwards, of the Bleach Manga, on the Shonen Jump App!
Taheg Gloder is a Freelance Copywriter from England. Obsessed with comics and Manga since his teens, he now splits his time between writing comic reviews and retrospectives for POP, and doing reactions on his YouTube Channel, The Dragon & The Hound. He lives alone, because he’s a hermit.