Updated on January 2, 10:40 a.m. (GMT+8): Added images.

The Thousand-Year Blood War also comes with what feels like a thousand characters.

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The Bleach TYBW anime is a welcome adaptation for diehard fans. But for those who want to know a bit more about each character without veering off into endgame spoilers, here’s an introduction to the Zero Squad, or the Royal Guard — some of the most powerful players in the new Bleach anime.

Who is the Zero Squad in Bleach Thousand Year Blood War?

Bleach Thousand Year Blood War Zero Squad
Credit: Studio Pierrot

The Zero Squad, or the Royal Guard, are not just some of the strongest shinigamis in Soul Society — they are also credited with some of its greatest inventions. Things as ubiquitous as Soul Slayers (zanpakuto), Artificial Souls, and even names came from these five powerful individuals.

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The division’s main purpose is to protect the Soul King, his family, and the palace. This supersedes any mission from the 13 Court Guard Squads, whose main goal is to protect Soul Society.

Personality and powers of the Zero Squad in Bleach TYBW

While the rotation of Zero Squad members change over the years, there are currently five members, all of whom are former captains of the 13 Court Guard Squads.

Ichibe Hyosube

Bleach Thousand Year Blood War Ichibe Hyosube
Credit: Studio Pierrot

Ichibe Hyosube is the leader of the Zero Squad. Though an affable man at first glance, he immediately changes his demeanor when entering combat, becoming a cold, disdainful person that seems capable of doing anything to carry out his mission.

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As the person who innately knows the true names of all things in Soul Society — he’s the one that came up with Shikai and Bankai — his powers revolve around this concept. His zanpakuto powers include the ability to control the “black” in the world, cut names in half, and even write words on his opponent to transform them. For example, writing “black ant” on somebody would render them as powerless as an ant.

Tenjiro Kirinji

Bleach Thousand Year Blood War Kirinji Tenjiro
Credit: Studio Pierrot

Tenjiro Kirinji is the creator of the healing hot springs, White Bone Hell and Blood Pond Hell. He’s known as one of Soul Society’s greatest healers and fastest shunpo masters.

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His zanpakuto, named Kinpika, has a Shikai form that consists of a long rod with a small, curved blade attached to the end of it. It’s not made clear what his powers here are, but the sword does glow when released.

Kirio Hikifune

Bleach Thousand Year Blood War Kirio Hikifune
Credit: Studio Pierrot

Kirio Hikifune is the only one of the captains we’ve heard about joining Zero Squad, way back in Turn Back the Pendulum, as the former 12th Division captain. Known as the creator of Artificial Souls, she’s since used that concept to infuse Spiritual Power into food, making them ultra-nourishing for recovery purposes.

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While her zanpakuto was never revealed, she uses a technique called Cage of Life, a tree that feeds on Spiritual Pressure to trap enemies.

Oetsu Nimaiya

Bleach Thousand Year Blood War Nimaiya Oetsu
Credit: Studio Pierrot
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The master swordsmith Oetsu Nimaiya was the creator of the zanpakuto, and retains knowledge of every single sword that he created — no matter how far away they go.

One of his zanpakutos is Sayafushi, a sword that has to be held in a special tank of liquid since it is far too sharp to stay in a sheath.

Senjumaru Shutara

Bleach Thousand Year Blood War Shutara Senjumaru
Credit: Studio Pierrot

Senjumaru Shutara is Soul Society’s foremost tailor, able to manipulate cloth in magical ways. She can even completely resew an entire outfit while it’s still on another person, thus introducing traps and weapons in something intimately close.

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She’s also the creator of the Oken clothing, which lets travellers survive the harrowing trip between Soul Society and the Soul King Place.

First appearance of Zero Squad in Bleach TYBW

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The Royal Guard was first mentioned in Turn Back the Pendulum (chapter -108 and episode 206), but made their first appearance in the Thousand Year Blood War Arc (chapter 516, episode 374.)

Where to read and watch Bleach

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All 686 chapters of Bleach are officially available on the VIZ Media website.

The anime adaptation started airing on October 10, and will release new episodes every Monday. The series is available on several major streaming platforms, including Disney Plus, Netflix, and Prime Video, depending on your region.

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