Bleach: Thousand Year Blood War (Sennen Kessen-hen) is the action-packed conclusion of Tite Kubo’s seminal manga series, which has spanned two decades and spawned numerous spin-offs.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Bleach Thousand Year Blood War anime, including its release date, a recap of the storyline before TYBW, characters and their voice actors, and some Bleach fix recommendations during the agonizing wait.
What is Bleach?
Bleach is a supernatural fantasy manga series written and illustrated by Tite Kubo. Pierrot, the animation studio responsible for the first 14 seasons of Bleach, will also be in charge of the TYBW adaptation.
The story follows Ichigo Kurosaki, a 15-year-old boy that can see ghosts. When shinigami Rukia Kuchiki gives him her powers in a desperate life-and-death situation against a Hollow—monsters with a taste for human souls—Ichigo becomes embroiled in the Soul Society’s affairs, an afterlife modeled after feudal Japan.
Warning: Spoiler alert for Bleach’s Soul Society arc
Rukia is eventually captured for the crime of giving her powers to a human. Ichigo and his friends—Orihime Inoue, Yasutora “Chad” Sado, and Uryu Ishida—embark on a journey to Soul Society to rescue her and beat up any disagreeing shinigami in their way.
Ichigo’s invasion was revealed to merely be a part of the plot of the charismatic shinigami captain, Sosuke Aizen. He retreats to the realm of the Hollows, Hueco Mundo, for the next steps of his plan, which somehow involves the capture of Orihime. Ichigo is once again called to stop the dangerous Aizen once and for all.
Release date of Bleach Thousand Year Blood War anime series
The official trailer confirmed that Bleach TYBW anime will air in October, 2022. No official date or timeslot has been given.
The first run of the anime lasted 14 seasons, with the final episode airing on March 27, 2012, marking 10 years since the anime first graced TV screens.
(To be updated)
Recap of the events before Thousand Year Blood War anime
Warning: Spoiler alert for the Arrancar and The Lost Substitute Shinigami arcs
After losing his shinigami powers in the final battle against Aizen Sosuke, Ichigo goes from protector to protected. His friends now take up the job of keeping Karakura Town safe from Hollows, while he does odd jobs to earn money.
Ichigo comes into contact with the secretive organization Xcution. Led by Kugo Ginjo, who is surprisingly informed about Ichigo’s past, he offers Ichigo the chance to gain a new power: Fullbring, possessed by spiritually aware humans like himself, Orihime, and Chad.
With Uryu out of commission following an attack from the mysterious villain Shukuro Tsukishima, Ichigo accepts.
Ichigo eventually masters Fullbring, but experiences further betrayal when Ginjo is revealed to be the mastermind behind Uryu’s assault. Xcution’s goal was not to help Ichigo, but to steal his immense powers.
But old allies in the Gotei 13, including Kuchiki Rukia, come to the human world to aid Ichigo. A glowing sword, containing the spiritual power of several shinigami, restores Ichigo’s own shinigami powers and introduces some spiffy costume upgrades.
Ichigo and friends make short work of the Fullbringers, and the substitute shinigami is finally back in the fold. Good that he is since a thousand-year-old enemy is threatening the existence of Soul Society…
If you are hankering for more Bleach while waiting for the Thousand Year Blood War anime, the last two filler seasons for the show—the Zanpakuto Rebellion Arc (episodes 230-265) and Gotei 13 Invading Army Arc (episodes 317-342)—are solid storylines with fulfilling fights and surprisingly good animation.
Characters of the Bleach Thousand Year Blood War anime, seiyuus and voice actors (VAs)
Bleach is known for its large cast of characters. Expect your favorite shinigami to have screentime, along with other popular faces.
|CHARACTER||CHARACTER DESCRIPTION||JAPANESE VA|
|Ichigo Kurosaki||The preternaturally powerful Substitute Shinigami who would stop at nothing to protect his friends.||Masakazu Morita|
|Rukia Kuchiki||One of Ichigo’s staunchest allies. Lieutenant of the 13th Division||Fumiko Orikasa|
|Uryu Ishida||Ichigo’s friend, and one of the last surviving Quincies in the human world||Yuki Matsuoka|
|Inoue Orihime||A lively, if ditzy girl, whose defensive and healing powers have kept the team alive many times||Noriaki Sugiyama|
|Yasutora “Chad” Sado||Stoic, reliable, and inhumanely strong. One of Ichigo’s oldest friends||Hiroki Yasumoto|
|Renji Abarai||The hot-headed lieutenant of the Sixth Division. Childhood friend of Rukia.||Kentaro Ito|
|Kisuke Urahara||Former captain turned candy store owner, who hides secrets as a hobby.||Shinichiro Miki|
|Yoruichi Shihoin||Former captain, and mentor to Ichigo||Satsuki Yukino|
|Yhwach||The progenitor of the Quincy||Takayuki Sugo|
|Jugram Haschwalth||Yhwach’s advisor||Yuichiro Umehara|
If you are up for more spoilers and a small taste of how new characters to the series sound, check out the Bleach: Brave Souls mobile game, where the anime actors returned to voice their characters.
Status of the manga and special one-shots
The manga is complete, with the last chapter released in August 2016. The series ran for 15 years, totaling 686 chapters and 74 volumes.
Can’t wait for the Thousand Year Blood War anime, and already finished reading the manga? There’s a lot more Bleach for you to consume.
There are also four animated movies:
- Memories of Nobody
- The DiamondDust Rebellion
- Fade to Black
- The Hell Verse
The live-action adaptation of Bleach’s first arc, released July 2018, can be a decent starting point for people adverse to long-running series.
Burn the Witch, another Kubo work, is set in the same universe as Bleach—though its cast and world are distinctly different. Dragons and witches/wizards (analogous to Hollows and shinigami) populate Reverse London, and you follow the adventures of two witches.
Burn the Witch can be read on Viz’s official site, and Southeast Asian fans can watch the three-episode anime adaptation for free on Muse Asia’s official YouTube here.
Two official light novels, set after TYBW—WE DO knot ALWAYS LOVE YOU and Can’t Fear Your Own World—detail some really spoilery stuff. Definitely hold off if you are an anime-only, though manga readers that want more can proceed.