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First Look: Bleach Thousand -Year Blood War

Not so long ago Bleach was one of anime and manga's 'Big Three'. Alongside fellow Shonen Jump series Naruto and One Piece, the supernatural action series from Tite Kubo was one of the most popular franchises out there. The manga had had more than 120 million copies in print and was adapted as an anime series, several movies, video games and even a live-action movie. Fast forward a few years and One Piece shows no sign of stopping (and recently aired its one-thousandth episode) and Naruto has made way for successor series Boruto. Despite its apparent popularity though, Bleach came to an abrupt end in 2012, complete with an ending that left fans less than satisfied.

Sometime later, in 2020 a new Bleach anime was announced that would adapt the manga's final arc. At this week's Jump Fiesta Event, Kubo announced that Bleach: Thousand Year Blood War will begin airing as part of the Fall 2022 anime season. And giving fans outside of Japan an early Christmas present, Viz Media have announced that they have acquired the worldwide rights (excluding Asia) of the series, including streaming, digital, Television and home video rights.

Original animation studio Pierrot will be back for the new series, which will be directed by Tomohisa Taguchi and feature character designs by Masashi Kudo. For the uninitiated, Bleach follows a Japanese high schooler named Ichigo Kurosaki who becomes a Shinigami or Soul Reaper, helping souls find their way to the next world and fighting evil spirits called Hollows. A significant part of the series takes place in The Soul Society, where Ichigo is caught in the various conflicts and dramas that take place between the Soul Reapers and various other spiritual beings.

Viz describes the new series:

Was it all just a coincidence, or was it inevitable?

Ichigo Kurosaki gained the powers of a Soul Reaper through a chance encounter. As a Substitute Soul Reaper, Ichigo became caught in the turmoil of the Soul Society, a place where deceased souls gather. But with help from his friends, Ichigo overcame every challenge to become even stronger.

When new Soul Reapers and a new enemy appear in his hometown of Karakura, Ichigo jumps back into the battlefield with his Zanpakuto to help those in need. Meanwhile, the Soul Society is observing a sudden surge in the number of Hollows being destroyed in the World of the Living. They also receive separate reports of residents in the Rukon District having gone missing. Finally, the Seireitei, home of the Soul Reapers, comes under attack by a group calling themselves the Wandenreich.

Led by Yhwach, the father of all Quincies, the Wandenreich declare war against the Soul Reapers with the following message: “Five days from now, the Soul Society will be annihilated by the Wandenreich.”

The history and truth kept hidden by the Soul Reapers for a thousand long years is finally brought to light.

All things must come to an end—as Ichigo Kurosaki’s final battle begins! 

We've been offered our first look at the new anime in a trailer and first-look images. Fans of the original will be pleased that not much seems to have changed- although the animation looks a shade slicker. With Kubo's eye for fashion and singular style, Bleach was always the 'coolest' of the big three, and the first teaser seems to be following in that tradition. The preview also confirms the show will start in October 2022.

Getting new fans up-to-speed or giving long-time-fans a refresher, Viz will also be offering the original series to own digitally for a special discount. US readers will be able to get the entire anime series,- 13 seasons consisting of 366 episodes-  for $99- for a limited time during anime month, February 2022. Buying all episodes would normally cost $1040 individually or $520 for the series- so this is a pretty big discount.

Check out the teaser below.

Image Gallery

ALL IMAGES: ©Tite Kubo/Shueisha, TV TOKYO, dentsu, Pierrot or (Short line) ©K/STDP