Bleach: 20th Anniversary One-Shot Chapter – No Breathes From Hell Review

So I thought to myself a few weeks ago “if the special chapter isn’t just a jokey throwaway thing I might do a quick look at it on my blog, but otherwise I have enough Bleach going up at the moment…” and then suddenly not only is it full of new continuity, characters and plot but it also seemingly starts a whole new story arc! Bizarre. Let’s take a look, though keep in mind it has spoilers for both the chapter and the overall ending of Bleach, so if you’re waiting for that 1,000 Year Blood War Arc anime adaptation you may want to skip this review…

Synopsis:

Ichigo is invited back to Soul Society 12 years after the battle with Yhwach’s Quincy army to attend a special ceremony to honour the death of Ukitake during the war. Little does he know that this ceremony will bring about a terrible new truth…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

Hey look! A new canon Bleach character! Hooray!

The chapter picks up from the very last chapter of I guess at this point the original run of the manga as Ichigo and Orihime’s son Kazui sneaks out of the house and uses his Shinigami powers to cause mischief with Kon. He finds a soul looking for a way to the next life so Kazui shows him a special gate he found, one with a rather threatening aura and teeth around it…

We then see Rukia and Renji’s daughter Ichika training with Ikkaku before heading home and hearing her father talk to Ichigo about attending a special ceremony to send killed Captain class Shinigami off into the next life that’s traditionally done 12 years after their death. They’d already done the ceremony for Yamamoto and Unohana but thought it would be fitting if Ichigo attended Ukitake’s one. We then get a brief cameo from a few Captains like Mayuri, Iba and Kensei as they are told their Lieutenants must head to the World of the Living to capture some Hollows for the ceremony (apparently they slay some Hollows as part of it…) and off they all go. They meet up with Ichigo (who for the record now works as an English translator, apparently) and Ichika sneaks along to see her Dad in action, but it all goes a bit wrong when they’re attacked not by Hollows but Beast from Hell. The Lieutenants, including Akon from Squad 12 (at last showing something other than science skills) and two brand new characters in Squad 8 Lt. Yuyu Yayahara and Squad 7 Lieutenant Atau, the latter of which is deaf, which is a mildly interesting character trait, all slay several of these beasts.

Damn that’s one hell (no pun intended) of a Zanpakuto release. I guess he hadn’t got that far 12 years ago otherwise you’d have to wonder why he didn’t lend a hand with the whole Quincy invasion…

Just when things couldn’t get any worse Szayelaporro Grantz of all people appears before Renji, talking about wanting revenge against him, as well as the Quincy and the Scientist who sent him to Hell. He tries to attack Ichika but Ichigo interferes and this is where we get a classic Kubo info-dump as Shunsui talks to the Captains and Grantz talks to Ichigo about Hell, the former speculating on long rumoured gossip and the other talking from first-hand experience. Apparently when someone is of a certain very high level of “spirit density” dies their soul can’t be absorbed back into Soul Society so after 12 years these powerful souls are actually sent to Hell via this ritual as there is no other place for them to go. To make matters worse the balance of power in the multi-dimensional world of Bleach is now out of whack because the extremely high power level of Aizen and Yhwach are either suppressed or depleted and now the life forces of people like Yamamoto, Unohana and Ukitake are all in Hell, weakening the bonds and allowing Grantz and some Beasts to appear in the real world.

I certainly didn’t think I’d be talking about Szayelaporro Grantz on this blog again so soon…

As Grantz attempts to attack Ichigo he is impaled in the back as the large double doors of Hell appear, just like in one of the first ever chapters / episodes of the series, except this time it isn’t a generic monster’s sword, it’s very clearly Ukitake’s, confirming the slaying of the Beasts counted as the ceremony being completed. As he is pulled back into Hell Grantz tells everyone to think about why the pink and black butterflies that have always accompanied Shinigami when they travel between Soul Socity and the Real World are called “Hell Butterflies”. It then ends with the phrase “The Jaws of Hell Christening Arc” (or words to that effect, it was weirdly left untranslated in the official release…) signifying the beginning of a new story, and given all these new bits of info, sounds like it’ll be a fun one! How and when the new arc will appear in unknown but it certainly seems like it’s in the works… weird!

The Bad:

As a “one-shot” 75-page chapter you can’t really fault it. Great artwork, interesting new characters and plot points… it covers a lot in such a short space of time.

Overall Thoughts:

Funny to think Ichigo never actually met Espada #8 given how long he was around in the series… or at least felt like he was…

The 20th Anniversary chapter special has turned out to be rather a lot more special than I imagined! Not only some interesting new characters but new plot points and the hint of a further arc to come! Odd, but extremely exciting.

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