Bleach: This season, Thousand-Year Blood War is pushing Bleach's narrative in intriguing—and frequently tragic—new directions, and it's even beginning to subvert itself. Longtime Bleach fans are accustomed to seeing the main character Ichigo Kurosaki work hard to defeat his most recent enemies and acquire new abilities, and it always worked. The sudden failure in Episode 10 of TYBW changes all of that.
Squad 0 did an excellent job of healing Bleach's heroes and providing them with spiritually charged food, but in phase 3, Ichigo Kurosaki encounters a major stumbling block. Squad 0's Oetsu Nimaiya declares Renji's Zanpakuto training a success, while Ichigo, who fails, is returned to Karakura Town. Clearly, something is very wrong here, and it all traces back to Ichigo's mysterious lineage.
When Bleach Reverses Its Worn-Out Training Cliche
The Ichigi-Renji pair travel to the Hoohden, also known as Oetsu Nimaiya's private domain in the heavens, in the second half of Episode 10. The period of rest is over as Oetsu, a brilliant but eccentric man, puts Ichigo and Renji through an extraordinary 71 hours and 48 minutes of nonstop training. Particularly, Ichigo and Renji must engage in a large-scale, unarmed battle with Asauchi, which are the standardized, human-like avatars of Zanpakuto spirits. In an unusual twist, this is a battle between Soul Reaper and Zanpakuto, and Ichigo and Renji will need more than just time and skill to win. They must comprehend and appreciate the true nature of Zanpakuto, as well as the relationship of each Soul Reaper to those weapons, and Renji succeeds while Ichigo fails. Ichigo simply cannot connect with any Asauchi because he is a human and not a true Soul Reaper, and Zangetsu isn't there to support him either.
This shocking twist contributes to Bleach finally breaking its own trend of constant training arcs in which Ichigo faces a new foe, trains with someone like Kisuke or Yoruichi, and then gains the power required to win that fight. Even when Ichigo faced his nemesis Sosuke Aizen, it became routine and predictable, but this is different. Ichigo doesn't just struggle to unlock Bankai or the final Getsuga Tensho; he completely fails, and it appears that he lacks the necessary skills to complete this training course. Whatever Ichigo requires will not come from endless sparring with Zangetsu's spirit or even Ichigo's inner Hollow. This turn of events forces Ichigo to reexamine himself and discover the source of his power. This should be very different from deciding who is the king and who is the horse between himself and his inner Hollow.
When Bleach Get Readies to Discover Ichigo's True Heritage
Renji stays at the Hoohden while Ichigo is transported, not just to the living world, but specifically to the Kurosaki family clinic, where his father Isshin works, by Oetsu using special kido. Oetsu probably didn't do this by accident or out of sentimentality. Being a former Soul Reaper, it's likely that Ichigo's father has something significant to share with his son. This could also be related to Ichigo's unexpected Quincy abilities, such as his use of Blut Vene when fighting the Quincy king, Yhwach. Ichigo was even referred to as Yhwach's "son born in the dark," implying that he was related to Quincy in some way. If not through Isshin, it has to be through Ichigo's late mother Masaki.
It may completely change the course of the series Bleach when it ties together the threads involving Zangetsu, Ichigo's true lineage, and the nature of his spiritual abilities. The perception of Ichigo may soon change forever, and anything Bleach fans believe they know about him may now be false. Bleach has been piecing together the full picture of where Ichigo's powers came from and how he obtained them, and now it's time for the final piece. Oetsu Nimiaya knows something that anime fans do not, but based on the Karakura Town scene, viewers will find out soon enough. The truth could be the key to Ichigo passing Oetsu's zanpakuto training, and if Zangetsu returns, things will be very different. Fans are about to meet a brand-new Ichigo Kurosaki.