In the Fall 2022 anime season, the most recent and final season of Bleach hasn't stopped surprising, dazzling, and confusing fans for all the right reasons. The fast-moving Thousand-Year Blood War is upending everything in the Bleach universe, from Byakuya Kuchiki discovering true humility to Arrancars becoming friends with Ichigo Kurosaki. It's time for brand-new Soul Reaper Captains right now.
Ichigo was accustomed to the same number of Captains overseeing all Soul Reapers, 13, ever since the enduring "Soul Society" story arc. All of that is changed in episode 8 of TBYW by the previously unidentified Squad 0, a small but mighty squad that will alter the entire Quincy vs. Soul Reaper war.
How Squad 0 Builds on Isekai Worldbuilding from Bleach
Bleach may not be a true isekai anime, but it does have some partial isekai elements that its shonen rivals One Piece and Naruto lack. Ichigo was an ordinary high school student in early 21st-century Japan, but now he's a Soul Reaper who has visited the exotic Soul Society and the desert sands of Hueco Mundo to fight his enemies and save the day. He met many Soul Reapers and Arrancars along the way, a few of whom have become reverse-isekai characters. Now Ichigo's adventure resumes with Squad 0, whose members reside in a spiritual realm he has never seen before.
Episode 8 of TYBW finds Ichigo visiting the realm of the Soul King with Squad 0, and it's here that may finally gain the necessary strength to defeat the Wandenreich, or Quincy empire. The Seireitei has many resources such as Squad 4's hospital-like barracks and Squad 12's science lab, but Ichigo needs more than that. Squad 0 arrives soon after Yhwach's departure to aid the vulnerable Soul Reapers, and each member has their own fantastic palace for the protagonist to explore along the way.
In the domain of the Soul King, Ichigo serves as both a visitor and an apprentice, serving as a reminder that despite the passage of time, there is still more of the supernatural world of Bleach for him to explore. Even though he has made great strides since the night he battled Fishbone D, he is still just a human youngster who is still learning about all of this. The Soul King's floating castle hasn't even been made available to the Soul Reaper Captains, who have centuries to live. But now that Squad 0 has arrived, Ichigo's world has grown once again, and it's a wonderful sight to see.
The palace has five massive disks around it, each with a unique palace and city on it, one per Squad 0 member. Ichigo's heroic journey will enter its next phase here, and no doubt Osho, Senjumaru and the others will show him incredible things he never thought he'd see.
The Potential Impact of Squad 0 on Ichigo and The Gotei 13
Squad 0 is almost as mysterious to the Gotei 13 Captains as they are to Ichigo, but Thousand-Year Blood War will soon provide the answers. So far, Episode 8 has established the hot-tempered Tenjiro Kirinji as the world's best healer, and he even taught Captain Retsu Unohana all she knows about medicine. Tenjiro will get all of Bleach's heroes back in fighting shape -- mainly Ichigo, Byakuya, Rukia and Renji -- and they may be stronger than ever when he is done with them. But it'll take more than medicine to defeat the Quincy empire when the war inevitably resumes.
Squad 0's other four members haven't explained what they can do, but experienced anime fans can make some educated guesses. As a shonen hero with some tough fights ahead of him, Ichigo needs more strength, better techniques, and even a better zanpakuto to face the Wandenreich again. Squad 0's members may help rebuild Zangetsu, teach Ichigo new combat moves, and possibly even give him another ranged attack to either complement or replace the classic Getsuga Tensho.
They might also know what to do about Ichigo's unexpected Quincy powers, such as his use of Blut Vene. Ichigo could somehow use the enemy's abilities for himself, and with luck, Squad 0 can train him with that. Bleach's protagonist has already blurred the line between humanity, Soul Reapers and even Hollows, so maybe it's time to add Quincy powers to the mix.
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