The Thousand Year Blood War arc, I'm not going to lie, was by and large atrocious. Despite initial promise, it featured poor and inconsistent characterizations, dull settings, bad fights and powerups, I could write blogs upon blogs talking about how bad it is. But that's what EVERYONE's doing now, and honestly it can ultimately get kinda depressing. There were parts of this arc that I loved, and I feel that it's fair to give them a little spotlight.
10. Soul King
The Soul King was probably the most legendary figure in the series, something opened to endless speculation and discussion. The scope of his power and position was interesting, and what we got was...interesting, certainly. Instead of being some grandiose, all-powerful figure, the Soul King's shtick was him being the linchpin of the entire universe, which isn't something you see too often. But then we get bits and pieces of a different kind of Soul King in the past, and the expanding of the legend was fun to keep up with. We found out about various body parts of his that had powers of their own. The only thing was...there was never any resolution to any of it. His three body parts are all dead, we still barely know anything about his past, and he's dead, even though the universe is somehow still standing.
Despite the sour ending for that particular part of the arc, I still think that what came before was good enough to warrant a spot on the list (OK, quick confession, I had to stretch pretty hard to justify putting this here, but I needed 10 things. Kind of sad I had to go this far to get 10 different things D:)
9. Komamura's character arcKomamura's passionate and dedicated personality was interesting to see in Soul Society and Fake Karakura, and the Blood War arc actually manages to take it further in a pretty good way, which was sadly kind of rare in this arc. Here we see Komamura losing the one person he was dedicated to the most, and going to great lengths to gain revenge. Revenge stories may not always be as compelling as others, but with Komamura we knew what was going to go down and that it would be beautiful. And it was, with a somber ending that showed Komamura paying the price for his dedication, which may have been even worse than death. Harambe got nothing on him. The only complaint I have about this scene is that Komamura used his final form against Bambietta instead of an important Sternritter, which kind of diluted it all and is why this is at #10.
8. Kenpachi achieving ShikaiThe things involving Kenpachi before and after this would probably end up on a Top 10 Worst List, but this particular moment was eagerly awaited and superbly delivered. It seems that many of the best things in the Blood War arc were the blossoming of seeds set earlier in the series, and this was probably the pinnacle. We knew as early as the Soul Society arc that if Kenpachi really wanted to grow in power, he needed to communicate with his Zanpakuto. Which all led up to this, and I really liked it. It wasn't too complicated, and fit him well. It would have been a great conclusion to Kenpachi's arc, but...well, we know what happened afterwards.
7. Character DesignsWhile the main settings of this arc were extremely drab and lacking in the charm and detail of previous ones, the character designs at least managed to maintain sharpness. There were a ton of new characters introduced, but many if not all of them had appearances so unique that they are sure to be remembered pretty well. I wouldn't be surprised if the last thing anyone remembers about Yhwach is his mustache. Kubo wasn't afraid to get freaky, like with BG9 or Nianzol, but he also managed to draw some pretty interesting "normal" characters like Robert and Haschwalth.
6. Battle of the Zombies
It's not a particularly new concept for the villains to take control of the heroes and put them on their side, and it's not like Bleach really put any interesting twist on it. But this created one of the most fun free-for-all battles I've seen in this arc, and maybe even the series. You have two people at the helm of each army, each with their own lack of care for the soldiers, and then you have the soldiers themselves. It was really fun to see the Arrancar return under Mayuri with their personalities intact, and even though Giselle's zombies didn't have much personality, it was cool to see them (especially Hitsugaya) putting their strength to use as mindless killers. It's kind of fun to see Hitsugaya kick butt without those annoying inner monologues about using his power.
5. Bazz-B and Haschwalth Subplot
One of the best parts of the Soul Society arc, in my opinion, was that it managed to expand on the lives and motivations of the Shinigami, who were supposed to be the antagonists, while also focusing on the quest of the heroes. The Arrancar arc had some flashbacks and development for the Espada, but most of them died and it didn't help them as well as the Shinigami, and the Fullbringers got pretty much nothing. And unfortunately, it failed to manifest for most of the Sternritter. The one exception, however, was the story of the bond between Bazz-B and Haschwalth.
Despite being introduced relatively late into the arc, it managed to be hooking and set up a beautiful dynamic in the span of only four chapters. And even later, when I was growing sick of pretty much everything in Bleach, Haschwalth's death and his remembrance of his and Bazz-B's relationship was really touching.
4. The BeginningThis arc started off on kind of a strange note, by introducing two Shinigami who would be promptly forgotten, but once Ichigo and friends returned to the spotlight it promptly kicked off. This may have been a weak arc, but it did have a very strong start, with Ichigo and friends finding out about and confronting the new Quincy threat. We're settled in with the familiarity of the Arrancar, Hueco Mundo, and Nel, and they provide an excellent setup for the debut of the first Sternritter, Quilge Opie, who was awesome. By this point in the arc, I was pumped, and even though I slowly but surely got more let down I still fondly remember the beginning.
3. Askin Nakk Le VaarAskin was a beautiful character who came at a much needed time, when the bad was starting to heavily outweigh the good. He made his debut early on in the arc, giving off a different kind of tone that got pretty much everyone interested in him. And unlike other characters that proved to be major letdowns, Askin only grew brighter when it was his time to shine. The battle against him was by far the best out of the Schutzstaffel battles; he was powerful, but reasonably so, and he didn't outstay his welcome like certain others did. Rest in peace and happy stomachs, you beast.
2. The Royal GuardIt wasn't just the Soul King, but his guards that were the stuff of mystery and legend. There was a lot riding on these guys, and they definitely brought it. They were all incredibly varied in appearance, personality, and abilities, but at the same time proved that they really were the best of the best. Even if they received an unceremonious exit, they will all have a place in our hearts.
And the best moment of the Thousand Year Blood War arc is...
???: Love Kiss!
1. PePe WaccabradaI heaped praise upon praise for Askin, but even he cannot care to the love god known as PePe. A powerful and menacing figure from beginning to end, he brought opposing Shinigami to their knees and taught all of us what love truly means, which is probably the best thing I've gotten from any manga, including One Piece. PePe was with us for too short of a time, but that time was just enough to show us just how great he was.
No! This isn't right! I'm being controlled! Come on...
Aggggg, I'm free! Sorry about that. And my opinion of PePe was low enough...so now, I present to you, the true best moment!
1. Isshin and Masaki's Flashback
This. This was the meat and bones of the arc. Not only did we find out what Isshin's Shinigami powers were all about, we also discovered Masaki's origins, and Ryuken, Aizen, and Yhwach all played a role. To top it off, it was all well-written too. Isshin, Masaki, and Ryuken felt like real characters that we could invest in, and this backstory managed to explain so many things rather well, and without taking so much time. Even Ichigo's Hollow powers were finally explained! And while the loss of Isshin's powers did feel kind of convoluted and complex, it certainly wasn't close to Kubo's worst writing, and it all worked out in the end.
Agree or disagree with my list? Any other parts of the arc you liked? Share below in the comments!