After several action fueled episodes, Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War hits the brakes to give everyone a breather in this week’s episode “The Shooting Star Project [Zero Mix].”
Following Yhwatch and the Stern Ritter’s sudden departure mid-victory, the Soul Society is left in rubble but still standing. The remaining Soul Reapers immediately spring into action per lingering orders from Yamamoto, but it quickly becomes clear that things are pretty bad.
While not that many named characters bit the dust, many are beyond full recovery and Ichigo learns that the breaking of his bankai is irreparable in its broken state. Things are grim all around, but in a weird twist, not exactly for long. It all comes down to Kon, who just shows up, to shift the tone.
Immediately from there, we learn that a reinforcement of sorts is en route – Squad Zero. An even more elite squad assigned to guard the Soul King itself exists, it turns out, and they’re bizarrely lighthearted. Bleach has plenty of goofy moments, and the classic comic relief music returns in turn. However, while this pace is more or less the same as the manga, this episode covers multiple chapters and it really doesn’t feel like the anime has had the time to let things sink in.
That feeling doesn’t wear off either, because “The Shooting Star Project” isn’t remotely done. Squad Zero meets with the remaining Captains and Ichigo, everyone has a quick dick measuring contest, and we check in on Urahara, Chad, and Orihime…and also depart for the Royal Palace, get teases of old enemies becoming allies, and bring back other characters that the show just hopes you remember because we need them to set up more teases.
All of that still doesn’t cover everything in “The Shooting Star Project,” but I hope I made my point. While it feels like tempting a monkey’s paw to call back to the filler filled age of the original Bleach, I can’t help but feel like we’re starting to cut corners on the story. Sure, we don’t need all of Kon’s antics animated, but this episode dropped a lot very quickly, some of which is going to be important set up for the reveal that it feels like Thousand-Year Blood War is particularly interested in rushing to and maybe should spend more time trying to sell.
“The Shooting Star Project” does end on the cusp of kicking off one of Bleach’s more common story tropes – the training for a new power. It will remain to be seen if more nostalgic sound queues and familiar Ichigo training behavior does enough to carry things, but at the speed that Thousand-Year Blood War is now going, I can’t help but feel like all the pacing cares about is getting to the “big reveal.”
Maybe it is asking too much of older material, but this episode feels like a lot of the weaknesses of seasonal anime laid bare. That’s kind of funny given the previous two episodes felt impossible to have done on Bleach‘s old weekly schedule, but this doesn’t do “The Shooting Star Project” any favors as a single episode.
Featured image via Viz Media
Bleach: Thousand Year Blood War - "The Shooting Star Project [Zero Mix]" - 5/10