Following a week of tonal shifts and weird pacing, the next episode of Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War could either go up or fall further down. Thankfully, a shot in the arm from new Soul Society developments has brought the hype back up, at least a little bit. “The Drop” suggests that last week’s episode was more just a wrinkle of adaptation more than anything else and we’ll be a bit more consistent going forward.
Starting off back in Soul Society, “The Drop” shows us those who were left behind begin to pick up the pieces and make plans. Meanwhile, Ichigo and the others are recovering in Tenjiro’s Hell hot springs well enough; and Ichigo quickly shows his recovery. Renji too has bounced back, due to not being as bad off as the Kuchkis, and it’s time for the two of them to move to the next area of the palace.
“The Drop” splits time between these two storylines, but with a lot less back and forth than you would expect. The first part of the episode after credits focuses on Ichigo and Renji at the next location where they meet Kirio Hikifune, who happens to be the predecessor of good ol’ Kisuke Urahara. That’s mostly just an easter egg but it also does give us the funniest line the show has had so far – “Seems you grew up distrustful thanks to Kisuke Urahara.” As a long time Urahara fan, seeing that line make it in gave me a good belly laugh.
Speaking of things making it from page to screen, now’s as good a time as any to note that at this point, we’re starting to deviate from the path the story takes in the manga. Less so that things are being cut (though things are being cut) and more about threading the plot a bit more in line with a show than a weekly chapter release. This means later episodes may jump back to parts that got skipped over that are critical but may not yet be ready to be shown, but it does also mean that manga readers are going to start noticing more.
Like I said last week, I’d prefer the anime prioritize its own adaptation needs and change pacing as needed. “The Drop” is a much better example overall of that, though at this point I think we’ll just have to wait for the cour to be over to deliver a final verdict. For now, this episode restores a bit more of my confidence that the better part of Thousand-Year Blood War will be adapted strongly compared to how I felt last week.
Back to the episode itself, Hikifune cooks up an absolute feast for Ichigo and Renji – visually and literally. She encourages them to eat up and after some persuasion, they dig in. During this light sequence Ichigo breaks through and asks if this more lighthearted sequence is okay in the context of current events. Still burdened by the events of his conflict with Yhwach, Ichigo feels guilty that he gets to relax and recover all while not knowing what’s happening in the world.
This feeling is juxtaposed against what actually is happening outside Ichigo’s purview. Kyōraku has been promoted to fill his mentor’s seat and lead the Gotei 13 and he immediately sets about trying to prepare for the inevitable next battle. Just in his blunt and tense exchange with the Council that just put him in charge, there’s a sense that things have definitely changed. Kyōraku has discarded a bit of his more aloof personality and is taking things incredibly seriously. This includes a sweaty plan to empower Kenpachi Zaraki even further. That isn’t an idea that many are on board with, but seeing as Soul Society also has no idea whether or not Ichigo and gang are going to make it back there doesn’t seem to be many more options.
These two situations are good to put up against each other, as Renji consoles Ichigo by explaining that their recovery isn’t just for fun – it’s to prepare for whatever hell the training that awaits them is. They’ll need to be much stronger than they are and to get there is going to require struggle. Hikifuni concurs, encouraging them to rest now because hell is what’s awaiting them.
Played against this is the reveal of what the plan for Zaraki’s training will entail – a brawl in the lowest level of the Soul Society’s prison between himself and the person from which he takes his name – the First Kenpachi. That’s revealed to be Captain Unohana herself. “The Drop” spends the rest of the runtime beginning the brutal brawl between these two Captain-class Soul Reapers and while we’re likely to learn more next week, neither one of these Captains intend to return alive from this fight – they’re fighting to the death. It becomes clear that Unohana somehow intends to kill Kenpachi over and over again, reviving him until he can unlock his own hidden power.
“The Drop” does a pretty decent job getting Thousand-Year Blood War back on track, squeezing in a little bit of action after some comic relief. Time will still tell what the length of the series will bring in terms of getting everything it needs to on screen in a way that still works for non-manga readers, though.
Featured Image via Viz Media
Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War - "The Drop" - 7/10