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‘Bleach: TYBW’ review: “Peace From Shadows” is back to the basics

By July 15, 2023No Comments3 min read
Soi Fon is surprised in “Peace From Shadows”

In a practically Ichigo-less episode of Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War, the rest of the cast is tasked with kicking off the action. “Peace From Shadow” is classic Bleach, for better and worse, but Studio Pierrot’s continued coloring and animation of the original manga keeps things from feeling bland. A majority of the episode is set in the now captured Sereitei and is awash in a light blue saturation as a result. This doesn’t rob any of the character designs of standing out, if anything it enhances them against the striking red sky that we’ll be seeing a lot of in this cour. Like last week, it’s the translation of Tite Kubo’s liminal spaces into these striking colors that is really elevating the otherwise baseline narrative. 

On that note of narrative, “Peace From Shadows” is all about setting up the next wave of fights between the Stern Ritter and the Soul Society. The first portion of the episode is set prior to the invasion as Haschwalth delivers the command to end the fight as quickly as possible. This plays into what we know about Yhwach’s history so far but it also suggests a concern that given enough time, the Soul Reapers might be able to bounce back. Some of this comes to fruition as combatants come together: Matsumoto and Hitsuguya facing off against literal hothead Bazz-B, Soi Fon rematching with the mechanical BG9, Kurotsuchi trading barbs with Askin, and Haschwalth himself trying to catch Commander Kyōraku off guard. 

As Bleach wants to do, there’s a lot of chatter in between the light trading of skills, which Kubo also uses to quickly size up each opponent with each other. For more modern anime fans, it may be too talky, even as long time Bleach fans will concede this is pretty breezy compared to the original series. It takes most of “Peace From Shadows” to really kick into gear, which happens at the moment the Bankai-less Captains reveal their back up strategies for these battles. The moments themselves are cool, particularly the more scientific explanation for Hitsuguya’s change in how he uses his ice powers. However, because we are far from done with most of these fights, each one is immediately undercut by the Stern Ritter revealing that they were, of course, not even really using their powers. 

This kind of back and forth is a very traditional Shonen fair, more recently seen in series like Demon Slayer and has come to epitomize a lot of Bleach’s fights. While it’s not necessarily a bad way to up the stakes, at times it can pass itself as the other character going “nuh uh,” and it very much undercuts the otherwise clever twist of forcing characters who have become fully defined by their Bankai forms to fight outside of their comfort zones. The Stern Ritter are definitely meant to be a serious threat, so letting them take some early wins makes narrative sense, but in the context of the anime’s faster pacing, it feels more like a curb stomps that steals an interesting new battle dynamic away. 

“Peace From Shadows” is a pick up from last week’s slower episode, and manages to do so by leaning pretty hard on what Bleach wants to do best. The more modern anime production is helping keep the story from feeling flat, and the post credit scene promises more dynamic scenes as the series will pull back from just focusing on Sereitei and return to Ichigo and the others. Even so, Studio Pierrot still has their work cut out for them to keep this adaptation from tripping over its own source material. 

Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War is available on Hulu. 

Featured image ©Tite Kubo/Shueisha, TV TOKYO, dentsu, Pierrot

  • ‘Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War’ - “Peace From Shadows” - 6/10
Travis Hymas

Travis Hymas is a freelance writer and self appointed Pokémon historian out of Salt Lake City, Utah. Known to be regularly obessive over pop culture topics and gaming discourse, he is a published Rotten Tomatoes critic and has been featured on sites such as Uppercut and The Young Folks

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