Bleach Thousand Year Blood War episode 8 introduces a brand new bunch of captains who are known as the Royal Guard, who bring Ichigo and a couple others up to the Royal Palace.
The eighth episode of Bleach Thousand Year Blood War drastically changes the action-packed pacing from the previous episodes. Instead of highlighting incredible animation cinematography, episode eight rather uses the time in the episode to settle down and highlight world-building.
This slowing down in pace helps the series breathe, providing much-needed downtime to prepare for what is sure to be a massive battle.
A quick spoiler warning below for Bleach Thousand Year Blood War episode 8!
The Thirteen Squad Captains mourn Yamamoto’s death
The captains capable of attending Captain Yamamoto’s funeral show up and mourn their leader’s death. Since his body was completely disintegrated, all they have to use as a memento is his shattered zanpakuto.
They’re lost, confused, and defeated. Soi Fan uncharacteristically snaps, frustrated at the predicament they find themselves in. So much happened in the last couple of episodes. And seeing the squad captains so lost and overwhelmed brings an aspect of humanity to them.
While they mourn the loss, Ichigo is shown talking to Mayuri Kurotsuchi. Ichigo’s zanpakuto is ruined, and therefore his powers are once again nerfed.
Ichigo’s journey to regain his powers
This is a trope very commonly seen in Bleach. Ichigo has lost his powers, and he now ventures with new people in order to regain them. In this case, he follows these newly introduced characters: the Royal Guard, also known as Squat Zero.
This is a group of five captains, said to have a cumulative power far stronger than that of the Thirteen Squad Captains. The Thirteen Squad Captains are responsible for protecting Seireitei, the center of Soul Society, and the Royal Guard is responsible for protecting the Royal Palace where the Soul King resides.
These new characters seem almost forced into the narrative. Where were they during the previous invasion? And much more, where were they when Aizen literally threatened the king and came incredibly close to reaching the Royal Palace? These are questions Soi Fon practically blurts out at them, only to be answered with the statement “it is your job to protect Seireitei, not ours.”
The curt answer feels almost like a response to the relatively poor narrative planning, managing to smooth the narrative inconsistency, albeit not perfectly.
The Royal Guard show up in Seireitei, offering their help to heal allies. Among the Royal Guard is a man who claims he can reforge Ichigo’s zanpakuto, Tensa Zangetsu. Though initially met with resistance, the Royal Guard end up taking Rukia, Byakuya, Renji, and Ichigo with them to the Royal Palace.
They’re all launched into the air, and the viewers are introduced to the Royal Palace, which floats majestically above all other existence, almost as if it were the sun in the sky.
The Royal Palace’s scenic introduction feels a little off-putting. This small castle in the sky was the main objective for Aizen, the original villain in the series. And the setting is sure to hold incredible plot relevance in the story moving forward.
Ichigo then heads off to some hot springs with Tenjirō Kirinji, who was earlier revealed to be Unohana’s teacher. These hot springs provide an all-powerful healing property and will manage to heal Rukia, Byakuya, and Renji, who supposedly cannot be healed in Soul Society.
The “cannot be healed in Soul Society” plot point feels rather weak. It feels random, and seems like a convenient method to bring fan-favorite characters into a setting of relevance rather than a natural flow of the story progression.
Bleach: Thousand Year Blood War Episode 9 release date is on December 6.