Bleach: The Thousand-Year Blood War anime episode 8, ‘The Shooting Star Project (Zero Mix)’, was about allowing Soul Society to recover and get ready for another inevitable attack. We also got introduced to Squad Zero.
If there’s one thing Tite Kubo‘s going to do it’s to create a bunch of new characters with unique designs, names, personalities, and powersets. I think it’s correct to say that the Bleach series indeed has one of the most expansive cast of characters to exist in the world of manga. And the awesome thing is that Kubo allows a majority of them to actually do something instead of only focusing on the lead character (*cough* Boruto *cough*).
‘The Shooting Star Project (Zero Mix)’ featured the arrival of Squad Zero/Royal Guard in the Seireitei. Consisting of 5 members, the combined might of Squad Zero’s supposed to be greater than the 13 Captains tasked with protecting the Seireitei. Squad Zero’s only concerned with protecting the Soul King and the Royal Palace. And with Soul Society having been devasted by Yhwach and his forces, Squad Zero had no choice but to take matters into their own hands.
Kudos to Tite Kubo for having two women be part of the 5-person team. He could have easily had all five very important members be men or he could have only added 1 woman to the team and called it a day. As I have continued to say (in fandom spaces) when it comes to Bleach, even though Tite does tend to oversexualize certain female characters, I think having those characters be powerful does make up for it. Frankly, I will take scantly clad women who can kick butt over non-sexualized and/or poorly written female characters any day (*cough* Naruto/Boruto *cough*).
The episode spent some time sharing certain details about Squad Zero. However, it’s clear we will get to learn a lot more about them in the upcoming episodes. The squad was focused on taking Ichigo, Rukia, Renji, and Byakuya to the Royal Palace. So, that’s an obvious enough hint that these characters have a role to play in what’s to come.
The Royal Palace also included separate areas for each Squad Zero member. Ichigo and his crew were first taken to Tenjiro Kirinji’s area. He’s known as the ‘Hot Spring Demon’ because he’s got a healing system that utilized two hot springs to squeeze out blood to heal an injured person’s spiritual pressure. Turns out that Tenjiro Kirinji’s apparently the best healer to ever exist. He’s the one who taught Unohana medical techniques. I wonder what Tenjiro thought about Orihime’s healing abilities. But then again, one can argue that Orihime being able to warp time and space to do away with injuries (or bring people back from the dead) isn’t technically ‘healing’.
Also, why the heck wasn’t Orihime transported to Soul Society from Hueco Mundo to help deal with the numerous injured Shinigami? I get that Division 4 was on the case, but we all know that Orihime’s healing abilities are OP. She could have sped up the process.
Anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing the areas dedicated to the other team members and what abilities they will demonstrate to help Ichigo and his friends.
There was also some information given about the Ouken and why Aizen tried to create one for himself to gain access to the Royal Palace. Squad Zero’s provided said access because their bones were transformed into the Ouken through the power of the Soul King. So, as of now, there were only two ways for anyone to enter the Royal Palace. Squad Zero would need to allow someone to enter or have a person accompany them when the team members travel in their pillar-like vehicle called the Tenchuren.
As for the emotional beats in ‘The Shooting Star Project (Zero Mix)’, Ichigo didn’t get time to fully comprehend what Yhwach had revealed about Ichigo’s family history concerning his mother. Our lead hero was, understandably, more concerned about Rukia and Renji’s fates. Yhwach had also broken his Zanpakuto.
The short conversation between Ichigo and Rukia was well-written, in my opinion. She knew he would come to protect Soul Society. Even while injured, the two took friendly jabs at each other. And I really liked seeing how Rukia could tell that something was off with Ichigo. The friendship between Rukia and Ichigo continues to be a major highlight in the Bleach franchise.
Talking about Ichigo’s Zanpakuto, Mayuri Kurotsuchi told Ichigo that his sword couldn’t be fixed because it broke in its Bankai form. However, it could be modified into something different. With Squad Zero willing to modify Ichigio’s sword, let’s see what he ends up getting. Basically, every character is in need of a major power-up if they are to stand a chance of defeating Yhwach and his Quincy army. Yhwach will attack again. That’s for certain. According to Squad Zero, Yhwach and his minions were a greater evil than Aizen.
There was also talk about letting Ichigo decide what to do next. I mean, as Urahara said, it was obvious that Ichigo was always going to decide to protect everyone. But still, I guess the other characters didn’t want to force him into making a specific decision. Also, I can’t remember and so I could be very wrong, but I think at this point, Sado and Orihime got told about Ichigo’s true heritage by Urahara and why Yhwach might be targeting him. Sado and Orihime put up a brave face during their video call with Ichigo (via Kon), but they are clearly worried about him.
The Captains also wanted to mourn the loss of Yamamoto. But now wasn’t the time to do so. Their job wasn’t to mourn the death. It was to protect Soul Society. They needed to think of countermeasures for another attack.
A major reveal involved Kugo Ginjo, Shukuro Tsukishima, and Giriko Kutsuzawa living in Soul Society. I remember how surprised I was to see those characters again in the manga. Also, with Kukaku Shiba (Ichigo’s cousin) stating that her brother Ganju needed to be prepared for the upcoming battle, I have my fingers crossed that the anime decides to actually show said fight (involving a team-up with a certain character) onscreen. That particular battle took place off-panel in the manga. And I’m still disappointed thinking about it.
What did you think of ‘The Shooting Star Project (Zero Mix)’?
Let us know.
Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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