Bleach – Thousand-Year Blood War 1×11, 12 & 13 Review: The Blade is Me

Blade is Me Bleach anime episode 13 review
Ichigo accepting his Hollow and Quincy sides in ‘The Blade is Me’ (Screengrab: Bleach – Thousand-Year Blood War Anime Episode 13)

Bleach: The Thousand-Year Blood War anime episodes 11 (Everything But the Rain), 12 (June Truth), and 13 (The Blade is Me) were all about sharing details about Ichigo’s parentage and getting him ready to wield his unique Zanpakuto.

Due to Ichigo being sent back to the human world in episode 10, episode 11 ‘Everything But the Rain’, featured a flashback as Ichigo’s father, Isshin, told his son about how he met Ichigo’s mother, Masaki. I think the anime writers did a good job of showcasing Isshin’s personality and why he would be the type of guy to fall for someone like Masaki.

With Isshin serving as the Captain of the 10th Division, he decided to unravel the mystery behind the disappearances of a bunch of Shinigami being sent to patrol Karakura Town Town. Isshin acted alone and without seeking permission because that’s how he was as a character. He’s got his goofy side, but he didn’t like putting anyone else in danger, including his Vice Captain Rangiku Matsumoto.

While Isshin was busy tracking down the threat, the episode also showed Masaki’s life while living with the Ishida family. Due to the few surviving Quincy living in hiding, the matriarch of the Ishida family wanted to marry Masaki off to Ryuken, Uryu Ishida’s father. Even though Masaki went through the necessary Quincy training, she was supposed to be protected so as not to ruin her bloodline. However, all of that changed the night when Masaki felt Isshin battle a powerful creature, created by Aizen, called the White Hollow.

The scene where Masaki used herself as bait for the White Hollow and then proceeded to shoot it right in the head was so cool. Masaki put her life on the line to save a Shinigami she didn’t know, even though she was forbidden to never reveal her true nature in front of the Soul Reapers. Masaki’s act of bravery also got Isshin to doubt the things he had been taught about the Quincy being the enemy of Shinigami.

Due to both his parents possessing impressive heroic natures, it’s no wonder Ichigo went on to become a young man who wanted to protect everyone.

Even though the two were kind of attracted to each other the moment they met, I liked how the writers allowed the relationship between Isshin and Masaki to grow organically. Episode 12 ‘June Truth’ explained how Ichigo’s parents went on to become a couple and begin a family (consisting of Ichigo and his two younger sisters).

After hiding the injury she recieved during her fight with the White Hollow, Masaki’s body had begun to undergo Hollowfication. In order to save her, Kisuke Urahara came up with the suggestion to stop the Hollowfication of Masaki’s Quincy body by introducing something completely opposite aka the Human/Shinigami soul pressure from Isshin. The downside was that Isshin would need to continue living in the human world to ensure such a countermeasure kept working.

I liked how Isshin didn’t expect anything in return from Masaki after he became “human” to save her life and freed himself from his Shinigami duties. The two kept in contact with each other as Isshin used his Shinigami medical training to open a small clinic and Masaki completed high school and then university. Yes, the initial attraction was there, but the two took their time to really get to know each other before settling down as a loving couple that really understood each other.

A major mystery in ‘June Truth’ dealt with why Masaki, a powerful Quincy in her own right, died nine years ago while protecting a kid Ichigo. It’s revealed that Yhwach was responsible for Masaki’s death. Not only that, but he was also responsible for the death of Ishida’s mother, Kanae Katagiri.

Turns out that when Yhwach regained his power, he decided to extract said power from Quincy he deemed unworthy through a ritual called Auswählen. All Quincy came from Yhwach. So, he had the power to make such a decision. Katagiri couldn’t survive Auswählen because she had grown ill. However, Masaki would have likely survived the process if she hadn’t been protecting Ichigo during that moment.

With Ichigo learning the truth about Yhwach being responsible for his mother’s death, I’m looking forward to seeing him bring that up in front of Yhwach.

Also, due to Isshin and Masaki’s relationship being built on mutual respect and love, I do think there was love and respect present between Katagiri and Ryuken, too, even though she came into his life as a maid for the Ishida family when they were both young. Ryuken went on to make Katagiri his wife and elevated her status.

Bleach Thousand Year Blood War episode 12 review
Isshin spending time with an older Masaki in ‘June Truth’ (Screengrab: Bleach – Thousand-Year Blood War Anime Episode 12)

Episodes 11 and 12 did a good job of fleshing out Ichigo’s backstory of being a combination of human/Hollow/Shinigami/Quincy. And with him finally learning about his true origin, episode 13 ‘The Blade is Me’ had him ready to wield his actual Zanpakuto. 

Being teleported back to Oetsu Nimaiya’s place, Ichigo was sent back into the pit to fight the Asauchi. However, this time there was no fighting involved. Ichigo knew who he was and that allowed him to walk past numerous Asauchi (who all kneeled before him) to find his true Asauchi which took the form of a white Hollow.

From what I could understand, the power that Ichigo had access to up until now was being suppressed by the Quincy part of himself because said part didn’t want him to become an actual Shinigami. But now it was time for Ichigo to access his Quincy as well as his Hollow side.

I still remember the shock reverberating through the manga-reading fandom when the story began to reveal that Old Man Zangetsu resembled Yhwach and how Old Man Zangetsu had been controlling how much power Ichigo had access to.

Having watched Ichigo decide to become a Shinigami and continue doing his best to save those he loved over the years finally made Old Man Zangetsu understand Ichigo better as a person and give him full access to not only his Hollow power but also his Quincy power.

I think the anime did a good job of visualizing Ichigo’s emotions as he came to realize that, for him, Old Man Zangetsu was both his Quincy and his Hollow sides. And, in the end, both parts of him were actually the same because they lived inside of him. Ichigo was Zangetsu and Zangetsu was Ichigo. Our hero had become truly one with his blade, hence, the title of the episode.

The Blade is Me Bleach anime episode 13 review
Ichigo holding his newly forged Zanpakuto (basically a two-in-one weapon) in ‘The Blade is Me’ (Screengrab: Bleach – Thousand-Year Blood War Anime Episode 13)

As for the rest of the characters, ‘The Blade is Me’ showed a bunch of Shinigami trying to prepare for Yhwach’s inevitable attack. We had Toshiro attending the academy to learn the basics of sword-fighting after losing his Bankai. I liked seeing Toshiro’s determination. He didn’t have time to mourn the loss of his Bankai. The only thing he could do right now was to change his fighting style to stand a chance in the upcoming war.

Soifon went off on her own to train her body physically. Captain Kensei Muguruma asked Mashiro Kuna to help Shuhei Hisagi unlock his Bankai. Muguruma’s point made sense. The more Shinigami the good guys had that were able to activate their Bankai, the better!

And the mad scientist Captain Mayuri Kurotsuchi was off working on something in secret in one of his labs. Whatever Mayuri was up to clearly concerned Akon.

With our protagonists preparing for war, I can’t wait for Bleach: The Thousand-Year Blood War to return with Part 2, or the second cours, sometime in July of 2023. From what I know, the current anime series will last for 4 parts, with each part having 13 episodes. So, we still have a bunch of episodes to go. And trust me when I tell you that you haven’t seen anything yet when it comes to epic battles and certain character-centric moments. There’s a scene with Orihime near the end of the story that I can’t wait to see animated!

‘The Blade is Me’ concluded with Uryu Ishida joining Yhwach’s army and I’m so excited to see Ishida encounter Ichigo and the rest of his friends after making such a decision.

What did you think of last week’s episode 11 and this week’s two-episode finale of Bleach: The Thousand-Year Blood War Part 1?

Let us know.

Author: Farid-ul-Haq

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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