Bleach – Thousand-Year Blood War 1×15 and 1×16 Review: ‘Peace from Shadows’ and ‘The Fundamental Virulence’

‘The Fundamental Virulence’ (Screengrab: Bleach – Thousand-Year Blood War Anime Episode 16)
Hitsugaya gets his Bankai back in ‘The Fundamental Virulence’ (Screengrab: Bleach – Thousand-Year Blood War Anime Episode 16)

Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War anime episode 15 ‘Peace from Shadows’ and episode 16 ‘The Fundamental Virulence’ were all about breaking the hope still left in the Shinigami community.

With the Yhwach’s forces infiltrating the Seireitei in the previous episode, ‘Peace from Shadows’ opened with the Quincy forces wreaking havoc in their path. They were not here to take any prisoners. So, much fodder death!

The episode took some time to explain how the Quincy army was able to take over the Shinigami community through such a surprise attack. It’s revealed that after their devastating loss during the previous war, the Quincy decided to hide in plain sight by creating a new realm next to the Seireitei. They were basically living in the shadows of the Seireitei, thus being able to teleport using said shadows.

Of course, Mayuri Kurotsuchi was able to deduce the Quincy’s link to the shadows and fashioned himself a lab devoid of any shadows. The way he appeared in front of Sternritter D named Askin Nakk Le Vaar while wearing a shiny suit looked comedic and cool. And though Mayuri looked hilarious in his shiny outfit, Askin was smart enough to realize that he shouldn’t fight Mayuri. At least, not yet.

Having lost their Bankai, ‘Peace from Shadows’ showed Toshiro Hitsugaya and Soifon coming up with new ways to face foes as strong as the Sternritter. Hitsugaya teamed up with Rangiku Matsumoto to create a unique type of vacuum-ice to strengthen the ice attacks and shields he’s able to produce through his Shikai form while Soifon perfected her Shunko to boost her speed and strength.

Now, while seeing Hitsugaya and Soifon bring out such new abilities was cool, I think it was clear they weren’t going to win against the likes of Bazz-B and Sternritter K named BG9, respectively.  I mean, if there’s one thing Bleach canon has taught us, it’s that access to Bankai is required to increase your chances of a win. However, having said that, the current war wasn’t going to be easy as regaining one’s Bankai.

‘The Fundamental Virulence’ had Kisuke Urahara connect with Mayuri to share his plan for getting back the stolen Bankai. I liked how the writers handled the interaction between Mayuri and Urahara. Everyone’s aware that Mayrui’s annoyed by Urahara because he isn’t as smart as him. And Urahara has no qualms when it comes to showcasing his superior intellect in Mayuri’s face. Urahara even anticipated Mayuri’s ego getting in the way of not accepting his help because Urahara had managed to plant a secret communication device in Mayuri’s new suit.

Good stuff!

Urahara’s explanation about how to regain the Bankai stolen by the Quincy made sense due to what’s been shared in Bleach lore. Urahara was able to figure out the solution after witnessing Quilge Opie absorb a Hollow and transform into a monstrosity. According to Urahara, unlike the Shinigami being able to go through the Hollowfication process and the Arrancar having their unique physiology, Hollows were poisonous to Quincy. That’s one of the reasons the Quincy hadn’t tried to steal the Arrancar’s Resurrección ability.

So, all that needed to be done was for the Captains, who had their Bankai stolen, to have their souls go through Hollowfication for a bit via the pills Urahara created. Doing so would Hollowfy their Bankai, too, resulting in the stolen Bankai acting as poison for the Quincy who stole said Bankai. The Shinigami who hadn’t had their Bankai stolen could also use the pill to prevent a Quincy from stealing their Bankai.

Urahara gave the Shinigami much-needed hope during the current war and it was satisfying to see Hitsugaya and Soifon regaining their Bankai. Hitsugaya getting to talk to his Bankai made for a nice emotional moment. Of course, the two missed each other. 

Episode 16 Bleach thousand year blood war
Bambietta Basterbine unlocks her Vollstandig in ‘The Fundamental Virulence’ (Screengrab: Bleach – Thousand-Year Blood War Anime Episode 16)

But, with all said and done, Yhwach was a foe the Shinigami weren’t equipped to deal with. Apparently, he had predicted the Captains regaining control of their Bankai in such a manner.

Now, I have to say, while I have enjoyed reading the Bleach manga, the trope of creating a villain who, somehow, was steps ahead of the good guys did get tiring. Aizen was like this. And so was Yhwach. Seeing a bad guy state something in the vein of, “I knew this would happen. And so I came prepared!” really takes away from the stakes if overused. And yes, I have to say that the current Bleach arc will use that particular trope a lot down the line. So, brace yourselves.

But still, I’m looking forward to seeing the upcoming fights. There are still a bunch of Sternritter running around and a whole bunch of exciting good vs evil matches to witness. Ichigo, Orihime, Chad, Rukia, Renji, and Byakuya haven’t even entered the battlefield yet.

As I mentioned, the current war was about crushing the hope the Shinigami have been trying to desperately hold onto. So, even with their Bankai, they have a tough time ahead of them due to the Sternritter being allowed to access their Quincy: Vollstandig.

Talking about Ishida. I understand what he’s doing. He needs to remain close to Yhwach to really understand his plan and find the perfect opening for a surprise attack. But seeing Ishida stand emotionless while so much death occurred in the Seireitei did feel weird.

Some other thoughts and questions

  • Yes, to Sternritter S ‘The Superstar’ Mask De Masculine calling out Ikkaku Madarame and Yumichika Ayasegawa for holding back. This was not the time for Ikkaku to keep his Bankai a secret or for Yumichika to not use his Shikai because he didn’t like the aesthetic.
  • Is it just me or was Ichigo’s current training routine not part of the manga? Hmmm.
  • And while we’re on the topic, I’m pretty sure neither was Shinji Hirako’s Bankai release. I’m not complaining. I wanted the Bleach anime to give us extra content.
  • Soifon using her Bankai to blast BG9 made for a very cool visual.

What did you think of ‘Peace from Shadows’ and ‘The Fundamental Virulence’?

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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