Bleach – Thousand-Year Blood War 1×21 Review: ‘The Headless Star’

The Headless Star Bleach Thousand Year Blood War anime episode 21 review
Ichigo fights Candice’s team in ‘The Headless Star’ (Screengrab: Bleach – Thousand-Year Blood War Anime Episode 21)

Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War anime episode 21, titled ‘The Headless Star’, finally had Ichigo reach Soul Society. And while his return offered much-needed hope, another twist made things worse for our heroes.

The past handful of episodes have been very action-heavy as they showed certain Soul Reapers trying to win against the powerful Sternritter. While Ruki, Renji, and Byakuya’s recent return (after their training with Squad Zero) helped tip the scales in favor of the good guys, their win was temporary.

You see, the death of a Sternritter meant that their essence would go back into Yhwach, making him not only stronger but also giving him battle experience. So, yeah, our heroes were caught between a rock and a hard place. And they didn’t even know it yet.

At least, their respective battles did offer some much-needed instances of character growth. Renji debuted the actual form of his Bankai, called Sō’ō Zabimaru. Rukia debuted her very beautiful Bankai named Hakka no Togame and gained the respect of her brother. And even Zaraki Kenpachi unlocked his Bankai, though I didn’t like what it implied about Yachiru. I didn’t like the Yachiru-related reveal in the manga, and even years later, I didn’t like seeing it in the anime.

Anyway, ‘The Headless Star’ opened with Liltotto Lamperd (G “The Glutton”), Meninas McAllon (P “The Power”), Candice Catnipp (T “The Thunderbolt”, and Giselle Gewelle (Z “The Zombie”) sneaking up on Zaraki after his major battle with Gremmy Thoumeaux (V “The Visionary”).

And you know what? I don’t blame them. Considering Zaraki’s one of the Special War Powers, as proclaimed by Yhwach, I too would have done the same thing. Defeat the monstrous Zaraki while he’s injured!

However, before the women could land the final blow, Ichigo managed to reach Soul Society just in time. The shot of his friends looking up to the sky after sensing his energy made for a nice moment. They all know that Ichigo is the lead character of this story. And they are okay with lending a hand where necessary. Also, yes to Rukia being the first one to sense Ichigo was almost on his way.

The 4 vs 1 battle between Ichigo and Candice’s team was basically to showcase how much stronger Ichigo had become. He more or less brushed off the numerous attacks the women threw at him. The anime did a good job of expanding the battle compared to the manga. The Magical Girl Transformation sequences that Candice’s team got made me laugh.

The only thing I didn’t like was Ichigo clearly holding back against them. He’s still showing mercy to his opponents during wartime. He even warned Candice about dodging his new attack, the Getsuga Jūjishō.

With Ichigo being back in Soul Society, after breaking through several protective layers, we got to learn about Yhwach’s next move. Turns out, Yhwach was waiting for Ichigo to create said breach so Yhwach could use it as a passageway to travel directly to the Soul King Palace. His plan was similar to what Aizen did. The anime even gave us a shot of Aizen in prison.

The twist upon the twist was that, apparently, Squad Zero wanted Yhwach to come after the Soul King. So, I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of plan Squad Zero cooked up to counter Yhwach, Haschwalth, and Ishida. And with Ichigo having just arrived at Soul Society, you know he’s frustrated about needing to go back to the Soul King Palace… again.

Sigh! Our heroes need a faster way to travel.

The emotional beats in the current episode came from Ichigo finally realizing that Ishida had decided to side with Yhwach. I really liked seeing Ichigo screaming at Ishida to explain his decision only for Ishida to not respond.

I mean, I don’t think anyone is buying Ishida’s betrayal when it comes to fans. I remember how manga readers didn’t. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the anime viewers are in the same boat. Ishida’s planning something when it comes to dealing with Yhwach and he just doesn’t want Ichigo and the rest getting involved for some reason.

With Ishida firing a barrage of arrows at Ichigo, ‘The Headless Star’ decided to have Chad and Orihime appear at the nick of time to protect Ichigo from the incoming attack. I loved seeing Orihime easily blocking Ishida’s arrows with her shield. I’m so excited to see the anime showcase how much stronger she’s become. Nothing is breaking her defensive barrier!

Due to Ishida leaving with Yhwach at the end of the episode, and there still being a bunch of Sternritter that need to be dealt with in Soul Society, I hope the anime gives time to Ichigo, Chad, and Orihime to talk about their feelings toward Ishida’s apparent betrayal. They are rightfully confused.

The Headless Star Bleach Thousand Year Blood War anime episode 21 review
Orihime protects Ichigo and Chad in ‘The Headless Star’ (Screengrab: Bleach – Thousand-Year Blood War Anime Episode 21)

Now, before I finish my review, I would like to talk about the recent argument that popped up in the Bleach and Boruto fandoms over Salad and Orihime’s new outfits. A bunch of fans don’t like how people disliked Salad’s new outfit (calling it oversexualized) while being okay with Orihime participating in a war with a giant boob window.

As far as my opinion goes, Salad and Orihime are perceived differently by the fandom at large. Orihime, while being Ichigo’s love interest, is, at the end of the day, a supporting character in Bleach. She’s also part of a manga that’s known for oversexualized female characters.

On the other hand, Salad is considered the female co-lead in Boruto. And that’s why fans expect more from her. Salad was majorly sidelined during the overall Boruto story while wearing an age-inappropriate outfit (as some have described it) and, understandably, fans don’t want her going through similar treatment during Boruto: Two Blue Vortex. They want Salad, the freaking daughter of Sasuke Uchiha and Sakura Haruno, to bring something substantial to the story.

And if you ask me, the first chapter of Boruto: Two Blue Vortex failed to put such concerns to rest. As I mentioned in my review, Salad couldn’t even stand straight!

So, yeah, as far as my opinion goes, I can deal with the over-sexualization of female characters in Bleach because Tite Kubo makes up for it (kind of) by adding more female characters in the overall cast and also gives them cool action sequences. This particular anime episode being an example.

However, Boruto/Boruto: Two Blue Vortex deciding to oversexualize its female cast makes me roll my eyes because said characters don’t bring anything else to the table except for problematic eye candy or being mere love interests for male characters.

Having said that, what did you think of ‘The Headless Star’?

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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