Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War anime episode 22, titled ‘Marching Out the Zombies’, offered the queerest installment yet as it showcased the zombie-filled battle between Giselle Gewelle and Mayuri Kurotsuchi.
With Yhwach making his way to the Soul King Palace in the previous episode, I liked how ‘Marching Out the Zombies’ opened with Ichigo having a to-the-point conversation with Chad and Orihime about Ishida’s intentions. Knowing Ishida’s analytical personality, Ichigo and crew understood there must be a reason behind Ishida deciding to side with the Quincies during the war. However, whatever the reason, Ichigo was ready to go after Ishida and talk sense into his friend.
I don’t know why Tite Kubo decided to go down such a route in the first place. Ishida’s so-called betrayal continued to make no sense in the narrative because even our main lead knew there was more to it. Ishida, Ichigo, Chad, and Orihime had been through way too much for Ishida to simply walk away from them in such a manner. That’s why I think the story should have dealt with Ishida siding with the Quincies in a different way to make fans really doubt Ishida’s allegiance.
Due to Ichigo, Chad, and Orihime needing to wait to be sent back to the Soul King Palace, the pacing of the current episode did slow down after the major twist in the previous episode. And it looks like it won’t get any faster in next week’s offering the story shines a spotlight on some of the supporting cast while the trio continues to wait.
There are still a bunch of Sternritters left behind by Yhwach and the upcoming episodes will deal with the Shinigami trying to deal with the remaining foes. And while that might feel a bit like filler to viewers who want to get back to the main story, I’m okay with said decision. One of the things I have always liked about Bleach was how it took time to give the supporting cast battle sequences. We can get to the inevitable Ichigo vs Yhwach later.
The fight with Giselle began with her trying to force Ikkaku and Yumichika to attack her. It’s a good thing Yumichika saw through her tactics and warned Ikkaku about needlessly attacking an enemy who wanted to get hit. Yumichika correctly hypothesized that something was up with Giselle’s blood.
The big queer moment in ‘Marching Out the Zombies’ occurred with Yumichika (a queer character, for those who might not know) clocking that Giselle was actually a transwoman.
I get that the way Yumichika “outed” Giselle might not sit well with certain viewers. However, I would like to remind you that the manga story being adapted by the anime was written years ago. Also, when it came to villains, of course, Yumichika was going to be mean. He did the same thing with the queer Arrancar named Charlotte Chuhlhourne. So, he wasn’t going to hold back when it came to someone as dangerous as Giselle. You could tell Yumichika wanted to get under her skin. And he did.
While Yumichika said what he said, the good news is that the narrative still showed other characters respecting Giselle’s identity. She was also part of the Bambies, the women-only-Quincy team. Yhwach and the Sternritters might be a lot of things, but at least they aren’t transphobic.
Due to Giselle calling upon a zombified Bambietta to give Ikkaku and Yumichika a tough time, the two Shinigami were saved when Mayuri decided to enter the battlefield. The two characters made interesting foes for each other. Giselle was quite deranged and was into turning other people into zombies by using her blood. And the genius Mayuri was known to experiment on others.
As stated in the title, the current episode was about Giselle’s zombies (a whole bunch of dead Shinigami) fighting Mayuri’s zombies. The debut of Mayuri’s zombies continued to queer up the episode as Mayuri’s team included the zombified Arrancar Charlotte. With Yumichika being mean to Giselle earlier, I liked how Charlotte was mean to Yumichika by pretending he didn’t remember Yumichika’s name because he didn’t remember ugly people.
The turning point in the battle occurred when Giselle called upon a zombie who even had Mayuri a bit worried. It’s revealed that Giselle had been able to zombify freaking Toshiro Hitsugaya. And even though Giselle’s zombies seem to be a bit weaker (compared to their alive versions), a zombie Toshiro won’t be going down without putting up a fight.
Talking about the other battles that will also be taking place as the series continues, we have Renji and Rukia vs Bazz-B. Byakuya, it seems, will be facing off against three Quincies simultaneously. I’m here for all of the fight sequences!
Having talked about the action, let’s go back to Ichigo, Orihime, and Chad in the waiting section. Their way back to the Soul King Palace was going to be through a replica of the Shiba clan cannon created by Mayuri. However, the contraption required a special type of energy and that’s where fan-favorite Yoruichi Shihouin showed up. Turns out, she had been tasked with transporting the Reishi that was collected by the Visored according to Kisuke Urahara’s request. Said Reishi had been caused by the distortions occurring in the human world due to the Quincy invasion. At least it gave the Visored something to do.
Now, in the manga, Yoruichi’s arrival was through a comedic moment involving the weird reasoning behind Orihime’s current revealing outfit. Frankly, I’m glad the anime writers decided to do away with that particular scene. It would have felt quite grating against the current somber tone. Also, I don’t want to see the animated version of the manga panels depicting how Orihime was tricked into wearing her current outfit by Urahara because he told her Ichigo would like to see her like that. In the manga Ichigo didn’t like her outfit and that led Orihime to feel embarrassed thinking that Ichigo probably saw her as a pervy girl because she was showing so much skin to get his attention.
There is a chance that Ichigo might question Orihime’s attire during their ride to the Soul King Palace. However, I will be okay with such a conversation never occurring in the anime at all. It didn’t work for me in the manga. And I don’t want it in the anime.
Also, while speaking of Orihime and Ichigo, I really liked the scene where Orihime basically hugged Ichigo to protect him from the explosion that occurred due to Yhwach forcing his way to the Soul King Palace. I love them together!
With the Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War anime getting ready to go on another hiatus, I’m excited to see what the remaining episodes will offer fans.
What did you think of ‘Marching Out the Zombies’?
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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