As the second cour of Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War comes to a close, the highly anticipated conflict at the Soul King’s Palace is on full display. The two-part cour 2 finale encompasses Episode 25 and Episode 26, “The Master” and “BLACK,” respectively. This finale seamlessly combines into an hour of anime, leaving viewers in suspense as the franchise’s powerhouses, responsible for creating Bankai, Zanpakuto, and fundamental abilities in the series, engage in a fierce showdown against King Ywach’s formidable Royal Squad of Quincies. By the time the credits roll on the Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War Episode 25 – 26, the series reminds viewers why Bleach is an original member of the Big 3.
The Thousand-Year Blood War season two finale starts with “The Master.” In this high-octane episode, a relentless battle unfolds, marked by continuous reversals where just as one side appears victorious, the other unveils a new, unexpected trick or ability. Typically, such prolonged exchanges and posturing could become tiresome in this new age of shonen, but with each fresh revelation, Squad Zero, the esteemed Royal Guard serving the Soul King, reaffirms their reputation as surpassing the combined might of all of Squad 13.
Given the extensive exposure to Soul Reapers’ capabilities over nearly two decades, it’s astonishing to grasp the magnitude of this power scaling. However, the episode successfully lives up to this promise, offering some of the season’s most exhilarating combat sequences. It significantly emphasizes mental prowess and combat awareness, delivering a thrilling viewing experience that exceeds just appreciation for raw displays of power but the combat chess aspect of the conflict as well.
The animation remains exceptional, effectively underscoring the profound might of these characters in comparison to what we’ve witnessed thus far. It’s a facet I didn’t anticipate being continuously thrilled by, especially at this stage in the franchise. Nevertheless, when the animation is executed with such finesse, it’s impossible not to anticipate the forthcoming stunts and spectacles.
The series has consistently delivered animation akin to that of cinematic production, and it’s revitalizing to observe this high standard sustained throughout the entire season. Further, as more characters unleash their full potential throughout the ongoing battle, the animation quality only continues to elevate, amplifying the visual spectacle. Seeing this level of attention extended to every character shows the commitment to maintaining investment with every character, even ones just introduced, have their moments to shine.
Amidst the clash of the two royal guards, King Yhwach and Ichibē Hyōsube, the leader of Squad Zero, engage in their own fierce duel high above the other members of the respective royal guards at the entrance to the Soul King’s Palace. The palpable tension between them, established in the previous episode, remains undeniably present in “The Master.” Ichibē Hyōsube still regards the Quincy King as a weakling who failed to grasp his place a thousand years ago, a sentiment vividly portrayed in their ongoing confrontation. Their battle accentuates the back-and-forth nature of the conflict, with their verbal exchanges proving just as engaging as the exceptional voice acting, making for some of the season’s finest moments, all serving as a prelude to awe-inspiring displays of power.
Overconfidence is a common trait in Shonen anime, and the finale is no exception. However, Squad Zero’s confidence seems immeasurable, as they consistently have an answer for every challenge the Quincies present. Given that this squad essentially resides on the Mount Olympus of the Bleach universe, such unwavering confidence is expected. Even when confronted with King Yhwach’s terrifying ability to absorb the powers of fallen Quincies, which proves even more frightening as he demonstrates the capacity to siphon power from the living Quincies and redistribute it at will, Squad Zero, including its leader, remains undaunted.
While Squad Zero remains unfazed, witnessing Yhwach display this ability is heart-wrenching. I’ve often argued that the Quincies led by Yhwach might not truly be the villains of this tale. Throughout the countless battles between Quincies and Soul Reapers, there have been numerous instances where the Quincies didn’t exhibit unbridled bloodlust. Seeing them betrayed by the person they had placed such devout faith in is profoundly poignant. They’ve invested immense trust in Yhwach’s mission and acted in his name.
This moment defies expectations, as it deviates from the anticipated conceptual bestowal of power akin to Goku’s Spirit Bomb in Dragon Ball Z. Instead, it reveals a brutal and tragic theft of power, leaving the Soul Society in even greater devastation. Moreover, it underscores King Yhwach’s true selfishness and unwavering determination to reach the Soul King, regardless of the cost, even if it means compelling his once-loyal followers to kill their fellow Quincy for his favor.
As Thousand-Year Blood War Episode 25 segues into Episode 26, titled “Black,” the immersion in this battle reaches an all-time high. The newly empowered Quincy Royals appear on the cusp of defeating Squad Zero. The stakes are heightened even further as the animation quality, soundtrack, and tension are cranked up, setting the stage for an exhilarating Round 2 of battle. The combat’s intense ebb and flow make the transition between these two episodes so seamless that it prompts one to question why not simply provide a one-hour special to conclude this highly anticipated finale.
While the battle rages above with abilities capable of shaking the very fabric of the worlds below, the finale briefly shifts focus back and forth to the remaining Soul Reapers in the Soul Society. Primarily, Squad One’s Captain Shunsui Kyōraku, who watches over the destruction helplessly, unable to make an immediate impact on the world above. Moreover, the remaining Quincies, prior to King Ywach’s devastating ability to steal his comrades’ powers, reveal that the Quincy King intends to return to the Soul Society after his business with the Soul King. This adds another layer of intrigue to Ywach’s motivations for this conflict, considering his intention to return to a place already ravaged by destruction.
As the two-part finale reaches its climax, the spotlight is firmly on Squad Zero’s leader, displaying abilities that predate the creation of Bankai. This concept, previously considered one of the franchise’s strongest abilities, now pales in comparison to the might of Squad Zero, particularly its leader, who remains unruffled despite the jaw-dropping results of the battle between the other Royal Guards. If King Ywach has ever experienced doubt throughout this arc of Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War Episode 25 – 26 are certainly planted those seeds.
Even with Ichigo and his friends absent from the finale, it remains enthralling. The series’ knack for building on moments throughout the season and subverting viewers’ expectations regarding battle outcomes is unparalleled. Speculation, even with knowledge from the manga, seems futile as the narrative and abilities displayed far exceed any preconceived notions heading into the finale. With one side seemingly defeated, it’s challenging to believe that King Ywach doesn’t possess more hidden tools, given a millennium to prepare for his assumed revenge. However, his true intentions remain shrouded, as he has shown a relentless determination to reach the Soul King, even if it means sacrificing anyone.
Speculation, if any, might revolve around the extent of Ichigo and his friends’ newfound power, having been directly trained by Squad Zero. The post-credits scene, light and humorous thanks to Kon, hints that our titular heroes have experienced some of the same devastating moves and abilities that wreaked havoc on the Quincy Royal Guard. As the story continues, it seems Ichigo and friends will soon take center stage, especially as the numbers of both Quincies and Soul Reapers dwindle.
Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War Episode 25 – 26 serves as a finale that delivers the cinematic climax promised throughout this new arc of the anime. The powers at play in the finale are unlike anything viewers have witnessed before. Even without Ichigo and his friends in the mix, it’s evident that the conflict between the Quincies and the Soul Reapers is far from over. King Ywach’s intentions and true power remain shrouded in mystery, leaving viewers to speculate on how he will recover and reveal the Quincies’ capabilities to the Soul Reapers. The question remains: if Squad Zero is defeated, what hope do Ichigo and his friends have? Nevertheless, these implications affirm that Bleach is back in full force, solidifying its place as one of the premier shonen anime series.
The Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War Cour 2 finale is available now on Hulu.
Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War Episodes 25 - 26
Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War Episode 25 – 26 serves as a finale that delivers the cinematic climax promised throughout this new arc of the anime.