Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War marks the return of one of the “Big Three” this Fall 2022, picking up where the canceled Bleach anime left off way back in 2012. The anime’s final story arc is set to tell the entire story of the 200-chapter Thousand-Year Blood War arc in the original manga, with the added opportunity to make adjustments to the source material.
Author Tite Kubo’s original manga suffered a decline in popularity, and the final arc felt rushed as a result. Some major characters ended up making little more than cameos in that arc, but now, the anime adaptation of Bleach will showcase some fascinating scenes that never made it into the manga. Episode 2 of Bleach‘s final anime arc has one such scene, and surely, more are on the horizon.
The True Fate Of Tier Harribel & Nelliel’s Friends In Hueco Mundo
Episode 2 of Thousand Year Bood War quickly escalated the bloody conflict that started in Episode 1, with the Quincy king Yhwach executing his two Arrancar shock troops while a brand-new Quincy foe, the elite Quilge Opie, made his debut in that episode as an invader in Hueco Mundo. Arrancar casualties are high in this story arc, and not even powerful familiar faces such as Tier Harribel, the former 3rd Espada, are getting off easy. Harribel and her three companions can handle ordinary Quincy troops, but not even an Espada can stand up to the might of Yhwach. First, fans saw the captive Harribel chained up in Silbern, the Quincy empire’s headquarters. Then, anime fans were treated to an all-new flashback exploring Harribel’s downfall in greater detail.
This all-new scene, never seen in the manga, showed Harribel’s defeat firsthand. In the desert world of Hueco Mundo, a small but powerful Quincy army marched forth, with Yhwach taking the lead, savoring his victory. Tier Harribel, even in her released form couldn’t overcome those odds, and was shown bruised and injured, her back to a shattered wall. Harribel, being the tough but selfless Arrancar she is, warned Nelliel’s party to simply flee, and reluctantly, Nelliel and her fracciones obeyed. The scene was told from Pesche’s point of view, with that friendly Arrancar watching in horror as Yhwach captured Harribel with dark energy, teleporting her to Silbern for detainment. Worse yet, Pesche’s ally Dondochakka got himself captured too, but Pesche and Nelliel couldn’t do a thing to help him. They could only flee to the world of the living as reverse-isekai war refugees, desperately seeking Ichigo’s aid against their common enemy.
The scene reiterated what Bleach fans already knew, but even so, it was fascinating to actually see this off-screen event take place, and it helped give Harribel at least a little more screen time in this anime adaptation. She didn’t even have any lines in the manga’s final arc, but now she does, and her few words prove what a brave, selfless desert queen she was. Adding this scene is even more remarkable when fans remember that this anime version of Bleach is going through the manga at an accelerated pace, covering 3-4 chapters per episode.
What This Scene Means For The Arrancar & Quincy
As a bonus, this expanded scene of Harribel’s final defeat answers some intriguing questions that anime-only Bleach fans had about the surviving Arrancars. Episode 1 depicted two Arrancars named Asguiaro Ebern and Luders Friegen fighting for the Quincy empire, to the point they wore Quincy uniforms and denied being Arrancars at all. At first, anime fans might have expected Bleach‘s other surviving Arrancars to join the Quincy empire for survival’s sake now that Aizen is gone, but Episode 2 proved otherwise. Asguiaro and Luders were the exception; Harribel and her friends are the rule.
The pragmatic Harribel might have attempted diplomacy with Yhwach to protect her beloved friends, but that didn’t happen. It’s not clear who struck the first blow, but Harribel and Yhwach certainly fought an all-out battle with no hope of a peaceful resolution, and with Harribel captured, her minions Apacci, Sung-Sun and Mila Rose must fight Quilge Opie and the other Quincy troops without her. Of course, no one expected Nelliel and her friends to even ask to join the Quincy empire for protection. Now, all Arrancars are enemies of the Quincy, and strange as it may sound, Ichigo just might fight alongside those Arrancars to take down their mighty mutual foes. Harribel’s final defeat was a grim warning of what is to come, and no Arrancar is safe. The Espadas have truly fallen, and Grimmjow Jaegerjaques, another surviving ex-Espada, might be next.