Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War is the final story arc in the Bleach anime. This huge arc showcases the final war between the Soul Society and the hidden Quincy empire, the Wandenreich, and there will be many losses on both sides. In previous arcs, very few Bleach heroes died, but in TYBW, all that will change.
Some character deaths in the TYBW arc are fairly minor, such as the death of fluff villains like Driscoll Berci or Jerome Guizbatt, but other character deaths were highly impactful or personally meaningful in this arc. Some deaths completely changed the course of the war, and other deaths marked serious changes in certain character arcs.
The following contains spoilers for the Bleach manga.
10 Lieutenant Chojiro Sasakibe’s Death Was A Dire Warning
Only days before their invasion, the Quincy arrived in the Seireitei and confronted Captain Yamamoto with a verbal declaration of war. Then, Sternritter O, Driscoll Berci, attacked Lieutenant Chojiro Sasakibe with his ability and impaled him on Yamamoto’s office’s wall.
Sasakibe soon died from this mortal injury, which deeply saddened Yamamoto. This early death vividly emphasized the threat the Quincy army posed, and it also made Yamamoto unusually sloppy and reckless with rage when the main Quincy army arrived to fight the Soul Reapers.
9 Royd Lloyd’s Death Demonstrated The Quincy Army’s Incredible Resolve
Several Sternritter died in the Soul Society invasion, with Captain Kenpachi Zaraki personally killing three of them and Yamamoto, another two. Royd Lloyd was Sternritter Y, The Yourself, and he used his ability to mimic king Yhwach and fight in his king’s place.
Yamamoto defeated Royd, and Yhwach finished Royd off. Still, Royd had done his job of distracting and exhausting Yamamoto in battle, which proved the strength of the Wandenreich’s resolve. They would pay any price, including Royd’s life, to ensure a swift victory.
8 Yamamoto’s Death Led To Some Reshuffling In The Gotei 13
Yamamoto tried to fight the real Yhwach, but it was no good. Yhwach stole Yamamoto’s bankai with his medallion, then used ordinary Quincy powers and his sword to finish off his elderly Soul Reaper rival at last. Yamamoto was cut clean in half, and then Yhwach vaporized his remains.
Yamamoto’s death left an enormous power vacuum in the Gotei 13 in many ways. Eventually, Captain Shunsui Kyoraku of squad 8 succeeded him as the head Captain, a grim opportunity for Kyoraku to prove himself as the new #1 Soul Reaper. This also meant finding someone to replace him as squad 8’s Captain.
7 Quilge Opie’s Death Turned The Tide In Hueco Mundo
Quilge Opie, or Sternritter J, was the first Sternritter to appear. He defeated several Arrancars, then fought Ichigo’s team in Hueco Mundo while Yhwach’s army invaded the Soul Society. Quilge delayed Ichigo by trapping him inside The Jail, but eventually, Ichigo broke free.
Quilge might have used The Jail again to delay Ichigo further, but then Kisuke and a mysterious ally finished him off. This allowed Ichigo to head for the Soul Society at last, and shockingly enough, Quilge’s killer was Grimmjow, a violent enemy turned reluctant ally.
6 Captain Yachiru Unohana Died So Kenpachi Could Realize His Destiny
For many years, everyone knew Captain Unohana as Retsu Unohana, squad 4’s motherly deredere commander. The TYBW story arc revealed the truth: that she is actually Yachiru Unohana, one of the Gotei 13’s original and most brutal Captains of all.
Unohana once fought Kenpachi when the latter was a kid, but she didn’t draw out his full potential back then. Shortly after Yamamoto’s death, Unohana lethally trained Kenpachi to unlock his true power at last, but at the cost of her own life. Kenpachi mourned her death, but Unohana died happily.
5 As Nodt’s Death Symbolized Rukia’s Continued Growth
Captain Byakuya Kuchiki lost badly when Sternritter F, As Nodt, stole his bankai and nearly killed him with it. Later, in round 2, Rukia Kuchiki stumbled upon As Nodt and challenged him, fighting her terrifying Quincy foe with all-new, cold-based powers.
As Nodt turned the tables with his Voll Stern Dich/Vollstandig, then Byakuya intervened. This gave Rukia a chance to release her all-new bankai, Hakka no Togame, and kill As Nodt with it. That neatly symbolized Rukia’s growth as a Soul Reaper, and Byakuya was openly proud of her for it.
4 The Soul King’s “Death” Upped The Stakes The Max
The mysterious Soul King was absolutely vital for the Soul Society’s continued existence, and at one point, Yhwach aimed to absorb that king and gain even more power. Ichigo and his allies couldn’t let that happen, but despite their best efforts, Yhwach absorbed the Soul King anyway.
This “death” marked a turning point in the Soul Reaper/Quincy war, where the stakes reached their peak and the heroes were almost out of time. The war had reached its endgame, and the heroes had to either defeat Yhwach right away or see their world destroyed for all time in the Soul King’s absence.
3 Captain Jushiro Ukitake Died For The Soul King
Captain Jushiro Ukitake didn’t do that much in the Soul Society story arc or even the Arrancar saga, but he did have one last card to play in the TYBW manga. Ukitake’s life was saved when Mimihagi, the Soul King’s right arm, spared him from a fatal illness. Now Ukitake will repay the Soul King by offering his borrowed life.
Ukitake didn’t hesitate to offer his life so he could protect and partially restore the Soul King. His final act was in vain, but it did demonstrate Ukitake’s incredible resolve, and it left a vacancy in squad 13 that Rukia Kuchiki herself filled in the epilogue a few years later.
2 Nemu Kurotsuchi Gave Her Life Fighting Pernida
Lieutenant Nemu Kurotsuchi is a calm, helpful kuudere who played a minor role in most Bleach story arcs. Then, like a few other minor Soul Reapers, she finally got a chance to shine in TYBW and show everyone, including her Captain, what she is really capable of.
Nemu faced the bizarre and terrifying Sternritter C, Pernida Parnkgjas, and her normally abusive Captain urged Nemu to retreat and survive so she can evolve. Instead, Nemu gave her life in combat to help take down Pernida, and a new version of her was created later.
1 Yhwach’s Death Protected Hope Across The Universe
The Quincy king, Yhwach, threatened far more than the Soul Reapers and the Seireitei. Yhwach wanted more than revenge; he also sought to create an eternally deathless, gray world so no one would perish ever again. That meant destroying the world as everyone knew it.
Yhwach very nearly created that deathless world, but then Ichigo fought him one last time and slew him. Yhwach’s death ensured a total Soul Reaper victory, and it also protected hope across the universe. As Aizen himself put it, surviving in the face of death gives life meaning and therefore, hope.
NEXT: 10 Darkest Characters in Bleach
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