Bleach: How the Scariest Sternritter Harnesses Fear in the Thousand-Year Blood War

Bleach's final story arc, the currently manga-only Thousand-Year Blood War arc, introduced an entirely new set of villains for Ichigo Kurosaki and his Soul Reaper allies to face: the Wandenreich, the secret Quincy empire. When the Quincy and their king, Yhwach, rise from the shadows to destroy Soul Society, they come packing many powerful Sternritter, or "star knights," ready for battle. Among them is the terrifying As Nodt, a master of fear itself.

Each Sternritter's unique ability is assigned a letter in the alphabet, and As Nodt's letter is "F," for The Fear. Indeed, he is a sinister and odd-looking Quincy with formidable powers, and he can spread horror and fear across the battlefield to debilitate even the most powerful of his enemies. Even skilled Reapers like Rukia and Byakuya Kuchiki aren't immune.

As Nodt's Quincy Powers, Medallion & Philosophy


Like the other Sternritter, As Nodt has spiritual power on par with a Soul Reaper Captain, making he is a formidable challenge even without upgrades like his medallion. Each Sternritter carries a single Quincy medallion of power, and with his, As Nodt can steal one activated Bankai to wield himself. The sole exception, according to Yhwach, is Yamamoto's Zanka no Tachi Bankai, which a Sternritter like As would be too weak to handle. Otherwise, As can easily turn the tables on a Captain by swiping their Bankai.

As Nodt's power is The Fear, an ability that can inflict intense horror and dread in his opponents. His attacks deal relatively little physical damage compared to other Quincy abilities, but The Fear's effects more than make up for it. Once As's Quincy arrows strike an enemy, overwhelming fear is inflicted, ideally shattering the enemy's will to fight and bringing them to their knees. If the fear is strong enough, the opponent's mind is obliterated, which can be fatal. Even if the victim survives, they're massively destabilized, making them easy pickings for other Quincy on the scene. On paper, As Nodt works best as a support fighter, cursing his enemies with debilitating terror. No physical shield can block The Fear, with a dark material spreading from As's arrows through the barrier to hit his target. Since fear is intangible, it's not a physical poison -- it's an idea.

If the enemy somehow withstands As's default techniques, then he can use his Voll Stern Dich ability, Tatar Foras, or "fear of God." Tatar Foras unmasks As's face to reveal his terrifying visage, pushing The Fear to the next level. Tatar Foras will envelop As and his enemy inside a large dome, much like Captain Kaname Tosen's Bankai. Instead of robbing the enemy of their senses, though, the inner surface of the dome will project massive terror into the enemy's mind with countless eyes.

Once the enemy sees those eyes, The Fear's effect takes root, even if they look away. This fear travels through the optic nerve, and once it reaches the brain, the enemy is overwhelmed with unspeakable fright as they witness visions of all their worst nightmares. This fear is so strong, it paralyzes As's victims, who become too afraid to even look at him. Not even sheer willpower can overcome Tatar Foras.

As Nodt's Battles In the Bleach Manga

As Nodt took part in two major battles during the Thousand-Year Blood War arc, including the initial assault on Soul Society. As Nodt dispatched a handful of rank-and-file Soul Reapers before confronting Captain Byakuya Kuchiki, and once Byakuya activated his Bankai, Senbonzakura Kageyoshi, As quickly stole it with his medallion. Using Byakuya's Bankai, As didn't even need to use The Fear, instead beating the Captain within an inch of his life with his own Bankai before leaving with Yhwach and the others.

Later, when the Soul Reapers launched a counter-offensive, As Nodt appeared again, this time encountering Rukia Kuchiki. He used the full power of The Fear against her, first using his ordinary arrows, then discarding Senbonzakura Kageyoshi so he could use Tatar Foras. Rukia fought back with the icy powers of her Zanpakuto, Sode no Shirayuki, and froze her body to death to avoid the effects of The Fear. It worked, and Rukia landed serious blows on As halfway through the battle.

Beaten, but not defeated, As turned the tables with Tatar Foras, and overwhelmed Rukia with its full power. He would have won this fight, but a freshly-healed Byakuya arrived, slicing apart Tatar Foras' eye-studded dome with his Shikai. This gave Rukia a chance to use her Bankai, Hakka no Togame, to destroy As once and for all.

Demon King manga by Kayaharuka
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