Bleach’s One-Shot Opens the Gates of Hell (Literally)

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for the Bleach one-shot chapter by Tite Kubo, Jan Cash and Vanessa Satone, available now in English from Viz Media.

The new Bleach one-shot chapter takes place years after Tite Kubo's original manga series ended. For a time, all seemed well in the Soul Society and the world of the living. That was merely the calm before the storm, however, as the gates of Hell have since opened wide.

In the new one-shot, Ichigo Kurosaki steps forth as a Soul Reaper once again, but nothing could have prepared him or his allies for what awaits on the other side of those gates. Strange new Hollows arrive in force as an old enemy returns with some chilling upgrades and a chip on his shoulder. And Ichigo himself might be to blame for this mess.

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The assembled Captains and Lieutenants prepare for the konso reisai ceremony to pass the late Jushiro Ukitake's spirit on, only for the gates of Hell to suddenly arrive in midair and open. Strange Hollows emerge complete with skull masks, long black chains, and oddly-placed circular holes on their bodies. Unlike most Hollows in Bleach, these have their holes barely attached to their bodies as ring-like formations, and stranger yet, Ikakku Madarame notes they have no detectable spirit energy. These Hollows are as massive as a Gillian-class Menos, but without the same shape as a typical Gillian.

Ichigo, Renji Abarai and the others dispatch these unusual Hollows, only for an old enemy to return: Szayelaporro Grantz, the former 8th Espada. Szayelaporro's Hollow hole and his Hollow mask remains are gone. He taunts the Soul Reapers with a shocking revelation: slain Soul Reaper Captains cannot have their dissolved bodies returned to the Soul Society via the konso reisai ceremony. Their spirit energy is too dense and strong, so it's sent straight into Hell itself, the only place that can safely contain such power. Spirits in this realm have their hatred and anger leaked out of their heads. Additionally, the relationship between Hell and the Soul Society is now out of balance since two well-known Bleach villains were sent into Hell's depths.

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The Quincy king Yhwach met his doom at Ichigo's hands at the end of Bleach's main series, and Hell is the only place where his powerful spirit body could have ended up. The same is true of Sosuke Aizen, while Yamamoto and Retsu Unohana are there too. Ordinarily their immense spiritual power could keep the gates of Hell closed with sheer pressure, but now that massive power is pressing on the gates from the inside, making it far easier to force them open and emerge. Normally this would have been impossible, even for a fallen Espada.

The konso reisai ceremony has been sending Captains to Hell all along, and this horrific new revelation is paired with the fact that Ichigo himself is responsible for sending Yhwach there. Ichigo saved the world from Yhwach's madness by killing him, but now the consequences have caught up to him and the others, proving the battle against evil is never truly won. Kenpachi Zaraki may be partly responsible too, since he personally killed Captain Unohana in single combat. If Bleach continues past its new one-shot, the story will no doubt revolve around Hell and its powerhouse denizens.

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