WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Bleach, "No Breaths From Hell," by Tite Kubo, Jan Cash and Vanessa Satone, available now in English via Viz Media.
Bleach fans rejoiced at the news of a new chapter from Tite Kubo, but one troubling part of the one-shot inspires anything but joy. Along with introducing a handful of intriguing new characters, the new story reveals a terrifying secret about the fate of fallen Soul Reapers.
"No Breaths From Hell" starts lighthearted enough in the World of the Living, with Ichigo and Orihime's lively son Kazui sneaking off for some late-night mischief. He makes his way to the Soul Society where everyone is preparing for a rare ceremony that only happens 12 years after a captain's funeral.
The Soul Reapers are led to believe they are honoring their fallen comrades with the ritual, laying their spirits to rest with the utmost respect. In reality, they are condemning them to Hell. Captain Shunsui informs everyone that the high-class reishi of captains cannot be simply returned to the Soul Society. Therefore, according to what he calls an "old wives tale," a ceremony is performed to send them to Hell where their power can be contained. It's a terribly cruel fate that only serves to punish the strong with damnation.
The Bleach one-shot's surprises don't end there, though -- the condemned spirits won't be staying in Hell. As a freshly escaped Szayelaporro Grantz explains, powerful spiritual energy from Aizen and Yhwach was keeping Hell closed. With those two gone there is effectively no lock on the gates, and the three dead captains on the other side can easily escape. Presumably, anything else trapped with them will also be freed. However, it is unknown how the returned captains will act. Will they seek vengeance on their old friends? It would be devastating to see the once kind-hearted Jushiro Ukitake turned into a ruthless enemy.
This situation happens to be a serious case of bad luck. The ceremony for Jushiro was the only thing needed to open the gates because it sent a strong third captain to Hell. In what almost feels like a setup, multiple Hollows appear, forcing the vice-captains to slay them -- a condition that completes the ceremony. Hell still seemed secure enough even with Aizen and Yhwach gone, so it's extremely unlucky that the perfect amount of captains have fallen in battle and opened the gates of Hell.
Even if the gates of Hell never opened, the fact that the fallen Soul Reapers are sent there is upsetting enough. To add to the cruelty, the living Soul Reapers must feel an immense amount of guilt. It almost feels like an oversight on the Soul Society's part. Even if the disturbing rumors about the ceremony couldn't be confirmed by people like Shinsui, it seems strange that the Soul Society wouldn't be more cautious. Now all of their good intentions have come back to haunt them.
This one-shot sets up a brand new Bleach arc that begs to be expanded further. Hopefully, Ichigo and his friends are able to help those condemned to Hell find rest and stop the world from being overrun by the damned.
The all-new Bleach one-shot is available to read now on Viz Media's Shonen Jump app and website.