This review does contain some spoilers for the Bleach manga and the No Breaths from Hell one-shot.
The Bleach manga, by Tite Kubo, initially ended back in 2016 after a 15-year run. With well over 600 chapters, it was one of the biggest shonen manga series of the 2000s and early 2010s. It certainly had a massive following! So, with the 20th anniversary approaching, it was really exciting to see that a one-shot was released that picks up two years after the ending of the original manga.
With the final chapter of the manga presenting us with a time skip that took main characters like Ichigo Kurosaki, Orihime Inoue, and Rukia Kuchiki into the future, the No Breaths from Hell one-shot offers 73 pages of catching up and new soul reaper concerns.
Bleach One-Shot Gets Right into It
While the one-shot does initially pick up with Ichigo and Orihime’s son, Kazui, before shifting over to Rukia and Renji’s daughter, Ichika, it does a good job of balancing out these new characters with a number of characters that we’re all more familiar with. Kazui and Ichika are both sneaking around behind their parents’ backs (Kazui disappears into a portal at one point and isn’t seen again) during the one-shot, while larger goings-on are stirring.
The basic premise of the one-shot goes as such: The Soul Society is getting ready for a ritual called the Konso Retai. This is a ritual that takes place 12 years after a captain has died, and this particular Konso Retai is for Captain Jushiro Ukitake, who died during the Thousand-Year Blood War arc. Ichigo has been invited since he was quite close to Ukitake. Things do go a bit awry, as Bleach fans will be well aware of, when a number of Hollows-like creatures show up.
Alongside the heavy lore plot happening, we also see some really stand-out action panels and a number of Bleach characters that I was pleasantly surprised to see, such as Ikkaku Madarame and Rangiku Matsumoto.
Catch Up with Favorites
Right away, one of my biggest takeaways from No Breaths from Hell was how fun it was to catch up with characters and see how some of the technology has changed in the interim since the original manga ended. In seeing Ichigo, Rukia, and Renji’s first scene together, they’re having a video call on a smartphone.
It’s such a little thing, but it was also a simple way to show that time has passed. Technology has advanced inside the world of Bleach, and Rukia’s reaction was very in character for her.
No Breaths From Hell includes a few updates on characters who were promoted in the Soul Reaper ranks while also introducing new characters like Yuyu Yayahara. While we did only have 73 pages of story, there was a nice balance between old and new characters throughout that didn’t leave me feeling as if we missed time with established characters for the most part.
Some Big Questions
Outside of spending time with characters and enjoying smaller interactions, No Breaths From Hell was very Bleach-like in the sense that it introduced some big questions tied to Soul Reaper society and rituals. Without delving into hard spoilers, the Konso Retai ritual that is the main focus of the one-shot is not all it’s cracked up to be.
An older antagonist is brought back, and the idea of Hell is reintroduced into the story as well. This opens up a whole new can of worms in the world of Bleach that definitely could not be fully explored in this one-shot, but it does leave us with a lot of questions. The story that this one-shot sets up could certainly be its own arc, though there is no confirmed continuation at the time of publication.
Overall, No Breaths From Hell was a fun return to Bleach. It offers catch-ups with a decent number of characters and presents ideas that certainly feel a bit too large for just a one-shot. With this brief dive back into Bleach, I enjoyed what I saw and I think it will be interesting to see if a new arc continues from this one-shot.
The Bleach special one-shot is available on Viz Media for free.
What did you think of the newest entry into the Bleach story? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter!
Title: Bleach: Special One-Shot – No Breaths From Hell
Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: August 19th, 2021
Type: Manga (One shot)
Author: Tite Kubo
Translation: Jan Cash
Lettering: Vanessa Satone