Home BLEACH: Thousand-Year Blood War Episode 18 — The Worst Character

BLEACH: Thousand-Year Blood War Episode 18 — The Worst Character

I hate Mask de Masculine with every fiber of my being and this week’s episode of BLEACH: Thousand-Year Blood War, Part 2: The Separation unfortunately centered on him almost entirely. The last episode featured a surprising transformation for Komamura, a rather middling backstory for said transformation, and the introduction of Mask de Masculine. Mask has one of the most intriguing and absolutely busted powers yet. He comes with his own sidekick, James, and the two have a sort of paired power. James cheering for Mask can heal mask, re-energize him, and make him much more powerful. Episode 18 mostly involved Mask fighting against multiple captains and captain-class Soul Reapers.

This episode of BLEACH didn’t have much by way of content and advanced the core plot the least of any of the season’s episodes so far. This isn’t a horrible thing of course (especially since the alternative is nice fights) but it does mean there’s not an incredible amount to analyze in depth.

Spoilers ahead for BLEACH: Thousand-Year Blood War, Part 2: The Separation episode 18 Rages at Ringside

The Most Annoying Power in BLEACH

Mask’s power, “The Superstar,” is a very clear metaphor for the relationship between an artist, famous person, etc. and their fans. The fans are incapable of truly being killed just as James is; even when he is cut in half he produces a bunch of small copies of himself like a wacky cartoon character. This is presumably meant to represent the atomic nature of fans as a conglomerate and as individuals. Tearing down an entire fandom just reveals the many constituent parts of it. As a thematic element, that’s all well and good. As a power in a series where most powers at least have some structure to them, it’s incredibly annoying.

I’ve spent years trying to understand exactly what is it I despise about this style of power-up and I believe I’ve started to arrive at it. In shonen anime, and in BLEACH especially, overpowered characters tend to have some sort of stature within the series, have an interesting power, build up to their power, or some combination of the three. When villains have incredible abilities, like that of Aizen, their entertainment value stems from the ways they’ve affected lore and plot without the viewer knowing it. When protagonists gain incredible power, like Ichigo, there’s usually some sort of drawback or narrative that leads to the power up. Mask and James are like personifications of the worst kind of shonen fans. The fan cheers and hopes for their favorite to get stronger, and then he just does. It’s somewhat funny, sure, but annoying in practice when it means that two captains who actually have interesting abilities get dog-walked. The fact that he’s a luchador isn’t really a huge deal, just the power.

The upside to this that I do appreciate is Renji coming in to win the fight solo. I don’t appreciate the fact that Visored once again became jobber characters for a longtime character to outshine in battle. But I do appreciate Renji finally getting a cool Bankai instead of one that always felt weak and underwhelming, something this episode explained was quite intentional.

A Decent Week

This episode was perfectly adequate so I can’t really complain to much. Setting aside my wildly strong negative bias toward Mask, the plot did what it needed to do. My only misgivings have to do with Visored captains not getting the chance to look cool and, just like during the Aizen arc, getting cut down quite early into the grand fight. With Renji stronger than two captains, I think it would only be right for Rukia to shine next week. Hopefully that’s what happens and hopefully we’ll get more information about Uryu’s grandfather as it relates to Yhwach’s origins.

If you enjoyed the episode, don’t forget to vote in our weekly poll.

Featured image and screenshots via Hulu.

© TITE KUBO / SHUEISHA, TV TOKYO, dentsu, Pierrot

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