Wham Episode: Bleach
Warning: To avoid a completely spoiler-tagged blank page, all spoilers have been left unmarked. Be warned and tread carefully.
- Aizen not only faked his death and took part in the conspiracy, he's the mastermind behind it all. The entirety of Bleach from here on would never be the same.
- The Soul Society arc sets the Soul Society's laws up as the problem, given a face by Byakuya, whom was dead-set on killing his sister, Rukia. And then he takes the bullet for her when Gin tries to kill her. When asked why, he reveals that his wife Hisana (who looks like Rukia), was actually Rukia's sister, and he adopted her into the family to fulfill a promise he made to a dying Hisana. The reason he was set on executing her was not because of the law, but because he also made a promise to his dead parents to uphold the law. Now that Ichigo's freed him from this problem, he stops being an anatogonist and becomes one of Ichigo's staunchest allies.
- After debuting as a cat with a masculine voice, it was rather surprising to see Yoruichi Shihoin turn out to be a female human, and a former captain of the Gotei 13, at that. It changes the entire dynamics of the group's relationship with her from that moment on.
- Chapter 186: Uryuu is not the Last Quincy like everyone thought, and the phrase doesn't mean what he thought it meant. His father is still alive, is the official Last Quincy, and is refusing to use his power for an unspecified reason.
- Chapter 188: Isshin Kurosaki is secretly a Shinigami who voluntarily sacrificed his power and has a history with Urahara. Both he and Urahara have been expecting the Visoreds to contact Ichigo for years and they've known about Aizen for years longer than Soul Society has.
- Ulquiorra was once built up as the strongest Espada under Aizen's command. Then he reveals he's only the fourth strongest: even if Ichigo defeats him, he's nowhere near achieving victory against Aizen.
- We learn that there were two Hogyokus, both separately created by Aizen and Urahara. Aizen set up the entire conspiracy in the Soul Society arc to steal Urahara's Hogyoku and fuse it with his own, as neither was complete or even capable of being complete on its own.
- Chapter 458. The Arc Villain is revealed to be Ginjou, not Tsukishima. He was bookmarked at the beginning to become Ichigo's friend and the entire arc has been about him devising a way to obtain Ichigo's power.
- Chapter 461: Ichigo has changed Soul Society enough for its laws to begin changing. The law Rukia broke in Chapter 1 that almost got her executed is declared by Yamamoto to not be as inviolate as they first thought; it can now be broken if upholding it would ruin everything the Gotei 13 stands for.
Thousand Year Blood War ArcThe Thousand Year Blood War has been filled with so many different wham episodes that it might as well be said the entire arc is a wham episode in its own right.
- Chapter 480: The biggest reveal since Aizen's betrayal is that the Quincies are not dead.
- The rather brutal murder of Chojiro Sasakibe, proving that yes, good guys can and will die, even in Bleach.
- Thousands of Rukongai dwellers have been disappearing for an unknown reason. Kira deduces, and Mayuri confirms, that Shinigami killed those civilians, in order to restore the balance between the worlds. It hammers home just how morally ambiguous the Soul Society can get, and it returns Mayuri back to form instead of having him as comic relief.
- Chapter 485: Hueco Mundo is no longer under the control of the Arrancar. It's fallen to Vandenreich occupation. Furthermore, we see that Harribel has been captured by the Vandenreich, effectively serving as a warning to all who venture near Yhwach's turf.
- Chapter 499: For the first time in the entire story, the Soul Society openly seeks help from Ichigo, after we learn that a third of the Gotei 13's forces have been decimated by thousands in the space of only a few minutes. Not even Aizen created this much havoc.
- Chapter 502: Byakuya, previously thought by the fandom to have unassailable plot armour, is curb-stomped in one of the most graphic attacks in the entire manga, followed by Kenpachi in Chapter 505.
- Chapter 511: Yamamoto is slaughtered and the Seireitei is overrun by the Stern Ritter's ground troops, officially defeated.
- Chapter 514: Ichigo's time in Opie's prison actually awakened his innate, but largely dormant, Quincy energy, allowing him to use Blut Vene.
- Chapter 516: Broken bankai can never be restored to their original form, thereby redefining the power levels of every shinigami that has experienced a broken bankai in the story, including Mayuri, Ikkaku, Renji, and Ichigo. Komamura's the only exception to the rule because of the way his bankai works. Even though the damage done to it is reflected on him, if he undergoes healing it will fully restore his bankai.
- Chapter 520: Shunsui Kyouraku, once the Lazy Bum, takes over as the new captain-commander. Unlike Yamamoto's era, where captains - even Yamamoto - could not question the decisions of the Central 46, Kyouraku begins to fight decisions from the moment he's promoted.
- Chapter 523: Kyoraku confirms that Unohana was the first Kenpachi, founding the 11th Division and laying the work for everything it's built on. Zaraki's misunderstanding of Unohana's abilities in that distant past is effectively why the 11th division has its anti-kidou stance in the current age.
- Chapter 527: Zaraki's zanpakutou finally begins communicating with him, changing his status from the only captain in history not to have a shikai or bankai.
Everything But the RainJust like the main arc of the Blood War, "Everything But the Rain" is a wham episode in its entirety. The amount of stuff we learn is more than what most other manga can accomplish in the same period of time.
- Chapter 528: Masaki is confirmed to have been a Quincy and Kurosaki is her family name, not Isshin's.
- Chapter 529: Isshin was the captain of the Tenth Division and his surname was Shiba, making Kuukaku and Ganju the cousins of Ichigo and Hitsugaya the protege of Isshin.
- Chapter 535: We finally learn how Isshin gave up his Shinigami powers (he wears the same power-sealing type of Gigai that Urahara gave to Rukia). We learn more about Hollowfication (it needs an outside force to disrupt it so you can restore sanity). We learn why it took so long before the Visoreds could show up in the main storyline (it took the full 100 years before Urahara restored their sanity, leaving them with a solid 20 years to gain notoriety and stabilize themselves via training). We learn why the Hollowfication was subdued for so long (the Gigai literally ties his soul to Masaki, which allows him to enter her mind and subdue the Hollow). We learn how the "soul suicide" resulting from Hollowfication can be stopped (which created the Visoreds). In an overlap of the soul suicide revelation, we also find out why Tosen blew up after he was stabbed by Hisagi (didn't have something to counterbalance his Visored form).
- Chapter 537: Yhwach possesses the ability to take back the power and lives from any Quincy and decided to do it to all impure Quincies nine years ago: Masaki was depowered in battle against the Grand Fisher. Katagiri (Uryuu's mother) was depowered at the same time and lingered in a coma for three months before dying. Yhwach is therefore the most personal enemy of Ichigo to date, and simultaneously is revealed to be the most personal enemy of Uryuu to date. And then we learn that Uryuu has joined the Vandenreich and Yhwach is calling him "son".
The Thousand Year Blood War: The Farewell Story
- Chapter 539: For Ichigo to get his Zanpakuto fixed, he has to abandon Zangetsu. Meanwhile, Komamura's revealed to be part of a unique secret race that's in hiding, that possesses a great secret that can allow Komamura to compensate for his loss of Bankai, and which carries the knowledge of the truth about Soul Society: that Shinigami are not the original rulers of Soul Society.
- Chapter 540: Zangetsu isn't actually Ichigo's Zanpakuto. He's the personification of Ichigo's Quincy powers, which have taken the form of a younger Yhwach from 1000 years ago. Furthermore, it's the Hollow that's Ichigo's real Zanpakuto.
- Chapter 542: Ichigo finally accepts that he and his blade are one. This allows him to complete the forging of his Zanpakuto, whose true form is revealed to be a pair of dual swords, mirroring the two spirits who encompassed his power.
- Chapter 543: The entire chapter changes the view and flavour of the Vandenreich completely. Remember when Opie mentioned Soken and Uryuu Ishida by name? Turns out, Opie was the only one to know of either. We learn of this through Yhwach nominating Uryu as his successor (over Haschwalth, the previous favorite). The army is so taken aback by Yhwach's choice as to suggest that the troops are loyal not to Yhwach, but to Haschwalth.
- Chapter 544: Yhwach reveals his reasoning for what happened in the last chapter. Uryu was the only mixed-blood to survive the Holy Selection, because of a mysterious special power that Yhwach wants to know more about. Haschwalth deduces a second reason: Yhwach is expecting Uryuu to betray him, and Yhwach believes in keeping your friends close and your enemies even closer. Even if Ishida was planning to mount an assassination, the scrutiny from the Stern Ritters will prevent him from doing so. This nips fan expectations over a protagonist joining the antagonist's side in the bud.
- Chapter 546: The Seireitei vanishes into shadow to be replaced by the vandenreich's city and Yhwach reveals that the old Quincy tale of the Sealed King has a stanza that isn't commonly recited: He reclaims his heartbeat, mind and his power, alright... and then he reclaims his world. Yes, apparently the Soul Society did once belong to Yhwach.
- Chapter 547: The reason the Quincies weren't extinct is because they've been hiding under the Shinigami noses all along. Within the shadows of Seireitei, the Quincies hid a thousand years ago and have remained ever since. The implications for the behaviour of the Ishida family throughout the story are huge.
- Chapter 556: Komamura's past changes the understanding of the Soul Society and how spiritual punishment works. Werewolves exist and in the distant past were turned into animals for their unspecified sins. In exchange for beating his ancestor, Komamura learns the secret clan technique - rip out the heart, become human, and regain your full power.
- Chapter 565: Yhwach's backstory and powers are revealed. He has an ability to distribute pieces of his soul into the souls of other individuals, and when they die, those pieces return to Yhwach with all the memories, experience and powers that those people possessed in life. By doing so, he can make himself more powerful and prolong his own life. This is how Quincies were created, but most importantly, the whole Gotei has now been infected with pieces of Yhwach's soul... meaning EVERY death on the battlefield increases Yhwach's power.
- Chapter 587: Yhwach has entered the Royal Realm. Just let this sink in. Not even Aizen has ever made it this far.
- Chapter 614: Ichigo does not save the Soul King. His Quincy blood causes him to kill the Soul King himself.
- Chapter 621: Yhwach starts absorbing the Soul King, releasing the seals on the Soul King's power. The power floods Soul Society, attacking the Soul King's enemies. Not the Quincies, however; the enemies of Soul King are now the Shinigami.