Though Bleach‘s anime adaptation was on a hiatus for 10 years, the staff and cast who worked on the anime had always wanted to come back and see the series through the end. However, an air of uncertainty hung over the anime’s sequel and whenever senior cast members from other productions asked Masakasu Morita if he would continue voicing Ichigo Kurosaki, his replies too tended to be on the side of uncertainty.
“I want to know too [if I’d play Ichigo],” Morita would tell them.
So, when Bleach: Thousand Year Blood War was announced, Morita was beyond a doubt, happy. However, the next feeling that took over him was fear.
The voice actor said that he was scared that now the production had resumed, Bleach anime would eventually come to an end. He described it as a feeling that is similar to the phrase “mono no aware”.
“The fear of the story finally coming to an end. It is a feeling similar to the classical world’s phrase ‘mono no aware’. The end is fixed, and you are walking toward it. The end does not mean that you are walking toward death, but I feel something close to that,” Morita said. “We have to keep the work alive, but what we are walking on is also a path toward the end. That is the contradiction. When I thought about that conflict, I felt scared and thought this is the end of my performance as Ichigo Kurosaki.”
Morita added that he had not yet reached the ideal version of his Ichigo Kurosaki and that he was scared of not being able to pull of the various aspects of Ichigo in Thousand Year Blood War. This was partly because of the ten year hiatus which the anime took.
Though Morita has been voicing Ichigo in various games released by the franchise in the past 10 years, its been a while since he played out conversations with the other cast members. This made him feel the nerves during the post-recording sessions.
Even though he calmed down emotionally after completing the recording for the first cour of the anime, he still had a sense of tension. However, he had no intention of letting it go.
“I feel that this tension is not a negative thing, but a good thing. Maybe it is good to hold on to it all the way to the end,” Ichigo’s VA said.
The voice actor also mused at how the quality of animation had changed over time since Bleach started airing initially. These changing times presented a challenge to the staff who were working on the anime.
However, Studio Pierrot was very passionate about the project and the staff were very enthusiastic since it was a big title. In fact, Morita was surprised at the quality of the animation being produced by Pierrot for Bleach Thousand Year Blood War, saying it matched that of a theatre version, rather than a weekly anime.
“Around the time Bleach: Thousand Year Blood War was about to begin, I met with the president of studio Pierrot, Mr. Michiyuki Honma, and we talked about a lot of things. I was so overwhelmed with his enthusiasm that I said to myself, Really?!” Morita said.
“I had the impression that it was no longer a weekly anime but a theater version. And it was not just a regular movie version, but a movie version with a lot of money spent on it,” he added.
The anime will be simulcast on Hulu for the U.S, regions at 8:30 a.m. PT, and worldwide on Disney+.
Tomohisa Taguchi will be replacing Noriyuki Abe as director of the series at Studio Pierrot. He will also be scripting the series along with Masaki Hiramatsu.
Additional staff includes:
- Chief Animation Directors: Michio Hasegawa Sei Komatsubara, Kumiko Takayanagi
- Action Effects Animation Directors: Satoshi Sakai, Yoshihiro Kanno, Yong Hoon Chong
- Art Director: Yoshio Tanioka
- Art Design: Toshiki Amada
- Color Design: Saori Goda
- Editing: Akinori Mishima
- Director of Photography: Kazuhiro Yamada
- CG Directors: Toshihiro Sasaki, Kazushi Goto
- Sound Director: Yukio Nagasaki
- Sound Production: Zack Promotion
- Character Designer: Masashi Kudo
- Music Composition: Shiro Sagisu
VIZ Media describes the plot of Bleach: Thousand Year Blood War as:
Was it all just a coincidence, or was it inevitable?
Ichigo Kurosaki gained the powers of a Soul Reaper through a chance encounter. As a Substitute Soul Reaper, Ichigo became caught in the turmoil of the Soul Society, a place where deceased souls gather. But with help from his friends, Ichigo overcame every challenge to become even stronger.
When new Soul Reapers and a new enemy appear in his hometown of Karakura, Ichigo jumps back into the battlefield with his Zanpakuto to help those in need. Meanwhile, the Soul Society is observing a sudden surge in the number of Hollows being destroyed in the World of the Living. They also receive separate reports of residents in the Rukon District having gone missing. Finally, the Seireitei, home of the Soul Reapers, comes under attack by a group calling themselves the Wandenreich.
Led by Yhwach, the father of all Quincies, the Wandenreich declare war against the Soul Reapers with the following message: “Five days from now, the Soul Society will be annihilated by the Wandenreich.”
The history and truth kept hidden by the Soul Reapers for a thousand long years is finally brought to light.
All things must come to an end—as Ichigo Kurosaki’s final battle begins!
Source: Animate Times