The supernatural-action manga series Bleach came to an end with Chapter 686. However, the intriguing ending only serves to bolster multiple speculations, including the possibility of a spin-off series.
Warning: Bleach manga chapter 685 and 686 spoilers ahead.
Bleach manga volume number 74 was confirmed to be the last for the series. After running for more than a decade and a half, and still managing to captivate its vast fan base, Bleach manga's creator Tite Kubo confirmed the series would end with chapter 686. He had added that the chapter would come with an important announcement. Fans were feverishly hoping that announcement would be for the revival of Bleach anime that was abruptly pulled off air over four years ago. However, instead of confirming the anime, the publishers of the manga announced the series was being developed into a live-action adaptation. The movie based on the Bleach manga could be released in a couple of years.While there has been no official confirmation about the anime's resuscitation, the last chapter did not address all the loose ends, and instead added a few twists. For quite some time, fans had been grumbling that Bleach manga's end was rushed. There were persistent rumors that Kubo had enough material to keep Bleach running for another year at least, but it was the publishers who wanted the series to come to an end. Despite the disappointment, the significantly cryptic chapter 686 and its even more baffling ending have once again given way to renewed rumors about a spin-off series, if not the revival of the anime. Chapter 685 reportedly took a substantial time-jump from what had happened in the famous battle between Ichigo and Ywach. The first part of the chapter shows Captain-Commander Kyoraku visiting the burial site of Ukitake and reminiscing about past events. Meanwhile Kyoraku is asked by one of his friends to leave the cemetery. Chapter 686 switches the story between Earth and the Soul Society. It begins with an orange-haired boy who remarkably resembles Ichigo. He is being chased in an alleyway. As the story progresses, a few squad captains in Soul Society, including Byakuya, decide to investigate the cause of the commotion. Captain Mayuri, who is already at the scene, asks others to wait and see what is about to happen.
Sure enough, a strange blob of black matter that can't be clearly deciphered appears to flow out of one of the tiles of the burial grounds. It seems the black blob is the mass of Ywach's power, which is trying to take shape. The blob seems ready to strike the captains. However, the orange-haired boy merely places his hand on the blob and Ywach's power explodes into nothing.Meanwhile in the boy's room, a warp hole develops where a red-haired little girl dressed as a shinigami appears. While the girl introduces herself as Ichika Abarai, the boy says he is Kazui Kurosak and adds that he too, is a shinigami. The boy's revelation seems to surprise the girl. The chapter abruptly ends without offering any explanation about Kazui Kurosaki.
How will Bleach manga proceed after chapter 686?
Besides the inconclusive ending, there's no comforting evidence Ywach was annihilated by Ichigo. Although it does seem to indicate a bout does take place between the two. Such unsatisfying aspects have further fanned the rumors the makers could be readying a spin-off series.Interestingly, if the spin-off series is indeed in the pipeline, instead of dealing with current developments and the storyline, the makers could look back. There might be plans for a story that involves a prequel. If developed, the story would deal with the very early days of Soul Society. If Bleach manga's end comes with Bleach anime's revival, how would the story proceed?
[Photo by Jeff Pioquinto, SJ/Flickr]