Bleach TYBW: Why Tite Kubo reversed Byakuya's death, explained

Byakuya Kuchiki on left and Tite Kubo on right (Image via Tite Kubo/Studio Pierrot)
Byakuya Kuchiki on left and Tite Kubo on right (Image via Tite Kubo/Studio Pierrot)

When Studio Pierrot announced Bleach TYBW, the internet was abuzz with overwhelming excitement and anticipation. However, amidst all the delight and glee, an apprehension gnawed from the shadows. Despite being one of the most famous arcs, Bleach TYBW sees some controversial decisions made by the series creator, Tite Kubo. One example of such a decision would be to let Byakuya live.

The Captain of the 6th Division of Gotei 13 was battered and bruised during the battle against As Nodt in Bleach TYBW, with almost no hope of recovering. His seeminly 'last words' also gave clear indications that it was perhaps the time to say goodbye to one of the most special characters of Bleach.

However, he was miraculously revived. Anchoring on that point, this article tries to understand the reason why Byakuya's fate was reversed, further explaining whether or not the author truly meant to end the character.

Disclaimer: This article contains spoilers from the manga chapters of Thousand Year Blood War arc.

Byakuya's death in the Bleach TYBW arc was a deliberate decision by the mangaka of the series

The premise of Byakuya Kuchiki's supposed death

The ceremonial comeback of Tite Kubo's magnum opus was a grand event, as it exhibited the anime adaptation of the iconic scenes of the Thousand Year Blood War arc. One such scene was Byakuya's seemingly last words to Ichigo Kurosaki after the former's defeat against the Sternritter As Nodt.

The emotionally charged scene saw Byakuya with his shattered pride, asking the protagonist to save Soul Society one more time. Nodt stole his pride and identity, which he wore like a garment, and used his Senbonzakura Kageyoshi against the Captain to not only torment him physically but also break him from the inside. As such, he was left on the verge of death, with deep gashes both inside his body and soul.

Byakuya Kuchiki, devoid of pride in Bleach TYBW(Image via Studio Pierrot)
Byakuya Kuchiki, devoid of pride in Bleach TYBW(Image via Studio Pierrot)

There were various instances where it seemed that Byakuya had left his last breath. Moreover, his spiritual pressure disappeared, as confirmed by the other soul reapers. However, he miraculously survived by one of the royal guards of Zero Squad, Kirinji.

Fans believed that the character arc of Byakuya was met with a perfect end since he laid all his hopes on someone whom he tried to kill all the seasons earlier. Thus, it felt like a fitting end to a character, but to see him survive miraculously was a topic that soon turned into a controversial debate.

Possible reasons why Tite Kubo may have changed Byakuya Kuchiki's fate in the Bleach TYBW arc

There is a popular fan theory stating Byakuya survived the fatal outcome of the battle, despite having one of the best closures to a character arc. According to various rumors, the author Tite Kubo had received death threats from the fans following the death of the Captain of the 6th Division.

However, this is only a rumor and there has been no physical or digital evidence to support this. Furthermore, even if he received the threats, Tite Kubo wouldn't have changed the outcome.

Byakuya as seen in Bleach TYBW (Image via Studio Pierrot)
Byakuya as seen in Bleach TYBW (Image via Studio Pierrot)

On Twitter, Kubo once vehemently retorted that the readers do not have the authority or the privilege of changing the story. Similarly, the mangaka once replied to a question about whether there would be a continuation of the Hell arc or not on Klub Outside. He said:

"I'm not really good at drawing something when I'm forced to. So I'll consider doing it when people stop pestering me about it."

In the Bleach JET Artbook interview, Kubo's answers to several questions implied that, as an author, he observes whether a situation feels natural or ideal for him to end a character's life. So, he is someone who doesn't kill off his characters based on how badly injured they are. He is also someone who doesn't get influenced by public opinion. As the author of Bleach, Kubo perfectly knew what he was doing in the Bleach TYBW arc.

A fan's reaction to Kubo's stance in killing characters (Image via Twitter)
A fan's reaction to Kubo's stance in killing characters (Image via Twitter)

If he felt that Byakuya Kuchiki's character arc in Bleach TYBW had been met with the perfect end, he wouldn't have had second thoughts about ending the character, no matter how much popular the character was. Tite Kubo has never kept a character alive that was seemingly supposed to die. The only exception to this would be Grimmjow, whom Kubo initially intended to kill but never did because he wanted to explore more of the character.

Since there's no official confirmation from the author as to why he revived Byakuya Kuchiki, readers and viewers can only rely on analysis. Prior to the Bleach TYBW arc, Byakuya was a soul reaper full of honor and pride. However, he was also someone who hid his true feelings because of the same pride that he possessed.

Byakuya acknowledging the strength of Rukia (Image via Studio Pierrot)
Byakuya acknowledging the strength of Rukia (Image via Studio Pierrot)

Even though Rukia was a family member, Byakuya never for once told her how proud he was of her. Slowly but surely, Byakuya's nonchalance was replaced by intense care for his sister. It was in Bleach TYBW arc that he truly acknowledged Rukia. He said:

"You have become strong... Rukia" - said Byakuya Kuchiki on Bleach TYBW arc

While Byakuya was one of the main antagonist of the Soul Society arc, in Bleach TYBW, he has been a supporting character, mainly to Rukia Kuchiki. In the aftermath of the battle against As Nodt, Byakuya understood his hubris.

Regaining his health, he also came to terms with his own power, following which he honed his Shikai and remained unfazed against As Nodt. The final piece of the puzzle for Byakuya's character was acknowledging Rukia, something that she badly wanted to hear for a long time.

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