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Bleach TYBW Episode 4 Reveals the Horrifying Truth of Quincy Medallions

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The following contains spoilers for Episode 4 of Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War, “Kill the Shadow,” now streaming on Hulu in the U.S. and Disney+ internationally.

The Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War anime continues at a rapid pace in the Fall 2022 anime season, quickly proving just how one-sided this new blood war really is. In just four episodes’ time, the Soul Society finds itself embroiled in a savage conflict where the casualties quickly mount.

Hundreds of low-ranked Soul Reapers have already fallen, and not even the Captains and their zanpakuto are safe. The strange medallion artifacts return in Episode 4, showing what they are truly capable of. Asguiaro Ebern failed to use his medallion, but for As Nodt, Bambietta Basterbine and the others, the medallions are the ultimate ace in the hole.

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The Anti-Bankai Powers of Quincy Medallions

Episode 4 of Thousand-Year Blood War immediately continues the bloody battle that started in Episode 3, except the focus is now on the most prominent Soul Reaper Captains and their elite Sternritter counterparts. Just as the Arrancars had the ten Espadas with unique powers like the Gran Rey Cero and Cero Oscuras, the Sternritter have a unique weapon of their own: the medallions. Earlier in Bleach, Asguiaro Ebern failed to affect Ichigo’s bankai with his own medallion, maintaining the mystery of these artifacts’ exact purpose. Episode 4 makes it horribly clear how the medallions work on bankai — by stealing them.

Several Captains, including fan-favorite Byakuya Kuchiki and the deadly assassin Soi Fon, activate their bankai, only for their Sternritter foes to hold up their medallions and activate them. In mere seconds, the medallions remotely absorb each bankai, trapping each bankai’s energy inside their metal bodies. At first, Byakuya expects his opponent’s medallion to merely seal his bankai away, and he intended to stall for time and find a way to break that seal. Now Senbonzakura Kageyoshi is in the hands of Sternritter F, As Nodt, and that completely turns the tide of battle. Senbonzakura Kageyoshi could have crushed As Nodt, but now As has it, and As can either send it back to Silbern for safekeeping or perhaps use it himself.

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How the Medallions Symbolize Bleach’s One-Sided Blood War

The medallions have an immediate impact on the Soul Reaper vs. Quincy battle, with As Nodt, Bambietta Basterbine, Cang Du and BG9 all stealing their respective opponents’ bankai. Now Captains Kuchiki, Soi Fon, Komamura and Hitsugaya cannot wield their best weapons, meaning they are likely to lose this battle. Even the use of shikai and kido spells might not be enough.

The real impact of these medallions is even broader than that. They can turn the tide of an immediate battle, but they also represent how one-sided this war is. The Wandenreich, the hidden Quincy empire, has spent one millennium waiting for revenge on the Soul Reapers, biding their time and preparing for war while considering every possible angle. The Sternritter and their king know exactly how the Soul Reapers work, while the Soul Reapers know nothing of their Quincy foes. The Soul Reapers didn’t even see the war coming, and they must figure this out as they go. For now, the Quincy have all the advantages, including specialized tools like the medallions to sabotage their Soul Reaper opponents.

This one-sided affair also represents how determined the Wandenreich’s members are, with these Quincy leaving nothing to chance and going all-out against their hated but respected Soul Reaper opponents. By contrast, the Soul Reapers are defined by complacency, and not for the first time. They were too self-assured and unflexible to notice, predict or deal with Sosuke Aizen’s betrayal until it was too late. Now, the Soul Reapers are too used to victory and peace, resting lazily on their laurels just as the Quincy arrive. The Soul Reapers think they’re the masters of the spiritual realm, but the Quincy are proving them wrong, and the Soul Reapers must push themselves like never before to meet this threat. It’s a wake-up call paid for with blood.

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