Bleach Spinoff ‘Burn the Witch’ Is Getting a Prequel Anime

Dragons and Witches take over for the conspiring Quincies and destructive Hollows.
Published On September 17, 2023

Official cover for the “Burn the Witch” one-shot. Photo via Shueisha/Tite Kubo

Tite Kubo’s “Bleach” is part of anime royalty, and despite heavy criticism, the series commands a healthy following. After an abrupt end in 2012, the anime eventually returned to adapt its conclusive arc — and it has been a series of layered episodes with fights that have only gotten more ridiculous. Overshadowed by the “Thousand Year Blood War” arc was another story set in the same universe, but with a Western touch.

A one-shot to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Weekly Shōnen Jump at first, “Burn the Witch” was meant as an opportunity to publish new works that could still be related to “Bleach,” the creator spoke in an interview. Kubo had his sight set on London as the setting since the very beginning, capitalizing on the idea of a “West Branch” of the Soul Society — inverse to Bleach’s original setting yet adding to the narrative in some sense.

The 62-page one-shot became a miniseries that was simultaneously being adapted into an anime film, marking a return to the Bleach universe. A 4-chapter first season dropped in August 2020, followed by the film in October of the same year. A second season of the “Burn the Witch” manga has since been announced, and the series will now receive a prequel anime.

“Burn the Witch #0.8” is a prequel to the film, focusing on the witch duo of Noel Niihashi and Ninny Spangcole. The film did not spend much time establishing relationships and setting, only revealing the Soul Society affiliation towards the end. With the prequel, we expect to see more world-building — which could indicate future projects, especially with Bleach’s return to popularity.

“Bleach” drew inspiration from ”Shinigami” or death gods of Japanese folklore, which were made into sword-wielding exorcists of sorts. While these Soul Reapers exorcised the corrupted spirits called Hollows, the story was deeply rooted in Eastern culture, which meant that things had to be reimagined for a Western branch.

With the battles set in Reverse London, Kubo took to witches as the primary heroes — working for “Wing Bind,” the Western counterpart to Soul Society. Unlike the antagonistic Hollows and Quincies of “Bleach,” dragons are the primary threat to humanity this time around. The series has already showcased different types of these dragons, including the Märchen, the progenitors of dark dragons.

While no release date was announced, the makers confirmed that the film’s main cast is returning with “Burn the Witch #0.8,” with Tatsurō Kawano returning to direct as well.