After what seemed to be decades of waiting, Bleach’s fans are finally getting to see the anime adaptation of the final arc of Bleach, the Thousand-Year Blood War. As a matter of fact, right now, the anime is still in the early stages of this arc. However, since the original manga itself has long since reached its conclusion, we can safely talk about one of the biggest story elements of this arc, which is the invasion of the Soul Society by the Quincy.
However, rather than taking a deep dive into the invasion itself, it’ll be more interesting to compare it to other similar invasion arcs instead, particularly one made by a fellow member of the Shounen Big 3. So the one that we choose as the contender is the iconic invasion from Naruto’s Pain’s Assault arc. So which one is the best? Let’s find out by comparing the surprise attack, the fight scenes, and finally the goal of the invasion.
The Surprise Attack
Both Pain and the Quincy launch their invasions through a surprise attack. Yes, we know that the Quincy literally attacked Ichigo and the First Division just a couple days prior, and Konoha suspects that Pain will commence an attack based on information from Jiraiya. But that doesn’t change the fact that both of these invaders launch a sudden attack that clearly takes their target by surprise. So which one of the two has the best surprise attack?
Well, the Quincy open up several dimensional gates all over the Soul Society and unleash their armies, along with the Sternritter, to kill every shinigami and steal the Bankai of the strong ones. As for Pain, he doesn’t need an army. The invasion begins when he launches one of the corpse puppets that he controls to pierce Konoha’s defensive barriers. Once it lands, that puppet immediately summons five other corpse puppets, and then proceeds to wreak havoc all over Konoha.
The Quincy’s initial surprise attack is clearly thrilling and exciting to see, but the way Pain nonchalantly slips into Konoha and starts to cause chaos by himself (there are six of him, but they’re technically still one person) is simply epic. So we have to give this round to Naruto.
The Fight Scenes
Both Naruto and Bleach have numerous legendary fights during their invasion arcs. In Kakashi and friends vs Pain, we get to see Kakashi analyzing his opponent and forming the best strategy while in the middle of an intense fight. In Yamamoto vs the Sternritter who’s disguised as Yhwach, we get to see the captain of the First Division unleash the full might of his Bankai for the first time. Both series clearly gave their best to craft multiple thrilling fight scenes for their invasion arcs.
However, Naruto is a bit at a disadvantage here. After all, there are only 40 chapters in Pain’s Assault arc, compared to the Thousand-Year Blood War arc that ran for a whopping 200+ chapters. So it goes without saying that Bleach would have many more great fights compared to Naruto, which only has about two or three great fights during its invasion arc. Not to mention that Captain Kurotsuchi’s fight is easily one of the most exciting fights in the series. So this one easily goes to Bleach.
The Goal of The Invasion
For those of you who haven’t read the Thousand-Year Blood War arc in the manga, the following paragraph could potentially spoil the story for you. So proceed with caution.
There are a couple of reasons why Yhwach launches this ambitious invasion. First of all, it’s a payback for the last war, roughly 1000 years ago, where the Quincy lost miserably to the Shinigami under the leadership of the young Genryuusai Yamamoto. The second one is because Yhwach wants to kill the Soul King, steal his powers, and then merge the three worlds (Hueco Mundo, Soul Society, and the Human World) into one by erasing the boundaries between the different worlds. Quite an ambitious goal indeed.
As for Pain, well, he actually only has one simple goal. He wants to capture Naruto and extract the Nine-Tailed Beast that resides within the boy. That’s pretty much it. However, since Naruto is not in Konoha at the time, Pain proceeds to gather some intel to find out about Naruto’s whereabouts from the shinobi that are still in Konoha. In order to make his work easier, he decides to create a diversion by causing as much havoc, destruction, and Konoha shinobi deaths as he possibly can.
While the Quincy consider their attack as a long-awaited revenge plot with a noble/ambitious goal at the end, to Pain, it is just another day at work. That smugness and absolute domination is why this round goes to Naruto.
We honestly could add more variables to this comparison, such as the drama or the severity of the destruction. However, for the sake of brevity and clarity, those three variables should provide ample representation for the overall enjoyment of both arcs. So with Naruto leading with two points, the title of the best invasion arc goes to Pain’s Assault arc in Naruto.
Between Pain’s Assault arc and the Thousand-Year Blood War arc, which one do you like best? Do you know any other invasion arcs that are comparable to the ones from Naruto and Bleach? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.