The Burn the Witch film was an incredible side story that delves deeper into Tite Kubo’s Bleach universe. Following the anime movie’s release in 2020, it was clear that fans wanted more, especially with the long absence of the Bleach anime at the time. The situation has greatly shifted in a positive direction with the premiere of the Bleach Thousand-Year Blood War anime, which is an ongoing series by the end of 2023. Additionally, the release of Burn The Witch #0.8 is the cherry on top of a great year for Tite Kubo works, finally giving fans the full prologue to the 2020 film.
Firstly, the Burn The Witch #0.8 anime special is an adaptation of Tite Kubo’s original Burn The Witch one-shot manga chapter from 2018, “Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover.” Readers get an introduction to western branch of the Soul Society known as Reverse London. Witches take the place of Soul Reapers, and dragons are the main threats instead of Hollows. However, dragons appear to have similar properties to Hollows from Bleach, and human emotions can easily influence them. The anime special brings a compelling introduction to the setting and premise through the perspective of Noel Niihashi and Ninny Spangcole.
Enter Reverse London in Burn The Witch #0.8
Burn The Witch #0.8 leaves a strong and lasting impression, despite its 28-minute run time. Viewers are quickly introduced to Noel and her strange friendship with Balgo, a young man obsessed with Noel’s panties. She continues to be pestered by Balgo’s mere presence, but his cute pet named Osushi manages to bring the two characters together. After fending off Balgo’s advances, she enters Reverse London to fulfill her duties as a Wing Bind witch. However, this relationship will come into player later into the episode, as Balgo’s friendship with his childhood friend Shelby comes to a head.
After Noel enters Reverse London, the anime wastes no time introducing Ninny as the most popular witch around, since she’s the vocalist of the Cecile Die Twice band. Ninny’s straightforward and abrasive personality is the perfect match for Noel’s serious and reserved nature. The intriguing duo head to Wing Bind headquarters to receive their assignment—harvesting materials from a dragon at Ninebrook Pastures.
While heading back to downtown London, Noel and Ninny quickly discover that Osushi is on a rampage as a Disguiser, a dragon that possess and reanimates corpse. Balgo is distraught by Osushi’s seemingly dead body, as the Disguiser forces Noel and Ninny to intervene. Shelby doesn’t waste time revealing his true nature as a Disguiser and powerful Dark Dragon himself. Shelby seeks immortality by devouring Ninny, while leaving Noel for Balgo since he still cares for his friend.
Balgo stands up for Ninny and blocks a powerful strike from Shelby. While protecting her, Balgo is bitten by the Dark Dragon and bleeds profusely from his arms. This gives Noel the window for an attack, while commending and accepting Balgo for his bravery. Her Absolute Dragon Shatter attack defeats Shelby for good.
#0.8 is Simple and Sweet
Burn The Witch #0.8 is almost wrapped up after the defeat of Shelby, and it’s a thoroughly great watch up to this point. The pacing of the episode is on point, and the vivid visuals by Studio Colorido continue to give Burn The Witch its unique flair. The quality of this episode makes me want an entire new cour of Burn The Witch.
Near the end of the episode, Wing Bind HQ determines that Balgo is free to stay in Reverse London going forward. Wing Bind designates Balgo as a Dragonclad human after spending a decade with Shelby. Of course, Balgo is more than happy by this decision, as Noel and Ninny now have to watch over him.
The credits rolled before I knew it, giving me some nostalgia of Burn The Witch from nearly three years ago. Fortunately, there’s still more after the credits, with Balgo staying at Noel’s hideout. Noel makes Balgo take a call from Ninny, who gets angry just by hearing him on the receiving end. The duo get their next job, which leads into the events of Burn The Witch proper.
Burn The Witch #0.8 is a great introduction to the short series, serving as a prologue that focuses on Balgo’s character development specifically. Noel and Ninny still get their time to shine as a dynamic duo, of course. Burn The Witch #0.8 is short and sweet as it needed to be, and I seriously hope Tite Kubo revisits the series in the future. There’s a lot of unexplored lore in Reverse London, and the potential for a Bleach universe seems limitless. At the very least, Bleach Thousand-Year Blood War Part 3 – The Conflict is on the horizon!
The Burn The Witch series is now streaming on Crunchyroll.