Yhwach is the main villain of Bleach‘s final arc, the Quincy War, whose anime adaptation is titled the Thousand-Year Blood War arc. The evil Quincy Emperor and his Sternritter wanted to eliminate the Shinigami and the Hollows and then combine all the worlds into one new world where death would be obsolete, meaning that people wouldn’t fear death anymore. As is it usually is with all villains, Yhwach was ultimately defeated by the series’ protagonist, Ichigo Kurosaki, and in this article, we are going to tell you how and why he did it.
Yhwach was ultimately killed by Ichigo Kurosaki during their third major fight and with all of his true abilities unlocked. Ichigo managed to slice Yhwach in half, but he had some substantial help from Sōsuke Aizen, the series first big villain, whose pride did not allow him to serve under Yhwach, which is why he helped Ichigo kill him.
The rest of this article is going to tell you two things – you’re going to find out how and why Yhwach died during the Thousand-Year Blood War arc, as well as who killed him and what happened after his death. As far as spoilers are concerned, they are going to be present in this article so be careful how you approach it.
Who killed Yhwach?
In the world of Bleach, there were only two characters possible of killing Yhwach, the evil Emperor of the Quincy. The first one was Captain-Commander Yamamoto, who fought Yhwach on two occasions. Once, a millennium before the main plot, Yamamoto fought and defeated Yhwach, but was unable to kill him. Yhwach lost all of his powers but managed to reawaken them over the course of a thousand years, which is when he came back for revenge. Yamamoto engaged him once again, but Yhwach tricked him using Royd Lloyd, after which he stole his Bankai and killed him. Yamamoto had the power to do it, but he failed.
The other one was Ichigo Kurosaki, who, due to his specific heritage (he was the son of a former Shinigami and an Echt Quincy who also inherited Hollow powers and later became a Fullbringer), was the only one powerful enough and skilled enough to parry Yhwach. It was ultimately he that ended up killing the Quincy Emperor, although, as we are going to see in the next section, he had some help in the process.
How did Yhwach die?
The events we are about to describe happened after Yhwach entered the Soul King Palace and absorbed his father’s powers, thereby becoming – seemingly – the most powerful being in existence. He then proceeded to create the world he wanted, but was stopped by Ichigo after he made one fatal blunder in the process – he freed Aizen. Aizen, as we are going to explain in the next section, never wanted to become Yhwach’s ally, not even as his equal, and Yhwach committed what proved to be a wholly fatal blunder when he actually free Aizen from his prison, as it was his genius that allowed Ichigo to kill Yhwach. Here is what happened.
After plunging Ichigo into total despair, Yhwach steals his Quincy powers fused with Hollow powers and those of all his subordinates still alive, after which he descends into the Seireitei to crown his ultimate goal: to unite the Soul Society and the human world.
Upon entering the Soul Society, Yhwach finds himself in front of Aizen, who greets him and welcomes him to “his” Soul Society. The Quincy king strikes the former captain, but he escapes unharmed and even expresses gratitude to him for liberating him from the “infernal chair.” Before the two can begin fighting, Ichigo and Renji arrive, but Yhwach once more destroys Tensa Zangetsu, which had been restored by Shukuro Tsukishima, thanks to his might. Renji then activates the Bankai and charges the attack, but is quickly dispatched without meriting a second glance.
As the king of the Quincy continues to claim that all of the Bankai have already been wiped out in the future, Aizen steps in to defend Abarai. Yhwach mocks him for having a cowardly attitude, which the former captain claims to have always hated, but Aizen responds by casting the Hado 99, Goryuutenmetsu, the most potent of destruction spells, against him without even reciting the formula.
Aizen attacks Yhwach as the entire Soul Society is destroyed, but Yhwach warns him that Kyka Suigetsu has already been broken; when Aizen realizes this, he is stopped by a powerful blow to the abdomen, and shortly after that, Ichigo, who had attempted to hit the King of the Quincies from behind, is also stopped.
Yhwach bids him farewell, punches a hole in his chest, and then unleashes all of his might on the Soul Society. Suddenly, the king of the Quincy learns that he is actually fighting Aizen and not Ichigo, who had fooled him the entire time with the use of his Zanpakuto. Then, Tensa Zangetsu slices through him from side to side, and the real Ichigo’s Getsuga Tensho splits Yhwach in half.
When it appears that everything has ended, Yhwach uses his power to rise from the dead, claiming that because he has the ability to alter the future, he can also alter the moment of his death. After swallowing Aizen, Yhwach also halted Ichigo’s attack and began preparing to combine the Soul Society with the human world. The Quincy king, whose victory now seems inevitable, is abruptly struck by Ishida (the only person resistant to his magic and hence unseen to forecasts) with a special arrow that can nullify his powers in time for Ichigo to seize his now-shattered Zanpakuto and fight him.
The Quincy king realizes that the vision he had was not a simple dream but rather a gash of the future shown to him by Haschwalth as he extends his hand in an attempt to stop the thrust. Suddenly, Tensa Zangetsu shattering and old Zangetsu coming out in his place.
Yhwach, who is defeated and on his way to death, informs Ichigo that because of him, the path to a world free from fear has been blocked and that people will always be terrified of dying. Ten years later, the son of Ichigo and Orihime, Kazui Kurosaki, will completely destroy Yhwach’s power after it briefly manifests itself again.
And this was the end for Yhwach. The Quincy ruler was finally killed for good this time, as Ichigo and Aizen succeeded where Yamamoto failed thousand years prior, as Mayuri scolded him when the invasion began. Yhwach was an intriguing character with a very complex philosophical background; the essence of the quarrel between the Shinigami and the Quincy could be found in his own philosophy.
From that aspect, he was never simply a stock villain, nor a character that was meant to play a minor role. That is why his story is so importand and why his death was such a cornerstone for the world of Bleach. It took a total of ten years after his death for the last trace of his Spiritual Energy to fully disappear, as Aizen noticed personally, which is yet another piece of evidence how powerful and relevant Yhwach was. And that is why we have recounted his story for you. What follows are the answers to some related questions.
Why did Aizen help Ichigo against Yhwach?
Now, if you remember Aizen’s role on the story, you’ll know that he wanted to rule over Soul Society and destroy the Gotei 13, which is why he tried to merge his Shinigami powers with those of the Hollows. Aizen is an incredibly powerful characters and was one of the “special threats”, as described by Yhwach. Still, Aizen was too much of a narcissist and had too much pride to simply submit to anyone, let alone Yhwach, whom he did not consider as someone worthy of his respect.
For Aizen, it was a question of pride. That is why he rejected Yhwach’s offer to join him as his subortinate during the first invasion; Aizen opted to staysealed in the grand prison rather than be liberated without freedom and having to serve Yhwach. He simply had too much pride to accept such an arrangement. Later, when Yhwach liberated him and thought that Aizen would change his mind, the former Shinigami Captain simply repeated his earlier answer and told Yhwach that he would eliminate him from “his” Soul Society, thus showing that he would not allow even Yhwach to rule over what he considered his home (and over something he himself wanted to conquer, but that is not important now).
In which episode does Yhwach die?
As far as the manga is concerned, Yhwach death happens on the pages of Chapter 684, which was titled “The Blade”. Now, the final season of the Bleach anime hasn’t advanced that far yet so we don’t have an exact episode, but it is going to happen in one of the final episodes of the season, which is why we’ll have to wait a bit to find out the exact episode.