Uryū Ishida is a character from Bleach that we have not written about so far, despite the fact that he is actually one of the main characters in the series. Ishida was initially thought to be the last surviving Quincy (since his father, despite having such powers, never was a Quincy professionally) but when it was discovered that Yhwach and the Sternritter were alive, Ishida was in a very tough spot. At first, Ishida did not know what to do but then opted to join Yhwach in one of the series’ most shocking moments; in this article, we are going to tell you how and why Ishida betrayed his friends and joined the Wandenreich.
Uryū Ishida never actually betrayed Ichigo and his friends in Bleach. He did join Yhwach and the Sternritter, becoming the Emperor’s designated successor, but it was all a ploy so Ishida could infiltrate the Wandenreich and help Soul Society from the inside, but also a trick to get close enough to Yhwach to kill him, because he was, through the Auswählen, responsible for the death of Ishida’s mother.
The rest of this article is going to be dedicated to Uryū Ishida and his story during the Thousand-Year Blood War arc. We are going to give you all the details surrounding Ishida’s betrayal and his joining the Sternetitter as one of Yhwach’s closest allies. There are going to be major spoilers for those that have not read the manga, so be careful how you approach the article.
How did Ishida betray his friends and join Yhwach in Bleach?
Uryū first appears in this saga when he and his friends protect the shinigami Ryūnosuke Yuki and Shino from some hollows. Two days later, everyone met at Ichigo’s home, where Uryū and the Shinigami initially quarreled as usual. Shortly after, they ate the bread Orihime had brought but were interrupted by Ebern, who started a fight with Ichigo.
Later, Ryūnosuke is informed by Akon of Chōjirō Sasakibe’s death, but Uryū thinks that the Soul Society only wants Ichigo to know about what happened with these notifications. After Nel and Pesche appeared in Karakura Town, the friends met again to discuss Wandenreich’s capture of Hueco Mundo. However, Uryū says that he cannot assist the others in rescuing the Arrancar. Ichigo knew this but wanted to inform his friend anyway. A few days later, after Wandenreich’s attack on Soul Society, Haschwalth brought Uryū Ishida to Yhwach since Uryū wanted to join the Wandenreich.
At a Sternritter gathering, Yhwach then introduces Uryū to the rest of his subordinates. To the surprise of many, Yhwach explains that he has chosen Uryū as his successor. After the meeting, Yhwach gives Uryū something and explains that his true powers will soon awaken and gives him the same letter he has (A – “Antithesis”) as a Sternritter. When Uryū asked why he was chosen to be his successor, Yhwach replied that Uryū was the only “impure” Quincy to have survived the “Auswählen” technique nine years ago. For Yhwach, this means that there must be a great power hidden in Uryū that can surpass even his.
Later, he will follow Yhwach and Haschwalth to the Seireitei, now dressed in the city Quincy and the Silbern, and enunciate the Kaiser Gesang to Her Majesty. The latter replies that there is a sequel and that the end of the current world will take place in nine days. When the Shinigami who lost their Bankai get them back, Uryū questions Yhwach on what is about to happen, to which the Emperor replies that the return of the Bankai to the Shinigami allows the Sternritter to use their Quincy: Vollständig again, as the two abilities canceled each other out.
During the night, he tried to enter the quarters of Yhwach but was interrupted by Haschwalth. He, therefore, learns that the two Sternritter share the same power, leaving Yhwach vulnerable during the night, and Jugram during the day. When Ichigo descends from the Royal Palace, Uryū follows the two leaders of the Quincy army to the highest tower in the Silbern.
He interrupts Ichigo, who has come to meet them and casts a Licht Regen on him before leaving for the Royal Palace. He will remain a spectator of the death of Nianzol Weizol, the arrival of the Schutzstaffel, the awakening of The Almighty, and the defeat of the Royal Guard before interrupting Yoruichi by shooting her in the back. His arrival will confuse the team and allow the Schutzstaffel to keep Ichigo and his gang away. He will attend the demonstration of the new strength of Yhwach, which he will be afraid of before receiving the order to eliminate the Shinigami.
Instead, he will place strange spirit particles before crossing paths with Haschwalth, who will question him. He then notices that the latter also possesses The Almighty and understands that the Sternritter Grandmaster possesses the power of Yhwach when the latter sleeps. He’s cornered until he crosses paths with Ichigo. He tells him to escape to the real world before Haschwalth tells him it’s impossible. Ishida, therefore, holds back Yhwach’s second-in-command while Ichigo and Orihime go to fight the Original Quincy.
After a long fight, Ishida is injured and tired while Jugram explains his power of The Balance to him before wanting to finish off the traitor. Ishida sarcastically asks him if he doesn’t want to see his Schrift before he dies. Jugram tells him that postponing his death like this is pointless and that if his Schrift could serve him, he would have used it already. Ishida, therefore, activates his power: The Antithesis and his wounds are transferred to Haschwalth.
The latter, confused, in turn, listens to the particularities of the power of the Sternritter A before, in turn, transferring his wounds to him to prevent Ishida from fleeing. However, the fight will be interrupted by Yhwach, who steals Haschwalth’s power thanks to the Auswählen. Defeated, Haschwalth, therefore, asks him to transfer his wounds onto him, thereby taking all of Ishida’s damage before dying. Uryū then joins the Seireitei to fire a silver arrow at Yhwach, which temporarily nullifies his powers, allowing Ichigo to finish him off.
Why did Ishida join Yhwach in Bleach?
Now, the reason why Ishida actually decided to betray his friends is far more complex than the chain of events that actually led to Ishida betraying them (mainly because he never really did betray them). Namely, from the very first moment we met him, Ishida was a very proud character who stuck to his heritage, as well as to his role as a Quincy. This was inherited from his grandfather since his father – who was a Quincy himself – wanted nothing to do with the organization and opted for a civilian life as a physician.
Ishida’s grandfather was a very rational man, and although he was a Quincy, he stuck to the old ways and thought that Quincy and the Shinigami could live and work together, unlike Yhwach and his band of Sternritter. Sōken Ishida never actually shared the ideological views of the Sternritter, and it was revealed through Quilge Opie’s remarks that the Sternritter did not have a high opinion of Sōken either, as they considered him naive and old-fashioned. This is why Ishida joining the Sternritter was such a shock. But, it could’ve made sense, still.
Namely, Ishida was a very proud Quincy, and he did have that sense of belonging when the Quincy were considered, but no one thought that after fighting alongside Ichigo, Orihime, Chad, Kon, Renji, and Rukia in Soul Society and in Hueco Mundo, that he would simply run over to the enemies simply because they belonged to the same group. And we didn’t think that his sense of Quincy pride was actually to blame here, as Ishida was not stupid and was not so easily manipulated. And we were right.
Namely, as it turned out, Ishida never actually betrayed Ichigo. After researching the history of Wandenreich and Yhwach’s role in the death of his mother, Ishida decided to join the Sternritter. This is the series of events that led to Jugram bringing Ishida to Yhwach. But, Ishida had an ulterior motive. He never actually became radicalized and he never actually betrayed his friends – he became a double agent.
There are two major reasons for that. Firstly, he wanted to avenge his mother, who died during the Auswählen. By infiltrating the Wandenreich, he could gain Yhwach’s trust and ultimately come close enough to him to effectively kill him; this, of course, backfired, but he did take care of Jugram in the end. The second reason is that he actually wanted to work from the inside to help his friends. Ishida didn’t do much to help the Sternritter, and although he has “clashed” with Ichigo while being a Sternritter, it was all for show. Ishida was the only protagonist that could effectively infiltrate the Wandenreich, and that is exactly why he did it.
Ishida, thus, never betrayed Ichigo and his friends because he was simply working to help them from the inside, and he would later rejoin Ichigo and Soul Society, surviving the fights and appearing again in the Echoing Jaws of Hell story, but his initial betrayal still remains as one of the most shocking moments of the whole Bleach series; he had been through so much with Ichigo and the others that no one thought that a random villain could sway him so effectively, and that was correct, but the moment at the time was a truly shocking one.