Marvel Studios may not have meant to do so, but it just canonized Bleach in the MCU - kind of. Earlier this month, The Defenders finally began streaming on Netflix, and the long-awaited show has a sly nod to the anime hidden away in one episode.
If you’ve watched The Defenders, you will know the series brings back a feared MCU villain. Elektra is brought back from the dead and groomed to be a mercenary for the Hand’s Alexandra. The show’s third episode follows the older woman as she takes Elektra to a room filled with weaponry, and Bleach fans did a double-take when they spotted a familiar weapon.
Thanks to Reddit user Hardwiredmagic, you can check out the blink-and-miss-it easter egg below. There's one shot which shows Renji Aburai’s iconic Zanpakuto shelved behind Elektra as she sorts through her master’s swords.
Sadly, the nod doesn’t meant Bleach and the Soul Society are somehow tied to the MCU; The anime’s popularity prompted hundreds of replica swords to be made, and it just so happens that The Defenders bought one of them as a set prop.
If you are not familiar with Bleach, then you should know that the sword spotted in The Defenders belongs to a rather famous Shinigami. Renji Abarai is the wielder of the spiked sword known as Zabimaru. The character, who belongs to the Soul Society’s 6th Division, is a fighter any Bleach fan would recognize. The hero acts as one of the show’s recurring leads, and Renji has a love-hate friendship with the show’s protagonist Ichigo Kurosaki.
As for Renji’s sword, Zabimaru is one of the franchise’s most famous blades. The Zanpakuto has an odd Shikai state that gives it jagged edges. The segmented blade can be used as both a rigid sword or whip, and Renji’s master swordsmanship makes him the Shinigami who’s most suited to the flexible weapon.
Marvel The Defenders is now streaming on Netflix.