Bleach part 3

April 28, 2012

OMG! I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS! OMFG!!! Bleach actually ended!!! Am I dreaming?! Let me pinch myself first. Nope. This is definitely real. Am I watching the correct anime in the first place? Yes, I am. Wow. I still can’t believe this. And here I was resigned to my fate that I will have to watch this series weekly for the rest of my life because you know, there is never an end in sight. Whether they are adapting it from the original manga works or just cooking up some anime filler crap, Bleach was always up there with the holy trinity of ‘eternal’ animes that includes Naruto and One Piece. So now it has really ended for good, I’m not sure what to say anymore. Speechless.

This anime is so famous that I guess you don’t even need to do a recap of what it is really about. All you need to know is this high school kid, Ichigo Kurosaki, he becomes a substitute shinigami (soul reaper) in his Karakura Town. Fights evil beings called Hollows. Also fights dastardly conspiracies from very evil people who either want revenge on Soul Society (the place where all dead people go) or destroy it entirely. So what’s new for the final couple of arcs? My feelings have been yo-yo-ing between being awed and boring yawning. The former especially when the storyline follows closely to the manga and with the action sequences, yeah, I really like that part. But as for the latter, when they put in mindless fillers, I can never seem to hold my attention as each episode feels like a drag. I wanted it to end so badly rather than paying attention to what is going on. In other words, a lousy excuse for me not to remember what is going on (there is always trusty Wikipedia and Bleach Wiki). I also know it is a lame reason for me not to waste my brain cells but I could’ve dropped this series a long time ago but decided to stick with it till the end. Hopefully one day. And that day has finally come. YAHOO!!! I’m rejoicing! Ahem, back to the blog.

Reigai Arc
Oh man. I always felt this filler arc is meant for fans who want to see the Gotei Squad captains fight among themselves. How can you do so without making the other the bad guy? Well, that’s why I feel that’s where this arc came in. It’s also the arc that puts Kon in the limelight or else that bugger will always be reduced to minor comic relief roles that are so forgettable that you’d probably remember all your Japanese history dates. As we know, Kon is a modified soul. You put that little ball into anything, say a doll and the doll becomes animated. When shinigamis from Soul Society need to be present in our world (as ordinary humans cannot see them), they use artificial bodies called Gigai. A Reigai is somewhat an opposite of a Gigai. They are artificial bodies used to house modified souls. So in this arc, we have Reigais somehow housing their spiritual essence of the 13 Gotei Squad members and thus some may love the idea of seeing Byakuya versus Byakuya. It’s like fighting a mirror image and with their skills an exact duplicate, you’ll keep wondering who the original is and who’s the imposter. Yeah well, I guess people find it hard to differentiate it so those Reigai fakes have this electric currents buzzing out from their eyes. What… The…?

So this arc starts off with something unusual occurring in the Precipice World and the appearance of a mysterious girl, Nozomi Kujou. As we know Kon is a pervert so he takes her in despite Nozomi giving the cold shoulder to everyone, Ichigo and his friends, they don’t really get irritated by her moody don’t-come-close-to-me and leave-me-alone attitude. They treat her nice and give her all the time she wants and if she feels comfortable to talk, then so be it. So Nozomi isn’t an ordinary girl (what else). She’s on the run from Soul Society because some scientist, Kageroza Inaba is hunting her down with his Reigais. Plus, Ichigo seems to be framed for to odd disappearances happening in the Precipice World simply because his shinigami substitute badge is found at the crime scene. How convenient. You think that orange hair guy is going to follow them easily? Screw all your rules and procedures. Then the Reigais invade Soul Society and cause many of the real 13 Gotei Squad members to be locked out in the real world (why are they camping at Ichigo’s house?) since Kageroza is a master in controlling the Precipice World. So while Ukitake and Kyouraku get to the bottom of the foul play of framing Ichigo, we have some battle action between the real shinigamis and their Reigai counterparts. Well, only Omaeda’s Reigai looks very different. In fact, better looking and more handsome! Not like the real glutton coward pig himself. Because of Reigais looking and acting like the real deal, it’s hard to tell if the shinigami is friend or foe. Thus perhaps this is where all the twists and turns come in. You thought this Rukia may be the ally Rukia we know and then it turns out, she’s the fake. How often are they going to keep this up?

As the series progresses, bits and bits of Nozomi’s pieces are revealed. So she’s running away from Kageroza in hopes of sealing herself forever in some dimension that is out of his reach. You think our heroes will let that happen? With Urahara’s help, some of the captains re-invade Soul Society but fall to Kageroza’s trap in the Precipice World. Once they manage to breakthrough, this sets up several tantalizing clashes between the captains. Even our numero uno captain, Genryuusai has his hands full taking on a couple of Reigais in the form of Ukitake and Kyouraku. That old geezer proves why he is still number one all these centuries but as long as the Reigais can heal themselves, I’m sure he’ll tire out sooner or later. Ichigo also arrives in Soul Society and faces off with Kageroza but he didn’t know how his Zanpakutou works and gets blown away and trap him forever in the Precipice World. Once the other captains are done with their counterparts, they invade Kageroza’s base but the scientist still has the upper hand because his Zanpakutou, Raiku can record the last attacks received and replicate them as well as manipulate space. The tables are turned when the fake Mayuri is actually the real Mayuri (confused?). Something about switching the imposter earlier on. But Kageroza manages to transfer his pain to another Reigai to escape Mayuri’s drug effects. And he along with his Reigais (including fallen ones) escape to return another day.

Meanwhile Ichigo is trapped in the Precipice World and in the midst of being swallowed by the Koutotsu (that train that devours everything clean in its path in the Precipice World) when a mysterious but awfully familiar figure saves him. He wakes up in Urahara’s store as he learns about Spearhead Project, a project headed by Ooko Yushima of the 12th Division in the development of modified souls. How would you feel as a scientist when you put your hard work, blood, sweat and tears into the research when suddenly it is cancelled because some higher ups said so? In an attempt to preserve his research, he tossed every data into the Precipice World and transferred his conscious to Kageroza before turning himself into a vegetable to avoid getting caught. I guess that is why Kageroza spent donkey years in researching the Precipice World. And another revelation from Nozomi: She is the first modified soul created from that project. Are we surprised? Honestly, I wasn’t paying attention so you could say I was a little :p. But another odd thing about Nozomi is that she also has shinigami abilities and wields a Zanpakutou too. I don’t know. During an attack from Hollows, Kon got easily defeated (what do you expect?). Nozomi got so frustrated and whoosh! What do you know? A Zanpakutou materialized. But the thing is, she can’t remember its name or its powers. That’s just great. An excuse for a training camp to control her powers I guess. Kageroza sends his Reigai captains to take Nozomi and in the midst of that mess, Nozomi remembers her Zanpakutou’s name, Arazomeshigure and its power is to absorb anything with spiritual powers and multiply that power right back at the enemy. Power!!! Nozomi’s power and the cooperation of others make it easier to beat the fakes (but not without a fight of course).

You can expect an epic power battle when you see Genryuusai, Kageroza, Ichigo and Nozomi engaging each other. How often do you get to see Ryuujinjakka, Getsuga Tenshou, Arazomeshigure and Raiku all together in one big power clash? So after copying and absorbing and unleashing, I guess there is a limit to how much power Arazomeshigure can take. Yeah, it breaks when it tries to absorb Kageroza’s copied powers of Ryuujinjakka, Getsuga Tenshou and Arazomeshigure’s absorbing ability (that’s one heck of a power absorption). So another revelation made: Nozomi and Kageroza are from the same reishi of another shinigami. Guess who? Yushima. Yes, it’s that vegetable guy sitting in a dark cell that Kageroza visits from time to time. So with our heroes defeated by Kageroza, he takes Nozomi away. Where is he taking her? Well, they are going to merge together and become one like before. Because of Ichigo’s lost, he also loses his shinigami powers (this was to be expected seeing he pulled off a dangerous stunt during the final battle with Aizen in the final Arrancar Arc). Urahara has a way to allow him to get back his shinigami powers but first he needs to get a sample of his shinigami powers by getting swallowed by the Koutotsu. Hey, he got swallowed once and lived, right? So thinks went on as planned and at the end of that harrowing experience, it seems that the mysterious figure who saved him was himself. Why? How? Let’s just say time runs differently inside Koutotsu. Okay, let’s not cause any more headaches thinking about that time paradox thingy. The next step is to break into Kageroza’s secret lab to make Ichigo’s shinigami powers via modified soul candy. But there is a risk to it. Ah, always the side effect. Because it is not fully completed (he had to swallow it because some explosion happened), Ichigo may experience the instability between his shinigami and Hollow powers. Well, he experienced that before, didn’t he? While Urahara and Kon investigate Yushima’s cell, Ichigo’s Hollow powers go berserk and he is on a rampage.

Urahara heads to the other secret lab belonging to Kageroza but is halted by his Reigai self. I guess this means Kon gets he glory of being the hero this time. If he doesn’t screw up. On a trivial note, Kon is so insignificant that he doesn’t even have a Reigai to fight. Haha! Kon tries to rescue Nozomi from the capsule and seeing how determined he is, she helps Kon in completing the candy that will restore Ichigo’s spiritual pressure. But the process is interrupted and Nozomi and Kageroza merge to herald the return of Yushima. Yushima fights off Ichigo in his mindless Hollow form as well as his friends and the other 13 Gotei captains. How can they all have a hard time against a single fellow? Let’s say his Zanpakutou, Sumitsukigasa has both Kageroza and Nozomi’s Zanpakutou abilities. Now he has double the power and double the trouble for the rest. When Hollow Ichigo takes a stab meant for Rukia, Ichigo sees Nozomi’s presence inside Yushima. You know, she isn’t the unfriendly girl she used to be when she first showed up and this allows Ichigo to break free from his Hollow form. And with the completed candy, his shinigami powers are restored. Now the final power battle is at hand. Ichigo undergoes another transformation and this time his Bankai has Hollow powers. Because of this, Yushima cannot absorb it. But to defeat Yushima, he must break his soul sleep that contains his shinigami powers. Nozomi’s consciousness tries to hold Yushima back and wants Ichigo to kill her as well. This is not the time to hesitate. In a desperate attempt, Yushima tries to absorb all the reishi and this causes the Reigais to feel threatened. They sacrifice themselves and as a result to stop the madness, cause a huge explosion. Ichigo is able to break the fusion, separating Kageroza and Nozomi. Nozomi have a last final farewell with everyone and Kon before biting the dust. In the aftermath, Ichigo has lost his temporary shinigami powers and is having a hard time fighting a low level Hollow. Could you imagine Rukia coming to his aid? Well, as his power gradually fades, he unleashes one last Getsuga Tenshou to finish off a Hollow. After that, the next time he wakes up, he can’t even sense any spiritual pressure or even see his shinigami pals anymore. Thank you and goodbye?

Lost Shinigami Arc
It has been 17 months since the ex-substitute shinigami cannot see dead people anymore. He is leading the normal life. Some of his pals have got a little physical appearance change but nothing extreme. Things get on a roll when Ichigo stops a thief from stealing a bag belonging to Kuugo Ginjo. Currently Ichigo is working part time at an odd jobs store run by the aggressive Ikumi Unagiya. Ginjo comes looking for him with request to investigate Ichigo’s father and also reveals his sister Karin had been visiting Urahara (this means she can see dead people). He gives him his business card that states he is from the Xcution and wants him to act fast before his family gets hurt. Meanwhile Ishida follows a strange guy, Shuukurou Tsukishima and the next thing he knows, he got slashed. Ishida gets hospitalized and when Ichigo feels left out from all that has happened, he finally decides to come knocking on Xcution’s door to seek for answers. So at Xcution’s headquarters that also consists of the dark skinned Jackie Tristan, always-holding-a-handheld-game-to-his-face Yukio Hans Vorarlberna, typical tsundere Riruka Dokugamine and bartender Giriko Kutsuzawa, Ginjo explains their powers known as Fullbring. Everything has inanimate souls in them and this Fullbring allows them to manipulate that soul to their will. Let’s just say it is their form of Zanpakutou. Just without the shape of swords. This group of people wants to rid of their powers and return being an ordinary human being. In order to do that, they need the powers of a human that once possessed shinigami powers. So how convenient Ichigo fits that bill. In return, this will aid Ichigo in regaining his lost shinigami powers. But Ichigo still isn’t convinced despite Chad persuading him (yes, Chad also joined the group to, let’s say, power up). So what convinced him to join? When he spotted Tsukishima, he chased after him only to chance upon Yuzu. Then she got attacked by a Hollow and he is powerless to save his poor sister till Ginjo showed up and save the day. Thus he joins Xcution to retrieve again the power that will enable him to protect those who are important to him.

So training begins in Riruka’s dollhouse (her Fullbring turns animate and inanimate things into cute little things). He’s got to figure out how to materialize his Fullbring using the substitute shinigami badge. I don’t know, all he has to do is to think of all the battles he had because you know, his badge is somewhat filled with memories and experiences of them. It takes some time for him to materialize his own Fullbring and learn its abilities and limits. Meanwhile, delinquent Moe Shishigawara, an underling of Tsukishima plans to kill Orihime but was stopped by his boss. He is about to punish his disciple when Orihime intervenes. She gets cut by his sword by oddly doesn’t feel anything damage to her body. But it may have affected her mind because she starts thinking that Tsukishima is her friend. Because she doesn’t want to trouble Ichigo (he’s powerless anyway as for now. What can he do?), she confides in Chad. Ichigo continues his Fullbring training and this time will be up against Jackie. Initially she was reluctant but after seeing him do well, she takes him on. Her Dirty Boots Fullbring allows her to be faster and more powerful each time her boots get dirty. Hence the name. However Ichigo’s Fullbring goes berserk and in the midst of it all, Tsukishima attacks Xcution’s headquarters. Just in time for Ichigo to bust out of his training tank and show them what he has learnt so far.

Ichigo is still a beginner using his Fullbring so obviously he is upset he can’t land a hit on Tsukishima unlike Ginjo who is more evenly matched. At least Chad could put up a little resistance. Hmm… Maybe not. He got cut too but there weren’t any wounds. Before Ichigo can intervene, Yukio absorbs him into his video game Fullbring called Invaders Must Die. Tsukishima escapes once the other Xcution members attack him. So back to more training for Ichigo as he now fights Ginjo inside Yukio’s Fullbring. Chad brings Orihime to Xcution’s other hidden hideout because Ichigo is going to need all the healing he can get. I guess Ichigo isn’t making much headway so Ginjo makes a bold attempt by blinding Ichigo with his sword!!! Oh sh*t!!! Ichigo reaches his raging level when Ginjo mocks him and threatens to kill his friends. It is then Ichigo is able to see outlines of Ginjo’s spiritual presence and launches a powerful Fullbring attack on him. Ginjo reveals he was just acting to provoke him to make him unleash his true Fullbring potential. While Ichigo is busy perfecting his new Fullbring powers, Orihime and Chad try to investigate more on Tsukishima. Riruka tails them but gets owned by Tsukishima. When Chad and Orihime confront him, they are unable to lay a finger because in their memories, Tsukishima is their precious friend. Ichigo is horrified when he learns all his friends and family are under Tsukishima’s influence. They happily welcome him like a good friend or family member. I guess Ichigo was so pissed that he couldn’t think straight that he got rough on Tsukishima, demanding what the f*ck he had done to them. Can’t he see he is acting like a villain in their eyes? Has anybody he knows not been affected by him yet? Only Ginjo. Yeah. Looks like the other Xcution members are also done in. Ginjo concludes that Tsukishima’s Fullbring isn’t manipulating memories but inserting himself into the past of the people he has infected. Huh? Isn’t that the same as memory manipulating? It’s like changing the past so if he is really there in place of certain persons, say in Orihime’s case her brother and Chad his grandpa, what happened to that original people then?

The duo are found by Yukio and brought to Tsukishima’s mansion where all of Ichigo’s friends and family are waiting. They are still brainwashed. The theory is if Ichigo wants his family and friends freed, he must risk killing Tsukishima. But that even doesn’t guarantee that they will return to normal. Ichigo takes the battle with Tsukishima upstairs but to his dismay, sees Chad and Orihime fighting against him. They couldn’t understand why he wants to hurt their friend. Has he gone crazy? Ichigo can’t understand why they’re siding them. Oh well. Ginjo has his hands full with his Xcution members. Ichigo is unable to hurt his friends so this allows him to be like an open book as Tsukishima stabs him. Unfortunately Ginjo took the stab in his place. Then with Ishida coming into the picture, Ichigo wonders if he too is under Tsukishima’s control since he is pointing his weapon at him. Ishida reveals he is not because the culprit who slashed him is no other than Ginjo! Ichigo is slammed to the ground by Ginjo who reveals he wasn’t really in Tsukishima’s control in the first place. Well, actually this is his second stab. This stab changes him back to his true nature. Everything was a setup so that he could take his powers. Ginjo takes Ichigo’s Fullbring and this sends him into total despair that he has been betrayed to the max. But he can’t stay powerless for long because Rukia suddenly stabs him with her sword and returns the shinigami powers to him. Well, this sword contains all the powers from all the 13 Gotei captain and vice captains. After all what Ichigo has done, this is the least they could do to repay the favour. Yeah, it took 17 freaking long months. Ginjo gives some of his new powers to the other Xcution members and this transforms them into a much more powerful version.

This sets up tantalizing match-ups for the final battle. With Yukio setting individual time-space for each battle, we have Zaraki versus Giriko but this match ended so fast and in a farce that it wasn’t worth calling it a match. Giriko turned into something like Incredible Hulk and is boasting of his new powers but with one slice from Zaraki, he’s dead. Impossible? Possible! Then we have Renji against Jackie and it ends with Jackie losing but she sacrificed herself to save Renji. The brute men get each other as Madarame fights Shishigawara. The latter preparing to lay down his life for Tsukishima but gets a good ticking off and lecture. Shishigawara’s Fullbring may be able to break anything his knuckles hit due to some jackpot thingy, but the more he hits, the chances of getting lucky goes down. Yeah, so he lost. I don’t know how Riruka and Rukia‘s match will end. The scene is just too cute for utter destruction. Besides, how can Rukia concentrate when she is taken in by all the cute stuffs? She even got turned into a stuff doll. Hitsugaya plays along with Yukio in his customized video game arena but manages to get the better of that kid and makes a deal with him to free the others or else. Then the battle of the bishonens with Byakuya and Tsukishima with the latter influencing Byakuya’s Senbonzakura because his Fullbring also can be used on inanimate objects. This allows Tsukishima to know all the tricks and abilities of his Zanpakutou and when all else seems to fail, Byakuya comes up with ideas on the spot to fight him and successfully make a hole in his chest. So the final match has got to be Ichigo against Ginjo. It is revealed that Ginjo was once a substitute shinigami before Ichigo. Why he went missing or what Soul Society has done to him to make him want revenge on them is still a mystery to me. So after Ginjo disappeared, Ichigo took over and the substitute shinigami badge is actually a device to keep watch on him. The man behind it all is Ukitake. Even if Ginjo tries to make Ichigo believe that the real enemy is Soul Society but Ichigo notes he realized it all but just pushed it to the back of his mind. Even if it was Soul Society’s intention, he believes in them because they helped him to protect his loved ones. Ginjo transforms to his Bankai form and so does Ichigo. The final move has Ichigo unleashing the most powerful Getsuga Tenshou ever. Powerful enough to even whisk away the dark clouds and bring a clear sky! Ginjo dies but before it is over, enraged Tsukishima tries to cut Ichigo down and doesn’t want Ginjo to die. Riruka blocks his slash (she appeared from Rukia’s chest. That’s where she’s hiding?). She gives him one last lecture that it was Ginjo who saved them all and that they couldn’t save Ginjo but Ichigo. The captains and the vice captains return to Soul Society after knowing the path Ichigo has choose, the reason why they came here in the first place.

In the aftermath, Ichigo returns to Soul Society with a surprise request to seek an audience with Genryuusai. At this point, Shinji, Rose and Kensei have become the captain of 5th, 3rd and 9th Division respectively. Hey, after 17 months and if 13 Gotei didn’t really find replacement for those divisions, man, what are they doing? It’ll be a big joke that nobody is deemed capable of replacing that seat, not even the vice captains because it’ll tell us they’re not fit to move up the ranks. And reinstating those ex-Vizards means they have buried the hatchet? Looks like it. Anyway Ichigo is here to seek Genryuusai’s permission to take Ginjo’s body back to the real world for a proper burial. This is the least he could do as a fellow substitute shinigami because he will be continuing his job as one. Woah! He is going to stay on as a substitute shinigami? I’m sure you know what his reasons are. Besides, this means he got his powers back and he is definitely here to stay. And so Ichigo returns back to his world with all his friends and family waiting for him. I guess Tsukishima must have died seeing they have been released from his spell. Oh, Jackie, Yukio and Riruka are still alive. With their Fullbring ceased to function, they disband and live their separate lives.

Blotch!
Oh finally! It’s over! It is with mixed feelings on how the series ended. Firstly with too many characters after too many episodes, trying to tie up all the characters may seem like a tough thing to do. It makes you wonder what happened to this character, where has that character gone to, what about that guy. So it feels like all those characters are maybe just for a certain arc and once it is done, you’ll never hear of them again. And then with some of the plots, take for instance the final arc, it bugs me if Ginjo was Ichigo’s predecessor, why hasn’t anybody from Soul Society got any information on his whereabouts during his absence? I’m sure they couldn’t be just relying on the badge to keep track and spy on the substitute shinigami, right? Don’t they have any records on him? Or are they just keeping mum when Ichigo took on the job. Yeah, after 366 episodes, this is what the big truth is about this substitute shinigami job. But does Ichigo care for all that? As long as he has the power to protect his loved ones, your rules and regulations can go the hell for all he cares. Unlike many who would be hypocrites, I guess Ichigo is the kind of guy who does his talking by his action. Walk the talk. Sure, he may not be the diplomatic kind but as they say, action speaks louder than words. Throughout the entire series, Ichigo seemed like the same person he always is from the start. The kind that wants to protect his friends and family. That didn’t change in the very end and what did was the evolution of his powers. It is awesome and cool to see him undergo various transformations with his new powers. But sometimes I feel they don’t last beyond a match and after that you won’t see them again. I suppose by showing too much of the same thing will be boring but it would’ve been cooler if we get to see more especially those Hollow ones. Those powers are still a mystery (at least to me) so I would really like to know how he materializes that form. Then again, maybe they did explain. Just that I couldn’t remember.

So for the rest of Ichigo human pals, Ishida, Chad and Orihime. The final arc felt like they try to involve them in some ways because for the previous arcs I felt they were like reduced to minor characters. But in the end, they become somewhat ‘redundant’ as Chad and Orihime became ‘paralyzed’ with Tsukishima’s powers while Ishida he’s just like a spectator watching. I know it’s to set up a final one-on-one clash between Ichigo and Ginjo but in an overall context, don’t you think the characters feel like they can be done without besides serving as little roles to advance the plot? We don’t really get to see them flex their powers but just a little demonstration. We are too focused in seeing Ichigo’s transformation of powers. That’s why like I said, they have too many characters and trying to give each their due screen time seems unjustified when the series suddenly just ends. It made me feel that some of the captains who appeared for the Xcution’s fight were just for the sake so that we don’t forget at least the main ones. I’m sure fans of Byakuya wouldn’t like it if they don’t get to see their favourite captain in the end. If Xcution had more members, I am certain that more of the 13 Gotei members will join the fray. But this will mean prolonging the number of episodes or quick fights. It’s nice to see that some of the captains and their vice captains have a little makeover. It makes it feel that time indeed has passed.

One thing about Soul Society that bugs me is their intelligence and information. I mean if it was top-notched, then I guess the Reigai and Lost Shinigami arc would never have happened in the first place. It makes you think how they can let it happen. For the Reigai case, if they had done their homework and not let things go out of control, we won’t have the heroes dealing with such a big pain in the ass, right? And for the Lost Shinigami incident, how can a mere human like Ginjo disappear without a trace and the people of Soul Society not able to track him down. Do they really need guys like Ichigo to solve their problems? Must be. Ichigo is like the hero, the saviour in every arc. That is why because of him, even the big number one boss allows the rules to be bend in the end just to repay their debt to him. Ichigo changes everything. So might as well give him a permanent seat in the 13 Gotei and make him a captain of one of the divisions, eh? He may not want that full time job or title and wants the freedom to juggle between his normal high school life and substitute shinigami, but as the way things are looking now, he might be even better than some of the captains. Heck, he has got both shinigami and Hollow powers. What is there to worry? If his Hollow powers ever go out of control, then just slap more training to him. After all, there is no training that has never failed to overcome in the end, right? Plus, he is the kind who learns hands on so I think boring lectures will not even get through one ear.

I don’t really know what else to comment because it has been such a long anime that what I wanted to say I have said it or have forgotten about it. Maybe it was something important or just something trivial. Like the end segment after the episode preview which isn’t just the Shinigami Illustrated Picture Book, but we have Quincy Encyclopaedia and Xcution Dictionary. In contrary to its knowledge-like name, they serve more like short skits, gags and comical reliefs than information to provide further insight (well, some segments do but that is just the beginning and one-off). Sometimes I don’t really understand the gag but I ended up laughing because well, it supposed to be funny, right?  As for the action part, some fights do not disappoint but I just wish that some of the characters would have more variety of moves than using their well-known techniques. To cover up for that, they put in lots of drama and talk, including explaining stuffs and all. Point to ponder: You can’ really kill a shinigami, right? They are after all already dead, right? So don’t worry if Ichigo gets stabbed or impaled. He is after all in his shinigami form and his real body is being taken care of by Kon (provided he doesn’t do anything stupid and cause misunderstanding). But in the case if they really do die, just like in my previous blog I wondered, where do they go when they really die? Is there another Soul Society in another after world? Also all the title screens which features the episode number are still creatively done. Every single one of them has different patterns and style so it’s nice to see the way the numbers are being displayed. Some may not be ‘attractive’ but not every anime can design this for every episode. Heck, what more 300 over freaking episodes!

Hey, noticed something? Being a shonen type anime, there is really no love romance. And I mean NONE, nil, zilch, nothing. So when it ended, nobody was really complaining about how Ichigo didn’t end up with Rukia or Orihime or some other girl. Sure we had a few short scenes that may suggest something really romantic may occur, like the time before Orihime was whisked away to Hueco Mundo, she kissed sleeping Ichigo as a goodbye token. But in the end, no one really cares about it nor remembers them. We’re just interested (at least me) on who fights who. Love has no time when a fight gets in the way. Besides, how can you love when there is no peace around? So if you were really hoping for some high school romance and hijinks, you’ve watched the wrong anime and waited with false hope for 366 episodes. Does Ichigo really look like the guy he has time for women? He’s already a high school student and a substitute shinigami, adding ‘a caring boyfriend’ would be too much to handle. Yeah, even slaying Hollows and defeating Aizen would be much easier. I read generally online and most fans of the series were satisfied with the way the anime ended. Simply, good guys triumph, bad guys lost. End of story. What more do you want? For me, as I have said I have mixed feelings. Now my weekends are an anime series free. Now I can watch an additional anime in place of Bleach :). So One Piece and Fairy Tail, when are you both going to end your long running series? (I’m not watching Naruto: Shippuden by the way).

I guess finally why I understood this anime is named Bleach. After so much bloodshed from all the fights, I think they really need a detergent to remove all that bloodied stain. Don’t forget to use baking soda, ammonia and salt too. Haha! Maybe in the near future they will continue this series after a lengthy break like what they did for Gintama and the New Prince of Tennis. But so far I have not heard anything or some OVAs or movies (I never watched both). Maybe I don’t want to. That’s because of my fear it will turn into an eternal drag. I still can’t believe it. This anime has already ended. I tried waiting for a few weeks and maybe a surprise announcement may spring up but well, nothing. Maybe it is gone for good. Phew. All this worrying has made me tired. Now I need to go and have some rest because I’m bleached out.

Bleach part 2

April 23, 2011

ZZZZzzzZZZZzzzzZZZzzz… Snore, snore… ZZZzzzZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz… Yawn, yaaaaaaawn… ZZZzzzzZZzzz… Oh, OH! Sorry, fell asleep there. Before I go back into my unconscious zombie slumber again, I just wanted to do a little review about that long running anime series, Bleach. I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M STILL WATCHING THIS SH*T AFTER ALL THESE YEARS!!! It was fun and exciting at first but when it started to add in fillers in between story arcs, it became more than just annoying and irritating. It’s so DAMN FRUSTRATING! It is like as though the producers are playing with our patience. So with the first few lines already condemning this popular series (no kidding, this show has a huge fan base in Japan and in overseas especially), why am I still watching this? Why don’t I drop it when all those mindless fillers came in? I always had that little faint hope in my heart that the story arc will end. Still hoping… And praying… Maybe that is why the series is so mysteriously popular and manages to ‘attract’ and ‘retain’ viewers for a very long time. Looks like I’m in for a very long ride and there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Still hoping…

Zanpakutou Arc (cont.)
Continuing from where I left off in my previous blog over a year ago, we had this so called interesting Zanpakutou Arc whereby the unique weapons of the Shinigamis materialized into living beings and went on a rebellion cause. So yeah, what else? It’s hard to remember all those details when it becomes draggy. Okay, what I remember is that Kouga’s Zanpakutou, Muramasa wanted to free his master but you know, that Kouga dude thinks his Zanpakutou is just a tool and treats him badly, unheeding advice from all our heroes. So we get to see a little flashback like how Kouga was part of Byakuya’s family and that time Byakuya’s dad, Ginrei was in charge of the 6th division. Kouga was the rising star in the clan and there were jealous people who wanted him down. They successfully framed and imprisoned him though he managed to escape with Muramasa’s help. Kouga soon turned crazy and started killing everybody so he was sealed by Ginrei and Genryuusai. At that point, no matter how much Muramasa tried to reach out to him, his voice never reached Kouga.

So back in reality, Kouga shows his ungratefulness by stabbing Muramasa. Even if Byakuya is going to kill Kouga, Muramasa still offers his powers to his master but that jerk shrugs him off. In the end, Byakuya kills Kouga but that isn’t the end of the problem. In fact, a new one just cropped up. Muramasa becomes unstable and in his sorrow, somehow is absorbing all the Hollows, turning him into a mean Arrancar in the process. Everyone tries to stop it including all the freed Zanpakutous from Muramasa’s spell as Ichigo gets sucked into Muramasa’s dome and battles the demon from within. As expected, Ichigo has to beat Muramasa and even made that Zanpakutou realize the err of his ways before he is really gone for good.

Zanpakutou Sword Fiend Arc
Just when I thought I could get back to the Arrancar fight, comes this sh*t filler. Yeah, the beginning of a long painful filler arc. What the hell is this for anyway? My guess is that before they kill off the Zanpakutous for good, might as well have them do a little adventure of their own. Seriously, what the hell is this for anyway? So even after Muramasa’s death, there are masterless Zanpakutous running rampage in Soul Society because they killed their masters during that chaos so without one, I guess you can say they’re going berserk. I don’t remember how but Mayuri calls them Sword Fiends. So we have the gang running around Soul Society trying to put out these Sword Fiends (some of their designs look so hideous that it makes you think that the producers ran out of ideas) or the Zanpakutous of the Shinigamis in some sh*tty pointless adventure or explores the bond between their masters. I’m not going to even put down a short sentence of what happened in those episodes since I do not want to relive the ‘nightmare’ of this arc. Otherwise, you can go to Wikipedia for a very brief one. Like you want to read it. Really.

Arrancar Downfall Arc
Oh finally! It is here. We can finally continue the fight between the Shingamis and Arrancar at the fake Karakura Town. Why create a life-like duplicate of the town? So you won’t have to fight in an empty all-white background, haha! Read more about it here at Wikipedia too. Anyway while half of the Gotei 13 squad members are fighting the Arrancars (Aizen, Gin and Tousen are temporarily sealed by Genryuusai’s firewall – not the PC one lah), Ichigo is having his hands full fighting Ulquiorra. So yeah, the much awaited power battle begins as we see Ulquiorra powering up twice to reveal his never-seen-before bat-like form (no, he didn’t turn into a batman) while Ichigo after taking lots of hard damage, unconsciously transforms into a super powerful Hollow himself. So powerful that even after all that mocking and scorning from Ulquiorra that Ichigo was a powerless and useless kid, he is made to eat his own words and before you know it, the tables are turned, Ulquiorra takes a terrible beating and turns to dust in the end. Just wow. Speechless.

Meanwhile Chad, Renji and Rukia take on Rudobone but eventually incensed Yammy disrupted the fight, took out his own ally and has turned into a giant version to wipe out the little heroes (something about wanting to avenge his humiliating defeat on Ishida in his earlier fight with him in a tower). Seems Yammy isn’t Arrancar number 10 but is actually number 0! I don’t understand this. Changing a double digit number into a single number, is that his special ability too? Sure, he is more powerful and has got more legs in his hideous form but you know the saying, the bigger they are, the harder they fall. But in this case, too bad our heroic trio got defeated. So size really does matter after all? Ichigo returns from his fight to help his pals but I guess he has got a better job to save Karakura Town so Byakuya and Zaraki take on Yammy in one of their ego and prideful fight. Mayuri creates some device to open up a portal to the fake Karakura Town as Unohana tags along with Ichigo back there. Unohana knows Ichigo is their only hope as she realizes he is the only person who has not seen Aizen’s Shikai. This means Ichigo will not be under Aizen’s hypnotic power unlike everyone else and must remain so if they are to have any chance of defeating him.

Back at the fake Karakura Town, Hitsugaya takes on Harribel in an ice versus water battle, Soifon and Omaeda against Barragan in a cat and mouse game because Barragan’s touch could just rot anything (like Soifon’s left arm fell victim to it) and surprisingly the numero uno Espada turns out to be laidback Starkk and his tomboyish Fraccion, Lilinette as they battle against Kyouraku and Ukitake. The Espadas have the upper hand and the Shinigamis with no cards left to play. It gets worse when Wonderweiss opens up a large portal and releases lots of Grand Menos in. See, if you don’t finish the job fast enough, this is what you get. Luckily, the Vizards are back and show that they are a force to be reckon with as they swiftly take out all the low level Hollows (considering their level up, these Grand Menos are a piece of cake). So will they be an ally to the Shinigamis? Heck no, they are Aizen’s enemy. Yeah, just worded differently though it means the same thing. So our Vizards team up with the Shinigamis to turn the tables on the Espadas. Hachigen offers his services to Soifon-Omaeda and takes out Barragan in his own rotting game (yeah, some flashback how Barragan became an underling of Aizen so that he could kill him and reclaim his crown as king of Las Noches. Too bad that won’t be happening), Kensei and Mashiro beat up Wonderweiss, and Love and Rose team up to duel Starkk-Lilinette and their ‘exploding wolves’ technique with Kyouraku eventually finishing him off.

With the top 2 Espadas gone, Aizen has gotten weary of this battle. Yeah, the firewall is gone so he goes over to Harribel who is in the midst of her fight with Hitsugaya, Lisa and Hiyori, and slashes her because he thinks she isn’t strong enough to fight for his ideals! Oh sh*t! Are you interested in seeing Harribel’s flashback on how she decided to follow Aizen and something about sacrifice? Not that I can remember. Aizen starts taunting everyone so hot-headed Hiyori starts charging in and gets sliced by Gin instead. Elsewhere, Komamura and Hisagi fight Tousen. More flashback on how he strayed to find his own path of ‘justice’ after his close friend died. Tousen powers up into an ugly fly and the funny part was that though he has got his vision in this form, he states how Komamura looked uglier than he thought. It’s like the pot calling the kettle black. At the end of the fight, Tousen is defeated and realizes the err of his ways. Just before both sides could have a short touching reunion, Aizen kills him. So much for that.

At this point, Ichigo appears but his one-shot attack failed to kill off Aizen since he put some protective barrier behind his neck, which is a blind spot. This is why Aizen is the most powerful villain of all time. All the Shinigamis and Vizards attack him simultaneously and nobody got even close enough to wound that cool guy. I guess if not for Genryuusai’s firewall, Aizen could have taken out everybody singlehandedly without losing a single casualty on his side. It really puts a shame on the Shinigamis seeing the vast difference in their powers. So with all the captains out of commission, it is the battle of the big bosses. Finally we get to see Genryuusai in another serious action. However Wonderweiss’ existence and power was to nullify Genryuusai’s Zanpakutou so that old fart has no choice but to use his body to absorb his own flames and take serious damage or else everything and everyone in this fake town will be burnt to a crisp. Aizen plans on killing Genryuusai for he is the history of all Soul Society but is interrupted by another surprise attack from Ichigo. Who else is left to fight? Plus, Aizen has fused with the Hougyoku in his chest so any wounds he receives will be healed. Aizen isn’t just a cool and calm baddie but shows that he is one heck of a future planner. What do I mean? You see, from day one ever since Ichigo became a substitute Shinigami, Aizen has been watching him and all his fights were actually planned by him! Woah! Not only that, he claims to know Ichigo since his birth! What is he? His mother?! It really bugs me how Aizen could really get his information and watching Ichigo’s fights like say, inside Byakuya’s Bankai.

So are you feeling afraid now Ichigo? Look who dropped by for the fight? It’s Ichigo’s dad, Isshin! If you had suspicions if he was a captain-class Shinigami, this confirms it. So I guess this Shinigami thing runs in the family, eh? Isshin teams up with Yoruichi and Urahara to fight Aizen while Gin fights Ichigo in a long awaited rematch (yeah, the last time they fought shortly was about 200 episodes ago. Haha!). Even Urahara’s trick doesn’t work against Aizen and only provided temporary solutions. With each passing minute, Aizen becomes so strong that his appearance even changes. Gin was about to let Ichigo go and give him a chance to escape but decided to kill him after concluding he is a ‘weak’ person and wouldn’t want anybody so to fight Aizen. He got interrupted with Aizen’s appearance, a sign meaning he has taken out the trio. I guess Aizen has got no time to deal with a small fry like him so he and Gin leave for the real Karakura Town hidden at Soul Society. Aizen is so powerful that he took out the Cleaner Train in the Precipice World! Isshin confronts Ichigo and takes him to the Precipice World to have him learn on his own the Final Getsuga Tenshou move (apparently time in this world runs differently in the real world so you could say he could take his time. But hurry, he has only 2000 hours, that is approximately 3 months) while daddy takes guard. In this underwater world, Ichigo faces a younger version of Zangetsu and learns that his Hollow side may be originally one with his Zanpakutou. Since Zangetsu is reluctant to teach him, Ichigo fights a combined enemy to force the technique out of him.

Meanwhile Aizen and Gin has arrived in the real Karakura Town. Some of Ichigo’s pals, Tatsuki and Keigo are conscious (I guess it’s their turn to shine after a long ‘slumber’. Get it?). They can sense Aizen’s heavy and damaging spiritual power and presence so they try to make a run for it since Aizen wants to kill them. If not for that annoying Don Kannoji guy (and later that afro Shinigami guy to join in), they could’ve been toast. I guess Aizen must be enjoying it playing tag with them because my guess is that if he is really serious, he could’ve killed them all in a snap of his finger. But instead, he lets them run and run. Rangiku manages to get into this world and confronts Gin but the latter kills her and rejoins Aizen. But there is a twist. Gin uses his Zanpakutou to wound Aizen and leaving a lethal poison from his Zanpakutou in his body. After all this time, this is how easy Aizen will be killed?! Yeah, apparently Aizen knew of Gin’s intentions and brought him along because he was interested to see how he would kill him. Satisfied now? His cursing must prove so. Gin escapes with the Hougyoku but his relief turns out to be a short one because Aizen regenerates since the Hougyoku is part of him. One bad deed deserves another as Aizen slices Gin. So there’s this flashback that reveals that Gin spotted Aizen tormenting Rangiku and vowed to kill that tormentor who is no other than Aizen. So he played the villain’s role all along just for this? Anyway it didn’t turn out good because Aizen is too powerful. And yeah, Gin’s dead. So this confirms it that his smile is part of his face.

As Aizen continues to chase Ichigo’s pals, everyone please put your hands together and herald the return of Ichigo. Oh yeah, now he looks more powered up, more bad-ass and erm… Longer hair? How long has he been the Precipice World? Long enough for Isshin to even grow a beard. Man, that dad is unconscious. Now for the ultimate power battle. And I really mean power battle. Both sides has been swinging power moves that is enough to crack the ground, disintegrate mountains, alter terrains and send rippling shockwaves throughout the edge of the universe. Okay, so I made the last one up but even if they did want to show the magnitude of the power, they could’ve done so. All I can say for this battle is, WOW!!! AWESOME!!! SUPER POWER PLAY!!! Now this is the reason why we watch Bleach. This was the reason what made Bleach so awesome in the first place. This was the reason why we loved Bleach. Not those mindless crappy fillers. This action is what Bleach should have been about and this fight made us remember the coolness and awesomeness we have long forgotten. The best part is that Ichigo not only manages to effortlessly stop Aizen’s blade with his 2 fingers, he seems bloody bored at Aizen’s cocky, high and mighty speech. He has to. I mean, he’s had enough of this arc which is getting real draggy and wants to put an end to it for good. Aizen undergoes several mutated transformation, supposedly some super evolution via Hougyoku. In my opinion, it makes him look like a freakish monster. So is he a Hollow or not now? If evolving into some super being means making you look like this, I’d rather be a wimpy kid.

Now it’s Ichigo’s turn to unleash his Final Getsuga Tenshou. It’s form? Ichigo BECOMES Getsuga Tenshou itself. Now looking more bad-ass than ever. Short flashback reveals that Ichigo discovered the trick in learning this final technique. Ichigo couldn’t defeat Zangetsu and thought why the heck am I fighting someone who could easily finish me off? Then he lets Zangetsu stab him, which means accepting Zangetsu. The catch of using this deadly power is that his Shinigami powers will be stripped. Only good for only once, eh? Ichigo unleashes a torrent of darkness that engulfs Aizen. Met his match for the first time, eh? However due to Hougyoku, Aizen is still alive. Too bad Ichigo is all out of energy and with no more Shinigami powers, is Aizen going to have the last laugh? Not if Urahara could help it. Seems in their earlier match, he planted some kido inside Aizen before his grotesque transformation. With Aizen weakening due to Ichigo’s blast, the seal takes effect. Furthermore, Hougyoku doesn’t see Aizen as the most powerful one and abandons him. Have any final words before you are completely sealed off? Save it for eternity. In the aftermath, we see many Shinigamis undergoing recuperation and some taking up more self-training. When Ichigo is reunited with his friends, he collapses. He wakes up several days later and is being told that he just went through a few stages of losing his Shinigami powers and it’s not over yet. It can be sooner or later. Tomorrow, next week or even 5 years down the road. But Ichigo doesn’t care for all that because he is happy that all his friends are alive especially Orihime who is now rescued and safely back on their side. They make preparations to head back to their real world. As for Aizen, he is being sentenced by the Central 46 committee to 20,000 years in some prison since he can’t die. The ironic and pathetic fact is that Aizen was able to get on their nerves by mocking them, that’s why they double his sentence from 10,000 years. Wait a minute? He’s an immortal and you only plan to lock him up for 20,000 years? That’s a bloody short time. Why didn’t they give him a prison sentence for eternity? No wonder those idiots were so easily massacred and fallen into his plans in the beginning. Makes you wonder how they think. It’s just sad that those blokes are still around.

Bleak…
Oh finally! FINALLY! HALLELUJAH! It’s finally over for real! I can’t believe it! And I thought that this arc was going to run forever seeing the amount of fillers in between. Yeah you could say that the producers have the cheek to slot in mindless fillers during this crucial arc even at its climax. Although it doesn’t last half a year but a few weeks, even so is enough to annoy and irritate. It puts a damper and halt on the flow of watching the series. So I heard that the fillers such as some Arabian Nights-themed, Soul Society in a movie making frenzy, Soul Society New Year special, Monster side story and that crap about Hisagi thinking Rangiku was trying to hit on him was to commemorate the manga’s 10th year anniversary or promotion of another Bleach film. Clap, clap, clap. Hooray… I didn’t know that… Good for you… Now, can we go on with the story, please?

So after 1 year plus, what else can I say? The only thing amusing is Aizen because he fought everybody and beat them to a pulp. It’s like he is an untouchable and nobody comes close in just touching his hair. Okay, maybe some managed to knock him off guard but that is nothing to the retribution he will do to you. From the Shinigami captains to the big boss of Gotei 13 to all the Vizards to even other Bleach casts, who else who hasn’t fall to Aizen’s power, please step up and take your slice. He took on everybody and comes out tops and is worthy to be one of the most successful and powerful villains in the annals of anime history. Of course, my guess was correct that Ichigo will be the final guy who will defeat Aizen and return everything back to normal. The final fight was the only good thing that had me glued to the screen after a very, very, very long period of mediocrity. I also felt that the fights of other Arrancars with the other heroes turn out to be one long draggy affair. Couldn’t they finish it in 1 episode or the most 2? Ah, that’s why this show seems to last forever.

However my other main grouse for the ending of the Arrancar Arc is it felt like a rush job. There were too many characters and their whereabouts and circumstances of some were left hanging. They were not properly explained so it left a bad aftertaste in my mouth. For instance, Yammy was eventually defeated by Byakuya and Zaraki but they just left him there. Why didn’t they kill him? So what happened to some of the Arrancars that didn’t die like Grimmjow or even that loli Nel and her comical subordinates? Where the heck are they? And what will become of the Vizards now that their revenge has been fulfilled although Ichigo did the job for them? So will the loss of an arm by Genryuusai and Soifon be permanent? What happened to him? What happened to her? What happened to them? What about those? Where are they? And what about the time Ichigo unconsciously transformed himself into a powerful menacing Hollow? I thought he would use this in the final fight but I guess it wasn’t necessary. So many questions, but after over a long period, I don’t think I’m really that interested to find out anymore because I’m so glad it has already ended. Who cares about those minor details when you have a happy ending. Hey, will Division 3, 5 and 9 get new captains? It’s been a long time since that position hasn’t been held by anyone (that Rurichiyo Arc does not count).

And after that, I don’t think the series will really end yet. That’s because another new arc has started. And yeah, before that even happens, as predicted another round ‘interruption’ before this new arc. You guessed it, mindless filler craps. I couldn’t care less if it’s some nice retiring guy of the 11th Division, Kon hogging the spotlight to save some busty lady (OMG! It’s Mamiko Noto – so watching this filler wasn’t that bad after all, hehehe) from her breakup with her boyfriend who turns out possessed by some Hollow and then getting back together again, Yachiru meeting an old comrade of her Division who somewhat turned into a Hollow, and Hitsugaya’s day off visiting a granny who can see spirits. Previously I thought one of the fillers set another potential for a long story arc just like how they did for the Zanpakutou Arc. Calling it the Hell Verse, the way this one episode filler is left hanging, I thought it will continue somewhere in the future. But it may not because I read this is just a promotional stint for the fourth movie that has been released in December 2010.

Everything else has been the same from the seiyuus of the characters (I felt Chad’s character has been side-lined the most seeing that he doesn’t have many lines to spout – something his taciturn character is), the drawing and art, the action and fight sequences coupled in with the seemingly dreary flashbacks or explanations, the unique designs of the episode numbers, the comical sections at the back (mainly Shinigami Illustration Book Golden and Arrancar Encyclopaedia, which sadly ended because as Gin noted there are no more Arrancars left) and the several opening and ending themes that comes with it. At this point, the series has a total record of 13 opening themes and twice the amount for its ending themes, 26 (not including the new opening and ending theme for the new arc). They may vary from rock to pop, fast to slow but they don’t really appeal much to me. In the short span since my last blog, nothing really much changes in terms of the character development. Sure we get to see some of the past of some of the characters but if you’re talking about Ichigo, he’s still powering up and fighting stronger baddies. That’s about it.

Thus I really, really, really hope that the series will end somewhere soon (fat chance!) and put me out of my misery. As long as they don’t put mindless fillers, it’ll be fine. Yeah, this series have earned a reputation as a Filler God in my books. Dropping it would be an easy way out but I’m going to continue watching because I still have faith in it. Especially with the new arc currently starting its run. Hopefully, I won’t fall asleep… while… I’m… at it… ZZZzzzZZZzzzz…

Ichigo VS Maka

February 12, 2010

Do I sense some similarities here? Or is it just coincidence. Let me see, both animes has its focus on Soul Reapers known as Shinigamis and their job is to take out the menacing threat against humans, the spirit of mankind which has been turned into a mindless evil force known as Hollows or Kishins. Yeah, so in today’s versus blog, it will be Ichigo Kurosaki from Bleach and Maka Albarn from Soul Eater. Same but totally somewhat different. Here is a brief look at how the duo stack up against each other.

Meaning of name
Derivation of the character’s name.
Ichigo: Though it may seem to mean strawberry at first, a closer look at his kanji reveals to mean number one.
Maka: A reverse of the word ‘kama’ which means scythe.

Soul Reaper title/affiliation
Ichigo: More of a substitute Shinigami.
Maka: A weapon meister/technician.

Personality
What is a hero/heroine without their version and value of justice and friendship. Don’t forget the angst too.
Ichigo: Though stubborn, short tempered and confrontational, he has very strong determination especially when it comes to the welfare of his friends and family. Does not show his emotions unless when necessary (must be that tough guy thingy).
Maka: Hard working, level-headed and tries to think before leaping though at times she can be naive and stubborn. Also cares deeply for those around her. Does not show facial expressions unless the situation calls for it.
Hmm… I noticed that if they’re not talking, they’re screaming whether it’s powering up or getting hit or pain during fights.

Hairstyle
Ichigo: Orange colour and spiky.
Maka: Light brown with 2 pig-tails.

The black long flowing overcoat
Ichigo: Appears when he uses his Zanpakutou in Bankai form.
Maka: That is her typical uniform whether she goes to school or fight battles.

Inside the physical body
Ichigo: A Hollow self awakens after intensive training from Urahara.
Maka: Black Blood infected her after her first battle with Crona and Soul’s injury.

Partner
The weapon they are wielding.
Ichigo: A Zanpakutou named Zangetsu, whose other form is an elderly man.
Maka: A scythe named Soul Eater Evans, whose other form is a kid obsessed of being cool.

Special technique
The move which is unique to him/her and gives him the extra fighting edge.
Ichigo: Getsuga Tenshou.
Maka: Witch Hunt and later Demon Hunt.

Vision
What he/she can see that other ordinary people can’t.
Ichigo: The ability to see Hollows.
Maka: Her Soul Perception allows her to see the soul of others and hence obtain valuable data on that person’s soul and strength.

School
The school that they attend classes in.
Ichigo: Karakura High School of Karakura Town.
Maka: Shibusen Academy of Death City.

Student status and reputation
Ichigo: A delinquent student.
Maka: A top star student.

Allies
Can’t be an island, eh?
Ichigo: Uryuu Ishida, Orihime Inoue, Sado “Chad” Yasutora, Rukia Kuchiki.
Maka: Black Star, Tsubaki, Death The Kid, Patty and Liz Thompson.

Enemy turned ally
Once fought him/her was beaten by our hero/heroine and become friends. Something like that.
Ichigo: Renji Abarai.
Maka: Crona.

Cat ally
The feline staying close by…
Ichigo: Yoruichi. Serious, intelligent and witty. Provides information of important details and lessons to power up.
Maka: Blair. Airhead, carefree and seductive. Provides fanservice and seducing Soul to drive Maka up the wall.

Father
Notice how both don’t like their dads and in a way they sometimes act like clowns.
Ichigo: Isshin. Runs a private clinic but secretly seems to be a captain class Shinigami.
Maka: Spirit. Currently the Death Scythe for Shinigami.

Mother
Both are not prominently featured if not briefly mentioned in the series.
Ichigo: Killed by a Grand Fisher Hollow when Ichigo was young.
Maka: Currently on a travelling trip to parts unknown on Earth.

Siblings
Ichigo: Little twin sisters Karin and Yuzu.
Maka: Nil.

Rescue mission
Ichigo: Embarked on missions to rescue Rukia from execution at Soul Society and retrieve Orihime from Hueco Mundo.
Maka: Embarked on a mission to save Crona when the latter goes to face her villainous mother Medusa and later Soul’s mind to save and free him from his black blood.

Boss fights
Battling against powerful bosses and ending up victorious. Simply because they’re the hero lah…
Ichigo: 6th Division Captain Byakuya Kuchiki, 11th Division Captain Kenpachi Zaraki, Bounts leader Jin Kariya and Espada number 6 Grimmjow.
Maka: Medusa and the Demon God Ashura.

Transformation
Ichigo: Learns to transform into and control his other wild half, which is a Hollow via Hollowfication.
Maka: Later in the anime, seems to have the ability to transform part of her body into weapon blades.

Seiyuu
The voice behind the character.
Ichigo: Masakazu Morita.
Maka: Chiaki Omigawa.

Conclusion
I guess it is not my place to say who is better. They both have their strengths and weaknesses while being admirable at the same time. Ichigo may seem to have more info about him because of the long running series which allows room for the character to develop and grow. Whereas it is lesser in the case of Maka since the Soul Eater series is short and already ended as compared to the still ongoing Bleach. Nevertheless, you can count on both of them when it comes to saving the town from evil spirits. Better think twice in engaging in mortal combat with them.

Ichigo Kurosaki Maka Albarn

Bleach

January 15, 2010

Here is another long running popular anime series that I am currently watching but decided to blog part of it first before my frail memory fails me. Urm… I think it already did. Now, when Bleach first came out as an anime in late 2004, I didn’t have any interest in watching this series because well, I wasn’t interesting. At that time I thought it wouldn’t suit my taste or anime genre. However when the local TV station decided to air it with original Japanese audio, my inner gut told me there was no harm trying.
 
Though the TV station has at a point stopped airing the continuity of the series and opted to rerun from start again (recently I checked back, it is back on track but that is like soooo long ago compared to where the anime is now), ever since I have gone watching the series at my own pace and have caught up with the latest story arc. Tite Kubo, the creator and author of the series must have done something right at the right place and at the right time to have garnered many fans like One Piece and Naruto. While there is no end in sight as the series has around 250 episodes as of now, if you’re the kind who likes shonen type of animes, it is hard to pass this one up.
 
So like many shonen genres out there, our main teenager Ichigo Kurosaki is a normal 15 year old kid when he obtains the powers of a Shinigami (literally means Death God but translated as Soul Reaper) and battle ferocious monsters known as Hollows (mainly because they have a gaping hole somewhere on their body and a skull mask). Boy gets powers, meets friends and foes alike, battles them, powers up and obtains his own unique powerful technique, meets more enemies and the cycle repeats again. Ichigo may be a delinquent but he isn’t hardcore as he too has his own values and principals which he strongly believes in. A must for every main hero. Just like many animes out there, which one isn’t without its terms and jargons. I wouldn’t say Bleach is very heavy in its terminology that one will get a headache trying to recall them, but it is enough to keep fans and normal viewers like me understand the concept of the series. For instance, each Shinigami has their own unique sword called Zanpakutou and they can transform into a more devastating weapon packing enough devastating power if they perform a Shikai or ultimately a Bankai. Then you have that presence thingy called reiatsu. The greater that character is, the greater his/her reiatsu is as you can see the screen like some sort of ‘heavy interference’.
 
Another thing about this series is that it lacks any romance or chemistry between the main characters. You know, a healthy guy and a girl their age, get what I mean? Though there are hints, but it isn’t conclusive enough. Probably the producers want to concentrate it as a more supernatural action adventure. Protecting Earth and human souls come first. Love can wait. Haha. Sure, would you have time to save those 3 magical words when a horde of Hollows come swarming in? And should I mention the amount of blood that the characters bleed during battles? Not to say profusely but each time they get knocked by an awesome blast, for example their foreheads will be dripping with them. Do they have very fast reproduction of red blood cells? Besides the adventure, expect some comical moments to ease the tension. Can’t expect to be serious all the time, eh? I’ll be keeping my blog brief as usual so if you really like more information, there are tons of them over the internet. Try Wikipedia for starters.
 
The Substitute Shinigami Arc
Ichigo’s life takes a drastic turn when a Shinigami who is supposed to watch this Karakura Town, Rukia Kuchiki, bestows him her Shinigami powers to help rid of the Hollow menace. Did I mention that this Ichigo kid can see ghosts too? Ghosts as in Hollows. Normal people can’t see them though they are there but when Hollows attack, you can see their effects in the real world. How the heck did that crater got there? Anyway Rukia sees a potential in him since her powers are weakened. Rukia also enrols in Ichigo’s class to keep an eye from him. She does this by using a gigai (faux body). We are also introduced to Ichigo’s other classmates and pals who will later fight alongside him. They are the busty Orihime Inoue (later on she’ll possess some fairy-like situation-rejection powers), the half-Mexican half-Japanese Yasutora "Chad" Sado (later on will possess a unique ability which gives him super strength via his right arm) and the bespectacled Uryuu Ishida who is a Quincy (unlike Shinigamis, they kill Hollows outright rather than freeing them and use arrows made from spirit particles). Then there is that perverted stuff toy named Kon. Because Ichigo has to become a Shinigami, he has to leave his body and that means his real body will be unconscious. So by using a modified soul like Kon, at least other people won’t think he’s dead or just sleeping in the streets. Till Kon wrecks havoc with his real body, that is. Otherwise that Rukia-loving stuff toy is just as annoying and his existence is merely for comical purpose. Then there’s the cunning and mysterious shop owner Kisuke Urahara and his assistants (includes big guy wearing an apron Tessai Tsukabishi, a naughty kid Jinta Harakiri and a meek girl Ururu Tsumugiya). They provide Ichigo and his allies information or some weird technological devices whenever needed.
 
Rescue Rukia Arc
However the captain of the 13 Gotei squad, Byakuya and his vice captain, Renji, comes to the real world to take Rukia back for punishment for staying too long in this world and giving her powers to a mortal. Her punishment is a death execution back at Seireitei, Soul Society. Where’s that? You see, when people in this world die, their spirits go to that place. It’s just like another world, believe me. And in this Soul Society, Seireitei is the centre where the 13 powerful protection squads called 13 Gotei reside and govern. As expected, Ichigo can’t let Rukia die like that even if she’s submitted to her fate. So he undergoes training from Urahara (like facing his inner spirit and Zanpakutou, Zangetsu and his other inner self which is a Hollow) and along with Orihime, Ishida, Chad and Shihouin Yoruichi (an ex-secret corps member taking a cat form), they head to Seireitei to rescue her. And time is running out.
 
We are also introduced to the members of the 13 Gotei squad. Each of them with colourful appearances and characteristics. Here’s a brief look at them:
1st Division captain: Shigekuni Yamamoto Genryuusai (an old fart but don’t underestimate him. He’s damn powerful. That’s why he is number 1); vice captain: Chojirou Sasakibe.
2nd Division captain: Soifon (may look tomboyish but she’s a tough girl); vice captain: Marechiyou Omaeda (some big guy who’s interested in stuffing his face with food).
3rd Division captain: Gin Ichimaru (always smiling. Such sinister grin…); vice captain: Izuru Kira (looking depress and regretful most of the time).
4th Division captain: Retsu Unohana (note her intertwining locks); vice captain: Isane Kotetsu (a little tall for an average lady).
5th Division captain: Sousuke Aizen (looks like a nice understanding guy); vice captain: Momo Hinamori (this easy-going girl is always looking up to her captain).
6th Division captain: Byakuya Kuchiki (at first I thought his hair accessories were popiah rolls. Forgive me); vice captain: Renji Abarai (a crude guy. He and Rukia know each other).
7th Division captain: Sajin Komamura (why does he wear a basket on his head? To hide his fox face, that is – no not a type error for fox, mind you); vice captain: Tetsuzaemon Iba (this loud guy is always wearing sunglasses).
8th Division captain: Shunsui Kyouraku (what’s with this flower-power hippie guy anyway? Oh yeah. He’s a womaniser); vice captain: Nanao Ise (more serious than her captain by comparison).
9th Division captain: Kaname Tousen (a blind guy. I thought he is some reggae guy because of his hairstyle); vice captain: Shuuhei Hisagi (a 69 tattoo on his face?).
10th Division captain: Toushirou Hitsugaya (a kid); vice captain: Rangiku Matsumoto (a busty bombshell who is carefree and lazy).
11th Division captain: Kenpachi Zaraki (mean looking guy. Pointy hairstyle?); vice captain: Yachiru Kusajishi (little girl who is too cheerful. Sometimes I wonder if she knows what is going on).
12th Division captain: Mayuri Kurotsuchi (is he some sort of alien?); vice captain: Nemu Kurotsuchi (introverted girl).
13th Division captain: Juushirou Ukitake (always sick and coughing); vice captain: Currently nil. Previously it was Kaien Shiba but he died.
 
Of course busting into the tightly guarded Seireitei isn’t a walk through the tulips. So Yoruichi enlists the help of some fireworks specialists Kuukaku Shiba and her brother Ganju to blast their way into Seireitei from the top, even if there’s a powerful barrier. So once they break in, the gang got separated. See some cool fights like Ichigo taking on 13th Division 3rd seat bald guy Ikkaku Madarame while Ganju against the same division’s 5th seat pretty boy Yumichika Ayasegawa (what’s with his eyebrows anyway?!). After their victory, 4th Division 4th seat Hanatarou Yamada helps them to find their way to Rukia. Seireitei is a very big place, you know. Soon Ichigo faces Renji and battles him. Since the latter lost, he pleads to Ichigo to save Rukia (don’t want to bore you with flashback details). Chad’s first battle has him up against Kyouraku but he lost in an instant. Elsewhere Ishida takes on Mayuri and beats the latter with the skin of his teeth. I guess he is worn out after that battle because Ishida is then captured by Tousen.
 
Amidst the chaos, another new development has arisen. Hinamori to her horror finds Aizen murdered and evidence point to the culprit as Hitsugaya though he knows he is being set up. Ichigo is close to where Rukia is held captive but meets Zaraki as his next opponent. This eye-patch guy loves fighting so it’s no surprise he is enjoying every strike and blow he has with Ichigo. Then Ichigo’s Zanpakutou breaks and Ichigo undergoes another inner self fighting before he gets a renewed Zanpakutou. His fight with Zaraki continues and though Ichigo collapses, Zaraki feels that it is Ichigo’s win because he too collapses. Ganju reaches to Rukia but is faced with Byakuya and is easily defeated. While Hitsugaya duels Gin, whom he believed is behind Aizen’s murder, Zaraki agrees to help Orihime and the rest (all recuperating in a cell) find Ichigo so he could fight him once more. Even between the Shinigami captains, some don’t like each other. For instance, Tousen and Komamura believe Zaraki is evil and fights him.
 
At that time, Rukia’s execution is about to be staged. Ichigo arrives in time to stop the execution. Kyouraku and Ukitake also helped and since Genryuusai didn’t like it, he is going to teach them both a lesson. While Renji takes Rukia and makes a run for it, Ichigo battles Byakuya and his sakura scattering Bankai. Hitsugaya and Matsumoto conduct their investigation at Central 46 Chambers (the central government of Soul Society and their rule is absolute, right or wrong) and find each one of them is slain. They are shocked to see Aizen is still alive and that he has faked his death. So the truth is revealed as everyone else put aside their internal squabble to face this new menace. Aizen along with Gin and Tousen are planning to retrieve some orb called Hougyoku so that he could obtain the powers of the Hollow. That orb is in Rukia and everything from the start was perfectly planned. Aizen and the duo are rescued by Hollows back to Hueco Mundo (just like Soul Society but where Hollows reside).
 
Bount Arc
Considered as a filler arc, after settling everything that needs to in Soul Society, Ichigo and his pals return to their world but a new threat arises. Three modified souls, Lilin, Cloud and Nova are imposing the gang through some trial. In the end it is just some test collaborated with Urahara to gauge their abilities. This is to prepare them to battle new threat in the form of Bounts led by Jin Kariya. Bounts are a small group of immortals that have been ostracized by society and as contrast to a Shinigami’s Zanpakutou, Bounts have Dolls instead as their weapon. Initially everyone thought the Bounts were going to Hueco Mundo but their original plan is to enter Soul Society to get their revenge on their creators. Yup, you guessed it. Some failed experiment from some Shinigami, Ran Tao. Furthermore, there is an ex-Shinigami from the 11th Division squad, Maki Ichinose, who is on the Bounts’ side. So Ishida was abducted because his Quincy power is able to open a portal to Soul Society. Something like that. I don’t remember if Ishida had feelings for that kind Bount Yoshino but anyway she sacrificed herself. So Jin and his remaining Bounts break into Soul Society and mouth watering clashes include Zaraki against Maki, Soifon vs Mabashi, Mayuri battling Sawatari, Ishida duelling Yoshi and the final boss match which pits Ichigo against Jin. While Hitsugaya took on Kouga, he spared his life because he went easy on the other Shinigamis and he had no killing intent. All is well, ends well. Sort of.
 
Arrancar Arc
While we learn Ichigo and Ishida’s dads are ex-Shinigami and Quincy respectively, a group of Vizards pay Ichigo a visit. At the same time, a powerful group of Hollows dubbed the Arrancars arrive in the real world. Now the flavour of this series is getting to have some Latin and Spanish flavour. For instance, the names of some Arrancars are hard to pronounce, hard to spell and thus hard to remember. How do you remember names like Ulquiorra or Grimmjow Jeagerjacques. What’s that again? The Arrancars under Aizen’s rule are as powerful as their Shinigami’s counterpart and even some of the captains of the Shinigami have a tough time before defeating them. And these Arrancars aren’t the powerful and main ones yet called Espada. The Espada just like the Shinigami have their own rankings, weapons and powers which are like mirrors of the Shinigami. It’s like being called another name, that’s all. So Ichigo gets another round of training of Hollowfication from the Vizards (ex-Shinigamis who are able to control their Hollow self) so that he could control his inner Hollow and use it as an advantage against the Arrancar. Ichigo has to. Because he is the hero, duh! We also learn that Aizen’s other goal is to gather the 100,000 souls in order to make a key and open another portal to assassinate some king. Wait a minute? There is another world? So I guess this king is what we believed to be God, eh? Whatever. Anyway, where is he going to find such a large concentration of souls at 1 place? Ah, Karakura Town has that requirement. So while preparing for the ultimate showdown with Aizen and his Arrancar, for the time being, Hitsugaya, Matsumoto, Madarame and Yumichika are sent to the real world to investigate the irregular movements of the Hollow and Arrancar (damn filler episodes).
 
Aizen is one scheming guy because he sends Ulquiorra to kidnap Orihime and bring her to Hueco Mundo and use her time reversing ability to heal the deteriorating Hougyoku. Orihime has to or else she will put her pals in danger. Even if Genryuusai disallows Ichigo to go rescue her (after Rukia, it’s Orihime’s turn, eh?), Ichigo remains stubborn and together with Ishida and Chad (after their power up training, that is) embark on another rescue mission and arrive at the monochrome desert which is Hueco Mundo and towards Las Noches, the headquarters of the Arrancar and supposedly where Orihime is held. The gang also meet a little Arrancar kid, Nel and her bungling and comical followers Pesche and Dondochakka. Rukia and Renji also come to Hueco Mundo to help Ichigo. Due to an attack from a Hollow, the gang find themselves lost in a forest of Grand Menos (another type of Hollow). They find a Shinigami, Ashido who has been living there for who knows when as he aides them through and safely out of the forest. When they arrive at Las Noches, they split up in search of Orihime.
 
Cool fights pits the good guys against Privaron Espada (former Espada but was demoted) as warm up matches like Ichigo against Dordonii, Ishida duelling Cirucci and Chad taking on Mosqueda. Rukia goes up against 9th ranked Espada, Aaroniero playing mind games with her using memories of Kaien to weaken her. In the end, they both killed each other. Well, it seemed that way. Renji on the other hand finds himself dealing with 8th ranked Espada, Szayel Aporro. Ishida comes to his aid once his fight is over. However Chad is not so lucky because he is being gravely injured by 5th ranked Espada, Nnoitra soon after. Then it is the grudge match against Ichigo and Grimmjow. After a hard fought battle with his panther-like transformation, Ichigo wins.
 
Rurichiyo Arc
I can’t believe they have got the guts to put a long filler when the exciting Arrancar isn’t over yet! WTF?! Basically this arc has the 3rd Division squad receiving a new captain called Shuusuke Amagai and his long time partner, Makoto Kifune. He’s such a nice guy and understanding guy as he tries to understand and fit in with the rest. Elsewhere some noble princess Rurichiyo Kasumi and her guardians Kenryuu and Enryuu (this guy has no speeches – because much later you’ll find out his voice is shrieky and so girly! Better to keep quiet, eh?) enter Karakura Town and become Ichigo’s transfer student because they are impressed of how he defeated a Hollow. So the plot also has some guy Goukaku Kumoi who is one of the servants under Kasumi family and is planning to assassinate Rurichiyo, the last true descendant of the family. He also created several illegal weapons called Bakkoutou. Something like a Zanpakutou but they consume the user’s life force like a parasite gradually. Kumoi sends assassins to get the job done but Ichigo and pals stood in their way.
 
Rurichiyo then decides to go back to Soul Society alone to stop Kumoi but she becomes under Kumoi’s spell as he prepares her wedding to a boy, Shuu as part of his plans. So Ichigo and Rukia have to go back to Soul Society to save her. He tries to stop the wedding but was misinterpreted as a threat. Now he’s a fugitive. Thankfully, Amagai believes in him. Kira is also conducting his investigations and finds Kifune is working for Kumoi. He beats him and with evidence that Kumoi is doing something illegal, Genryuusai orders to move in. Kumoi takes Rurichiyo as hostage but is killed by Amagai. But wait, Amagai is actually the true culprit and has orchestrated everything. Oh yeah. Deja vu just like Aizen’s case. But instead of becoming a Hollow or destroying something, Amagai has a grudge against Genryuusai and he took the long way to work his way into Gotei 13. Something about he believed his dad was killed by Genryuusai because he was investigating the Bakkoutou. Of course Amagai has his power battle with Ichigo and Genryuusai and eventually realized that he is wrong (his dad was being consumed by the Bakkoutou so Genryuusai had no choice but to kill him). Before Amagai dies, he apologize especially to Kira and in the end, Rurichiyo decides not to run from her responsibility and takes her position as head of her family.
 
Shinigami VS Arrancar Arc
Yes! The tantalizing battles are back. Ichigo is tired after his victory over Grimmjow but Nnoitra turns up to battle him. Then Nel joins in the battle as we learn she was an ex-Espada ranked number 3 but was thought to be discarded away with her servants by Nnoitra and Szayel Aporro. Just before Nel could land the finishing blow, she turns back into her chibi kid self. And before Nnoitra could order his servant Tesla to kill them, Zaraki appears and kills him. Yeah, some of the Shinigami are in Hueco Mundo to help out. A long battle between Zaraki and Nnoitra who powers up to some mantis. On the other hand, Byakuya takes on 7th Ranked Espada, Zommari who was about to finish unconscious Rukia. But you know, he is no match for him. Unohana, Isane and Hanatarou are here to help heal the injured, regardless of whether friend or foe as long as they are still breathing. Elsewhere, Mayuri and Nemu have a battle among scientists with Szayel Aporro. No prize to guess who wins in the end. After the battle ends, Aizen activates his plan to invade Karakura Town. It seems his plan to abduct Orihime and heal Hougyoku is just a distraction to halve the strength of Gotei 13. With some of them in Las Noches, he locks them in. However Aizen, Gin and Tousen finds that the real Karakura Town has been replaced with an artificial town and that Genryuusai and the other 13 Gotei captains and vice captains are waiting for him. Yeah, they transported the real town and put all its sleeping inhabitants temporarily at Soul Society? Can they do that? Well, it beats fighting without a background setting, right? Aizen is bent on beating them all to carry out his plans as he summons his top 3 Espadas: Starkk, Barragan and Harribel.
 
The Pendulum Swings Back Arc
This arc tells how the Vizards came to be. 5th Division captain was Shinji Hirako when Aizen was his vice captain then. Also, Yoruichi was the captain of 2nd Division while Urahara has been newly promoted as 12th Division captain. A series of events which leads to several Shinigamis disappearing has Genryuusai assigning some of the captain and vice captains of Gotei 13 to investigate. They include Shinji, Kensei Mugurama (9th Division captain), the airhead Mashiro Kuna (9th Division vice captain), Love Aikawa (7th Division captain), Roujuurou Otoribashi AKA Rose (3rd Division captain), Hiyori Sarugaki (12th Division vice captain), Lisa Yadomaru (8th Division vice captain) and Hachigen Ushouda (Tessai’s assistant of Kidou corps). To their horror, they find Aizen experimenting with Hollowfication as they all partly turn into menacing Hollows. To make things matter, Urahara and Tessai were framed and since those stuck up Central 46 aren’t listening, Yoruichi busts in to save them as they take refuge in the real world with the 8 Shinigamis that underwent Hollowfication.
 
Shinigami VS Arrancar Arc Part II (Fake Karakura Town Arc)
In Las Noches, Ichigo prepares to take on Ulquiorra and save Orihime but that is not going to happen so soon yet as the battle is heating up at the fake Karakura Town. When Genryuusai temporarily seals Aizen, Gin and Tousen in his barrier of fire, Barragan assumes command and orders his servants to take out the 4 pillars. His theory is that the real town will return back here if those pillars are destroyed. However, they are not unguarded. Yumichika takes on Charlotte Cuulhourne in a battle of beauty (disgusting!), Kira against birdman Avirama and Hisagi duels Findor. They all emerge victorious except for Ikkaku who lost against Poww (because he held back his powers as not to reveal his Bankai). So Komamura and Iba had to interfere and that fox guy shows him his true powers of his Bankai. Barragan is upset of his servants’ failure so his remaining 2 servants, Vega and Nirgge go take on Soifon and Omaeda respectively. Unfortunately they lost too. As Kyouraku fights Starkk (Ukitake sitting out and wouldn’t fight Starkk’s kid servant Lilynette), Hitsugaya battles Harribel while Matsumoto has her hands full with 3 of Harribel’s servants: Apache, Mila Rose and Sun-sun. Hinamori returns to lend Matsumoto a hand but the trio combine their powers to unleash a powerful beast, Allon. They got injured and even with Hisagi and Kira’s help, it wasn’t enough. The best part is when Genryuusai moves in to destroy the beast in 2 blows. Awesome! Respect! No wonder he is number 1. Then in another single slash, he burns the 3 charging Arrancar ladies. Total respect, man.
 
Zanpakutou Arc
WTF?! Another stretch of filler episodes?! This is going to be a drag. After a fanservice beach-swimsuit and high school filler arc, the Zanpakutou arc itself is interesting. But I wish they would finish the Arrancar one first before doing this. Anyway this arc has the Shinigamis in panic because a Zanpakutou guy named Muramasa leads and unleashes the souls of all their Zanpakutous as they take on a physical form. They are rebelling against their masters in their newfound freedom. What would they do without their power weapons? How will they fight back? Fighting against your own weapon seems ironic. That’s what you get when you rely on them so much. Furthermore, Genryuusai is missing and Muramasa claims he has been ‘sealed’ while Byakuya goes missing after fighting his own Zanpakutou. Another chaos and havoc thrown into Seireitei as the shocked Shinigamis try to understand what is happening and to overcome them. Ichigo isn’t spared too when he comes to Soul Society. Of course Muramasa is intrigued with Ichigo’s Hollow side and tries tempting it to his side but Hollow Ichigo is wild. Then Muramasa has Zangetsu fight against Ichigo in another power battle. After seeing enough, he escapes. Zangetsu is grateful to Ichigo for saving him as they learn how Muramasa has the ability to amplify all the Zanpakutous follow their instinct. Soon some of the Shinigamis face and battle their own Zanpakutou to return them under their control or if not, just killed them off. Byakuya then reappears and seems to be aligned with Muramasa (he even killed Rukia’s Zanpakutou to show his loyalty!), throwing Soul Society into further chaos. He claims he is protecting his pride. What pride? Of course an all-out attack from the Zanpakutous as ordered by Muramasa but our Shinigamis overcomes them.
 
Soon Genryuusai is found hidden in a cave inside a barrier so Muramasa uses Ichigo’s Getsuga Tenshou to destroy it. In a Bleach’s style of twist, we learn that Muramasa is planning to resurrect his master Kouga, whom several hundred years ago was a rising Shinigami under Byakuya’s dad, Ginrei, and his son-in-law. Of course he was framed by some jealous nobles and was stripped and imprisoned before he broke out, when on a rampage to the extend of killing innocent people and then sealed by the commander himself with Ginrei. You thought Muramasa had killed his master? Yep, he lied. Seems Muramasa wanted to enter Genryuusai’s mind to unlock the seal which he placed on Kouga in the real world. Therefore, Genryuusai cut off himself from all communications from the rest of the world in order to prevent Muramasa into entering his mind. Ichigo feeling guilty goes to stop Muramasa who has a head start. Thankfully, Muramasa encountered a little resistance in the form of Orihime, Ishida and Chad before Ichigo arrives. But too late, Kouga has been revived. In yet another twist, Kouga stabs Muramasa, claiming he didn’t come to his aid when he was about to be sealed. Yeah, after all the centuries, Kouga still has that high and mighty attitude, thinking his lowly Zanpakutou is just a tool to serve him. So an epic battle is expected when Byakuya arrives. Seems he and his Zanpakutou has been pretending all along so that he could find and kill Kouga and protect the pride of his family clan. I guess Byakuya fans can heave a sigh of relief that he didn’t turn into a baddie after all. Pfft. How could he?
 
Bleached…
So far this is where I am now and of course due to my curiosity of wanting to know how it all ends (especially the Arrancar arc. Damn it! Just show them finish already!), I’ll be following this series for the many episodes to come. I know that putting filler episodes within the Arrancar arc is so that the producers could have enough time to gather more material but this is really annoying. If it wasn’t for the cool fights between the various characters, I wouldn’t have stick around for this long. Don’t say those flashback episodes. They aren’t as irritating as putting a filler episode right smack in the middle of an important arc.
 
While watching this series as it goes by, I can’t help but wonder a few stuff myself. Like for instance, if people die and go to Soul Society, where would their souls go if they die there again? I mean, it is true that I have seen people die there. Is there another Soul Society or dimension for that? Plus, Soul Society is just like any place on Earth in terms of discrimination and prejudice. You can find them just about in any corner of some dark small alley or even the authorities. Like you need such a thing when you go to the after world. Well, it is no heaven anyway. Speaking of which, it is briefly mentioned though not in detail that hell does exists and it is not Hueco Mundo either. Are they 2 sets of different worlds existing together or parallel dimensions? Then there are all those ‘useless’ but numerous Shinigami subordinates. I wonder how they got to be part of the squad since they’re like whipping boys in the sense that though they outnumbered a great rival, they get taken out and easily overwhelmed.
 
Then there is the case of some characters being redundant. For instance after the Bount arc, Lilin, Nova and Cloud’s presence felt like can be done without. It’s like they’re just bumming around and the help they provide is so insignificant. Same case for Kon. What happened to Ganju after the rescue Rukia arc too? Then there are those characters which provide for filler episodes like that weird but popular spirit medium Don Kanonji, Rukia’s Shinigami replacement for Karakura Town (some afro guy whose name I can’t remember), Ichigo’s sisters Yuzu and Karin, his classmates the goofy Keigo and the calm Mizuiro and Orihime’s pals the tomboyish Tatsuki and lesbian Chizuru. I guess with so many characters, a filler episode is necessary so as not to let viewers forget about them. Like I said, can’t have action all the way. I like the various designs of the characters’ weapons and in their different forms. It gives them a unique shape of their own though I find that most of them have just 2 or 3 moves. But that is to be expected when you have too many characters. So for Ichigo’s ultimate Getsuga Tenshou move in his Bankai form, that is about it and if he is not using this move, he’s just like slashing and swinging his sword. Aside the swords, I also think that Ishida’s Quincy arrow-like powers are quite cool and awesome itself.
 
Masaku Morita, a rookie seiyuu voices Ichigo nicely. But I kinda noticed that if he isn’t talking or scolding, he is like screaming whether he is giving or receiving pain. What do you expect from a teen full of angst? Fumiko Orikasa as Rukia certainly doesn’t sound like her other anime roles like Miu of Ichigo Mashimaro and Himeko of Pani Poni Dash. She sounds so crude here. Other casts include Yuki Matsuoka as Orihime (Osaka in Azumanga Daioh), Noriaki Sugiyama as Ishida (Sasuke in Naruto), Hiroki Yasumoto as Chad (Justice in Doujin Work), Satsuki Yukino as Yoruichi (Kagome in Inu Yasha), Shinichiro Miki as Urahara (Takumi of Initial D) and Kentarou Itou as Renji (Shuhei in Soul Link). Yeah I know, a long series has got to have a long list of seiyuu. Some doing multiple characters for different story arcs. Well, like you can really tell unless you really listen closely to each of them especially those side characters. So it may take a while if I were to list it here so I’m giving an excuse that it is more fun to find them out by yourself. As there are many openings and twice as many ending themes, not all are to my liking. They may range from slow pop to hip-hop to fast rock. Those which seems okay to me include D-technolife by UVERworld (2nd opening), Life Is Like A Boat by Rie Fu (1st ending), Houkiboshi by Younha (3rd ending), Life by YUI (5th ending), My Pace by Sunset Swish (6th ending), Sakura Biyori by Mai Hoshimura (10th ending), Tane Wo Maku Hibi by Atari Kousuke (13th ending), Kansha by Real Street Project (14th ending) and Hitohira No Hanabira by Stereo Pony (17th ending). There is one background music which is my favourite. That is the cool acoustic and calm Going Home. Yeah, I have mastered that song on my guitar. While the other background music varies to fit the scene, I noticed for the Arrancar arc, the background music takes on a more Latin flavour.
 
On a trivial note, I like the variety and different designs of each of the episode numbers. While some may be plain, there are some which are creative and imaginative. However, I don’t remember seeing the episode title anywhere. Is it in the opening and ending theme which I often skip? At the end of the next episode preview, there will be a short comical section called Shinigami Illustration Book Golden. It does not relate anyhow to the actual storyline as it pokes fun at several issues based on the characters’ personality and such. The best one I remember so far was all the captain and vice captains having tea while watching the beautiful moon. Then the ‘moon’ turned out to be Ikkaku’s bald head and they made him do it. Haha! During the Arrancar arc, this section is at times replaced by Arrancar Encyclopaedia hosted by Gin (telling about the terms and other stuff relating to Arrancars), Substitute Shinigami Diary (daily errands of Ichigo via Rukia’s horrible sketch drawing – bunnies?) and a Zanpakutou corner (narratives of the characteristics of the Zanpakutou).
 
As the manga is still currently ongoing with the anime, the popularity of this series has also spawned several movies, soundtrack albums, video games, guide books and even trading cards. Then to my surprise, I read on Wikipedia that the series has also been adapted to a musical play! Holy crap! Fancy seeing a Shinigami fighting a Hollow while singing? That is sure going to be an odd combination. Of course with such a huge success, it has won several awards in Japan and internationally. I’m still thinking why this anime title is called so. Does somebody have a fetish over some chemical whitener? Or when one watches or reads too much of the anime or manga, he/she becomes pale as in bleached. Yeah, too many sword clashing battles can make your mind so.
 
If I were to create an own Gotei 13 squad, it would be squad number zero! Comical Division captain Chua Tek Ming at your service! My Shikai is my Bankai, Bokemaru and it makes people laugh therefore unable to carry on fighting! Hey, laughter is the best medicine. Oh uh. I sense some dissent among Bleach purists. Don’t take it to heart. Just joking. It’s not like I insult your favourite captains (from the last I read, Byakuya and Ukitake being the most popular). So what happens if you chance upon a Hollow for real? A) Stand there and get devoured; B) Run like hell; C) Try and fight back; D) Call a Shinigami. Taking A) is succumbing to your loser fate while B) and C) most likely gets you ended up as in A). Don’t bother option D) because everyone is busy fighting the Arrancar. So what choice is left? E) Continue watching Bleach and find out. Hopefully there will be an answer and end.
 

Bleach