Bleach Chapter 486 – The Crimson Cremation Review / Thoughts

March 28, 2012

With chapter 486 I feel Kubo did a great job of placing emotion in to Sasakibe’s funeral, while also possibly hinting at some big stuff happening down the line.

As you probably guessed, this chapter has the funeral of Sasakibe in it. I want to praise Tite Kubo though, because considering what an incredibly minor role the character played in the series, it still felt emotional because of the way Kubo wrote it. Byakuya is with Renji and gives a little speech about the kind of man Sasakibe was, and basically it went a long way to showing how loyal and dedicated he was to working with Yamamoto. Yamamoto himself, in a rare turn, is shown to be upset over it too. When he has his back turned to everyone else, it’s clear Sasakibe’s death has made an impact on him, with even Byakuya commenting on how he doesn’t know how Yamamoto must be feeling at the moment.

Moving on, we also found out a little more about what has been happening with Hueco Mundo. As well as Nel’s return, in this chapter we also see that her friend Pesche has come to the human world as well. It’s explained that after the deaths of Starrk and Baraggan, Harribel became the new leader. However, Hueco Mundo was invaded during this time and she was dragged away, while Dondochakka was also kidnapped. Elsewhere, we get to see a bit more from the Vandenreich king, who is seen talking with one of his men. The white haired guy is looking at Ivan’s medallion and comments on how it seems like Ivan couldn’t capture Ichigo’s Bankai. The king then says that it seems like they will need to use a special way to get him, and then orders that the hunting unit of Hueco Mundo is sent out to bring him a few more “idiots” to use.

Back in the human world, everything has clearly been explained to Ishida, Chad and Orihime. Chad immediately knows that this means Ichigo will want to go to Hueco Mundo to rescue the prisoners and says as much, but then Ishida tells them that this time he won’t be joining them. He doesn’t give any reason, but Ichigo doesn’t make a big deal out of it and seems happy enough, saying that he won’t need Ishida’s help anyway. Then, Urahara appears at the window and asks if he should arrange the trip to Hueco Mundo. The chapter ends with a guy in Hueco Mundo ordering some unseen people to keep moving and not to stop. Though with that said, the writing underneath flat out says that next time Urahara and Ichigo will be attacking the enemy army.

This was a really good chapter, and Kubo has delivered once again. The Sasakibe part was awesome as I said, and I loved the Ishida / Ichigo part too. This is a great way of hinting at a possible turn from Ishida, or at the very least having thoughts or doubts about certain things. Since Ishida has helped and backed Ichigo in practically every situation he has ever been in, it does raise questions as to why he is opting out this time. Of course we can guess because he is a Quincy he will play a big role somewhere down the line, and as an Ishida fan I welcome this possibility. I have been wanting more panel time and more of a main role for him for ages, and if he does end up siding with the Quincy it will be very interesting indeed.

I am also extremely excited to hear that Urahara and Ichigo will be fighting in the next chapter. Considering how rare it is for Urahara to physically get involved, this should be a real treat and a real epic moment. It also goes to show how serious things must be if Urahara is willing to get involved again, only previously doing so during the Aizen arc.

I am very excited by a lot of possibilities with this arc in all honesty, Kubo has done a brilliant job thus far and I can forsee that will continue since it is to be the last Bleach arc. A lot of major events are going to happen over the coming chapters, and I can’t wait to see them unfold. With this arc so far, Tite Kubo is showing Kishimoto just how a war should be written.

Naruto Chapter 580 – Brotherly Time Review / Thoughts

March 28, 2012

I am going to be honest, the only way to describe Naruto chapter 580 is sweet. Sweet is exactly what it is as we get to see not only Sasuke and Itachi working together, but also glimpses of them doing so in their younger days too.

This was yet another awesome chapter, and I think it would be impossible not to love it for anyone who likes the Uchiha bros. I have always liked the relationship between the two of them, and it’s really nice seeing how after all these years and all the crap that’s happened to them, they are still in sync with each other when it comes to thoughts and working together.

We obviously saw them taking on Kabuto last week, and the fight continues in this chapter. Two whole chapters in a row dedicated to the Uchiha vs Kabuto fight pleases me personally, though I am sure there will be some who are annoyed at this. Kabuto continues to impress, he performed one amazing technique which left both Itachi and Sasuke unable to move or see, and even made Sasuke start losing the ability to keep his Susanoo going. It was a blinding flash of light and hypersonic sound that practically rendered everyone but Kabuto blind and paralysed, with Kabuto himself admitting it’s only because of his Sage Mode,  his Snake abilities and the power to liquify his body that he can still do so.

Kabuto initially thinks about taking Itachi first, as then he could rewrite the tag placed inside of him and regain full control, but then decides to go after Sasuke instead. Itachi however blocks Kabuto’s effort to get Sasuke, with him then remembering about how Itachi can probably sense his Chakra. This part was a bit confusing due to translations, where the person doing so bemoaned the difficulty of accurate Japanese translations. So I will leave you to read that yourself, though the part where Kabuto referred to Itachi as a “Liar Ninja” was pretty awesome, with him saying about how he lied his entire life, even dying while still lying to Sasuke, and that he was excellent at doing so.

Since the whole chapter was fighting, I will just leave it at saying that the fight was awesome and that you should read it yourself to find out the rest. Nothing major happened yet, as by the end of the chapter things were back to stage 1 in terms of a winner / outcome.

I loved this chapter though, all the flashback parallels were amazing and showed why I like the relationship between Itachi and Sasuke so much. We got to see them in the past hunting a wild boar, with Itachi and Sasuke working together back then. After everything was done, Sasuke apologised to Itachi for not being much use, while Itachi said he still had a lot to learn. Then it moved back to the present, with Itachi smirking and commenting on how these days Sasuke would have no problem doing it.

It was a really nice and touching moment to be honest, after all this time it appears Itachi and Sasuke are somewhat reconciling and Itachi is being quick to praise Sasuke. I also like it because it has changed Sasuke back to the way he was in his younger days before he went crazy, this Sasuke is the best Sasuke, and it’s all down to Itachi that we are getting to see him again after so long. It’s clear that the bond between Itachi and Sasuke is extremely strong and will never be broken, and in the recent chapters it has me convinced at long last that Sasuke can still change his ways and gain what some people would call “redemption”.  Obviously there could be some twists and turns yet to come, but for now that appears to be the way things are headed.

In any case, this was another fantastic chapter with Kishimoto doing himself proud. If you’re an Uchiha fan then this is unmissable, but even if you’re not, the battle between them and Kabuto by itself is definitely good enough to warrant your time and attention anyway.

Bleach Episode 366 – Changing History, Unchanging Heart Review / Thoughts

March 27, 2012

Bleach Episode 366, the very last episode of the Bleach Anime. Knowing this was coming didn’t make it any easier at all, and as such the episode as a whole felt very bittersweet.

I had a feeling I was going to spend more time going over my thoughts on Bleach as a whole rather than this episode, so to prevent doing so, I do plan to write up something seperate explaining about my thoughts and feelings on Bleach in general. So yes, putting my feelings to the side for now, it’s time for the actual review of this final episode.

The episode starts with Ginjo and Ichigo continuing their fight from the previous episode, with both in Bankai and both doing their best to come out the winner. It doesn’t take long though before Ichigo starts landing hits on Ginjo, slicing him pretty good and spilling his blood. Ginjo tries to keep up, but is ultimately outmatched by Ichigo who eventually lands the finishing blow on Ginjo, sending him crashing back down to the ground. As Ginjo lays there dying, he wonders how things would have been if the roles had been reversed, with him being in Ichigo’s current position while Ichigo would have been the one who felt betrayed by Soul Society.

Ichigo silently stands beside Ginjo, only for the sudden appearance of Tsukishima who aims his sword straight for Ichigo who is caught off guard. Rukia throws herself in the way, and Riruka emerges from her and takes the slice instead. She calls Tsukishima stupid, and says that even though Ginjo was the one who saved all of them, that they were unable to do the same for him, and that in the end Ichigo was the one who saved him. Tsukishima himself of course is gravely injured, and his vision starts going blurry, while also coughing up blood as he falls to his knees. Tsukishima remembers how back when he was a kid Ginjo came along and said the two of them could stay together, and then in his mind questions why Ginjo taught him everything except for what to do when he would die.

As Tsukishima is doing so, Shishigawara suddenly appears. Shishigawara sees how badly Tsukishima is injured and so carries him on his back, while saying how Tsukishima is the strongest of all, that he can’t die, and that he is invincible. Tsukishima then realises that Shishigawara is feeling the same way now as Tsukishima is about Ginjo. Tsukishima smiles and thanks Shishigawara, while Shishigawara says as Tsukishima’s apprentice this is the least he can do, all the while tears are streaming down his face. They are going through some woods, and as they come in to a clearing the sun comes out signalling that morning has arrived. Shishigawara tells Tsukishima to look and says how nice it looks, while Tsukishima smiles and then seemingly dies.

We then get to see Yukio elsewhere walking away, and being approached by Jackie. This scene differs from the Manga, nothing too major, just that in the Manga Yukio tells Jackie that in a few years when he gets some things done that he will come back or offer them to come back together with him (or something along those lines).

The episode swiftly moves on then in the second half, we see Riruka wake up in Urahara’s store and be pretty much healed. As she wakes up, we see Orihime led nearby who starts crying with joy when she sees that Riruka has finally recovered and woken up, and then silent tears come from Riruka as well. Meanwhile, there are reports around Soul Society that Ichigo has entered, and nobody there knows for what reason. Kyoraku sits down beside Ukitake and briefly asks about it, and says that he wouldn’t be surprised if Ichigo was furious and had come to return the Substitute Shinigami badge. It’s a pretty funny moment then as we get to see Ichigo walking towards the entrance of where Yamamoto is, and Renji is waiting there, only for Ichigo to walk past and casually greet him as if nothing happened.

In any case, we find out that the reason Ichigo had come to Soul Society was to retrieve Ginjo’s body, as he wanted to give him a proper burial in the human world. Ichigo goes in front of all the captains (including the return of some familiar faces who I won’t mention just in case you want to find out for yourself) and Yamamoto himself. He explains what he wants to do, and is questioned about whether he knows the ramifications of what he is asking. Ichigo says he doesn’t give a damn about any ramifications, and that the reason he wants to do this for Ginjo is not because he has necessarily forgiven him for his crimes, but because he is a fellow Substitute Shinigami.

Surprisingly, Yamamoto agrees to the request, while Rukia realises just how much Soul Society has changed thanks to Ichigo and just how mature he has become. We then see Ichigo heading back to the real world while some nameless guys from Soul Society carry the body of Ginjo. As Ichigo reaches the gate, he turns around and says goodbye to Rukia. Rukia says that he always seems to be saying that to her, with Ichigo acknowledging it and merely replying that he will see her again sometime.

The credits begin to roll then and the ED music starts to play, but instead of the usual credits we get to see Ichigo entering the human world and being greeted by all of his friends and family, as he stands out looking over them all.

I know I missed a couple of bits and pieces out, but I don’t want to be typing much more for the sake of a summary. In any case, while not my favourite episode, I still did enjoy this quite a bit. It yet again felt very rushed, you could tell they tried to cram a lot of information and events in to a short time. I actually felt bad for the Anime team having so little time to work with, if only the series could have lasted a month longer then the Fullbring arc could have had a proper unrushed last few episodes instead of what we have now.

I can’t help but recommend the Manga for this arc (and, well, the current arc as well if you wish to continue the story since the Anime ended). The Manga did things better and explained things more where there were no time restraints, so you may want to check that out at some point. With that said, the team did a fantastic job with what little time they had. They managed to fit everything in to end the arc, and as far as rush jobs go this is about as good as you will see / get. I am still shocked and saddened by the Anime ending, and throughout the episode was an overwhelming sense of that more than anything which admittedly hindered my enjoyment somewhat.

This episode was a decent enough end to the series though, and I am hoping that, as Ichigo said to Rukia, that we’ll see them again sometime.

Viz Media Aquire European Rights For Bakuman Anime

March 27, 2012

As the title says, Viz Media have aquired the European rights to the Anime series of Bakuman. This was revealed in a statement released by the company itself:

VIZ MEDIA EUROPE is pleased to announce the acquisition of  TV, VOD, DVD, Blu-ray and merchandising rights for the “Bakuman” licence for France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal and the United Kingdom.

From the creators of Death Note, Bakuman is the latest hit TV series to be based on a top-selling manga title by Takeshi Obata and Tsugumi Ohba, with millions copies sold in Japan and published in France by Kana, Viz Media in the UK, Panini Comics in Italy, Norma Editorial in Spain and TokyoPop in Germany. Directed by Kenichi Kasai (Honey and Clover) and Noriaki Akitaya (Code Geass), Bakuman TV series is broadcast on the NHK channel in Japan.

With Bakuman, Takeshi Obata and Tsugumi Ohba radically changes the subject and theme from his work on the captivating thriller of Death Note in order to suck us into the backstage world of manga creation. The series is a realistic, funny and surprisingly immersive look into the dream industry of many teenagers today. The authors pays close attention to developing the main characters of this TV series – two passionate teenagers who will never stop dreaming about publishing their first manga.”

Brave10 Episode 12 – The Brave of Light Review / Thoughts

March 26, 2012

So, after 12 episodes we are on to the last episode of Brave10. It started off well and was a very enjoyable series, only to drop off about 5 or 6 episodes in. But did it manage to redeem itself in the end?

Sadly the answer to that is no, as this was yet another disappointing episode. I am truly sad to have to type these words, as to begin with I really wanted to like Brave10. It had an awesome OP, Saizo was a great character, and it also had the talented Daisuke Ono involved (voicing Saizo coincidentally). Anyway, I will go a bit more in to that later, for now I had best get on to the actual episode.

I posed the question of how Hanzo and his group were going to be defeated since they easily kicked the ass of all the Braves, and in this episode we got the answer. Firstly, in trying to control the power Isanami had, Hanzo gets sucked in and destroyed by the black ball of energy in the sky, so that’s how he met his demise. With Sasuke and Kakei, apparently the sky turning dark made the bugs act odd and so they stopped crawling over and draining them. Sasuke and Kakei then go on to kill their opponent without much of a struggle, with the fact they should both still be very weak from the damage they already sustained clearly playing no role in it. Then we get Benmaru and Miyoshi, who also manage to defeat their opponent. How? Benmaru puts some odd device on Miyoshi’s hand that allowed one of his punches to connect, and that was enough to win (again conveniently all but forgetting their previous injuries).

Also, without any kind of explanation, Yamanosuke who was all but dead manages to not only get back to his feet, but also then kill his opponent very quickly with the same kind of attack that just one episode before had failed miserably. Last but certainly not least, we see Jinpachi beat Anastasia. Anastasia gets close to the frozen body of Jinpachi, but as she does so, Jinpachi releases a burst of electricty which is enough to incapacitate her. Anastasia is the only one from Hanzo’s group not to die, no doubt since she is a former Brave and main character.

Back with Isanami, Rokuro initially wants to try and stop it by giving his life, but is saved by Saizo. Saizo then picks up the Kushimi-tama and attempts to stop it himself. He tears off the wrapping around his sword and the symbols on it glow, and then Saizo starts slicing at the black dome. Upon doing so, it started extending out and trying to grab him like it did with Hanzo, but the Kushimi-tama erects a protective barrier around him. Saizo continues slashing away with no success, but then jumps in to it himself. While inside, he sees Isanami who is still beating herself up over people getting hurt because of her. Saizo tells her to stop it and that the two of them are leaving, but she keeps saying how her heart can’t take anymore and how she isn’t human. In the end, Saizo convinces her otherwise, and outside we see the previously black dome turn half white as well and form a Yin-Yang.

There is a tiny bit more, but nothing really worth covering. It’s a really cliche ending and one that at this stage comes as no real surprise. Brave10 unfortunately suffered a lot from this, which considering it started off as a show about a ninja – Saizo – who had no time for anyone and was a merciless killer, is hardly a good sign. From that he turned in to a a generic good guy who pretty much completely changed to being someone who cares about all his friends and about the feelings of others. It’s extremely disappointing considering that his personality was one of the things that originally drew me in to the series.

Brave10 started out as a fun action Anime with a cool and badass main character, but slowly degenerated in to fanservice scenes and cliches about friendship and working together. It’s always a shame to see such things happen, but I guess anyone who has been watching Anime for a while gets used to this sort of thing. Not to say Brave10 turned out to be a crap series or anything, for what it’s worth I would still say it’s a decent enough series. Even with how Saizo ended up I still like him, just not as much as before, and I did still get at least some entertainment from watching it each week.

My advice with Brave10 is if you don’t mind a pretty mindless action Anime and don’t go in expecting too much, you could well find it to be a decent enough watch like I did. If however you want a story that makes sense, something original, or something that doesn’t fall in to endless Anime / Manga cliches, then you should give the series a miss. Go in expecting too much and you will definitely come out of the series disappointed, go in however just watching it as a fun way of killing 23 minutes and you might find yourself enjoying it.

Naruto Shippuden Episode 255 – The Artist Returns Review / Thoughts

March 22, 2012

Fans of Deidara can be happy, as episode 255 shows a lot more of him than the last episode did. I also have to give a special mention to the pic above, as it was probably the most epic scene of the entire episode.

As we saw last week, the episode ended with Deidara having attempted to blow up the Tsuchikage with one of his clay bombs. Unsurprisingly, in this episode we see that the Tsuchikage is ok and that it was a clone of his that was blown up.

The Tsuchikage tells Deidara he has a cheek coming back amongst the living after he got himself killed by some kid from Konoha. Deidara angrily responds that he wasn’t defeated and that he killed Sasuke Uchiha. In saying this, it was enough to let the Tsuchikage know that Deidara has no idea of anything that has happened since his death. Deidara tries to move, but finds his body is frozen and can’t be moved of his own accord. Of course this is because as the one who cast the Edo Tensei, Kabuto has control over him.

Kabuto makes Deidara fly down towards the turtle island, and as soon as the Tsuchikage realises he chases after them. Deidara and Kabuto reach the turtle first, and Deidara tells Kabuto to go and look for Bee and Naruto while he takes on the Tsuchikage, which Kabuto agrees with. Onoki then catches up and prepares to use one of his Jinton techniques to blow Deidara to dust, and Deidara is clearly worried that he would go all out like that so fast. Just before he can launch his attack however, one of his guards – Akatsuchi – grabs him from behind and stops him, explaining that if he uses the Jinton technique in that place then he would end up killing the turtle as well.

Deidara senses an opportunity to attack while everyone is distracted, and launches one of his clay bird bombs at the three Iwa ninja. Deidara’s attack however is blocked by Akatsuchi’s Golem technique much to his annoyance. Onoki then gets Deidara to fly up in to the air to try and get a good enough distance away to be able to use his Jinton without hurting the turtle. Back on the ground, Kabuto is trying to figure out how to get inside the turtle so that he can get to Bee and Naruto, as his new creation, dubbed “Manda 2” coils around the turtle and binds it tight. Kurotsuchi comes down after Kabuto however, and tries to get Kabuto stuck with her jutsu which was super sticky and was like cement. Kabuto easily dodges her attacks, but then Yamato, Motoi and Aoba all show up since they had to see where the tremors they felt were coming from.

Kurotsuchi tells them that she will attack and they can use her distraction to actually catch Kabuto, though by using a water style technique on her previous sticky sludge, it starts expanding and catches Kabuto without even needing the Konoha ninja. With Kabuto completely stuck, using Yamato’s Mokuton as a bridge over the sludge Aoba goes over to interrogate Kabuto. Just as he was about to read his mind and get the info, Kabuto shed his skin and a white snake came flying out much like Orochimaru’s old technique. It takes everyone by surprise, and as Kabuto is coming towards Yamato and Motoi, Yamato uses his Mokuton to push Motoi to safety, but is then himself swallowed by Kabuto in his snake form.

The snake version of Kabuto is then seen slipping and sliding past all of Kurotsuchi’s attempts to stop him and free Yamato, and then Kabuto slides up in to Manda 2’s nostril, and vanishes along with him. Elsewhere, we see Deidara and Onoki in a face off. Just as the big attacks were about to happen however, a coffin suddenly appeared behind Deidara and closed shut on him, and then disappeared. Back on the turtle, Onoki enquires about what happened. Motoi explains and things clearly aren’t good as Onoki wonders whether Yamato was the target right from the beginning, or if he was taken just for hostage purposes.

We then see Kabuto again in a cave with Madara, who when presented with Yamato, asks if this was all Kabuto had meant by getting him a present. Although Madara is clearly annoyed / disappointed by only getting Yamato, Kabuto tells him that he will actually come in very useful, as he can use him to make the Zetsu army much stronger than previously possible. Then right at the end, we see the epic scene (the one I mentioned earlier) with a close up on Madara’s face and him proclaiming that he wants the war to start as his left eye is itching for battle.

This was a decent episode, it was ruined a bit for me because the Crunchyroll stream seemed to be getting stuck quite often for no apparent reason, but the episode itself was ok. We got to see more of Deidara which I am sure will please a lot of fans, and also getting to see Kabuto in snake form was creepy and at the same time shows just how much like Orochimaru he is. Manda 2 was pretty awesome as well, the idea of a stronger and all round better version of the original is cool and leaves you wondering how much we will see of him again in the future. It’s a shame Deidara and Onoki couldn’t have had a proper fight, but with all the battles coming up soon then there will be plenty to like for fans of action in this Anime. Overall a pretty good episode, and the scene with Madara at the end is worth seeing if nothing else.

Bleach Episode 365 – Ichigo vs. Ginjō! Secret of the Substitute Badge Review / Thoughts

March 22, 2012

As we enter the penultimate episode of Bleach with episode 365, there is undoubtedly some sadness attached to both the episode and this review. It’s hard to think that after all these years, next week will be the last episode of Bleach. But anyway, I suppose I should just get on with reviewing this episode.

Last week I was left disappointed by Byakuya vs Tsukishima and was very critical of it, but this episode was pretty awesome thankfully.

This episode was almost entirely focused on the battle between Ichigo and Ginjo, with Ginjo dropping a couple of bombshells before too much of a real battle takes place. Firstly, Ginjo reveals that Tsukishima is on the verge of death, and says that since all of Ichigo’s friends and family will have their original memories restored because of it, Ichigo has no real reason to consider him his enemy any more. Ginjo then tells Ichigo the secrets of the Substitute Shinigami badge he carries around with him, saying that Ukitake had lied to him by saying it was some kind of combat pass. In actual truth, it was a tool Soul Society used to spy on Ichigo as it allowed them to keep track of exactly where he is as well as having control over his Reiatsu.

Clearly Ginjo revealing all this stuff about the badge and its real purpose was designed to throw Ichigo off balance, with even Ishida shouting to Ichigo not to listen to Ginjo. Ichigo no longer stays silent and shouts out “Shut up!”,  and then enters in to Bankai mode. Ginjo asks Ichigo if by doing that he thought it would make him be quiet, and asks if  it means he didn’t want to know and wanted to continue living with his head buried beneath the sand. Ichigo however says that he wasn’t telling Ginjo to shut up, he was talking to Ishida. I actually found that pretty funny and there were a couple of funny moments like that between Ichigo and Ishida, but I digress.

Ichigo is then in Bankai mode, but before any kind of fighting takes place, he tells Ginjo that he figured out about the badge himself long ago. Ichigo says that Ukitake is a much smarter person than he is, and that if he wanted to really do something like that to spy on Ichigo, he would have done it in a way that would have been impossible for him to notice. Ichigo talks about how all he has ever wanted is the power to protect his friends and family, and that first thanks to Rukia he gained his powers, and then when he lost them Soul Society helped him get them back again, and that all he cares about is protecting.

Ginjo realises that there will be no way of changing Ichigo’s mind, and so says that he has no choice but to destroy him. Ginjo then enters Bankai himself, and with a massive blast of energy his appearance changes (as you can see in the above picture). Ginjo and Ichigo, both with their own Bankai, begin to charge towards each other in what is to be their final battle.

I enjoyed this episode quite a bit, Ginjo having Bankai was awesome as was Ichigo’s. Ichigo vs Ginjo while both in Bankai mode is amazing, and it looked amazing in the Anime as well. Full credit to the Anime team, as they have mostly done a great job with the episodes in this arc. Next week will be wrapping up this arc since it’s the last episode, and it does pretty much confirm my suspicions that it was the reason they rushed Byakuya vs Tsukishima, since it gave them more time for Ginjo and Ichigo. But yes, this was another fine episode during the Fullbring arc, and I can imagine what a bittersweet experience it is going to be next week when I watch and review Bleach for possibly the last time.