Bleach Chapter 489 – March of The Starcross – Review / Thoughts

April 18, 2012

This week I have to say that without a doubt, Bleach 489 was the standout chapter between this and Naruto. Whereas Naruto was firmly rooted in past events, Bleach was very much in the present, as well as setting up something brilliant for the future chapters.

Last week we got to see what looked like the beginning of Ichigo vs Kirge, but Ichigo instead starts off against a few other Quincy instead as you can see in the picture above. It doesn’t take long for Ichigo to realise that the people who before were only known to him as the Vandenreich were in fact Quincy. Kirge even comments on the fact that he invaded without even being 100% sure of who they were, not that it makes a difference to Ichigo as we all know by now.

Rather than Ichigo fighting, this chapter was more focused on the strange events that have been taking place in Soul Society, and who’s to blame for it. To begin with we just see Rukia pacing the floor in Soul Society where she is waiting for the captain’s meeting, with Renji telling her to calm down and take it easy, only for Kira to appear and interrupt. He tells them that something is bothering him, and explains how he used to think all the Vandenreich / Quincy stuff was connected with the disappearances from Rukongai, but now he realises that’s not the case.

Kira begins to explain his thoughts on the matters, and asks a question as well. When Yachiru answers, it confirms things for him, and he asks Nemu what Mayuri is hiding (having concluded that there was something odd about the way things had been done and investigated by his group). Nemu says Mayuri never told her anything about the disappearances, with Kira saying he will just have to report it to Yamamoto himself. Later in the chapter, we see Yamamoto confront Mayuri about it and asks him what’s going on. Mayuri tells him that it’s true he was behind the disappearances, as he had some Shinigami go in to Rukongai and kill the people to keep the balance between spirits and people even. Yamamoto asks why he didn’t ask for permission, saying that under the current circumstances it would have been approved anyway.

Mayuri says that if things had got worse, his unit would have been held responsible for it, hence why he went ahead and did it anyway. Yamamoto responds by saying that if they had reported things sooner, then maybe things wouldn’t have become so serious in the first place. Without hesitation, Mayuri tells Yamamoto he is wrong. He then says how right back when Ishida first invaded Soul Society along with Ichigo etc he warned him of what could one day happen, but that Yamamoto claimed his fears were baseless and denied it.

Mayuri then says Yamamoto is the one to blame because he didn’t lill “that man”  1000 years ago. Meanwhile, with Ichigo distracted by his battle with Kirge and the other Quincy, the king declares that now is the perfect chance to invade Soul Society, and so they head off to do just that.


But yes, that was the main content of the chapter. As you can tell, things are getting very serious with potential consequences being unthinkable. The dischord in Soul Society just reminded me of something Kubo said in the interview he did shortly before the arc came out, that being that Soul Society would be devastated like never before (or something along those lines).

I mean, while I know the Quincy invasion is going to have a huge impact on everything, maybe a part of what will make things so devastating and like nothing they have ever seen before will be that Soul Society will become full of rifts between the Gotei 13. With this chapter we can already see that Mayuri is unhappy with Yamamoto, and Yamamoto doesn’t seem too happy with Mayuri either. Of course we have no idea who “That man” is / was, but he could even come back to play some huge role, whether that be what happened in the past or even if he is still alive and active somehow today.

I was expecting this to be an action and battle filled chapter, but instead we were given something that is playing far more with the distrust and psychological aspect of things, and as a fan of that sort of thing then I enjoyed it a lot. Kubo really has done a spectacular job with this arc, and I can’t commend him enough for it. Kubo gets a lot of stick from people for all his trolling and “asspulls” that seemed to be brought up for every arc, but this time I can’t imagine there are too many fans who would criticise what he has done in this war arc.

This was a pretty awesome chapter, despite not being what I (and I suspect many others were expecting), and I really can see next week being fantastic, especially if the Quincy do indeed reach Soul Society by then.

Bleach Chapter 488 – Bond Behind Blast – Review / Thoughts

April 11, 2012

I have to say this was a pretty good chapter. This week I definitely have to say that Bleach was better than Naruto, so needless to say I was pretty happy with chapter 488.

There was a fight with the three Fraccion loyal to Harribel – Sun-Sun, Mila Rose and Appaci in this chapter, and Nel was doing her best to hype them up to Ichigo. Speaking of Nel, she was pretty funny in this chapter as she was riding on Ichigo’s back and doing stuff like covering Ichigo’s eyes so he can’t see where he’s going etc. But there was also some serious stuff in the form of the battle I mentioned above, and also with Soul Society preparing for war with the Vandereich.

This chapter confirmed what everyone knew already, that being that the Vandenreich are in fact Quincy. Mayuri confirms it during a meeting between the Gotei 13 and Yamamoto where they are relaying all the info they have on the Vandenreich and preparing to go to war with them. Yamamoto asks if they have found where the Vandenreich (who from this point on I shall refer to as Quincy since it’s been confirmed now) are located, but he is told that they still don’t know yet. Yamamoto tells them to start preparations for war immediately since they were given the 5 day deadline, with Yamamoto saying that they can’t trust people as despicable as the Quincy to even live up to their word, and that they could strike at any time.

Elsewhere, the trio (who Nel referred to as Tres Bestia) finally stop arguing amongst themselves, and instead start fighting and defeating some of the Quincy soldiers. Nel tells Ichigo that they are really powerful and scary, and tells him that he doesn’t even need to do anything as Tres Bestia will probably wipe out the entire army themselves in no time. Of course Ichigo still continues on anyway, while one of the Quincy runs up to the captain and says they are really strong and that they should retreat for now. The Quincy who said it is then just mercilessly killed, and the Quincy captain tells the Fraccion that he has a proposal for them.

He says that they are strong and that it’s wonderful, as they would be perfect pawns for “his majesty”. He says it’s why he doesn’t want to kill them, and suggests that they surrender instead and become pawns, where at least they would be reunited with Harribel. He then says that there could be no greater joy for them than what he just said, but the Fraccion refuse to listen, telling him not to underestimate them, with them then trying to attack the captain. The Quincy captain says it’s a shame they don’t want to negotiate with him.

Ichigo meanwhile hears a loud explosion, and Nel says it’s probably from the 3 devils and that she won’t make fun of Ichigo if he decides to go back. Just after she finishes saying it however, we get to see the Quincy captain standing on top of a rock or a hill (or something like that anyway) with the three bloody (and presumably) dead bodies of Sun-Sun, Mila Rose and Appaci at his feet. He then notices Ichigo, and comments that now with a Shinigami having arrived that it has been a really busy day for guests.

So yes, that was pretty much the content in the chapter, and it all tied together pretty well. We had the classic mix of seriousness and light hearted scenes / panels which has always been one of my favourite things about Bleach as a whole, and of course it was nice getting 100% proof and confirmation that the Vandenreich are members of the Quincy afterall. No doubt fans of Sun-Sun, Mila Rose and Appaci will be pissed off that they were wiped out so quickly and effortlessly, but I guess Kubo is doing it just to build up some hype and add some feats to the Quincy before they go up against the Gotei 13 and Soul Society.

Speaking of which, of course it was very interesting to see Ichigo being noticed by the Quincy captain, as it means there could very well be a fight between the two of them in the next chapter. Obviously it’s no guarantee as the captain could have other plans, but if it does go ahead it should be awesome, especially if / when Urahara eventually catches up to Ichigo as well. There is still a lot to come and a lot to expect from this arc and the upcoming chapters, and admittedly this chapter didn’t advance things too much, but overall it was still an enjoyable chapter and one that I really liked reading.

Bleach Chapter 487 – Breathe But Blind – Review / Thoughts

April 4, 2012

Just as promised in the previous chapter, this week with Bleach 487 we got to see both Ichigo and Urahara, and even some colour panels like the one above! But aside from the awesome colour pictures of Urahara, how was the chapter itself?

My first impression of it wasn’t that great to be honest, compared to previous weeks it just didn’t seem as good. Upon reading through it again though my opinion of it is a bit more favourable. I loved the colour panels with Urahara and Ichigo as you probably guessed, and was more than happy with them. Urahara was his usual silly self at times which always makes me laugh, and in what was a mostly serious chapter this kind of humour is a welcome distraction.

In this chapter we do get to see Ichigo, Urahara and Nel etc go to Hueco Mundo like they had planned in the last one. When they get there, the first thing they notice is that they are surrounded by the dead bodies of Arrancar who had been killed during the Vandenreich’s invasion.  The group soon notices that there are a group of Vandenreich gathering yet more Arrancar just as the king had previously requested. The Arrancar are seen being dragged away, and when Ichigo asks what will happen to them, Pesche answers that they will be taken to a camp and be divided in to two groups – one that will end up becoming abducted and held prisoner, and another where they will all be killed immediately.

Without hesitation, Ichigo stands up and says he is going off to save them too, despite Pesche telling him to wait and saying Dodonchakka wasn’t amongst the ones captured. Ichigo replies by saying that it doesn’t matter, and that he will still save Dodonchakka but that in the meantime he might as well save these captured Arrancar as well.  Urahara jokingly comments about how he wonders if Ichigo realises that not too long ago these people were his enemies, but Chad comments on the fact that they all know it doesn’t make a difference, as with the type of person Ichigo is he always wants to save people. Everyone else then begins to follow after Ichigo who had rushed ahead while they were talking.

We then see the supervisor/captain of the Vandenreich’s hunting team – Kirge Opie – who is watching as all the captured Arrancar are made to line up in front of him. A couple of the hooded Arrancar debate amongst themselves whether to go through with their plan or not, with it pretty much being agreed they would soon after. The person in charge then tells all the Arrancar that, starting from the right hand side, he was going to stab them all to death. He then asks if they absolutely wish to live, and to become their comrade, and that if they did, then they are to bow down in front of him and lick his boots.

One of the Arrancar asks that if he agrees to it right away, will they spare his life. He is then stabbed right through the chest, with the captain saying that anyone who fails to understand what he just said will end up the same, and that there is an admission test they all must pass. It’s so illogical even a couple of the other Vandenreich nearby are commenting on whether the captain had any real intentions of taking any of the Arrancar alive in the first place. Just as the captain is about to stab another Arrancar, his attack is knocked back by a sword, which is then pointed in his face.

The captain doesn’t even flinch, and comments that it’s weird they have their swords, as they were supposedly all removed from them.  Then the cloaks are flung off by the Arrancar, who proudly proclaim themselves as aides of Aizen-sama, with them turning out to be Loly and Menoly. Despite their claims that they were superior, both Menoly and Loly are slashed and taken down in almost an instant by the captain. The other Vandenreich nearby asks if they should kill them both, but are told to instead keep them alive, but just give them a severe beating. He then comments to himself about Aizen, thinking that he must not have been worth much if he had such lowly people working for him, though at the same time remembering that even the much stronger Harribel was still no match for the Vandenreich king.

With his back turned, something is suddenly thrown at him, though he catches it without taking any damage all the same. As he turns around, he asks his attackers what they are. They reply by saying that despite badmouthing Harribel-sama, he doesn’t know who they are and refer to him as a useless underling. The people who attacked him turn out to be Apacci, Sun-Sun and Mila Rose.

So yes, that was the content of the chapter, and overall it was a pretty dark one. The Vandenreich of course are extremely oppressive and treating the Arrancar like crap. Anyone who is put in front of them is either cut down on the spot or else taken prisoner, so Kubo is actually doing a great job of making them come across as true villains and complete assholes.

Despite the claim at the end of the last chapter, there was no kind of fighting with either Ichigo or Urahara, so we will unfortunately have to wait a bit longer for that. This chapter did also show the return of more than a few familiar faces, though I personally am not particularly fond of any of the returning characters. But that said, with all the Arrancar members making returns recently, it does mean there is a pretty damn good chance that before long we will end up seeing Grimmjow return as well, and I know myself and plenty of other people will be genuinely delighted with that.

One thing that did piss me off (though in a good way if you get my point) was the way the captain of the hunting team badmouthed Aizen. Now I know Aizen acted like a jerk and trolled countless people, and for that some people dislike him, but I always liked him because he made for a great villain. He was someone who you could love to hate basically. The way he was basically being called weak or inferior by that piece of trash Vandenreich captain really annoyed me though, and made me wish so much that Aizen were free so he could go there, kick his ass, and have him begging for mercy.

Don’t get me wrong here, I am not angry with or criticising Kubo, in a way this is actually praising him. With Aizen he had almost that cool guy feel to him despite being a villain, someone who was just so powerful and hax that you could almost like him for it, but with the Vandenreich they are just being portrayed as purely loathsome and hateful pieces of trash. I have no problem with this, and being a villain is all about getting people to hate you, so in actual fact by getting me to hate them and get so angry with them is actually Kubo doing exactly what he set out to do, and I commend him for his writing.

But yes, it was an enjoyable enough chapter. It wasn’t the best in the world and far from my favourite, but with the colour panels, the few comedy moments, and the possibility of seeing more Arrancar return in the future, it certainly had its’ good points too.

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.

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.

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.

Bleach Chapter 485 – Foundation Stones Review / Thoughts

March 21, 2012

Let’s see, what can you expect from Bleach chapter 485?  A character’s death? Check. Two characters returning to the story? Check. More info on the Vandenreich? Check.  Kubo has really outdone himself this week, and between this and Naruto the Shonen Jump Manga is doing one hell of a great job to make up for the sadness of the Anime coming to an end.

The chapter actually starts out pretty grim in tone, we find out that Sasakibe really has died from the wound inflicted upon him by the Vandenreich, and Yuki is informed that he is to go back to Soul Society immediately to attend the funeral. Ishida speculates that the reason Soul Society called to inform someone as low down the ranks as Yuki about what has been happening recently is because they know Ichigo is with him, and that it’s a good indirect way of keeping him informed too. Ichigo is clearly upset and can’t rest properly, so he decides to go out and patrol Karakura just to try and clear his mind. Then from out of nowhere, Nel comes falling from the sky and crashes straight in to Ichigo.

I am delighted to see Nel again, and she is back in her child form for those wondering. Ichigo is rightly surprised and asks about why it has taken all this time for her to come and see him, but then we move on to the palace of the Vandenreich where the king is asking for the reports to be given to him.

I am going to cut to the chase here to keep the review brief and fluid. The king of the Vandenreich is a ruthless S.O.B. The guy he was talking to, Luders Friegen, the same person who’s arm was hacked off by him in the last episode, was lying on the floor in agony. He is panting away and trying to get up off the floor, only to be told by the king that he can stay on the floor if he wants. As Friegen is seemingly about to accept, the king says if he won’t be sitting then he doesn’t need his legs anymore and that he will hack those off too. Friegen is obviously terrified and makes some comment about never lying on the floor while talking to the king as it would be so disrespectful. Friegen then gets up and speaks to the king about the plan to take down Soul Society in 5 days, and comments that in the near future Soul Society will lose it’s balance of souls with the human world.

The king then asks him if he is some sort of prophet. Friegen isn’t sure what he means, but the king repeats himself. Friegen hesitates and says he isn’t, only to be asked why he is talking about the future then, and that the king only wants to talk about now. As soon as he finishes saying that, the king slaughters the guy with one fell swoop, and then starts speaking with Ivan. He tells Ivan that he has no reason to praise him, though he has nothing to blame him for either since he at least slowed down Ichigo. Ivan thanks the king, only to be told that his job is now over and that he would serve as a foundation stone to build peace. Again, as soon as he finishes his comment, the king cuts down Ivan without a shred of mercy.

One of the hooded Vandenreich ask if it was really ok to do that, saying that Arrancars are excellent soldiers because they don’t need to be taught how to fight. The king however says he doesn’t care, as he can easily get as many Arrancars as he likes. Then we get to see a full page of just Harribel chained up somewhere (as you can see from the picture at the top of this page), and one of the hooded Vandenreich comment on the fact that they have already taken over Hueco Mundo, while the king says it’s just another foundation stone to invading Soul Society.

Wow, what an incredible chapter this was! So much revealed, plus the return of both Nel and Harribel just like Kubo spoke of in the recent interview! I am delighted to see them both return, though naturally I feel bad for Harribel being held prisoner by the Vandenreich. Speaking of whom, it was nice to see Ivan confirmed as an Arrancar and proving my earlier guess about him right. The way some of the Vandenreich were speaking, it again hints at the fact they are Quincy too. But having taken over Hueco Mundo is an amazing feat, and if they really can create as many Arrancar as they like, I think Soul Society is going to be in an awful lot of trouble very soon. An army of Vandenreich and Arrancar could finally be the thing that takes down Soul Society, and I really can’t wait to see how things turn out during the war!

The king of the Vandenreich really is merciless and I genuinely wouldn’t put anything past him, I can’t wait to find out what’s in store with him either. And of course, for all the people who have made jokes about Kubo never killing off characters, they can now keep quiet for a while at least since Kubo has done just that in getting rid of Sasakibe. Granted he is hardly a big name or an important character, but I get the feeling his death will be the first of many during this arc, and it wouldn’t surprise me if we end up seeing some of the most popular characters losing their lives at some stage.

Anyway, an absolutely fantastic chapter that reintroduced a couple of awesome characters and also answered some of the questions posed in earlier chapters. And of course, as always, feel free to leave a comment below on your thoughts and predictions for this and future chapters!

Bleach Episode 364 – Desperate Struggle!? Byakuya’s Troubled Memories Review / Thoughts

March 13, 2012

I have to apologise to the people who regularly follow my Bleach reviews. For weeks I spoke of how good Byakuya vs Tsukishima would be and how good an episode it would produce, but episode 364 has instead proved a letdown.

If you’re an Anime only viewer, maybe you won’t feel so negatively towards the battle or the episode itself, but as someone who has read this in the Manga I can’t help but feel letdown. To be honest the episode as a whole seemed very rushed, and I have a horrible feeling they are rushing just to try and get this arc finished before the Anime ends in a fortnight’s time. Byakuya vs Tsukishima especially seemed very rushed, whereas in the Manga things went at a better pace, and made the battle seem much closer and Byakuya’s win much more difficult and well earned.

More time was spent on Rukia vs Riruka which is annoying considering it was pretty much a joke and the worst fight between the Fullbringers and the Shinigami, and this is coming from someone who likes Riruka and is also huge Rukia fan. It was pretty cute and funny when Rukia was first crushed by the stuffed bear, but it went downhill as soon as she was trapped inside a stuffed toy herself. We did get to see why the other Fullbringers all became friends with Ginjo and Tsukishima, but aside from that the whole thing was pretty boring.

I know this review has come off as incredibly negative, and to an extent that is the feeling I have towards the episode, but it was far from the worst episode Bleach has ever put out. It just seems a lot worse for me (and probably anyone who has read the Manga chapters) to see such a brilliant fight pretty much butchered and ruined, and so it left a bad taste in the mouth as a whole. If you haven’t read the Manga, then this is probably an ok episode. If you have and liked Byakuya vs Tsukishima, then you will inevitably end up disappointed too. For me personally, this is one of the worst episodes of the Fullbring arc.

Bleach Chapter 484 – The Buckbeard Review / Thoughts

March 7, 2012

Chapter 484 of Bleach was pretty interesting for a few reasons, and once again leaves some questions to be answered. Oh, and who doesn’t want to live in an ice palace?

On a serious note, this chapter was pretty awesome. We get to see the leader of the Vandenreich, someone who is clearly easily annoyed and very ruthless considering the way he just chopped someone’s arm off because the in-fighting was annoying him. Also revealed was the fact the Vandenreich can use a weird teleportation thing that instantly transported them away from Soul Society before Yamamoto even had a chance to react, as well as also saving Ivan from Ichigo.

I don’t know what on earth it is yet, but it’s definitely not a Garganta as Ichigo commented himself. Interestingly Sasakibe also told Yamamoto that the Vandenreich can use Bankai. This was the really shocking and interesting moment for me, as it really does leave me wondering if they can be Quincy after all. Of course Quincy don’t work the same as Shinigami, but to be able to use Bankai suggests these people must at least have some knowledge or be connected in some way to the Shinigami, as no way would a Quincy be able to use it. Then again, they told Yamamoto that it should be easy for him to work out who they are, and that’s a hint that it is Quincy.

After originally assuming they were Quincy I am now left having doubts, and I really wouldn’t like to say who they are. The favourite still has to be the Quincy, but they are probably modified versions at the very least judging by the Bankai thing and also the way they teleport. The ice palace they are staying in looks awesome too, definitely check out a picture of that if you get the chance.

Overall this was a pretty good chapter, and one that posed a lot of questions. Maybe next week it will shed some light on at least some of it, but for now we are left guessing.


*Feel free to leave a comment below with your ideas / theories on who the Vandenreich could be and how / why they have these powers

Bleach Episode 363 – Fierce Fight! Shinigami vs. XCUTION! Review / Thoughts

March 6, 2012

Episode 363 of Bleach is almost as memorable for the hilarious faces Ikkaku pulled as it is for the rest of the scenes, but even so, Bleach pulls out another fine episode here.

Last week we saw the start of Xcution vs the Shinigami, with only Kenpachi’s battle decided then and there. This week, we see the battles between Renji and Jackie, Hitsugaya and Yukio, and Ikkaku vs Shishigawara all concluded. Truth be told they were all very easy and the Xcution members were basically embarrassed by the far stronger Shinigami who took them out in no time at all without breaking a sweat.

As I already said, the faces Ikkaku pulled during his battle were nothing short of hilarious, I am actually disappointed I can only start the post with one picture as there are a couple of other deserving ones too. As for the actual fight, it was definitely the closest one between Shinigami and Xcution members, but Ikkaku still had little trouble, even telling Shishigawara that he was the worst opponent he could have fought and that he was out of luck.

Hitsugaya meanwhile spent more time looking for Yukio than he did fighting him, he gave out the classic line about Yukio liking to talk too much, and then smashed through a wall with a swing of Hyourinmaru and the blast of ice that came with it. Yukio created some monsters using his Fullbring, but they were no match for Hitsugaya either.

Meanwhile, Renji didn’t even want to fight Jackie because she’s a woman. Jackie asks if Renji has ever met a strong woman, but Renji says strength doesn’t come in to it, no matter what he didn’t want to hurt a woman as that’s the action of scum. Renji wouldn’t even draw his Zanpakuto against her, but Jackie attacked anyway after several warnings. Despite the attacks being strong enough to smash the giant boulders etc around the battleground, Renji easily blocked the attacks with his arm without taking any kind of real damage. After being attacked, Renji merely whacks Jackie in the stomach with the hilt of his Zanpakuto which leaves her conscious but unable to move. Renji then delivers the pretty cool statement about him having trained for the past 17 months to fight someone like Aizen, so in other words a challenge of this level was nothing in comparison. To Renji’s credit, despite Yukio trying to close down the game world with them both inside, thus killing his own teammate Jackie and Renji, Renji still refused to kill Jackie to save himself, instead saying he would use force to try and escape. Jackie though has seemingly killed herself so that Renji could leave, so that ended their battle.

There are still a few battles to come in the shape of Tsukishima vs Byakuya, Ichigo vs Ginjo, and Rukia vs Riruka. We get to see these 3 battles at least look to start in this episode, but no attacks or anything of note happened, that will probably be saved for the next couple of episodes.

That basically sums up what happened content wise, and it was pretty awesome. Ikkaku vs Shishigawara was surprisingly good, and the Shinigami came off as complete badasses with the way the made such light work of Xcution. Of course I can see why people would be mad about this since it’s basically trolling Xcution after all this build up, but at least take comfort in the fact the 3 remaining battles are all much harder and won’t necessarily go the Shinigami’s way. Next week looks to be focusing on Byakuya vs Tsukishima which I really can’t wait to see, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the next episode or two ends up being the best of the arc, so be sure to watch these few remaining episodes if you enjoy badass fights.