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.