There are three parts to the Bleach manga. Last time we covered the first part. Here we talk about the second part. We will look over every season of the Arrancar arcs except for the 51 episode final part, which we will cover next time. Welcome to the analysis of Bleach: Arrancar!
Holy shit that thumbnail. I just realized how, out-of-context, it makes everything look cooler.
Season 6: The Arrival
During all that filler bullshit, Aizen has been building an army of hollows. These hollows are some of the most powerful hollows ever known to man. He plans on taking over the Soul Society and destroying it. He sends two of his Arrancars to Karakura Town to pretty much scout the place to see if it’s worth a damn. What a surprise, Ichigo comes to show off the fact that he needs more training. Thankfully, we have the Vizards. Who are the Vizards? You’ll figure out in Season 11. They’re former Soul Reapers that have the same condition that Ichigo has: they can unleash a hollow form, which increases their fighting ability tremendously. The catch is that it must be controlled. And here we arrive at one of the biggest problems surrounding Bleach: Wasted potential. You don’t see them kick ass for another 150 episodes or so. That’s about the length of the Hunter x Hunter remake. But before any of that can happen, Soul Reapers go to Karakura Town as undercover agents to get information on the Arrancar. This was hinted at during Season 4 and thankfully they take full advantage of it. I know I just said they never do, but whatever. This also leads to my favorite kind of filler: the ones that say “Fuck it, let’s do something stupid for one episode”. It’s clearer in the later parts of Season 14, but there are some gems here too. There’s an episode focusing on baking a cake. My favorite is Episode 135, a rather heartwarming episode STARRING KON. I’m as surprised as you are. If they went all Dragon Ball GT with this concept it could really work.
Oh by the way Ichigo’s dad is an ex soul reaper captain.
But before the mini filler happens, Grimmjow, one of the top ranking Arrancars known as Espadas, gets fed up with Aizen’s waiting, gathers a team of Arrancar, go into Karakura Town and basically says “Kill anything you can sense.” This is where the season excels, giving us tight action in a place I want there to be tight action: Karakura Town! Overall, I really liked this season and is worth checking out.
Before we head into Season 7, which is intertwined with the previous season’s filler so you really don’t notice anything immediately, it’s time for another movie!
Bleach: The DiamondDust Rebellion
Hey, do you like Toshiro Hitsugaya? Well, if you give zero fucks about him, you won’t like this movie. I like Memories of Nobody, but I’ll admit if it wasn’t for me watching Season 5 prior I would probably tell you it was OKAY. But this movie…for some reason I really hate this movie. Hitsugaya goes missing and the Soul Society’s outdated laws state that this calls for an execution! Wait, what? Why is there such a need to kill him, all he did was take a break. If the tradition is to kill those that leave temporarily, then you have a shit tradition and should question how no one has thought this needs to be redone for the past thousand years. I can’t even remember what happened in this movie. It was boring as hell and I cannot recommend it.
Season 7: The Hueco Mundo Sneak Entry
Not to be confused with the Soul Society Entry Arc
After being completely spoiled about it in the Alones OP, Aizen unleashes a surprise attack on our heroes. It’s unknown why this occurred until they realize Orihime is missing. That’s right: Aizen kidnapped the princess, are you fucking kidding me. Actually, he has a reason: You see, Orihime’s powers aren’t having boobs, but being able to reject all causes. Not just healing, but SUPER HEALING; being able to shift the predicament back in time. It’s a little confusing. Basically, Aizen both wants that and doesn’t want them to have it. Ichigo wants to storm their castle, while Yamamoto says “Actually, that reminds me! Soul Reapers, you’re done. Come back to undergo more training.” So Ichigo and his two background fighters Uryu and Chad go to Urahara to go on their own. Here they meet my favorite Bleach character: Nel.
I’m not really gonna talk anymore about this season, as Seasons 6-8 as a whole are pretty much just The First Half of the Arrancar Arc.
Season 8: The Fierce Fight
This is the season where Bleach’s flaws with the canon begin to show. With anime, one of my biggest pet peeves, especially with long runners, is doing the same thing in every arc and thinking you’re doing something different. An example goes to Fairy Tail. I’ve seen 96 episodes, and every other arc is “Devil-Worshippers try to resurrect their Devil” followed by a Guild War of some kind. At first, while noticeable, I was fine with it. But Season 2 took it way too far, with such a repetitive narrative. They finally did something different with Season 3, but the point is if you’re going to do the same thing over and over, either be extremely creative each and every time, or don’t do it at all. The throwaway characters for the main characters to fight in Bleach are so horribly forgettable. And every time they have to dedicate at least one full episode of screen time to them. This isn’t the point where I started to see the puppeteer, but it’s the point where I started to notice the strings.
Not gonna give a plot summary, it’s just random Arrancars fighting our main heroes. In other news, Bleach is no longer in Full Screen! Except [adult swim] continued to air it in 4:3 until Season 13 so…
Another movie already?
Bleach: Fade to Black
After the decentness that was Memories of Nobody and the awfulness of DiamondDust Rebellion, I had zero expectations for Fade to Black. Surprisingly enough, this turned out to be my favorite of the 4 Bleach films. It didn’t try to make a giant scene out of anything. It had a goal and didn’t go off-track. The villains have understandable motives. They even got Urahara. Not much else to say. It’s on Netflix. Go see it.
We’ll get to Season 9 at a later date. For now, let’s move on to
Season 10: Arrancar Vs. Shinigami
This was it. This was the season that made me see the Puppeteer.
If you thought that everything was fine for Ichigo and friends, then you’re cray-cray as another Espada comes to wreck his shit. So Nel transforms into an Espada.
That was awesome. And after she is given a backstory, she is written out for the rest of the entire Arrancar arc. So now they need an ex machina. BRING IN THE GOGEI 13!
So a bunch of Soul Reaper captains come in to engage battle with the Arrancars. This should be fun, right? Wrong. This was so easy to pull off and yet they do exactly what they did with Season 8 and just drag on all the throwaway Arrancars. It’s the first canon season I flat out can’t recommend. Past Nel. Speaking of past.
Season 11: The Past
Time for some filler! Wait, this isn’t filler. It’s the 7 part Bleach miniarc Turn Back the Pendulum! And it’s a breath of fresh air. This is the third best Bleach season for me. In 7 episodes it manages to give backstory on the Vizards, Urahara and Cat Lady’s time as Soul Reapers, and show off the fact that Aizen has been doing this for about a century now.
How did the Vizards become Vizards? They were originally Soul Reapers. Some were captains, others were lieutenants. They all gathered to stop a problem and fall into Aizen’s trap, who uses them to test out Hollowfication. Urahara is framed for doing this and is banished. He takes the soul reapers that were affected and takes them to Karakura Town, where they reside today. OH SWEET JESUS THIS SHOULD’VE BOMBED. But dammit, they keep it short and simple. If you wanna know more backstory to these characters, I highly recommend it. They also tease the Vizards finally doing something cool that they won’t mention ever again for another 3 seasons.
Season 12: Battle in Karakura
Including filler, we’ve been at this for over 100 episodes now. Are we going to get the all-out war we’ve been teasing since Season 6? Of course not, we’ve still got 100 more episodes WE’VE STILL GOT ONE HUNDRED MORE EPISODES BEFORE THIS SHIT IS DONE?! Fuck me, this season is worse than Season 4. Yes, the filler vampire season is better than this. All throughout Season 10 I thought to myself “Man, can we get this over with?” All throughout Season 12 I thought to myself “Never mind that last place looks way more interesting please go back there.” It actually started to pick right back up before diving right back into filler. I’m done talking about this pathetic excuse of a season.
Bleach has one chance. One last chance to salvage itself. Just give me one action packed fourteenth season. We will continue this New Year’s Day 2017.