Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Bleach (Season Three)

I admit I took my time with this one. I wanted to get it finished as soon as possible, but I just couldn't. A lot of the details a fuzzy for me because I took a while off from watching the season, but I remember enough. This post won't be quite so long because of that and that might be a good thing. My reviews for certain other lengthy anime seasons take forever for me to write because I generally like to nitpick, but this one will be mostly straightforward. 

Season three of Bleach consists of episodes 42-63 and it takes us all the way to the resolution of Kuchiki Rukia's execution dilemma. In case you forgot, Rukia has been imprisoned and sentenced to execution for giving her powers to Ichigo. Ichigo, being the stubborn and not-so-bright asshole that he is, decides to invade Soul Society in order to rescue Rukia. Ichigo and his friends come so close to rescuing Rukia before the end of season two, but Byakuya is just a bit more than Ichigo can handle and Yoruichi makes the decision to fetch him (against his will) before he gets himself killed.

For the moment, everything is a stalemate and Rukia is still scheduled for her execution.

While Uryu continues to fight for the honor of his deceased grandfather alongside Orihime against Captain Kurotsuchi, Ichigo endures some more training in order to awaken his Zanpakuto's Bankai. What's a Bankai? Well, the Zanpakuto are the cool-looking swords that all of the Shinigami carry around and they have two transformations. The first transformation is Shikai and it is substantially weaker than the second transformation which, you guessed it, is called Bankai. 

The catch is that Bankai normally takes about 100 years to achieve and 10 years to master. Yoruichi has only managed to buy Ichigo three days, though. Or until just before Rukia gets executed. Whichever comes first. 

No biggie, right? 

Season three has got a lot going on when it comes to the Soul Reapers. There's the subplot of Captain Aizen's murder to figure in and all of the separate battles going on. Some of the fights do get drowned out, though. The anime tries to spread everything across the board while keeping up with a breakneck pace and it just proves to be too much at times. I'm curious if the manga is the same way. Either way, it comes to a point where Soul Reapers you are not too familiar with are fighting other Soul Reapers that you aren't too familiar with, either. Can't we just focus more on the characters we already know if we are going to show epic fight scenes? If nothing else, at least finish the fight scenes on screen. The fight between Captain Ukitake and Kyōraku Shunsui and Yamamoto Genryūsai Shigekuni is cool, but it gets cut off. The same for the fight between Yoruichi and Soifon. Why show them fight at all if the fights just end without going anywhere? 

Rukia's upcoming execution even has the Soul Reapers fighting each other. The ones I just mentioned are just a few. Even the hardheaded Renji chooses to fight against Byakuya in order to save Rukia. He doesn't succeed, but his character gets built in the process. Despite all of the action, there is still some characterization happening. Rukia's past concerning Lieutenant Kaien is uncovered a bit. Kenpachi, Yumichika, Yachiru, and the aforementioned Renji all become characters that are more than just sneering bad guys wearing cool black hoods. You'll root for them as they fight alongside Uryu, Chad, and Orihime. 

Of course, the showstopper is the fight between Ichigo and Byakuya. Whether or not Rukia gets rescued (well, duh, of course she does) is almost a moot point with all of the fireworks happening, but the best is saved for last. The fight is pretty epic. It's what fans of fighting anime love to see. It's only a few episodes, but it's worth the buildup of waiting fifty-something episodes to see it happen and it doesn't overstay its welcome. 

The fight ends a bit inconclusively, though. Ichigo and Byakuya both live to see another day and become allies and whatnot. 

Season three ends, not after the fight and the rescue of Rukia, but after it is revealed that Aizen faked his death and killed all of the Sages and Judges in Central 46. Why? Well, Aizen likes performing illegal and unethical experiments using hollows. He is what you might call a conniving and deceitful fuck. And he wants a certain item that was hidden inside of Rukia's Gigai (a false body used by Soul Reapers when they journey to the human world). What is the item? It's a shiny doohickey that does important stuff. 

I said my memory was fuzzy, right? 

So Aizen initiated the hunt for Rukia and her planned execution in addition to faking his death. That's the long and the short of it. 

Aizen gets away clean at the end of season three, but I still think that episode 63 would have been a great stopping point for the series. It wasn't complete closure, but it was close enough. Unfortunately, the next two seasons are filler. That's 40+ episodes of filler. Ugh. 

No wonder I stopped watching Bleach

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